My name is Ted Howard and my wife's name is Beth. We have three children; Carl aged 10, Mike age 8 and Beth age 5. It all started so very innocently with my wife and me enjoying our first vacation by ourselves in over ten years and evolved into something that seems like a fantastic dream than reality. Over the past ten years we have had three children and every vacation had included each of them as they came along. Now, with the children staying with my wife's parents for the summer, we were going on our first vacation alone. A few months before my vacation I bought a trailer, which would allow my wife and I to travel the country while enjoying the comfortable accommodations provided by our home away from home.
We decided to make our way to San Francisco and from there head north on highway101 taking whatever side trips caught our interest, until we reached the Crescent City at the northern end of the state. Earlier in the year, while putting away some things in our attic, I had found an old advertisement from the late 50's or early 60's about a scenic campground called Dunland, which was some twenty miles west of 101 and around 120 miles north of San Francisco. I was not sure where the advertisement came from, but had a hunch that my father must have picked it up sometime before his death in the early 70's. The brochure showed an idyllic campground set in the midst of mighty redwoods, and a nearby stream provided a swimming hole with a pebbly breach. I showed it to my wife and she immediately suggested that we stop there during our trip.
"Well, it looks good in those brochures, but they are kinda old," I told Beth. "There is no telling what the place looks like now."
"I bet the place looks even better now," Beth insisted. "They have probably made all kinds of improvements. Give the site's location it is a perfect place for camping. I just bet they have all the hookups for RVs and the like. Besides we are going off on an adventure and whatever the place is like now, it will make for some interesting memories to tell people."
So it was then we started out on our vacation making a quick tour of San Francisco before heading north stopping at various wineries and campgrounds along the way. Finally we reached the turnoff toward Dunland, which turned out to be on one of the most winding roads I had ever seen. After some forty-five minutes of intense driving, it was with relief that I saw the small sign on the left side of the road, which announced that we had reached our destination. I turned into the campground and headed down a small dirt road until a sign in front of a small beat-up trailer indicated that we should stop and check in before proceeding further. I went up to the door of the trailer and knocked. Almost immediately the door opened and a small rosy cheeked man opened the door "Hi, there," the man greeted me, "and welcome to Dunland. We are pretty well filled up this time of year but I bet I can find a good site for you to park your rig. My name is Clark Clark. I and my wife Gretchen Clark take care of this place."
"I'm Ted Howard and that's my wife Beth out in the truck," I responded. "That's quite a drive coming down the highway here. We saw an old advertisement about this place while planning our vacation and decided to stop by for awhile."
"That must have been an old ad you saw. We haven't advertised in years, but not much has changed down through the years. I'm sure you will have a good stay. We do have a sewage dump and we can hook you up to electricity; but, I'm afraid that the generator goes off at 11:00 o'clock. Still and all, you will find yourself surrounded by a great redwood forest and there if a great creek where you can swim if you are so inclined. All we ask is ten dollars a night or fifty dollars a week. There are fresh water hookups at each camp."
"We were planning on staying only a few days before moving on," I explained, "so put me down for three days."
"Good enough," Clark smiled, "but if you decide to stay longer come back and I'll give you the weekly rate. Just sign the register and plunk down your money and I'll direct you to the best camp we have open at this time. I've got a good one overlooking the creek. Just have to warn you about the chipmunks and blue jays, they are pests."
"That is just the natural surroundings we are looking for," I assured the man as I signed the register and gave him the money, "we want to see a bit of the wild."
"Well, you came to the right place. There are plenty of hiking trails and like I said a nice creek. If you need supplies, you will find Fort Hobbs about fifteen miles down the road. It is the biggest town in these parts and you'll be able to find almost anything you want there.
"Your camp will be number fifteen. You can't miss it, fourth camp on the right overlooking the creek. The sewage dump is in the pullout around back of this trailer. Just come back and let me know if there is anything else that you need. My wife and I are here most of the time."
"Thank you," I said impressed by the man's demeanor, "I'm sure we are going to enjoy our stay. I'll let you know if there is any change in our plans."
I went back and drove down the road until I came to camp fifteen. Beth and I quickly set about unhooking the trailer from the truck and attaching the water supply to our trailer. When we had everything in place we decided on taking a quick look around our surroundings. We walked down to the stream and found the pebbly beach, which looked unchanged from the advertisements we had looked at before starting on our vacation. Several couples and about half a dozen children were swimming and playing in the water. We then walked around the campground area. The camps had everything from tents to older model RVs set up in them, which appeared to have been there for a fairly long time. Having made the circuit of our new surroundings we returned to our trailer and set about fixing dinner.
After dinner I started a fire in the fire pit and we sat looking into the flames as the evening shadows grew. I took my wife's hand and asked her if she wanted to take another walk around the park before we went to bed; however, she said that she was tired out from the trip. I told her to go inside and I would make a quick once around the place before joining her. After giving Beth a kiss I turned and walked out into the growing darkness of the oncoming night.
It must have been half past nine when I started my walk and I noticed that all the children were no longer running around the camps. The night was warm and the air was filled with the fragrance of wood fires. As I walked along most of the people in the camps called out to me wishing me a good evening and I responded in kind. I passed camp after camp with each of the campers wishing me the best. The peoples' friendliness was remarkable and my heart was filled with a sense of belonging the like of which I had never felt before in all my life.
As I passed one camp where a tent stood, a man stepped away from the fire and came to greet me. He introduced himself as Fred Wilson and shook my hand with a firm and friendly grip. I told him my name and soon found myself going with him to his campsite to be introduced to his wife Carla. He offered me a seat by the fire and passed me a beer. Fred had a long full beard and long flowing hair, which cascaded over his shoulders. His wife was fairly attractive and wore a long dress.
"Welcome to Dunland," Fred said as I opened the can of brew, "Carla and I have been here for around five weeks. I lost my job due to this rotten economy and they foreclosed on our house. I'm afraid we find ourselves among the newly homeless."
"I'm sorry to hear of your misfortune. My wife and I have been lucky so far, but I know that if things get worse we could be in the same situation as you."
"I'm glad to hear that you're doing better than us," said Carla. "We're not too bad off. We still have some savings and the monthly rates here are very high. There are a lot of fun people around. If you stay for very long, I'm sure you will find that out for yourself."
"Well, if the people are all as friendly as you and Fred, I'm sure we will enjoy our stay," I answered. "Here we are surrounded by redwoods, a beautiful stream flowing by just a step or two from our camp, who could ask for more?"
We talked for a bit longer. They offered me another beer but I declined and asked them to visit our camp and assured them that when they did the beer would be on me. I stood up and shook both their hands before continuing my way through the campground.
As I passed the area of the beach and although darkness had set in, I could see a few people frolicking in the water. I noticed that all the children I had seen earlier were nowhere in sight. Although I could not be sure, due to the darkness, it appeared that the people down at the creek were naked and that several of them were engaged in sex. I quickly made my way toward my camp seeing fellow campers sitting around fires.
Arriving at our camp I entered the trailer to find my wife dressed in her nightgown, sitting at the table, reading a book. I sat down at the table and told her about meeting some new friends. She wanted to meet the couple and insisted that we invite them for supper in the not too distant future. After a short time we went to bed and following a brief love-making session fell sound asleep.
The next day dawned bright, clear and warm. Before preparing breakfast we decided on going down to the creek for a quick swim. It was midmorning; there were few people in sight, and no one occupying the beach. We put our towels down and raced into the water. The creek was fairly shallow near the beach but as we moved out toward the middle the bottom dropped off and we were swimming in deep water.
"I don't know about you," my wife said swimming toward the beach, "but I'm really hungry now."
"There is nothing like a quick dip before breakfast to work up an appetite," I replied as I followed her out of the water. "I think I could eat an elephant at the moment."
"Well, you will just have to settle for bacon, eggs and toast for now. If you want an elephant you will have to go out into those woods and find one. Just look at the size of those redwood trees! We're going to have to get some photos of you and I standing next to them, or the people back home aren't going to believe us when we tell them how big they are."
We returned to our trailer and had breakfast. Afterward we decided on a walk through the campground and stopped off at Fred and Carla's so that Beth could meet the couple. Carla met us as we approached the camp and welcomed us calling out to her husband to come out and greet us. Even before Fred arrived on the scene a few moments later Beth and Carla were laughing and talking like life long friends.
Fred offered us some breakfast and when we explained that we had just eaten he offered us some beer. I begged off saying that it was still too early in the day, but promised to stop by later with some brews of my own. In a short time Clara and Beth were deep into their own conversation, while Fred and I were laughing about the strangeness of human nature. While the girls were out of hearing I told Fred about the sexual activity I thought I saw on the beach.
"You might not have been imagining a thing," laughed Fred, "It might well have been some folks up to fun after the kids were all in bed. It has been known to happen around here now and then; sometimes more now than then, if you get my meaning. It is all harmless fun. Just some free spirits enjoying life. Don't let it bother you. Whenever something of that sort takes place you can be sure that only adults are witnesses or participants.
"A lot of sexual stuff happens here in Dunland but it is just harmless fun between consenting adults. Believe me when I tell you that everyone under the age of consent is put to bed and required to stay there after 11:00 o'clock."
"I'm afraid that I'm shocked that such things can happen so freely," I admitted. "Are such sexual displays so common here in the campground?"
"Don't let yourself be shocked, my friend," Fred assured me. "It is just fun. There never has been any jealousy or trouble due to any sort of sexual activity, which has taken place since we have been here."
"Wow, I find all that a bit overwhelming," I admitted. "Surely someone must have gotten out of line."
"Believe me when I tell you that everything that happens in Dunland stays in Dunland. I can assure you that no one has ever caused trouble because of any sort of sexual activity, which has taken place around here. This is the most trouble free campground you have ever seen. There is no crime. Anyone who attempts to do anything to harm another member of our community is soon shown the error of his/her ways. We are a community of love and happiness. Don't worry about the outer world's values or conventions. Here you are free to actually do what you want with the person you want without recrimination."
"Are you telling me this is a place without crime?" I asked. "That seems a bit incredible."
"There is only one commandment here and that is not to do any harm to anyone else," Fred replied. "That is not a bad commandment in my book. Look, some people get a bit wild, but whatever makes them feel good is a positive thing. It is only those things, which harm people that are evil."
"Fred, while the girls are out of our hearing, tell me this," I asked, "is Dunland the site of one big orgy?"
"Of course not," laughed Fred, "everyone respects the innocence of children. We also do nothing, which will harm a fellow Dunlander."
"You sound like someone with first hand knowledge," I replied. "Don't tell me that you have gotten up to some hanky-panky."
"One of the first unwritten rules, which you will run into here at Dunland, is that a person keeps a tight lip on any contacts that he or she may have. I can only say that Carla and I know about each other's activities and are better for it."
"That's way out of my wife's and my league. We're just your average faithful married couple."
"Well, good for you. Everyone deserves to live as they want to live, but you folks are away from home. No one around here tells any tales. Just relax and enjoy life. Who knows, you just might go away from here with some memories to keep you warm for a long time to come."
Fred laughed and quickly changed the subject. The man had a joyful personality, which made me like him even though I thought his lifestyle might be a little too wild for my wife and me. Before long the girls joined us and for the next hour we enjoyed talking about all manner of subjects. At last Beth and I told the couple that we had to be getting back to our camp. Before leaving we asked the two of them to dinner that night, which they eagerly accepted.
A short time later we jumped in our truck and made our way to Fort Hobbs where we stopped at one of the grocery stores and picked up supplies for the coming evening. We bought some steaks, corn on the cob, mushrooms, and some beer for our guests.
It was on the way home that Beth opened up to me and told me about what she and Clara had been talking about earlier in the day. Her overall opinion of the woman was good, but they had talked along similar line to the conversation I had with Fred. While the things, which Clara had told her made her uneasy she still enjoyed the woman's company and was looking forward to the coming evening.
"You don't think they will invite us to do some strange things?" Beth asked. "You know, like swinging or something?"
"No," I answered. "Fred stopped hinting about that sort of thing when he saw I wasn't interested in anything like that. If they do try and get us to do something like that we will shut them down flat. I'll make it clear that we can be friends without being that friendly."
"Well, I'll leave that part of it up to you. I don't want to get into anything that will spoil our vacation."
"Don't worry. I will handle it with my usual flare. This evening is just going to be a fine dinner in the redwoods without any problems. We won't bring up the subject of sex and if they do I'll make sure they understand we aren't interested."
"Good," responded Beth. "Then I'll just relax and enjoy our dinner."
Right on time Carla and Fred arrived bringing with them a goodly supply of beer. Our fears were laid to rest as the evening progressed and the conversation stayed clear of sexual subjects. We ate, drank, laughed and talked until the night turned pitch black. After dinner was finished and the dishes all done, we lit a fire and pulled our chairs next to the blaze. Somewhere along the line Carla produced a few joints.
"This is the best of the county's major crop. I've been saving it for a special occasion and I think this qualifies as special." Carla said. "I think you are going to enjoy it! Now that the darkness is around us, why don't we tell some spooky stories?"
"Oh, I love spooky stories," my wife spoke up, "I'd love to do that."
"Well," Fred said as he lit up one of the joints, "I guess the ladies have their minds made up and I don't think we should disappoint them. What do you say Ted? How are you at telling ghost stories and the like?"
"I'm not much of a story teller," I had to admit, "but if the gals want it, that's what we will do."
I began and gave a feeble account of the standard haunted house. It was heavy on blood and gore but lacking in almost everything else. Kindly, my audience had pity upon me and complimented my efforts. Carla went next with a tale of a bride who finds out that her husband is really a ghost. We all thought she did a wonderful job and gave her a round of vigorous applause. Beth followed telling us the story of a haunted pond where the ghosts of several murdered women would rise up late at night to find the one who killed them. We all praised her storytelling and asked for another one, but she refused saying that she had her turn and Fred should go next.
"Okay," Fred laughed pulling his chair closer to the fire, "I'm not one for fiction, so the story I'm about to tell you is the dead truth."
Beth and I gave each other knowing smiles, which indicated that we knew that Fred was about to spin one heck of a whopper. However, when we took a look at Carla, we saw that her face was set with an expression, which indicated that she believed her husband's word that his story was based in fact. Beth's smile grew even bigger as she realized that Carla was playing along to add to the impact of story.
"Now I know that you two don't know too much about the country around here, but my little tale takes place not too far from here. You might have noticed on your trip into town that the road went up a hill where the trees grew heavy and so thick that very little light came through."
"I remember the place," I had to admit, "the sensors in my truck turned on my headlights as I went up the hill and came on again on the return trip."
"You will find that will happen every time you go into town no matter what the time of day. That hill is aptly called 'Dark Hill, ' and the phenomenon is not caused solely by the shade of the trees.
"That place has had a bad reputation going back hundreds of years. Way before the time the white man came to this land the Native Americans avoided the place and called it cursed. It is a place where the shadows lie heavy upon the land and those shadows are caused by more than the trees.
"When the road was cut through that part of the forest, several of the men working on the project walked off the job saying they saw strange things moving in the woods. Two men died on the project from unknown causes and everyone in the crew seemed changed after the road was finished. To this day road crews hate to make repairs upon that stretch of highway.
"As you now know, Dark Hill is within easy walking distance of Dunland. Some people get it into their minds to hike up into those woods, but none return the same. There are strange things in those woods that lure even the strongest willed person into the dark heart of the forest, where ancient things dwell. There in the darkness of the forest they work their will upon humankind and no one remains unchanged once they have felt their touch.
"Some may say that Dark Hill is an evil place, while those who accept the darkness enjoy pleasures beyond imagining. There are strange things in the forest around here and the unsuspecting may be lured by them into marvelous adventures of the most decadent kind. Be warned my friends that you are now in the heart of an ancient realm, which seeks only to convert mankind to the old ways."
As Fred finished his short story we sat there expecting him to continue and detail the horrors of the forest. However, Fred sat back evidently satisfied that his story had come to its end. We politely clapped our hands when we were sure that Fred had ended his tale.
"You know," Carla spoke, "what Fred has told you is true. We didn't believe it either when we first got here, but since then we have found out different. Most of the people in Dunland have been up to Dark Hill and none of them have left unchanged. So, if you want to remain as you are don't you dare go to Dark Hill, but if you feel you want to expand your horizons, that place will do it for the two of you."
"That was a little different than your usual run of the mill ghost story," laughed Beth. "Imagine us camping next to a haunted hill. Maybe we should go ghost hunting tomorrow?"
"I don't know," I smiled at her, "the local boogieman seems a bit too much for my tastes."
"What did you think of Fred's story?" asked Beth after our guest had departed and we lay in bed in our trailer. "It was awfully short, but both he and Carla seemed like the whole thing was dead serious."
"That is the mark of true storytelling," I replied. "Carla was playing along with her husband to enhance his tale. When a story, especially a spooky story, seems real, it heightens the overall impact. I think the whole thing was a spur of the moment story, which was why it was so short. Fred took a real life location and added fantasy to it."
"But don't you think it is really odd that no sunlight gets through onto that hill?"
"Not really," I answered her, "it is the mark of good story telling to blend fact with fiction. In this case it is a shadowy hill, but Fred could have gone on to tell us a bit more of the horror side of things. You know, the part about the deaths was a bit lame, and he could have added something about people going insane or the like."
"Maybe we should take a walk to Dark Hill and check it all out for ourselves," laughed Beth. "Who knows? We might find Bigfoot waiting to take us."
"I don't think I'm ready for Bigfoot work his way with me," I echoed her laughter, "and I'm sure I don't want him to have you."
We then turned out the lights and fell to sleep. The next morning, while I was chopping firewood for the coming night, a short, elderly and very skinny man approached me. I stopped my work and faced the fellow.
"I am James Z. Wentworth," the man introduced himself with a smile and an extended hand. I shook his hand and he went on to speak, "I preach the gospel to the people here at Dunland. I try to save as many souls as possible, while that sometimes is not an easy task. Don't worry I have not come here to preach to you. I can see you are not like the others in this campground. I have only come to introduce myself and to bring a warning."
"And what is that warning?" I asked expecting the man to launch into a fire and brimstone sermon. "My wife and I already belong to a church."
"I suspected that and don't worry I'm not trying to convert you," he explained with dead seriousness. "No, my warning is only to caution you from visiting a certain area around here by the name of Dark Hill."
"Okay," I broke into laughter, "now I know why you are here! Fred put you up to this whole thing didn't he? He told us the shortest, most fanciful story I have ever heard. Now you are here to tell me the whole thing was real, right?"
"I assure you that no one sent me," the man frowned, "there are people here that are not to be trusted. I have only your own welfare at heart. Believe me when I say to you that Dark Hill is a place you should avoid as if it were a plague."
"Thank you for your warning Mr. Wentworth," I smiled at the man, "but I have a lot of wood to split. If I'm in need of your services, I know where to turn, and make sure to tell Fred that it was a nice try."
"I am sure that I don't know what you are talking about," the strange little man said, "I am here only to help you. Please, listen and take to heart my warning. There are places in this world where ancient evils have survived and the old dark ways lie heavy upon the land. One of those places lurks not far from here and you will do well not to tread upon Dark Hill. I will leave you now but if you have need of me I reside at camp three. Feel free to seek me out at anytime, day or night when you think I can be of service to you."
With that the man turned and walked off not waiting for me to reply. I watched him walk away laughing silently at the lengths Fred would go to try and reinforce his feeble ghost story of the previous night. I had to concede that Fred had found himself a great actor for the self proclaimed preacher seemed truly sincere in his warning. I soon turned my attention back to my wood making efforts making a mental note to tell Beth about the entire episode when I finished.
It was a short time later when I saw three trailers pull into the two vacant camps next to ours. I finished up my work and went into our trailer tell Beth about the arrival of our new neighbors and my encounter with the so called resident preacher.
"That Fred," she laughed when I told her about Mr. Wentworth, "do you suppose he really thought that you would fall for something like that?"
"I don't know," I answered, "but it is good for a laugh. When I see him next I'm going to rub it in that I'm not about to fall for something as foolish as a see through preaching man. I guess that guy will go any lengths to embellish one of his tales.
"However, I do have something of real interest to report. The two camps next to ours are now occupied by three first class rigs. The people seem to be a fairly well off. I think that maybe I should go over and introduce myself. What do you think?"
"I think that would be a good idea," responded Beth. "In fact, I think I'll go with you. Why don't we go right now?"
"Fine with me," I told her. "Let's go and greet the new people on the block."
We left our trailer and walked over to the next camp where the newcomers were still arranging their camps. I waved at the group as we approached and everyone that saw me waved back with smiles on their faces. I came closer and one of the men came closer and extended his hand to me.
"Hi, I'm Taylor Hastings," the man said, "I take it that you are our next door neighbors."
"I'm Ted Howard and this is my wife Beth," I shook the man's hand. "We saw you moving in and decided to come over and introduce ourselves."
"Glad to meet you and you too, Beth," he shook my wife's hand and turned to yell at the rest of the camp. Soon a woman and two other couples gathered around us. "Let me introduce you to the rest of our party. First, and foremost, is my lovely wife Ann. Coming up behind her is Jen Tailor and her husband Ed and these other two relegated to the far camp are Ben and Claire Wilson."
A flurry of handshaking took place as Beth and I greeted each person. Ted explained he and the other male members of the party were all managers at a local lumber mill. He explained that they and their wives would all set time aside from work to escape for a few days to the nearest campground. Everyone invited us back that evening for a sit around the campfire and Beth and I eagerly agreed. The introductions over, we made our way back to our own trailer, where we sat down and had a beer.
"Well," I asked, "what do you think of our new people?"
"They don't seem much like the permanent people living around here. They seem like professional people out on a holiday. I think I like them, but it is too early to make judgments like that."
"I guess we will find out what kind of people they are tonight. They sure seem to be a bit more refined than the other people we have met here. Not that I'm saying that I don't like Fred and Clara, they are great. I know that couple is down on their luck and I wish we could help them. Still and all, we need to meet and greet as many new people as we can and who knows, maybe we will be able to help out Fred and Clara by getting to know these people. I mean, a lumber mill must need new people all the time and if we can put in a few good words, it just might be enough to get Fred a job where he can afford to get out of this place."
"I don't know," replied Beth, "just remember that these people are on holiday and trying to relax. Don't press anything too hard. We don't even know if Fred would want to work at a mill."
"Okay, you're right. I'll just gently sound out things and see where everything goes from there. At any rate, let's go out and have ourselves a good time tonight."
We did have a good time that night and found that we had many things in common with the other couples. That night as we sat around the campfire the others explained that they had been coming out to Dunland for several years whenever they could get away from work. Sometime during the evening I asked about Dark Hill.
"Dark Hill is a local legend," Ben Wilson spoke up, "but don't put too much credence into anything you might hear about it. It is a dark and spooky place, but there is nothing there but shadows. I've been there and found nothing to fear."
"I wouldn't go up there," Claire his wife spoke out, "that place is just too creepy for me."
"I've been there," Jen Taylor responded, "and I tell you first hand that Dark Hill holds no terrors. In fact, why don't we all plan to go up there tomorrow? It is dark and a little bit spooky, but all those tall tales are just things out of people's wild imaginations."
"No way," replied Ann Howard, "it is just too creepy. I've been hearing about Dark Hill since I've come here and nothing I've heard is good."
"I wandered up there one time, and it was just like Ben said," Ed spoke up, "just full of dark shadows. I'm with Jen, why don't we all go up there tomorrow and have a look at the place? I'm sure the boogieman won't get us."
"I'd like to have a look at the place," Beth admitted. "One of the residents of the camp told us tall tale last night about the terrible history of the hill. I wouldn't mind having a look myself. I wouldn't want to there by myself, but if we go as a group we might even have a picnic. The redwoods around here are very impressive and I'd like to see where they grow so close they block out the sun."
"Most of what you see," explained Ben, "is second growth redwood. Most of the old growth trees were cut down long ago. Those trees you see growing near the road are all second growth, but just beyond them stand a good sized stand of the old trees. Take my word for it, they are big, big trees, which make everything you see around here look tiny by comparison. Dark Hill and the land for miles around it are part of a state protected forest. The trees there have stood for thousands of years and will stand for long years to come."
"To tell you the truth, I wouldn't mind seeing some of those giants," I said. "I'd like to get some photos of them to show the people back home."
"I don't want to be a wet blanket. I guess if everyone agrees to go," Claire spoke up, "then, I'll go too."
"Okay," Ann said shaking her head, "I still think the place is somewhere to stay away from, but if everyone goes, I won't stay behind as long as everyone agrees to stay together as a group. No one had better wander away from the group or I'll head back to camp."
"Sounds like a done deal then," Taylor said as he tossed a piece of wood on the fire. "We'll pack up some food and drink and head out tomorrow morning around ten. We will put the old myths to rest and show our new friends some real woods."
With everyone in agreement it was decided that the next morning we would laugh at the terrors of Dark Hill and have a picnic beneath the shadows of the great trees. Everyone agreed to bring something for the picnic. Ed and Jen said they would bring several bottles of wine, explaining that the county not only had forests but plenty of local wineries, which produced excellent vintages. The rest of us said that we would supply the food.
After everything was decided we talked for a couple of hours before finally heading back to our own rigs for a good night's rest before our coming adventure. When we were back in our trailer Beth and I talked for a short while about our opinions about our new friends. We both agreed that we liked everyone and that they seemed like very nice people.
Beth was up before me the next day and I awoke to find her hard at work preparing for the upcoming picnic. Out of our supplies she had pulled salami, two kinds of cheese, green onions and a loaf of sourdough French bread. She turned and smiled at me when she heard me coming up behind her. I kissed her and she waved at the food sitting on the counter.
"So, what else can we bring?"
"Well," I answered, "I think we could toss in a few pickles and some of those olives we have. I only hope that everyone doesn't decide to bring the same stuff."
"If they do," laughed Beth, "so much the better. I like this type of food. It is great fare for a picnic."
We quickly had breakfast before packing away our contribution to the picnic into a backpack. Right at ten o'clock I put on the pack and we left the trailer to find the rest of our party already assembled at their encampment. With Taylor taking the lead we began our hike to Dark Hill. It took us about an hour and a half to reach the hill. During the walk I was impressed by the forest we passed through, but Ben assured me that what I was looking at was nothing compared to what we were about to see.
At the base of the hill the trees grew ever denser and ever larger. Taylor told us that we would enter the ancient part of the forest and that the road was over a mile away to our right. As we began our climb of the hill we saw might trees growing fifteen feet in diameter and more. The tops of those trees were lost in a dense tangle of limbs, which blocked the light of the sun from reaching the ground. We were moving through a land of shadows.
"Spooky place," I whispered to Beth as we climbed the hill.
"Yes, there is a feeling about this place that sends shivers down my spine. Maybe coming here wasn't such a good idea."
"Won't be long now," Taylor spoke out, "we are almost to the top and there we will find a space to have our picnic."
He was right and before long we arrived at the top of the hill where we found an area some forty feet wide where we started setting up things for our meal. The area was shrouded in shadows as the limbs of the giant trees came together to create a canopy, which blocked the sun from view. While we placed our blankets upon the ground and brought out the food and drink, I couldn't help feeling ill at ease. My eyes kept resting upon a large table like rock, which sat in the center of the area.
"Why don't we put some of our things on that rock," Ann asked, "it looks like about the right size for a table. We could use it to cut up the bread and other things."
"No," Taylor said emphatically, "that is not to be used as a table, it is for something else."
"What is it for," Ann asked, "it seems like the perfect thing for us."
"You'll see in a bit," laughed Taylor, "but for now let's make do with what we have set down."
"I don't like that rock," Claire said, "it doesn't look so much like a table to me as it does some kind of altar where sacrifices were offered up to forbidden gods."
"That's just too weird, Claire," Ann nervously laughed. "I have to admit this place is weird but not that weird."
We all sat down on the blankets and began to eat. Jen and Ed brought out the wine and plastic goblets. After we had drained a few glasses of their vintage wine we felt that the shadows held no more fear for us. An inner glow filled us with warmth, which the twilight could not dampen. Soon we were laughing and trading stories about everything from work to our children. When most of the food was gone a few of our group started wandering off into the woods to explore the area. As the day progressed I felt the call of nature, caused by the wine I had been drinking and excused myself to find a sheltered area where I could relieve myself. There was not a lot of underbrush close at hand. Evidently the lack of light caused by the great trees prevented the growth of lesser vegetation at ground level.
After several minutes I found a sheltered spot, behind a large fallen tree, where I felt safe to allow nature to take its course. Once I had emptied my bladder I turned to retrace my way back to the picnic. I had only gotten part of the way back when I saw Taylor and Jen walking hand in hand through the woods. They were looking back in the way of the picnic and their body language indicated that they did want to be seen. I pulled myself back a little, so as not to intrude upon them, and hid behind one of the trees.
The couple moved over to where they stood before one of the smaller fallen trees and kissed passionately. Jen fell to her knees as she undid and pulled down Taylor's pants to reveal his semi-erect cock. She opened her mouth wide and took his member into her mouth sucking upon it until it stood fully hard.
"Jen," gasped Taylor as the woman sucked upon his manhood, "I've been waiting for this for a long time."
"I have too," Jen pulled his cock from her mouth and looked longingly up at his face, "but we have to hurry. Some of the others might come this way. Ted went off somewhere to pee and maybe some of the others will want to take a walk or something."
"Don't worry about a thing," replied Taylor as he pushed his cock back into the woman's mouth," before the day is done we will have them all indoctrinated into the wonders of Dark Hill. Let us enjoy this moment before we lead them all into the sensual world. We have been waiting to bring the other wives into this for a long time and we have the new couple here to join us and expand our group. So let's take this moment before we enfold the others into the darkness."