Four goons sit around a camp fire by a beautiful loch. It’s early evening, warm and the sun is still shining. It’s a wonderful time of the day in this wondrous place. After contently sipping whisky they decide it is the right time to chow down on some magic mushrooms. Really connect with nature. Three of the four quickly decide to go for a walk.
The three get into a steady pace as they trek along the road, enjoying their sensations. Conversation is light and flowing.
‘Do you think Jules will be okay?’ Dunkhan asks.
‘How so?’ Gay asks.
‘Well, we kind of left him to come up on mushrooms by himself. Alone.’
‘Ach, he’ll be okay,’ Mr Wob says. ‘He said he was just going to sit at the fire and play some guitar, sip some beer.’
‘Yeah,’ Gay says, gazing at a lush meadow, ‘but these are some pretty strong mushies. Is it just me or is that the most beautiful field you’ve ever seen? Wow, i love nature.’
The three stop to appreciate the scene. The Meadow is vast and colourful. Mainly yellows and greens but there are many other flourishes of colour strewn throughout.
‘Like a Monet painting,’ Gay says, ‘or am i just tripping?’
‘No, i see it,’ Dunkhan answers.
‘It reminds me of that rainbow coloured sherbet i used to eat as a kid,’ Mr Wob, smiles, his eyes slightly glazed and twinkling.
”A quarter of diabetes please,’ Gay says, in a child’s voice.
‘Yeah a quarter of tooth decay and lifelong addiction to sugar please,’ Mr Wob adds.
‘Why do we give kids that shit?’ Dunkhan asks.
‘And we call it a treat?’ Mr Wob continues.
They pause to admire the moment.
‘Fancy running through it?’ Gay asks. ‘Naked?’
The three giggle for a moment.
‘Yeah, screw that idea. That will be tick city in there,’ Mr Wob says.
‘Oh no, i hate those little bastards,’ Gay says, shaking his head.
They are all in agreement as to their speedy justification for genocide of the entire species.
‘And their favourite place is the anus,’ Dunkhan warns.
They giggle again.
‘I’m pretty sure they will latch on to wherever they can,’ Mr Wob tries to add, but Dunkhan is adamant.
‘What kind of existence is that? ‘Gay asks, looking annoyed. ‘Waiting in slumber for some animal to pass by so you can latch on and suck blood from it’s arsehole? I hate nature!’
‘Why!?’ Dunkhan calls out, to the sky, as if addressing the creator.
‘So much for beautiful nature,’ Mr Wob says.
The wind flows through the flowering field and it comes alive in waves, like a vast multi-coloured ocean.
‘Has anyone else got a fear of deep water?’ Dunkhan asks, suddenly looking uneasy.
Everyone is agreed that deep water, and more so what is in it, is a frightening thing. They decide to move on. They stop and look out, over the loch, to appreciate the towering pyramid like shape of Schiehallion, one of the more impressive looking munros in the area.
‘It looks like it belongs in Egypt’ Mr Wob comments.
Mist rolls over the hills below Schiehallion, obscuring the land and the base of the munro, with only the peak visible at the top. Stunning.
They press on again. Everyone is now in deep awe of nature. Gay in particular.
‘Everything is so bright, vivid,’ he gushes. ‘Beautiful. I love nature again.’
The three casually stroll along in peaceful silence, smiling like children at the fair. Not even the rare intrusion of the odd car, whizzing passed them, can upset their jolly trip.
*SHRIEK – SHRIEK – SHRIEK – SHRIEK – SHRIEK*
‘What is that?’ Dunkhan asks, wide eyed.
They look up to find an irate oyster catcher flapping furiously above them. Presumably an angry parent protecting a nearby nest.
‘Must be protecting it’s eggs or it’s young,’ Gay concludes.
‘It’s doing a good job,’ Dunkhan says, ‘it certainly is distracting.’
The bird shrieks again. And again. SHRIEK. Again.
‘Wow, that’s piercing,’ Mr Wob says, covering his ears.
‘Alright, we’re going!’ Dunkhan yells, up to the bird. It continues it’s assault.
‘If i had a gun right now…’ Gay says, coldly, aiming an imaginary weapon at the creature.
‘So much for beautiful nature,’ Mr Wob grumbles.
The bird noisily escorts them down the road until it is satisfied that they pose no threat, before flying back to it’s nesting area.
The three walk on. They come across an expanding forest of pine trees that stretches out and up a hill. They stop to take in the sights and smell the earthy pine aroma. Sun beams stream through the pine, creating an enticing magical atmosphere.
‘I’m going for a shit,’ Dunkhan announces.
‘Beautiful nature?’ Mr Wob repeats, chuckling.
‘What? It may not be beautiful, but you can’t get any more natural than that,’ Dunkhan smiles, and produces, from his pocket, a bundle of rolled up toilet paper.
‘I don’t suppose you’ve got some water in that pocket too, i can really do with a drink,’ Gay asks.
‘Yeah, i’m thirsty as hell,’ Mr Wob concurs.
They have a moment of glaikitly staring at one and other as they realise that no one has brought any water, or any fluids of any kind.
‘Ah, i’ve got my flask of whisky, if anyone wants…some of that?’ Dunkhan offers, nervously laughing. ‘Get even more dehydrated?’
‘We’ve been walking for ages,’ Gay says, looking alarmed, ‘so if we turn back now, it’s still going to be a while before we can get some water.’
‘And in this heat?’ Mr Wob adds.
‘Right, well, before we do anything,’ Dunkhan says, looking strained, ‘ i need to nip into the woods for five minutes.’
They agree to turn back and head home, to the campsite. Gay and Mr Wob wait by the side of the road, carefully examining the flora and insect life as Dunkhan hastily disappears into the forest. Gay is engrossed with the busy activities of honey bees as they frequent a small patch of heather.
‘Bees are amazing,’ he says, to no one in particular, ‘i love nature!’
Upon Dunkhan’s sprightly return, they head back with purpose in their step; passed the oyster catcher who seems even more upset that they hadn’t heeded it’s first warning; passed Schiehallion and it’s awesome peak; passed the rainbow sherbet ocean meadow and all that lurks below; and, finally, back to the campsite.
‘Home sweet…home…?’ Dunkhan asks, surprised.
The three stop dead in their tracks, shocked. Their campsite looks very different.
‘What the hell happened to my car?’ Gay yells, as he discovers it, trashed. The wheels are missing. The windows are all smashed. The hood is missing. The engine and other parts are smashed beyond recognition.
‘Jesus,’ Mr Wob says.
The campsite is cut off by a small, newly dug, moat of channelled stream water. And beyond the moat is a small make-shift wall consisting of tightly weaved ferns, nettles and brambles; with carved spikes protruding out. The fire is three times the size it was when they left. Monstrous and blazing. The tents are completely covered, and camouflaged, in dead leaves.
‘What the hell is going on?’ Dunkhan whispers.
‘What about Jules, is he okay?’ Mr Wob asks, worried. The other two share his concern.
‘Jules?’ Dunkhan calls.
Nothing. No answer.
Dunkhan opens his mouth to call out again but something whizzes passed his face, just grazing his cheek, and lands, planted firmly, in the ground behind them.
‘Jesus!’ Dunkhan yells, holding his cheek and ducking for cover. The other two follow suit.
‘What the hell was that?’ Mr Wob asks, nervously.
Gay examines the weapon. It is a perfectly hand carved wooden spear.
‘A spear of some sort,’ Gay mumbles, shaking his head as if questioning reality.
‘What if Jules is hurt? We have to find him,’ Mr Wob says.
Dunkhan begins to call out again but, instead, his mouth drops open, aghast at what he is seeing before him. The other two look on in disbelief. A naked man, with wild eyes, his body oiled up with used vegetable oil and his face covered in fire soot, stands with a hand carved sword in one hand and a small green package in the other. His crazed eyes darting from Dunkhan to Gay to Mr Wob.
‘J…Jules?’ Dunkhan gasps.
Jules bares his teeth and begins to chant a strange language whilst performing some kind of war dance, his jiggling penis doing it’s own freestyle routine in the firelight.
‘Jules, what’s happened to you?’ Mr Wob asks, dumbstruck.
‘GAKAKAKAKAKA AKAKAKA!’ Jules chirps loudly, and he hurls the green package. It lands at the feet of Mr Wob and Gay and bursts open in a brown explosion. A gloopy brown paste splashes across their faces.
‘Christ!’ Gay says, grimacing and spitting brown paste out of his mouth. ‘Tastes disgusting. What is this shit?’
Mr Wob can already smell what it is, as he wipes it from his forehead.
‘Exactly!’ he yells. ‘It’s shit! He’s throwing his own shit, wrapped in ferns!’
‘A…shite bomb?’ Gay asks, distantly, his face turning sickly pale.
‘GAKAKA AKAKA GAK KAKA!’ Jules cries out. He quickly grabs another fern and squats over it. His facial expression changes from hostile, to furious straining, to confused bliss; and he soon has another bomb ready.
‘It’s the mushrooms,’ Dunkhan says, ‘he must have lost his mind during the time we were away.’
‘It’s only been fifty five minutes!’ Mr Wob shouts, looking at his watch.
‘What!?’ Gay blurts, ‘It feels like we’ve been away for ages!’
Another shite bomb splats next to them, spraying more faeces over their legs.
‘Jules!’ Dunkhan yells, standing up with his hands held up in a non-aggressive gesture.
Jules pauses and intently watches him; his head jutting this way and that.
‘Jules, it’s us, man,’ Dunkhan says, softly, ‘you’re friends. It’s me, Dunkhan. You remember me, don’t you, buddy?’
Jules squints and gazes into Dunkhan’s eyes.
‘It’s working,’ Gay whispers, to Dunkhan, ‘He recognises you.’
‘Keep going,’ Mr Wob whispers.
‘That’s it,’ Dunkhan calls out, ‘you know me, remember? We’ve been friends for a long time. You can trust me.’
Jules snorts and stamps the ground.
‘How about you calm down, and let us come back to the camp?’ Dunkhan suggests.
Gay and Mr Wob stand and join Dunkhan.
‘We don’t mean you any harm,’ Gay calls.
‘No, we only want to help you,’ adds Mr Wob.
Jules seems to huff and straighten his posture.
‘There, he’s coming back to us,’ Gay whispers, to the others.
‘Now,’ Dunkhan says, very gently edging forwards towards the camp. ‘I’m just going to approach you slowly, so please try to remain calm.’
‘GAKAK!?’ Jules blurts.
‘That’s right, it’s me, Dunkhan, you’re old friend. Come on buddy, what do you say?’
There is a tense moment as Jules seems to be considering the situation. He slowly begins to raise his wooden sword into the air. He lifts his head to the cosmic canopy and lets out a long wailing war cry that echoes up and down the loch.
Dunkhan freezes. The make-shift wall, in front of Jules, begins to shake. The ground begins to quake and rumble which is followed by an awful scuttling, skittering sound. A strange black mass begins to advance out of the wall, along the forest floor, towards Dunkhan, Gay and Mr Wob.
‘What is that?’ Mr Wob asks, afraid, as he takes steps backwards.
The mass is black, shiny, moving and pulsing.
‘Oh jesus christ,’ Dunkhan says, as he realises the truth. He begins to take steps backwards too.
‘What?’ Gay asks, as herd mentality sinks in and he, too, joins the others in their retreat.
‘Oh god, no!’ Dunkhan says, horrified.
‘What? What is it?’ Gay cries, exasperated.
‘It’s ticks,’ Dunkhan says.
‘What?’ Mr Wob says, in disbelief, gazing down at the crawling black mass.
‘It’s an army of ticks. Jules has summoned an army of ticks!’
‘GAAAAAAAEEEEEEEEEEAAAAAAAAAAAKAKA!’ Jules shrieks again.
The other three look up to find him sat on top of, straddling, a giant tick the size of a hippopotamus, with one hand waving his sword like a maniac fencing a fly, and a newly prepared shite bomb in the other.
Dunkhan turns to the others.
‘Run!’ he yells.
Jules lets out another blood curdling shriek and the giant tick begins to scamper towards them.
‘Just run!’ Dunkhan yells again, but Gay and Mr Wob are already bolting back down the road. Dunkhan sprints after them as Jules and his arachnid troops give chase.
‘Ok, i’ve made up my mind,’ Gay says, out of breath, as they run, ‘I hate nature!’
And not one of them were ever found again…and…subsequently wouldn’t have been able to impart this tale…to anyone else, really…so…who’s story is this?…what am i doing here?…
And the moral of the story? Well, enjoy nature. It is beautiful. Just, not when a massive hippo sized tick, under the command of your deranged (former) friend, sucks blood out of your ruined, quivering anus. That can put a real dampener on an, otherwise, really nice camping trip.
So, be warned.