Then end is upon us. Well, what I meant to say is that the end to Positivity Camp is upon us. There’s still a lot I’d like to add and tweak with this story, so if you’ve enjoyed it thus far, be prepared for extras and more as I work on editing and publishing this story. Editing, I’ve learned, takes a long time for me – roughly two years. (I spend about 2-3 months editing, cutting, adding, and filling plot holes. From there, I usually find an editor to search for spelling and grammar mistakes, and then I do another round of edits.)
What I don’t know is how the cover is going to look. If you have an idea of what you’d like to see on the cover, feel free to share your idea in the comments!
I don’t know about the rest of you, but when it comes to saying goodbye to a story, it’s never easy for me. Just know that there is more to look forward to as I make this story more complete.
Previously on Positivity Camp: Daniel and Wendy made it to the rock-climbing tower, but they were eventually discovered. Before the two can decide on what to do next, they are separated and sent home.
The first day of school went by agonizingly slow. Abigail was indeed still going to the same school, but Daniel had difficulty getting close to her. She disappeared during lunch and was nowhere to be found for recess. The girls all refused to talk to him, though they were more than happy to titter and imply he had a crush on Abigail.
As the final bell rang, Daniel hesitated to stand. He’d been waiting all summer for a chance to talk to Abigail and to learn Wendy’s and the camp’s fate. He moped around the classroom as he thought about the best way to find Abigail. Despite his attempts at planning, it was Abigail who found him.
“I don’t know what you said or what you did, but all I’ve heard all day is how you have a crush on me. That had better not be true!” Abigail glowered as she confronted Daniel.
Daniel’s jaw dropped. He looked Abigail up and down. She looked like the same girl, but he wasn’t so sure she was the Abigail he remembered. Where was the shy girl who could barely speak? The girl who spoke so softly as to barely be heard? The girl who couldn’t make eye contact? This Abigail spoke clearly, loudly, and made darn sure to make eye contact!
“Abigail?” Daniel asked hesitantly.
“Who else could it be?” Kayla said, coming up to stand beside her friend.
“You’re here too?!” Daniel cried out excitedly. He knew the two girls had been friends at camp, but he’d never made the connection that they had known each other outside of camp first.
“His brain’s been addled from a day of studying instead of mischief making,” Kayla teased. “Hey, do you flinch every time someone says teacher?” Kayla said, suddenly turning serious. “I do. Every time someone says teacher, I always picture him. Ugh, it’s just awful.”
“I want an answer,” Abigail said sternly as she did her best to ignore Kayla’s rambling. Even so, she did flinch each time her friend said teacher.
“To what?” Daniel said, his confusion growing. He did his best to focus on Abigail and not on his memories of Teacher.
“Do you have a crush on me?” Abigail glared and folded her arms across her chest.
“No,” Daniel said truthfully. “I’ve been looking for you all day though,” he rushed on as Abigail’s turned suspicious. “Is the…uh…girls’ network still…how’s Wendy?”
Abigail sighed with relief while Kayla laughed. “I’d hardly call it a network,” Kayla said with an eye roll. “We just keep in touch is all.”
“You’re lucky then,” Daniel said morosely.
Kayla laughed again, but Abigail looked serious once more. “I do have something for you,” she said, sounding more like her old self. She carefully took a vanilla envelope out of her backpack. “It’s from Wendy,” she said softly.
“Come on,” Kayla said as she half pushed and half pulled Abigail after her. “He has some catching up to do.”
Daniel hardly noticed as the two girls left him alone in the classroom. He reverently opened the vanilla envelope and peered inside. He saw newspaper clippings along with several typed notes. Most of the notes, he realized, were written to Abigail, Kayla, or to some unknown group (Daniel assumed this to be the girls’ network).
There was one unopened envelope, which Daniel pulled out. In it was a handwritten letter from Wendy to him.
Hello again, Danie! I hope the rest of your summer went well. I’m just glad to be done answerng those ame questions over and over again with he police. Did thy make you do that too? Not that it mattered. They did’t listen to us, not a one!! How do I know? Loo at the newspaper clippings. They’ve gon and coered it up! All of t. Including…well, icluding some things that are probably bet let covered up.
They got way with everyhing! But tat’s not the odd part. The counslors, where they ae mentioned, have different names. hen I checked the names, they came up as ded people, like really long dead people. There’s a library near me with a great Genealogy department. The librarian were the ones that helped me track down the people, or rather their names. This leads me to assume they were using the names of dead people instead of their real ones. How creepy!
That isn’t even the oddest part! asically, the whole thing was pinned on psychiatrist Hilton. All the articles, if you’ll look at them eal close, are consistent on both the name and on the gult. THEY NEVER GOT NURSE PAM’S NAME RIGHT! And where does the Hilton come from? Her last name? I haven’t been ale to find her anywher either. Not a false name or otherwise.
The odest part is, psychiatrist Hilton is referred to as a he (again consistently) and they say the whole cap was his pet project.. We were part of an unwitting study n human behavio. Sevral counselors confessed to being branwashed on the experimet or study. Where it gets odd is that while Pam is never mentioned, a nurse is mentioned in just one article. Odder still, Teacher and Mr. Petrel are never mentioned and there are no photos of them, but there are photos o the other counselors. (Thse are rare as individual photos, but I did find a group shot. Someone came forward and said an upset parent had demanded a camp photo with counselors and campers. Hence hat phot.)
Did I mention the camp was closed? Well, it is. It’s losed up tight and there are several For Sale signs and postings. I’ve included sme newspaper clippings on it too.
I wish I had ore news to give you, particularly good news, but this is all the research I’ve managed to collect, with help of course. If I learn more, I’ll pass the news along through the girls. They aren’t the only ones looking into this. Whatever the truth is, you can be sure the real investigation continus!!
Daniel read and re-read the letter before he realized he really needed to get going or he’d make his father upset for making him wait. He gathered his things, tidied up the envelope and all its contents and rushed outside. He was quiet on the way home as he thought about the letter over and over. The more he thought about it, the more he realized there were an unusual number of spelling mistakes, particularly for someone as smart as Wendy. The more he thought about it, the more he began to wonder if there were a hidden message. Wendy was clever after all.
The rest of the day he did his best to behave and not draw attention to himself. Then, that night, when he finally had some free time alone from his parents, he delved into the packet and tried to see if the spelling errors were a mistake or a code. He wasn’t disappointed.
Listen! Kevins father was bribed. More info to come!
Daniel pondered the implications of the message. He delved into more of the packets and found a different letter addressed to Kayla. Again he found a hidden message.
I don't know what happened at camp. The news didn't get it right. Stay in touch. Wendy.
Letter after letter, Daniel read through them all until he found all the secrets. He learned that a million questions kid and his brother had escaped to their grandparents, which had caused such an uproar from parents. He also gained information on many of the campers and ways to keep in touch online, though that message also cautioned against posting anything sensitive online.
A few letters in, Daniel learned that Kevin’s father hadn’t been bribed exactly but that his son had been threatened and he’d been forced to overlook the strange things happening at the camp. Daniel remembered the way the man had thanked him at the tower. He wondered if that were somehow related. He felt confident it was. After all, a burning building hardly constituted a safe camp. As an officer, the man had every authority to shut it down after that, and he had even more authority with missing kids.
After the first packet, Daniel waited a full month before a new one arrived. He devoured more letters and read the hidden message of a foul rumor.
The research ends. Delving has caused families problems. The police know. Further investigation means further prosecution. Arson. No choice. Silence must prevail.
Despite the dark omen of being charged for burning down the barn, Daniel felt good. Wendy’s letter, the part that was full of spelling errors, had been hopeful and suggested meeting in person. It also gave an address, a number, and a way to contact her online. Silence would prevail, Daniel agreed, but not the way the police wanted. They’d stop leaving a paper trail, that was all. Following the dual meaning of arson, Daniel burned the evidence packets later that night in a firepit outside his home. He posted about it being a great night for a fire online. Soon after, others from the camp posted similar fires and similar messages. Wendy posted a similar photo of her outside with a fire.
One of her friends commented with a photo Daniel recognized. It was a beacon of Gondor. He smiled, knowing the next time any of the survivors of Camp Positivity had news, they had merely to light the beacons and their forces would rally.
“The pain of parting is nothing to the joy of meeting again.”