Like most things, it all started out as a rumor. Kids love tellin’ stories, y’know? No harm in it. But last year we got all these letters from all these parents, sayin’ that their kids had come home from camp ‘different.’ Which is what we expect, to a certain extent. Camp changes you, y’know?
But these parents were sayin’ that their kids were actin’ all ‘weird,’ like. Now, most kids are weird. That’s a good thing. It’s their personalities startin’ to come through. And I don’t think these parents were tryin’ to be mean or nothin’ but the things they were describin’ did actually sound a little off.
And then, this stuff gets out, as it does, and the kids who’ve come to the camp this year are tellin’ each other these stories. And exaggerating them, of course. Sayin’ that kids are disappearin’ from the camp and bein’ replaced by aliens. And I says to them, “I’ve been Director of this camp for more than fifteen years now, and if I say there ain’t no aliens here, then there ain’t no aliens here.”
But, you know kids, they see that this is vexing to me, like, so they pile it on. Now they’re sayin’ there’s been alien sightin’s here, and that the quiet kids are actually aliens in disguise, and all that.
And now, I’m gettin’ all these various calls, from these various parents, talkin’ about their various kids and how they’re acting out even worse and stuff, and getting weirder day by day.
Like I said, I don’t think weird is a bad way for kids to act. They’re just gettin’ to know themselves. So I generally try to dissuade parents from using that kinda language. But, I have to say, some of the stuff these parents were tellin’ me was definitely cause for concern.
One parent found their kid on the roof at, like, four in the morning, flashin’ a flashlight up at the sky and makin’ all these poppin’ sounds with her mouth. And when the parents asks her what she was doin,’ she just pointed the flashlight at them and screamed. Like a real primal, blood-curdling scream. So, they calls the police. And, of course, calls me too.
I got calls about kids grabbin’ the wheel of the car, tryin’ to drive it off the road. Kids who just up and left their houses in the middle of the night and wandered out into the wilderness. A kid who was stockpilin’ cans of peaches under his bed.
And now this one kid’s Mom just called me and said the kid ate the family cat. And she’s, like, screamin’ at me. And I’m just trying to defend the integrity of the camp, so I says to her “Maybe the kid was just hungry. You got any food in the house?” And then she says somethin’ about calling the authorities and slams the phone down. And now I got that to deal with too.
And all this feeds all these rumors that are goin’ around, that these aliens are usin’ the camp to infiltrate earthlin’s, kid by kid. Which is kinda ridiculous. But I guess makes sense, if you’re an alien.
And I’m thinkin’ I should do the camp a big favor, and see which of these kids could actually be aliens and which ones are just a little weird.
But, anyways, before I had time to do any of that, the cops come, sometime in between archery and knot tying. And they asks me all about this kid who was here last year, who’s now chowin’ down on the family kitty.
And I says “He was a regular kid who did regular stuff at camp. He was pretty good at sailin’ and rope climbin’ but apart from that I don’t remember him too much.”
And they asks me if he was weird and whatever and I says “Yeah. All kids are weird. But it’s a good kinda weird, y’know? It’s like their personalities startin’ to come through.”
And this cop says to me, I swear to god, says to me “I wasn’t weird.” And I look him up and down and I says “Sure you weren’t!” And he looks at me funny and says “Are you calling me weird?” And I says “No officer.” Because I don’t wanna get into no trouble with the police. But I think to myself that grownups who weren’t weird as kids probably end up being weird as grownups. And I wonder what this cop is like when no one’s around.
Anyways, then he says to me that the FBI is particularly interested in these goings ons too, and this camp and all that. And he says that they’re going to pay me a visit sometime later today as well.
So, I see the cops off and I go teach some fire skills. And then, wouldn’t you know it, but an hour or so later, here are these freakin’ FBI agents, standin’ around while the kids are makin’ bead bracelets. And they’re, like, pickin’ up these beads and studyin’ them. And, I suppose, wonderin’ if they’re alien technology or somethin,’ when they’re really just honest-to-god beads.
And then one of them says to me his name is Jefferies, and introduces the other one as Phillips or somethin,’ and asks me the same kind of questions that them cops asked me earlier, only much more pleasant, like. And I thinks to myself, well these two must’ve been weird as kids. And I appreciate that. Because now they have good personalities that makes you wanna spend the time with them.
Anyways, this one, Jefferies, lets me in on some alien FBI secrets and says they’ve been monitorin’ this area for a while and they know there’ve been a number of occasions where some kinda extraterrestrial contact has been made.
And that these woods and this lake, here, create some kinda force that allows the aliens that are already here to communicate with those that aren’t. And that this might even be the epicenter or whatever of this intergalactic tradin’ of aliens and humans. And that a lot of the kids who came back from this camp were actually aliens. And the parents hadn’t really seemed to notice before. But now, with all this helicopter parentin,’ they’re startin’ to realize what’s goin’ on.
And I think to myself, do you two actually believe in all that stuff? Or did you just see one too many episodes of X Files and then convince yourself that this kind of stuff was real? I didn’t say it out loud, of course.
But they was so smart and personable and seemed so confident in the past occurrences of this alien type stuff, that I wondered if maybe what they was talkin’ about was real. And I thought, I wonder how much of this stuff goes on without any of us even knowin’ about it. And then I thought, probably a lot.
And then, they said their thank yous and gave some pretend FBI agent badges out to the kids that wanted them. Toys of course, not real. And then they left.
And then, I look over to my right and I saw this whole tree filled with kids, like a flock of huge birds, one on every branch of this tree at the edge of the woods. And they was just watchin’ as these FBI agents left the camp and drove off in their black sedan.
And then the kids all muttered to each other. And I don’t know if it was because I was too far away, or because of the wind, or whatever, but that mutterin’ didn’t sound much like English at all. More like clicks and whistles. And I thought to myself, Kel, you’re really losin’ it. And I told the kids to come down and then we went back to bead makin.’
But then, this weird thing happened. This kid, Milo, comes back from pickin’ pine cones with this wicked sunburn. Now, this happens from time to time. Kids get sunburned. They don’t really have their whole skin regimen figured out yet. They figure it out more into their twenties. That’s when I figured mine out, anyway.
So, this kid, Milo, comes back with this wicked sunburn. And I look at the other kids and they’re maybe a little tan but nothin’ crazy. And I look at the sky and I think that it wasn’t even that sunny that day.
So I asks this kid, “Milo, how the hell you get so sunburned on a day like this when there isn’t really even any sun out there.” And he says to me “Kel, I don’t know what happened. I was out picking pine cones and I see this big, bright light all around me, and I look up and everything goes white.” And I asks him, “Did you pass out? Are you stayin’ hydrated? Drinkin’ enough water?” And he says to me “I don’t think I passed out, Kel, because when the white went away I was still standing up. And if I’d passed out, I’d probably be on the floor already.” And this seems like good reasonin’ to me.
But then some other kid hears all this and shouts to everyone “The aliens did it! The aliens did it! Milo got beamed up!” And I says “Shut up, Taylor. There ain’t no such thing as aliens and you know it.” And the rest of the kids who are standin’ around see that this is gettin’ under my skin, and they starts in on Milo too, sayin’ “Beam him up! Beam him up!” And slappin’ their hands on his bright red skin, so it leaves little white hand prints and all that.
So I gives Milo some aloe from the infirmary and tells him to apply it twice daily. And that was that.
But it reminds me of somethin’ else that happened, a few days back. We don’t allow dogs or pets of any kind at Camp Rosie, but my dog, Harvey, has been with me for almost ten years now and mostly just hangs around in my cabin or my office. But he had his teeth cleaned the other day and had to wear a cone to stop him from lickin’ at the shaved patch on his leg where they give them the anesthetic and all that.
And then, that night, I was goin’ around the camp, makin’ sure all the kids were in their own cabins and sleepin’ and all that. Because they sometimes get into shenanigans at night. Harmless stuff but it’s discouraged, y’know? Anyways, I’m just wanderin’ around the camp and I’ve got my flashlight, but I don’t need it because the moon was so bright that night, it literally lit the whole camp up. And I see Harvey and he’s, like, staring up at the moon and I hear all these clicks and whistles comin’ out of his cone like it’s transferrin’ some kind of a code or somethin’ up into the sky. And then I look up at the moon and think, that’s actually way too bright to be a moon.
So, I goes over to Harvey to see if I can see what’s going on and he turns and snaps at me. And this dog has been, like, the sweetest dog his whole life and I ain’t never seen him act out like that. So, I back off just a bit and watch as these clicks and whistles keep comin’ out of this cone like a freakin’ bullhorn. And I wonder what the hell is going on.
And then, all of a sudden, the clicks and whistles stop and the moon gets less bright. And Harvey comes over to me, to give me a lick and have a cuddle and all that, almost like he was apologizin.’ And then I walk back to my cabin and he follows as usual. And everythin’ seems fine.
Anyways, the day after Milo’s sunburn, the counselors were teachin’ the kids some water sports at the lake, and this one kid wouldn’t go anywhere near the water. And they thought maybe he was just scared or whatever, so they were goin’ to start him off slow, at the beach area, and just have him dip his toes in and sorta get used to it. To see that the water’s nothin’ to be afraid of. And this kid gets all kinda freaked out and starts shoutin’ at them.
And it’s weird, because they said he wasn’t really shoutin’ words. It was more like sounds. I didn’t totally understand what they were sayin’ but lookin’ back at it now, I’m thinking what if this was, like, an alien language or whatever because I had never actually heard of this kid. And I kinda know all of them. Most of them have been comin’ here for years. And if they haven’t been comin’ here for years then I know them because they’re new. Anyways, I didn’t let my imagination run away with me but I did start to wonder what the hell was goin’ on.
And then, the next thing I saw, was maybe a day or so later, was this kid who looked like he maybe had scales or somethin.’ All lizard-like. And so I asks some of the counselors if they’d noticed anythin’ with this kid, Vernon, and they says “No,” and asks “why?” and I says “No reason.” Because I don’t want to freak them out if there’s nothin’ to be freaked out about yet.
Anyways, this kid, Vernon, is makin’ out with this other kid, not tryin’ to hide it or nothin,’ and I see that his back is all scaly. So, I wait until they’re done makin’ out and then I grab Vernon and ask him what the hell’s goin’ on with his scales, and all that, and then they completely disappear and he suddenly looks completely normal again.
And I thinks to myself, I can’t accuse this kid of bein’ an alien if there’s no, like, visual proof or nothin.’ And he seems totally normal. He just asks me what I’m going on about and calls me crazy. And I says “I’m not crazy, I’m just concerned.” And he says “Nothing to be concerned about.” And he smiles and I think that he seems a little more confident than he used to. And then I think, that’s a good thing, right? That’s why kids come to camp, so they can build confidence and all that.
So, I let the kid go, and then, I swear to god, as he’s walking off, this tail comes out the back of him and kind of flicks at me like a cat’s tail does when they’re, like, mad at you, and then disappears again. And I thinks, what’s all this weird crap that’s happenin’ now?
So, I decide to tell some of the older counselors about what I saw. In case it gets really real and we have to defend the earth from these aliens and whatnot. So, I go to Kyle, who’s been with me for a while at the camp. And he’s usually a cool guy and doesn’t freak out when I tell him stuff. But he says to me “You’re nuts.” And I’m a little taken aback because I thought he’d be cool about it. So, I says “I ain’t nuts. I’m just concerned.” And he says “Maybe you can be both.” And I says “Maybe. But I ain’t nuts.” And he tells me he has to go chop some firewood and then he leaves.
And then, later that same day, I see this kid, swear to god, who has his freakin’ ribs on the outside of his freakin’ body. And I’m like, are these aliens trying to bodysnatch our bodies or some crap like that?
This kid was just standin’ there, on the dock, with a group of other kids, who had no freakin’ idea that there was this kid just standin’ with them, who had his freakin’ ribs on the outside of his freakin’ body.
So I starts hollerin’ at him, “Get off the dock! Get your freakin’ space invadin’ ass off the freakin’ dock!” And these kids, all around him, are freakin’ out, like. And I’m runnin’ over there, screamin’ and hollerin.’ And this freakin’ kid who’s, like, half space alien, or whatever, with his freakin’ ribs on the outside of his freakin’ body, just kinda slithers off the dock and into the water and disappears. Freakin’ wild.
And then, this one kid, who’s now standin’ next to me, must’ve been in with the aliens. ‘Cause I says somethin’ about there being freakin’ Martians runnin’ about the freakin’ camp and he says to me, straight freakin’ face, “Don’t be racist. They’re from Jupiter.” So I says “Ok, Jupitarians or whatever. But how do you know they’re from freakin’ Jupiter?” And this kid just kinda looks at me, dead eyed, like. And I hear this little fuzzin’ sound like a walkie talkie come from behind his ear. So I go to grab him to see where the sound is comin’ from but he slips away from me and goes runnin’ into the freakin’ woods.
And then, this morning, I wake up and find myself trussed to a tree. And I think to myself for a second, it’s the last week of camp. The kids are just playin,’ pullin’ pranks. And I sees them out there, laughin’ around, dancin’ and hollerin.’ And I says to them “Ok kids, you’ve had your fun. Now, come over here and untie me. Very good. No hard feelin’s.” And all that business.
And then one of them comes over to me, all serious, like. And stares straight into my eyes, and looks deep down, way into my soul, I tells you, and without movin’ his lips one bit he says to me, “It’s over for you. The immersion is complete. The invasion is at hand. All earthlings must die.”
And I had already got one hand free, because they didn’t tie it too tight, with them being kids and all. And I take my free hand and I slaps this kid right on the side of his head. And, I tells you, fifteen years of runnin’ this camp and I ain’t never raised my hand to a kid once. They’re kids after all and I’m a grownup. But this kid, possessed he was by somethin.’ So I slaps him right on the side of the head. And I think I must’ve slapped that voice, or that alien, or whatever it freakin’ was, right out of him. Because I see this green goo, I swear to you, this freakin’ green goo, come flyin’ out of his ear and evaporate into the air. And I thinks to myself, that must be some kind of mind control goo or something.
And then he turns and looks at me and says to me, in his normal voice now, “You hit me. I can’t believe you hit me.” ‘Cause I had never done anythin’ like that before, see? And then he starts cryin.’ And I says to myself, ok, so even if the aliens or whatever have taken over these kids’ bodies, they’re still just kids right? There’s no way they can annihilate all of humanity, or whatever it is they want to do.
So I slip my other hand outta the ropes, because, like I said, it’s really loose, because these are just kids that tied me up. And I undo all the knots, because they’re not very good knots, even though we have a pretty good knot teachin’ class here at Camp Rosie. And then I pick up a tree branch that’s lyin’ on the ground, and I run at these other alien kids, all hootin’ and hollerin’ and swingin’ this tree branch around my head. And some of the kids straight get up and run away. And some of the kids run straight back at me. And they’re hootin’ and hollerin’ too, even though their mouths aren’t movin,’ and any of them who come close enough to get in the way of my tree branch, I smack ‘em in the side of the head. And just like the last kid, it seems to knock the alien possession right outta them.
So now I got no more aliens around me. I just got a bunch of screamin,’ cryin’ kids. And I honestly don’t know which is worse, y’know? So, anyways, I light up a fire and cook up a bunch of s’mores and now the kids are happy and they’re not cryin’ anymore.
But my troubles ain’t over yet, because some of the other kids in other parts of the camp are most likely still aliens. So, I have to go and see what’s goin’ on around there.
So, I take a little wander ‘round and I see that a bunch of them have broken into the garage and stolen my damn Chevy Blazer, that I’ve had for almost twenty years. Which is a collectors’ item now. And they’ve taken it and driven it right outta the camp and, I’m guessin,’ into town, so they can go about and start possessin’ more kids and gettin’ their invasion goin’ and all that.
And I see that some of the older counselors are comin’ back from the bushes where they’ve been makin’ out and whatever and I thinks to myself, the aliens’ plan was basically perfect. There are all these kids here, who ain’t bein’ properly supervised, and can run amuck and basically get away with whatever they want. Even turnin’ into aliens and invadin’ the earth and stuff.
And I thinks to myself, I’m not havin’ that, and I trade my tree branch for the Slugger that I’ve had under my bed for the past fifteen years, in case the camp ever gets attacked by Freddy or Jason or has a Friday thirteenth type of situation. But, of course, this is much worse.
And then I see this other group of kids and they’re organizin,’ like. Like, they really know what they’re doin.’ And they’re all standin’ in line, waitin’ for somethin.’ And it looks like they’ve built this freakin’ landin’ pad or somethin.’
And then I see this spaceship. Not like a saucer, like you’d think. This is more like a giant freakin’ spider with lights on it. And I see it come down and land on this freakin’ landin’ pad right by the water and I’m thinkin,’ these kids are gonna run the freakin’ world.
And then I get a call from the FBIs that were here before, and they tells me that the invasion can’t be stopped. That the aliens have infiltrated too many humans already. Kids, all of them, from all these camps across the country. And that they were only able to keep it at bay for so long.
And they tells me that the mother whose kid ate the family cat is now dead and the kid is gone. And the same goes for a bunch of other parents of other kids from Camp Rosie, and a bunch of kids from other camps too. And I’m, like, “Crap! So this is happenin’ now?” And they’re like, “Yes. It’s happening. Get a weapon. Find cover. Defend yourself. The earth is under attack.” And I’m like, “Alright then, see you ‘round!”
And by this point, I’m runnin’ out the front gate with Harvey and the Slugger in my hand. And I turn and look back at my camp and see that someone has spray painted the name Camp Roswell over the Camp Rosie sign. And I thinks to myself, well, I had a good run.