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Even though the night was humid, and the fire was hot, I shivered. Becky gave me a sideways glance and said, “You’re just joking, aren’t you, Grace? We may be only ten, but we’re not that gullible!”
I laughed nervously, hoping Becky was right.
Grace smiled, “Becky, I have never seen McGregor. I’ve only heard the stories from Old Joe, who owned this place before us. If McGregor is still living somewhere in the woods, he’d never hurt you. He’s probably just a sad, old soul who lost his family and became a little unbalanced. The siren we hear almost sounds like a wailing cry.”
Grace and Bill were old friends of Becky’s parents. They were an older couple who had retired to this isolated cabin in the deep northwoods of Wisconsin. Surely she wouldn’t lie to us.
“Let’s hope that McGregor is vacationing in Florida right now,” Becky’s dad joked. I jumped as he spoke. I was thinking intently about the legend of McGregor, the crazy old man who lived among the tall pines.
“Let’s get to our cabin, girls,” Becky’s mom said. “It’s getting late.”
“Goodnight,” I called to our hosts. “Thanks for dinner tonight!”
“Goodnight, girls! Sleep well!” Grace called to us.
“Yeah, right,” I thought to myself.
“Mom, are you scared?” Becky asked her mom.
“No, honey. Grace and Bill were probably having a little fun with you,” she replied.
Becky’s mom laid out our sleeping bags on the screened in porch. We were hoping the breeze would cool us off a little on this hot, sticky night. I was a little nervous sleeping on the porch after hearing the McGregor story.
Becky’s mom gave us a flashlight, and we said our good nights.
“Becky,” I whispered. “Are you scared?”
“A little,” she hissed.
“Me, too,” I said, but that was a lie. I was a lot scared.
We heard a rustle outside. I stiffened and croaked, “What was that?”
Becky bravely turned on the flashlight and shined it on the hundreds of trees. We saw a raccoon’s rear end scurry off into the darkness.
“It was just a raccoon,” Becky sighed.
I closed my eyes and tried to sleep. All I could think about were things that could be lurking outside: raccoons, bears, coyotes…and McGregor. Finally I fell asleep, only to be awakened by Becky’s foot kicking my leg.
“Listen!” she squeaked.
It was the long, wailing sound of a siren. I was so scared, I couldn’t move.
Becky whispered, “Let’s go!” and we ran into the house.
“Mom! Dad!” Becky called.
“What?” Becky’s mom asked sleepily.
“Can you hear that?” Becky gasped.
The siren sounded like it was getting fainter.
“I bet that’s McGregor!” Becky’s dad said excitedly.
Becky and I huddled on the couch as her parents peered into the woods. The siren stopped.
The headlights of a vehicle startled us all. Bill and Grace rushed inside. They cried, “Did you hear that?”
“Was it McGregor?” Becky asked.
“It must have been. We came to check on you,” Grace continued.
“Oh, no!” I cried. “I can’t sleep here with McGregor outside!”
“Me neither!” said Becky.
Grace and Bill tried to calm us down, but Becky and I wanted to get the heck out of there.
“C’mon, girls. You’re safe here. McGregor’s not real,” said Bill.
“Was it you?” Becky demanded.
Grace and Bill looked at each other. “Yeah. Sure it was. We were playing a trick. Now go on to bed, girls. You don’t need to be scared.”
“Really?” I asked.
“Yep,” Grace said unconvincingly. “Now go on to bed. Sorry you were spooked.”
As Becky and I lay our sleeping bags on the living room floor, I asked, “Do you think it was really them?”
Becky hesitated and answered, “I think so.”
I still wasn’t so sure…