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10 April 2017 @ 12:07 pm
LJ Idol Season Ten: "Burn, Baby, Burn"  
Burn, Baby, Burn
idol season ten | week 14 | 714 words
Campfire Stories


It was midnight in the forest, quiet but for the crackling of flames and the sounds of companionable chewing as a couple of guys milled around a clearing.

"So, where are you from?" the tall one asked.

"Me?" The other one was a big fellow, the type who clearly liked his feed. "Oh—I'm from Bear River. How about you?"

"Buck Meadow. I could swear this place was less crowded, earlier."

"Yeah. I was the only one here a while ago, and now look." He nodded toward another guy as they made their way forward. "Could be the food."

"These blueberries are amazing."

"No kidding—feels like I've been eating fish for a week." The big guy stopped. "Hey," he shouted suddenly, "slow down there, buddy! Those pinecones are for everyone!"

The red-headed guy at the edge of the trees shrugged, and dropped them.

"What's so bad about fish?" The tall guy asked. "I kind of like 'em. The sizzle of butter, the nice aroma of pan-fried trout…"

"Butter?" The big guy laughed. "My guy just would just spear the fish with a stick—like a savage—and then hold it over the flames. I went after some juice when it dripped, and got a mouthful of charred fish skin. Tasted even worse than it smelled! And then the fish cooked too much and fell right off the stick, and I had to eat the whole thing. Boy, was that disgusting."

The red-headed guy looked up as they got closer. "We talking about food? I had hot dogs today. They were incredible!"

"Oh, I love hot dogs!" the tall guy said. "And marshmallows…"

"Yeah, especially when you catch a little bit of the outside, and it's just slightly burned and all gooey inside?" The red-headed guy beamed. "That's the best!"

"Geez," the big guy moaned, "you two are so lucky. I've been out here a week, and it's been nothing but fish and, like, orange peels."

"Orange peels?" said a voice at the edge of the forest. "Why?"

"Because my guy's a nimrod or something, I don't know. He never says anything, just mumbles into his beer."

"Oh, beer." The little voice was bigger now. "The guys at my camp have been drinking since the get-go. Last night after dark, they all gathered around and started telling scary stories. A couple of six-packs later, a deer comes bounding through the camp, and then there's yelling and beer cans are flying every which way. Pretty damn embarrassing, you ask me."

The tall guy shook his head. "Where are they now?"

"Probably still running. They left me behind, just sitting here."

"You can join us," the big guy said.

"Thanks. How'd you get here, anyway?"

The tall guy chuckled. "I was minding my own business over by the meadow, just me and this one camper. He spent days just staring at me, going through bottle after bottle and wiping his eyes once in a while. Then, a couple of hours ago, he just fell asleep right in front of me. He didn't even clean anything up. A spark caught the tip of this old blanket he left hanging on a tree, and it all got back to me. The next thing I knew, I was off to see the world! And then I met up with this big fella, and we made our way over here. Not sure where this other one came from, though."

"That was you!" the red-headed guy said. "You tossed a spark that hit a dry patch of moss near the forest, and it kicked me off."

"So, you're like my son or something."

"Yeah. Call me Sparky!" the red-headed guy said.

"Will do. How 'bout you, little guy?"

"Smoky Joe."

The others stared at him.

"What? Yeah, so he took some of my work, but who cares? I still like the name."

"Okay, fine. Not that it really matters. The big guy and I are pretty much the same entity now—after a while you'll be part of it too."

"Whatever," Smoky Joe pouted. He'd hardly had a chance to be anybody yet.

"Great," the tall guy said. "Let's move on out and get this party started, guys.

"I mean, after all, this forest isn't going to burn down by itself!"


If you liked this story, you can vote for it along with many other fine entries here.

adoptedwriteradoptedwriter on April 10th, 2017 08:14 pm (UTC)
The Coalition For Disturbing Metaphors: Laugh SPNhalfshellvenus on April 10th, 2017 08:20 pm (UTC)
I get such a kick out of writing crack. It's the only thing keeping me sane right now, as much of an oxymoron as that might sound. ;)
i_17bingo: toileti_17bingo on April 10th, 2017 09:28 pm (UTC)
This was wonderful! Of all the ideas I had for this topic, not one of them was about the campfire itself. And their personalities were fantastic.
The Coalition For Disturbing Metaphorshalfshellvenus on April 10th, 2017 11:28 pm (UTC)
Thank you! I'm in such a mood for crack right now (I was afraid the inspiration might desert me, after taking last week off, but I'm still in the groove!)

The first evil thought that occurred to me with this prompt was to turn it on its head, and write about the stories campfires tell about US.

Not always flattering, as it turns out, but that's the way the flip side goes too!

So glad you enjoyed it. :D
mamas_minion: Chiquita Minionmamas_minion on April 11th, 2017 11:50 pm (UTC)
Wow, very unique way to take the topic. I love the idea of the camp fires themselves being the characters.
The Coalition For Disturbing Metaphorshalfshellvenus on April 12th, 2017 05:24 pm (UTC)
Thank you! And we are the stories they tell-- our weird habits, our good or bad food "offerings", and what our monster stories look like to them. ;)

Hiding the identity of the characters while making them clearly distinct was the biggest challenge of this whole thing!
marlawentmadmarlawentmad on April 12th, 2017 01:05 am (UTC)

This is such a great take on the topic! It is so entertaining.

The Coalition For Disturbing Metaphorshalfshellvenus on April 12th, 2017 05:25 pm (UTC)
Thank you very much! This is the only thing saving my own sanity at this point, until work settles down. :O

In several months. Maybe. o_O
rayasorayaso on April 12th, 2017 06:50 pm (UTC)
You hid the true identities of your characters so well! This was great. My first thought was that the characters were animals, like bears, eating campers and what they left behind, but having them turn out to be fires was fantastic! I love your crack -- it is so over the top funny! I have read this 3 or 4 times now, and I love it. Many kudos, topped with bravos.
The Coalition For Disturbing Metaphors: Beelzebothalfshellvenus on April 13th, 2017 06:56 am (UTC)
I'm glad you went through the animal detour first, hopefully after first thinking they were people. I could even see the characters being dogs that went along for the trip and had some inconsiderate owners.

Just so long as you were convincingly misled until that moment of, "Wait a minute!" and then "Oh, that is SO wrong!"

In that case, my work here is done. :D
Shadow Wolf Byrdshadowwolf13 on April 13th, 2017 04:29 am (UTC)
What a great twist! :)
The Coalition For Disturbing Metaphorshalfshellvenus on April 13th, 2017 06:56 am (UTC)
Thank you!

It's probably scary that this was one of the first places my mind went with this prompt... :)
Shadow Wolf Byrdshadowwolf13 on April 13th, 2017 01:39 pm (UTC)
I'm the wrong person to ask ... been reading King and V.C. Andrews since I was 8. I'm quite twisted. ;)
dmousey: the ravendmousey on April 13th, 2017 02:31 pm (UTC)
Smokey the Bear would take you to task for this piece! (Hehehehe) At first I thought, dogs? All that talk of food, you see. But nooooooo. Turns out to be forest fires! Clever! We've already had our first one here in the pines of New Jersey, that does not bode well for the summer. Anyhoo- hugsssss and peace~~~
The Coalition For Disturbing Metaphorshalfshellvenus on April 13th, 2017 05:09 pm (UTC)
I'm glad all the misdirection worked!

I had the bones of the story sketched out the morning after the prompt, but the work of introducing the characters and distinguishing them and misleading-without-lying... three more days. That was a challenge!
Direst Ryl: Blue Roseryl on April 13th, 2017 11:07 pm (UTC)
I really thought they were bears for a long time until I reread the ending and figured it out. I like how all the campers were drunk, too. It explains so much!
The Coalition For Disturbing Metaphorshalfshellvenus on April 14th, 2017 08:04 pm (UTC)
I think "drunk" unfortunately is one of the easiest routes to human-caused forest fires, along with smoking. Though if a guy wants to burn orange peels in his campfire, I would not normally consider that to be a negative thing! And certainly not heartless. ;)
🐶d0gs on April 14th, 2017 05:39 pm (UTC)
heee so clever! <3
The Coalition For Disturbing Metaphorshalfshellvenus on April 14th, 2017 08:04 pm (UTC)
Hahaha-- thank you!
A Karmic Sandbox: No Really!karmasoup on April 14th, 2017 06:49 pm (UTC)
Sweet!... I was waiting to see what this was... I figured it out right before the end, but for a while I was thinking it was bears. Nicely done! ;)
The Coalition For Disturbing Metaphors: Birthdayhalfshellvenus on April 14th, 2017 08:06 pm (UTC)
I'm glad it was neither obvious at first what was going on NOR belied by the description once you knew. That balancing act was a real challenge with this one!

Happy belated, BTW! I hope it was lovely. :)
Hillaryxlovebecomesher on April 14th, 2017 09:50 pm (UTC)
I love that this is told from the campfire's perspective! Great job!
The Coalition For Disturbing Metaphorshalfshellvenus on April 14th, 2017 11:26 pm (UTC)
Thank you!
m_malcontent: Marvinm_malcontent on April 14th, 2017 09:55 pm (UTC)
A literal campfire story....I love it.
The Coalition For Disturbing Metaphorshalfshellvenus on April 14th, 2017 11:26 pm (UTC)
Utterly literal interpretations make for some of the best crack opportunities ever! :D
Murielle: Chocolate Good!murielle on April 14th, 2017 11:00 pm (UTC)
Great idea! And I love the way you told it. Each one had a distinctive voice, and "his" own story. Brava!
The Coalition For Disturbing Metaphorshalfshellvenus on April 14th, 2017 11:41 pm (UTC)
For crack, I tend to want to take the prompt ultra literally, like a form of self-satire.

But mainly, I want to have fun with it, and make it fun for readers as well! :D