In the older, wilder days of the internet, before social media, when blogs and message boards flourished, you could stumble upon the strangest stories – glimpses of people very different from you. People like Kate, somewhere in rural America. “I manage a private campsite,” she explains. “My family has owned it for generations now. “
Kate, however, has only been telling her story for eight months. His family business, Goat Valley Campgrounds, is based on a renowned Old Land site, a place that attracts mythical creatures. And there are things in these woods… Kate grew up alongside the supernatural and treats monsters the same, sighing and rolling her eyes that she would have drunk from campers or trash.
It is, as you may have understood, fictitious. Kate’s blog-style updates are part of a series posted on Reddit in a forum called “No sleep», Devoted to horror stories written by users. How to survive camping, as the stories Kate collected are known, is one of the longer series currently updated on the site. At the time of writing there is 21 installments, all written by someone I only know under the username “fainting-goat”. The passed out goat has been my salvation from coronavirus, posting stories that to feel real, but have nothing to do with our current world locked up. Camping, despite all its terrors, has become a place where I can escape.
Kate talks, or slaps, like a contemporary woman in her thirties. It is practical: good with a spade and wire cutters, good with a pistol. She has a delicate relationship with her brother. When the fairy creatures known as The Dancers invade her house for a party, she is just as upset that they ate all of her pre-Christmas groceries (“How do you get through four sticks of butter in one night? ? “) talks about the gutted deer on his kitchen table. Its credibility is crucial – as with all magical realism, the socialite has to work hard to make the magic plausible. We accept that whole romantic letters can be written on camellia petals in love at the time of cholera because the anxieties of obsession are familiar; John Updike’s witch powers feel real to us because we believe in the streets and gossip of Eastwick. Kate is so well drawn that the supernatural beings in her orbit – the Thing in the Dark, the Beast and the Little Girl, the Lady with the Extra Eyes – also begin to seem conceivable.
“Creatures are a 50-50 mix of folklore and things I made up,” says the real Fainting Goat, a 35-year-old software developer from Ohio who also writes under the name Bonnie Quinn. While their anonymity is part of the charm of these stories to me, I was curious to contact Quinn. Her day job meant that when her stories started to take off, she was able to quickly fall a website for Goat Valley Campgrounds, adding an additional immersive element to his fiction.
“I became more interested in Irish and Slavic tales,” she says. The Man with the Skull Cup – a favorite character of her readership – is, she explains, based on The Hound of Culaan – a demigod from Irish mythology who bears similarities to the Greek myths of Hercules .
Quinn, who is heavily considering writing a hobby, says her decision to keep the coronavirus out of the camping world was quite a deliberate one. “Our state is subject to a stay-at-home order. I worry about my mother. My father has health problems. A friend lost his job. This is not the platform to bring this level of trauma and suffering into the real world. “
Ultimately, the rules for surviving camping aren’t that different from the rules for surviving lockdown. As the end of the first installment, written in August 2019, says, “I’m trying to stop you from doing small, simple things that could lead to a horrible and assuredly agonizing death.” So far, obeying the rules of camping has protected Kate and her friends from disaster. With each new story, I can escape my apartment, my country, my reality, and hope that by following the rules, we will get there too.