the worst campfire story ever told (or is it?)
For years I agreed with everyone who was in attendance at the campfire in question that we had been privy to the worst campfire story ever told. The storyteller was an awkward boy who rarely said anything and was considered a social pariah because nobody was sure if he was retarded or a genius. Even the guidance counselors at the school he attended. It wasn’t until years later that I thought about the story a little more and realized that it might actually be a brilliant and profound existential tale of horror. Or the kid really was a retard. I will relate it here as best as I remember it and let you be the judge. It helps if you imagine a dark forest surrounding you while various woodland creatures scamper around unseen in the depths and a large fire crackles in front of you. Now off you go.
“Mitt’s neighbors thought he was a scientist and the scientists he worked with thought of him as a janitor. Mostly because he was a janitor. But the men he thought of as scientists were actually businessmen. Sure, they had science degrees but they were businessmen.
I should start off by telling you this story takes place a couple hundred years in the future. And about a hundred years after the craze of people cryogenically freezing their heads in the hopes that they could one day be thawed out when people had discovered the key to eternal life was over. That left a lot of frozen heads that were being kept frozen for no reason and eventually, after all the next of kin of these heads had passed away, it was decided that the heads needed to be disposed of.
Mitt worked at that place. He was tasked with getting rid of the heads. The businessmen posing as scientists gave him some very detailed instructions on how he needed to dispose of the heads but instead he threw them in the back of his car and took them home. In the basement of his home he built some shelving and kept row upon row of new guests there.
I should have started off telling you that Mitt was crazy. Obviously now that you know he has a basement full of human heads you might suspect as much but to make sure we’re clear about it let me confirm as much. Mitt was nuts.
He gave personalities to all his heads. He had taken all the files relating to each so he knew their names and a bit about them so filling in any missing information was easy. He would walk through the rows of heads and greet each one and give them a quick rundown of the news and sports and such that he felt each head would have wanted to know.
The head at the end of the row was a gentleman named Alex. Alex wanted very badly to live forever. He had also attempted to download his brain into a computer prior to his departure from the world of the living and that had been equally unsuccessful.
Or had it?
Mitt would stand for several minutes each day talking to Alex. For some unknown reason Mitt had a real affinity for Alex. He felt he could hear Alex talking back to him. Of all the heads in the basement Mitt really believed that Alex was his pal.
The problem was that it was all in Mitt’s head. As much as Alex might have wanted it to be real it wasn’t because Alex was completely unaware of it. Alex was dead so there was no possible way that the head inside the glass jar could be in any way aware of its surroundings or the fact that to some degree Alex still existed because a conscious being was interacting with it.
You want to know the scary part? The really scary part? Although you could argue that in some way Alex got what he wanted it makes no difference. Not to Alex or Mitt or to you or me. It just doesn’t matter.
With that the creepy little kid walked off into the woods and missed all the rest of the stories about ghosts and werewolves as well as the hot dogs and marshmallows that were later offered up on sticks as burnt offerings to youth. Looking back now I guess it doesn’t matter.