Positivity Camp Part XI
Positivity Camp is back! I know, it’s only been like a week or two, but still… There’s mischief afoot, of course, as campers plot the camp’s downfall.
"May I have your attention, please!"
The call startled us all, some more than others. I turned around from the lunch line in time to see some kid's soup bowl strike the ground. Luckily, there was no soup in it, but that only made the bowl clatter around more before it started awkwardly rolling. The sound certainly silenced everyone better than the call to attention had. I had to give the kid credit for just letting it roll rather than chasing it down. With so many of us in line, I wasn't even sure who had dropped it.
"Thank you." It was Mr. Petrel who had spoken before. As the bowl came to a stop, he gave our group a level look before turning to address the bulk of the campers who were already back at their tables and eating.
"As you may already know, several new words have been added to the list of forbidden words. After lunch, we would customarily send you to the cabins for an hour of rest, however," he paused as though judging how captivated his audience was. "However, I think it wise you all become familiar with the sign and the words. Therefore, each Counselor will take their campers to the boards outside of camp so that everyone might observe the changes."
There were several groans, and not all of them came from the campers.
"Furthermore!" The word brought silence back to the hall. "The verb 'to know' will also be added, but only in its present tense. To avoid confusion, it is suggested the word be replaced with 'to understand'. Is that understood, campers?" There were a few weak replies, so he asked again.
"Very good. Lastly, our dear nurse, Pamela, has fallen ill and has retired early for today."
I shook my head at the latest announcement. Not only did I not believe that she had fallen ill, but Mr. Petrel had called her Pamela instead of Pam. Could no one be consistent at this camp?
As such, all disruptive campers will be sent to Teacher. That is all for this afternoon's announcements." Mr. Petrel nodded at the seated campers and then the Counselors before leaving the dining hall.
The moment the door closed, the hall erupted in noise as everyone rushed to talk first. I immediately turned back around as I focused on getting as much food as possible so I wouldn't have to get up again.
Did you notice everyone was staring at us?" Wendy asked in a harsh whisper as she made it back to the table and sat beside me. I was going to respond, but she kept talking. So, I picked up my dinner roll instead.
"First when Teacher came over here, and then the bowl, but especially when Mr. Petrel called us out... Well?!"
"Hm?" I asked, my mouth full of roll.
Wendy sighed. "Did you notice people staring at us?"
swallowed as I fought to give an answer. "No-tably...so?" I frowned as I tried to remember if notably was even a word. It seemed to fit with 'so', but Wendy had an unreadable expression that made me doubt myself, and I had felt so clever too for finding a way around my initial error of saying 'no'.
"Mhm. Well," she continued, "they were."
“Makes sense," I said, taking another bite of my roll.
"You're just going to keep eating?" Wendy glared at me then.
I kept chewing. I didn't want her mad at me, but I didn't know what else to do. We could talk and eat, after all. So, why shouldn't I keep eating? Besides, it was the Dining Hall after all. I felt obliged to answer, so I shrugged to show my confusion and finished off my dinner roll.
"You ought to keep your voice down or Teacher'll come back," Kayla warned as she sat down across from us. She was closely followed by Abigail.
"Kayla! Finally, someone sensible to talk to!"
"Hmph!" My protest came out muffled as I had already started on my second dinner roll. Besides, how was Kayla, the girl who had wandered off alone suddenly the sensible one?
Wendy ignored me. So did Kayla.
"Thanks!" Kayla practically beamed at Wendy.
"You have to tell us what you did while you were gone," Wendy pressed. Several of us leaned in as Kayla began.
"Hahaha, I kn-" Wendy suddenly took on a serious expression as she too almost said a forbidden word. "I understand," she said instead with a wink.
The two girls burst out laughing.
"What's so funny?" Abigail asked.
"I'll explain later," Kayla said, wiping tears from her eyes.
"Oh, ok." Abigail said softly. She gave a quick smile before starting at her plate of food.
"It's a bit complicated with the limited speech is all." Kayla rushed to explain.
"Oh! All right," Abigail said with a sincere smile this time.
"Oh, please tell us what you were up to already!" Wendy begged.
More faces turned to listen in as Kayla began again.
"Well, I went around the tower and quickly found a trail. There's so much overgrowth on the trails I could barely see you guys. Anyways, that’s where I met, Tyler.”
“Yo,” Tyler said, tilting his head so we’d all know who he was.
Kayla giggled. “He’s awesome, right?! Anyway, Tyler saw me sneak out of the group and he followed. He used to go here, back when this camp belonged to Mr. McGregor. There’s a ton of cool stuff back there that I doubt even the adults know about!”
“We may be able to use that…” Wendy said.
“Yeah, but the adults’re keeping an awfully close eye on us,” someone else noted.
“Good,” Wendy said with her awesomely wicked grin. “They’ll be too focused on us to pay attention to the other groups.”
“What do you mean?” I asked, curious to know what Wendy had been up to while we had been separated.
“But what’s back there?” Brian asked.
Wendy gave me a conspiratory wink, but then turned back to the newest question.
"They had a rope course back there," Tyler said, taking charge. "The old camp used it for races or sometimes for team building exercises."
"Exactly!" Kayla continued, cutting Tyler off in her excitement. "And that's where I found Tyler."
"I thought you left together?" I asked.
"Where did your food go?!" Wendy asked in shock. She must have realized I had stopped talking with my mouth full.
"Nah, I snuck off after we were told to go sit by the tower. I knew the old trails, so I figured I could sneak back before Coach even noticed."
"That's so cool!" Wendy said, apparently completely over my empty plate.
"Did they have anything we could use?" I asked.
"What do you mean?" Kayla asked.
I looked at Kayla, my mind blank. I had only asked to get Wendy’s attention back on me and not perfect Tyler.
"Good idea," Wendy said, unintentionally coming to my aid. "We could really use some help in tripping the Counselors up. We've been using words to break the rules, but they just make them forbidden. Eventually we will run out of words. So, how else can we trip them up? Make them break their own rules and see how ridiculous they are?"
"Does the old camp have any traps?" I asked lamely.
"There's an old mud trail," Tyler said slowly. "people used to lose shoes and things in the mud all the time. Would that work?"
"Is it avoidable? Could they just walk around?" Kayla asked as she rejoined the conversation.
"Yeah, they could. The mud is pretty obvious," Tyler said, frowning.
"What about the old trails?" Brian asked. His voice made us all look around cautiously.
"Keep your voice down," Wendy warned. "Now what do you mean?"
"Where else do they go?"
"We followed them all the way to the art barn," Kayla said. "We saw you out back, Wendy..."
"Oh," Wendy said slowly. "Then you saw?"
"I'd have screamed too," Kayla said comfortingly.
"Why did you scream? What did he do?" I asked, furious for leaving Wendy behind.
She laughed uneasily.
"The back of the barn is covered with spider webs," Kayla said slowly.
"Not just webs," Wendy replied with a shiver.
"Poisonous ones?" Abigail asked, her eyes wide with fear.
"I tried not to look. I screamed because I thought one jumped on me. Then something moved in the bushes..."
"Sorry," Kayla apologized. "I wanted to help, but then that Teacher guy came out."
"Yeah." Wendy shivered again.
"Wait," I said, an idea forming. "The trail led to the barn?"
"Not sure how that helps anything, but-" Kayla was cut off as Abigail shushed her.
"I see you found your way back to the group, Daniel."
I didn't have to turn around to know that it was Teacher who had spoken from behind me. I turned around anyway, since he was talking to me.
"I thought I had made it clear that you and miss Wendy were to be separated. This shall be remedied right now. You and the camper you were with earlier are to join Dave's group. I'm sure you are familiar with Counselor Dave?"
"Yes, sir." I decided not to argue. What would be the point? Besides, I still had my awesome idea running through my mind, distracting me.
Brian bolted at the command. I moved quickly, but not as quickly as I could have. Spiders didn't scare me, and besides, I had an idea on how to take care of creepy ol’ Teacher.