In the dark Powhatan Swamp, a graduate student is dedicating himself to tagging and protecting the local black bear population. He is joined by 17-year-old Chip Clewt, nicknamed "Weirdo" by the locals. Chip has been badly burned in a plane crash and is looking for a place to hide. A runaway dog leads 16-year-old Samantha Sanders into the swamp. Her father wants to hunt bear. Then suddenly Tom, the graduate student, is missing, and Chip and Samantha decide to unravel the mystery.