Warnings for: Child abuse, child neglect, alcohol abuse, cigarette using and abandonment. But, if you like Camp Camp, you're probably used to reading this stuff.
This is my first Camp Camp story, I got into the show like a week ago and this came out. I know I misspelled a couple names, sorry about that. I know a lot of this probably isn't cannon, but that's what fanfics are for, right? Please be nice and enjoy.
It came in flashes; that's the only way Max could think to describe it. It had happened on parents' day too, but he wasn't paying attention to that at the time…
He was too busy trying not to care about his parents to care about the others…
But now that he knew they were coming, all he could do was focus on the flashes he saw. Were they real? Were they just his imagination? He knew he didn't have physic powers, if he did he never would have come to camp in the first place. Or at least messed with Gwen a lot more.
"Hey Max! Come check out my mom's new tattoo!" Nikki called, her mom, Neil and his dad were examining her leg on Neil's science booth.
She quickly took her leg off the table, "oh no, sweety, no need to do that."
And just like that, a flash came:
Pictures of a little Nikky, playing with her parents, hide-n-seek, tag, piggy-back rides. Then slightly older Nikky, playing by herself with stuffed animals, climbing a tree, riding a bike, no parents in sight. . .
Then, barely any older, the few bottles that littered the pictures turned to mountains, and cigarette boxes became dollhouses. One parent or the other began to appear, but never together. Even though Max had never seen Nikki's dad before, he somehow just knew the different men her mom brought home weren't him…
She didn't talk about it much, but he also saw her in a flower scout uniform, always having less badges than the other girls, Nikki being covered in dirt while the others watched on in disgust, all sparkly clean by comparison.
The flash ended; No warning, no happy ending like a movie, it just ended. Were any of those… pictures real? She never really talked about home that much, and he had no way of knowing what her dad even looked like…
Man, he was going mental. It must be from eating QM's, probably poisoned, food all summer. Were any of the others getting these flashes? If he asked, would they look at him like he was crazy?
He shook his head, and looked at the group, now focusing on Neil as he poured some beakers together-
A baby Neil sitting in a highchair, his parents happily laughing as he threw some disgusting baby food through the air. The family having a picnic by some lake, Neil laughing at his dad's puppet show…
The image then changed, now his dad looked tired, stressed may be a better word, as he played with his wife and kid. Then, it was just Neil and his mom in a few pictures together, a note on the fridge saying 'Divorce' and the house was different.
Playing with his family turned into playing with science kits in his room and doing extra math for school. For every one time his dad came to the scene his mom was there 6 times, until it evened out one for one: One at a talent show, one at a teachers' conference, one with a green Christmas tree, one with a white one…
It ended again. Max was starting to freak out by now, trying to find any explanation he could. Did he eat a weird berry? Did everyone have this ability and he just unlocked it? Like a puberty thing? Was he under some kind of a spell…
A SPELL! That had to be it! He must've made Harrison or Nerris mad, and they did this to him! But what did he do to deserve this torture? He can't remember annoying either of them recently.
Not sure which one did it, he made his way to the stage first, since it was closer and Harrison was more likely to actually succeed in something like this, as the 'puking props incident' still haunted Max.
He saw Harrison on stage, his parents cowering with fear as he tried to do a card trick, interesting that he never did the really cool stuff with them around. . . if you counted puking doves as cool, which Max definitely did not.
Of course, yet another flash came:
A very young Harrison playing with an older boy Max somehow knew was his brother, they played with dinosaurs, then animals, then dragons. At first, they laughed, they played, they roughhoused gently, nothing dangerous, just pure joy on their faces, like all brothers should.
Then, the older boy's face started to turn hard, mean even, and the playing turned dangerous, Harrison started getting hurt. Genuine guilt turned to nothing as time went on. The parents were not in very many pictures, and they were blurry in the ones he did see.
Then an image of Harrison at a magic show, and the magician calling him to the stage, ultimately letting him keep the man's hat. His age matched different pictures max had already seen, like two sides of one story, but he watched as his tricks turned from failed card tricks to the day his brother disappeared:
For once the whole family were in the pictures as the other boy pushed Harrison to the ground, and the parents did nothing. With a flash of rage, Harrison grabbed a blanket and threw it over the boy, when he took it off, he was gone. The look of confusion, then pride as he realized he actually did it, the fear when he couldn't get him back.
Now all the pictures were of the parents, clearly terrified of their remaining boy, different magicians and priests coming to the house to try and get him back. All while Harrison practiced every chance he had to fix his horrible mistake…
WHAT IN THE WORLD DID MAX JUST WHITTNESS?
He didn't know any of that, other than he made his brother disappear. Max didn't even know if it was an older brother or younger. And why was it so much longer than the others? All Max knew, for curtain, was that he wasn't asking Harrison after that… at least, not right now.
Before he could leave to find Nerris, Preston took the stage, showing his grandma the recently installed trap door. Max turned before he got another flash, but it still came:
Young Preston with his parents, trying on costumes as they laughed. Them being in small performances, and him having small scenes in a few of them. Max couldn't help but watch as the genuine joy in the parents' faces turned to greed as the plays got longer, the audience grew bigger, and Preston's parts got smaller.
The pure look of happiness on everyone's faces as the dad held a paper saying 'world tour' on it. An excited prestin packing his small bag, preparing for the trip, and the utter heartbreak as his parents left on the tour bus, leaving him with his grandma.
Little school plays were treated like the real thing, with Preston almost always in the lead role: From The three little pigs to Little red riding hood, he was always over performing, driving his co-stars mad in the background.
Why were some long and some short? If he couldn't figure out why he was having these visions, he would like to at least know why some took forever and some lasted a matter of seconds.
'Maybe there's just not much to think about with some stories?' Max shook his head. He had to get out of here before he went totally coo-coo. 'I gotta find Nerris,' he reminded himself. He took off running and ran right into Ered.
"Sorry Ered," he silently gagged, he should be chewing her out for running into him, not apologizing. 'Stupid David, stupid rubbing off on me.'
"No worries, man," she flipped her hair, "it's cool." As she turned to her dads' and started to lead them to the skate ramp another flash- story, maybe? - began...
Baby Ered, surrounded by other kids, kids of all ages, colors, sizes, but the adults in the room kept changing. As did the kids. Some of the older kids did skateboard tricks in a fenced in yard and kept giving her high fives. The first time she saw her would be parents, taking away a man in cuffs, one not yet shown to Max.
Ered's happiness when they came back, one at a time, rarely together, in fun clothes, not the black suits. The day they took her home, the day she got her first bike, first skates. First skateboard. All the family movie and game nights, times when only one was home, and not the other. Several different houses, several different schools, a few different camps came in a blur.
But, so unlike the others, happiness never left the picture. No sudden reveals of alcohol, abuse, neglect or abandonment.
Honestly, Max was a little mad.
Why show him things he could never relate to, and things he'd live'd himself? What had he done to deserve this… this… this curse?
He must've stood there longer than he thought, because soon Gwen was tapping his shoulder. "Max, you ok?" She had a genuine look of concern on her face.
Max took a deep breath, and sighed, "yeah, I'm fine." He lied.
"Ok, if you're sure," when he said nothing, she added "you know you can talk to me any time, about anything, if you need to, right?" She was more clarifying than asking...
"Geesh Gwen, I'm fine ok!" He snapped as he stormed away, hoping the coming flash wouldn't make him trip:
Gwen as a little girl, singing alone to her father's music, though Max couldn't hear the words or rhythm, but he knew she was off key by her dog's howling while her parents laughed. Gwen, coming home with a test bearing the A+ mark, one after the other. The family going on tour, Gwen proudly playing the concertina in some, singing in others.
Time went on for a while like that, then she finally went back to real school (not homeschool), and things went downhill; she got that weird thing on her teeth, kids lagged and pointed from the sides. Kids only sat next to her when test days came round, which she kept acing and somehow got the other kids F's.
She spent less time with her family, and more studying in her room. College was not a party, working at different places and not getting sleep. In pictures with wild parties in the background Gwen was looking at a study book. Graduation, then rejected job after rejected job interview…
Until she saw an ad for Camp Campell and met a smiling oaf with red hair…
NO! He was not going to get a newfound respect for Gwen now. Not when this would all end in an hour anyways.
He had to find Nerris, or maybe go back to Harrison, man, at this point he might try Neil. But before he could get too far he spotted Nurf with his mother; She was no longer handcuffed, but the parole officer was still there. He didn't even try to stop it when the next- vision? Happened;
A young Nurf with a family, not his mom, and something told Max not his dad, were playing some game with stuffed animals and about 5 other kids. The image changed to the dad taking him to a prison, where he spoke to his mom through the glass window you see in movies.
The family just kept changing at rabid speed, faster than any other flash he had had; Nurf, a little older, now with three brothers, then two sisters, no siblings, 10! The houses always changed too. The pictures slowed when Nurf started to dance with one sister, in the next he was in a full out ballet outfit, in an actual dance studio. Despite rapidly changing homes, things seemed great, until…
One kid, in a school, chewed his Poptart into a star and stuck it on his shirt, like a sheriff's badge. Another into a cowboy hat, and they started to chase each other. Then, Nurf made a terrible mistake, one he'd never recover from; He chewed his into a gun and joined the fun.
It was great, until a teacher noticed. Did the cowboy and sheriff get in trouble? No, only Nurf; the school went on lockdown, and a real cop took him away, to a school of real mean kids… just like him, apparently.
Images of older kids pushing him down, pulling his hair, stealing his food flashed in Max's mind, all while teachers watched and did nothing.
Later, like actual years later, Nurf returned to his old school, but things had changed; when the sheriff boy patted his back, Nurf flipped him over his shoulder. It was an accident, a reflex, really. He said he was sorry, but no one believed him.
He was back to that mean school, where he had to fight or run, but he had nowhere to run anymore. The only constant in this whole story was his mom; They always visited, through bars, through glass, they even lived together a few times. Then, after being separated yet again, a letter came in the mail, one with the Camp Campell logo on it…
Max… Max couldn't even process that! He knew a lot more about Nurf's background than other campers, from when they held a boot camp for him, but he had no idea what was real and what he made up. He turned around just in time to see Dolf showing his dad one of his paintings…
A slideshow of pictures, a baby Dolf dressed in a camo onesie as his mom cradled him, his dad holding a paper saying 'Germany Deployment.' A slightly older Dolf, coloring in a coloring book next to his dad who was doing paperwork. Dolf asking to play football, and his dad being too busy. Then a soccer ball flew into the yard, and some other kids asked if he wanted to play.
His parents were in barely any pictures as he played soccer, chalked on the sidewalk, learned history from German Soldiers who were teaching their own kids. His mom was in it when he got his first sketch book. The excitement when one soldier pinned his drawing on the main message board and replaced it each week with a new one.
The disappointment from Dolf's dad every time he saw pictures of flowers and animals instead of his son training or doing football, real football, not soccer.
The excitement of getting the Camp Campbell brochier, and the sadness when his friends weren't coming…
Max physically grabbed his head, and tried not to scream; the last thing he needed was more trouble when his parents got there…
"I roll an asking spell-" Max jumped as Nerris approached from behind, "to ask; Are you ok Max?" This was his chance, just ask her before another flash comes-
A tiny Nerris, dressed like an elf for Halloween, her parents in similar costumes as dad took her trick or treating, and mom stayed to hand out candy. Nerris watched as her dad played D+D with his friends in the basement, as they went larping in the park, as they came up with background stories for their characters…
When she first joined them, dressed as an elf, and came up with her name 'Nerris the Cute' drawn in big letters on her bedroom door. Despite the closeness with her dad, mom wasn't out of the picture at all; she was always there to help Nerris when she fell, or got a paper cut, or was sick or needed someone to info dump on. And, somehow beyond Max's understanding, she never seemed to be mad, or even irritated.
The whole family seemed over the moon when they found a flier advertising 'Camp Campell; LARPING Camp'...
"Max… Max!" He shook awake as Nerris's mom waved her hands in front of him, "are you ok sweetie?"
No he was not ok! Max wanted to cry, to curse out whoever gave him this horrible curse. What had he done to deserve to see all these stories play out at random? Who even thought of that?
"Yeah, sorry, I'm just really tired," he lied, "stayed up all night with the guys, you know how it is." Because if he told the truth, he'd be taken to a mental ward for sure… might still be better than going home though…
"Ok honey, just making sure." The happy family continued their adventure through who knows what land of elves and dragons they created. Together. As a family…
Max ran. He ran to the nearest tree and climbed up, he couldn't take another flash right now, or ever again. Then, to his dismay, he heard the one and only…
"Neil Armstrong requesting permission to land!" Space Kid yelled from his dad's shoulders.
"Permission granted!" The man set the fishbowl headed kid down. His uncle had shown up for Parents' Day, but his dad made it to pick him up…
Images of the moon landing being told by his grandpa, small astronaut toys spread out across the floor. His dad swinging him around like he was flying, his mom giving moon pie snacks, a collection of space rocks…
His first cardboard rocket, designed by Space Kid himself to look like a flying saucer, his dad had cut it out for him. Random scribbles appeared each day, until the accident; A neighbor's puppy came and chewed it to sheds. Space Kid was devastated, but his 'uncles' made him a new, better rocket soon after…
Along with a cool space suit and helmet…
He was so excited as he held the camp flier promising to send him to the moon. His family looked skeptical, but helped him pack his bags anyways.
Ok, now Max was definitely gonna cry; EVEN SPACE KID HAD IT BETTER THAN HE DID? Not only a mom and dad, but grandparents and honorary uncles? Why did Max's life have to suck so much?
From his tree, he could see the parking lot, and his blood grew cold when he saw the green SUV pull up; the hood had a dent, the bumper was scratched, and the windows were tinted. He recognized it anywhere…
"MAX! WHERE ARE YOU? YOUR PARENTS ARE HERE?" David yelled out, blissfully unaware of how terrified Max truly was.
He should've expected it, but that helped in no way as his final flash began;
A perfect family, all smiles and laughter as they walked down the street, no anger, no fear, everything about the family was perfect; A nice house, not small, cozy was the word they liked to use. A good car, if a little beat up, but who cared? Perfect pictures lined the perfectly clean hallway leading to the perfect kitchen and perfectly clean bathroom.
All for the perfect family.
One set of doors led to the garage, another the small backyard, but nobody was allowed in the third set of doors, the doors that led to shouting, to fighting, to cigarette boxes and wine bottles…
To the filthy bathroom that practically begged to be cleaned. To the broken glass littered in the living room carpet. To the middle room, where no one could hear you scream from the outside. To the closet of the middle room, where you could go days without being remembered no matter how loud you yelled.
In fact, only one room beyond those doors was 'perfect,' if it could be called that: One bedroom with blue walls, a practically empty closet, and a tiny bed with a single blue blanket and pillow. A hidden teddy bear lived in that pillow, because if the monsters who ran the place found it, it would have to leave.
Scars never healed in this house, they never had time before the teddy's owner messed up again, a missed spelling word, an argument about nothing with the neighbor, a fight with a bully… asking for food…
One day the scars stopped coming, but the closet time got longer, the boy didn't know why until he was sent to some stupid camp with practically all his belongings in a single bag. If the scars hadn't healed, they might get seen and taken away, to jail or foster care no one knows and no one cares.
And when that boy met a ray of literal sunshine who probably never had a bad day in his entire life…
Well, that was Max's last straw…
By now the tears were flowing but tell anybody that and he's sock ya in the nose while he denied. He didn't want to go back to that torcher chamber some dared to call a house; He only hated camp because if he got used to it, used to the sun, to friends, to no pain, it would be that much harder to go back to that dark shadow of a lonely, painful closet.
And of course, he managed to mess that up; He messed everything up! He actually liked camp; Nikky and Neil were actually fun, pulling pranks with Nurf, running the camp for at times, busting Campbell himself… even Gwen and David were ok.
No, they were better than ok, they may yell, cuss and fight, but they never once locked him in a closet. Never slapped him or gave him a belt. Never took food away or made fun of him for crying… not that he ever cried… today was a freak accident, mind you. They were the parents his parents pretended to be, if that even made sense.
"MAX! There you are," David called from the base of the tree, "were taking a group photo, come on!" He called as he leaned against the tree, a big, goofy smile on his face.
Max sighed, "I'm coming," he called as he started to climb down. He wouldn't be lying if he said he felt a little guilty for what he put the man through this summer. He thought David was the most naive person alive, but he had his own struggles he just never shared. He hid them with smiles and songs, games and stories. The poor guy didn't even know his friend had died…
He almost made it down before David plucked him off the tree. "Gotcha!" He laughed.
"DAVID! You put me down right now or else you won't live to be in the picture!" He snapped. David put him down. "Thank you."
"Awe, no bad words and a 'thank you?' I must be rubbing off on you." He was practically glowing.
"Never, ever, say that again!" Max demanded.
"But it's true-"
"Ok," he smiled at the camper, and lowered his voice, "I noticed you weren't with the others earlier."
"So, we got a card and put everyone's numbers and emails, for those who have them, on it for you." As he handed Max the white card, his voice grew serious. "And, if you ever need to talk, about anything, I don't care what time it is or how dumb you think it is, you can always call me. And the same goes for Gwen, even though she'll never admit it. Ok Max? Max?"
Tears were in the young boy's eyes, but even Max didn't know if it was from happiness or sadness and fear.
"Max, are you ok?" David asked with genuine concern in his eyes and worry on his face.
"Yeah, it's just," he wiped his eyes, "I keep getting these weird… flashes? Mabe visions? Of the other campers' home lives, and I don't know why."
To his surprise, David didn't call him crazy, he just asked, with the same concerned tone "ok. Do you know what might have caused this?"
"I've been trying to figure that out all day!" Anger was in Max's voice, but not at David. "I almost think Harrison or Nerris cursed me, but that's ridiculous! Right?"
"Well, have you tried asking them?"
"Yeah, but when I got close, I saw pictures of their lives, and got too nervous to talk to them. And why would they curse me like this? What could I have possibly done to deserve this kind of toucher?" He demanded.
"Well, let's go ask them, together."
"Are you crazy? It's a miracle you believe me, if they don't do it they'll think I'm nuts!" Max explained.
"But if they did do it, then they can cure you," David countered. "Come on, Max, we have to at least try."
Max sighed, "fine; let's go." He would've put up a fight, but he was too on edge; What if the flashes never stopped? And why didn't David get one? Did David do this to him? Maybe Daniel was back for revenge? Or the Wood Scouts? Flower Scouts? Who-
He thought it was over, but another began…
A very young David, playing catch by himself, and a broken window. The picture went dark in a way Max recognized with terrifying realization; David's parents locked him in closets too? It happened again and again; David yelled at the T.V., then darkness followed, asked for seconds at dinner, closet. Get in a fight with another kid, a flash of belt, darkness and no dinner.
All the pictures were dark, some darker than others, and they continued when he first got to camp. He made friends with Jasper, but just barely. He was always causing trouble, Putting spiders in one kid's bed, swimming past the dock, running wild. The day he went with Jasper and Campbell on his dumb adventure…
And when they got back, David got his badge, the pictures suddenly turned brighter. Like looking at the sun…
He was the best camper: Gathering firewood, weaving more baskets than the other kids, making friendship bracelets…
When he asked Campbell about Jasper, that side eye he made, and a picture of Jasper getting picked up early, a frown on his face…
All the pictures were bright, too bright, after that; Like when it's bright outside, but you turn your phone's brightness up just to see what happened. A forced brightness.
Even being locked in closets had a bright tint. He spent more time outside, reading nature books at the library. David even tried to be friends with the neighborhood kids.
His parents weren't in a lot of pictures, but eventually his dad just disappeared. For some reason, that brightness didn't seem forced.
The only other non-forced brightness was when at camp...
Every camp year changed: different counselors, different kids, some repeated, but not a lot. The one constant was Cameron Campbell; always smiling, even if it was in that fake way David never noticed.
A skip in images to David training to be a counselor himself, and becoming one. The kids always changed, his co counselors changed, even Campbell stopped showing up…
All ending when he met Gwen, and an obnoxious little jerk a few days later…
"David?" Max said, once it was over.
"I'm sorry for being so hard on you this summer, but if you ever tell anyone that I will end you!" He tried to apologize.
David just laughed, almost to Max's surprise, "don't worry about it, kiddo. I know what it's like to have things change and miss home."
'But you don't, you liar' Max thought about what he had just seen. "I hope I can come back next year- don't go sappy on me now, David!" He demanded when tears were in the counselor's eyes. "And don't you dare tell anyone I said that, or I'll never come back!"
"Ok Max, your secret is safe with me." David promised, despite both knowing he'd tell Gwen as soon as Max left. "Hey Harrison, Nerris! Can you come here please?" They had made it back to the others, and the two magic kids came right over.
"Is everything ok, David?" Harrison asked.
"No, it's not!" Max answered, "I've been having these weird flashes all day, and I know one of you cursed me with them." He got out before he could change his mind.
To both David and Max's surprise, they didn't argue. "You were the one that ate our cookie!" Nerris accused.
"We put a spell on it so we could see what the other goes through." Harrison explained.
"We were only going to eat half each last night, so we could dream the flash, as you call it, but it was missing." Nerris added, "when did you eat it?"
"This morning, I saved it to go with my coffee."
"And you've seen everyone's story?" Max nodded, "well, since you took the full dosage, it should be over in an hour or two, right Nerris?"
"Yes, it would last longer, but I rolled a low number, unfortunately." She admitted.
"Well that's great!" David concluded, "we settled that and learned a lesson about stealing! This is the best last day of camp ever!"
"Picture time!" Gwen called, "Everyone meet at the Mess Hall, NOW!"
"Wait, I also had them on parents' day? Can you explain that?" Max asked as they headed over.
"Must be an effect of 'Abracadabra.'" Harrison reasoned.
"That long after you cured me?"
"I guess, after all," Harrison took his cape off and threw it on the nearby table., "magic is confusing!" He yanked the cape off, expecting a dove or bunny to fly out. Instead-
"HARRISON? Is that you?" The boy from the vision was under the table. The two began hugging, and soon the parents were too. The whole family was soon sobbing tears of relief and joy at finally, finally, being reunited.
Before Max could begin to even process that, Nikki flew onto his back. "There you are! We've been looking everywhere for you!"
"Yeah, ever since you ran off from Nikki's mom's horrifying tattoo." Niel shuddered a little.
"Picture time now! You little weasels," Gwen called out again. She seemed eager to get rid of the kids, but you could tell she was going to miss them… some more than others.
As Max move to stand with the group, and he saw everyone, one final flash came:
The day Nikki and Neil arrived, their first escape attempts, the time they went camping on David's day off. When they took over the camp and he was in charge for about 5 glorious minutes. When Nikki, Nerris and Dolf had some adventure he didn't recognize, Harrison tricking Neil into believing in magic…
Nikki, Neil, Harrison and Nerris on their volcano quest, game, thing. Nurf finally being nice and making friends with the others. The time Dolf was counselor for the day. Daniel losing the song competition to David. Gwen with her fish creature boyfriend, and at her fanfiction reading club…
Showing Nikki and Niel around the big city. When he took Cameron Campbell down as he tried to frame David. The time Gwen's dog visited, and her with her father. Nikki petting a wolf like it was a puppy, and Niel geeking out over space facts with Space Kid. Ered and Nerris going to that crazy skate ramp in the woods…
Hanging out with Jasper. Neil and Snake talking at the dance after both being heart broken. The time Gwen rescued Mr. Honey Nuts from the Wood Scouts. The early days when Preston still enjoyed his parody of David skit. The epic water gun fight after getting the camp back…
David, giving him half of the sparrow stick. When they went from camp to camp to gain back each camper and start over again. David and Gwen taking him out for pizza when his own parents couldn't be bothered to show up…
By the time the flash ended, he was standing between Nikki and Neil in front of the camera, the others surrounding them. "Say Cheese," QM said, he had set a timer so he could be in the picture too.
"CHEESE!" As almost everyone yelled, Max looked at them and thought about how they had made this the best summer of his life.
And when he looked at the camera…
. . . .
This is my first story on this site, so I'm not sure how notes work. I also posted this on Tumblir, not that it really matters. I hope you enjoyed and have a great day!