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Cottage Weekend

Rob brings a girl to our annual cottage weekend for the first time in eight years, rounding out our group to an even six. Initially, we are wary of including someone we didn’t quite know, but it isn’t too long before she wins us over with her friendly, laid-back personality. And, as a bonus, she’s brought with her salted caramel cupcakes, an after-dinner treat that we devour as we sit around a campfire exchanging the scariest stories we’d ever heard.

“You go first, new girl,” we encourage.

She shakes her head. “I’d actually like to go last, if you don’t mind. I want to hear all your stories first.”

Most of the tales are urban legends: “Humans Can Lick, Too”; “Aren’t You Glad You Didn’t Turn Out the Light”; and several versions of a young couple meeting an unfortunate fate while trapped in a car at the dead of night.

Then it’s her turn. “Honestly, stories with blood and gore don’t scare me. They’re so over the top, so implausible, that they’re more ridiculous than they are frightening.

“What’s scary to me are the mindfucks,” she continues, tapping an index finger to her temple. “The unexpected. The unknown. Not ghosts, mind you, or chain wielding maniacs, but ordinary people like you and I.

“For example, a stranger spends a weekend at the cottage with her boyfriend and his friends,” she says as she holds up her uneaten cupcake, “and feeds them some homemade pastries.”

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