Audio data from various sources, detailing events which occurred at SITE2 on day 962.
Content warning: mentions of animal dismemberment.
MAJOR INSIGHT INTO:
- Relationship between ENTITY1 and ENTITY3
- Relationship between ENTITY2 and ENTITY3
- Recollection ability & memory details of ENTITY2
MINOR INSIGHT INTO:
- General interpersonal dynamics at SITE2
- Continued activities of ANOMALY8
- Continued activities of ENTITY5
- ENTITY2’s image of its own past is fascinating — snippets of fact bound by a glutinous membrane of contradictory fictions; a smorgasbord of half-truths which seems to collapse under the faintest scrutiny. One wonders whether other pre-limn minds function similarly — see my notes on memory retention in FILE9.
Mayfield & Belov presents: Camp Here & There
Episode Twelve: The Love of Mother
Goooooood morrow, camperrrrrrs! The time is 8:60 AM, the globe on my desk has been spinning on its own accord since late last night, and the sky has become a very interesting shade of purple since the sun began its daily climb. It’s this sort of [Appraising hum] milky lilac color… reminds me of the house where I lived for most of my childhood. I spent most of my time outside, of course, because it was — [He chuckles a bit as he says this] far too dirty in that house; not to mention that my mother was in there! — and in the backyard I “kept” — well, I say “kept”; I probably killed more of those plants than I kept alive, being a child and all — anyway, in the backyard there was this lovely, messy, waist-high garden of overgrown weeds dotted with washed-out lilacs. And I would pick them, and I would eat them, of course, and if my mother caught me she would say, “don’t eat the gosh darn flowers!”, but I say, if this benevolent universe didn’t want me eating flowers, it would’ve… given my mom enough money to buy actual food.
Ahem. Where was I?
Right! Good morning! Despite the last-minute theft that Cabin Dung Beetle tragically fell victim to, I’d say that yesterday’s tower-building contest was a rip-roaring success, and wouldn’t you all agree? My heart just melts whenever I look out the window and see our campsite dotted with these [Clicks tongue] ruined, byzantine structures, built up and then torn down again by dint of your cooperation. They really send a message, don’t you think? A message that goes something like…
[In a droning deadpan]
THIS PLACE IS NOT A PLACE OF HONOR. WHAT IS HERE WAS DANGEROUS AND REPULSIVE TO US. THE DANGER IS STILL PRESENT, IN YOUR TIME, AS IT WAS IN OURS. THE DANGER IS TO THE BODY, AND IT CAN KILL. THIS PLACE IS BEST LEFT SHUNNED AND UNINHABITED.
[Normal] … Yes, it’s all just so charming. I really couldn’t be prouder of you kids.
But, while the events of that day may have helped you kids to build strong, fire-forged bonds, it unfortunately also served to bring certain… latent… issues bubbling to the surface. Issues pertaining to your fine counselors, and their personal dynamics. Some of your counselors are nurturing competitive streaks, aren’t they? Some of the counselors almost sabotaged the whole purpose of the exercise by getting a bit too invested in winning and losing.
So, kids, for today you’ll be staying here at camp with the only counselors who were normal about the contest yesterday, that being Warren, Rowan, Fennel, Mila, Matthew, and Gracie — and also Soren; because while disappearing into the woods all day is suspicious, at least it doesn’t tarnish the sanctity of camp spirit!
What you all do today is up to all of them. I don’t know the details, [Lowering his voice] but I hear Mila has some interesting plans involving… improvisation.
As for the rest of your counselors, we will all be participating in a series of cooperative games, contests, and sporting adventures, which I have devised for the purpose of teaching our camp staff how to be good winners and better losers. Call it a, mm, mandatory team-building exercise! Among the activities will be re-inventing electricity using only what reagents can be found in the forest; problem family trees, in which you vent your parental issues by arranging the branches and boughs of oak trees into intricate shapes which represent exactly how your mother failed you; and there’s rumors amongst the birds that a unicorn has recently been attacked and dismembered by a many-toothed predator in the deepest depths of the forest. The counselor to locate and collect the highest number of body parts wins the Unicorn Scavenger Hunt! And there’s plenty more in store for you all today, but if you want to learn more, you’ll have to follow me into the woods…
Today’s breakfast is eggs on coral imported directly from Hell, New Hampshire, with a side of bird juice. Campers, I wish you a good time with your interpretive activities; counselors, please meet me at the bonfire following breakfast. I remind you that this is a mandatory activity, and that means you, too, Jedidiah.
Alrighty, then. Enjoy your meal!
[AMONG FOREST AMBIENCE]
Ho, campers, hail and well met! Thank you for joining me this fine 12:80 PM! Yes, I’m reporting live from deep in the woods to bring you the play-by-play on today’s Counselor Olympics. This neat little handheld microphone here is hooked right up to the speaker poles on the campgrounds, with the help of a very stretchy cord. Please be careful about running around today, everyone — this wire is pulled so tight it could slice right through you!
As soon as we made it out to the deepwoods, we started our day of team-building off with a forest obstacle course, graciously set up by our lake guard Mila last night. Then, after taking a quick break to treat our injuries, we moved on to the “re-inventing electricity” activity, which of course caused all of the counselors to groan. I know that it’s the most overdone team-building exercise of all time, but I say, hey, it’s a classic for a reason, right?
Watching my coworkers lumber around the forest like temporally displaced physicists, desperately rifling through the leaves for the right materials to spark and channel the ancient, dangerous magic of electricity… it never gets old! After two hours, Counselor Marisol managed to provoke the clouds into producing lightning by throwing sticks and rocks at the sky, and everyone agreed to count that as a victory and move on to the next game.
Now we’re at the scavenger hunt portion of the day —so far, your [Coughing] intrepid counselors have found five unicorn legs, a tail, and what we think is a chunk of the flank. Still no horn, which is a darn shame — still holding out for that tasty, tasty horn sap! And when the scavenger hunt is complete, we’ll move onto the next activity of the day: gluing cotton balls to Joshua until he… I don’t know, dies? We’ll find out!
It’s been great fun. I think everyone has been enjoying themselves. And between you and me — look, of course, this is a friendly competition with no winners, no losers, and no scores of any kind. [Whispering] But I’ve secretly devised my own points system and I wanna let you all know — Marisol is winning. That girl has a real sporting quality to her.
Also, contrary to everyone’s assumption, Jedidiah did come with us today! He’s actually been participating in the contests! Which is quite funny, because he’s never been the athletic sort. [Chuckling] He absolutely decimated the obstacle course, flailing his chicken limbs about and knocking over logs. Although, of course, his knack for engineering came in handy during the electricity hunt. By the time Marisol started harassing that cloud, he was well on his way to constructing a primitive electric motor out of tree nuts and creek water, just like the pioneers did. It’s all very delightful, b-but quite strange — I rather expected that if he came at all, he’d just sit down on a mossy stump and brood, yknow, dragging his hands down his face the way he does.
Oh, and there’s one more unusual development. You all remember Counselor Marie Ann, right? Went missing a few days ago? Nobody really did anything to go looking for her or… or even complain or anything? I tried making a fuss about that, but every time I brought the topic up, I felt this… torturing phantom pain… as if sharp, horrible teeth were sinking into me… s-so I just kind of… shut up about it.
Anyway, I can now painlessly report that she’s back!
Yes, soon after the games began we spotted her, lurking some ways back amidst the plum-trees and the sycamores, watching us with her empty eyes aglow. When we invited her over, she ran up and immediately CRUSHED the obstacle course! I mean, just put everyone else to shame, moving her body in ways… that bodies just don’t move. And through the grisly bite marks all over her body, we could see all her joints and tendons rotating and stretching far beyond capacity…
Truly an example for the rest of us! I mean, there’s a gal with camp spirit!
Alright, I hope you crazy kids have enjoyed yourselves just as much as we did this morning! For lunch today, you’ll be having ants on a log! Don’t worry — they aren’t real ants. But it is a real log! Have fun!
[AMONG FOREST AMBIENCE]
Ahh… hi, campers, hello. We’re, uh — we’re on break from the games. I — I know it’s not nearly time for dinner yet… I don’t know if you all can even hear me, if you’re anywhere near the loudspeakers… But I just… I just need to talk through something. So. No need to pay close attention — no important announcements here — just keep on with your whatever and I’ll… I’ll talk. Okay? Cool.
I think… first of all, I think Jedidiah’s decision to participate has something to do with Lucille. I mean, a little more than something. Every time I look over there, she’s got him in a football huddle, muttering quietly but vehemently as if going over a game plan, while he just nods along. But that’s not all: every now and then, she comes up to me. Yeah! Lucille talking to me.
I’ll be standing around, watching my coworkers wiggle, when suddenly she’s behind me, bending over to whisper in my ear. Hot breath and curly hair creep down my neck as her boney fingers alight upon my shoulders. I shiver — I haven’t been touched so gently in years.
“Wouldn’t it be funny,” she says, her voice curling with amusement, “if the course was rigged against Jedidiah?”
I open my mouth to object, but she cuts me off.
“Slick the obstacle course with sap before his turn. Adjust that branch, he’ll smack right into it. Hide his tree nuts, he’ll think he’s losing his mind… just a little extra challenge. Wouldn’t it be funny to watch him flail?”
I mean, yeah, it would be funny. But all of this, the way she’s going about it… is just weird. When she’s done talking to me, she wisps right back over to him… adjusts his glasses, pats his collar down, gives him a big smile… mm, she can’t have bad intentions for him, can she?
When I was a child, I spent a lot of time at Lucille’s house. I’d go over there when my mother — when she… when I didn’t want to be around her. Lucille’s house was so familiar — anytime I wanted, I could let myself in and sit right down at the table, like I lived there. It was cozy and safe, like a prison. I’d sit at the table for hours sometimes, wiping snot and smoke from my nose, engrossed by the taxidermy on the walls… all sorts of animals, but insects were her favorite. Butterflies, pretty little moths, wasps, tarantulas, all pinned up across the walls of that kitchen.
Her food was cold and bland — comfortable, easy. I remember pristine, expensive furniture, all scuffed and scratched and smelly — I remember beautiful, flowery curtains against peeling, yellow wallpaper.
I remember across the table, a thick, black frame around a family of centipedes, their corpses pinned and preserved. They were dead. I knew they were dead, and kept only in mockery, rather than as an extension of their existence like many wish to believe. It was a suppression of their idea, not a celebration. The frame made me feel… safe. There were no centipedes in that kitchen. Only the lack of them, dipped in alcohol and left to rot away on a paper towel. It made me sick. It felt like home. There were no centipedes in that kitchen.
[Stuttering] There, and there alone, I was safe… not in my house, not in my room… my room… ah, my room was… ah. When I try to think of how Lucille’s house was laid out, it always seems to change. Did it have a second floor? Was that where I slept… ?
No, I didn’t sleep there. I didn’t live there… I… why would I live with Lucille? Ah…
I… I’m sorry, campers. I… I always get a little overcome when I remember that time. I really miss it, is all. [Sigh] And I don’t think she does…
Anyway, I’ve been following Lucille’s instructions for a while, but it’s… not funny anymore. Jedidiah’s taking this really seriously… when he didn’t win the scavenger hunt, because I was moving the unicorn parts around whenever he got close, he looked like he hated himself. All of this is really not in line with the, uh — cooperative spirit of the counselor games. It’s a team building exercise… it’s about us, not just him.
Okay. I think I know what I’ll do. I’m gonna talk to him about this… come clean and apologize, because I think I went too far. I — feel kinda bad about doing this when it seems like Lucille wanted me to keep this a secret from him, but… well, if it really was just a prank, then it’s not that big a deal if I expose it, right?
Thank you for letting me ramble. I-it was a big help. Uhm. Have fun with the rest of your day.
Hello, campers. I, uh, I had a whole speech prepared for when we got back, about how the first annual counselor olympics was a unanimous triumph over our worst impulses, how things were really going to change around here. [Sigh] All of that feels silly now. There was no triumph. There will be no change. These stupid games probably won’t even be annual. Today was an absolute failure.
I don’t even want to go into detail about it… [Inhale] but I will, because it’s what you kids deserve. After I talked to you earlier, I went and had a chat with Jedidiah about how hard a time he’d been having. I came clean — told him I’d been spiking his challenge. That it was Lucille’s idea, but I played along, because it seemed like harmless fun at first. And I asked him if he’d like me to ease up. And to my surprise… he said no. In fact, he insisted that I make his challenge even harder.
“Got to do this,” he muttered, in that way that he mutters — you know the mutter. “I have to learn…”
Now, I felt plainly befuddled. I asked, “Gotta learn what? How to cooperate with your coworkers? Because honestly I think playing on hardmode isn’t the best way to develop that skill —”
But he shook his head. “I’ve just got to do better,” he explained, sounding like he didn’t think he should have to explain this. He shook a finger at me, a gesture composed of one part grim confidence and one part nervous resignation. “Give me a hard time, okay? We both deserve that.”
Confused and concerned, but unwilling to go against his wishes, I regret to admit that I tied the noose of competition even tighter around his neck. When it was his turn to be the seeker in hide and seek, I bribed sparrows with pine nuts to imitate the giggles of his fellow counselors and lead him astray. When it came time for the sack race, I filled his sack full of baked beans. And as the afternoon progressed, I noticed more and more counselors getting distracted by Jedidiah’s misadventures. Eventually, it was just Jedidiah tackling a bridge-building challenge alone while everyone else watched.
I tried to convince people to participate, but they no longer saw the point: these games were about Jedidiah now, not them. I tried again to convince Jedidiah to ease up, but he was too absorbed in his self-flagellation to acknowledge me. Finally, Jedidiah collapsed onto the impotent pile of wood planks he’d been trying to build with, while everyone watched.
Several of us rushed over, and I was already at his side, but he ignored everyone except for the wooden mannequin Lucille sent over to help him up. Lucille left with Jedidiah, patting him on the back and whispering whatever into his ear, although judging by the empty look on his face I doubt he heard her.
Nobody was interested in playing games after that. Oh, except Counselor Marie Ann, who continued playing, like, the entire time that all that drama was unfolding. Her answer to the scavenger hunt was locating and savagely slaughtering an entirely different unicorn — her karaoke performance made the leaves begin to dance — and her tree sculpture revealed to me the shape of God. Finally, long after everyone else had gone back to camp, she ran back off into the woods with an undisputed points-win, not that I was counting points anymore by then.
And now she’s gone once more… I wonder when she — AGGH!! There it is again. Ow. There it is again. Nevermind.
[Sigh] There are some bright spots in the soaking void that is today, however. With your most corrupt counselors absent and unable to exert their influence, you campers were on your best behavior today. According to Counselor Rowan, the moment our party left, all of you sprang into action and spent the whole day doing chores! When we returned, it was like a whole new camp. The bonfire is so squeaky-clean, I can see my reflection in the wood! I have to say, kids, you never fail to brighten my mood when times are gray.
For dinner today, Matthew has made all of us a big, beautiful cauldron of unicorn horn sap soup. Just like grandmama used to serve! And she’d claim she procured the tusks through legal means, hunting unicorns in sanctioned unicorn-hunting zones, but you knew there were no unicorn-hunting zones within state lines. You knew she’d been taking the lives of those unicorns, taking those horns they worked so hard to grow, without the leave of the law. You despised your lying, poaching grandma.
But we got that horn by finding it on the ground, so… it’s probably legal to eat this. Dig in!
For tonight’s activity, we’ll be doing a campwide art hour. I want you all to draw your favorite extinct reptile — Jedidiah says he needs the data.
Alright, campers. Let’s make up for the sins of today and enjoy this meal together. I love you all.
It’s not recording.
[Snappish] Why is that thing even with you, then?
There’s a ghost in it.
[Sigh] Why are you here, dear?
[Stuttering] I, uh. Wanted to talk to you, Lucille. I… I don’t think it’s fair how you… you always listen to what Jedidiah, says, but you never listen to me. Half the time, I’ll come to you with the same idea, but you won’t approve it until it’s Jedidiah saying it. I… and you let him do things that you wouldn’t let me do, like getting things delivered right to camp… and I don’t… it doesn’t feel good. I don’t feel… respected —
[Sweetly] Hey, hey honey, dear. Of course I respect you. I love you, don’t I?
Of course I do. I care about you, Sydney. Of course I respect you. And I know I seem distant, but I always make sure to listen when you tell me things. Now don’t worry about that.
You worry too much.
Uhm. So, are you gonna do anything about the, uh, Elephant Man? I… it’s, uh… it really matters to me.
Of course, dear. Just give me time.
Okay… Thank you.
[HE CLOSES THE DOOR AND BEGINS WALKING]
That was… uhm. Not what I was expecting. I… think I’m glad? Ah…
Hey… ghost recorder. While I have you here…
[HE OPENS A DOOR OUTSIDE AND CONTINUES WALKING]
One last interesting thing happened today. Marisol told me that while she was wandering around the forest during the scavenger hunt, she stumbled upon a strange clearing surrounded by a circle of huge vertical stones. Inside of the circle, there were animal bones scattered about, and in the center — a giant, rock-hewn statue of a robed woman. Her stone hands stretched out above her head, palms up as if in offering… and laid tenderly in those hands was the corpse of a white rabbit.
Marisol was too unsettled to investigate further, especially after she heard rustling nearby and saw someone approaching. She ran right back to tell me — I spend pretty much all my time around here… so, uh, it’s hard to believe I’d miss something like that. Which leads me to believe it was built recently… which leads me to wonder what Counselor Soren has been doing with all those stones.
[HE STOPS WALKING]
Well, it’s probably nothing to worry about. I know I’ve constructed a few effigies in my time.
[HE SIGHS AND OPENS A DOOR]
I’m gonna head to bed now; I am tuckered out.
See you tomorrow, ghost recorder.
Today’s episode was written by Blue Mayfield and Nicholas Belov. The part of Sydney Sargent was played by Blue Mayfield. The part of Lucille Bertuccelli was played by Susan Dohan. 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, Beetlesprite, and Emily Safko. Special thanks to our patrons: Amery, Alyss Crowley, and Adamills.
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Thank you for listening to Camp Here & There, and remember: There is a clear block of resin on my desk with a centipede inside. He wants to swap places with me. Lately, I am tempted to let him.