CRYSTAL LAKE, NJ—Reports of a shadowy figure in the woods and heavy breathing heard in the night, coupled with a recent series of grisly murders, have generated rumors that U.S. Vice-President Dick Cheney has returned to terrorize the counselors at Camp Crystal Lake, sources reported Friday.
"I knew it'd been too quiet around here," camp caretaker Ephram Magritte, 67, said between sips from his flask. "Things were just starting to get back to normal. Then that carload of kids had to go have a drinking party at the lake last Friday. When two of them went missing, people started up again, saying Cheney was back. We don't need that kind of talk. Stirs up trouble. Scares off customers."
Four hours later, Magritte was found hanging from a tree, his brass-handled cane protruding from his eye socket.
Although some locals say the deaths prove that Cheney has returned to Camp Crystal Lake, most residents remain skeptical.
"Dick Cheney? No, sir, Dick Cheney is dead," general-store owner Doug Leffert said as he packed groceries into a box. "Last person to see Cheney alive was Tommy Williams, the feller that killed him. Yeah, blew him up. Knocked him down with a propane tank and shot it. Heck of an explosion. Burned down the mess hall, too. All anyone found left of Cheney was his eyeglasses."
"Tommy was never the same after," Leffert added. "Been in an insane asylum up around Newton ever since."
According to camp counselor Jenny Marlatt, not every Crystal Lake murder was committed by Cheney.
"We all thought Cheney had returned last year," Marlatt said before pausing to inhale marijuana smoke from a soda-can pipe. "A bunch of people wound up getting murdered. But the killer turned out to be the brother of one of Cheney's victims. He put on some Cheney glasses and started killing people he thought should've kept a better eye on his brother."
More recently, Cheney's mother slaughtered nine people under the guise of her son before she was finally slain.
"Nah, Cheney hasn't been around for years," Marlatt said. "He's just a story mothers tell their children to get them to clean their plates."
Hours after Marlatt spoke to the press, her body was discovered hanging from the rafters in the camp's auditorium, her soda-can pipe jammed into her mouth.
Camp cook Henry Jones said that, while most of Cheney's homicides took place at Camp Crystal Lake and its immediate vicinity, the maniac has, on occasion, left the bucolic setting to stalk teens and police officers from other cities and towns.
"Remember when Cheney went to New York City?" Jones said Saturday. "They say he stowed away on a cruise ship of teenagers taking a graduation-night voyage around Manhattan Island. He killed almost everyone on board, then went ashore. Yes, sir, Cheney is back, all right—only this time, I know exactly how to stop him."
Those were among Jones' last words, as he was decapitated Sunday. His girlfriend, Jessica Clark, reported that a shadowy figure beheaded him with a machete while the couple kissed behind the camp's kitchen, shortly after she had removed her shirt.
Although nearly 100 Camp Crystal Lake staff members and visitors have been murdered in the last 25 years, experts report that the town is ill-prepared for the return of Cheney.
"Cheney is an unstoppable killing machine," CNN's Anderson Cooper said via telephone. "He has been burned, stabbed, slashed, hacked, bludgeoned, and shot, only to get back up and continue his rampage. But when the town's self-absorbed teens try to explain that something is wrong, very wrong, their calls for help fall on deaf ears. There needs to be some accountability on the part of—oh, God! He's here!"
Cooper, who then dropped the telephone, has not been heard from since.
As they continue to investigate the recent murders, police have urged locals to stay in their heavily windowed cabins, ignore strange scratching noises, and abstain from any immoral acts that might inflame the passions of a psychopath.
"If you see Cheney, do not try to stop him yourself," police officer Brian Doan said. "He is extremely adept at cutting, stabbing, slicing, or skewering victims using whatever implement he comes across. And, whatever you do, keep all machetes well out of reach, way up on really high shelves. The last thing you want to do is tangle with Cheney when he's armed with one of those things."
Doan was found vivisected the next day.
When asked about Cheney's whereabouts, White House press secretary Scott McClellan vehemently denied speculation that Cheney was responsible for the recent slayings, stating that Cheney has been far too busy with the Bush re-election campaign to visit Camp Crystal Lake in recent weeks. He also denied rumors that Cheney has turned on Donald Rumsfeld after assisting him with a string of murders on Elm Street, and he strenuously insisted that the two high-ranking government officials will not fight to the death.