Mysterious Monday – The Wilds

We have been feeling inspired recently, and the time is right for another installment of Mysterious Monday. An irregular series in which we publish short, creepy, and weird story hooks for readers to use as sources of inspiration. If you enjoy reading these or put any of them to use in your own game, let us know in the comments below. Several bulleted prompts are provided following each narrative hook to help get your creative juices flowing.

On The Shores of Allagash Lake

The year was 1982, the prom king and queen had just been crowned, and the school year was quickly ending. This year’s crop of graduates will soon be headed off to colleges all around the country, leaving friends and family, some for the first time ever, or they will be entering the workforce. But before either of these happen, there is one last summer between them and their next phase of life.

A group of five friends taking advantage of their last summer together, head off for a week-long camping trip on the shore of Allagash Lake in northwestern Maine. Here, they hope to relax, swim, fish, drink, and perhaps recreationally smoke some weed if anyone remembers to bring some. Their camp, just feet from the water, provides them with an idyllic view of the lake with its morning mists and days filled with the beautiful sounds of loons on the lake. The lake provides ample fish to supplement their packed-in provisions. All goes well until the third morning.

When fishing about a half mile down the shore from their camp, one of the teens hooks what they hope will be a large bass or sturgeon. Strangely, whatever they have hooked onto gives no fight. When the line is finally reeled in, they find a small but heavy closed brown leather bag attached to the line. It is old, with a fold-over flap and bone pin closure securing the flap. As the last vestiges of muck are washed away, faint impressions of symbols can be seen and felt in the leather. Inside the leather bag is a finely carved set of small bone tiles, twelve in total, each with a different symbol carved into just one side.

Slowly, after finding the leather bag with its strange tiles, things begin to get weird. Later that afternoon, as the friends stoke the fire and prepare dinner, a loon flying overhead suddenly falls from the sky, crashing to the ground between two tents with a spine-tingling crack. Their experiences will only get weirder and more desperate from this point forward unless they return the bag and its contents to the lake from which it came.

  • Who deposited the bag in Lake Allagash, and for what reason?
  • What are tiles used for? Can the teens find a use for them now?
  • How does their situation change over the next few days?
  • Are there other avenues to appeasing whatever it is they have awoken?

The Fort

Growing up in the 1980s, Ryan has fond memories of playing soldiers with his friends in the small patches of woods that dotted the neighborhood. They would run about with sticks for guns and pinecone grenades, reenacting some made-up battle from a war gone by. They would even go so far as to create forts from salvaged scraps of wood and metal. These would become command bunkers and defensive positions like they saw in the old war movies. This is what they did for fun.

Those early childhood experiences helped to shape Ryan. Running around in the woods at such a young was the catalyst for his lifelong love of hiking and camping. In his late forties, Ryan has recently moved to upstate New Hampshire to a small comfortable home in the mountains. Why New Hampshire? As a day trader, he has the luxury of working from home, which affords him plenty of leisure time for hiking and camping—so why not New Hampshire, with its beautiful forests?

With no pending financial gloom and doom in the market, Ryan heads out for a day hike. He recently spotted a trail off the road about five miles from the house. Although finding it odd, he had never noticed the trail before now; he was excited to check it out and see where it led. Parking the car on the side of the road, he sets off down the trail with only a partially full backpack, bringing only the essentials for an emergency. This was a day hike, after all.

The trail twisted and turned through the towering trunks of grand trees and underbrush. Rounding a bend around a rock outcropping, Ryan stops in his tracks. Up ahead, to the right of the trail, was a small fort, like the ones he and his friends used to make as kids. Salvaged bits of wood and metal created the basic framework with sticks and pine needles covering the voids. Leaning on a tree that is an integral part of the fort’s structure are three branches of varying lengths that, to Ryan, look reminiscent of the wooden guns they used as kids. He calls out on the off chance this is a camper or hunter’s shelter but gets no reply. Seeing this fort deep in the woods amused him immensely, allowing him to recall the fond memories.

With plenty of daylight left and his amusement getting the better of him, Ryan takes up one of the stick guns and pretends to shoot it at invisible enemies. Further humored by this, he slowly enters the fort just like he would have done when he was eight or nine—prepared for an enemy ambush.

  • Why would there be a child’s fort so far removed from homes?
  • Who created the fort and why?
  • What does Ryan find or experience when he enters the fort?
  • How might this experience forever change Ryan?

The Cold Spot

In the center of a large dense forest is a spot with an unfathomable chill. Its radius of wintery temperatures increases with each passing day. Meteorologists visited the site, took measurements, and conducted study after study but did not produce any reasonable findings. Their best conclusion to the erratic temperature, even during the summer months, was the thick canopy of the densely populated grove and geological abnormalities. This doesn’t account for its continual increase in size. The cold spot now spans 100 yards in all directions in a perfect circle. At its core, the temperature drops to arctic temperatures. Unsuspecting woodland creatures who venture into the core instantly freeze where they stand. The cold spot grows each day slowly, coating an inch of the forest with frost where there was none before. Soon the cold spot will surpass the forest and encroach on human habitation.

  • What is causing the cold spot?
  • Why is it increasing in size?
  • Why is it there?
  • Can it be stopped before it covers everything?

~ Modoc & Stephen Pennisi

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Cover image: Allagash Lake. (2020, December 24). In Wikipedia.

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