The town of Nemo, South Dakota, sits about twenty-two miles outside of the city limits. It’s mainly a tourist and camping hot spot during the warmer months. The population of the down is more than a few hundred people. It’s quiet and nestled away in the Black Hills. There are a few bars, a couple Bed and Breakfasts and more than enough hiking and ATV trails. If you turn on to Box Elder Forks Road, it will take you a couple miles back on a gravel road, where there is a campground. This is the most popular campsite in Nemo and one that is frequented even during the winter months. There is also something in Nemo that the local’s prefer not to talk about. A demon they call him. He has many names, but to many he is known as the Angel of Death.
The Angel of Death is also known as the Grim Reaper. He takes the lives of those he deems fit. Whether they are ready to die or not. Although, no one is ever ready and that is just the way this Angel wants it to always be. People die in the campground everywhere. It’s never from freak accidents or failures from a piece of equipment. Most of the souls that perish just drop dead in the night. Usually while out walking in the evening or while they are asleep in their tents. People have said they’ve seen the Angel when he comes to take a soul. Some have said he’s over eight feet tall, with a long black robe and a hood. He looks like a normal man until he takes a life. When he strikes his sword down upon someone, wings shoot out from his back and his eyes turn from grey to black. He then wraps his wings around them and lifts their soul up to heaven or casts them down to hell.
The town always has had a fear about the Angel of Death. There are signs posted on the way to the campground that say “beware”. None of the signs say what to “beware” of but they are posted. Most of the campers don’t listen and don’t care. For a majority the crowds that come up to Nemo are of the younger generation. They’re here to have fun on the trails and party. It’s not hard to blame them. Isn’t that what being young is all about? This Angel never left the town of Nemo. It took less of the people that lived in the town and more tourists or campers.
Tina, Frank, Ross and Neal were all friends. They all worked together at the lumber mill in Hill City. Frank and Ross had been at the mill for fifteen years. Tina and Neal didn’t start there until about ten years ago. Slowly they all became friends and found out they had quite a bit in common. None of them were ever married and they weren’t in any relationships. Although if you ask Neal, Tina and Frank had a thing going on but they always denied it. All of them were in their mid-thirties. They all enjoyed being outdoors and traveling. They’ve went on many trips together and been around the United States a couple times. Ross had an old VW bus that had been collecting dust in his garage until they decided to make it into their adventure bus. It took about a year to get it cleaned up and ready for the open road but when they did it was a thing of beauty. It was painted baby blue and all the chrome had been scuffed down and painted white. It rode a little rough but that’s not hard to believe coming from a fifty year old vehicle. The crew’s favorite place to go was always to Yellowstone Park. You never see the same thing twice and there is always beauty around every corner. It’s also a fun gamble wondering whether you’ll be eaten by a bear at night while you’re sleeping in a tent.
One afternoon at the mill Frank came up to the other three and asked them if they had heard about the Angel of Death that was up in Nemo. The other three nodded and said they had heard the stories but never really believed it. People die all the time and it wasn’t strange to lose a couple people out on the trails each year. Most of them probably didn’t bring enough water and became dehydrated. Frank still thought it might be fun to go camping up there on the coming weekend. They each agreed and packed up their bags when work was done. After their shifts were done on Friday night they would head up to Nemo and set up camp. Ross brought the bus to work on Friday so everyone could leave their cars at the mill and just head straight out after work. They wanted to get up there before sun down since it was a new location they hadn’t been to before. Nice to see where you’re going and what’s around you before night falls incase things arises.
Work finished up that evening and they all punched out on the time stamps and piled in the bus. An adventure awaited them. It was an adventure that before they knew it would also tear their friendships apart. The Angel sometimes like to play games and turn friends on each other. It wanted to see who the worst one really was. Ross loved speeding. He had a need to go fast all the time. Whether it be in a vehicle or at work. It was always go, go, go. That wasn’t necessarily a bad thing but it did make for turning stomachs from the other three when flying around the windy corners. Their timing was always impeccable when Ross was driving and today was no exception. They left work at 5 and arrived in Nemo at 5:30, impressive is what that is called. Ross turned down Box Elder Forks Road and drove for about a mile or so. Everyone saw the beware signs and wondered what they meant. Another half mile and they came across a sign that said “turn left for campground”. Ross wrenched on the wheel and down they went to the campsites. He pulled up to number 305, which was theirs and backed the bus in.
Everyone unloaded their gear and set up the tent. They always slept in one giant tent. It was able to actually fit six people which was nice incase anyone else came along for the journey. Also on the bus there was a pull out canopy that draped over the top of the tent. The canopy was large enough to have most of the tent under it and some chairs off to the side for people to sit in. Once the canopy was out and the tent was up, Frank and Ross went out and searched for some logs and sticks to start a fire. Twenty minutes rolled by and they came back to camp with arm loads of sticks and a few logs. Neal was the fire expert. The other three called him the pyro of the group. He wasn’t actually into fire all that much, he just happened to be extremely gifted with it.
Night was beginning to set in and they decided they should call it a night, so an early day could be had tomorrow. There’s nothing like getting run down from a lack of sleep before wanting to go out and adventure. They each cuddled up in their sleeping bags, of course Tina and Frank’s were right next to each other, and got some shut eye. A couple hours rolled by before Ross woke up and heard some noises. He nudged Frank and asked him if he heard anything. Frank mumbled, “The only thing I hear is you and if I keep hearing it I’m going to be angry.” Ross laid back down and shut his eyes. He didn’t go to sleep because he had a feeling in his gut that something wasn’t right. A feeling that something was watching them from outside the tent.
The next morning, they all woke up and went outside. Everything seemed to be in order. That was until Neal walked over to the bus to grab some coffee. There was a star symbol carved into the dirt. A star usually meant something holy and of the earth. But at the top of the star there was an eye. Sort of like the all seeing eye which is used with the Illuminati, if you believe in such things. They didn’t know what to make of this and with no cell service they weren’t able to look it up on the Internet as to what it meant. They grabbed their cups of coffee and brushed the symbol away in the dirt. After coffee, they packed their bags with water and headed out on the trails. Each of them were curious to find out what the beware signs meant. It had to be something on the trails or animals that roamed around at night. The crew were out on the trails for most of the day. Late afternoon was rolling around and they decided to come back to camp. Ross was a little hesitant about returning, but of course he didn’t say anything. There was no way he was going to be called the scaredy cat of the group. He was too much of a man’s man for that. Ross kept his mouth shut and followed the others back.
After they were at camp they had another fire going and cooked up some hot dogs that they had brought. Hot dogs, just like marshmallows, go hand in hand with campfires. After they all had dinner they popped open a couple beers and enjoyed some conversation among one another. It wasn’t long until Ross and Neal began to argue, which was strange. They never argued. In fact they were probably the closest of friends out of all four of them. Frank and Tina looked at each other with peculiar looks. Not sure what was going on, but it wasn’t normal. Frank and Tina then began to wonder if this was what the beware signs had warned about. Was the Angel of Death among them? Was the Angel making friends turn on friends? They couldn’t be 100% sure but they both had a gut feeling that’s what it was.
The argument suddenly turned into a brawl. It seemed to be a split second that they were sitting in their chairs and the next they were rolling around on the ground. Exchanges of words turned into choke holds and elbow hits. Frank tried to break the two up, but it was as if he didn’t even exist. Ross and Neal stood up and were now exchanging blows with each other. If there had been other campers around this would have looked like some backyard UFC fighting. Ross took off and ran towards the woods. Neal chased off after him, which meant Tina and Frank weren’t far behind him. No one brought a flashlight because no one was thinking. It was all spur of the moment and off they went. Tina and Frank could see Neal up ahead. He was going slow and combing over every inch of forest trying to find Ross. No one knew what the fight was about, but here they were in the middle of nowhere, in the darkest of night. Frank and Tina heard a creek up ahead and if they were right, there should be a bridge. As they moved closer, memory served them well, and there was a bridge. They saw Ross standing at the top of the bridge looking down over the railing. As they got closer he was smiling, in a very unpleasant way. Frank looked down over the bridge and there was Neal lying in the creek bed. Frank yelled at Ross asking him what he had done. Ross didn’t say anything. He turned and slowly made his way back towards the campsite.
Tina and Frank went down to the creek and plunged through the water to get to Neal. He was lying in the creek face down and wasn’t breathing. He now had wounds besides the scratches and scuffs from fighting. His face was a little swollen and bruised, but that was to be had from the punches they were exchanging. Frank tried to give him CPR to bring him back to life but he was long gone. Tina walked back up to the shore and was bawling her eyes out. She couldn’t wrap her head around what had just happened. Frank was pulled Neal’s body back to shore and they both walked back to the camp. They were scared to be around Ross. As they were closing in on camp they heard the VW bus fire up. The lights flickered on and it peeled out of the campsite, leaving Tina and Frank alone and helpless. Frank tried chasing after Ross but there was no way he could catch him. Even if he did, Frank had no plan to stop the vehicle. Ross had murdered their friend and he was gone…