CONTENT WARNING: Graphic descriptions of zombified animals and limb dismemberment. Audio data from various sources, detailing events which occurred at SITE2 on day 963.
MAJOR INSIGHT INTO:
- status & thought process of ENTITY2
- abilities, motivations, and intentions ENTITY5
- chthonic capacities of ANOMALY7
MINOR INSIGHT INTO:
- motivations & values of ENTITY3
- behaviors of ENTITY4
- physiology of ENTITY2
- SITE2 cultural concepts of normalcy
- Frustrated by the lack of insight into ENTITY1’s feelings and opinions on ENTITY5’s necromongering. Frustrated by the lack of insight into ENTITY1.
Mayfield & Belov presents: Camp Here & There
Episode 13: The Mother of Stones
[Frantic and enthused] Hello, children. You’re hearing me instead of your usual breakfast-hour news-oracle on account of the fact that today… is… the day. Yes. [With a maniacal laugh] Yes! Today is the day for…
Yes… It. That’s right. After countless man-powered-hours of thankless labor… after years spent poring over bound tomes and cavern walls to learn the secrets of this world… the time for It… has finally arrived.
Hear this, children. Listen well. Today, when your “lunch” is done, each and every one of you will travel Eastwards into the forest, opposite the lake. You will walk until you reach a small stream surrounded by slippery, mossy rocks. You will travel Southwards from here until you reach a stone altar of my construction. You cannot — will not — must not miss it!
And in this holy temple nature has made, with the sky for our stained glass and the trees for our steeple, we will bow at the altar. [Reverently] We will give thanks to our dearest Mother of Stones. For the shambling second life she gives us. For the mewling first life she frees us of. And she will share with us a spark… a tiny yet awesome fraction… of her beautiful, terrible power.
Come now, come on, come quick! The day has finally come where all of my hard work pays off, and I’m certain you will be pleased with the results. You may scoff now, you may shake your heads in heretical derision, but today you will see! The truth of this world is known only to the dead who live, looked after by Mother!
Hey, what are you doing on my microphone?
I’m sharing the good news!
[Dejected] Get off there, it’s time for breakfast.
Once more, children! Heed my words!
[SHUFFLING AND SCRABBLING]
[DOOR SLAMS SHUT]
So sorry for the disturbance, everyone. I was a little late getting in here, and it appears that Soren took advantage of the empty chair. Let’s move away from whatever that conversation was about, shall we?
The time is 08:72, and the sky is a light, cool gray, like the skin of a relatively fresh corpse. Our chef, Matthew, seems to have tired himself out yesterday in the process of realizing his sublime culinary dreams — and can you blame him? Yesterday’s adventure in dessert art was a tale fit to be sung forever by the criers of history, and known by the voyeurs who live tomorrow and covet today. But he wanted me to tell you that this morning’s breakfast is going to be a little slow… that’s right: it’s escargot!
[HE SLAMS THE TABLE]
HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA! Get it! Slow!? Because it’s snails! Whoo. This guy is funny.
Anyway, yeah! Snails for breakfast. Vegans can crunch on the shells. Those things are all calcium, no protein! Just ask Jedidiah. He’s got a debilitating fear of shelled animals, and educates himself on such matters in order to ensure his safety.
By the way, I’m responsible for letting you all know that today is the government mandated Normal Day, the most Normal Day of the year! Only normal things are allowed to happen today, so I hope you’re very familiar with your own routine. I expect you all to hang out in your typical spots, navigate the world in a characteristic way, and say only predictable things. And if I spot any of you misbehaving today… I’ll do like I always do and passively encourage it. 🙂
Today’s activities will be… balloon animals. Enjoy your meal! And don’t… don’t do Soren’s thing, huh? I shouldn’t have to tell you this, but… definitely don’t do what Soren asked you to. Whatever exactly he has planned, it’s probably dangerous, and definitely illegal, so don’t get yourselves — or your counselors! — mixed up in it.
Good afternoon, my little tardigrades. The time is 12:83, the sky is rather… sallower than it was this morning… but I’ve got some good news to report otherwise: none of you attended Soren’s ritual! This is great, since if you had indulged Soren’s freaky, Freudian obsession with death and mothers and deadly mothers, you would’ve been violating not only common sense but also the government mandate which insists we only do things we would normally do, for today.
But there’s bad news too. Despite your masterfully executed campaign of indifference… Soren’s ritual worked anyway.
You’re all probably aware by now that a white rabbit has been… reanimated. It’s been spotted bouncing around camp, missing much of its skin and most of its meat; and it’s being followed around by Soren, who prances and claps in the most joyous fashion. Field reports indicate that the moldering animal is entirely uninterested in the three things which most rabbits desire above all: water, oxygen, and keeping all of its limbs attached to its body. To wit, it didn’t even blink when its fluffy foot happened to break off as it bobbed and weaved between your ruined towers.
The beast does not twitch or shudder with the hasty heart of a lively rabbit, and its red eyes do not gleam with recognition when it chances upon a cleverly-placed carrot. It moves as if it was made… this rotting abomination is clearly nothing more than an inanimate object on a magical string. Soren may be convinced that he has given this creature second life, but this act amounts to little more than picking the corpse up in his bare hands and wiggling it around.
This should come as a surprise to nobody! As I’m sure you’ve all learned in school, necromancy is both illegal and completely impossible. The fact that one of our counselors even attempted to do something like this — on Normal Day, no less!! — is enough to land our whole arrangement in hot water, if I’m being honest. [Scoffs] I’m sure it’ll be fine — Lucille is very good at getting law enforcement to leave her alone — but it does mean that we can’t afford to raise a stink about this. You can’t go home and tell your parents about today, you know?
And we can’t call in the Corpse Exterminators to get rid of the rabbit, because we do not need the magical authorities shifting their gaze onto any of the numerous code violations that Lucille’s unique, creative management style necessitates. Our best option here is to carry on with Normal Day like we’d planned, and wait for the rabbit to, erm, simply falter to a stop. It shouldn’t take long — Soren is clearly not an experienced magic user.
Moving on — Matthew’s still feeling a bit slow, so today’s lunch is sloth meat on a stick, and vegans get turtle shells dipped in molasses. Today’s afternoon activities are balloon animals. I’d like to remind everyone to keep up with the business as usual, in order to combat all the abnormality that Soren is introducing to the day. I’m immensely proud of you all for being so normal thus far.
Normal things which happened this morning include:
The time when Timmy walked to the bathroom.
The time when Salem fluffed her pillow.
The time when Diana ate a cannoli.
The time when Jedidiah faxed a letter to the IRS.
And the time when a small, nondescript leaf sprouted from the skin on the tip of my finger.
Alright, kids, that’s all for this afternoon! I hope you —
Sydney. Hey, are you almost done?
Oh! Hi, Jedidiah.
Hi. Can we talk in private?
Jeddie, I tell this to everyone who asks-
Jedidiah, I need to talk to you-
Today was the worst normal day ever.
First, Soren kicked off the daily announcements, getting spittle all over my microphone in the process. He tried to convince you all to join him in the deepwoods for a very unusual and possibly dangerous ritual around a stone statue of someone’s mother — and despite our best attempts to ignore him, he carried out the ritual anyway, and ended up illegally sort-of-resurrecting a rabbit. Lucille broke routine by making an actual administrative decision for once, Jedidiah broke routine by involving himself in camp affairs, and then… [Sigh] we got a visit from the camp inspector.
All in all, a resoundingly pathetic stab at normalcy on behalf of our camp staff today. I’m very disappointed in you.
When Jedidiah finished meeting with Lucille after my last announcements, he asked me to help him catch and un-resurrect the rabbit. Un-resurrect? Un… resurrect… Were we going to “surrect” the rabbit?
Anyway, according to Jedidiah, Lucille told him that the magical authorities had already caught wind of some unusual thaumaturgic activity in the area. It was likely they had already sent someone over to investigate us, and it seemed to Lucille that our only option was to rid the campgrounds of all evidence that any dubious magic had ever taken place on this day — and, understanding the severity of the situation, I had to agree.
First, Jedidiah engineered a complex trap involving a box propped up with a stick — not to catch the rabbit, of course; but to catch Soren. We put a carrot underneath it to lure Soren in, which didn’t work — although it’s impossible to tell whether that was because Soren isn’t partial to carrots, or if it was just because Counselor Juniper went for the carrot first. In case the kids of Cabin Dung Beetle were wondering where their counselor went — yeah, he’s… still in that box. Anyway, we used Matthew’s last carrot on that gambit, so we had to try alternatives.
Boxes tripped with cabbage, cyanide, cardboard, beehive husks, T-bone steak, and fishing hooks all failed to capture Soren’s attention.
I took a step back and asked myself: what does Soren covet most of all? Well, of course, a solution to death. And that’s when it hit me: while I obviously can’t put immortality under a propped-up box, I can lay down something which really helps take the sting out of the old finite-lifespan thing. I offered up one of my worms, the friendly future devourers of your corpse.
And Soren went for it! He lunged right into that box in his haste to grab the worm. And once he was in the box, the natural dimming effect of cardboard severed the magical connection between Soren and the rabbit… which means it should have stopped moving. But it didn’t! Despite Soren’s now inability to control it, the rabbit remained quite animate. Had we not truly cut off the magic at its source? What was still powering this crime against decency?
The most likely answer was the stone ritual center which Soren built. But as Jedidiah and I looked up at the darkening sky, slowly turning a poisonous, bruise-like color, we realized that we didn’t have time to mount a forest expedition. In the time it would take to dismantle Soren’s construction, the camp would surely fall under the gaze of Ohio state’s magical magistrate. We had no choice but to resort to [Pained] a rather extreme shortcut.
When I picked the rabbit up, it didn’t struggle. It didn’t twitch or breathe or… or anything, but it did turn its head on a column of exposed spine and look directly into my eyes. I couldn’t handle that. I handed it over to Jedidiah, who drew his mouth into a grim line and began dismantling the rabbit piece by piece.
He snapped its remaining limbs off like fluffy little twigs… twisted its head off of its spinal cord… and all the while, it didn’t scream… it didn’t cry out in pain, or resist in the slightest… and I… I almost wish it had. Not that I’d want to see a creature in pain, but… it was somehow worse to see a creature violating every mandate of its animal instincts by simply accepting the pain. Choking down your screams when it hurts so much you feel like you might die… is something only humans should do.
I’m being silly. I know it wasn’t alive. All we did was take apart an object… a toy. Mmm…
[A LONG PAUSE]
Anyway, that’s why we had you kids stay inside your cabins for a few minutes this afternoon. And once the rabbit was in pieces, we tossed them all into the lake, where the agents of decomposition would hopefully work overtime to make sure there was nothing to reanimate. When the camp inspector arrived, everything was business as usual on the campgrounds.
Although we did get a slap on the wrist for Cabin Silkworm’s outdated smoke alarm! So there’s Joshua making the rest of us look bad again.
[Sigh] But yeah, that’s what happened today. It was all very abnormal, and also pretty unpleasant. I wish I could say I hadn’t expected today to go something like this! But you kids were a beacon of normalcy through those trying times. I couldn’t be prouder, and I love you all.
On the final note of today’s announcements: I remind all campers and counselors to please stay wary of the Elephant Man, and report any sightings immediately to either Lucille or me. He’s still being spotted around camp almost every day, but Lucille has promised to do something about him, so keep her in the know!
Today’s dinner is… slug stir fry. Okay, Matthew, listen — that “slow breakfast” gag was great the first couple times, but come on, it’s not the kind of joke that’s gonna carry you through the whole day. It just doesn’t have that kind of…
[HE SLAPS THE TABLE]
HAHAHAHAHHAHAHA! Aha… oh — and tonight’s activities are animal balloons.
Okay, have a good night!
[FAINT TICKING OF A CLOCK]
Good evening, ghost recorder. The time is 25:25… time for my daily therapy! In which I am both client and therapist — or maybe you are the therapist? Well, either way, the big, long therapy couch is my desk chair.
I heard an interesting story today from one of the campers. At one point, Soren was arguing with Fennel, so the rabbit was left unsupervised. It hopped over to the outskirts towards the woods and it ran into the Elephant Man. And the Elephant Man picked it up, lifted his mask, you know, to try and enthrall the rabbit with his infectious zeal, and obviously it didn’t work, because it wasn’t alive, and that really freaked the Elephant Man out. He stood there for a few moments, just blinking down at the creature, and then retreated into a bush to spy on it from a distance.
I-I want to find that funny, but it’s hard to laugh. Even if all he’s doing is getting up to magical hijinks… I know I’m beating a dead horse, but the guy wants something from me, and he does something to me, and I don’t like that he just gets to be around no matter how much I protest!
[Sigh] While me and Jedidiah were working together to get that rabbit today, I tried talking to him about this whole situation. I explained to him… why exactly the Elephant Man disturbs me so much, because I figured out why. It’s because the only thing I can control in my life is my own mind, and he takes that away from me.
It’s hard having no control over your own life. I have to stay here all year because if I go too long without Lucille’s care, I get too sick to walk. Since she’s the only person at camp with internet access, I have to go through her if I want something delivered… hell, what and even whether I eat is up to her. Then there’s the trials of everyday life on the planet Earth. Zombie rabbits, mercury rain… hyperallergenic goo, faceless deer and trees that try to slip their roots into your mouth and suck up your nutrients- yeah, life is hard even if you’re not disabled!
But all of that is just physical.
It’s all just stuff happening around me, and I can tune it out. I always have my mind to retreat into… a place where I retain total control. So having that… sanctuary violated… it’s an all-new type of disaster, and it… I really don’t know how to cope with it. The possibility that that man could permanently damage my ability to trust or control my own mind… I can’t think of anything more terrifying.
Anyway, I explained all that to Jedidiah while we were, y’know, prepping the box and staking it out. I was hoping it would motivate him to… do anything. But he just… tried to comfort me. Tried to reassure me that I’m safe.
I don’t want to be safe… I want you to care about me.
[Sigh] Well, that’s enough misery for one night. I’m going to head for bed… and I’m gonna try to get to sleep early, because I have been having some very interesting conversations with that red-suited man in my dreams and I’m eager to continue. Goodnight, then, ghost recorder. Don’t get into any trouble while I’m gone.
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 Lucille Bertuccelli was played by Susan Dohan. The part of Soren Baltimore was played by Mikee Joaquin. 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: Theo Hendry, Darby Burk, Viralsiren, and Blu Galaxy.
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Thank you for listening to Camp Here & There, and remember: I am begging you not to anger it.