The Value Of Camping – Flash Fiction

*Camping has plenty of value, but when you’re a teenager who doesn’t want to go camping again, doesn’t want to lose another summer away from your friends, that value can be hard to find. Until the apocalypse.*

I always wondered what value my parents thought taking me camping as a child would impart. Not wanting to be there, I didn’t do any of the fundamental wilderness-living skills. I didn’t even set up the tent or the campstove. All I did was suffer through the discomfort of sleeping on a thin mat on the ground. Suffer through the indignity of peeing by torchlight.

Still, every year they took me between the ages of five and fifteen they took me. No matter how hard I protested, how many summer jobs I applied for. Every fucking year we packed up into the car, tent poles digging into my back through the seat, container of campstove gas tucked under my feet. Wriggling and whining the whole drive no matter the distance, no matter the number of stops.

I whinged as they set up the tent and the stove, complaining both that I never got to help so what was the point of me being there and that I didn’t want to help anyway because I didn’t want to be there. My dad would laugh and scruffle my hair, regardless of how hard I had worked on it. By the end of the trip it always looked like I’d discovered grunge. Even the years I’d subjected myself to the disgusting and particular horrors of campground shower cubicles. You were never clean after camping.

We would trudge back home with all the same discomfort of the trip down, only with added stink, added itchy bug bites, and added frustration at another wasted summer.

Sometimes I wonder if they somehow knew.

Not every end of the world starts with a bang.

Sometimes they start with a couple of assholes trying to take things that aren’t theirs. Making bad decisions that wear down the infrastructure of society.

And then, as the technology fails and people grow wearier and wearier of being exploited.

That’s when the spark happens.

And this particular spark didn’t lead to a bang, it lead to the quiet destruction of all the tech.

And suddenly, my experience of peeing in the dark came in very handy. Almost as handy as the surprise that the more imagination you have, the more magic powers you can access.

Anything you imagine you can make real.

We’ll, almost anything…

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