My first year of school flew by like a flash of lightning. Time really does fly when you’re having fun. My uncle Finn tells me that my enthusiasm will fade away as I become older. I hope he’s wrong. The school is so exciting! I learn something new every day. Like how to make a wormery and look after it, or how to make a candle burn underwater. How cool is that? My favorite teacher is Mrs. Margherita Gatto, but everybody calls her Mrs. Daisy. Her name means ‘daisy cat’ in Italian which is very funny because she teaches biology. I think Mrs. Daisy is the most clever teacher of our school because she knows everything about every living thing on the planet, plants included. She is also the prettiest teacher in Monte Vista. She’s got big green eyes and wavy red hair. Sometimes she makes a tight bun on top of her head but I don’t like that so much because she looks very strict even though she isn’t strict at all.
Mrs. Daisy assigned an optional homework for the summer holidays. In our last biology class, we learned about ants and termites. Did you know that the ant queen can live up to twenty years and the colony dies along with her when her time comes? I didn’t and that’s why I decided to do the optional summer assignment to see for myself. As soon as I got home from school I asked my uncle Finn to build a container for my own ant farm, or as Mrs. Daisy says – formicarium – and after I filled it with some dirt and made a tiny home for the queen, I was on my way to the pet store to acquire Anthony. I know it’s a name for a boy, but I will anyway call her Ant because she is, in fact, an ant with the capital ‘A’. I figured she’s the big boss, even though she’s a female, so she should get the big ‘A’, right?
My visit to the pet store didn’t go as I planned. I’m sure when Patrick Snodgrass threw that crumpled ball of paper with a secret message at Dylan De Rose but instead of him it hit me, it was definitely the very exact moment Mrs. Daisy was speaking about starting the ant colony, because when I said to the shop assistant I wanted to buy the queen for my formicarium (I made sure to use the fancy word to show off) he laughed at me. I am completely, totally, utterly certain that Patrick’s stupid paper ball caused the crucial moment of distraction and I didn’t catch that you need to get the queen and the workers. I simply thought Anthony would be enough, but in the end, I was forced to bring home also Buzz, Cooper, Ed, Flint, Gump, Hugo, Ivy, Junior, Kevin, Lu Lu, Morty and Nox.
I still think the shop assistant tricked me because he made sure I heard what he said when I was leaving his shop. The moment I found out he was kidnapping the poor ants from his neighbor’s outdoor formicarium and reselling his hostages to the ever so oblivious and honest customers I promised to myself to never ever buy anything in his shop again. Too bad I had to come back the very next day for Doc and Roger since Gump and Hugo didn’t make it to the day #2 and died. Poor guys. At least they got to ride all the way to the ant heaven when I flushed them down the toilet…
Now that the school’s over, I have plenty of time to read all the books that I borrowed from the school library. I’ve barely left my room the first week of the summer holidays because I got completely sucked in a book entitled Seances and Sixth Sense Abilities by Jane Houston. Even Chloe became very concerned about my thirst for knowledge and the lack of personal hygiene that one day she invited me to join her and her friend to spend a day together by the sea. I still don’t quite understand my sister, though. One day she’s super friendly helping me with my homework or even letting me borrow her telescope and the next day she pretends I don’t exist… Luckily for me, I’m leaving for my first summer camp next week! I have been looking forward to it ever since the day my grandma signed me up for the Scout Club. Did you know that my aunt Malika is its leader?
The day of the departure for Hidden Springs finally came. I hoped I would finish reading the last chapter of Seances and Sixth Sense Abilities before the summer camp, but somehow I underestimated those 349 pages. I thought about taking the book with me and finishing it while at camp, but at the end, I decided otherwise. The summer camp is all about the outdoors activities, not about spending days reading. Plus since I got to know that also Patrick Snodgrass was coming, there was really no point in hoping for moments of silence or peaceful nights… After we said our goodbyes to our parents and stuffed the school bus with all of our baggage, we hopped on the bus and headed for the long-awaited week of scout adventure.
Whoever it was to choose Hidden Springs as the destination of our summer camp, he couldn’t have chosen better. This place breathed with nature. Once I looked out the window, I simply fell in love. I couldn’t wait to get off the bus and breathe in the wonderful smell of the pine trees and take a swim in the crystal clear water of the lake. This place was heaven on earth!
We arrived at the camp after four long hours of bus drive. It took us nearly another half an hour to unload our stuff and carry it to the camp. As soon as we sat down to rest for a while we were told to put on the scout uniforms and gather in front of the main building. My aunt told us we could take a walk around the camp while we waited for Mr. Vanderburg – our P.E. teacher. Sky asked what he went to do and my aunt told her he had to go to the warden hut to announce our arrival. I’m not sure but I think that she has a crush on him.
Then while I was chatting with my best friend Lindsay I overheard her brother’s conversation with my aunt:
“Do I have to share the tent with my sister?”
“Oh, Dylan, of course not! The Boy Scouts and the Girl Scouts will stay at two different campsites,” Malika explained to him. “As soon as Max arrives, we’ll split into two groups and set up the tents.”
“Yes!” he victoriously called out.
I’m so happy that Lindsay didn’t hear what her brother just said. At the moment she’s completely obsessed with this one guy from the 7th grade and when she talks about him she gets sucked into a totally different universe and loses all of her senses.
Fortunately, it didn’t take long and our P.E. teacher came back. I can’t say I like him the same way I like Mrs. Daisy – actually, I don’t like any other teacher the way I like her. The funny thing about Max is that he kinda is my relative, too, because his sister Amanda is my aunt. I don’t still understand well how the family tree works, but I have the feeling we are related as well.
So, as soon as my sort-of-uncle joined us, he instructed us about setting up the tent correctly and then together with Dylan, Patrick and Peter walked towards the location of the Boy Scouts campsite while me, Sky and Lindsay followed my aunt Malika to the opposite side of the camp. Honestly, I think we got the better place. I already see the angry look upon Patrick’s ugly face when he finds out we’ve got the tower.
“I think we are on the wrong side of the pond!” Patrick shouted at the P.E. teacher as soon as he noticed the tower on the other side of the pond. He stopped setting up his tent and walked towards Max.
“I don’t think so, Patrick. What makes you think that?” Max asked him.
Patrick placed his left hand on the hip and frowned, looking at the tower at the Girl Scouts’ campsite. “Don’t you see how terribly wrong this is?! We should have the tower, not them!” he screamed at the teacher. Peter and Dylan exchanged looks.
“Mind your attitude, boy,” Max looked down at Patrick’s angry face, “or you’ll have to set up everybody’s tents,” he warned him.
“So be it! It’s not that I care! This camp is so lame! The Scouts are lame! I hate being here already!” he raged, stomped his feet and stalked off in the same manner. Max knew this boy all too well, so he only shook his head while Peter and Dylan giggled.
Everybody could hear Patrick’s screams of complaint from the other side of the camp. I felt embarrassed by his behavior, but knowing his uncontrollable temper, I wasn’t surprised. When things weren’t the way he wanted them to be, he thought he could change them by screaming. Poor boy, he’s still got so much to learn, I thought to myself as I entered my tent.
When everybody settled in, the Scout leader summoned us in front of the main building for the welcoming speech.
“Good morning, Boys! Good morning, Girls! My heart is filled with joy and excitement to welcome you all at the historically first week-long summer camp in Hidden Springs! Welcome! Most of you have been waiting for this week since the day you joined the Scouts,” my aunt said with great emotion in her voice and looked at me, smiling.
“This week you’ll have the opportunity to earn three new badges and awards. The Scavenger Hunt Activity Badge, the Angler Activity Badge and of course, the Outdoor Challenge Award,” she continued. “I believe that all of you know the Cub’s Handbook to Becoming a Scout by heart by now so you know what tasks you’ll have to successfully complete in order to earn those badges-”
“I don’t!” Patrick Snodgrass called out, interrupting my aunt’s speech.
“Oh. You don’t? Well, then Max will tell you everything you need to know when this is over, Patrick,” Malika said with a calm voice and resumed her speech. When I looked at Patrick he didn’t seem very happy. What’s wrong with this boy?
“…will take place tomorrow. Today you’ll start working on earning the Scavenger Hunt Activity Badge. You’ll have time until the last day of camp to complete this activity. All badges and awards will be awarded the last day of camp during the closing ceremony. I believe this is all there is to say about the program, so let the adventure begin!”
After the welcoming speech was over, my aunt and my sort-of-uncle went to prepare the lunch. When Lindsay opened her backpack, she found out that her mother packed her (and most probably also her brother) with sandwiches that would feed the whole army and because Lindsay doesn’t like wasting food she proposed to the Scout leader to share the sandwiches with us. My aunt was happily surprised about Lindsay’s generous spirit and so, in the end, we all had a picnic by the lake.
When a monarch butterfly sat on the tip of Peter’s nose, the scavenger hunt has officially begun. I don’t know if Peter was more amazed by the improbability of the event or by the beauty of the butterfly itself, but whichever the case, he didn’t manage to capture the insect.
Also, Lindsay and Patrick (not that I am surprised) had troubles befriending the nature. Not that they’ve chosen the best of places to look for the mini-beasts. Lindsay’s venture into the forest didn’t pay off because all she’s managed to get were mosquito bites. And Patrick? Well, it’s not that he was really searching – the insects have found him. But what could he have expected when he decided to eat his sandwich nearby the campfire. Soon, an entire family of cockroaches was crawling up his legs. I don’t think I am a mean person, but I really enjoyed the helplessly disgusted look on his face.
I have lost the track of Sky very soon. She must have gone searching on the opposite side of the camp. Dylan, on the other hand, kept on following me even after I asked him to go searching somewhere else because he got always so excited when he caught an insect and scared away all of the wildlife around us. At least I managed to capture the monarch butterfly that sat on Peter’s nose earlier that afternoon. It took me nearly twenty minutes of running around the camp, but my effort paid off.
The following day started with a short exercise session with our P.E. teacher. First, he made us stretch or bodies as he always did during the P.E. class and then we had to do twenty laps around the pond. I was quite hungry when I woke up, but the unexpected morning exercise made me starve.
As we ran around the pond I imagined grandma’s blueberry pancakes with cream and white chocolate topping sprinkled with hazelnut flakes. At that thought, my stomach growled so loudly that even Lindsay who was running behind me heard it.
Then all of a sudden, we got surrounded by a cloud of mosquitoes! Sky ran off to get the repellent from her tent, but it was too late anyway. I and Lindsay decided to flee the attack and climbed up the tower hoping the mosquitoes wouldn’t follow us there. The boys didn’t get so lucky. I looked down at Patrick alternately slapping his cheeks and the sight really made me laugh. I am such a mean girl.
Then Lindsay called at her brother to climb up the tower. Dylan’s eyes widened with excitement. He called at Peter and Patrick to join him, but the two made fun of him saying that it’s a girls’ tower and if he climbs up, the witches – we – will curse him and he’ll become a girl forever.
“Don’t listen to them, Dylan. They don’t know what they’re saying,” I smiled at Lindsay’s brother. “You can come here anytime.”
“Thanks, Nathalie. You’re always so nice,” he stared at me in a weird way and blushed. I quickly looked in a different direction and felt heatwaves flooding my cheeks. And then I realized the terrible truth: Lindsay’s brother was definitely in love with me. I swallowed hard at that thought and tried to keep my cool.
Luckily, we didn’t have to stay together atop the tower for much longer because the P.E. teacher called us down with a short whistle. He told us to change into our uniforms and come to the main building for breakfast.
When I slid down the pole the two dimwits were still laughing and mocking poor Dylan. It sort of bothered me so I told them to stop it right away. If I had known what would come after, I would have thought about opening my mouth twice…
Later that day when I was going to the girl’s restroom I overheard the conversation that really had me worried. Patrick and Peter were hiding behind a bush, thinking that nobody could hear them. I slowly approached, paying attention not to step on the dry branches laying around.
“I don’t know Patrick… maybe it’s better if we ask the Scout leader first,” Peter said to Patrick.
“Are you crazy? If she knew about our plan she’d lock us in the main building for the rest of the stay at camp!” Patrick shouted at his friend. I still cannot understand how someone like Peter Gallahan can be friends with such a bully. When he’s alone he normally talks to everyone in the class, but when Patrick’s around he becomes this submissive boy I can’t really figure out.
“You’re right, Patrick. You’re absolutely right. Though, I don’t know how to swim,” Peter worried.
“Yeah, I know. You’ll put on the life vest. I saw one in the boathouse.”
“I don’t want to underestimate your plan, but what do we do if we get caught?”
“We won’t get caught.”
“How can you be so sure of that? There’s always someone walking around…”
“There isn’t at night,” said Patrick and even if I didn’t see his face I could imagine the devilish grin he always made when he was up to some mischief.
“I promise I won’t tell anyone, but please don’t make me do this, Patrick,” Peter begged him. He sounded very worried. I thought he’d start crying any moment.
“You were the one who showed me the cabin on the lake! You’re going with me!” Patrick screamed at Peter.
Cabin on the lake? I thought to myself and looked at the lake. At first, I haven’t noticed any cabin, but when the sun came out from behind the clouds I could see a reflection on its metal roof.
“I’m sorry. I shouldn’t have raised my voice. Now go. I need to be alone…”
As soon as I heard what Patrick said I knew I had to disappear. Unfortunately, there was no place to hide so I ran off to the restroom hoping they wouldn’t see me. Once there, I panicked. What am I supposed to do? I put down the lid of the toilet and sat down to think. Something was telling me I should tell my aunt, but I didn’t want to be that girl. It was already enough that Patrick was making fun of me and my ‘boyfriend’, I didn’t need more of his mockery… So, in the end, I decided to keep an eye on the two and not tell anyone about their plans. At the same time, I deeply hoped I wouldn’t eventually regret my decision.
The rest of the day was pretty calm. Maybe it was because we spent all the afternoon fishing by the pond, or maybe because I was too concentrated on observing Peter and Patrick. I was looking forward to finally trying all the new bait techniques I learned from Nathan’s worn-out copy of Fisherman’s Pocket Guide, but when the time to fish finally came I suddenly lost all of the enthusiasm. When Sky told me I forgot to put the bait on the hook for the fourth time in a row, I realized there was really no point in trying to catch any fish. So, after a moment of hesitation (I still wanted to earn the Angler Activity Badge) I have put my rod away and took a walk around the pond. When I approached Patrick and Peter, the two suddenly stopped talking and Patrick looked at me suspiciously as if he knew I heard their conversation. I pretended like nothing happened, but kept my eyes opened in any case.
When the sun set behind the mountains and the night fell on the camp, we brought some chairs from the main building to our campsite and opened our first fire. That night we ate fire-roasted vegetables and enjoyed the warmth of the dancing flames. It would have been an enjoyable and peaceful evening if it wasn’t for our least favorite classmate screaming and whining all the time.
“Do you think he’ll ever change?” Lindsay asked me after Patrick shouted at someone on the other side of the pond.
“I hope he does, but to be honest, it’s very improbable,” I said and looked at Patrick running around the campfire like crazy, giving orders to Peter and Dylan.
“Why does he always have to boss everybody around?” Lindsay kept asking.
“Maybe his parents aren’t nice to him so he has the need to take it out on someone?” I shrugged my shoulders. “My grandma once told me that his mother isn’t a nice person. When I asked why she would think that, she didn’t want to tell me… I think something happened between my grandmother and Patrick’s mom.”
Lindsay sighed heavily and looked at me sadly. “I know I shouldn’t tell you, but I think you should know something, Nat.”
“What should I know?” I asked her with hesitation, afraid of what she was about to say.
“My mom and Patrick’s mother are friends. She comes to our house sometimes. Once I overheard their conversation… I swear I didn’t want to listen, but… but when I heard the name of your grandmother I couldn’t help it…”
“…it seems like she holds a grudge against your family. I’m sorry I upset you, Nat, but I thought you should know.”
“I’m not upset, Lindsay. Thanks for telling me,” I smiled at my friend. The very moment my aunt, followed by Sky and a stranger, sat down by the fire.
“Good evening, ladies,” the man said and looked at me and Lindsay. “I am Bruce Chesterfield, the warden of the local nature reserve and the founder of this camp. So, tell me, how are you enjoying your stay so far?” he asked us, but didn’t give us any time to answer his question. “Oh, I tell you that if I had such a beautiful and amusing Scout leader when I was a Boy Scout,” he continued, looking at my aunt with that look. Was he seriously trying to flirt with her? I thought to myself as I observed the man carefully. “I wouldn’t be probably sitting here with you tonight,” he grinned.
“Oh, Bruce, stop this, please,” my aunt said to him and I could tell her cheeks got a little red. Did she actually like him, too?
“I don’t like this man. He seems strange,” I whispered to Lindsay.
“Yeah, me too. Let’s leave?” she whispered back and after I winked at her we both stood up from our chairs.
“Leaving already? Oh, come on girls! The night is so young! Stay with us for a little longer,” Bruce begged us to stay.
“I hope you do realize that leaving right after someone joined us is very impolite,” my aunt looked at me and Lindsay. “I don’t think Kate would be pleased if she learned about your manners, little lady,” she added while looking straight at me. My aunt has never spoken to me like this ever before. I looked at her uncomprehendingly.
“What’s wrong with you!?” the words slipped out of my mouth so quickly I didn’t even realize what I’ve just said and how bad it sounded.
“I’m so sorry,” I added quickly.
“Nathalie! How dare you talk to me this way!”
“I said I was sorry,” I whispered so softly she probably didn’t hear me.
“Go to your tent and think about your behavior!” she scolded me.
“Can I use the bathroom first?” I dared to ask, but I didn’t get any answer. My aunt was really furious. Everybody sitting by the fire was in shock. At least I knew that whatever intentions Bruce had with my aunt ten minutes ago, he must have changed his mind after this for sure.
When I woke up the next day in the morning I knew that the third day of camp was going to suck. There was no way I could avoid my aunt for the whole day or even for the rest of the summer camp. If nothing, at least I learned that having a Scout leader who is somehow related to you is the worst scenario of them all. Actually, having a parent as the Scout leader would be much worse than that. I love the Scout Club so much, but after what happened yesterday I’m seriously considering leaving the Scouts and taking a ballet class instead.
So, as I predicted, I couldn’t simply avoid her. When I saw my aunt preparing hot-dogs for lunch I suddenly didn’t feel hungry anymore. Besides, I don’t really like dirt-flavored hot-dogs if you ask me. Yep, my aunt is a crappy cook. When my little cousin Lorraine was born and we could finally come to visit, my aunt put salt instead of sugar in everybody’s coffee by accident. My grandpa was the first one to take a sip. I will never forget the look on his face the second before he spat the coffee out of his mouth. Since then, he refuses to eat anything that was prepared by Malika.
In the end, I was obligated to eat the hot-dog. Luckily for me, I didn’t get the one that fell on the ground, but even if I did… what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger, I guess. We spent the afternoon scavenging for more mini-beasts. I have already captured the monarch butterfly, a ladybug, a cockroach, a water beetle and a light beetle, but if I wanted to earn the badge I needed five more species. Dylan finally stopped following me. It’s not that I really minded him, I just… I don’t even know.
When it started getting dark the P.E. teacher blew the whistle three times to call us to the main building. We had a chicken soup for dinner and after the boys cleaned the dishes everybody sat down for a ghost story. Max couldn’t have chosen a better time. It was going to be the full moon that night. Perfect time for ghost stories, don’t you think? I’m sure he did it on purpose.
“Ghost stories are stupid. Plus they are for little kids. Why can’t we do the campfire instead?” Patrick asked Max. He always had something to complain about.
“We’ll do the campfire later, don’t worry, Patrick. If you don’t want to listen to the story, you can go and gather some wood.”
“Yes, alone. It seems to me that everybody else wants to hear the story.”
“Yes, we do! Please!” Dylan, Lindsay, Sky, and Peter said with one voice.
“Well, go already so he can begin,” I told Patrick. He looked at me badly and frowned.
“You’re not my mother to tell me what I should do!” he screamed at me. “Plus, I changed my mind. I want to hear the stupid ghost story,” he added with a calmer tone.
“Ha! You don’t want to go in the wood alone because you’re scared!” I laughed at him.
“We’ll see who’s gonna be scared after the story is over!” Patrick said with high pitched voice. I could tell he was definitely scared, but wouldn’t admit it.
“That’s enough,” Max cut in. “Anyone who doesn’t want to hear the story can leave now,” he said and everybody remained silent. “Good. Peter, could you switch off the lights, please? Thank you.”
Max switched on the torch and pointed it at his mouth from below. The light cast sharp shadows on his face, he looked very creepy walking slowly around the room and speaking with a low voice.
“The story I want to tell you tonight is called The Curse of the Werewolf. Has anyone already heard it?” Max asked us, but nobody spoke. I don’t know if none of us actually heard it or not, but I guess when we heard the name of the story we simply got too scared to speak.
“Good. So, the story begins with a priest who was traveling to a nearby town on business for his church. The priest’s journey across the countryside was long and arduous and, as night grew near, he was forced to set up camp near a dark forest that was reputed to be haunted. During the night, the priest heard a clawing and scratching outside his tent. When he went out to investigate, he was attacked by a wolf…”
“This was a pretty cool story! I’m really sorry for what I said before,” Patrick apologized to Max.
“Apology accepted,” Max smiled at Patrick.
“Hey, Sky, did you hear what Patrick just said?” I asked my friend. It was the first time in forever I heard him apologize. Maybe I was wrong about my classmate after all. Maybe he was a good kid?
“Yeah, he apologized to Max,” she confirmed. “Hey, Nat, the story has really freaked me out. Do you think we could sleep inside tonight? I thought that maybe if you asked the Scout leader… you know, she’s your aunt and all..”
Both Sky and Lindsay were too scared to sleep in the tent that night. I couldn’t really blame them, the story was really scary… but it was just a story. Werewolves don’t exist, do they? The more I thought about it the more they seemed real, so I was glad my aunt let us sleep in the house.
End of Nathalie’s POV
“Why don’t you go and join the boys, Peter?” Max smiled at the boy sitting on the bench next to him.
“I don’t really like campfires that much…”
“Oh, so uh… what else do you like about the Scouts?”
“Learning cool things about nature. Also, I really like using a map and a compass to navigate and go on adventures,” Peter said happily. “My parents never take me camping. I’ve never been on a hike… My dad is almost never home. He travels a lot. I never wanna be a famous basketball player like him,” he added with a sad smile. “But he came to the bus with me, he’s really proud I’m a Boy Scout!” Peter cheered, smiling from ear to ear.
“And what about your mother? Does she like the outdoors?” Max asked, concerned.
“Not really. She enjoys staying at home. Besides, now she has to take care of my baby sister, so she doesn’t have time for me. Luckily I have also an older sister, Jessica, she helps me with my homework and sometimes we cook dinner together…”
“Come on, Peter. Just one more day and we’re going on a hiking trip in the mountains!” Max tried to cheer him up.
“I know, I’m looking forward so much!” Peter said excitedly, jumped off the bench and walked towards the campfire. Max followed him.
“Alright, boys, time to hit the sack!”
“But we’re not tired yet!” Patrick protested.
“Can we please stay by the fire for a little longer?” Dylan begged Max.
“Well, if you promise to me that you won’t add any more wood to the fire and properly extinguish it when you go to sleep, then I could let you stay a bit longer,” Max told them. Patrick looked at Peter and winked at him.
“We promise! Right, guys?” Dylan asked the two.
“Sure!” Peter and Patrick said with one voice.
“Alright then! Don’t stay up too late,” told them Max and walked towards the restrooms.
“Go get more wood, Dylan,” Patrick started giving orders the moment Max left.
“But the teacher said-”
“Who cares about what he said! Didn’t you say you weren’t sleepy? We need more wood to keep the fire alive,” Patrick mischievously smiled at him.
“Oh, I see,” he said and headed towards the wood.
“Where’s Dylan?” Max asked the two.
“He went to the bathroom,” Peter and Patrick said with one voice.
“Oh really? I didn’t see him there,” Max looked at the boys suspiciously.
“He went behind that bush over there,” Peter blurted out, pointing at Dylan walking towards a bush at the border of the wood.
“Well, tell him to use the restrooms next time,” told him Max and entered his tent. “Good night boys!”
“Night night!” the two said, victoriously smiling at each other and as soon as Max closed the zipper of his tent, Patrick and Peter ran away.
“Come on! Let’s go! Get in the boat, Petey!”
“Wait, Patrick. I need the life vest. I cannot swim!”
“Argh! Why didn’t you think about it before? We cannot risk going back! Dylan could see us!”
“He won’t. Look, he’s over there,” told him Peter and pointed his finger at Dylan still searching for logs near the wood.
“Fine. But you go alone. I’m going to wait here. If you don’t get back in five minutes I’m going alone!”
“You won’t get far without the rowing oars!” Peter giggled.
“Shoot! You’re right, man!” Patrick facepalmed. “Fine, let’s go back to the boathouse. Quickly!”
“This one is too big, I need a smaller one!”
“Wait. Here, try this one on,” said Patrick and handed a blue life vest over to Peter.
“Great. Now, where the heck are the oars?!”
“I saw a couple leaning on the side of the boathouse,” Peter said to Patrick.
“Fine, Let’s grab them and let’s bounce!”
“Come on, jump in the boat!”
“Wait, I’ll rather take my shoes and shorts off as well… wouldn’t… want… them… to get wet… in case… the boat turns over,” said Peter while he was undressing.
“Oh my god, Petey! It won’t turn over!” Patrick facepalmed again. “Can you please get in so we can finally go?”
“Okay, I’m ready.”
“Fine. Let’s go.”
“Do you think this is gonna be enough, guys? Guys?!”
“So, what exactly are we gonna do when we get there?” Peter asked his friend.
“Take a look around?”
“Well, that’s pretty obvious. I was rather interested in what we’re going to do if someone lives there?”
“I’m pretty sure it’s abandoned. Who would live in a cabin in the middle of a lake?”
“Hmm, lemme think. A serial killer?”
“Yeah, right. Or a werewolf.”
“Look, Dylan’s back at the fire!” Peter pointed his hand towards the camp.
“He looks like a little ant running around and desperately searching for the stick he dropped,” Patrick sneered.
“What if he tells the P.E. teacher?” Peter worried.
“What could he tell him? That we went to sleep? Come on, Dylan has no idea. He probably thinks we went to sleep already because it took him too long. Man, he’s really slow when it comes to gathering wood.”
“Don’t be so mean, Patrick. He probably couldn’t find any because we picked most of it for yesterday’s fire… Plus it’s dark.”
“If he was a little smarter, he’d use his torch… Whatever. I still think he’s slow.”
“See? I told you this place was abandoned,” Patrick said to Peter when they jumped out of the boat on the weathered wooden pier.
“It doesn’t look abandoned to me,” Peter told him worriedly. “The light’s on. And there’s a rowboat tied to the pole.”
“The light is probably there so nobody crashes in the pier at night… and who knows how long the boat’s been here. It looks very old.”
“If you think so…”
“Come on, Petey. Let’s check out the cabin!” Patrick exclaimed and ran towards the door. When he was a meter away, a light by the door switched on, revealing a shovel hanging on the wall. As soon as Peter saw the shovel, he freaked out.
“I told you that it was a hideout of a serial killer!” he yelled in fright and pulled his hair.
“There’s nobody living here!” Patrick screamed at him, trying to calm down his friend. The very same moment a tall, dark figure appeared behind them.
“Looking for someone, boys?” a deep, smoky voice asked them from behind their backs.
“Oh my gosh! We’re going to die! She’s wearing gloves!!!” Peter squealed as soon as he turned around and saw a woman dressed in black from head to toe.
“Who are you and what do you want from us?” Patrick asked the woman, trying to play the brave one.
“Don’t you think I should be asking you that question, boy?” the woman said coldly.
“Oh my gosh, Patrick! Let’s get out of here!” Peter begged Patrick and hid behind him.
“I think you should listen to your friend, Patrick.”
“Why should I listen to him? You cannot do anything to us!”
“Well, I wouldn’t be so sure about that…,” she said, put her hands together and flexed her fingers. Peter decided it was a high time he left. He quickly ran past the stranger and when he got at the end of the pier he jumped in the water, forgetting he didn’t know how to swim.
“Oh, no!” Patrick called out. “He cannot swim!” he freaked out when he saw Peter be carried away by the current.
“Then you should hurry up and save him before he drowns,” the woman told him calmly. “Oh, and say hello to Max for me.”
“Okay,” Patrick blurted out. He jumped in the rowboat and paddled as fast as he could to help Peter out of the water. Unfortunately, he soon lost the visual contact with his friend. He nervously looked around, but Peter was nowhere to be seen. Patrick panicked. He put his hand in the water to feel the temperature. It was ice cold. If he didn’t find him soon, his friend could die of hypothermia… assuming he didn’t drown first.
“Petey! Petey!” he called out his name desperately, but Peter didn’t call back. Patrick got very worried about his friend. He understood he couldn’t find him on his own so he started paddling towards the shore to get help. Though, the way there wasn’t as easy as he thought it would be. The wind was blowing straight in his face and the current was taking him towards the opposite side of the lake. It took him nearly forty minutes to get back to camp.
Completely exhausted, Patrick reached his destination at last and hurried to wake up the teacher. Max got up immediately.
“Patrick! What are you still doing outside? And why are you wet?” Max asked him with a sleepy voice.
“I did something terrible! It’s Petey, he’s going to die if we don’t save him! He jumped in the lake! He cannot swim! The water is frozen! You have to find him soon! I don’t know where he is!” Patrick blurted out so quickly, swallowing half of the words.
“You’re not making any sense, Patrick! Calm down and tell me what happened!” Max urged him to talk slower.
“Yesterday, Petey showed me the cabin on the lake and I really wanted to go and explore it. We waited for you to go to sleep and then we sent Dylan to get more wood for the fire so we could get in the boat unnoticed and head for the island. When we got there, we saw the shovel and Petey freaked out. Then this strange woman that knows your name appeared out of nowhere. She really scared us. When Petey saw her gloves he thought she was a serial killer so he jumped in the water to swim away, but he forgot he cannot swim! I quickly jumped in the boat and paddled towards him, but then suddenly, he disappeared from the surface! I’m so sorry! Please, tell me he’s gonna be alright!”