A week or so ago I posted Join the Fun: You Write the Ending. It was a creative writing exercise where I posted a story, Legend of Spirit Creek, and left the ending open. The idea was for readers of the story to complete their version of the end of the story in 200 words or less.
I would like to thank jsrichmond and Mike Watson for participating in this exercise. Both of them had great endings to the story! Click here to read their endings.
I was hoping to gain more participants, so I may try this exercise again at some point in the future.
As promised, I have posted the short story in its entirety that includes my ending to the story. I hope you enjoy it.
LEGEND OF SPIRIT CREEK
Robert M. Roberts
We sat around the campfire smoking cigars and drinking beer. It was a perfect night with the sky full of stars as we listened to the ripple of the creek rolling by. Other than the croak of a distant frog, our voices were the only sounds that could be heard.
It was good to be with my old buddies again. The four of us had been friends since childhood and were in the scouts together. Although our lives had taken us to different parts of the country, we always managed to get together for this most important reunion. Jim, Donny, Joe and I had been getting together every five years for a camping excursion. This year it was my turn to pick the place and make all the arrangements.
After searching the internet for months, I chose Spirit Creek in Oklahoma for our get- together. It was centrally located for all of us, had good trout fishing, and it was isolated from other campers. The guys hadn’t changed much over the years, except for Joe. He had seen some tough duty during the Gulf War, but in spite of it, he had become a successful attorney in Des Moines. Two failed marriages due to his excessive drinking haunted him, and he had become cynical and almost mean-spirited at times, especially after drinking too much booze. But we were friends, and friends overlook shortcomings.
Just like when we were kids, each one of us told our same stale stories as we drank and laughed into the night. I piped in with the Indian legend of Spirit Creek that I had read about when I was doing my research for this trip. The guys sat like statues as I relayed my story.
“According to Indian legend, about a quarter of a mile downstream, there is a fork in the creek,” I pointed. “If you cross to the other side west at the fork, you’ll enter the spirit world. Only Native Americans are welcome, and outsiders will be dealt with accordingly.”
“Why would anyone want to enter the spirit world?” Donny asked.
“To visit relatives that had passed, I would guess,” I replied.
“Man, that’s some spooky stuff,” Jim added.
Joe took a gulp of his beer and let out a belch. “What a crock of shit,” he said, slurring his words. “You’d have to be a damn fool to believe that Indian crap!”
“Lighten up man. I was just making conversation. We all know it’s just a myth.”
You could have cut the silence around the campfire with a knife, as one by one, each excused themselves to turn in for the night. Everyone turned in except Joe, who mumbled as he grabbed another beer from the ice chest.
The next morning, I was the first one up and started stoking the fire for the coffeepot. A pile of beer cans were strewn next to the chair where Joe had sat the night before. After the coffee perked, I went to the guys tents to wake them up. Joe’s tent was empty and his cot looked like it hadn’t been slept on. I began calling out his name as Donny and Jim emerged from their tents.
“What’s going on?” Jim asked.
“Joe’s not in his tent. I wonder where he’s at,” I said.
“Oh, he’s probably just scouting around. He’ll show up,” Jim said as he poured himself a cup of coffee.
An hour passed and no sign of Joe. We all started to worry and began combing the creek, each going in a different direction.
“Come quick, downstream,” Donny yelled.
When Jim and I reached Donny at the fork, we couldn’t believe what we saw. Joe lay on the bank, his clothes soaked, and his lifeless eyes stared at the gravel bar beneath his chin. He was dead. None of us could utter a word as we saw the three crude arrows with feathers on the ends protruding from his back.
We just stood there for a couple of minutes. Jim mumbled, “Legend, my ass,” as we turned and looked across the creek.