Campfire Tales Part 2: Creepy-Crawlies and The Scream That Ended The Trip

This was the first time I had ever camped, except in my ninja turtle tent in my bedroom floor as a tot. I feel like that doesn’t count.

I know one thing, the dark is pretty terrifying. Let me clarify, what is in the dark, or the possibility thereof, is terrifying. I use this preface to go on about when our noses started to run. We had no toilet paper, tissues, or paper towels. However, in the darkened exterior of the camp, about 50 yards away, was the public restroom. Ben essentially made fun of me when I proposed we both go look for toilet paper. It didn’t bother me. At least this way, when the three-eyed beast came to eat me, I wouldn’t be alone in its stomach!

I carried my gas lantern as Ben led the way to the outhouse. It was impossibly dark only three feet away from the lantern. This made my mind go to places I didn’t know possible, which is kind of impressive for me, no?

We get to the bathroom and he opens the door. I peek around inside, slowly lifting the lantern up to illuminate the small, dark space, and notice cockroaches all over the bathroom. Ceiling, floor, and walls were covered by long, dark insects. I was blown away from disgust.

“Got it,” Ben says as he takes a roll from the bathroom.

He passes in front of me. Now, the entire time he was in there, all I saw was the left side of his body. As he passes, I see the right side of him…which is now home to about four massive cockroaches. I try to emote but it comes out in stumbles.

“Er.. You..On your back…Cockroach! Dude! Dude!”

Now, there are two versions on what happened next. Ben’s recounting and then the real story.

Ben said it freaked him out that I was yelling. That’s why he jumped.

What really happened:

He had a look of shear horror as he ran into the darkness swatting cockroaches off his back. I was dying laughing at this point. Grossed out and laughing.

He skulks as he is visibly embarrassed. We go back to the fire and blow our running, cold noses as the fire dies out. It is then the cold sets in but above us are stars; billions of stars unlike anything I had ever seen. We stood there looking upwards in the cold for quite a while.

Ben then decided he needed to go back to the truck for something. I thought, “Oh god…I have to be by myself in the dark with a broken lantern (lantern broke, I guess a breeze blew by and knocked it over. I blame karma).”

He went off and I became hyper-aware of my surroundings. My ears perked up and I could hear every insect landing on a leaf from 10 meters away. It was terrifying for no real reason. I felt like I was being watched the entire evening and now, by myself, it was amplified. He finally skulked back but the feeling never left me. We stood there growing colder but still in awe of the heavens above us for a while longer.

That was when we heard the lack of frogs croaking. It was silent. I remarked something to him for a moment, I can’t recall right now, and that is when we heard this blood-curdling scream coming from where we fished not but a few hours ago. We looked at each other in shock. The scream continued and moved up towards us as if it was coming up the hill. We were immobile. It then sounded like it went through the woods, which Ben’s back was to, and then flew over head and away. Its scream drowned out as it flew into the distance.

“So, go to sleep?” I said.

“Umm, yeah,” he quickly retorted.

We dove into the tent and set up the partition between us. We joked about the sound for a bit, calling it a witch, and then went to sleep. The next day, the boredom and monsters finally got to us. We decided to fish one last time in the main river and head home.

I guess that’s how most people camp, right? Fear and boredom?

Stay tuned for my next campfire tale: Mr. Raccoon has his day!

-Chris

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The Inoculation

HEY GANG!

I have been absent recently, for which I apologize. It has been strange, this infection. Maybe a series of them. Not in the typical sense, but in the metaphorical. For the past few months I have been incognito because I have been working on my thesis. The huddles to jump over, just in paperwork, is staggering and daunting. I have been locked up for so long and bogged down with the pressure that I forgot some things about life. About living it and enjoying it. About how to do it.

I was in this tumbling vortex of nothingness. Absent of light. Merely tasks. I truly enjoy graduate school, but after the past few months, I feel suffocated by it. It changed me. Molded me. I didn’t know peace until I was beginning to write this (kudos if you get the Dark Knight Rises reference).

Sometimes, we get infected by something. It attaches to cells and lives in our blood as it propagates.

I was down for a long time. It was strange. My house was in disarray, literally and figuratively. Worst of all I lost the will to write. I consider myself a writer but what happens when a writer does not write?

They cease to be a writer.

Look yourself up in the dictionary. Define yourself and delete it. You are no longer what you were; you are the absence of what you were.

So, call me Absence.

Absence continued to slug its way through life. Working out drifted away. It merely cared for one sweet, tiny Chaweenie named Eleanor Rigby. Absence moved through the motions as the virus of a muted life took hold.

This became even more prevalent when Absence was used as a punching bag for his mentor. A trusted individual who destroyed the white blood cells of gratitude. Absence was troubled by this. Absence drifted away for a long time.

Absence secluded itself and began to think of all the possibilities of anything else but what has occurred. What if it had continued at Habitat for Humanity, What if it had chosen another form of school, another mentor? What if this? What if anything?!

Anger raged in Absence. The virus spread even furthers as it consumed Absence. Every waking moment was devoted to hate, fear, and sadness. Unable to define itself, its motives, or its place in space and time, it began to devolve.

This was until Absence got perspective. It realized that it was no longer going to be affected by the words of another. It was going to strive to get better. He was going to remember what it was like before the viral catharsis of a hypocrite. Before became now and It became he became me.

Absence faded and with this simple blog post I fill the absence with six letters:

W

R

I

T

E

R

This is my inoculation. I will refuse to be torn down by others or anything in this world. As you should say to yourself. I no longer accept the virus of others. That is theirs and theirs alone. Love yourself because you are the only you that will ever exist…but that is another post.

Best regards in your own inoculation,

-Chris

The Fabulous Damned (Part 1)

Hey Gang,

My chrysalis breaks as I emerge from a mental, artistic, and physical slumber. I awake to my own ruin. I have taken a step back from this person I have been over the past few months. I have been on auto pilot. I moved through life and never lived for the longest time. I was just doing what I should do. My writing fell and the entity that craves a voice was lost. I shut myself away from friends and family. It’s funny. Some of the individuals I used to hang out with were asking, “where have you been?!”

I initially shrugged it off by saying how busy I was but now I know that I am not able to say where I have been. A void would be the best way to put it. This chasm, this black hole of nothingness. Depression of a sort. It is this new existence that I find myself in. For the first time in my life I am left with myself. The real me, and it is scary. No isms to speak of around friends or inside jokes. It is an awakening like I have never had before. To look into yourself and see the terrible things that lurked beneath the surface.

I realized some things. I get high quite a bit. No, not on drugs as we know them, but other drugs. Making people laugh, personal success, pleasing others, achieving this, helping with that. I am addicted to a lie. A lie of who I am. I could never be honest with myself until this key stroke. I get a high from a sordid lie that I have bought into my whole life. When I see that this is so blatant, I lament. How could I have not seen this?

I notice something in me that is like the longing for a former love. However, it is in no regard for an individual. More like the yearning for an entity that does not exist. At least not yet, right? In my own little universe, she is not here yet. It is the feeling when you are meeting a friend for lunch and you have your table but your friend is running late. You think, “Where the hell are you?”

I put this into some lock box deep down. I have been on a few dates over the last year that have made me feel more than jaded. It seems like people are so lonely now. I have fought against it because I always thought that if I felt lonely I should not be with someone. It is toxic. In the end, I am lonely but the worst is the void. I enter the void with open arms and willingly. In this vacuous place I call my own there is no room for a beloved. Some narcissistic splendor of wallowing. I am sadist and masochist. I lover and loved. Hater and hated. Two hemispheres that were never meant to interlock have done so.

I separate and I see the reality. I am afraid of being happy. I love this tortured feeling that I feel now. The angst, the wild curiosity that comes with it. I love emoting. These are feelings I have not felt in months. I was carefree. This is a sickening condition. Apathy bathed me and cleansed me of the impurities of emotion. I feel more alive now than ever and what I have realized after speaking with some friends is that my condition is not mine alone.