Positivity Camp is drawing to a close, and I can honestly say, I’m very glad to see it ending. Don’t get me wrong, it’s been fun, but it’s also been a long journey. It’ll be nice to get back to the usual routine. Besides, there’s still Ryac and The Dark Mage to return to.
For those of you who are concerned over the fate of Positivity Camp, I’ll be working throughout the year to edit and revise the chapters. With a story this long, I already know there are several continuity errors that need fixing. I usually despise editing, but oddly enough, I’m looking forward to making the story flow better and to flesh out different characters more. The main plot will stay the same, but you can be sure there will be some interesting developments in the final version.
Until the final piece is done, I hope you’ll enjoy this the second to last chapter of Positivity Camp.
Previously on Positivity Camp: Daniel and Wendy fled the burning barn and arrived at a cluster of cabins. They waited for the counselors and campers to leave before taking down the plaques with false names for the cabins.
Wendy’s cleverness never ceased to amaze Daniel. As he thought of the signs floating down the river with the ridiculous names, he couldn’t help but wonder who might discover them. Would a fisherman see a sign for House Cheer or Smiles? Would a child wandering out to his local creek find one and wonder at the meaning of Elation and why someone would etch it onto a sign?
Daniel chuckled to himself at the possibilities, and when Wendy asked what he was thinking, he gladly shared his thoughts. They both laughed then, though they were careful not to be too loud.
“Did you see the true names?” Wendy asked as they ran down the path to the boy’s cabins.
“No, I think I tried a few times, but the lighting wasn’t right,” Daniel replied, a bit dismayed as the thought back to it. Despite that, he couldn’t help but feel like he’d accomplished far more than the simple removal of a few false names. It felt invigorating to be liberating everyone from the harsh rules of Head Counselor Petrel and Teacher.
“I saw a few,” Wendy said as she slowed her pace. “There was Tethys, Thea and uh…Mnemo…Mnemosyne? I’m not really sure how to pronounce that last one.”
As Wendy pondered the last name’s pronunciation, Daniel couldn’t help but ask if she thought the names were also of Greek Titans as he recalled a Jiminy, the million questions kid, saying something like that about their own cabin name Prometheus.
“Oh! I bet they are!” Wendy agreed joyously. “I’d almost forgotten about that. It’s so lame of them to have hidden such fun names. When I get out of here, I’m going to research them.”
“I’m going to research what this place was before it was turned into this nightmare,” Daniel declared.
“We’ll have to share our research,” Wendy said.
Daniel agreed, but then he stopped short. They’d almost reached the boy’s cabins and were one step closer to liberating the titan names, but he suddenly remembered one of the questions he’d meant to ask Wendy. There were a lot, he knew, but this one had him stumped.
“You know why I’m here at camp, but why are you here?”
Wendy stopped in her tracks. It took her several seconds to reply and Daniel could tell she was reliving an unpleasant memory. “My parents don’t even know this, but I’m bullied at school. Most of the teacher’s turn a blind eye, at least they do until I strike back. I’ve never used my fists, but I know how to words.”
Daniel waited for Wendy to continue.
“There’s one teacher…he’s cruel…he actually encourages one of the boys to hit me.”
“What?! That can’t be! You have to tell your parents.”
“It’s true. And I can’t. They have enough problems, if similar ones, with the places they work. It’s a good school, too. If I can get through it, I’ll be better off than most.”
“That isn’t right,” Daniel said, more perplexed than ever. “Why are they picking on you anyway? You’re so clever and smart!”
Wendy smiled, despite her thoughts. “It’s the way I look,” she said slowly.
“What’s wrong with the way you look?” Daniel tried looking more closely in the dark, but that failed. “You looked fine to me earlier, and I don’t think you look any different now, except your clothes are probably still a bit wet like mine.”
Wendy giggled. “You mean it, don’t you? It’s not the way I dress,” she said slowly. “It’s my skin color.”
Now it was Daniel’s turn to be silent. “What’s wrong with that? So, what if you have dark skin! Lots of people do. You’re so clever and intelligent. You make the counselors trip all over themselves, it’s great! How can they not see how great you are?”
Wendy sniffled a bit and Daniel shut his mouth. He wasn’t sure if what he had said was making things better or worse, so he stayed quiet. When Wendy suggested a different topic, he did his best to find one to talk about. Unfortunately, he found himself asking one similar to the first one.
“How did you know about the bully, the girl at school, and about me?” Daniel regretted the question immediately. He tried reading Wendy’s expression, but the darkness didn’t help, though the fire that still raged off in the distance gave off plenty of light.
Wendy was silent for a while before she finally spoke. “You really don’t know, do you?”
“Know what?” Daniel shifted nervously from foot to foot. Wendy’s tone had him on edge again. He wasn’t sure what was worse, her tone now or her sniffling. Being out in the open didn’t help quell his rising panic.
“I’m not sure…What I mean to say is…Do you know Abigail?”
“Uh…” It took Daniel a few seconds to remember who he thought Wendy was referring to. “You mean the really shy girl? Or was she the one who ran off to explore?”
“No, she’s the shy one. Do you recognize her from anywhere?”
Daniel frowned. He tried to remember, but he couldn’t recall having met Abigail before. He shrugged.
“Wow. I’m not sure if I’m more impressed or upset with you right now.”
“What did I do?” Daniel protested.
“Abigail’s the girl you defended, you dolt! She’s in your class!” Wendy shook her head. “It’s impressive that you would stand up for someone you don’t know. But how could you not recognize her?!” Wendy huffed angrily and started walking briskly toward the cabins.
It took Daniel a few seconds to recover from his confusion enough to walk. He decided to let the topic drop though he started thinking back to the few times he had been around Abigail at camp. He certainly couldn’t remember seeing her at school. Then he forgot about it entirely as they arrived at the cabins.
The area was empty of counselors and campers, much as the two of them had suspected. They didn’t speak as they once again liberated the cabins of their false names. It wasn’t clear why they didn’t talk, except that they both had a lot to think about. Besides being absorbed in thought, there was also the looming fear of being overheard by a potential hidden microphone.
As they worked, Daniel noted the names of the cabins as he unveiled them. He saw Oceanus, Cronus, Hyperion, and more. Each unveiling left him smiling as he felt he was liberating the titans from their despairingly false names.
Their silent work was interrupted a few times by the blaring of distant sirens. As they worked, the distant fire of the barn faded and then went out. As it did, the two rogue campers finished with the cabins and had a small pile of wooden signs stacked on the path.
Wendy may have known of the small stream near the girl’s cabin, but Daniel didn’t know of any near his. Without a river to dump the signs in, Daniel and Wendy were at a loss on what to do. Together, they stared at the pile.
Daniel was the first to come up with a new plan. When he had one, he looked up, met Wendy’s eyes and nodded confidently. Then he picked up as many signs as he could carry and left the rest for Wendy. Together, they started on their way. When Daniel felt they were far enough away from any microphones, he began to whisper his plan to Wendy.
“I’m thinking we should take these to the river,” he suggested.
“Sure,” Wendy said quickly, cutting him off before he could say more. “Let’s do that.” While she spoke, her head shook. At first the action confused Daniel as it conflicted with her words, but as Wendy nodded toward the signs, Daniel understood her caution.
“From the river, let’s go toward that light we saw,” Daniel said as he too shook his head.
“Agreed,” Wendy whispered back. She smiled this time and Daniel quickly found himself doing the same.
They never went toward the river, but instead Daniel took them on a different path that looped far around the barn and had them heading toward the nature center. The more they walked, the more heavily their breathing came. The signs had felt heavy before, but now they felt heavier still.
The only thing that kept them going was the distraction of police and emergency vehicle lights that they saw occasionally through the trees. Many of them seemed to be located near the old art barn, but it was difficult to tell. There was also a buzz in the air, but neither camper dared to communicate what they thought it was, though they were able to make the other understand they heard it too.
Soaked through with sweat, if not from their swim in the lake, the two finally arrived at the giant rock-climbing tower. Daniel and Wendy dropped their signs at the same time. They also likely cringed at the same time as the sound of board striking board filled their ears, but it was too dark for either of them to tell.
Daniel rushed forward and pulled the tool he’d taken from the barn out of his pocket. In the faint light, he was able to make out it was indeed a wire cutter he’d pocketed. They had the forest behind them and the tower in front of them. Daniel remembered seeing the two double doors on the other side with a padlock, but he first inspected the secluded side of the tower first. He was hoping to avoid going out onto the open field and being spotted. There were still plenty of flashing lights wandering around and he’d heard again the sound of dogs off in the distance.
Luck was on Daniel’s side for he found a simple door on the forested side of the tower. With the minimal light, it took him longer than he liked to locate the padlock. It took even longer for him to cut it off. His muscles were already weak from carrying the pile of wooden signs and by the time the lock snapped, his muscles burned with over use.
As the lock broke, Daniel flipped the latch and swung the door open wide. Surprisingly, the door had no spiderwebs. He hoped the interior would be the same. Wendy came up behind him. She had all the signs in her arms. Seeing this, Daniel rushed to get out of her way as she went to dump them inside the tower.
A light flashed on, temporarily blinding Daniel and Wendy. They froze, halfway in and halfway out of the tower. When nothing immediately happened, they both looked around. Wendy made a humming sound and Daniel flinched. Then he looked and saw the motion sensor light located inside the tower. As Wendy rushed in, Daniel grabbed the door and closed it tight behind them. Then he rushed to help Wendy unload her burden.
“That was awful!” she groaned as she leaned back against the door. Unlike the rest of the wooden tower, the room they were in was in much better upkeep. The floor was concrete, and the walls were clean and clear of webbing.
“This looks like a store room,” Daniel said, looking around. He saw harnesses, rope, helmets, and a slew of other rock-climbing equipment. He also noticed a maintenance ladder.
“I’d say we were lucky,” Daniel continued. “I was worried we might have to deal with more spiders, but this isn’t so bad. And look, we can wait out the night up there.” He pointed at the ceiling where he spotted a latch that no doubt opened onto the roof of the tower.
“We’ll have to wait for…” Wendy stopped in time to keep from saying light. She nodded at it instead and then nodded at the signs.
Daniel sighed his understanding.
“Help me get this on?” Wendy asked as she pulled a harness off the wall. “I’ll help you next.”
“That’s probably a good idea,” Daniel said, eyeing the tall climb to the top of the tower.
“I know. Now let’s hurry. I want to see what’s going on!” As her voice rose above a whisper, she looked around nervously.
Once more the two worked in silence. It took several tries to get their harnesses on, and neither felt particularly confident that they had them on properly. Still, they felt safer as they had harnesses and the lobster claw clasps. They used the clasps to latch onto the metal ladder and began to climb. When they reached the top rungs, they stopped. Daniel was first so he worked to unlock and ready the latch. It took very little time for him to figure it out. With that prepared, they had nothing else to do but wait for the light below them to go out. After agonizing minutes of waiting, it finally turned off.
The moment it did, Daniel opened the latch and climbed out. He forgot how dark it was and had trouble trying to help Wendy. He was even more surprised to find it was Wendy who helped him unlatch his lobster claw hooks and get him settled on one of the security wires that went around the top of the tower’s perimeter. She was done with her own and had the latch closed before Daniel’s vision had adjusted.
“How did you do that?” he whispered in admiration.
“See. How did you see? I was blind after that light went out.”
“Oh, that’s easy. I knew my eyes would have to adjust, so I closed them and shielded them from the light as I waited. I read about it in a pirate book once. That’s what eye patches were for. Or at least, that’s what they were for when you didn’t lose an eye,” she said with a brief laugh.
“Pirate,” Daniel said, bemused by the whole idea. Wendy chuckled again. They sat there and enjoyed a cool breeze. They would have sat there forever had they not heard dogs barking nearby.
“Trouble,” Wendy said. As she spoke, she inched closer to the edge for a look at the ground around the tower.
“Best spot to keep lookout,” Daniel replied as he too looked over the edge.
“Agreed. What do you think will happen now?”
“Camp will be closed,” Daniel said smugly. “There’s no way it won’t. There was a fire, campers went missing, and well, it just can’t stay open.”
Almost as if to accentuate his point, the sound of more sirens rang out, briefly ending their conversation. They watched as flashing blue and red lights lit up the night. Despite the lights and the arrival of more officers, much of the night went by without any further surprises for Daniel or Wendy. They finally had time to talk as they both asked the questions they’d been unable to ask during the day, either due to a lack of time, security, or a lack of being around each other.
Daniel learned more about Wendy and the books she read. He also learned how the girls were always one step ahead. Apparently, their restrooms were a storehouse of knowledge as previous campers wrote or etched messages on the walls. The bathroom was also apparently the gossip house for the whole camp and was also where Wendy had heard Abigail and Daniel’s story. Besides messages of woe that were written on the walls, including one about a boy named Ty (whom Wendy had later suspected to be short for Tyler), one message had claimed they’d found Teacher’s true name.
Kayla had found the message and had left the group in search of an answer in Head Counselor Petrel’s office. Kayla hadn’t returned for dinner, and just as a counselor began suspiciously counting the members in her group, Wendy had used that moment to taunt Teacher with the name. It had kept Kayla’s absence from being discovered, but it had cost Wendy a nasty visit with Mr. Petrel. Despite all the trouble, Wendy confessed that she still didn’t know if Creton Maleficus was Teacher’s real name. Kayla, unfortunately, had failed in her search.
Just as Daniel and Wendy were talking about ways to keep in touch, since they still believed camp to be ending, a spotlight lit up the tower. They were soon discovered, and officers found the back door they’d used to reach the secluded roof. Before they reached them, Daniel, with Wendy’s help, hid the wire cutters he’d used to break into the tower. It wasn’t a perfect hiding spot, Wendy had said, but she hoped it would be enough for plausible deniability later. Daniel had readily agreed.
The first officer to reach them was Kevin’s father. Far from being angry, annoyed, upset, or any of the other emotions the two campers had anticipated facing, the officer was practically beaming with joy. He spoke barely above a whisper as he cautioned them to remain silent and wait for their parents and a lawyer. Then he thanked them, though for what, he didn’t say. Then he spoke more loudly over his radio, saying he had the children and yes, they were two of the ones who had gone missing.
After being taken down from the tower, Wendy and Daniel were separated. Daniel learned that his parents had been called and that the camp was under investigation until further notice. A week later, after a few talks with officers and real psychiatrists, Daniel heard nothing more about the camp.
His parents continuously shifted the topic away from the camp and monitored all of Daniel’s online activity. Ever since leaving Positivity Camp, he’d been cut off from contact with the other campers. He was desperate for news. Now, his only hope in contact lay with the new school year. He hoped Abigail would be there. He hoped the girls’ mysterious network of communication would still be open. He hoped for news on Wendy and the camp.