Deerfield Lake is a beautiful spot nestled deep in the Black Hills where camping and fishing go hand in hand. Fires around the tents and beers being sipped on with good conversations, families laughing and smiling, going up for a weekend and some…well some never return. This happens a few times a year. Yet people still flood the campsites and stay, knowing there’s a chance that they may never return. The height of the camping season happens in the fall. Trees are turning gorgeous colors and cold spells are fast approaching. Perfect campfire weather, a sip of rum and a s’mores to go with it.
Knowing that people disappear has almost made camping a game.
Like going to a haunted house and hoping to see a ghost, only it’s camping under the moonlight and wondering if you’ll be the next to be killed or taken off. If it is taken off, where do you go and what happens to you? So many questions have been left unanswered. No one ever seems to want to know what happens. They just accept the fact that it does and go about their merry way. Wondering should lead to questions that need to be found out and yet the circle of death keeps happening.
A darkness surrounds Deerfield. Hooves can be heard in the night, galloping along the dirt roads that surround the lake. Deep in the eve, a strong sense of fear and horror can be felt rustling in the trees. The Wilson’s knew of the terror. They read the stories and heard the folk tales. Setting up camp they came for the adventure. Knowing tonight could be the last night of their lives. They came to seek a true challenge…conquering the legend. Something that had taken countless lives before and will continue on if it isn’t stopped.
The Wilson’s set up their tents, Todd who was the husband, Cindy the wife, and Clay their son. They all had a sense of adventure and clearly thought flirting with death was a good idea. Todd was the most adventurous, looking for the next challenge and seeking the next thrill. Cindy and Clay were always along for the ride. They knew they were going to get into some sort of wild mess but little did they know it would be anything like this.
Once camp was set up and the fire was going under the full moon they started swapping stories from the week. Suddenly, they all heard horse hooves clacking on the dirt road. Either this was him or it was a fellow camper coming down to his campsite on a horse (not uncommon for this area of the hills). Either horse or foot was how everyone traveled. They all stood up together and headed toward the main road, holding hands and obviously scared they looked at each other and looked down the road. They saw a horse. A horse with a man on top. This man had no head…he was the legend….The Headless Horseman.
The horse reared back on its hind legs and steam came pouring out of its nostrils. The Headless Horseman wore an old, navy colored, army suit. He had a sword slung around on his waist and he carried an ax with him at all times.
The horseman lost his head in the Battle of Deerfield almost eighty years ago. As any confrontation usually goes, it’s over a difference of opinion or land. He was the general, harsh and ruthless, tearing through enemies left and right. One evening while he was sleeping, three men from the opposing side snuck into camp. They found the general’s tent. He woke up and heard the rustling outside. The three men came rushing in slashing with their swords. The general wasn’t there. He had crawled out the back of the tent and was sitting on his horse waiting for them to come outside of his tent.
Once they came out he began laughing. “Oh you thought you two were going to kill me did you?”, he said to them. Little did he know, one of the enemies took the same route he did. He came up behind the general and put his sword through his chest. The general fell off the horse and onto the ground. Two of the men held him down and the third grabbed an ax off of the horse and cut the general’s head off. Once the general had died his troops retreated and were never to be seen again.
Every year in the fall, the horseman emerges from hiding, to take victims that come on his land. The Wilson’s were no different, a happy but adventurous family. They loved horror and anything scary. This was looking to be the scariest encounter they would ever face.
Once the Wilson’s saw the ax blade shine off the moonlight in the sky they turned and ran back to camp. Instant regret was beginning to set into their hearts and minds. What kind of mistake had they made? All of them got back to camp. Being the man, Todd told everyone to remain calm and that maybe it had just been a figment of their imagination. All of them knew this wasn’t the truth, but it seemed like something good to believe for the present moment in time.
Sitting around the campfire, facing the road, they waited for the sound of the Headless Horseman to come their way. Seconds seemed like minutes and gusts of cold air came flying through their campsite. Cold, dead, lifeless air seemed to be making its way across the back of their necks. Making every hair stand up and heightening all of their senses. Everyone was on alert. They heard a branch snap off in the distance and a gust of freezing air came through and blew them onto the ground and their fire went out. Click-clack. Click-clack. Looking down the dirt path they saw the horse appear and the Headless Horseman jumped off and was pointing himself in their direction.
The Wilson family saw the Headless Horseman start walking toward their direction. He never rushed anything. He had killed so many people before them this was almost routine. They run, he follows, and eventually they get trapped somewhere. The Wilson’s stood up and started running in the opposite direction. They had done some scouting beforehand and knew that there were two paths that branched off from their campsite. They had discussed splitting up, the odds of at least one or two of them escaping greatly increased that way. Also, they knew there was a better chance at putting an end to the horseman by luring him in one direction and attacking him from behind.
Todd went one direction while Clay and Cindy went the other. Clay and Cindy took the high road that overlooked the campsites and the lake.
Todd went down below towards the beach. He had never heard stories of what could be the Headless Horseman’s weakness but he was banking on water being one of them. Clay and Cindy finally reached the top of the hill and could see everything; other families camping, laughing, having drinks and completely oblivious of what was going on right next to them.
Todd started heading down below. He turned and looked up the hill to see that Clay and Cindy were safe and out of harm’s way. The moon was so bright that night, everything could be seen. He looked back up the path towards their campsite and saw the shoulders of the Headless Horseman just coming into view.
With the moon being so bright, Todd could see the ax hanging over the horseman’s shoulder, and the sword at his side. He hoped the horseman would try to fling the ax at him so he could use that as a weapon against the horseman.
Clay and Cindy stood up top watching the killer walking down to Todd. They had to wait until the right moment. The plan was to get a weapon away from the horseman and tackle him into the water. Easier said than done as everything goes. Just holding him under the water obviously wouldn’t kill him, it has been noted, he clearly has no head.
Todd finally got to the beach and saw there was a cave off to one side of the beach. There was also a campsite that had a fire smoldering from where some kids must have been partying. Beer bottles laid everywhere around the fire. Todd went over to the site and started looking around for anything that might be useful. He went to step over the smoldering fire and stepped on something hard. He moved back and dug down into the sand and found a baseball bat. Clearly what he found was a blessing in disguise. He looked back towards the dirt path and saw the Headless Horseman was standing on the beach. He couldn’t have been but 25 yards away from him. The horseman raised up his ax and flung it down into the ground. He pulled out his sword and started running towards Todd.
Clay and Cindy watched at the top of the hill as the horseman started running towards Todd. They looked back at their campsite and saw that his horse was still there. Clay thought to himself that there might be something on the horse that could be of use to them. If he didn’t find anything that he could use, then maybe there would be something detrimental to the Headless Horseman. Clay told his mom he was going back to the campsite to look at the horse. She told him to be careful and to hurry. Who knew what that horse was capable of or if it was even real.
Once Clay reached their campsite, he saw the horse standing by their fire. As Clay began to approach the horse, it looked at him with the blackest eyes he’d ever seen. The horse never made a sound as Clay moved closer. There was a satchel on each side of the horse. Clay came up on the left side of the horse and opened up one satchel. Inside was pack of cigars that looked like they had been there for decades, below those there was a military hat. He moved around to the other side and opened it up. Inside was a knife. It was inscribed on the handle in a language he couldn’t make out. Clay picked up the knife and the lettering started to glow.
Clay took the knife and started running back up the hill to his mom. He reached the top and showed her what he had found. It began glowing brighter and they looked out on the lake as a heavy fog was rolling in. Clay wondered if the knife had anything to do with the fog or if it was the Headless Horseman doing it. Clay and Cindy thought that maybe they should move down to the beach. Once that fog hit the beach Todd wouldn’t be able to see anything.
Back down on the beach, Todd and the Headless Horseman clashed with sword and bat. It echoed across the entire lake. Todd fell down into the sand. The horseman slashed left and right with his sword trying to hit Todd, but he failed at every attempt. Todd got back up to his feet and hit the horseman with the bat on both of his knees. The horseman dropped his sword and fell down. The fog had just begun to hit the beach. He knew it wouldn’t be long before everything was dark. No one would be able to see two feet in front of themselves. This was clearly going to give the Headless Horseman the upper hand.
Todd looked up the hill and saw that Cindy and Clay were rushing down towards him. They were holding something that looked like a torch from the distance. He made his way towards them hoping they had good news. Little did any of them know…they were holding the key.
Just as Todd reached Clay and Cindy, the fog overtook everything. There was zero visibility everywhere. Todd looked down at what Clay was holding. It was a knife, more of a dagger, and it was inscribed with a glowing language unknown to him. A bright yellow glow lit up the fog around them. They pointed the knife down towards the sand and started walking forward hoping to hit water soon. It was almost impossible to hear if someone was running or walking around them. The sand muffled all the sounds. The Wilson’s hoped that they could hear a jingle or a clank from the Headless Horseman’s sword.
Finally, they came upon the shoreline where they ducked down and waited for something to happen. They listened for any sounds and watched for a shadow. All of a sudden they heard a whooshing sound, it sounded like it was getting louder and closer. Clay held up the dagger to spread some light, an ax hit the dagger out of Clay’s hands and down into the water. The Headless Horseman burst out from the fog and into view. He slashed at Clay and cut his arm. Cindy ran after the ax. Todd swung the bat and hit the horseman in the chest. Todd helped Clay up and looked at his arm. It wasn’t a bad cut at all. They started yelling for Cindy. Almost playing a form of marco polo trying to find each other.
They found Cindy. She was knee deep in the water holding both the ax and the knife. Todd took both the weapons from her and gave her the bat. He gave the knife back to Clay and he took the ax. They heard the Headless Horseman barreling towards them. Todd got down on his knees and waited for him to run by. The horseman was obviously after the knife now. Todd saw the horseman in front of him. He took a swing at the horseman’s leg with the ax and cut it clean off. The horseman turned at Todd and slashed his hand off with his sword. Todd yelled in pain. Falling down into the sand, Todd was screaming for his family. Cindy came and hit the hobbling horseman with the bat down into the water. The Headless Horseman tried to push away from her with his one leg. He was pushing through the water and came to a halt. Something stopped him from moving any further. It was Clay standing above him.
He took the glowing knife and drove it right into the horseman’s heart. He didn’t move and the knife stopped glowing. Clay went running over to his dad and mother. The fog started to raise and the tide took the horseman out into the water. The Wilson’s all stood up and couldn’t believe that they just defeated the monster. They turned and started heading back towards camp to get Todd off to the hospital. The Headless Horseman started to sink down into the water. Right as he hit the bottom of the lake….the knife began to glow.