Going Camping

14 minutes read


A small home in the suburbs was alive with the bustle of movement and light. Shadows cast on the nearby houses as those inside scampered around.

“Hey Eden, do you know where the lantern is?” Declan shouted as he pulled his head out of his duffle bag.

“I think Fox already packed it, but it was in Ox’s room last time I saw it.” She called back as she started loading her bag with pots.

Declan jogged through the house, kicking over some of the rubbish that had been scattered on the ground.

“Clean up your mess, Fox; we are leaving as soon as we are packed.”

“Sorry, just sorting something with Ox. I will sort that now.” Fox replied, running past Declan.

Declan slapped Fox’s back as he ran past.

“Faster; I want to be out of here before midday.” Declan added as he turned into Ox’s room.

“Do we have the lantern?” Declan asked.

Ox turned on the spot as he searched his cluttered surroundings.

“Uh-huh, here.” He shouted as he leaned over, his belly pressing against the mounds of clothes stacked on his bed. Passing it over, Declan sighed.

“We are going away for a weekend; why do you have so much stuff pulled out?” Declan laughed as he took the lantern.

Ox looked a little flustered as he looked around his room.

“Well, I wanted to make sure I had all the things I wanted, so I pulled everything out. That way, I won’t forget anything.”

Declan continued his laugh as he left the room. “Alright, you do, you boo. But we are leaving soon.”

Ox’s eyes widened a little as he screamed with his hands raised around his face level.

“I’m packing. I will be done soon.” Ox looked around his room, keeping an eye out for anything he may want to grab. “I hope.” He added, grinding his teeth together.

Time rolled on as Declan grew impatient with his friends; helping them best he could, they eventually departed the house. Declan driving, he hunched himself so his head would not hit the roof of the car. Eden sat in the front passenger seat with her phone hooked up to the Bluetooth. She had her feet raised and resting on the dash of the car with her chair slightly reclined. She flicked at the window controls and found her window remained down.

“Hey Declan, is there any reason why this window won’t go back up?” Eden said as she furiously started to flick the switch while staring at her stationary window.

“If you keep that up, there will be.” Declan shouted quietly.

“Oh, Declan, remove the window lock, do it!” Fox chimed in with excitement in his voice.

Ox leaned forward, resting his arms on the back of Declan’s chair. He put his head right next to Declan’s ear. “Yeah, Declan, release the window lock. Do it.”

Eden laughed nervously. “Am I missing something?”

“Other than your ability to control your window. No.” Fox answered hastily.

“What you are missing is that when these two get control of windows, it is none stop nonsense.” Declan said as he glared back to the two in his back seat who were giving him puppy dog eyes.

“Oh, a little nonsense is always good, and besides. My head is getting cold.”

“Well then, you shouldn’t have shaved your head; I am not releasing the beasts.”

“Come on, my beanie is in the boot, in my bag. There is only an hour to go; how bad can it be?”

Declan turned to Eden for a moment, locking eyes for the moment that he could, and whispered. “You are to blame for what is about to ensue. I hope a warm head is worth it.”

Looking back to the road, he released the window lock; Declan looked back to see Fox and Ox sitting idly as Eden wound up her window.

“God dammit, you guys wound me up over nothing. How is this even a prank? I don’t feel like I have been made the fool.”

Declan stared towards the road and sighed. “They know that I don’t want to seem overdramatic, so one of two things will happen. One, they won’t do anything to make me look paranoid, or two, they will annoy the shit out of us for the rest of this trip, knowing that I won’t put on the lock again because you need to learn.”

Declan looked back through his rearview mirror and watched as Fox and Ox outstretched an arm each; the closer their hands got to the door, the wider their grins grew.

“And so it begins.” Declan said as the back windows started to move.

At the other end, they all stepped out of the car. Fox and Ox jumped out like excited little puppies, their windows half ajar. Declan sat in the driver’s seat and looked across to Eden with a sympathetic grin.

“What did we learn today?” He asked softly.

Eden turned to Declan with her mouth still slightly ajar, rubbing her temples with one hand.

“I was so wrong. But I also feel like I learned something about car windows.”

“Yeah, that will happen. Because as annoying as those two are, they are twice as clever, and that is saying something.”

Eden put her hand on Declan’s shoulder and nodded softly. “I am sorry I did not listen; you are clearly wise beyond your years.”

“Because of those two, I feel those years. Declan sputtered out at the beginning of a laugh that Eden joined in on.

Climbing out of the car, they stretched their backs and legs; looking around them, they both took in a deep breath through their nose and let it out through their mouth.

“God, I love the smell of pines and dirt. It has been way too long since I last actually got out of the city. Thank you so much for inviting me on this trip, Declan.”

“Oh, you think I did this because I like you? No, I did this, so I wasn’t the only one parenting Fox and Ox.”

Just as Declan finished his response, there was a cracking of wood and the sound of an impact on dirt. Declan and Eden turned their heads to see Ox lying on the ground giggling through short breaths. Fox above him, shaking his head.

“I told you, you are too heavy for that branch. You need a slim physique like me.” He said, running a hand down his side, emphasizing the lack of curves.

Ox slowly climbed to his feet as his breath caught back up with him. “Well then, next time, don’t encourage me to climb higher because.” Ox raised his hands to add air quotation marks. “Yolo.”

“Well, you don’t have to listen to me; that one is on you, oh, and my amazing ability to inspire others to do deeds, they wouldn’t normally do.” Fox said as he started to climb down the tree.

“I have no idea how those two aren’t dead yet.” Declan said as he opened the boot of the car. “All right, you two, grab your things, we still got to hike to the location, and I want to get there before dark.” He continued as he started to pull bags from the back of the car.

Eden wandered over and pulled her small backpack from the back; tugging out her beanie, she covered her head and smiled as she enjoyed the feeling of rubbing her beanie over her prickly short hair.

“That does look satisfying.” Declan said as he strapped his travel pack on his back.

“Oh, you have no idea. Short hair and a beanie is actually one of the best feelings ever; I can almost feel the sound.”

Declan looked over at Eden’s backpack for a moment before addressing his concerns.

“We are camping for a week. Is that seriously all you are bringing?”

“Unlike you queens, I don’t need much. I know for a fact that this is more than enough for me. I mean, at least I am not those two.” She said, pointing to Fox and Ox as they pulled two massive bags from the back, taking turns to help one another get the straps over their shoulders.

Declan shook his head with a grin. “All right, let us go out there; that is Adam’s car, so he must already be here with the others.”

The boot was closed, the car locked, and the small group started to trek into the woods. Declan took the lead as they followed fencing standards that had bright orange strips of cloth tied on securely with long tails that flowed in the wind.

“How did Adam even find this place? There isn’t even a car park; we literally had to drive into the woods to park.” Fox said as sweat was beading on his brow, and his shoulders were starting to slouch.

“I don’t know; he has been quite hell-bent on finding haunted locations lately. I think he has been watching too many ghost channels online.” Declan said between labored breaths.

“Not haunted; he specifically said anomalies or something like that.” Ox pitched in, spitting the sweat out that rolled into his mouth as he spoke.

“No, specifically, he said dimensional oddities. I remember because I had to spend an evening listening to him and Raven bounce conspiracy theories off one another as they quite quickly descended into the occult and all sorts of strange things.”

“Weird, I thought you were the kind of person to be all over the Occult.” Fox said, his voice a little quieter than before.

“Well, I am into the aesthetic, hence the witchy clothing.” Eden flourished her clothes slightly to emphasize her look. “ But they are really deep, like knowing names and dates of significance.”

“Oh, that is cool. Like you are a hobby person.” Fox’s voice was barely audible. “But this is, like, their…” Fox’s voice faded nearly completely.

Declan and Eden turned to see them.

“Are you guys okay?”

Declan took his pack off his back and sat down. “I guess we are staying here for a minute.”

Eden smiled as she looked back to how far back Fox had sat down, then several meters behind him was Ox.

“This is why I pack light, you two; even Declan probably brought too much crap. We are camping; we don’t need lots of things.”

“You might as well take your tiny pack off because I get a feeling we will be here a little longer than a minute.” Fox said as he collapsed onto his side, dirt, and twigs sticking to his sweat-covered face.

Ox slowly made his way up beside Fox and collapsing next to him.

“As fun as some of this stuff is. Next time we pack lighter.” Ox put his hand out in a fist towards Fox, then without even looking, Fox finished his half of the fist bump.

“Yeah, agreed. Or we bring people who are less fit than us.” Fox said as he slowly sat up. “How much further do we have to go? We have been walking for hours.”

“Well, first of all, we have been walking for about thirty minutes. But I am impressed that you lasted this long with those packs. Secondly, Adam said when we are close, the standards will have two orange strings on them.” Declan said, turning to the nearest standard. “So, using that information, it is safe to assume we have a while to go yet.”

Fox and Ox groaned as loud as they could while Eden rolled her eyes and looked down the winding path of orange tags with a longing for a final destination.

Many hours passed, and the four of them finally entered a small clearing with a roaring fire and several tents set up. On the far side of the clearing was a small stream that weaved in and out of the tree line. The tall trees swayed with the breeze, groaning and creaking with every sway, adding background noise to the bird songs and insect chirps. Eden looked up to the sky, entranced by the stars that were out, taking a moment to stand still and absorb the atmosphere. Declan let loose a sigh of relief and started to make a B-line to his tent.

“Finally, somewhere not dirt to lay down.” He groaned as he wandered like a zombie.

Fox and Ox both dropped their packs and lay down atop of one another before pushing each other away.

“Nope, too sweaty, too hot.” Fox cried as he pressed his face into the cool grass. “Ah, grass, my new best friend.” He said as he enjoyed the brief relief.

Ox stripped his sweat-drenched shirt from his back and laid back on the grass with an exaggerated cooing noise.

“I wouldn’t do that if I were you two.” Eden said as she watched Fox start to remove his shirt.

“Why not?” Fox asked as he, too, laid bare back on the grass. “It is so cool.”

“Well, the thing is, it is kind of like breading season for this grass, so they are releasing all their seeds.”

“How does that affect us?”

“Well, the seeds have a course exterior to stick to anything and everything that wanders by, so have fun with that!” Eden giggled as she ran towards the campsite.

“Have they started to feel itchy to you Ox?”

“No… Do you think she was lying to us?”

“I think we are fine.”

Declan wandered into the small campsite and started to look for Adam.

“Adam, Are you around here?” He yelled.

“Adam!” Eden yelled right behind Declan.

“Argh, don’t do that!” He groaned out as he turned around to see a giggling Eden.

“He must have gone for a walk; we did take longer than we thought because some people packed a little more than expected.”

Eden and Declan turned back to see Fox and Ox walking towards them, both scratching at their backs. Eden smiled sweetly at them as they both gave her sour looks.

“Hey, it is not like I put the seeds there. You two decided to lay there, even after my warning.”

They both dismissed her as they wandered past; sitting down near the fire, they took turns pulling seeds off of each other’s backs.

“You lot took your time.” Adam called out from just beyond the tree line. “It was a good thing I scouted this place first. Otherwise, you’d all be lost still.”

Adam strolled into sight with an armful of sticks and a cheesy grin; he dropped the wood by the fire and took a seat down next to it, leaning back into his camping chair.

“Welcome to our little corner of paradise.” Adam stated as he gestured around the campsite.

Declan and Eden took seats near Adam and shuffled them closer before finally sitting.

“So, where are the others?” Declan asked.

“Oh, so fun story about them. They told me they couldn’t come like yesterday.”

“Wait, so…”

“Yup, that is right, I have had to take multiple trips out here to drag all of this out here. It has been a bit of a mission, but in saying that, I feel quite accomplished.”

“So you should.” Fox chimed in. “It is such a long walk out here; you are insane.”

“Not that long if you don’t carry whatever it is that you two brought.” He said, gesturing to the large packs that had been left in the field.

“That is all the stuff we need to do what you want to do.” Ox said as he slowly pulled his shirt back on. “We just made sure we got all the good stuff.”

“I have no idea what part of what I told you would constitute this much stuff.”

“Just wait; you will be happy.”

“I am sure I will.” Adam laughed. “But for tonight, how about you grab your bags and we get some rest. I have a lot to do tomorrow before the evening, and I would love your help, especially since we are two people down.” Adam said as he wandered back to his tent. “Night all.”

“Night.” Everyone replied.

Eden dowsed the fire with the nearby water bucket and drowned the area in darkness, the hiss of the evaporating water sounding like a sea of snakes escaping from the fire pit.

“Come on, guys, let’s all go to sleep.” She said as she swatted the smoke from her face.

“Gladly.” Fox groaned as he and Ox started to head back to get their bags.

“I’ll see you in the morning.” Declan said as he climbed into his tent.

Eden took one last look up at the night sky and smiled before heading into her own tent.

The night air rolled over the campsite as everyone fell asleep; the birds called out as they flew around, catching the bugs illuminated by the moon’s light.