July 30, 2016 1 am
I knew what I had to do. I could not let the ranger come back and endanger my family. He actually had the nerve to come to the tent where my brothers and sisters were staying. I needed to get him away from the family.
Luckily, the storm passed quickly. My dad told me to stay in the tent but this was something I had to do. I quietly got up, grabbed my knapsack and snuck out of the tent. The moon was now out and I could actually see without a flashlight. I knew where the ranger station was and headed that way. I wasn’t sure what I would do when I got there, but I could not let him near my family again.
There was a light in the small house, or should I say ranger station? I knocked on the door and waited as I heard the footsteps coming to answer my knock. I didn’t know what I was going to say. The door opened and to my surprise it was a different ranger.
“Yes, may I help you?”
“I am here to talk with the other ranger. Could you get him please?”
“Sorry, but I am the only ranger here.”
“When will the other one get back?”
“You misunderstand. I am the only ranger. There is no other ranger at this site.”
I now knew for sure that what I was afraid of was actually true. That thing had come back with me and was determined to take me back again to where I had been.
“Why do you think there is another ranger?”
“I am so sorry; this has been a terrible mistake. I should never have bothered you.”
“Hold on a minute. I can see that you are very upset and that something is really wrong. Please tell me what it is and maybe I can help.”
“You can’t help. You would never believe what I told you. I really have to go.”
“I will believe what you tell me and I will help.”
“How can you say that? You have no idea how crazy what I have to say is.”
“Tell me, does it have anything to do with the stream?”
He could tell by the look on my face that he was right!
“Please, come inside and sit down. I will tell you why I will believe you.”
It looked like he had tears in his eyes. Maybe it was the light but he really did look sad.
“Okay, but I can’t stay long as my parents do not know I left the campsite.”
We sat down and he looked at me and said, “I had a son about your age. Twelve years ago we came here camping with some other families. My son was the oldest and pretty responsible. The other families had six kids altogether. I offered my son’s services to watch the kids for a couple of hours each afternoon to give the adults some time to do other things. On the third day, my son came to me and said there were some weird things happening down by the stream. He said he did not feel comfortable taking the kids there anymore.
The stream is not that big and it isn’t really very deep. Even the smallest kid could stand at the deepest point and walk out without a problem.
I asked him what he meant by strange things. He said that he tied the tube we gave him to a tree and the kids would all get on and float down a little ways. He would then pull the rope and they would come back up and do it all over again. He said that one time it felt like someone was holding on to the tube as he tried to pull it back. He said another time the stream started to rush really hard and one of the kids started to go downstream. He caught him and was able to drag him out of the water but thought he saw something in the water. Finally, he said one time half of the tube disappeared and he really had to pull to get the tube back. He said again, ‘I am not going to take the kids there anymore. Something is wrong’.
Well you can imagine what I said. I told him that was the most ridiculous story he had ever told. He was really good at making up stories, but this one was one of his best. I also told him if he had come to me and said he did not want to watch the other kids anymore, I would have said ‘okay’ and figured out another plan. But, since he created this lie, he would be watching the kids tomorrow and they would be going down to the stream. He tried to explain it wasn’t a story but I knew better. Finally, I said I would not listen to any more, and sent him to bed.
The next day he tried again to get out of it, but he finally did as I instructed and took the kids down to the stream to play for a couple of hours.
That was the last time I saw my boy.” (This time I could see his eyes were filled with tears. His voice was shaky as he told more.) “When he didn’t come back with the kids, we went down to see what they were doing. There was no sign of them, no sign of the tube and no one saw what happened to them.
I looked for my boy for the rest of the summer and had no luck. I quit my job and became a ranger. Eleven years ago I got them to let me be the ranger for Katahdin Stream Campground. I have been here ever since.
So, yes I will believe you and I will do everything I can to help you. But, you have to tell me what happened.”
I looked at the ranger and said, “I know where your son is. I know where the other children are as well.”
I actually knew it was his son. He had somehow gotten out of the water with the kids. When he left the campsite, he was going to the kids. He kept them out of sight in case I was a threat to them. That is why he couldn’t leave. He couldn’t take them with him and he wasn’t leaving them alone. I think he planned all along to get me home by jumping back in the water and going back to the kids.
“What do you mean? How can you possibly know where my son is?”
I then told him the whole story and pulled my diary out of my knapsack. You need to read this. I wrote some in the beginning and some at the end, but I did not write what is in-between.
He opened the diary and started to read. A couple of pages in to the diary he gasped!
“This is my son’s handwriting! I would recognize it anywhere. He always kept a diary.”
BAM, BAM, BAM! “OPEN UP NOW!”