Elizabeth was sure that if there were such things as Murmer Men, her, Connor and Kenny were likely standing directly on their entry to our world. Second thoughts to this adventure had passed her half a mile ago. She was on her thirtieth thought. And then her thirty-first. They were thoughts on auto replay like those 24-hour YouTube videos that play the same skit over and over. We should go back. We’re going to die. We should go back. We’re going to die. We should go… Her thoughts were interrupted with a long, low groan. All three of them stopped setting up the tent and looked through the falling rain at the miles of forest that surrounded them.
“Did you hear that?” asked Kenny.
“Just a frog,” said Connor. They both pointed their flash lights at Elizabeth who didn’t say a word.
Her eyes just looked at them, large, terrified. Then she pushed the words out, “Frog. Stop being a girl, Kenny.”
Connor was the last to bend down and squeeze into the tent. His boots were covered in the muddy rain water as soon as he stepped in. Elizabeth and Kenny watched his reaction to the amount of water that was in the tent until they all blew out laughter like balloons, releasing the tension of terror that had accumulated for the last few hours. The fact that they were even in that tent was just ridiculous. They looked up to see water seeping through the top, and noticed the smell of mud and muck had intensified in their tiny area while Elizabeth and Kenny sat in what could, at that moment, be used as a kiddie pool.
“It was a tent… for my bedroom,” she admitted. “I was five.”
Connor sat halfway on Kenny before sliding down beside him in the water. “My ass is going to be all wrinkled by the morning.”
“Why do I feel like we’re going to drown in this thing?” asked Kenny.
Elizabeth slapped the water around her legs, trying to angle it at Kenny. Kenny splashed back. Connor joined in, accidentally dropping his flashlight into the water. They heard a quick zzzt and his light was out.
“Connor!” they both yelled. A thump noise emanated between his shoulder and Elizabeth’s fist.
“Shit!” was his only reply.
“It’s eleven-fifteen,” said Kenny. “forty-five more minutes.” They took turns looking at each other.
“I was six,” she started. Kenny and Connor waited for her to continue. “I was six when I overheard my mom and dad talking about them. About the Murmer Men. She was ten when she saw one.”
“Who, your mom?” asked Kenny.
“Yeah,” she wiped water from her forehead and hit the tent roof as though that would stop the leaks.
“A Murmer Man?” asked Connor.
“Bull,” said Connor.
“I never got to meet my Grandmother. She died when my mom was ten. That’s when she saw it.”
There was silence for a moment.
“No, you’re trying to get us going,” said Kenny.
“Have either of you ever met my Grandma??”
They both looked at each other, then at Elizabeth. There was another groan. It was a little closer this time. Elizabeth tried desperately to remember what a damn frog sounded like.
“I saw two frogs doing it before,” said Connor.
Kenny forced a nervous laugh. “Gross,” he said.
“You guys don’t have to believe me,” she said. “I guess we’ll all know tonight.” She raised her eyebrows.
“Eleven-thirty,” said Kenny.
“Thirty more minutes,” said Connor. “That’s when they will come out and feed. Who wants some jerky?”
“Really?” said Elizabeth. “You want to eat now when they are going to be here in thirty minutes?”
“Might as well fatten up for them!”
“Just so you know, I’m going to push you out first if these things are real!” her eyes stayed on Connor.
“I’m actually hungry,” said Kenny as he maneuvered into his bag and passed chunks of dehydrated beef to each of them.
They listened to the rain pouring over the tent while chewing in silence. It was eleven-forty-five when they heard the next groan which had a touch of a growl and sounded more like a “mmmmmmrrrrr”. In timing, all three looked below them before looking at each other.
“Was that?” Kenny’s eyes were large.
Elizabeth could feel her heart beat in her chest. “Yeah. It sounded like it was…” she jumped up, backing into the top of the tent. “What was that? Did you feel that? Something just moved underneath me!” Tears started to fill her eyes. “What was that?” She could now hear her heart thumping in her ears.
“Nothing, I didn’t feel anything”, said Kenny. “But I heard something…under us.”
“Bull, you didn’t feel anything. You’re just messing with us again, Liz.”
“No! No, I’m not! Something is down there. We should go.”
“Out there?” Kenny said.
“Yes, we can’t stay here,” she said as she unzipped the tent, pointed the flashlight out before poking her head out and then looked around. She saw something to her left in the muddy water. There was a trail of water in the shape of a V, kind of like a beaver makes when pushing a log through a stream. But it was raining, so all the animals should have been tucked away. And the trail was too wide for an animal that could hide beneath two inches of water. A new trail formed in front of her, going in the same direction. There were two of them. And again, she heard the “mmmmmmrrrrr”. She ducked back into the tent and zipped it.
“Calm down, Liz,” said Kenny. “You’re going to pass out. Breath slower.”
“There’s something out there. For real. I’m calling my mom.”
“No!” said Connor, “You’re going to get us in trouble!”
She pulled her phone from under her poncho and started to dial, but Connor reached up and knocked it out of her hands.
She tried to catch it before it fell in the water. “No!” she yelled while her and Kenny reached into the water for it. By the time they pulled it out, it was dead. She glared at Connor.
His eyes were huge while his hands waived in front of his face. “Liz, I’m sorry. I didn’t mean to break your phone. I just can’t get in trouble again. I’m sorry!” His head was knocked down to the left with her right fist.
“We’re going to die, Connor!” She punched is face back with her left fist. “It’s all your fault! We’re going to die!” She felt the tent move as Kenny stood up and grabbed her from behind.
“Liz, stop!” he said. “Stop it!”
Connor grabbed his face. “I’m sorry, Liz.”
Kenny let go as soon as she calmed down a bit.
She plopped down in the cold water. She hated that water. She hated being there. She hated Connor for making them go. “What time is it?”
“Eleven-fifty-eight,” Kenny said, head in his hand. “Maybe you didn’t really see anything.”
“I did!” she said. “Maybe Connor should go out there. He’s the one that wanted to see them so bad. Maybe they’ll leave us alone after feasting on him.” She moved her leg in an effort to kick Connor, but the confined tent saved him from another one of her blows.
“You want me to go out there? I’ll go out there. You’re right. I do want to see them.” He got to his feet and unzipped the tent. “Kenny, give me your flashlight.” He took the flashlight and directed it out of the tent. “I don’t see anything.”
“Good, then get out.”
“Liz, maybe he should stay in here.”
“Maybe he shouldn’t,” she said.
Connor climbed out of the tent and stood outside with the tent door open, hand gripped to the tent zipper, just in case. “I’ll let you guys know if I see anything.”
“Give me your phone,” Elizabeth said to Kenny.
“My mom took it, remember?”
“Ugh!” She punched the water.
Outside the tent they heard “mmmmmmrrrrr” and then Connor saying “What the…” Then there were two or three of the same noise, right outside the tent. Elizabeth and Kenny backed a few inches into the wall of the tent.
“Guys?” Connor squeeked as his hand gripped tighter onto the door’s zipper. Then he started to scream as his body was yanked to a lying position and then pulled forward with instant speed. The tent followed behind him, his hand still clenching it tight, with Elizabeth and Kenny trapped inside. They screamed as they tried to keep their heads above the water while falling over each other, bouncing over bumps and hitting – what they assumed to be – trees. Then it all stopped. All but Connor’s screams which continued outside the tent until they faded further and further away.
End Part 2