Audio data from various sources, detailing events which occurred at SITE2 on day 961.
MAJOR INSIGHT INTO:
- status & thought process of ENTITY2
- management practices of ENTITY3
MINOR INSIGHT INTO:
- behavior of ENTITY12
- behavior of ENTITY4
- writing ability of ENTITY1
- I can’t help but notice that AGENT23 continues to editorialize. Don’t you think she’s overstepping? Please admonish her.
Mayfield & Belov presents: Camp Here & There
Episode Eleven: The Labors of Love
Good morning, you wonderful little sticky-fingered rascals. The time is 8:60 AM, and I’m here to welcome you to today with open arms and a warm smile! Now, I’m sure that you’re all tired of hearing about the Elephant Man and his escapades, but you’ve brought this latest update upon yourselves.
You see, my expert data analysis skills have indicated to me that some of you are stealing from one another and using the Elephant Man’s documented history of theft to shift the blame. Perhaps your impression of the man would indicate otherwise, but I feel quite confident that the Elephant Man, for all the mystery surrounding his motives, has no need for a kid’s size medium hoodie.
I love you campers, and I assure you that no one’s in trouble, but I’d like to kindly request that you all quit that post-haste. It’s very important that we know what the Elephant Man is stealing so that we can keep track of his activities and guess his motivations. Deal? Deal.
Now that that’s out of the way, onto the fun thing! Yesterday was… hard, and I was up all night last night thinking about how we could make up for that today — and possibly prevent any yesterdays from happening again.
Before breakfast, I headed over to the Creativity Cabin and together Warren and I cooked up one activity that could solve both conundrums. Today, the two of us are going to lead you all in a… [Increasingly excited] Tower! Building! Contest! I know!
Frightfully fun things, towers. You never know where they might end up! Are you ever just wandering in the forest, or on the beach, or underneath the bleachers on your highschool football field, and you suddenly stumble upon a tower that wasn’t there before?
And sometimes you just wave it off, but sometimes you’re feeling lucky, and you give it a climb, and there’s always something different at the top. My favorite thing I ever found on top of a tower was a sapphire statue of an old woman with a thousand hands. [He laughs] Word to the wise: you ever come across that statue, do not look her in the eyes. Took six months for my fingernails to grow back.
So! The thing. This activity will be a contest of skill, ingenuity, and most importantly — teamwork. You will be sorted into competing groups by cabin, and your goal is to make your tower as stable as possible. Doesn’t have to be tall — just has to stand up in the face of adversity.
We’ve got an assortment of building tools for you here at the Creativity Cabin; wrenches, saws, leaves, sticks, stones, bones, apples, balloon animals, windmill turbines, toothpicks, squirrel skeletons, nuts, bolts, aluminum silicone sealant, raw plutonium, papier-mâché, blood, and blood — y’know, normal building stuff.
Once the towers are complete, we’ll pelt them with rocks and insults, and the most physically and emotionally resilient tower will be the winner. Of course, the winning cabin will receive a special prize after dinner — a special dessert, immaculately conceived by our resident gourmet chef. Matthew doesn’t know where his latest culinary invention came from — just that one day, he woke from a nap, emerging from his wildest dreams, standing straight up with the perfect dessert in his hands.
What an incredible story, and I’m sure you’re all salivating at the chance to taste this dreamed-up delicacy.
And, in case magical mind-food isn’t enough to incentivize you, I got Jedidiah to get Lucille to sign off on making this activity mandatory. So everyone, everyone, will participate.
Oh, this is gonna be so much fun. I can’t imagine how excited you all must be — I mean, I’m this excited, and I’m not even gonna be a part of the contest!
This morning’s breakfast is honey poured over an oblong stone and heat-hardened into a sort of glass. Hurry up and lick, because pretty soon we’re launching into tower mode!
Enjoy your meal!
Welcome back inside, campers! Be sure to kick the dust off your shoes. The time is 12:80 PM and the sky is a sweet, sappy cinnamon. Much like, perhaps, Matthew’s delicious new treat? He has told me that his dreams tend to heavily feature cinnamon. I sure do envy him! Lately, all I’ve dreamt about is this weird guy who wears red paisley suits and invites me to sit down across from him and tries to make me talk about how my mother hurt me.
And that’s when I get any sleep at all!
Alright, down to business. You campers have been doing great today, and I won’t speak for you, but it seems to me like you’re all really enjoying yourselves. I couldn’t be happier! And I’m not playing favorites, but Cabin Silkworm, you have made really creative use of those squirrels! And Cabin Grasshopper — love your idea of building the tower upside down, into the ground! I mean, it’s ingenious; nobody can knock a tower over when it’s buffered on all sides by the infinite Earth! Kind of cheating, but, I mean, if I didn’t want it to happen, I should’ve made a rule against it.
However… while the kids are having a splendid and successful day of work and play… many of you counselors are [With cold, grim fury] disappointing me… I won’t name names… but I really want to.
Listen to me, you all: the point of this contest is not to see which counselor can lead their Cabin to glorious victory. This is a teamwork-building activity for. The. Kids. It’s supposed to teach them community skills, and give them a healthy outlet for the aggression they unleashed yesterday. And it’s working magnificently… for now. But if you counselors keep forging alliances with each other, and sending your kids out on secret missions to sabotage other towers, and staging protracted legal disputes whenever another cabin breaks a quote-unquote “rule” that you made up… then I feel quite certain that all the educational potential of this exercise will go right down the drain.
Seriously, people, I love a little intrigue as much as the next guy, but you aren’t being paid to entertain yourselves. You’re being paid to give the kids a happy Summer. If you’re not fulfilling that function, there’s no point in you being here. So act. Like. Adults.
Also, does anyone know where Counselor Soren is? I saw him this morning, but since the competition began, it seems like his co-counselor Fennel has been leading Cabin Ladybug all on their own. Remember camp policy, Soren: run away and pay! You keep flaking, and one of these days, Lucille’s patience is gonna wear through! And you campers should all give a round of polite, quiet applause to Fennel for handling things on their own. And a round of applause for me, because Jedidiah was supposed to be helping me build a fun little tower for the nurse’s office, and he is of course not doing that. So I’m just over here building my own little pathetic loner tower with q-tips and uncooked beans. Mung beans, if you must know.
[RAW BEANS RUSTLING]
On an unrelated note, today’s lunch is mung beans! Choc-fulla protein! And Matthew’s also made you each a bowl of hot, grape chowder.
Alright, meal-and-then-tower time! Let’s have some good, wholesome fun out there, huh? See you all soon!
Well, everyone, the good news: we had our winner! And, the bad news: emphasis on the had. Counselors… I am very disappointed in you.
Things were looking great. The counselors settled down after my warning — or at least, they stopped being so obvious. The towers stood, some tall, some short, and one so wide that it was unfortunately disqualified on account of technically being not a tower, but a wall. All of us, tired in that proud and fulfilled kind of way, stood together; and one by one, we pelted each tower with the roundest pebbles and the rudest insults we could muster. Most of these heckling sessions ended in mental and structural breakdowns — an important lesson, for our campers, in the impermanence of all things and the pointlessness of labor.
But one tower remained; one tower stood in the face of all our abuse. This tower… was the magnificent creation of…
[HE DOES A FAKE DRUMROLL WITH HIS MOUTH AS WELL AS ON THE TABLE]
It was kind of a surprise, really, because Dungbeetle’s tower was actually the tallest — not typically a promising quality in a contest of stability, but perhaps having its head in the clouds helped it ignore our harassment.
The harshest of verbal jabs failed to make the tower so much as shudder; even when certain counselors resorted to questioning the legitimacy of its parentage, it kept its head high. And though Counselor Juno got a bit overexcited and threw an entire boulder at the tower, it never gave an inch to our physical assault, either. It was almost as if the construct was being held up by… [The penny drops] magic…
Hey, Cabin Dungbeetle… you didn’t use magic to keep your tower standing, did you? Did you perform some kind of surreptitious ritual, some kind of stabilization incantation before the judging began? Because if you did… [Chuckle] that is so creative! It’s probably cheating, of course, but… I didn’t put anything in the rules about it! Never change, kids.
So anyway, Cabin Dungbeetle’s tower was the clear winner. And what a triumphant tower it was, standing perpendicular to the horizon — with leaf-based tracery embellishing the gables; intricate, swirling fractals painted on the tympanum in blood; wood-carved figures of fiercely poised beasts jutting out from the entablature; and in the center of the structure, ringed by flying buttresses made of apples held together by toothpicks, is a hovering, rotating papier-mâché klein bottle. Aside from being delightful in its theoretical impossibility, the whole structure was just so strikingly beautiful.
But this beauty — like all things — was not meant to last. As the declaration of Cabin Dungbeetle’s victory left Warren’s chapped lips, one of the counselors — not naming names! — seemed to have snapped. They couldn’t handle the shame of losing. And so they reached over, grabbed counselor Juniper by his obnoxiously fancy lapel, and began shaking him around. This small act of inter-community disrespect was the crack that broke the dam, welcoming a deluge of shameless violence into our camp; as all the other counselors who had spent the day playing war took this moment as their cue to begin fighting outright. And everyone was so distracted by the ensuing squabble that we didn’t even notice… when the winning tower disappeared.
If you think you saw something when that tower vanished… do come to my office and let me know. I promise I won’t tell anyone if you took it! But as far as I’ve learned from asking around, no one saw the tower disappear, and no one has any clue why it might have. It’s now occuring to me that Cabin Dungbeetle could have magically programmed it to do so… but that seems unlikely considering how hard those kids took the loss of their project.
My working theory is that the Elephant Man picked the tower up and carted it off… but of course that begs the question of what on Earth he needs a tower for! More concerning data to reflect on.
Still — a winner’s a winner. Cabin Dungbeetle, you exhibited incredible teamwork today, and you deserve a reward. I’ve invited Matthew into my office now to tell you all a bit about your prize!
So, Matthew, what exactly is this mysterious, dream-based concoction you’re offering up to our lucky winners?
Wowie! If that doesn’t sound de-licious. It’s moments like these that make me really regret being cursed to subsist exclusively off of buttered bread. Thanks for coming in, Matthew!
[THE DOOR SHUTS]
And there you have it, my little fire-geckos. For dinner itself, we have [Suddenly struggling to get the words out] muh… m-m-mushroom… uughghh… mushroom madness, lemon llama ligaments, and squidbit soup. For [Ahem] tonight’s activity, you’re all invited on a scavenger hunt to help Joshua find the wallet that he dropped somewhere in the forest… but on the off chance that isn’t very appealing to you, I’ll be hosting a hooded chant-along around the bonfire. Bring an object you care about — but not one you care about too much. We’re doing sacrifices!
And, counselors? Don’t think I’m going to let this slide. Your behavior today was unacceptable, and I intend… to correct it.
Enjoy your meal, kids! I love you all!
[FAINT TICKING OF A CLOCK]
Good evening, ghost recorder. It’s 25:25 and, umm… today was bad.
I put my little bean sculpture on a table in the hallway, so… maybe Jedidiah will see it and feel bad. Hah.
… ‘Cept he… won’t. Definitely won’t. I’m beginning to think that he doesn’t care about me at all anymore, and… part of me wishes that he’d just admit it. But he just keeps… insisting that he loves me, and then refusing to act like it, and so I have to be confused on top of lonely. I — I don’t know what I’m doing wrong. I don’t… maybe I should try talking to other people? But probably I’d just drive them off too…
It’s getting harder and harder to rationalize that this is my life and I’m supposed to like it. That all the living I’ve racked up has brought me here. If I told my 13-year-old self that this is where I would be and this is what I would be doing… he’d probably cry.
[HE LAUGHS DARKLY]
And I’m still fucked up about the elephant man. Still can’t shake the feeling. [Sniffles] ‘Course, everyone else seems to think it’s fine, so… I guess I’m just being delusional or something. Delusional, and stupid, and annoying … ahaha. [Sigh] I… sound… so pathetic.
There is a centipede in my study. Fat and shiny… way too long. I think it’s here to stay. I was hearing it all night last night… twiddling about the floor, clicking its mandibles together. Sometimes it feels like it wants to hurt me… or maybe it’s just mocking me. I see… myself… my child self… sitting in the corner… he’s in trouble. He’s crying, but he can’t move… and the centipede is climbing up his back…
The child will die from malnourishment, and the centipede will eat his body. One day… I’ll feel it crawling around under my skin…
Today’s episode was written by Blue Mayfield and Nicholas Belov. The part of Sydney Sargent was played by Blue Mayfield. Camp Here & There is the sole intellectual property of its production company, Mayfield and Belov. All music composed by Will Wood, and produced by Jonathon Maisto. Sound editing by Blue Mayfield and Beetlesprite. Special thanks to our patrons: Castiel Hoffman, Avery is not a horse, and Astrid the Asteroid.
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Thank you for listening to Camp Here & There, and remember: one by one, we all survived.