"Man it's too bad there aren't many young people in this country. So far all I ever seen of America are oil and gas pipelines, fat people, obese people, old people, and more deserts popping up. This country is losing all its green man," cried Jose.
"Well fracking is what gets us our oil. Without oil and shale gas, how the fuck do you think I am going to be able to drive this fucking car!!" exclaimed Ryan.
"Yeah but a lot of our drinking water is now contaminated with methane gas. Did you know that a lot of people are obese because they eat genetically modified food," said Hector.
"I thought it was all the junk food and lack of exercise," sneered Leo.
The four Filipino Americans had spent their summer holiday driving across America. All four were college students, old-time and childhood friends/colleagues, having grown up together in sunny California, America's most populated state.
As they travel city to city and state by state, they have seen much of America. America was a nation full mostly of people over their fifties, especially among white Americans, due to the country already having had an aging population even before the 2008 recession. But since that recession, birth rates had dropped even further, as low as below 2.0, which was the replacement level for population fertility. Then there was also the obesity and other health pandemics, resulting in more people around the country dying, a lot faster and younger rather than being born. For decades, young people had been dying from gang-related violence to health pandemics and other factors, resulting in much of the country's population not rapidly growing anymore.
Over the decades since the beginning of the 21st century, America depopulated. The white majority were now over fifty and most young people were from ethnic minorities, and even their numbers weren't growing anymore.
"So where is it we are going again to??" asked Jose.
"Jesus fucking Christ. Did you know which state we are even in? God I ask myself why the hell we fucking put up with you every summer. All you ever fuckin do is yap, whine like a little girl and then go into your dumb ignorant mode," Ryan yelled back.
Ryan was driving the car, with Leo sat next to him. Jose and Hector were sat at the back.
"He is taking us to Fort Moonlight. You know, we talked about it. This is what we all planned!" Hector tried reminding Jose.
Jose still gave a dumb founded look.
"Planned what?" asked a dumb founded Jose.
"We are all going to the town that was reputed to have once been attacked by werewolves. Don't you remember! No of course you don't. we are all going in this trip because we all planned that for one summer we are going to camp inside an abandoned ghost town that was once reputed to have had werewolves," yelled Ryan.
"And here I thought we are going to go see Mount Rushmore," joked Leo.
"We are going to do that too, so don't you worry your over excited tired brown ass over it," Ryan smiling at Leo, patting his friend on the leg...
They were in the northern state of South Dakota, hoping to visit the infamous ghost town now known as Fort Moonlight. They first found out about it when they were talking about strange and scary places all over America, about a year ago. They agreed that one day they were going to go and visit the place and even spent the night there.
Now here they were, trekking across America, finally visiting the dead town. They had a GP map with them, to track down where the town was.
As Ryan kept on driving, Jose brought up a topic which annoyed the three of them from time to time. It was mostly about politics. Ryan just kept driving, allowing the other two to entertain Jose in this kind of conversation.
By the time it was 5PM, they reached Fort Moonlight. The front entrance of the fortified town was wide open, welcoming for strangers to walk through. The town was surrounded by four-storey high wooden logs.
"Guys welcome to fort Moonlight," Ryan pretending to talk like an airplane pilot.
Ryan drove them through.
As they drove, they saw lots of old abandoned houses as well as other age-old buildings and facilities.
For a ghost town, it seemed beautiful. Driving through it was like taking a ride back in time, since the town hadn't changed much since the 19th century.
"Wow this town has a forest inside it. I take it that the werewolves would come out here at night, then attack the residents while they sleep," commented Jose.
"The town was fortified to keep the werewolves out, you idiot. They were not inside here. Ever watched a classical werewolf film called Ginger Snaps?" taunted Ryan.
Ryan was clearly losing patience with Jose.
"He doesn't watch classics. Asking him if he ever watched one would like be asking a Muslim if humans evolved from apes" chuckled Leo.
"Man that is racist," Hector cried.
"It is not!" Leo defending himself.
"You are labelling an entire group of people very negatively. That is called 'discrimination, '" lectured Hector.
"Muslims are not a race. It's a religion!" exclaimed Leo defiantly.
They managed to park the car near a lake. Once they got settled on a spot, not far from where the lake was, they started taking out their camping gear. Ryan and Leo were setting up the tent, while Hector and Jose went to go and collect the logs, by the nearby woods.
By the time was it was 7PM, they already had the camp fire going, keeping them warm. They were sat down, in a circle, huddled by the campfire. They were drinking beer and eating whatever food they brought with them.
Ryan then looked at all three of his friends.
"Ok, who wants to start telling the story about this ghost town?" asked Ryan.
They all looked at Hector.
"Hector, since you are the smart one here, why don't you tell us!" winked Leo.
Hector sipped his beer can and then started.
They all knew the story roughly, which was why they had planned for this trip in the first place. The telling of the story was to remind them again what the story of the town was about. The purpose of telling the story inside Fort Moonlight itself, was to see how scared any of them would be, hearing the town's own story being told, on its own soil.
The town was built somewhere in the 19th century, by European settlers. But as the town continued existing, people reported having been attacked by very large wolves. Some of the local townspeople gathered their guns and even managed to have killed some of these wolves. The dead corpses of the wolves eventually transformed into those of naked dead people, hence revealing them to have been werewolves.
Since the incident of werewolf attacks, the townspeople started fortifying the entire town, so that they would not suffer anymore werewolf attacks. But as the stories and the legends and the myths of the town goes, from time to time, anyone caught outside the fort after nightfall, always end up being dead, with their bodies mutilated horribly.
When Hector finished telling the story, Leo broke in.
"You guys ever read The Howling by Gary Brandner?" asked Leo.
"No. What is it about?" Ryan asked in a puzzled tone.
"It's a novel about a woman who moves into a town, not knowing that its inhabitants were werewolves! They even made films about it" Hector interjected.
"Written way back in the nineteen seventies," yawned Leo.
Ryan attempted to change the subject, as he did not feel comfortable talking about werewolves at the moment. No matter how much he told himself that these were all stories, he hated the fact that he was starting to think and feel like some kind of superstitious moron.
He was sure that Jose believed it all. He knew Jose all his life and as he got older, he was getting less and less keen on that guy. He knew that deep down, he no longer really like Jose anymore. years of putting up with that guy's stupidity, ignorance and whining and complaining about things and always talking so big while bad mouthing other people, had finally taken its toll.
He even admitted to himself that he would like to beat him up. Given that Ryan was taller and better built while Jose was flabbier and even physically and emotionally sensitive, he would easily beat the crap out of him.
He just even had a temporary fantasy that when they wake up tomorrow morning, the three of them would leave quietly and that Jose would wake up, to find himself all alone in Fort Moonlight.
As the four of them conversed in other topics, something caught them off guard. Their camp was being approached by somebody. As it had just turned nightfall, they could not easily make the person out. The sky was no longer dusk but completely dark. Their only source of light now was the campfire.
The figure was now not far away from the fire and they could all see who it was.
"Mind if I join you??" asked the stranger.
She spoke in an accent that hinted that she was French. She even looked like she could be French. She was a simple looking woman. She was a Caucasian woman in her mid thirties, with light brown hair and brown eyes, and much shorter than any of them. She wore the kind of clothes that were common in South Dakota, especially among town residents.
The four college boys looked puzzled at each other, since this caught them by surprise.