“Camp Out” by Steven John


Cronk had a fell ax, Lozzerhad a mallet, and I had my hunting knife – its leather scabbard threaded onto my belt. Why the hell Cronk had a fell ax, I don’t know. He was at war with himself. One of us brought the tent, another cadged a lift and another – the eats. A half-bottle of whiskey and smokes nicked from home. Blag pints in the pub, sweet-talk a girl back to the tent. We had it all worked out.
It was freezing. We only took off our boots but none of us slept. Lozzerpuked up over his sleeping-bag; couldn’t handle the mix of whiskey and pot noodles. We were up at dawn blowing on embers and frying sausages. Cronk had the idea of cutting firewood in the woods.
The house looked derelict, doors hanging, weeds waist high. We all pissed down the well thenCronk scooped up a ginger cat and dropped it in. Lozzermalleted out the windows whilst I went in and ribboned the curtains.Cronk went ape-shit with the fell-ax. There were signs of life in the kitchen but it was too late.Lozzer hammered every plate and Cronk blitzed the wooden chairs. We stopped when I opened the stove door. A severed pig’s head looked out at us through empty eye-sockets. I sliced off its long white eyelashes as keepsakes then Lozzer tipped the stove till the pig’s head slipped out onto its snout. Cronk clove it in two and we stared into its honeycombed brains.
Lozzer must have called home – he bailed out in the night without a word. I almost slit Cronk’s throat when he woke me, his tongue in my mouth.
“Nightmare,” he said.
In the deep black mud of the well Lozzer’s flesh cured like bacon.



Steven lives in The Cotswolds, UK, and writes flash, short stories, and poetry. He’s had work published in pamphlets and online magazines including Riggwelter, Reflex Fiction, Fictive Dream, and Cabinet of Heed. In 2017 Steve won the inaugural Farnham Short Story Competition and has won Bath Ad Hoc five times. Find him on Twitter.


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