Campfire Stories

The crew all sat around the campfire. The conversation was about monsters and spooks .

Anticipation ran high after each selection as the crew detailed their humorous, and scary choices.The Stay Puffed Marshmellow Man got several mentions. Also listed were: vampires, mummies, the Holy Ghost, their in-laws, and former husbands and wives. It was all in good fun. 

I remained silent. “Wes?”

“Well, it’s not going to mean much to folk’s who’ve never been to sea, but we used to call it Mr. Wakey Wakey. You see, there’s always someone who’d come around on board ship to wake you up for a night time watch. But once in a rare while, you’d go to wake them, and they’d be dead. Dead with a grimace on their face. 

I knew a shipmate who survived. He said it was an old petty officer who shook his shoulder while whispering in his ear, “Wakey Wakey!” right after that, they took him to sickbay with appendicitis. But he survived. Other shipmates compared notes, and Mr. Wakey Wakey was known on lots of cruises and ships. Always after midnight. So yeah, I’m afraid of Mr. Wakey Wakey.

The only other former Navy person there that night was Mike. No one was as superstitious as Mike, especially after more than a few beers. So I made sure to elaborate about ships we both knew and drop names of former shipmates. Mike had served two enlistments and had lots more sea duty than me; he knew the watch standing routine. By bedtime, he was primed. Just to set the hook, I piped Word Passed through my lips and then announced to all, but specifically to Mike: “All hands turn in your bunks. Turn out all lights. Keep silence about the decks. The smoking lamp is out in all berthing compartments.” We all turned in.

A bit before midnight, I dipped my hands in the nearby stream to get them wet and cold. I slipped beside Mike’s tent and carefully unzipped the fly. There he lay asleep and snoring hard. I tossed a large towel over his head, grabbed him by the neck with cold, wet hands, and hoarsely whispered, “Wakey Wakey! You have the mid watch!” then I rushed to my tent to watch the reaction.

Mike didn’t seem to realize at first that his head was completely covered. He floundered about hollering out loudly, ” I’m not ready to die!” As the entire campsite erupted, he took the towel from his head and looked out into a campground lit by flashlights. Several loud “what the hell’s going on?” rang out. Mike’s flashlight came on and caught me in its glare. I was lying in my tent, howling with laughter. “Wes, I’m so going to get you for this!”

And he did too, but that’s another story.

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