By Dan Burkitt
A Camping Trip
I went camping in the Brecon Beacons once. I slept in a tent and I shat in a ditch. On the way to the campsite, I had this strange feeling in my stomach. It was churning, it was swollen, I felt like I was pregnant. I put a hand on it and I felt something move.
I was on a train, sat at a table. You know the ones, they’re great. You get a plug, and you get to look at the countryside passing by, and you get to look right into the eyes of the person opposite and think about gently slipping a toe into their mouth.
The train was moving along at a fair old pace, quicker and quicker and quicker towards the warm, woollen embrace of the Welsh hillsides. There was an old man opposite me, and that’s a can of Kestrel in his hand, and those are his cloudy eyes squarely fixed on the nib of my pen. Do you want some help with that crossword, he asked. It’s actually a sudoku, I replied. Right you are, he said.
We arrived at Abergavenny station. There’s no Uber here you posh twat. Of course, sorry sorry, I’d like a minicab then please, and do you happen to have an OS map because there’s no signal in the mountains, is there? Right, right, right you are.
We’re at the campsite now. I’m here alone. A tent, a stove, a few other bits, that’s not important really. I was in the campsite and I was alone. I went for a walk. I walked up a hill then back down the other side, and then I was in a field. Amazing, remarkable, breathtaking. So much countryside, so green, so very very green, so endless, vast, mysterious, dangerous even. What would happen if I was out here for a good chunk of time? It wouldn’t end well, but oh brother, my lungs would be clean.
What next then? We’re in a field now, no time to get lost. Back to the site. Fire on. No sign of anyone else. Sausages in a pan. Plant-based not pork, you see, I care about the animals etc, you have to these days, don’t you think. Definitely, you do, definitely.
My stomach is acting up. It’s really really giving me grief. And the farmer’s arrived and he’s asking me for twelve quid for staying in the field and I tell him it’s all wonderful, wonderful, where are the toilets? Dig a hole? Right you are, right you are.
Seriously, my stomach is not okay. What if I’ll never be okay ever again? There’s a fire alarm going off inside my insides but no one seems that bothered, they’re all just sat at their desks, tapping away on their keyboards. Apparently this isn’t important.
I lay on my front and hyperventilate. I am going to exorcise this demon, right here, right now, inside this tent. Everyone get out the way, seriously, everyone get out the way. But there’s no one here, remember. Yes, yes, true. But I can feel something coming out of me and I need some space, so get back. I’m going to be sick.
A gag, a wretch, a break for breath, then what? Then a pause and then a jet of hot, thick, black bile. It’s not blood, that’s good, that’s almost certainly good, wouldn’t you agree? More bile now and more, more, more. It won’t stop, it’s all coming up. It’s a torrent. It’s like everything has come out of my body, it’s all escaped, everything, everything, every last drop of my being.
And I lay there in the pool of it, and I can feel my skeleton. It’s pressed against my skin and there’s nothing else left, I’m just bone and skin, skin and bone, everything has come out, out, out of my body and it’s here for you to look at. It’s here for you to enjoy at your leisure, look at it please, look at it, look at it when you have time then, it’s okay if you can’t right now. Just please look soon.