What was That?
by Michael Signal
(1) "What was that?" Bryan asked with a cringe in his voice. "I think it was some sort of cat," Spencer replied. Then they heard it again. "Me-ow," bellowed out in a deep tone. It was so slow that it sounded like two words. "Spencer," Bryan said faintly, "that's not a cat." "No, I suppose not," said Spencer.
(2) Bryan had stopped walking, but Spencer crept up to the next tree. "Spencer, we're too far. We should go back," Bryan pleaded.
(3) Bryan and Spencer were on a camping trip with Spencer's uncles. The uncles had gone to collect wood for roasting hot dogs. They told Bryan and Spencer to stay at the campsite, but Bryan and Spencer had wandered at least a mile away from the site. The trees were all starting to look the same, and the boys weren't that good with directions. They were lost. "It's not like we know how to get back to the campsite," Spencer said calmly. "Me-ow!" boomed out, and then again. "Me-ow!
(4) Bryan mustered up just enough courage to catch up to Spencer. He grabbed him squarely by the shoulders and stared straight into his eyes. He said, "I'm not ashamed of my fear," in a firm, but soft voice. "We should go."
(5) "I'm not ashamed of your fear either," was the first half of Spencer's response. Then he continued, "I've always known you were a 'scaredy cat'." "Do you want to be eaten?" Bryan asked. Spencer answered with his own question. "By a cat?" he asked. "Meeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeowwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwww!"
(6) That startled both boys, but Spencer quickly regained his wits. "I most definitely do not want to be eaten by a cat," Bryan responded surely. "Fair enough," Spencer said. "Neither do I, but I'm pretty certain that we won't get eaten out here."
(7) Then, the strange meows changed. The next sound from the woods changed Spencer's demeanor completely. "Spen-cerrrrrrrrrrrr..." creaked from the trees and trailed off.
(8) Bryan froze in his tracks, for just a second, but Spencer leaped like he had rocket packs in his sneakers. He stretched up for a tree branch and pulled himself high from the grassy ground. "Get up here," he yelled. But when Spencer looked down, he didn't see Bryan. He shook so hard he slipped from the tree. He grabbed the same branch on the way down. It slowed his fall as it snapped from the tree. Then he slowly crashed to the ground with a light thud. He sprung to his feet in fractions of a second, and he almost sprinted off. But the sound of laughter stopped him dead. It was roaring hysterical laughter. It was on the ground, crouched and kicking laughter. It was also familiar laughter.
(9) "Uncle Pete!" Spencer screamed. He spun around toward the laughter and saw his uncle, Pete. Pete was on the ground rolling back and forth, laughing in uncontrollable spasms. Pete's brother, Mick, had managed to calm down enough to climb to his feet, but he still pointed and laughed at Spencer. "Did you see his face?" Mick huffed, between laughs.
(10) Bryan was just beginning to understand what had happened. He had run the same time that Spencer climbed. They both stopped when they heard the familiar laughs of Spencer's uncles, but Bryan had run pretty far. He turned back towards the voices when he heard Pete start to talk. Bryan stood, staring at the pranksters, with his hand over his chest as if his heart was just about to give out. "Spencer, I don't like your family anymore," Bryan said. He may have been joking.
(11) By now, Pete was also standing. His laughter gave way to a more serious tone. "We told you to stay at the campsite," Pete scolded. "We were playing a joke, but we also wanted to teach you a lesson."
(12) Mick joined in with, "We got back to the campsite, but you weren't there. It didn't take us long to find you though, so we just followed you, and then-" Spencer cut his uncle off in mid-sentence. "We know what happened next," he said. "So I guess you won't wander off again?" Pete asked. The boys absolutely did not wander off again.