So, there's five new space stations orbiting the earth.

I blame myself for this. Not that I built any of them, but I may have helped unleash the energy to do so...

Here is the conversation I had with my sister shortly before this all occurred. 


Hey, Uh...remember that hundred-page survey I filled out the other day?

No. All I know is that you were stuck in your room the whole morning, and then you rushed to the mailbox with a large package in your hands. Why do you ask?

Well, I wasn't paying attention very well. It turns out it was an application.

Oh? What did you sign up for?

Oh, no, I didn't sign up for anything. I signed YOU up for something. Apparently. I just got the email today. You're signed up for Spudge Camp.

Oh, goody. We've got bills to pay and grass to mow, a garden to weed and a dog to walk, as well as work to do, and you sign me up for a week at some camp. Call them and cancel.

I tried that. They said no cancellations. They also said nobobody should ever miss the magical adventure of Spudge camp. They said they have rope swings and jungle gyms, and climbing towers and even safety harnesses for them, and ice cream and watermelon and bears and there's a farm and there's a swimming pool AND a lake and docks and kayaking and —

Sounds like a pretty fancy camp.

—Let me continue, please. They said they have cookouts and campfires and singalongs and dances and team sports and hunting and fishing —

Sounds like a regular Fiddler's Green. A whole week of fun fun fun, huh? What's the catch?

The catch is Spudge.

Which is what, exactly?

Nobody is cerain. But every one in a while, campers freeze in place and yell "spudge", and then they...well, it's different each time. One person grew wings and flew away to Spokane, and another time a great shadow hung over the games field and everyone beneath the shadow was safe while everyone else went WOOSH into the sky and they were later found in a parking lot in Spokane, and one time someone ran right across the lake into the trees and was found on a rooftop in Spokane. The camp directors have learned to call up the mayor of Spokane whenever an incident occurs.

So the camp is named after the risk it poses?

They were very up-front about that on the phone. But they say Spokane is lovely this time of year.

Hey, remember when I signed you up for an incredibly decadent summer camp where at any moment you could vanish and re-appear in some nowhere city?

No. Did you?

NO! You did this to ME! You're also the one who signed me up to the knockoff space camp that accidentally got me stranded on Mars, and you signed us up to the Gelatin-of-the-month club and the first one we got hopped out of the box and tried to eat us with a spoon, and every other concert you buy tickets for turns out to involve bagpipes! You've got to start paying attention! You've got to read the fine print! Who knows what sort of horrible things coluld happen at this camp that we can't sue for because you signed the release unknowingly? How do you not notice that a survey is actually an application? Especially when it's a hundred pages long?

I...alright. I did know it was an application. I was just trying to look as goofy as ever. Just to cover my ass, I guess.

And all the other crazy things you've signed up for — were those deliberate as well?

In fairness, I had know way of knowing about the Jello. But yes, it was all deliberate. 


 Because I'm trying to get you moving. You barely do anything, not the way you used to. You hardly even leave the house. And this has been going on for years. You started shutting down years ago. You used to have enough energy that I couldn't keep up with you. Remember you did most of the work in building the treehouse? And you rode your bike everywhere, even in the rain, even when mom told you not to. And then...suddenly you got quiet, and you withdrew, and I couldn't figure out what was going on, you wouldn't talk to me...

I'm talking to you now, aren't I?

Yeah, but you never said what happened then.

And when did you notice this occurring?

Around about ten years ago.


Around then. What happened?

Just that. It's not something I want to talk about yet.

It's been ten years!

So, Spudge Camp. You want me to go to this magical mystery camp? Where is it, and when does it start?

I actually have no idea. There's a bus.

When will the bus come?

As soon as you're packed.

Wait, it's autumn. Isn't this a summer camp?

All they said was that the bus would come when you were packed. They didn't say when you had to pack.

So, I could pack right now, and get away from prying questions?

Or you could induldge your sister and tell me what's been going on, so that I stop signing you up for weird things.

Now there's an incentive. I am torn. Say, how much does Spudge Camp cost?

Oh, not a penny. It's free.

Oh. Well then. Hardly a contest. I'll pack my bags and see you in a week.



A week and a few days laer, she called and said I didn't have to sign her up for anything anymore, and also, would I please not do it ever agian. She also said that she was going into space once more, this time with a reputable space agency. Apparently Al's Space travel and Pit Barbecue is reputable? Anyway, my sister is still up there building space stations. I'm not sure why. Maybe she's just doing it to spite me?

She still hasn't told me what went wrong so many years ago. 

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