J, a 22-year-old, Caucasian male who grew up in San Francisco, California until he turned 16. He now lives in Boise, Idaho. He spent his summers at summer camp with his friends.
During summer camps, counselors and children would sit around a firepit at night and tell stories. While some of these were positive, most of them would be told with the aim of scaring people. This is one of the stories told to J during one of these sessions.
This was told amongst a group of friends sitting in a circle around a firepit late at night, slightly intoxicated, telling each other their favorite scary stories they heard as children.
“Okay… so there’s this guy who lives in the mountains all alone. His life is simple and quiet… This guy… he keeps three dogs with him for hunting and tracking, but… one winter… there is a huge shortage of game… As his storages begin running out, he spends all day looking for food with his dogs and his rifle. One day, as he’s looking for dinner, he shoots a rabbit and shares it with his dogs. Obviously, he’s still hungry. He’s like six foot – one eighty… He continues his hunt until he finds some strange tracks he’s never seen before, three long claws… This dude’s starving, so he follows them late into the night. Eventually, the tracks go cold… The guy looks around…, frantically looking for new tracks, knowing he won’t see another animal for a while… As he’s looking around, he sees something stalking on the branches of a nearby tree… BAM!… He shoots it… He begins looking around for the animal but cannot find it. He eventually gives up, as it is getting late, and decides to head back empty-handed. As he begins to lay down, he notices that one of his dogs brought something back with them – the tail of the animal! He boils it into a stew and enjoys the reward of a long day before falling into a deep slumber… *Chittering, clawing, and scratching noises*… The guy slowly awakens to the noises to see the creature at the foot of his bed. In an otherworldly voice, the man hears it demand its ‘tailypo’. The dogs begin to growl and chase the creature back into the woods and the man passes out… He wakes again in the morning, thinking it was nothing more than a dream… One of the dogs is missing. He spends the day searching for it, but as night falls again, he gives up and tries to catch up on sleep from the night before… *Chittering, clawing, and scratching noises*… The man JUMPS awake to find the creature at the side of his bed now, demanding more aggressively that the man return its ‘tailypo’. His dogs again chase after the creature and the man, terrified, eventually falls asleep. When he wakens, he realizes that this was no dream… Two of his dogs are now missing, and he knows the creature will return this night. He begins fortifying his cabin and sits up all day and night with his gun and his last dog at his side… *Chittering, clawing, and scratching noises*… The dog jumps to its feet and runs after the noise, barking… *Barking, cut short*… *Chittering, clawing, and scratching noises*… The man shakingly aims his gun at the door… The window near his bed shatters. BAM! The man fires his weapon accidentally. As he frantically tries to reload his rifle, the creature leaps upon him. Eye to eye, the beast once again demands the return of his ‘tailypo’… As the sun rises, the man is flayed beyond recognition. To this day, on the darkest of nights, the creature can still be heard whispering for its ‘tailypo’… *Chittering, clawing, and scratching noises*…”
As I read back through this transcript, I wish it could better capture the feeling of this piece. As far as ‘scary’ stories go, this piece was among one of the best I’ve ever heard. It was exhilarating, and the ambiance of the environment in which it was told played into it with the cold, quiet, dark night with the flames casting shadows around us. I think the story was interesting coming from J, as he was raised in San Francisco, nowhere near the woody area described in the story. However, because it was told during summer camps, I believe it made it even more terrifying at the time (due to being told to children unfamiliar with their environment). There are many stories in which events happen in sets of three. The number of dogs, the number of times the creature visits the man, and the number of claws the creature had are all sets of three. The sound effects that J used during the story really made it come alive, which is why I believe most recounts of live stories like this do not capture the actual experience of the story.