Camp Forgues was a decades-ago overnight camp that was built during the peak of the nuclear family era. A bumpy dirt road used to led up to it, but it finally received some much needed paving due to real estate development in the area.
After supplies were loaded into a box truck, he and Sandy left the school and head to the camp to scout the area. Though Mitch already visited it with Jodie when she took the tour, Sandy had yet to see the property since she either had class or work when everyone else got to check it out. He explained the amenities: running water, a generator on site, and allegedly the cabins were heated. In the advent of social media, the camp’s owners desperately worked to capitalize on rustic weddings, so they invested a small fortune on these upgrades.
“Weddings, huh? So they thought you two were together?” Sandy asked.
“Yes. Yes they did,” Mitch nodded, his mouth formed a firm line while she cackled.
He parked in the small parking lot (also new, according to the camp’s director), and once he stepped out of the car, noted the air’s chill. Now that he was in the woods and not sweating his ass off, he shivered despite wearing a few layers. Thankfully, Jodie decided to move the show into the large dining hall instead of trying to film everything outdoors. The rumor of rain on that Saturday forced her to ease up on her vision, but they managed to reconfigure everything. The bulk of the more atmospheric entrances and vignettes were filmed a few days beforehand, and they had another night to take care of the remainder of production. Everyone breathed much easier as a result, including Jodie, though she may never admit as much.
As Sandy took off to explore the cabins, the rental truck pulled up to the camp with Jodie at the wheel and Maya in the passenger seat. Jodie jumped out, and shouted, “Holy shit, remind me to book this stupid show earlier next year!”
“What about in September?” suggested Mitch. “It’d still be spooky, but warmer than 45 degrees.”
She grumbled something under her breath along the lines about how she’d think about it.
The truck’s rear door shot up after Maya unlocked it, and she climbed into the back, passing various items to Jodie and Mitch. Once Jodie took off to bring her armload of equipment inside, Maya gestured to Mitch and asked, “You got all that?”
He assured her that he was good. Although they were a tight knit group outside of the ring, he’d rather eat glass than show weakness in front of the champ. She shrugged in response, the corner of her upper lip turned up slightly to convey ‘whatever you say’, and Mitch bristled at the subtle jab. No wonder that Jodie was head over heels for her.
(Not that she would ever, in a million years, admit to that, either. Let alone pursue it.)
Other vehicles full of carpooling staff and roster members trickled in, and each person immediately got to work as soon as they parked. Jodie set up a table with a water and snack station outside of the truck, and gave everyone her profound gratitude for coming early.
A few duct tape Xs on the dining hall’s hardwood floor served as markers for where to set up the ring. The metal fixtures were the first to be assembled, followed by several ratchet straps that were added for tension, and the plywood and foam pads were laid down. After the ropes were strung up to the turnbuckles, Louis’ custom painted canvas was rolled out. Mitch and several others paused to admire the painstaking handiwork, which was kept secret until that moment: a detailed illustration of a zombie’s rotted hand emerging from its burial mound, with several tombstones set in the background with a full moon on the horizon. It was striking against the black canvas, perhaps one of his best pieces of work.
As Mitch helped attach the canvas, Jodie approached him and asked, “Hey, did you remember your costume?”
“I threw it in my car as soon as it arrived in the mail so that I wouldn’t forget,” he answered.
“Wait. So you didn’t try it on?” She folded her arms across her chest, and Mitch faced away from her so that he could roll his eyes.
“Well, no. But I opened it up, and there was a black dress and a wig inside of the package. Which was what I ordered.”
“And the shoes?”
“Also in the car! I bought those from the store.” The frown that she made forced him to take a deep breath so that he didn’t further add to her stress. “We’ll be the best looking pair, I promise.” Then, he muttered under his breath, “I’m gonna be the goddamn belle of the ball.”
“Sure thing, hot stuff,” she guffawed. He wrinkled his nose at her, and returned his focus to the canvas.