Pukkelpop 2011

“We have found your tent, Miss,” the man at the door said.

My tent? I couldn’t believe my ears. Didn’t he know?

“Good thing you had the label sewn in.”

Of course, my thoughts flew right back to that day, only two weeks before.

It was a hot, sunny day, the eighteenth of August. People were happy, singing along with the many bands on the stages. Seventy thousand of them, mostly teenagers and young adults.

Marvin wasn’t feeling so well, even though it had only been the first day of three.

“I’m going to lie down a bit in the tent, ‘kay?”

“Sure babe,” I answered. “Shall I come and comfort you a bit?”

To my surprise he shook his head. He must be really sick. I waved at him and watched him clearing the gates, before I turned again to the main stage. I was looking forward to the Foo Fighters later on, the main act of the day. I hope Marvin will be back on time.

Half an hour later, I realized it was getting dark. At 6pm, that was early. Way too early. I looked up, the sky was getting pitch dark. Lightning continuously lit the clouds, giving it an eerie, threatening feel.

We got ten minutes to wonder about it. Then, the storm hit us hard. Hail the size of eggs, wind carrying along flyers, leaves and empty cups.

When a set of lights crashed down, panic arose. Most of the people sought shelter in one of the big tents, but they too started to collapse. The apocalypse had struck.

“An exceptional situation,” they called it later on the news.

“No one could have foreseen this kind of weather,” the organization had apologized.

Marvin, was all I could think of.

I tried calling him, but my phone couldn’t connect. The field had meanwhile turned into a mud puddle. A tree toppled over and collapsed on one of the packed tents, killing four inside.

It was crazy, unearthly. And it seemed to last forever, although it was really only a few minutes.

Nature only needs a few minutes to break us.

When the hail stopped I could no longer stay put. I left my improvised shelter of a toppled billboard and ran under heavy rain to the gates. No staff was to be seen, everybody had fled. I saw the tree tumbling down on the tent again before my eyes. Those inside had fled as well, thinking they were safe.

The camping area was unrecognizable. The organized chaos of many colorful tents had changed into a garbage dumpster. No tent was standing up anymore. I couldn’t even locate the spot where ours had been anymore.

“MARVIN!” I shouted desperately, trying to reach above the sound of the wind.

“It could have been worse,” the late-news reporter had said. “Only few were in their tents, this early of the festival. Imagine the disaster when this would have happened tonight. Now only one loss had to be suffered here on the camping.”

Only one loss to be suffered.

“Aren’t you gonna take it?” The man at the door pulled me back from my memories roughly.

“I’m sorry…I can’t.”

“Are you sure? You could it put it on EBay or something. ‘Hardly ever used'”

I closed the door before he could say any more, and broke down in tears.