I wait just beyond the treeline. I like to listen. I have to listen.
It’s a little tricky. I can’t reveal myself too soon or everything is lost. It’s all part of the game; part of the code. It’s not going to fall on me to screw it up.
Let me back up. They call me Johnny Blood. When I was alive, my name was John Hansen. I must admit, I’m a fan of the name Johnny Blood.
I used to hang out around Camp Snowgrass during the offseason. I liked to climb the trees and borrow a boat for an afternoon. One day I happened upon a group of older children who did not take kindly to my presence. They threw rocks at me. The first couple didn’t bother me, but once they started to draw blood, something snapped. The townsfolk found the bodies in one of the boats. The boat was filled to the brim with blood – no small feat, let me tell you – and the bodies were hacked to pieces.
There was a quick bit of mob justice, and John Hansen was no more.
I still don’t know quite how – lightning strike to my casket seems the most likely culprit – but I awoke in my grave with a single goal: kill those responsible for my death. Also, to kill teenagers. I don’t know exactly why I am driven to kill random teenagers, but I am. You won’t find me complaining about it.
You’ve heard some variation of this story a hundred times by now. So what makes me so special? Nothing really. Just another dime-a-dozen killer. I wanted to keep this diary for…oh, who knows what reason. Boredom, I guess.
Where were we? Oh yes. “Just beyond the treeline.”
It’s a tradition among visitors to Camp Snowgrass to gather around the campfire and tell the story of Johnny Blood. I say it’s tricky because there’s a timing to it all. I can’t make a noise until they finish telling the story. So I have to be within earshot, but I also have to be perfectly still. Easier said than done when waiting in a forest literally crawling with all manner of bugs. I can’t even reach under my mask to scratch my nose. I swear those kids at the campfire wait to tell my story on purpose, just to put me through all of this. I’m glad they’ll be dead soon.
The campfire stories always start the same way. They tell the one about the hook on the car door. The stranger in the backseat. Eventually, someone says, “Sure, those are great. But let me tell you a really scary story. And it happened right here in this camp.” As soon as my story is over – embellished a little more every time it is told, naturally – I step on a dried branch on the ground and move away quickly. They’ll all snap their heads around and someone will say, “Did you guys see that? I think I saw something.”
And then it’s on.
Last night, a new group of campers came in. So there I stood, just out of sight, listening to their voices unite in song.
They started in song. They always start in song. Someone who knows 3 chords pulls out their guitar and butchers their way through a handful of songs. It’s always “Kum Ba Yah,” followed by a few songs that were popular 10+ years ago. It’s like a bad coffee shop performance, but with more marshmallows.
The sweet, sweet sounds of “Kum Ba Yah,” started up and I got myself mentally prepared. They followed that up with “Let It Be,” then “Onward Christian Soldiers.” They finished up with “It Is Well.”
Then they prayed.
It’s a church group. I’m stalking a church group.
I mentioned before that there are a lot of killers out there like me. We have a Slack channel where we swap stories. Dejectedly, I typed, “Church group. They’re praying. Can you believe it?”
The replies came fast and furious, which led me to believe none of them were doing any killing that night either. Slow day, I guess.
I stood there listening but not really hearing anything. Eventually I heard, “Let me tell you a really scary story. And it happened right here in this camp.” My ears perked up. Maybe there was hope for them yet.
The story was all wrong. I didn’t hear a single word about dismembered bodies or boats filled with blood. Not once did they call me Johnny Blood. They referred to me as, “that poor, tortured soul,” and they all agreed to pray for me.
The story was done and it was time for me to play my part. So I stepped on a dried branch and moved away quickly, but my heart wasn’t really in it. I didn’t even hear anyone ask, “Did you guys see that?” Probably because their heads were all bowed in prayer.
Disheartened, I trudged back to my dilapidated cabin. How was I supposed to kill these kids if they weren’t scared of me? How was I supposed to kill them if they didn’t engage in any lewd sexual encounters? That’s how I always kick off my killing spree: wait until a couple is off in the throes of passion, then pick up two quick kills. The group doesn’t notice they’re missing for a long time, as everyone believes they’re engaging in some passionate necking.
Sure, I could still kill these kids, but what’s the point? The other guys would all mock me. “Tell me again about the time you snuck up on those praying kids and ripped their heads off with piano wire,” they’ll laugh. They’re ruthless.
Maybe this will be different. Maybe this will be the kind of church camp where everyone rebels and are hopping into each other’s bunks every night.
I don’t really believe that, but I have to hope.
Tomorrow. Tomorrow I’ll head back out and watch. Maybe they aren’t as squeaky clean as they appear.