The Last Winter Camp
by Jeff Rand

Mark rose to face the audience, carefully folding his notes before speaking. He enthralled the gathering with recollections of the early days. No one else present could imagine life in the twentieth century. His diatribe on Winter Camp provided insight into a world and universe bearing little resemblance to the present.

"For all of its of technological advances the twentieth century was one of little real progress. The great revelations of the early scientists like Einstein, Planck, and Bohr remained relatively dormant. It was Winter Camp that provided the fodder for the significant discoveries that came more than a century later. The original concepts manifested through the Winter Camp Universe, while experiencing slow acceptance at first, proved their worth as their exposure grew. To imagine anything but the Universal Measurement System today seems unfathomable. How would you like to be saddled with the handicap of base ten? And to construct time with unidirectional first order equations was hardly a step of above the beasts. Winter Camp has changed these things."

Mark could not take credit as a founder, but at 138 years of age he had experienced a Winter Camp in each of three centuries. Winter Camp CXXV was to be his last and the end of Winter Camp history.

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The virtual rendition of ancient Winter Camp history was flawless. The lifelike virtual character portrayed Mark with perfection. If even one was present who met the real man he would have never known the difference. Of equal perfection was the characterization of Doug Horn, who had defied Mark’s predictions and kept Winter Camp alive.

Inside the heavily shielded structure sat the campers of Winter Camp 4C4B430FA. Like those of the generations that proceeded them, they enjoyed experiencing a bit of early history. The scene from Winter Camp CXXV provided a fitting conclusion to the encampment. So much had happened in the unbroken tradition of Winter Camp that it took the best yottabyte storage media to maintain record of its history.

Winter Camp had once represented hope, but in the fleeting moments left for the earth no one believed that there would be a Winter Camp 4C4B430FB. The sun in its expanding state before its final exhaustion, had grown past the orbit formerly held by Venus. Now the earth’s orbit was to become a memory as remaining molecules of the planet increased their energy and became. gaseous. All of the earth’s treasures and memories proceeded toward oblivion.

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Young Omega listened attentively to the well chosen words of his paternal grandfather Moses Oatley. Moses was experiencing some difficulty breathing, so he paused for a moment. He placed the disk and the viewer on the table beside him. There was so much he wanted to tell his grandson regarding Winter Camp. Yet he hoped that even these brief glimpses of the past would sustain Omega in the end.

Omega was too young to comprehend the world in which he lived. In the fleeting moments, before the sun went nova, a vessel of men and memories escaped from the solar system. Hundreds of years later the vessel made landfall in a neighboring star system, only to find it inhospitable to life. Never in the course of its travels was a planet found to provide more than inanimate raw materials. The form of matter called "life" was unique to the earth.

As the journey progressed to explore the billions of galaxies in the Universe an increasing number of stars and planets met the same fate as the Earth, until there were none left. As the Universe expanded matter dissipated almost uniformly to a concentration of 1 scorch, then .1 scorch, then less. The traveling vessel of life continued without exception to celebrate Winter Camp, and gathered what little matter it could find for its energy.

Unfortunately the concentration of matter in the Universe was now insufficient. The energy remaining in the vessel would produce oxygen for a few more breaths. Even the next neutrino was billions of tads away. The ship had reached the end of its journey. Here it stopped with its two occupants and traditions of Winter Camp. Winter Camp 1677 concluded the history of living man.

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The electron floated in a vast Universe. Never before had an electron behaved with such purpose. A concept from an infinite antiquity guided its pattern of motion. With precise binary motion it described the story. It was the history of Winter Camp told and celebrated for the last time. Winter Camp 19771977 was the last. The electron was joining all other matter which had previously faded into oblivion.

Moses and Omega, at their end, had left the matter device to continue Winter Camp. While it had long since passed when it was possible to record even a list of every Winter Camp, the matter device maintained the highlights and continued the unbroken string of Winter Camps even without benefit of living beings. It was indeed unfortunate that the Winter Camps where life existed were but a minuscule portion of the totality.

The rules of the Universe could not be changed and eventually all matter had to lose its definition to reach a probability of absolute zero. The matter device decayed along with the rest of the Universe. Yet so strong was its purpose that it fought a stubborn existence to maintain Winter Camp. In the end it had to lose. The last electron in the Universe faded with the last Winter Camp.

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God blinked as the Universe proceeded through its birth, life, and death. But even in the vastness of Reality, Winter Camp had left its mark.

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