Urban Eggheads – If You Go Down To The Woods Today …..
………… you’re sure to be in for a big Sir Prys!
In 1981 l was 18 and a venture scout leader, not a pack leader, but a unit leader. A unit of four other venture scouts. All of us were involved in a night time hike in a heavy woodland in Surrey where we had our camp base established. We were all racing forwards to achieve a first in ‘taking command’ of the ‘actual’ Pack Leaders’ camp. It was an interesting time indeed.
There were three teams of five working in different locations and all had to approach the camp from a different direction, so time was of the essence. None of us knew the area we were in, we had torches and compass and a map marked with an X, that was it. We had small provisions with us in one rucksack which l had.
In addition to that, it was December, not far from Christmas and it had been snowing which made the trekking somewhat awkward, but beautifully quiet.
We were all in really good spirits as on the way we had been talking about films and things going on in our life. One of the films being discussed which had a certain amount of irony to it, considering the weather and the thickness and density of the wood was The Shining and how utterly creepy it had been. I remember discussing l had read the book.
After about an hour and a half, we could see we were nearing the X on the map, and so we decided to go into quiet mode, made easier by our soft footfalls in the snow. We could hear voices to our right side of the valley were were walking in and we decided to play a prank on what we believed was Team B led by a friend of mine Steven Rogers. Sadly he had pulled out a lame hatful of names, and of his five he only had one experienced venture scout with him, and three fresh scouts who had just joined the pack.
Armed with our torches, we set into the undergrowth and walked in the direction of the voices, and within a couple of minutes we could see a few torches ahead dancing over the map they were holding between them.
“Well l am pretty sure it’s this way, and like not being funny, but l am an experienced map reader and l know l am right!” I could hear Steven trying to sound calm, but the fresh ‘venture scouts’ were umming and ahhing and were convinced he was wrong.
I turned to my group and pointed for them to go into different locatons, so that we could spring a surprise attack on them all as they passed by us. Richard and Nigel had crept further up, and had manged to cross the path without being seen by the other group, so we knew were set, when l saw two shielded torch lights blinking.
Peter and Scott were with me, and to both my left and right, the other group were only about twenty yards down to my extreme right and were walking towards us, in the same stealth mode we had applied earlier. I could hear them talking about ‘urban legends’ of all things and l found it really funny that we were about to scare the living crap out of them from our secreted hiding places.
However before that occured, there was a strange groaning noise somewhere in the thicket. one of Steven’s group yelped, and l silently giggled. This wasn’t part of the plan, but it worked and was funny!!
“Whatwasthat!?” squawked one of Steven’s group.
“An owl, now come on!” He answered in his typical matter of fact and annoyed way.
The groaning got louder, and Steven’s group stopped again, and just stood there a few feet away listening hard. Their torches were scanning the trees ahead and around them.
Suddenly to all hell broke loose, there were screams and yelps, and screeches and pandemonium errupted from the small thicket were in! “What the bloody hell is going on??” I wondered. Peter and Scott dashed ahead of themselves and ran either into Steven’s group or elsewhere, causing the other group to break rank in absolute panic. I could see Richard and Nigel had also broken cover and were screaming and running amok.
I stayed put, thinking that maybe our carefully laid plan had gone wrong, so l thought best bet was to sit safe. Suddenly amid all the noise carnage, l saw the bloody pack leaders step out, laughing their rocks off “Yelling game’s up, it’s just us!!”
Behind me l heard a twig snap, and l froze, l knew l was pretty well hidden, l could still hear the laughter as the leaders were running down the left after the running scouts. But l stayed still, thinking l had a pack leader behind me somewhere, playing silly buggers and looking for me to trap me too.
Another twig, and then a groan, and a sigh and some kind of strange laugh. Admittedly l was a bit freaked out! another strange shuffling noise literally six feet behind me, then in the strangest thickest and roughest of haspiness he growled, “I can’t see you, but l can smell you and you smell gooooooood!” Followed by a crazy laugh!
“Fuck off whoever you are!” I shouted and as l turned around all l saw was what appeared to be a giant of a man. He must have been six foot something and he had a torch held under his chin so his face was awash in light, making the face seriously bloody creepy!
“Got you, you’re mine now!” That creepy wierd voice again followed by an almost manical laugh and then he lunged forward with his torch and something glinting in his other hand!
Well that was enough for me and l screamed at the top of my voice and ran off in the same direction of the others whose voices could just be heard. I looked behind me at once point and l could see this lumbering man chasing after me in the snow and laughing. after a few minutes with me pelting down the pathway between the trees screaming my lungs out, l caught up with the others.
“You silly sods, you scared the absolute shit out of me, which pack leader is it that is chasing me then?” I puffed out of breath.
“What?” It was Brian, the main pack leader, “What are you on about? All my leaders are here with me now, with all the groups of scouts, you are the last one to arrive Rory? Who are you on about, and what do you mean you were being chased then?”
I looked around and saw that Brian spoke the truth, everyone was accounted for. I looked back the way l had just run, and there was no one there. But in the distance we could all hear someone laughing a wicked crazy laugh!
No one else was found to be in the campsite or in the surrounding area either that night or the following day!
I could never explain it, but the pack leaders had come out, because they too had thought they had seen one of the venture scouts on the outskirts of the camp playing a strange game of ‘Peekaboo’ with them, so had decided it was a trick of the light and had lain in wait, and yet all the time they all thought at one point or another, they hadn’t been alone……….