Weekend hunting trip part 1 – Arriving at the forest (June’s Five Word Challenge story entry)

Here is my story for June’s Five Word Challenge.

The five words that had to be used are: alarm, hunter, tavern, envy, and gem. I’ve put the word in bold each time I’ve used it so you can clearly see it.

Just a heads up, my story is more like a chapter one or part one, I plan to continue it over the next couple months in the five word challenge.

“How much longer until we get there? We’ve been in this car all bloody day without any stops. I’m going mad back here” Jeff moaned from the backseat.

“Not long now, we should reach the tavern in the next half an hour where we pick up the keys to the lodge and from there it’s just another twenty minutes or so” Mark answered without taking his eyes off the road, tiredness from the long journey beginning to creep into his voice.

“Oh joy” Jeff retorted leaning back in his seat “that’s still close to another hour in the bloody car.”

“We could always take a short break at the tavern, maybe grab a quick bite to eat before continuing up to the lodge?” Chris said turning around from the front seat to look at Jeff.

“I wouldn’t mind a toilet break to be honest” Greg answered without even opening his eyes. The other three had all thought Greg was fast asleep in the backseat next to Jeff and were planning to leave him sleeping in the car when they got to the lodge and seeing how long it would take him to notice.

“Bloody hell Greg, how long have you been awake?” Jeff asked rather startled.

“Basically the whole time” Greg replied a smile on his face “I’ve just been dozing really. And yes I heard your plan”.

“So everyone wants to take a break at the tavern so we can get something to eat and go to the toilet?” Mark asked?

“Yes” answered Chris.

“OK” replied Mark, “I suppose I could do with stretching my legs anyway.”

For the next fifteen minutes they drove in silence, vast fields on one side of the road, the tall trees of the forest on the other. Jeff was staring out of his window into the darkness of the forest, this was his first trip to a forest and his first time camping. The only times he had previously left the city was when he went on holiday to the beach with his family every summer growing up, he always hated it. He hated the sand, he hated the water, and he hated everyone screaming and shouting having a good time, he would have preferred to stay at home by himself. However he was excited, and a little nervous, about his first trip to the forest and camping in it, excited because it was new and different and it was going to be a great weekend with friends, but nervous because he didn’t have much experience around nature and was terrified of insects. He was still haunted by an experience he had at university involving a bee, one had simply flown into his room, the buzzing was enough to cause him to run down the corridor screaming in panic. It was quite a while before people let him forget about that.

Mark and Chris were regular campers and had spent many holidays camping as kids while Greg had been camping once or twice on school trips. Only Mark though had any experience of camping in this forest but even then the last time he was here was over ten years ago with his family.

It was only when they started pulling up outside the tavern that Jeff snapped out of his daydream. “The Lonely Hunter” Jeff mumbled to himself seeing the sign above the tavern.

“Well boys here we are at long last, ‘The Lonely Hunter’” Mark announced turning round in his seat to look at Jeff and Greg in the back. “They own and run all the lodges in the area. Hunters gather here at the end of everyday for a nice drink and to share stories”.

“So basically like any other pub in the world” Chris replied rolling his eyes as he climbed out of the car.

“Well yeah” Mark said sounding a bit disappointed “but here they share hunting stories”.

“Also” said Greg chipping in, “what sort of name is ‘The Lonely Hunter’? It sounds like a really bad dating advert. I am a hunter and I am lonely, I am looking for Miss Right. Must be interested in hunting.”

“Are you both done?” Mark asked looking slightly annoyed. “Don’t say anything like that once we are inside, we don’t want to upset anyone.”

“Mate relax it was just a joke” Greg said looking over at Mark.

“Yeah well let’s have none of it inside just in case” Mark said pleadingly. “It’s not a good idea to upset people with guns.” Mark pushed the door open and the four of them walked in. Inside the tavern was quite busy with lots of little groups dotted about the place merrily chatting away over more than a few beers.

Looking around the walls Jeff noticed that they were decorated with various hunting trophies, hunting weapons, and other paraphernalia including rather bizarrely a longsword. Looking at the trophies Jeff counted two bears, four deer, a couple of different kinds of fish, and a wolf, or maybe it was a big scary dog, he wasn’t sure which but either way it was rather frightening and he was hoping that they didn’t run into any of its brothers or sisters once they entered the forest this weekend.

Mark walked up to the bar where there was an attractive young barmaid stood behind the bar serving drinks, Greg gave Chris a nudge and whispered to him “I wonder if she is the lonely hunter?”

“Hi there” said Mark to the barmaid after she had finished pouring drinks for the previous patron “I’m here to pick up the keys for one of the lodges that we will be staying in this weekend”.

“Oh certainly” she replied with a big smile “if I can just get the name you made the reservation under please” before leaning under the desk and pulling out a big reservation book.

“Yes it’s Chambers” Mark answered looking down at the big reservation book.

Greg came and stood next to Mark, leaned forward on the bar, flashed the barmaid a smile and said “so, are you the lonely hunter?” Mark instantly put his head in his hands and mumbled something about Greg being an idiot and that he was going to kill him once they got to the lodge.

The barmaid meanwhile just laughed “how many times have I heard that line whilst working here? No. I’m not the lonely hunter, that was my husband before I met him.”

“Oh” replied Greg looking a little embarrassed “he’s a very lucky man and the envy of every man here”.

“The envy of every man here?” The barmaid replied quizzically. “Why? Because of how I look? I could be a complete bitch and nightmare to live with, would I still be the envy of every man here then? What about the men that have no interest in women? Think they are envious of my husband as well?”

The whole tavern had gone silent and was watching the events at the bar unfold. Mark was burying his head deeper into his hands while Greg had turned bright red and was praying that the world would open up and swallow him whole, or that a meteor would slam into the tavern killing them all, or that a hurricane would come sweeping through the area, he didn’t care which so long as something happened to draw attention away from the current situation.

The barmaid suddenly started laughing and everyone else in the bar started laughing with her, between breaths she managed to get out “I love doing that to the newbies. It never gets old. You should see your face.”Mark too started to join in with the laughter but Greg just stood there frozen to the stop turning an even brighter red. Once she had managed stop laughing and compose herself she said “here’s your key Mr Chambers, enjoy your stay” as she handed him the key to the lodge.

Whispering to Mark, Greg said “we’ve got the key now can we please get going up to the lodge?”

“I thought you wanted to go to the toilet and have something to eat here before going up to the lodge” Mark said to Greg with a smug smile.

“I’ve changed my mind, c’mon let’s just go” Greg said a little frantically.

“OK fine” Mark said to Greg before turning to Chris and Jeff who had sat down at a table and saying quite loudly, “hey guys c’mon let’s head up to the lodge, Greg is too embarrassed to stay here and have a drink or anything to eat”.

The whole tavern burst out into laughter again including Chris, Jeff, and Mark as Greg stormed out and headed to the car.

“Oh my god that was brilliant” said Chris was they were back in the car and heading up towards the lodge. “She completely got you with that one mate” he said as he turned round to face Greg. Greg just sat staring out of the window sulking and didn’t respond, he knew he wasn’t going to be allowed to forget about what had happened at the tavern for a long time.

For the next few minutes they sat without saying anything as Mark continued to drive them to the lodge before Jeff broke the silence. “Did you guys check out all the stuff they had hanging up on the walls back there?

“Only briefly” Chris answered looking back at him. “Saw like a bear head and a couple of deer heads”.

“Yeah, pretty standard stuff for a hunting place” Mark added.

“Agreed but didn’t you see the sword they had on one of the walls?” Jeff asked them.

“Oh thank god you said that” Chris said with an air of relief “I thought I was seeing things. I was thinking why the hell would they have a sword up on the wall. You don’t hunt with a sword”.

“I have no idea” said Jeff sounding quite excited as he leaned forward, “but it was a really nice looking sword. It looked the real deal as well, not some kind of replica, and did you see the design on the handle?”

“No?” Chris asked rather intrigued.

“The end of the handle” Jeff began.

“The pommel” Mark said interrupting.

“The what?” Jeff asked.

“The pommel” Mark replied “it’s the name for the end of the handle of a sword”.

“Oh right, cool. Well anyway it looked like it had been carved into the shape of an animal head, I couldn’t make out what sort of animals, and it looked like it had some kind of jewels or gems encrusted in it” Jeff answered sounding even more excited.

“That would surely make it very expensive” Chris said after a moment. “It must have some kind of meaning or significance to have that much work put into it and to be hung up on the wall”.

“Yeah” said Jeff leaning back in his seat “that’s what I was thinking. I was planning to ask the barmaid if she knew, but well we had to leave in a hurry”.

“What sort of gem was it?” Mark asked to prevent any kind of awkward silence.

Gems” replied Jeff “there was more than one. And I’m not sure they were gems, they could have been some other kind of jewel or precious stone or even just shiny rocks.”

“What’s the difference between a gem and a jewel?” Chris asked looking out of the window at the forest.

“I don’t know actually. Is there one?” Jeff asked back.

“There must be some kind of difference even if it is just a technical one related to how they are cut or polished” Mark offered “but beyond that I have no idea”.

The car fell silent again with everyone lost in their own thoughts. Outside it was beginning to get very dark, the trees of the forest were thicker here blocking out most of the dwindling light that remained as the sun was setting.

“Hey Mark does the lodge have power?” Chris asked turning to him.

“Yeah why?” Mark replied.

“Well it’s getting dark, I didn’t know if we were going to need to find some flashlights or candles to light or something” Chris answered.

“Ah nah, it’s get power and lights so no need to worry on that account” replied Mark as he continued to drive them to the lodge.

“And er how much longer until we get there?” Jeff asked sounding exhausted.

“To be honest I thought we would be there by now” Mark replied sounding a little worried.

“That sounds like a fancy way of saying we are lost. In the forest. At night” said Greg whose mood clearly wasn’t getting any better.

“Yes and no” Mark said a little defensively “there is only one path here, so worse case scenario is we just turn around and follow the path back to the tavern.”

“And get laughed at for getting lost” Greg added.

Silence again fell in the car as Mark continued to drive along the path cutting through the forest. By now the sun had all bet set and the only light they had was coming from the headlights of their vehicle. For the next twenty minutes they travelled in silence, Mark driving at an ever slower pace because of the twist and turns in the path they were following until they finally reached a large clearing with six lodges scattered about around the edges.

“Hey guys” Mark said to wake the others who had began to fall asleep “I think we’re here.”

“Oh thank god” Jeff said stretching in his seat “about damn time.”

“Are you sure?” Chris asked looking out at the clearing and counting the number of lodges around the edge “there are six lodges here.”

“Well yeah, it has to be, we followed the path” Mark said noticing the first time that there were six different lodges.

“Maybe they are numbered” Greg said chipping in and trying to be helpful. “Check to see if the key is marked with a number or anything.”

Chris picked up the key up of the dashboard and helped it up for all to see, there was a big keyring on it that had the number 2 painted on it. “You mean like this big number 2 painted on the keyring? That kind of marking.”

“Exactly Chris” Greg said “a marking just like that might help. How didn’t you notice that Mark?”

“Well Greg” Mark replied as he started driving towards the nearest lodge to see what number it was. “I was so busy being distracted by the idiot using one of the chat up lines ever, one so bad that in fact caused the entire establishment to laugh at him, and then being rushed out of the establishment by said idiot, that I just sort of put the key on the dashboard of the car and never really thought to look at it.”

Greg turned the same shade of bright red that he had turned earlier in the tavern.

“Ha burn” Jeff shouted from his seat.

“Keep an eye out for what number this lodge is as we pass it” Mark said as he peered out the window at the lodge they were about to pass.

“It is” Chris began as they started to pass the lodge “number six. Which means we are the other side of the clearing.”

They drove past the next three lodges before pulling up at their lodge. Mark parked the car and all four of them got out.

“Since it’s quite late shall we just take all of the stuff out of the car and dump inside and worry about unpacking it tomorrow and go to bed tonight?” Mark asked the other three as he went to the back of the car where their bags were. “We don’t have anything that needs putting in a fridge do we?”

“The beer?” Jeff asked as he started to lift a couple of bags out of the car. “That needs putting in the fridge.”

“Surely that can wait until the morning?” moaned Greg as he picked up a couple of bags and started taking them into lodge. “It’s not like we’ll be drinking until tomorrow evening anyway.”

“yeah basically gun safety Jeff” Chris said rather sternly. “The guns aren’t toys, no getting drunk and running round the forest shooting no matter how fun it may sound.”

After two trips they had the car unloaded and all their bags were in the lounge area of the lodge. They had a quick look around the lodge to get their bearings, at the back of the lounge was a small kitchen area with a fridge and freezer, an oven, and a small worksurface. Next to the kitchen also on the back wall was the bathroom/toilet and there were two bedrooms either side of the lounge.

“So who wants what room?” Mark asked?

They all mumbled something about not really caring and just drifted to the nearest empty room and stood outside it’s door.

“Well that was easy enough” Chris said looking at the other three in turn. “Should I set an alarm for tomorrow morning?”

“An alarm? Seriously?” Jeff asked slightly upset. “Why do we need an alarm?”

“To wake us up in the morning? I dunno Jeff what do you use an alarm for?” Chris cut back.

“Why not just get up when we wake up?” Jeff shot back.

“Because that way we might sleep the day away and miss our opportunity to go hunting?” Chris replied talking to Jeff like he was an idiot.

Jeff put put up his hands and sighed in a dismissive manner like he couldn’t be bothered to argue any further with Chris. “How about you set your alarm for about 10 Chris?” Mark said trying to be diplomatic. “That way we get a bit of a lie in but still get up early enough to spend the day hunting.”

“Sounds good to me” Greg said.

“OK will do” said Chris playing with the alarm on his phone.

“Fine” added Jeff sounding a bit fed up.

“Well then gentlemen, all that is left to say is goodnight and I’ll see you in the morning” Mark said yawning.

They all said their goodnights before retreating to their rooms to sleep.

End of part 1

Like I said at the very top. I plan to continue this story over the next couple of months Five Word Challenges. Depending on what words we get will really determine how the story evolves which could prove to be quite a challenge but hopefully fun.

Any thoughts, feedback, ideas, suggestions, criticisms are greatly welcome and I look forward to seeing what everyone else has come up with.

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