I was staring at a mannequin dressed in sequins and a large-brimmed hat that was sitting on a bench when I heard the voice of a child behind me.
I turned to see a naked toddler with long, flowing blonde hair standing in the dusty driveway. He was holding his penis and staring curiously at Kelsey.
My eyes widened as I turned to Katie, who was staring at the kid.
“Uhh…” Kelsey paused for a moment. “Is your mommy home?”
I resisted the urge to capture the moment digitally—I couldn’t have a naked toddler on my phone—but all I could think was, “Seriously, how were people going to believe this?”
He whirled around, heading toward the only house on the property. The door was wide open and as we got closer, we peeked in to see a woman with long, dark hair passed out on a couch in an open living room.
“Hello?” Kelsey said. “Jill?”
The woman shot up and looked at us.
“Hi, we reserved your cabin from AirBNB last night,” Kelsey said. Katie and I continued to linger in the background, unsure of what to do. “We tried to call as we were looking for your place—we got a little lost—but it went straight to a voicemail that said you just returned from being out of the country.”
“Oh,” she replied with no emotion in her voice.
I looked at Katie and Kelsey, wondering if she actually knew we were coming. They both looked as confused and concerned as I was.
She walked outside and gazed at us. “It’s around back.” She led us around the corner of her little house to a tiny a wooden cabin. It was decorated with several cattle skulls and the front was flanked with matching wooden tables displaying found Western objects and a tiny outdoor grill. I couldn’t stop staring at Jill’s elbows, which were covered in giant bandages.
“Where in the world was she visiting that would lead to those kinds of bandages?” I thought.
She opened the cabin door and we peeked in.
“There’s a bed in the back,” she said. “The dining area folds out into another bed. The bed is large enough for two, but there’s plenty of space on the floor for a couple more people, too.”
We looked skeptically at each other.
The naked boy picked up candles from the dining table and started hitting Jill over and over.
“Hawk. Stop,” she said gently.
Katie’s eyes widened. “Hawk?” she mouthed.
“Is there a bathroom?” Kelsey asked.
“Most people just come inside our place,” Jill said coolly. “There’s no running water in here. I’ll be right back with some blankets from inside.”
Jill walked out and we stared at each other for a moment before Katie spoke up.
“We can’t stay here.”
“Dude. We already paid for it,” I said.
Kelsey was poking around to see what we were getting into. “You guys, this is a camper. This ‘bedroom’ does not have the queen size bed they promised. And I call dibs on the bed.”
“We really can’t stay here,” Katie urged.
“Did you see that broken down piano that was in the woods?” I asked. “I feel like we’re going to get murdered here.”
“We are,” Kelsey stopped sifting through drawers and held her hand out. “Look.
She was holding a bag of human teeth and a lock of golden hair.
“No,” Katie said. “No. We are not staying here.”
“These are somebody’s teeth! Or maybe it’s lots of people’s teeth?” Kelsey started to plead with me since Katie was on her side already. “We only paid $60 for this place. I know I watch a lot of shows about murder, but what if our teeth go in this bag next? I’m fine with losing $20 tonight.”
“Guys,” I said. “It’s an adventure. Think about the stories we can tell!”
“If we live to tell about them!” Katie snapped.
“Listen, I have to pee,” I said. “I’m going to go around back—because I don’t want to go inside. Then we should run into town and just eat and drink, get back late, crash, and leave first thing in the morning. We have a great place lined up for tomorrow. We can suffer through this.”
The girls glared at me.
“We’ll think about it,” Kelsey said. She dropped the bag of teeth back in a drawer. “We’ll be at the car.”
I walked out back to a stream that trickled behind the cabin. “Well at least this is nice,” I thought and explored for a moment before squatting near the stream. I turned back to make my way back to the house when I realized that the “cabin” had a fake façade. It wasn’t a wooden cabin—just an old camper. I snapped a photo and walked back to the car, where Kelsey and Katie were talking to Jill. Hawk was fully clothed and his father, a thin but muscular man with dreadlocks and a killer tan had appeared.
“I’d be careful if you do pull up back there,” he was saying. “We have a leach field, so you don’t want the car to get stuck.”
We loaded back into Kelsey’s car.
“What the hell is a leach field?” Kelsey asked.
“One step ahead of you,” I said, Googling it from my phone. “It’s like a cross between a toilet and a compost pile.”
“What?” Katie yelled. “We’d get stuck in their shit? We can’t stay here you guys!”
“And check this out,” I said, showing them the back of the camper on my phone.
“Yup,” Kelsey said. “We’re getting murdered.
For the next several hours, we loaded ourselves up with food and alcohol and debated whether to go back or not. When herbal and liquid courage kicked in and we had peed an adequate amount of times to believe we’d be fine in the woods, we made our way back and rushed quickly inside.
We sat in a circle on the floor that would soon be my bed to take in some of Colorado’s finest herbs and contemplate our situation.
“What if we get murdered here?” I asked. “There’s no lock on the door.”
“Well, the bed’s mine, bitches,” Kelsey said. “So good luck to the both of you.”
“I’m taking the dining room bed,” Katie said. “You can be the sacrifice here on the floor.”
In my contemplative state, I giggled thinking of someone coming in with a sickle and sticking it straight into my back.
“I should let my mom know I’m in Colorado,” I said. “Just in case I die tonight.”
We laughed for a moment until Katie’s face cringed in horror.
“What is that?” She pointed up.
Kelsey and I looked—hanging overhead was a horse’s tail with the claw of a bird attached to it.
Katie immediately started to cry—maneuvering somewhere between complete fear and laughter.
“These are tears of terror,” she sobbed. “Terror tears.”
We were ready for the nightmare to end.
Morning came. There were no stabbings. We kept our teeth. We didn’t even lose a lock of hair.
Maybe it’s time to go back?