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The Unseen

Light filtered through the canopy of manuka trees trapping the summer’s day like a duvet over a winter’s bed. The three young boys, Boots, Fats and Jimmy-boy negotiated their way along the narrow dirt track, laden with an assortment of sleeping bags, pots, and kitchen utensils. Tina, Fats’s German shepherd, scouted ahead, returning momentarily with drooling tongue and eyes ablaze.
Jimmy-boy turned his back to the overgrown branches that blocked the pathway and pushed himself into the clearing. Fats, unfortunately copped the recoil of fauna in the side of his head.
“Jeez Jimmy, you idiot, watch what you’re doing man!”
But Jimmy-boy and Boots had already dropped their gear and run to where a huge gum tree stretched its branches to the sky.
Soon, after a series of big time wrestling moves in the long grass, the boys pitched their tent in the flattened area they had created.
‘This is awesome eh bro?” Fats slouched against the large tree trunk watching the other two finish banging pegs into the ground.
“We’re like the survivors on TV stranded on a desert island.” Fats continued.
Jimmy-boy stopped what he was doing and looked over at Fats.
“Except we’ve got a tent, sleeping bags, a torch and heaps of canned food from your mum’s pantry.”
Fats’s eyes lit up.
“That’s right, food. I’m sure it’s kai time!”
Fats crawled along the ground on all fours, sniffing and growling like a hungry bear. As soon as he was close enough Boots was on his back riding him into the ground.
“Not so fast Papa bear, baby bear is hungry too you know!”
Jimmy-boy was soon knocking them both over and another play fight ensued.

Later that afternoon the three friends lay on their bellies, sharing a large can of fruit salad, their heads poking from the triangular doorway to their tent. Tina rolled on her back in the evening light, desperately trying to satisfy a persistent itch.

Evening turned to night, shadows danced around the nylon ceiling as the boys talked, laughed and huddled in their sleeping bags.
“What do you mean you’re not scared of ghosts?” Boots propped himself up on one elbow shining the torch at Jimmy-boy.
“It’s all about belief man, didn’t you go to church?”
“Like the holy ghost!” Fats thought he’d add his two cents worth.
“Eh?” Boots was becoming more confused.
“It’s the ghost with holes in it.” Fats eyes grew wide as he stretched his hands in front of Boots as if casting a spell.
“If you don’t believe in ghosts then how can you see one?” Jimmy-boy put on his serious tone.
Boots wasn’t convinced. “Don’t question the unseen!”
Fats quickly grabbed Boots by the throat, “The unseen bony hands strangling your dirty neck”.

Tina’s bark stopped them all from launching into another play fight. Instead they wriggled themselves to the other end of the tent and pulled up the zipper. Tina could be heard scrambling around in the undergrowth. Boots gripped the torch, its blue beam scanning the darkness. Suddenly Tina went quiet, and so too did the three boys. A hissing screech broke the silence and Tina was back in action.
“What was that?” Fats moved closer to Boots.
The next screech sounded closer. Tina suddenly bounded from the bush, the three boys screamed at once heading quickly in reverse, their sleeping bags pulled up around their ears.
The screeching intensified, Fats grabbed the torch from Boots, Boots grabbed a butter knife and Jimmy-boy grabbed a can of baked beans. The three boys stared, wide-eyed, ears fixed, huddled together in desperation.

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“What is it? There’s someone out there.” Boots looked to Jimmy-boy for a reaction.
Fats stared wide-eyed at the other two, “It’s Dracula, I’m sure of it, it’s like that movie.”
“Shut up Fats, it’s not Dracula!” Jimmy-boy hardly sounded convincing.

The screeching shifted in tone and a growling hiss took over. Tina and whatever it was outside were in a full-on fight. The boys screamed when a dark shape jumped onto the tent. Tina followed close behind collapsing the tent inwards.
The boys yelled at the top of their lungs until just as suddenly as it had started, the whole ruckus stopped. The three boys lay for sometime, too scared to move.

Slowly they pulled the poles back into position and made their way to the front entrance. Fats scanned the immediate vicinity. Tina’s eyes pierced the darkness like glowing lights. The three boys jumped and screamed for the third time that night. Fats called Tina over when they realised it was her.
“Good girl, you were protecting us eh.”
“What are you talking about, she almost got us killed!” Boots was still shaking.
“She did not.”
Jimmy–boy interrupted. “She’s got fur around her mouth, it was probably a possum.”
Fats took a closer look. “Or one of Dracula’s kids!”
Boots was already heading back into the safety of the tent, with Fats following closely behind.
Jimmy-boy was left at the entrance by himself. “Whatever. You guys are chickens!”
Boots gripped his sleeping bag extra tightly. “If you’re not scared, why don’t you go and have a look!”
More scuffling sounds were heard outside. Jimmy-boy pulled down the door zipper and quickly rolled over to the others.
“Sweet as.”

Fats gripped the torch, reminding the others that it belonged to his father. A hooting morepork could be heard calling in the distance. The three boys lay in silence, listening to the sounds of the night. It took two hours before they finally fell asleep.

The next morning they found animal fur scattered around the camp, but no dead possum.
“Tina must have carried it off somewhere.” The others agreed to what Fats had suggested but none of them were interested in finding it.
“Could’ve been one of those ghosts you’re not scared of.” Boots laughed as they walked the track towards home.
“I wasn’t scared.” Jimmy-boy stated, Boots laughed even harder.
“What was the baked beans can for then?” Fats was laughing too.
Jimmy-boy couldn’t help but join in. “What about the torch Fats, Oh it’s my dads… so I have to hold onto it. And your butter knife Boots, did you want to butter your chicken sandwich? Ha ha!”

As the three boys continued home, they laughed and carried on about their night in the bush, recalling every detail of what had happened, who was scared, who wasn’t, and what they’d do if it ever happened again. There was one thing they had all agreed on by the time they reached home. No one would find out how scared they really were on the night they were attacked by an unseen furry ghost.

(c) Wiremu Grace

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