I hope you’re having a great Friday! I don’t know about you, but I’m pretty excited about this week’s Positivity Camp story. Don’t worry, I won’t give anything away on this late-night adventure away from the camp. :) The ending isn’t far off now. In case anyone was wondering how far off it is…I don’t know. I’ve been pantsing it the whole time (Basically writing without an outline / winging it). It’s close, though. So close.
If you’re new to Positivity Camp, then you’re in for a treat! Although, I do recommend starting from the beginning. The story is about a camp that forbids negative words so that campers can have a more positive outlook on life. It isn’t easy avoiding words like: no, not (and any contraction thereof), the prefix un-, less than, bad, never, etc. The list of forbidden words doesn’t sit too well with campers Daniel and Wendy. Together, they plan to take down the camp.
Sound interesting? Here’s a link to the beginning of their adventure: Positivity Camp Part I
Previously on Positivity Camp: Daniel decides not to head back to read House Joy’s true name and Tyler tells him there were no names for the cabins. The group heads out after nearly choking on a cloud of bug spray.
We were quiet for the first few minutes as we all focused on the light ahead of us and putting our feet down without tripping all over ourselves. Then, as the excitement of our dangerous adventure began kicking in, everyone began talking. Even I made the mistake of joining in.
Aside from Tyler, we all wanted to know where we were going, what to expect, what we would eat, where we would sleep, how long until we reached the house, and so on. We only had to shush ourselves a few times. Then the question about the girls and if they were going to join us came up.
“I don't think they will,” I said. “There was no way to tell them when we moved out. The original plan was to wait until later in the night, but once you guys are out, Tyler and I will go back-”
A flashlight flicked on, illuminating the line of us. Then, just as quickly, it turned off. The air felt still as we froze in our tracks. The only sound I heard was the beating of my heart. Slowly, Tyler, or whoever had the flashlight in the front of the group, lifted the shielded light up to where the other light had been.
“You guys are too loud.”
It was Wendy!! I would know that voice anywhere! A second later the shielded light reached her scowling face.
“Wendy!” my voice creaked as my nerves got the best of me.
She shushed me.
“I'm glad to hear you were going to come back for us, but that's really not necessary. We're all here now. Tyler, did you want to keep leading?”
“I'm the only one who can,” he said smugly. Even from the back of the line I thought I could hear the girls sigh. What did they see in that guy anyway?
“From here on out, we need to stay silent unless absolutely necessary.”
“Who put you in charge?” one of the guys in our group protested. “And shield your light next time!”
There were several shouts from both sides from those that agreed and those that disagreed. This was followed immediately by a round of shushing.
Wendy started to say something as we quieted down, but she abruptly stopped. She quickly shushed someone who tried to speak. The tone of her shush silenced us all and put me on edge.
She spoke then, but it was too quiet for me to hear, and no one thought to pass the message along. So, I kept quiet and tried to move closer. All the while I strained to hear for anything abnormal.
Off in the distance, I heard what sounded like twigs breaking. The sound came from the direction of the entrance to our trail. At least, I thought it was the same direction. It was so dark, and we had taken a few turns already. I bit my lip and kept quiet, terrified that Counselor Markus had followed after me and that I had doomed the whole escape and all for a dumb sign that hadn't covered anything!
“Coyote,” someone said, loud enough for us all to hear. Someone else chuckled nervously, but then we all went quiet as we heard a bark. It was a muffled sort of bark anyway, and suddenly the idea of a coyote didn't seem so absurd. The hairs stood up on the back of my neck. We couldn't stay here. The sound had seemed distant, but not nearly distant enough.
“Tyler, if there are coyotes, we need to get to water. They'll lose our sent in water!” I spoke as loud as I dared and somehow my message was heard.
We began moving at once. No one cared about going single file any longer. We went down the trail in a tight cluster as we all kept trying to be in the center of the group and not out on the perimeter. Everyone now held a shielded light. Despite my own fears of being discovered by a counselor, I couldn’t deny the safety I felt in having light all around me.
We made good time down the hill, and my fear about our flashlights began to fade. No one spoke as we half-ran and half-tumbled down the hill. I even ignored the webs that clung to my hair and face.
After a short while, the path became more treacherous as we started hitting slick patches of mud. I fell twice on my own, but then someone pulled me down with them. A few quick fights broke out as others were pulled down, but for the most part we kept quiet and kept moving. In no time, we were all covered in mud.
Our movement slowed considerably as we had to start going off path to try and find solid dry ground. Only, there wasn't any. Several others lost their shoes as the mud thickened and deepened. Someone jumped over a log and landed chest deep in a pool of it.
The trapped camper called for help as he squirmed. Bugs, too light to sink, skittered across the pool of mud. A few tried to use the log for support as they pulled on the trapped kids arms, but it wasn’t working. He was stuck. I'd have gone to help, but I had a problem of my own. My left leg had sunk knee deep down in the mud as I had tried to free my right foot. I couldn't move either.
“Tyler! You've led us to the mud trail!” One of the girls wailed. Kayla maybe? She would have been the one, I remembered, who had gone off exploring with Tyler earlier. If anyone knew the trails and where we were, it would be either her or Tyler.
“I know, but it'll slow the dingoes down too.”
Dingoes? Dingoes were from the outback...from Australia! In a moment of rage, I realized Tyler wasn't taking this seriously.
“Kayla, you take the lead,” I hissed. “It doesn't matter how many of us make it out. It just matters that someone make it. Go!”
“No, you don't understand!”
An animal growled close by. Dingo or coyote, whatever it was, it was next to us!
The first growl stopped as another animal barked at the first. I didn’t know if coyotes or dingoes barked, but it was clear they were working together. We were surrounded by a pack of the things. I pulled my flashlight out from under my shirt and swung it around. I was too scared to focus it properly and wound up waving it around uselessly. Someone else did a better job and pointed the light on a canine face.
Every light focused on it.
It snarled at us, and we all screamed. The animal howled its frustration. It clearly didn't like the mud, and its packmates didn't either.
Someone whistled. The sound was so shrill it cut through our terrified screams. The dingo-dogs yelped but retreated.
No, I realized, they weren't retreating.
“No,” I said into the silence that followed the end of that shrill whistle.
“Yes,” came the cold answer from the shadows. The dark form quickly became illuminated by every mud smeared flashlight our little band carried. I knew before the light hit him that it was Teacher we faced. The lighting only made him more eerie and terrifying. He loomed over us like a forest dwelling haunt that consumed the souls of lost and trapped children.
“How?” I said. We were caught. We couldn't even run if we wanted to, with our legs and our shoes stuck in the mud.
“Tyler, howcouldyou?” Kayla wailed. The light shifted to Tyler as one by one we all looked at him. He didn't look guilty, he looked smug.
“You should've followed the rules,” he said with a cool kid shrug. None of the girls smiled or sighedthis time, and I doubted they ever would again.