Audio data from various sources, detailing the events which occurred at SITE2 on day 969. (NICE AGAIN -AGENT23)
MAJOR INSIGHT INTO:
- Behavior and motivations of ENTITY4
- Behavior and inner machinations of ENTITY2
- History of ENTITY1 and ENTITY2
MINOR INSIGHT INTO:
- Surroundings of SITE2
- Relationship of ENTITY1 and ENTITY6
- Relationship of ENTITY1 and ENTITY6
- Relationship of ENTITY6 and ENTITY2
- The confusion surrounding ENTITY2’s writing is infuriating. Is this worth investigating? Or is it just another little obscurity trickling out from the most distant, tangential roots of the limn? There’s no way to know with an investigation like this. It’s like reality itself is trying to sabotage our system with junk data.
Mayfield and Belov presents: Camp Here and There.
Episode Twenty One: The Boys of Secrets
Hi. Jedidiah again. Sydney, um — well, some of you might already know that he — uh — he’s gone.
Since — last night, I don’t know, sometime last night, he’s — been missing. In action. Nurse’s office completely abandoned. Left all of his stuff behind; his worms, his books. If you’ve been attending this camp for a few years, you know this is… extremely out of character. Sydney is a very responsible person; he cares immensely about all of you kids, and I find it — really hard to believe that he would just — get up and leave. Without telling anyone. So wherever he is, he’s probably not there by choice. Not to cause alarm, I just — yeah. This is a little bit of a situation.
There’s no need for you to be worried, though. I promise you kids I will attend dutifully to the nurse’s office in Sydney’s absence. Or, I’ll make sure someone is, at least.
So… I have these announcements here. Seems like Sydney wrote — wrote up the day’s announcements before he — disappeared, which… well, it’s considerate of him. Ah… so. Today’s breakfast is candied wasps, and this morning’s activity is… jumping.
And, uh… Counselor Marisol Yuchengo is here in the office with me, and she’s got something to say to you all. Take it away.
Hi. I won’t take up a lot of your time. I just want to ask… if any of you see the Elephant Man… please report it to me immediately. Okay? Don’t engage, obviously, don’t go near him, just… Tell me about it. And where he is. The moment you see him. Okay? Okay.
Thanks, Marisol. Aaaaaand… everyone… have a nice breakfast. And — let me know if you see Sydney.
[SOUNDS OF BIRDS AND FOOTSTEPS]
How ghosts it, my friendly recorder? It must be nice to get out of the office for once, huh? Haha. I really… really need a break, so I figured I’d finally tell you why I dragged you out here.
Sorry, where’s my decorum? It’s, uhhh… ha, well, honestly, I don’t have the slightest idea what time it is? I’m very far from the bonfire by now, and the sky has been behaving… rather curiously… there are no clouds, no visible sun, and ever since I left the campgrounds, it hasn’t even slightly changed color. Just the same unfathomable teal patina. Honestly… I don’t even know how long I’ve been wandering around for, haha. Well. It’s been long enough for me to get… very tired, I know that.
So. So. Yesterday. The trees had us hemmed in. Mother Nature had reached over and placed a woven basket upside down up above us, like we were unwanted pests in her house. We’d tried everything we could think of, and had taken to moping around, hoping better ideas would find us, or maybe that our interment would just… end, as quickly as it had just… begun. I was sat on a stump on the very outskirts of the clearing, leaning against one of the trees… when I heard a voice. So, obviously I knew who it was.
And it invited me over for tea.
The voice was… masculine. Handsome… yet expressive and buoyant. It sounded familiar, but I couldn’t think who it was, especially when I turned to look. It seemed the more I squinted to make out the figure hidden behind the tight-woven branches, the more I felt my brain grow hazy and… slow.
The stranger behind the trees explained that he had been expecting me to come to the altar, but had been hoping that I’d come alone. Nevertheless, he managed to arrange for this… private encounter. Declaring that he wanted nothing more than to sit down across a table from me, serve me up some tea, and chat, he provided me with specific directions to meet him in the forest that night. He claimed that if I’d kindly offer him the opportunity to explain himself, I would understand everything…
…And I said okay. I said okay. Of course I did. Honestly… I mean, at this point… why not? I’ve been thinking about it, and… things will shake out one of two ways. Option one… the Elephant Man isn’t dangerous. That’s great. I’ll learn everything I want to know about him. Jedidiah and Lucille will be proven right, and I can let go of some of this bitterness. Then there’s option two… he hurts me. Or tries to. And, well… hey, I’ll still get to find out what his deal is!
[Muttering] People might start taking me seriously.
… Except, at this rate, I might not get to meet him anyway. Normally, I know the desire-paths of this forest like the veins on my hands. I spend… most of my time out here, all told. But today, the paths keep… changing up on me… twisting and wobbling with every other glance. Every time I turn around, it’s like I’m in a completely different forest. Even the trees… seem unfamiliar… or maybe just unfriendly. They claw at the sky with gnashing branches and gnarled strands of bark. I’ve gotten so lost, I’ve found myself on the outskirts of camp several times. It’s a lucky break that no one’s seen me, dragged me back.
[Sigh] I… am so tired. Ugh… I doubt the Elephant Man is even waiting for me anymore. I bet it’d be fine if I… took a nap here, right? I’m just… [Dark laugh] really in a lot of pain.
[HE SITS DOWN]
One by one, we all stay alive… I’ll move forward.
[HE STANDS UP, STUMBLING]
I’ve gotten lost in this forest before, and it never beguiled me forever.
Okay, trudging on. Back into my pocket you go…
Hiiii, it’s me, Sydneyyyy! Good morning, kids! Just because your parents love you doesn’t mean they won’t hurt you, and you’re all going to die one day! Maybe today, who knows? All you can really do is pray, and even that doesn’t usually work! Well, breakfast is sludge!
Hahahahaha. Just kidding. It’s Yvonne, you know me. I’m doing the announcements this time. Got you, though, right? Totally got you.
So, Sydney is… still gone… and Jedidiah is — busy. Mmyeah! So, I’m filling in as the nurse, since I also went to medical school. For a little while. And since I’m doing that, I figure I’ll also fill in with the announcements! So, hi. Let me just… look at Sydney’s notes here… gimme a sec…
This has to be… I think there’s… okay, what the hell is this?
[SOUNDS OF SHUFFLING PAPERS]
This is… unreadable. It’s… I don’t even know where to start. There’s these meaningless doodles scattered everywhere, and some of this is written in — invisible ink? — and all of the sentences are written in… different directions… like some of them are written right-to-left or even top-to-bottom. I… I swear to God, the more I look at it, the more I feel like all the letters are, like… moving. Like, letters always switch up when you have dyslexia, but this is different. They’re, like… dancing around.
Okay, I’m… not going to even try to read this. I will just… give the announcements from memory, I guess.
Uhhhhhh… lunch is… uhh, well, you know, yesterday Matthew came knocking on my door asking for toothpaste, so… maybe that’s an ingredient? Have we already done that one? Matthew’s making toothpaste cupcakes, or something. Yeah, that’s viable. Get ready for toothpaste cupcakes —
[THE DOOR OPENS]
Oh, thank God. Jedidiah.
Hi. Juniper should be fired.
The mic’s on, dude.
Just kidding, children.
Any news on Sydney?
None. I’m gonna talk to Lucille about setting up a search party. If she says no, I’ll go out there myself. Can you hold down the fort for the rest of the afternoon?
Yeah, man, yeah. As long as you don’t make me do the announcements again.
[Small laugh] Sure.
Speaking of the announcements, can you — can you read these?
What, like, out loud?
No, like… can you understand it. Like, at all.
Of course I can, it’s — plain English.
[She laughs sardonically] Of course that’s what you’d say. Okay, well, go ahead and read it out for the kids.
Uh… yeah, okay. Today’s lunch is orange party. Activities… orange party.
What’s your deal with Sydney’s notes—?
These notes are, like, the dead sea scrolls. Do you not see it — ? Oh, uh. Sorry, kids. Happy lunch.
[SOUNDS OF BIRDS AND FOOTSTEPS]
I feel like — shit. My back hurts. My legs are burning. There are needles in my feet… I… and I’m starting to feel ill, like… it’s hard to breathe… I… I just want to sleep, but I feel like if I fall asleep here, I’ll never wake up. A while ago I gave up trying to find the Elephant Man… I’ve just been looking for — anything. Anything familiar. Anywhere I can feel safe to sit down.
Hhahhh… and the kids… I didn’t mean to be absent today. This was just supposed to be a little, y’know, nighttime romp… but I don’t trust Jedidiah to man the nurse’s office. What’s gonna happen if someone gets hurt?
… I’m thinking a lot. My body is failing, but my mind feels… able, right now. Ghost recorder, can I… can I tell you a story? It always cheers me up… telling stories.
… My mother’s house was poison. With every passing year that I lived in that filthy place, I got sicker and sicker. I would hide myself away. I would starve. I began to stumble instead of walk. I would try not to blink for fear that I wouldn’t be able to open my eyes. I was so tired, even the effort it took to breathe was viscerally felt.
One day, I told that woman I was leaving. I stuffed a few backpacks and a duffle bag full of clothes, and I told her that if she ever wanted to say goodbye to me, now was her chance.
She barely looked up from her screen.
I wanted her to get angry. I wanted a fight. I wanted consequences. I… I wanted… it to matter.
But it didn’t. I had to come to terms with that quickly.
It was raining that night, violently. I was immediately drenched in the cold, in the dark. But I wasn’t going back in there, I wasn’t going to tell her I’d changed my mind. Even though I knew she wouldn’t respond… I’d decided I didn’t need her, and admitting I did was out of the question.
I walked for nearly 2 miles, back when my joints could still sort of handle it, drenched to my bones in cold water, and shivering until my teeth hurt.
And that is how, just five days before my 17th birthday, in the dead of night, I ended up on Jedidiah’s doorstep, shaking from the Winter rain, jumping at the lightning, and feeling my limbs numb with fear.
He let me in. Lucille was home, and she invited me to dry myself and lie down. I asked her how long I could stay. She said I didn’t have to worry about that right now.
She was kind then. So was Jedidiah.
Me and Jedidiah had already been… close… for a long time. Our relationship was… weird. We never put a label on it. I don’t think either of us felt like we needed to. No matter what we “were”, we’d still… love each other. We’d still tell each other everything… spend all our time together… sneak into each other’s rooms at night…
I was not… I was not a stranger to… intimate relationships by then. But Jedidiah was different. He gave a shit about me. And when he told me he loved me, all awkward like it was the first time every time, it wasn’t because he wanted something out of me. He just wanted me to know.
But things changed. We grew up, and he pulled away. Now he only talks to me when he wants to convince me I’m overreacting so I don’t burden him. Or to hear me reassure him I don’t hold anything against him. He only offers anything to me when it suits him, when it benefits him, and he doesn’t love me more than anyone else…
And honestly… what’s one meeting with The Elephant Man, compared to the past six years of that? Yeah, the guy is a creep. But at least he wants anything to do with me. It’s been a long time… since… s-since I got to feel like that.
[SOUND FADES OUT]
Hi kids. I… hi. I hope you had a good afternoon… and I am sorry to report that Sydney has… not returned. I did go out looking for him, but… could not find any sign.
[Sigh] Tonight’s dinner is caterpillar squash casserole and grapesteak. Vegans get cheese custard. Alright. You, uh… you enjoy yourselves tonight. If any of you see Sydney around… get him, I guess. Tell him… [Sigh] to come back.
[SOUNDS OF WIND AND WIND CHIMES]
I saw… a bluejay… perched on a huge, twisted tree…
It was so… so tired… it couldn’t even fly. A many legged insect… crept along the branch… crept up the bird’s leg… through its feathers… coiled… around its little neck. The bluejay was too tired to fight or screech. It fell… to the earth… the centipede… forced its way down the bluejay’s throat. Feasted on its heart…
I’m in hell. I’m in hell… I’m… in hell…
[THE WIND GETS LOUDER, BEFORE ABRUPTLY CUTTING OFF]
Today’s episode was written by Blue Mayfield and Nicholas Belov. The part of Sydney Sargent was played by Blue Mayfield. The part of Jedidiah Martin was played by Nicholas Belov. The part of Marisol Yuchengco was played by JV Hampton Van-Sant. The part of Yvonne Marley was played by Emily Safko. Camp Here & There is the sole intellectual property of its production company, Mayfield & Belov. All music composed by Will Wood, and produced by Jonathon Maisto. Sound editing by Emily Safko and Blue Mayfield. Special thanks to our Patrons: Alexandria Scott, Machaela Mcqueen, Frencesca Raggio, and Jillian.
For behind-the-scenes material, exclusive canonical content, interactive events, and early episode access, consider signing up for our Patreon at patreon.com/mayfieldandbelov. Our discord server is a great place to meet like-minded fellows and discuss today’s episode — find the link at mayfieldandbelov.com. Lastly, if you’d like to support us, the best thing you can do is to spread the word about the show.
Thank you for listening to Camp Here & There! And remember: I opened two gifts today. They were my eyes. Thank you.