Drill Sergeant Perkins and Upsilon Squad took a transport into the mountains. Eventually, the road ended and the transport dropped the recruits at the edge of a dense forest. The squad then hiked for hours until they reached a flat, open area, as the sun began to set. One of the requirements of basic training was to sleep outdoors in cold weather with only sleeping bags for warmth. The recruits would go without food or fire for the night, with temperatures dropping to around 20 degrees fahrenheit.
“Recruits,” said Perkins, “this is where you will bunk for the evening.”
The recruits stared at one another, confused. There wasn’t a bunkhouse in sight.
“You have your sleeping bags,” barked Perkins, “and that’s all you will need. I recommend you find a soft piece of ground and stake your claim for the night. I hope you ate a delicious breakfast, because you will not eat again until tomorrow morning.
“Dude, seriously?” whispered Jackson into Ian’s ear, irritated, his tummy already rumbling with hunger after the long hike.
Ian glanced back at Jackson, exhaling deeply, clearly not looking forward to the campout.
“Dubois,” barked Sergeant Perkins, “you’re on guard duty until midnight. I’d climb that fat pine tree over there for a better view point. I’ll see you children in the morning. Try not to do anything stupid. Goodnight.”
Perkins turned, jogged across the open area, and disappeared into the trees. The unmotivated recruits slowly began to unroll their sleeping bags, still hoping this entire cold-weather camping episode was just a bad dream.
“What is Perkins thinking?” said Jackson, agitated. “Does the military know we’re sleeping out here in freezing weather like a herd of elk? Prolly not. And, where did Perkins go? I got ten dollars says he’s in a nice, heated camper right now. Un-Freaking-Believable!”
“Dude,” said Ian, laughing, climbing into his sleeping bag, “you’re from Colorado. You should be used to cold weather.”
“Yeah, I live in Colorado,” responded Jackson, matter of fact, hands on his hips, “but I live in a snug, warm house with central heating, and a big fireplace in the living room. I don’t sleep in the yard, Ian!”
“Will you just stop complaining,” said Ian, zipping his sleeping bag up to the neck. “The sooner you get in your bag, the sooner you’ll warm up.
“Fine,” said Jackson, shaking his head, mumbling as he climbed inside his sleeping bag, “Stupid Perkins.”
Meanwhile, Dubois had made his way to the base of the big pine tree, and was staring upward, as if someone was going to drop a hoist down and pull him up to the top. After a few minutes, and several unsuccessful attempts to climb the tree, Dubois decided the best plan was to jump inside his sleeping back and lean against the base of the tree. Dubois fought to keep his eyes open, wishing he was back in his warm bed.
Around 11 p.m., Dubois was startled by a terrifying sound coming from the woods. It was a low, horrible growling sound, merely feet from him. Dubois frantically jumped up and tried to run away… falling a couple times, his sleeping bag still zipped up to his neck. He took tiny, rapid little steps, while trying to shove the bag down around his feet as he moved. Dubois knew one thing – he had to get away from the trees, fast!