Can't Escape is a Blogclan story (aka Blogfic) by Swanfeather. It features Blogclanners as humans.
It's peculiar how the most beautiful things tend to vanish so easily.
They just die. They get destroyed and are never seen again.
What even is 'beauty'?
Prettiness isn't always something touchable like colorful flowers on the field. It isn't something you see like a charming classmate of yours. More often beauty is something you can't see.
A life-long relationship between two best friends is absolutely stunning. So are world peace and reconciliation between mortal enemies. There's still other magnificent things too, unseeable beauty that humans have created.
Harmonia City was one of those things.
After a long period of pondering, scientists from all the sectors of science found a way to live in complete peace. Peace between nations, humans, animals and nature. They found a way to stop it all: global warming, war, serious sicknesses, animal abuse, etcetera.
To achieve their goal of peace the scientists decided to build a city based on their thoughts and contrivances. A big, big city, oasis of harmony. They wanted everyone to move there, but - of course - it didn't happen. However, millions and millions people desired peace and moved to the city of the future. It was a huge place, with millions living there, successfully in peace.
I know what you're thinking. In your opinion, big cities are cramped, polluted asphalt jungles crowded with people. Of course the scientists thought of that when they built Harmonia. They made the place amazing and peaceful with lots of own space, nature and well being.
There wasn't any other cities anywhere near it ruining the peace. The other metropolises that were once so big faded away to little villages when everyone wanted to move to the city of eternal comfort. Soon almost everyone lived in never-ending wellness, their futures being so bright.
Think about it. Everyone had the chance to be anything, to live without any trouble. No war or arguments, no pollutants or disasters. Nothing that could hurt the precious citizens. It sounds perfect.
With no doubt, I can assert you; it was the most beautiful thing to exist.
But as stated before, beauty doesn't last.
Neither did Harmonia.
Nobody saw it coming. Nobody knew the reason for it. It was just a normal, brilliant day until it all went downhill. With a crash.
No, with a boom.
A loud one.
Or that's what people from other towns assumed. Nobody was exactly sure what happened, neither did they care. People in the smaller, less peaceful towns and villages were bitter to the ones with better lives. They did not care at all when they heard about Harmonia's doom. No help was sent, no one went looking for the missing ones. 'Everyone died' they said and continued their lives, glad that they didn't have to be jealous for the citizens anymore.
Now you must be really confused about what happened to the city. What was the reason for the unfortunate event? How the doom was faced? A loud boom was mentioned, maybe an explosion?
Nobody knows exactly.
Why did an explosion happen?
It's ninety-nine percent sure that not a single citizen survived. They all went missing, disappeared with their homes, got buried under the falling buildings or blew away. Even if someone survived, they wouldn't have gotten far without food. There was no colonization anywhere near.
The whole city full of peace just blew away that easily.
And all of the beauty was gone.
Without a reason.
The darkness was all around me. It was oppressive, suffocating all my senses. There was no light at all, not a single spark that could lead me out of this nightmare.
I was running. Running for my life. Something was chasing me. I had no idea what but it was a horrific monster. I didn't even remember why I was in this situation.
My legs felt limp, my heart beat rapidly and I was gasping for air. I was never an athlete so I clearly didn't enjoy this. Not that I'd enjoy running for my life anyway.
Leaves tangled in my hair and dry branches scratched my skin. I was covered in dark, bleeding bruises, which made the escape even harder. The sound of scrunching leaves under my dashing feet blended with the screams in my head.
I felt hot breath on my neck and panicked, trying to quicken my pace - which was nearly impossible. Panting, I blindly continued. My body was strenghtless, aching piece of pure pain.
I had no idea how long I had run until my foot made contact with a root. Tripping, I fell down and hit my head on a big rock. Black spots danced on the sides of my vision and made my brain go even blurrier. Absolutely great.
The situation couldn't be any worse. I tried to stand up and keep running, but my head was killing me with horrible beating pain. I started to crawl forwards, determined to escape.
It was useless.
I assured myself I would survive. No matter how terrible headache or creepy monster, I was going to get my legs from the ground and keep on moving.
Suddenly I saw something moving from the corner of my eye. My heart stopped and filled with panic.
There were dark figures standing all around me.
Yep, I was a goner.
Stumbling backwards I tried to escape my doom one last time. I didn't succeed at all, the world had started to spin around me and I was seeing flashing colors. Exploding with fear I just laid there, on the wet grass.
My thoughts wandered to my family and friends. They would never know where I went. They would never understand how I died. They could never visit my grave.
Oh god how much I was afraid of death.
I was scared as heck.
I would face my doom bravely. It was the only thing I could do anymore. Instead of hopelessly attempting my escape I would turn my head to the monsters. I would accept my ending calmly.
I turned my blurry vision to the figures and looked straight to them. I could barely see anything due to the horrific pain in my head and the darkness.The figures seemed to come closer, but I had accepted it all.
Groaning from the headache, I laid my painful head down on the ground, never breaking the view to my destroyers. My mind filling with unconsciousness, I gave up on my life.
I closed my eyes for the last time and my mind went blank.
Then all I could see was darkness.
And that, my friends, is how my life ended.
Or that's what I thought.
Cold evening breeze ruffled the young girl's hair, making her run her hand through it. The weather was cool and windy. Big clouds covered the sun and the air was chilly. But the brunette didn't pay attention to the weather, she was thinking about the past few days.
It had been a strange week. She had woken up in a warm room, surrounded by friendly faces. She didn't know what had happened, only thing she remembered was running through the forest, out of breath. The nice persons had told her about the place where they had taken her and welcomed her warmly. Everything was so weird and at the same time incredibly happy. The girl hadn't died, she was saved by the kind strangers.
She had spent many days in a comfy room recovering from her bruises and headache. She had been panicking when she didn't remember anything about her life; only her name and the running part. The strangers told her it was normal - almost everyone who came there had lost their memory.
Although the healer girls had told her about the camp she didn't know much about it. Only the fact that the place was started by a girl and it was for people just like her; the one's who survived from the monster, lost their memory, were found by the campers.
After spending the week in the room, the healer girls had told her to go. She had to meet the others, get involved and so on. She was now a part of the camp. She was part of the survivors.
The house where she was told to go was a big wooden tavern in the center of the camp. The house was said to be the main hanging place of the campers. It also was the place where they ate their meals.
She was horrified to enter the tavern. As a not-so-social-with-strangers kind of person she was uncomfortable with the idea of talking with her saviors - especially when she wasn't a good thanker. She did try to argue with the healer girls but they demanded her to go and eat in the tavern like the normal campers did.
Crossing the glade she approached the wooden house. The glade had many wooden houses around it, but the biggest was the one she was nearing. Swallowing, she thought if she should turn back, but trying to be brave the brunette walked to the front of the tavern, sighed, and slowly pushed the doors open.
The big room was bright and filled with laughter and happy chatter. All the people inside were young and pretty. They sat around dark wooden tables. Many of the campers were eating something.
Trying to be as quiet as possible, the girl approached the lonely corner table, and luckily nobody seemed to pay any attention to her. Sighing in relief she sat down. Great, no one noticed her walking in...
"HEY! You're the new girl right? Welcome to the camp! It's so nice to meet you!"
The brunette jumped and looked up, surprised. A pretty girl with light brown hair was looking down at her, smiling brightly.
"Oh, hi, yeah, I'm the new girl. My name's Swan", the newcomer replied, still slightly surprised by the sudden greeting.
"It's super lovely to meet you! I love your name. I'm Sunny. I hope we can be friends!" the camper said and sat down next to Swan.
"What do you know about our camp?" Sunny asked.
"Not much. It was found by a young girl and it's for people just like us."
"Correct! There's still very much more to know, I think Flo will explain everything to you tomorrow."
Swan looked confused.
"You'll know everyone very soon. Oh, there she comes!"
A ravenette with glasses neared the two's table with two other girls. They were both blondes with blue shirts. The so-called Flo put her hands on the table and leaned forward.
"Yo, I'm Flo. I'm the boss around here. Better listen to me or I will feed you to the monsters", she said, looking serious, and Swan gulped nervously.
"She's lying! She won't ever do that", the blonde with slightly messy hair said.
"Flo's not actually like that", the other blonde with pixie-cut told Swan.
"I was kidding. You're Swan, right? Well, welcome. I'll show you around tomorrow. Get to know the peeps, you'll be living with them for a long time." After saying that the black-haired girl walked away.
The blondes stepped forward. "Um, hi! I'm Shivy and this skirted girl is Dew. We're glad to have you here!" the messy haired one said. Swan smiled at them and responded:
"Nice to meet you! I'm glad to be here, I think?"
"You'll get a grab on everything soon! We will help you", Sunny promised.
"We'll tell you who's who. Now, that long haired brunette approaching us with a soup plate is Breezey", Dew said.
The said girl walked over and gave Swan the plate, introducing herself.
"That's vegetable soup. It's delicious, made by our lovely cook!" Breezey explained. Dew rolled her eyes.
"She's not our cook. She's just in charge of our kitchen", she corrected.
"Yeah whatever. I think she heard you, she's coming."
Suddenly there was a girl with very long brown and green-dyed hair and an apron standing next to their table.
"Welcome and hey! The name's Icy. I'm in charge of the food. Despite the name I'm not a scary lunch lady who's always in the kitchen. I'm just planning the cooking shifts and the meals. I hope you like that soup - it was made by me!" Icy said, smiling and Swan couldn't help but think how many strands of her freakishly long hair were in her soup.
"It does look good", Swan muttered and started to spoon the orange liquid, not daring to say she didn't like vegetables.
"Better get used to vegetables and fish. They're pretty much the only things we eat here, because, y'know, we can't and won't kill animals by ourselves!" Breezey informed her and started to play with a strand of her hair.
"Wait. You're materially independent?" Swan was bewildered.
"What did you think? They fall from the sky? There's no stores around here", Shivy giggled at Swan's amazement, and she felt a little dumb. Note the sarcasm on 'a little'.
"Don't tease her. She's new, she'll learn everything soon. Now excuse me, I have to go", Icy excused herself and walked to the long counter on the front.
Swan had finished eating the soup and she had to admit, it was pretty good.
"Oh great, you've eaten! Now we can introduce you to the others. Come!" Sunny stood up and motioned Swan to come along. They walked to the other side of the big house, making their way to the sofa near the back wall. There was three girls sitting on it, chatting happily.
"Hey gurls! This is the new girl, Swan", Sunny said and the girls waved. The brunette with a lavender colored shirt spoke first:
"I'm Minty! Glad to have you around."
"And I'm Maple!" the one with reddish brown hair exclaimed.
"I am Wistep. Nice to meet you", the black-haired girl with glasses said.
Swan tried her best to be polite.
"Nice to meet you", she said before Sunny dragged her to another table. Two girls and a boy were sitting around it, eating their soups.
"Swan, these are Darky" - Sunny pointed at the female with chestnut hair - "and Frosty" - the boy with sandy brown hair waved - " and this is Goldi." The latter was a reddish brown haired girl who had blonde streaks in her hair.
"I'm Swan", the new camper introduced herself.
"Oh hello, Swan! I'm Fallen, welcome! Happy to have you here!" Out of nowhere a darker haired blonde with blue streaks in her hair had appeared behind them.
"I can show you around if ya want", Fallen promised, smiling. Swan was about to say something but a voice cut her off.
"Flo will do it."
She turned around to see a blonde she already knew.
"Oh, you know Lily already! She was there in the medicine house with you, right?" Sunny realized.
"Yep, I was there with Moss, like we always are. In case you forgot, we're in charge of healing all the injuries because we know a lot about plants and their medical effects. Of course they aren't as good as real medicine but what can you do when there's nothing else?"
"Speaking about Moss, where's she?" asked Sunny.
"She's emptying Swan's room."
Swan froze, shocked.
"Wait what? Are you kicking me out?"
Lily started laughing.
"Of course not! You're just not staying in the medicine house anymore. You'll have a room in the dorms", the healer explained.
Swan was still confused.
Lily patted Swan's shoulder.
"Don't worry, you'll understand everything", she said.
"If you say so..." Swan mumbled, doubtful. There was no way she could ever understand everything going on.
"There's still a few people you haven't met. You see those girl near the side table? The light brown haired one is Robbie, the girl with short brown hair is Kinky, the very dark haired blonde with purple hairtips is Wavey and the girl with dark brown hair is Darkie", Sunny listed.
"So there's Darky and Darkie?" Swan marveled.
"Yeah. Don't mix them up, they don't like it when that happens..." Lily warned.
Sunny was counting something with her fingers. "Hm, Flamey has the shift in the laundry house, Blue and Birchy are doing their cleaning shifts in the kitchen, Moss is in the medicine house, Shiver is tidying up our room... Did I forget someone?" she questioned, looking at Lily.
"I don't think so. You will meet the ones you didn't see yet tomorrow."
"Expect for Shiver. You'll meet her today - look forward to it!" Sunny said, smiling.
"Yes, she's very spooky!" Lily added in. Swan frowned.
"What do you mean? Is she scary?" she wondered.
Lily and Sunny glanced at each other, grinning at the newcomer's surprise.
"No, she's just..." Lily seemed to be looking for the right word. "Shiver", Sunny finished and Lily seemed to be pleased with the chosen adjective.
"Oh", Swan responded, "Great." She was not sure if being 'Shiver' was a good thing.
The conversation died down a bit when Lily left. Fallen had disappeared too. Of course there were the people sitting on the table right next to her that she could talk to - Darky, Frosty and Goldi - but Swan didn't know them and they didn't seem to notice her standing there. There was still Sunny too, but she seemed to be more interested in talking to Goldi than Swan.
The newcomer started to feel a little awkward so she was planning to retreat back to the corner table. Unfortunately for her someone had come to stand next to her, ruining her plans of escape.
"Feeling lonely already, huh?"
Swan jumped in surprise when she heard someone talking right next to her.
"Well, let me tell you a story!"
The tavern went silent instantly.
"Oh my gosh. Flo's gonna tell a story!" the girl who Swan remembered to be Maple shrieked.
"Is this a dare?" Shivy asked, raising an eyebrow.
"Shut up. I can tell a story if I want. Besides, it's the history of the camp", Flo remarked.
The campers let out realizing sounds.
"Oooh, that explains it", Robbie laughed.
Flo ignored them and motioned Swan to sit down on the couch next to the wall. Everyone in the tavern was listening.
"Okay, so, Swan, you know about the Monsters? About the sudden doom of our home city?" Flo started, fiddling with the temple of her glasses.
"Yeah, but I'm not sure what the monsters are or how they look like or where they come from or why or how the City was destroyed-"
"Hold on hold on! We don't know those things either. The reason why the City got destroyed and almost everyone died is unknown to all. What we do know about the Monsters is that they're animal-like creatures. No one has seen any Monsters, just their clawprints - they are huge - and we don't plan to see anytime soon. We don't know where they come from either, but they rarely come this far. I picked the place for our camp carefully."
Swan stared at her new leader, her jaw dropping.
"Wait what what what wait what wait -?" she stuttered in disbelief.
She was not going to count the times she had been astonished during that day.
"What wait, what?" Flo asked, raising her eyebrow.
The conversation had suddenly become very confusing.
"I mean - I didn't know you started the camp!" Swan exclaimed.
"You don't know many things."
Swan tried to resist the urge to roll her eyes. Keyword: tried.
"Why didn't you realize I was the founder? I mean, I'm in charge of the camp!" Flo chuckled.
"Uh -" Swan began.
"Just admit you didn't think I was capable to do it." Flo seemed to be very amused.
"I did not!" the brunette argued.
"Guys, stop. Flo, you were supposed to tell us the story", Fallen interjected, trying to seem calm but there was a faint smile forming on her lips.
Soon she couldn't help herself and bursted out laughing and in a second the whole tavern was filled with hysterical laughter. The argument between the boss and the newcomer wasn't even that funny. Regardless everyone was having a good time laughing at each other.
Swiftly the campers calmed down and Flo could start her story. Unfortunately for the ones wishing for a fairytale she was just telling how she found the camp.
"When the City was destroyed, many, many people faced their doom. It's proven by the fact there was millions of people living in the City but hardly anyone survived. I don't know how much others there is left beside us in the world, and I'm being serious. It's been a year and a half since the End Day and I haven't seen anyone beside the campers", Flo started her story.
"But if it's been a year, why I came just a week ago? Where on Earth I was before I came?" Swan questioned, she was absolutely clueless. Again. And she had a feeling it wasn't the last time...
"We don't know, many of the campers have arrived a long after the End Day."
"I'm the one who came before you!" Kinky piped in.
"Yep, and she was found in the Forest six months ago! We already thought she was the last one", Icy said while wiping her hands on her apron.
"I was trying to tell you how I found the camp, not how Kinky joined. Okay? So, I had somehow survived from the explosion or whatever it was, along with a few others. We were bruised, hurt, weak, desperate. We had no home, no family, no food, no place to stay and heal, nothing. Imagine how we felt - our horror! Just one day and poof! We had lost everything we ever had!
Luckily there was still the five of us - me, Sunny, Icy, Shiver and Moss - who sticked together and built up a camp. It was just a little, ugly cottage but soon we expanded it - it's now this Tavern. We built a kitchen, dorms, laundry house and so on.
Not long passed when we found Maple, Dew, Minty, Frosty and Darky from the Forest. We decided to evolve the camp completely. We built the boys' dorms and the medicine house. Then, after a month, we found some more people and so on. After that it was pretty usual to get new campers. However, after Blue came - which was about nine months ago - the arrivals seemed to get rarer and rarer. Icy just mentioned Kinky came six months ago - that's a long time. We thought she was the last one to come."
Kinky looked proud, like she had just earned an award.
"But this time I'm pretty sure", Flo continued. "You are the last one, Swan."
"Oh. Yay?" Swan replied, as confused as always.
Should I feel accomplished?
"You don't understand!" the ravenette snapped, making Swan startled. Flo started to massage her temples.
"This is bad. Very bad. No more newcomers means that - that there's something happening in the City."
Swan felt cold shivers running down her spine. She gulped.
"It wasn't enough that the Monsters are starting to come closer and closer to our camp. The newcomers stopped appearing and..." Flo muttered, her voice fading away.
The atmosphere of the Tavern had suddenly turned very serious. No laughter or any happy chatter was heard. Everyone glanced worriedly at each other and murmured something quietly. The tension weight on Swan's shoulders like a testweek.
"It was just after you had arrived when something unusual happened -" Sunny started, breaking the silence, but Icy quickly covered her mouth. "They don't know about it", Swan heard her whispering in Sunny's ear.
What are they talking about?
Flo shot up from her seat and sprinted over to Sunny. She lowered her head to say something in the brunette's ear. Her face showed clearly that she wasn't happy. Sunny looked pretty awkward, like she had just blurted out secrets. Swan did try to listen, but the two talked carefully, not wanting anyone to eavesdrop. It was pretty difficult though, with the whole Tavern watching the senior members closely.
After a few moments of silence Flo cleared her throat. "Erm, Swan didn't bring anything else than her own cloud of confusion with her. No need to worry", the leader reassured and flashed a this-is-supposed-to-be-a-convincing-smile-but-it-failed - type of smile.
Why thank you for this kindness...
"Yeah, I was just imagining. Too much positiveness it damages my brain!" Sunny exclaimed.
She probably just thought of that brain thing a second ago.
The campers gave her weird looks but they disappeared fast. Everyone was too kind to think anything bad about their friends. The campers seemed to believe Flo's explanation and didn't doubt it anymore. The campers had a big trust for the black-haired leader and knew not to question.
Well, too bad I'm not a camper - not yet anyway. Better investigate this later. I brought the thing with me after all, I'm justified to know.
"So Swan, any questions?" Flo asked with newfound calmness.
"Yeah, like hundred. First I'd like to know the meaning of life and how to defeat Voldemort in case he returns - "
Flo rolled her eyes, sighing annoyedly. "You know exactly what I meant."
Swan's face turned to a smug grin.
"How do you know? I brought a cloud of confusion after all..."
Fallen groaned loudly. "Not this again..."
"I wasn't trying to offend you any way, sorry if I did. Can we please be serious now?" Flo questioned, making her way back to her seat on the couch.
"Sorry, you didn't offend me, I was just trying to be funny -"
"And you clearly failed. Now, the questions?"
Swan answered immediately. She had something on her mind.
"This one's been bugging me the whole time and I can't understand what's the answer, but how on Earth did you survive when you first came to the Forest? I'm pretty sure you were citizens who didn't have any surviving skills at all!"
"Oh", Flo grinned and looked at the others who seemed to be smiling lightly too, "I guess we have to give a little credit to our savior..."
Savior? They prayed for food or what.
Icy came closer and started to speak:
"You're right, we didn't have survival skills. We would have died unless -"
"The borders!" Sunny exclaimed, smiling widely.
What the -
Swan's bewildered face must've been clear, since Icy continued her explanation:
"The borders are the outerior parts of the City. Well, actually they're the place where every item that flew away in the possible explosion ended up. There's everything handy: lighters, not too damaged clothes, tools, cooking items, stuff for building and so on."
"We still visit the borders frequently! We get many things we need for living there", Sunny explained.
"You mean your underwear is - ?"
Swan mentally facepalmed.
First think you think of is their underwear. WAY TO GO, SWAN!
Flo raised her eyebrows really high, her face was covered with a look that expressed are-you-serious perfectly.
"We did have something on when we came here, y'know? We only get extra stuff from the borders, and we do wash them."
Swan felt extremely awkward at that moment. Like, extremely extreme awkward.
"So, you have any other clever comments?" Flo inquired.
"Uh - umm - well - I don't think I do -"
"Excellent! It's starting to get late, so we may enter the dorms."
"And you sleep in the dorms too?" Swan asked Flo.
"Where else?" Flo questioned, slightly confused.
"I thought - since you're the boss and all - that you'd sleep in your personal palace or somewhere near your throne -"
Flo stared at Swan like she was crazy.
"What the heck are you talking about?"
"Uh - nothing!" she laughed nervously.
Swan stood up with the others, still not knowing what the dorms were. She did know the meaning of the word but she was still confused. What a surprise.
The newcomer followed the campers out of the Tavern and Swan was greeted with cold wind on the face. The weather had become even chillier, but it was late anyway. Swan took a last look on the wooden, homely Tavern and turned to look for the boss of the camp.
"Do you see that long, wooden building on that side?" Darkie whispered. She had come to walk by Swan. The brunette nodded.
She did see the house although it was almost covered by trees. Not many buildings were next to it and there was only woods behind it. It looked warm and comfy from the outside.
"That's the house for girls' dorms. You'll be staying there with us - assuming that you're a girl?" Darkie continued.
"Yes, I am a girl", Swan responded, raising her eyebrow. Darkie giggled.
"Of course I knew you were a girl! I was just joking", she laughed.
Flo walked closer to the two, clearly ready to explain something.
"Okay. Girls' dorms are there. The boys' dorms are over there -" the ravenette got cut by a shouting boy running in the opposite direction.
"Good night! Enjoy your cramped lil' house!" the boy - Frosty - shouted and continued to run while laughing evilly.
"And he continues to tease us about their luxuriously big house only shared by two persons..." Flo muttered.
"What do you mean? There's only two boys? Why did you build boys' dorms in the first place if there was only two boys?"
"Not always has there been only two boys..."
Swan's eyes widened and her jaw dropped.
"WAIT - !" she shrieked but Flo didn't let her finish.
"Enough of this. Let's continue." She then dragged Swan closer to the dorms building. The girls were standing near the door - Swan was totally going to question where they found doors - patiently waiting for them to walk over. Flo began to speak:
"Alright. We have already picked a room for you Swan, it's the number five -"
"Yay! We're sharing a room!" Sunny exclaimed, jumping up and down.
"She could've been with us too. Like them, we only have three people", the purple and dark blonde mix - Wavey - pointed out.
"There's just three of us too", Minty noted.
"Ahem. Shiver caused Swan to be in her room. She was delighted to get a new 'S' in the room", told Flo. Swan turned to the girl that was closest to her.
"Psst, Wistep, right? Is Shiver nice? Use plain language, please. Being spooky and 'Shiver' don't ring my bells", Swan whispered.
"She's a skeleton", the ravenette replied, not really paying attention to the newcomer.
I said use plain language!
"What's that supposed to mean -"
Are they starving her or what?
"Hey! Swan, Wistep, come inside now!" Icy commanded and both of the girls did as they were told.
Sunny started to lead Swan's way inside the long building that had only many doors on the dark walls. Swan was about to follow her inside the room number five - which was close to the side wall on the right - but someone grabbed her wrist and made her turn around.
Surprisingly, it was Flo.
"Garlic", she hissed.
"Excuse me?" Swan said, tilting her head.
"It's the way to defeat Voldemort! It works on every vampire."
"I'm sure you know that he's not a vampire -"
Before she had time to finish, her new boss was gone.
These campers are weird. Weird! You hear me? Weird!
"Aren't you coming in?" Sunny asked from the doorway. Swan nodded and stepped inside the room.
It was a small, surprisingly comfy and cozy room with a some kind of home-made closet and four as strange-looking beds. There were two beds on each side, their gables facing each other. The three of them had slightly messy sheets but the last one looked like the bed had just been made.
"Heyo! I guess we're roommates now."
Shivy was the one to talk. She sat on her bed - which was in left corner - and combed her hair furiously.
"I guess so", Swan replied lamely. And where was the famous Shiver?
It was just like Shiver had heard Swan's thoughts. A girl jumped out of nowhere, waving her hands in the air. She had a shortish bob with side fringe.
"Hi! I'm Shiver! I'd greet you with a GIF if I could!" she exclaimed happily.
Despite that odd 'GIF'-thing she looks pretty normal... Not like a skeleton, not spooky...
"Nice to meet you, I've heard a lot about you", Swan said, returning Shiver's smile.
"Glad to know I'm famous! Now here, take these - they're supposed to be your pajamas."
Shiver started to throw white clothes at Swan. She caught them and took a good look at her new pajamas.
"An oversized shirt and shorts?"
"Yep! And nobody has used them before you", Shivy mentioned.
Maybe not here but if these are from the borders...
"You can change behind those curtains on the back", Sunny suggested.
Swan quickly made her way behind the heavy black curtains. It didn't take long for her to change to her new pajamas. She opened the curtains just to see others done with changing too. Their pajamas were similar to hers.
"That bed on the right, near the door is yours", Shivy said and yawned loudly. She fell on her bed and sighed.
Shiver walked to the back and closed the window curtains. In a second the room became much darker, like all the light had escaped when the curtains were shut.
"Is that window -" Swan began.
"Transparent plastic, yes. It was way easier to find than actual glass", Shiver explained.
Swan plopped on her bed an buried her face in the soft sheets. At that moment she didn't care where they were found. Only thing she wanted to was to enjoy the warm, happy feeling.
The bed was cozy. The softness of the sheets and her pillow were like heaven. It felt warm. It felt comfortable.
It felt like home.
"Good night", someone whispered. Swan assumed it was Sunny. She murmured something similar in return. Great, she could finally sleep...
However, the sandman didn't seem to come. The newcomer kept turning in her bed, mind full of thoughts, unanswered questions about their toothbrushes and showers, problems, ideas...
Suddenly something popped in her head.
A question she needed the answer to immediately.
Swan quickly raised her head from the comfiness of her pillow and quietly knocked the edge of the bed next to her. She assumed it was Sunny's.
"Psst, Sunny? You awake? I have a question", she whispered.
A head with black hair popped up from the bed.
"I'm not Sunny but I have all the answers!"
Aaand it's Shiver...
"Sorry to bug you this late but I forgot to ask one thing", Swan started.
"Nobody ever told me the name of this camp."
Shiver sat straight so Swan could see her perfectly. She looked straight to her eyes. Shiver took a deep breath and her lips formed a light smile.
"This is the Blogclan camp."
"Five more minutes, mom..."
"SWAN! Get up!"
The girl turned her back to the terrorizers of her sleep.
"What do we do now? We need to get her up", a voice said.
"I don't know, but we're in trouble if we don't show up soon", another voice continued.
"Let me help with this! She won't see this coming", third, a lot more spookier voice exclaimed.
Someone stepped closer and suddenly the warms sheets were gone.
The sleeper was greeted with cold floor.
"Ouch!" Swan hissed, massaging her elbow.
Three girls were standing around Swan, staring down at her disapprovingly and fully dressed. One of them was holding Swan's precious sheets, smiling mischievously.
"What was that for? You woke me up and broke the rule number one of -" Swan began.
"And Flo will break a few of your bones if you don't show up in the Tavern right now", Shivy interjected, looking serious.
"When did se become a gangster?"
"Pfft, she was kidding! Flo isn't a gangster, she's super awesome once you get to know her!" Sunny giggled.
I'm pretty sure she thinks that way of everyone...
"But no, seriously, we gotta go right now, hop into your clothes", continued Shivy, nervously glancing at the door.
"I'm really tired, what if don't go just now?" asked Swan and yawned.
"Then you don't get breakfast."
"In that case I suddenly feel energetic -"
"Shiver has your clothes", Sunny informed and Swan looked at the girl who was no longer holding her sheets.
Shiver was waving Swan's t-shirt and shorts in the air, waiting for her to take them. Then she threw them and the newcomer caught them in mid-air, stepping closer to the black curtains. "Thanks", she thanked Shiver for the clothes.
"Huh?" Shiver tilted her head in confusion.
"Thanks for handing me these clothes...?" Swan raised an eyebrow. Why was the skeleton so confused?
"Oh, I was actually trying to throw them though the basket, but you're welcome!" Shiver said and smiled widely.
"Wait, you were playing basketball with my - ?"
"Guys! We don't have time for this. We're in a hurry!" Shivy shouted while tapping her foot on the floor.
Geez, I wonder if it's that bad to be late from breakfast...
Swan changed as swiftly as she could. At the second she was ready Shivy dragged her out of the room, muttering something under her breath. Swan decided it was best if she didn't know what the blonde was thinking about her.
When the two got out of the dorms, Shivy started to run, never loosening the grip she had on Swan's wrist. The newcomer stumbled after the camper as she ran to the Tavern.
The day was warmer than the day before, but the sky was as cloudy. The camp was actually very organized, now that Swan could see it in the daylight.
She couldn't scan over the area for long before they were at the door of the Tavern. There was a figure standing in front of it, looking pretty chill.
"You're actually in time, woah", the figure - who happened to be Flo - stated.
"All thanks to Shivy", Swan replied and massaged her aching legs, although they only ran a short distance. She still wasn't completely recovered from her escape.
"I tried to be responsible", Shivy admitted proudly.
"Great, the food's on the counter, take what ya want", Flo told them and turned to talk to Sunny and Shiver who came just after Shivy and Swan. Swan didn't have time to hear what they were saying before Shivy dragged her inside.
The Tavern was as homely as before, but it was brighter because of the daylight. Somehow the atmosphere was more relaxed too.
Shivy immediately started to search for something to eat.
"Hmm, this morning I'm gonna take a - Fallen! Hey, Fallen, I just realized something you'd be interested about!" the blonde had noticed her friend near a side table and ran over to her.
And just like that, Swan was left alone.
Well isn't this great. Thank you, Shivy.
But of course it wasn't Shivy's fault that Swan was now alone. She simply went to her friend, Swan should make other friends by herself and she knew that. Huffing, she just decided to not to care and stepped closer to the counter, looking for something to eat.
There was two kinds of bread, a few fruits, vegetables and a crooked-looking water pot. Swan decided to go with the more orange bread and an apple. She filled her plate and looked for a place to sit.
Suddenly Swan felt awkward standing there. The day before she had been so confident while arguing with the boss. She definitely didn't feel so anymore. She was back to her less social self.
She could go to sit by Shivy and Fallen, but they seemed to be talking about something very important and Swan didn't want to interrupt.
There wasn't many other people she could go to. The newcomer didn't know any of them well and just bluntly going to sit by someone did not fit her style. Swan was starting to get worried, she couldn't just eat and stand there or should she become a loner again?
Suddenly an idea popped to her head.
Swan had talked to Dew and Breezey before! Maybe - just maybe - she could go to them. Quickly she searched the Tavern with her eyes for the two girls. The brunette noticed Dew sitting on the couch with a few girls and a boy, but Breezey was nowhere to be seen. Swan wondered if she actually should go to them.
Okay, Swan. You've got this. Your whole life has leaded you to this point, now is time to show the world what you can do.
Swan took a deep breath and walked closer to their table. She tried to be as normal as she could, knowing she said weird things when she got awkward. When she was near the table, she called out:
"Hey, Dewie-Dewie! Can I sit with you guys?"
And what on Earth was that nickname.
"Oh, of course! Come here", Dew responded and smiled.
She did not even question the nickname.
Swan planted her butt right next to Dew, looking at the others sitting there with her. She knew that the girl in the black hoodie was Wavey, but couldn't identify the others.
"Flamey and Birchy, this is Swan", Dew introduced the newcomer.
"Who on Earth is Swan?" Flamey marveled - no, shouted - and stared at the newcomer weirdly.
"Hey, I'm Swan, I'm on Earth!"
Gotta be the weirdest thing I've ever said. Wow, I feel so awkward right now. Maybe if I scream 'spider!' they turn their heads and I can run away...
"Hi, Swan-on-Earth, nice to meet you", Flamey mocked jokingly. Swan sighed in relief when she understood the boy was only making fun of her.
"She's the newcomer", Wavey specified. The other girl Swan didn't recognize - a blonde - smiled a slight smile at her and speaked:
"Hey, I'm Birchy. Things you need to know about me are I don't like Severus Snape. Well, that's the only thing you need to know."
"Ookaayy... That's a character from a book", Swan stated, slightly confused.
"They aren't only 'book characters'. They're way more than that! A part of someone's limitless imagination - !"
"Yeah, I get it. At least I think I did..."
"You know that book series, right?" Icy - whose presence Swan didn't even notice - inquired.
"I do, I read it back in the City", Swan answered and started stuffing her bread in her mouth.
"One of the only things I dislike here at the camp is the lack of books", Birchy pointed out.
"And no chocolate!" Dew noted.
"Come on guys, I agree I miss reading books, but isn't surviving enough? And we have each other", the food boss queried.
"It is, I'm not complaining, but we can still miss those old days..." sighed Dew and bit a piece of her bread.
"Wait, you remember things that happened in the City? You remember your past life?" Swan's eyes were wide, she didn't expect anyone to remember.
"I do, I never lost my memory in the first place", Icy said, sipping her drink.
"Oh right, you were one of the founders!" the newcomer realized.
"Yep, but despite that I don't recall everything. Most parts, yes, but things are starting to fade. I think the explosion did something temporary to my brain and memory, too."
"But you remember your family?" Swan asked, hesitant to dig up the sensitive subject.
"My family... Yes, I think..." Icy's eyes stared at nothing and she completely zoned out.
"What about you? Have some of your memories come back?" Swan asked, turning to the others, still eating her bread.
"Some parts have, but I don't think I recall as much as Icy does", told Dew.
"I remember quite a lot. I'm pretty sure I can even picture our home in my mind." Wavey's words were muffled by her chewing.
"You remember so much while I hardly recollect anything. I do remember the amount of people in my family but their names and appearances are covered with mist", Flamey said, taking large bites of his fruit.
"How about you, Swan? What do you remember?" Birchy questioned the newcomer.
Swan was startled a bit. What did she remember, if anything? She hadn't tried recalling her life yet. "I don't know..." she quietly said.
"Try closing your eyes and going back to the days when you were still a happy citizen", Wavey suggested and surprised Swan with her cleverness.
Swan closed her eyes and tried to reach out to her past life. The blankness before her eyes was somewhat familiar; not as heavy as the darkness she saw when she blacked out in the Forest, but yes, it did hold something she knew in itself.
She tried imagining pictures of her family, friends, home, school; anything. Every time she thought she recalled some little strand of her past, she tried chasing after it in the labyrinth of her mind, but all the pieces of memories were as slippery as soap. They ran out of her reach, jeering at her while doing so. Each time she struggled hard to get those flashbacks back to her head, but unfortunately she was lacking success.
She gave up randomly running after distant memories and began to do proper search. At first she focused on the familiar blackness. Why was it so familiar? Where did she experience such calming pitch black darkness?
Suddenly it hit her like a semi-truck hits people in death generators.
She remembered something...
"Get your lazy butt here you stupid little girl!" a female voice squawked loudly. A brunette approached the source of the command, her hands shaking in fear. The image of the person - a female - who yelled at the younger girl was blurry, covered in the mist of amnesia. However, the person had a powerful vibe which was notably daunting.
The girl shivered in fear as her commander stepped closer and her unrecognizable, ugly face scrunched in disgust. The frightening female grabbed the girl's hair harshly and pulled her along, not paying any attention when the girl whimpered in pain.
The person dragged her target with her until they reached a big heavy door. The torturer opened it with ease and pushed the girl in. She stumbled down the few stairs before the female dug her nails on the brunette's skin and tugged her against a wall.
The girl let out groan when her back hit the wall roughly. Her captor glared at her and took a key out of her pocket. In a second heavy chains were locked around the girl's wrists. She didn't fight back, just fell strenghtlessly on the cold floor.
The scary woman stepped away from the girl and started to walk around the big room, scanning every millimeter with her mad eyes. The girl watched her carefully, eyeing the other unrecognizable creatures in the same room. It was hard to see if they were even humans; the light was very dim.
After squinting her eyes for a moment, the girl realized she wasn't the only one in the situation. Her terrible case wasn't special at all! The room had many other people in it too, chained to the wall. People with horror in their minds, scratches on their body and scars on their souls.
The torturer had finished her checkup and was now exiting. She climbed up the stairs and opened the door. The girl knew that once the criminal was out, the prisoners would be greeted with a moment of peace, have their little amount of daily calmness without their conscienceless captor. They'd be resting in relaxing darkness for a short time, but it felt like heaven. They could finally sleep.
The woman closed the heavy door slowly behind her. All the tiny amount of light escaped the room when the door was shut. The last ray of light hit the girl's face and it was visible for a short moment.
It was Swan's own face.
Swan snapped out of her trance, breathing heavily.
What the heck was that?
Surely it couldn't be a memory from her home.
And who were the others? Who was the woman? What was it all about?
"You ok, Swan?" Dew asked, tapping Swan's shoulder. Swan looked at the others on her table, her eyes wide.
Everyone seemed to be worried.
"You were zoned out for at least ten minutes. What happened?" Wavey questioned, waving her hand in front of Swan's face.
"I - I remembered something!" Swan exclaimed, glancing at the campers' expressions.
"There was a room. A dark room. There were people in it. And a woman - a scary one too - who kept everyone as prisoners! I couldn't see their faces, but I'm sure I was there. Maybe some of you were too!"
Nobody said anything, they just stared at Swan with wide eyes.
"Wow", Icy broke the silence.
"That's honestly -" Birchy began. "Creepy", Flamey finished.
They seemed to have tensed up.
"It might've been just my imagination though", the newcomer reassured.
It still felt real...
"There might be some kind of sense behind it. I need to talk to Flo about this -" Icy muttered.
Suddenly Dew let out a surprised cry.
"Guys! I think I just realized something related to Swan's memory, I might -"
"SWAN! You've eaten? The tour's about to begin!"
Of course Flo had to interrupt Dew.
"Yes!" Swan yelled back to her - although she hadn't finished her breakfast - and shot up from her seat.
"Thanks for the company!" she called out and sprinted over to the boss.
"Ready for the tour?" Flo asked. "As ready as I can be", Swan answered.
"But promise you won't argue with me all the time", Flo demanded, but she was smiling slightly.
"I won't.... too much", Swan smirked and Flo rolled her eyes playfully.
"Who's my guide?" Swan continued, looking around the Tavern.
"I was about to guide you myself, but then I decided it's best if I let others join. You need to get to know everyone", Flo explained.
"But... That's actually pretty smart. Who are you and what have you done to Flo?" the newcomer raised an eyebrow.
"Ha ha, very funny. Now come, the others are waiting outside."
The brunette followed her new boss and stepped outside of the Tavern. There were a few people standing there, waiting for the two.
"I'll repeat the names in case you forgot, I'm not sure what your intelligence level is", Flo began and started to point at the people one by one. "Darky, Fallen, Robbie, Darkie, Wistep, Breezey and Blue."
Oh great, double Darky. I must be really careful now.
"Hi Swan! I'm Blue. Welcome!" a girl with thick dirty blonde hair came closer to Swan and smiled widely. A bit too widely, Swan wondered if she had something else than her smile on her face.
"I would've met you yesterday unless BIRCHY wouldn't have spilled Icy's precious spice collection on the floor and we had to cover the damage -" Blue explicated, before stopping and staring at the Tavern door in horror.
"Wait. What did you do?" Icy demanded. She was looking serious, but by no means mad.
Blue gulped loudly.
"I mean - It was - We accidentally - IT WAS BIRCHY!"
Blue glanced around trying to find the 'guilty' so she could point at her.
"Calm down. I'm not mad. I guess I'm just a little disappointed, but hey, it was an accident. No harm done", Icy reassured and patted Blue on her shoulder. The girl let out a deep sigh.
"But I feel guilty, I'm so sorry! You spent a long time searching for those spices -"
"Don't worry, I can always find more."
Then the two hugged to make a reconciliation.
Wow, Icy's so calm. I would've thrown Blue to the river.
"Alright, now this cute moment is over, can we begin the tour?" Flo sighed, tapping her foot on the ground.
Icy straightened her shirt. "Yes, sorry. I just came to tell you that Sunny -"
Flo looked a tiny bit annoyed.
"Sunny? Don't tell me she spilled out more secrets -"
Icy's eyes widened and she shushed loudly. "Shhhhhh! Just come inside for a second."
Flo sighed, but obeyed. "Alright. You guys begin the tour, I'll be back in a few."
I wonder what's going on... Sunny seems like a person who doesn't want to cause trouble, so what has she done?
After the two entered the Tavern, Wistep clapped her hands. "Okay. Where should we start?" the ravenette said.
"The beach?" Robbie suggested.
"Good idea! Let's go", Breezey started to lead their way through the glade.
"You have a private beach?" the newcomer asked Wistep, she seemed nice.
"I guess you can say that. There's a river and we get our water there and - well, soon you'll see", the ravenette answered and quickened her pace to catch up with Breezey.
Swan eyed her surroundings. She had already seen the houses and soon she'd get to know them closer, so she didn't pay much attention to them. They crossed the sandy glade and the view to girls' dorm was broken with trees.
"That's the kitchen", Darky - or Darkie, Swan wasn't sure - noted and pointed at a - surprise surprise - wooden house on the left.
Before Swan could reply, another voice interjected them. "This is where the Path starts and it leads us to the Beach", Fallen told the newcomer.
The Path wasn't sandy; it was awfully muddy. The long blades of grass tickled her legs and she wished she had escaped in longer pants. The brunette was terribly afraid of ticks at that moment.
The walks was silent. Only the rasping sound their shoes made was heard. Swan observed the tall trees around her. She identified pines, spruces and birches, not else. She just wasn't that good at biology.
Swan realized she hadn't seen any animals yet. Not even birds, if she remembered correctly. The newcomer decided to question the closest camper, who happened to be one of the double Darkies.
"Um, Darkyy-ee?" she tapped the shoulder of the girl with chestnut hair. She turned around immediately.
"Darky at your service."
So the chestnut is Darky. Got it.
"Erm, I was wondering if there's any animals here?"
"Of course! You just don't see them very often. Mostly we see squirrels and common birds, like magpies and sparrows. Near the river there's waterfowls. Sometimes we see hedgehogs or voles, rarely even foxes and raccoon dogs!" Darky listed, counting with her fingers.
"Thanks, you really pay close attention to -"
"Yep! No problem, always happy to help. Just ask me!" the camper finished the conversation.
Suddenly everyone stopped.
"We're here", Fallen informed and Swan stepped forward to see the view.
The first thing she saw was an extremely tall cliff behind the river. There was no beach on the opposite shore, only the steep, displeasing cliff.
The river was pretty wide. It looked beautiful in the daylight, shining like thousands of crystals. The water was clear, but it floamed a lot. Although the flow was probably very fast, the foam looked soft, like clouds or the beard of Santa Claus. It'd be impossible to swim across that river.
Soft, pale sand felt nice under Swan's shoes. She resisted the urge to throw her tennis shoes away and run closer to the river.
"This is where we get our water from. The bottom of the River is full of rocks so sand doesn't mix up with the water", Breezey explained.
"See those houses? The one on your right is the laundry house. We do our laundry there", Fallen continued.
"Usually doing your laundry means you take off your clothes, put on something temporary and then wash your own stuff by yourself. We don't have many spare clothes so after you're done you basically just sit there, waiting for them to dry. On the other hand, having a shift in the laundry house means washing the pajamas and towels and so on", Robbie lectured.
"And you have soap?"
"Kinda. It's some kind of thing Moss and Lily made of plants", told Darkie.
"And that on your left is the wash house", Wistep informed.
"Wait, 'wash house'? That name's unbelievable lame", Swan blurted, a little rudely.
"We know. What sounds better then? 'Shower house'?" Wistep raised an eyebrow.
"Why does that 'house' have to be at the end of every name -"
"It's a tradition. We don't have many rules or things we follow, but that's kind of one of the 'traditions', along with the fact we don't hunt."
"Why don't you hunt, where did that rule come from? I mean - I get it, I definitely wouldn't kill off some animals just like that, but for example, there's plenty of edible birds", Swan said and pointed at two geese on the waterfront.
"You'd eat geese?" Darky asked, raising her eyebrow.
"If I was starving, yes. But my question was: where did the rule of not killing anything came from?" Swan inquired and looked at everyone.
"Well, you understood we don't want to kill, but we don't also want to become targets", Fallen explained.
"Targets?" Swan was confused.
"Look at those two geese. What if they attack us if we kill their friend? What's even worse, what if they unite and come after us?" Fallen gasped at her thoughts.
Swan raised her eyebrows really high. "Unite? Geese unite? Like what, a Goose Army? That's... ridiculous."
"You never know about geese..." Fallen mumbled.
"Hey girls, stop that fowlshaming and let's move on. We were talking about the wash house", Breezey interjected.
"Yes sir! So, the wash house is the place where we freshen up. Usually on every other day, which means today is girls' turn, but if you're feeling sweaty you can go there without a turn. You just take your own water inside and use the same 'soap' as in the laundry house", Blue lectured and played with her ponytail.
"Questions?" Darky asked and looked at Swan. "Not at the moment", the newcomer answered.
"Great. We've seen the Beach now so let's get back to Camp", Darky continued and leaded the group back to the Forest.
The Path felt much shorter now that Swan had used it before. She couldn't even take a good look at the trees before they were already standing at the edge of the Camp. Fallen took the lead and walked to their right, to the kitchen.
Fallen stopped in front of the house ruled by Icy and turned around. "Alright, Swan, do you want to take a closer look at the kitchen? Wanna go inside?"
"Is there anything to see?"
Fallen tapped her chin. "Hm, old pans and pots, places to do fires on, leftovers, water buckets, dry ingredients, cabinets..."
"In that case, I don't feel the need to."
"You'll take a good look on the interiors once you have a shift there with Icy", Wistep said and her tone was a bit... warning?
"Are the shifts nice? How's Icy as a commander?"
"Just wait and you'll see", Robbie's face glowed mischievousness.
"They can't be bad. Icy seems calm and friendly."
"Pfft, come on guys. That's not funny; I doubt Icy turns into a monster in the kitchen."
Darkie lowered her voice. "That's what the innocent newcomers think before..."
A moment of silence which was filled with intense staring was experienced.
"Boo!" Breezey shouted behind Swan, hitting her shoulders. Swan jumped in surprise. The campers started laughing.
"That was not funny", Swan muttered.
"Don't worry, only thing you will have to beware is the hair", smiling Darkie said while tapping Swan's shoulder in a friendly way.
"What do you mean? 'The hair'?" Swan was extremely bewildered.
"No, it's the hair", Darkie corrected.
Swan frowned. "What is it?" she repeated.
"When you're at the kitchen shift you usually have to keep an eye on the food... In case of the hair. Picking every strand of it from the food is tiring, but very rewarding."
"Trust me, you don't want any hair in your food. Especially when it's green", Breezey noted.
Swan's mouth formed an 'O'. "I think I got what you mean. Why don't you have hairnets?"
Breezey looked at her like she had just told a ridiculous joke.
"Moving on. See that building halfly covered by trees? There's the boys' dorms", Wistep continued the tour and began walking.
Swan saw the house, although the view was almost blocked by tall spruces. It looked just like the girls' dorms. She nodded.
"Wanna visit?" Wistep tilted her head.
"If it's exactly like the girls' dorms, then I don't need to."
"Actually, I've never been inside the boys' dorms", Wistep confessed. "Me neither", Fallen and Blue agreed and the case was same with the rest too.
"What? Why?" Swan asked curiously.
"It's their kingdom. A no-go area. Private luxury."
"Blue is right. They never let us in! Remember when we tried to barge in from the window?" Wistep asked the other campers.
"Yep, and the secret passage we tried to dig. Too bad they were prepared..." Fallen mumbled and slightly glared at the dorms.
"We've heard many rumours about that place though. The most plausible one of them tells they have an own unicorn", Blue continued.
If the most plausible one includes a unicorn... I don't want to hear the rest.
The group began walking again and passed the boys' dorms. Swan stared carefully at the plastic windows, in case there was something vomiting rainbows inside.
"That small room right in front of us is the boys' WC", Robbie told and pointed forwards.
"And the same-looking thing behind it is the girls' WC. Go ahead and try", Darky said, smirking.
"Um, later", Swan murmured awkwardly.
"Inside the WC there's a spare toothbrush for you too", Robbie noted.
"Toothbrush? You have toothbrushes?"
"Yep, although they were the hardest part to find... Flo already thought of toothbrushes made of grass and sticks!" Darkie giggled.
"Hope you don't mind a little used toothbrush", Wisep laughed.
Swan grimaced, and there was only one word in her mind: ew.
"Hey peeps! You visited the Beach already?" a voice suddenly yelled behind them.
The voice belonged to Flo.
"We did", Darkie responded. Flo came closer, and she was accompanied by Kinky and Goldi.
"I took these two with me so they don't cause trouble."
The two glared at their boss.
"Just kidding! They were doing nothing so I thought they need to join." Flo glanced at everyone. "We're continuing?"
"Yeah. Swan, when we go a little forward we see a house almost fully covered by trees", Blue said and the group moved on.
When they were in front of it, Swan wondered: "What's it's name?"
"The choice house", Goldi replied.
"Choice house? That's just... horrible."
"Don't diss! I made up the names with very much effort!" Flo cried out dramatically.
"You made up the names? Oh... That explains the quality", Swan smiled evilly.
"I'm considering hard right now whether to throw you to the River or not", Flo answered with a smug face. Swan was about to open her mouth and say something, but Kinky stopped her. "Let's just explain to her what the choice house is", she said.
"Right. Do you make your 'important choices' there?" Swan turned to Kinky, her voice a little mocking.
"Um, no. The name is 'choice house' because it changes it's purpose when we need it to. It's like an extra place", told Kinky.
"Very interesting..." Swan mumbled.
"There's nothing to see inside, it's like a warehouse for furniture and stuff", Goldi explained.
Then the group kept on strolling. They approached another building, and Swan remembered she had been inside it. It was the medicine house.
Moss was sitting on the ground in front of the door, examining something carefully. She had something on her hands, but Swan couldn't see it because Moss had her back facing the group.
"Heya Moss!" Flo called out to a fellow founder.
The healer jumped, looking terribly startled and stared at the campers with wide eyes. She quickly hid the object in her hands behind her back.
"O-oh hi! Um, on a tour?" the blonde asked.
"Yep, although Swan has already visited this house", said the boss.
"R-right. Hey Swan, I hope you enjoy the tour", Moss greeted, but she didn't even turn her head to the newcomer. What was making her so nervous?
"Flo, I have something to show you, just a second..." Moss whispered and leaded Flo behind the corner. Flo signaled that she'd be back soon.
I wonder what they're talking about...
But before the newcomer could inch towards the corner, Fallen stopped her and began lecturing.
"We kinda explained what medicine house is for and you know what's inside, rooms for our 'medicine' and patients. You might wonder where Lily is today. She went to the Forest to find some plants. Not too far so it's not dangerous, don't worry. You will visit the Forest soon too, Flo has it all planned out -"
Swan toned her ears off and slowly backed away from Fallen, towards the same corner that had the seniors hiding behind it. Nobody noticed since they were all chatting happily about who knows what. When Swan was so close to the two's spot that she could hear them, she stopped and listened. She couldn't look at them so she stared at gabbing Fallen, but she didn't see, only her ears were working...
"Oh, my god, Moss. This is absolutely - Gosh."
That was Flo's voice.
"I know! Oh, Flo, what do we do now?"
It was Moss, and she was panicking. Hard.
"I don't know", Flo admitted, and Swan heard shuffling, like she had run her hand through her hair nervously.
Moss bemoaned quietly before continuing:
"I found it not far from our camp! We're in -"
What did she find? The thing she had in her hands before?
"I need to discuss this with the others. Just be quiet about this; if anybody finds out about this, it causes a huge wave of panic!"
Flo's statement caused shivers to run down Swan's spine.
"Got it. I will tell Lily though -"
What Moss was about to say stayed as a mystery to Swan because of Fallen.
"Hey! Are you listening? What are you doing there anyways?" the girl asked, confused.
"Nothing! Will we continue? It seems like Flo needs a moment.."
"Works for me!" Goldi interjected.
"Hey Flo! We're moving on!" Kinky called out to the boss and the campers kept on touring.
"That lil' house you see in front of us is the rogue house", Breezey said after a moment of silent walking.
"Rogue house?" Swan questioned, frowning in confusion.
"It's the place where the newcomers stay when they're first found. The healers treat them there", Robbie explained.
"Huh? I wasn't in the rogue house!" Swan realized, even more confused.
"That's right", Robbie realized and looked at the others, searching for an answer.
"Ahem, Flo told me the reason for this. She said you're the last one to come and was pretty sure about it, so she saw no need to lock you to the rogue house", Wistep explicated very knowingly.
"I still don't get it..." Swan muttered.
Wistep took a deep breath. "Look, when a new camper is found we take them to the rogue house where they get their private room. They are healed by Moss and Lily if they have injuries and overall stay there a week. So, during that time we keep our eyes on the newcomer to see if they're dangerous or something like that. In our case, Flo thought you're the last one and not able to cause much harm."
"So Flo didn't think I'm able to perturb. Should I be offended or grateful?" Swan raised her eyebrow. "I think I'm grateful, phew; you did not put me in quarantine!" she finished and chuckled.
"The rogue house is kinda vain now. We'll see what Flo decides to do for it", Darkie remarked.
The next - and final - stop was the warehouse. It had a nice and peaceful, tree-covered corner behind the rogue house. The building sure was big, it must've needed a lot work to build it. And getting all the materials from the borders must have taken a while.
Breezey walked over to the building and knocked the wall. "Here's the warehouse. This is where we keep our foos."
Swan furrowed her eyebrows. "What did you say?" she questioned.
"I said we keep our food here", Breezey repeated, raising her eyebrow.
I swear, this place is making me hear things!
"We keep our food fresh with ice that can be found near the River. Of course we never fish more than we need. Vegetables and fruits and other stuff we have here don't have to be kept cold", informed Darky.
"It's annoying to have ice getting shift and fetch the ice from the River, especially when it melts so fast", Blue added. The campers agreed with her.
"This was it, Swan. You've seen the whole camp now", Fallen announced.
"Thanks for the tour! I must say, your camp is very organized. You've literally solved every problem you could have!" Swan exclaimed, impressed by the cleverness of the campers. They started to make their way back to the Tavern.
"Many thanks to Flo and the senior members", Goldi gave the credit.
"How did you realize all the ways to overcome the troubles? What's your secret?" Swan asked Darkie while walking.
"Our motto is to go with the Flo."
"Oh so you just casually do what others do -"
"No, we go with the Flo, not flow. Flo pretty much decides everything with the seniors."
"Does that mean Flo bosses you around? She said she isn't any more important than the others, but from what I've heard she seems to be a queen."
Darkie shook her head. "No no no! She ain't a dictator. She just takes the biggest burden, discusses stuff the senior members and newer ones too. Makes stuff happen."
Darkie's other half appeared. "Many of the others have their own roles too which they're responsible of. For example, Frosty is in charge of fishing and all stuff involving that. There's plenty of people who help Icy in the kitchen very often, like Sunny, Shivy, Fallen, Robbie, Shiver, Maple and Goldi. Some of them master baking and some of them just enjoy to be in the kitchen."
"Alright. Oh and by the way, Shiver told me yesterday that this is the Blogclan camp."
"Correct", Darky said.
"But she never told me why that's the name."
Darkie looked at her namesake. "One of the senior members made it up. They got inspiration of a book series they read back in the City. The series is called 'Soldier Kitties'."
"I've read Soldier Kitties! It's a good series", commented Swan.
"We have too! I think everyone here has, though", Darky pointed out.
"We're all book worms and we also loved internet..." Darkie sighed at her memories.
They were already standing in front of the Tavern. The group stepped back to the Tavern. Some of the campers weren't there anymore, probably doing some shifts.
"SWAN (insert heart-shape eyes emoji and many exclamation points here)!" a familiar voice yelled.
It was Sunny, who came from the corner table where she had sat with Flo, Moss, Shiver and Icy. Flo sure was a quick one to change her places.
"How did you like the camp?" Sunny asked and smiled widely.
"It was cool! I think I might be able to enjoy my time here", Swan replied and returned the smile.
"You sure will! We're like one big family!"
The other seniors stood up from the table. Moss, Flo and Icy headed out but Shiver came closer.
"It's gonna be spooky!" she said to Swan.
Not this skeleton thing again...
"Your time here! It's gonna be spooky!" she repeated.
"What do you mean by 'spooky'? I'm going to see ghosts?"
"No, with spooky I mean... spoooOoooOooky."
That totally explains it...
"Yep, I hope I have really spooky time here", Swan muttered mockingly, a little irritated. However Shiver didn't notice anything.
After that they sat around a big table in the middle and began chatting. There was many people, the ones from the tour, Sunny and the skeleton, healer 2.0 aka Lily, Frosty the fish boss and others. It was really nice, everyone seemed to be very friendly and caring. Swan though that maybe - just maybe - she could someday call the place her home.
Maybe, she could grow fond of the campers and enjoy her time there.
Maybe, she could get used to the life and jobs they had there.
Maybe, she could live there in complete peace, as great as the one in Harmonia.
She hoped so. She believed so.
But of course, that couldn't happen.
It was already proven by the next morning.
Chapter Three Edit
"Oh my god! Oh my, oh my gosh. Ohmygodohmygodohmygod!"
That's a nice sound to wake up to.
"God, I don't understand! This is - horrible!"
"We need to go right now. Someone wake Swan up."
"How? You remember how hard it was yesterday? Wait, Shiver, throw her to the floor!"
"Like right now? Isn't it kind of rude?"
"Since when have you thought about that? Then scare her! Think of a creepy meme! Do something you're good at!" one of the people was starting to get anxious.
"How to scare her? '''Being spooky doesn't mean I'm actually spooky!"
Someone let out a long, stressed sigh. "ARGH!"
A third voice joined the converstation. "Shush! No need to be complicated, just doing this works..."
Cold hands grabbed Swan's shoulders and shook her furiously. Swan's eyes shot open.
Sunny was staring at her, and her face looked horrified.
"What's going on?" Swan mumbled and sat up straight.
The three campers stared at the newcomer and they all seemed somehow shaken. It was silent for a second before Shivy spoke:
"Something has happened."
Swan gulped nervously.
"Is it bad?" she asked nervously.
"We'll see. Now dress up, quickly! We're needed elsewhere", Shivy commanded.
Wow, in this place you really gotta learn to do your morning routines in a millisecond...
She put her clothes on with a ninja method and in a minute they were already running out of the dorms.
"Someone explain me now, what's happening?" Swan shouted after the running campers, trying to keep up with the speed.
Shiver turned her head. "Kitchen. Something happened in the -"
Shiver's sentence ended with a loud gasp.
Everyone stopped in an instant. They stared in horror.
The kitchen was terribly mangled.
There was big, deep clawprints on every wall. They were as long as Swan's arm and as wide as her palm.
Icy was standing in front of her beloved kitchen, pulling her hair in every direction. Flo and Moss were behind her, not hiding their fear very well. Other campers had gathered around the kitchen too.
Darky appeared behind Swan and gasped in horror. "Oh my, Hamilton!"
"No, you mean 'Oh my Once Upon A Time'", Blue corrected.
"Ahem, for your information -" Darky was cut off by Minty and her demand for the two to take it easy.
Darky sighed. "Minty is right. We need to be more chill. We've got worse problems now", she said and Blue nodded.
Swan pondered if she should step closer and investigate. She really wanted to see the damage closely, but she was just a newcomer. The founder members probably wouldn't let her very close, just because she wanted to 'see what has happened'.
"Flo!" Sunny yelled and ran to the boss.
Wow, there's just one word to describe how Flo looks right now - a goose. Wait what I meant to think 'horrified'. Gosh, those geese from yesterday might've really damaged my brain... What if Fallen was right about their revenge!
Swan shook her head, annoyed with herself.
What on Earth am I thinking! Swan, what are you? An idiot? Focus, this is important! Wait, am I talking to myself now? But I'm thinking and not talking... Wow, I really have to stop now, I'm confusing myself.
Swan snapped out of her thoughts just to see Flo running her fingers lightly over the cuts on the wall. Other senior members were around her too, Icy was still pulling her hair, Sunny trying to cheer everyone up and Moss looked too shocked to do anything. Shiver was shivering. The non-seniors were circling around the kitchen, muttering in disbelief.
Not caring if the founders didn't want her close, Swan approached them. Luckily nobody told her off. Swan tapped Icy's shoulder. "Any clues on what's going on?"
Icy pulled her hair even harder. "Not at all! I'm usually calm but this kind of thing makes me rip my hair off! I think I've already lost all of my hair", she sighed and let go of her brown hair.
Well, it will take a liiittle longer to pull all of that hair off your head...
"Can I help?" Swan asked. Icy shrugged. "Sure, we need all the help we can get. I warn you, there's no clues, but gotta be optimistic!" She smiled a slight smile, a little sadly.
Swan nodded and moved over to Flo, who was observing the clawprints and muttering something under her breath. She clearly wasn't happy.
"Hey Flo, can I offer a helping hand?"
Flo turned around, not looking like she wanted someone to distract her at the moment.
Flo sighed heavily. "Your hand? We have enough hands. Well, enough nails anyway. You see these clawprints? They are HUGE. Do you have any idea what has done this?"
"Of course you don't. Okay, so listen carefully. I don't want others to hear but - the monsters! They've done this! They came to our camp last night!"
'I don't want others to hear'. I practically saw the exclamation marks, Flo. And isn't it pretty self-evident anyway.
Despite her thoughts, shivers ran down Swan's spine. It was fightening - the monsters! They had been in their camp! Why did they destroy the kitchen, though? What was the reason?
Unfortunately, those questions stayed as mysteries.
"T-There's absolutely no clues?" Swan continued asking, now more scared. There had to be something!
Flo's answer was simple. "No."
The ravenette continued observing by beginning to walk around the house. The other campers followed her, bemoaning while doing so. Swan didn't go after them. She needed to take a look at the clawprints.
The cuts were unbelievable. Unnaturally long and deep, they were something you did not want to see when you first woke up. Their scariness unbearable, like their pure existence could darken the already clouded sky.
Swan shivered. She took a step closer and examinated the clawprints carefully. The brunette lifted her hand to touch them. For some reason, she hesitated. What if there were poison in the cuts?
No, Flo touched them and she was still alive. At least a minute ago.
Confidently Swan brushed her fingers over the cuts. They felt like they were cut with a knife; they were that clear. The edges were sharp and not rough, although there was a little coarseness that proved that the cuts weren't made by a human.
'Not made by a human', geez this is getting creepy!
The next thing the newcomer did was not giving up. After not finding clues on the cuts she examinated the other part of the wall. Still not spotting anything, she got frustated.
It seems like Flo and Icy were right.... Absolutely nothing useful here!
Swan grunted and glared at the clawprints.
Those stupid clawprints couldn't even leave a single clue! I'd suppose that with those huge claws they would leave some kind of tracks - wait. Claws? Tracks? What if the Monsters have claws on their feet? They'd leave big tracks!
Excitingly Swan observed the ground, looking for any kind of footprints. Nothing was seen near the kitchen, but the newcomer didn't get discouraged. If there had been tracks near the kitchen, the others would have seen them. The footprints - if there were any - must've been further.
Swan started to think carefully.
Okay, so the biggest clawmarks are on this side wall. The others have been clawed too but not this hard. What could this mean? Maybe the monsters - or monster, no idea how many visited the Camp - came from that side and clawed the first thing they saw! Maybe then they realised they could destroy the other walls too and that's why the other cuts aren't that deep! Wow, what a smartie I am. This makes sense only if the monsters didn't plan their attack or chose their target at random. Maybe they don't even have brains. I gotta test this theory!
Swan studied the area with her eyes. Where the tresspassers could possibly have come from? Left or right or the other left or right...
There was faint prints on the ground a little further away from the kitchen. Their shape was weird and sharp-edged.
And they definitely weren't made by humans.
Getting interested, Swan sprinted over to them, behind the back corner of the house. The others had disappeared somewhere, but the newcomer was too excited to care. She was very glad that she noticed something.
When she looked at the footprints closer, she realised they weren't any animal's she knew. They were so near to the trees that their shape was clear in the mud. Mud covered the edges of the grassy camp, and at that moment it was very useful.
Following the tracks into the woods, Swan understood she couldn't go very far by herself. Expect for the time she was running for her life she had never been in the Forest.
I can't go by myself or I get lost, I have to tell somebody about this.
It was just like she had shouted her thoughts aloud since Maple was calling Swan's name behind the corner.
"Maple? I need everyone here right now! I found something important!" Swan yelled back to the messy haired girl. Her expression turned into a hopeful one and she disappeared.
Swan didn't even have time to shift her gaze back to the muddy ground when a big bunch of campers ran to her direction, looking curious.
"Swan, did you actually -" Flo's sentence cut off when she saw what Swan was pointing at. Her eyes widened.
"Oh my god. These are footprints of a monster!" Minty shrieked. The group of campers gasped loudly. Panic started to spread.
"Let's calm down everyone!" Icy raised her voice, "there's no need to panic. The monsters are gone now and there's no evidence if they're coming back or not. We can rebuild the kitchen and find a solution in case they are coming back, like guarding shifts at night. For now, we need to focus on this problem."
The campers let out a agreeing murmur.
"But we have to know where the Monsters came from! Aren't you even a tiny bit interested in knowing where everything started?" Swan was desperate to know everything that was going on.
Flo shook her head. "What we need to do is focus on the situation. Focus on surviving. We have to start rebuilding - luckily there's spare planks stored in the choice house."
"Come on! This can be the key to solving this whole case!" Why couldn't they understand?
"Swan, you're just a newcomer. Every new camper is desperate for answers, but us older ones have accepted to wait. Just let go, we will understand everything later." Flo's face was serious, she clearly didn't want to argue and cause more problems.
Swan was too stubborn to care.
"If you don't want to go, I can! I'll search for answers meanwhile you rebuild the kitchen."
It's like offering them that I will go to an amusement park and they stay home doing all the work. I should've worded that better...
Flo was about to respond but Icy did it first. "It's too dangerous for anyone. Swan, you have to understand, everyone wants to know what's going on but even if we figure that out, what can we do about it? Blogclan is just a bunch of teenagers trying to survive in the wilderness. I'd love to follow the tracks and kick some monster-butt, but we just have to stick together and fix our own problems. Let it go for now." Icy's voice was soft, but Swan was pretty sure she was also mildly annoyed with her.
Arguing with Icy after the nicely worded speech would've been rude, so Swan shut up. "Alright..." she muttered. She wasn't pleased and planned a protest.
Icy smiled, knowing she had won.
"Great, this is solved. Now everyone who has finished breakfast has to come with me to the choice house and see what we can do with the resources", Flo announced. The campers started to move away.
Swan's feet were glued on the ground. She saw Moss going over to Flo and whispering something to her ear. Flo nodded and said something Swan couldn't hear, but seemed worried. Maybe it had something to do with the healer's discovery?
Swan watched when Lily dragged Moss away from Flo and started to discuss something. Nobody even noticed her staying behind.
Great! Let's see if I can do something...
"Swan, hey! Aren't you coming?" Sunny had stayed behind from the others and seemed to be waiting for her.
Sunny frowned and walked over to Swan. "You're planning something", she stated.
"Pfft, no, of course not! What could I be planning?"
"Running to the Forest."
Swan didn't reply. What if she wanted go? There's nothing bad in that. She was not a prisoner.
Sunny looked worried. "Please don't! It's dangerous. We need you here! What if something bad happens? I would miss you and everyone would too! You are important like everyone else."
Swan snorted. "Don't try to sweet talk me."
"I'm not sweet talking, I'm telling the truth!"
"That's your over-positive truth. I'm not important before I do something important, like finding the Monsters. And I'm doing it now." Swan took a step away from worried-looking Sunny and walked into the Forest, keeping an eye on the footprints.
"If Flo gets to know about this you're doomed!" the camper yelled after her.
"That happens only if you tell her!"
"What if I do it?" Sunny shouted again.
"You won't. You're too nice to do that."
The silence told Swan she had been right.
Focusing on the footprints Swan continued to walk deeper into the twilit forest. The trees curved over her head and created a depressing atmosphere. Shivering, she hoped Sunny had come with her, but didn't look back.
After every step the prints were harder and harder to see. The trampled grass had already taked back its shape, so Swan had to go where brackens seemed cut by claws. It was extremely hard for her, a girl who had zero experience of tracking. Luckily brackens cut by monsterclaws looked pretty weird.
Suddenly she heard a crack. The brunette froze. She shivered in fear.
Someone was after her.
She pondered if she should turn around or not. Maybe she should run? Her heart hammered in her chest.
Swiftly Swan snatched a branch off a nearby spruce and squeezed it in her hands. The needles tingled her palms. All kinds of plans ran in her head.
A louder crack.
Swan jumped around and pointed the stick at her follower. "Hands up! I have a gun!" she screamed and took a tighter grisp on her branch. Her eyes widened when she saw what she was pointing at.
Sunny was standing there, her hands in the air.
"Put it down! That's a scary stick. Please don't kill me with it!" the camper pleaded.
Swan dropped the branch out of her hands. "Sunny?" Her voice was startled.
Sunny nodded. "At your service."
"What are you doing here?"
"I couldn't let you go alone! You don't know this forest. If we die, we die together!" Sunny's voice was more cheerful than it should've been.
"We won't die. This is just a regular coniferous forest. Nothing to be afraid of."
Sunny raised her eyebrows slightly and smiled. "Really? Because from what I saw, you were sneaking around like a scared cat. Yep, nothing to be afraid of."
Swan stuck her tongue out to the girl. "Stalker!" she exclaimed, but started to smile.
Sunny smiled too.
The moment was quickly over. "Alrighty. We have to continue now or we aren't home before everyone starts to get worried. I kinda lost the tracks already so if you know anything about tracking, do your tricks", Swan said.
"We better be home before the dark. Flo will definitely kill us if we get caught. As for the tracking part..." Sunny kneeled down near a bracken with claw-cuts. She examinated it carefully. Swan waited.
Sunny gasped. "Hey! Did you notice this white powder near the bracken?" she asked, looking very confused.
"Yes, there was something white on the footprints too. I don't see anything special in that." Swan was confused.
"Where did it come from? Why there's powder on their footprints? What is it?" Sunny questioned.
Swan shrugged. "Maybe the Monsters have a lot of dandruff."
"Don't you understand? This is a clue! Now we only have to follow the white powder!" Sunny exclaimed and smiled brightly. She stood up and dusted her clothes.
"Why's everyone here so smart?" Swan muttered and followed Sunny, who took the lead, glancing at the ground every two seconds.
They walked in silence for a while. Sunny was too focused to talk and Swan got lost in her thoughts. No matter how much she thought about the problems, she was always left with no answer.
"Look!" Sunny whispered. Swan turned her head to the direction the camper was pointing at.
She saw the River.
"Don't tell me we only got to the River and not further!" Swan groaned. Did she only walk as much as the Path is long?
"No, can you see that building there, on our right? It's the wash house. We've already walked past it! We're making progress!", Sunny informed and smiled happily.
Swan squinted her eyes and yes; she did saw a wooden wall pretty far away from them. Swan remebered clearly the day before when she had used the place for the first time.
"It looks like the monsters followed the River to get to our camp. It means they didn't know where they were going - maybe they had been instructed to follow the River!" Swan realised.
"That's creepy to think about! If someone instructed them to follow the River, it'd mean they have - a leader!" Sunny gasped. Swan's eyes widened in realization too. They stared at each other, thinking about the thing they realised, before Sunny shook her head and went back to tracking.
The two began their journey again. They followed the River, but didn't go anywhere near the waterfront. The campers stayed in the woods. The River and its beautiful flow couldn't be seen, only the fresh scent told them they weren't too far from it.
The walk was still silent. Sunny couldn't stop focusing on tracking, and Swan examinated everything around her. She scanned trees, branches, grass, moss, bark - everything. If there was a clue in her surroundings she would find it.
After they had journeyed for about fifteen minutes - that's what Swan estimated - Swan realised they had drifted further from the River. She couldn't smell its scent anymore or hear the quiet noise of splashing water.
Now that she tought of it, they were pretty far from everything. Of course Swan didn't know the place and wasn't sure - plus all the trees looked the same - but there were other hints telling her they were further. The wind sounded different - not that she had that good hearing, the sound of the wind was very notably peculiar. The clouds in the sky seemed way darker too.
She turned to Sunny for answers. "Did you realise we're very far from the River? And the wind and the clouds, everything looks weird", Swan spoke to the brunette ahead of her.
Sunny turned around. "When the distance with the Camp grows, everything starts to look different and odd. Don't worry about it - near the borders the sky is almost black! I don't know why but we haven't seen the sun in months."
Swan frowned in confusion. "What do you mean? You haven't seen the sun in so long?" she asked.
"No idea why! But don't worry, I replace the sun!" Sunny smiled very brightly. Swan couldn't help but laugh.
They kept going and didn't say anything. The two quickened their pace. The two brunettes wanted to find the place and get home as quickly as possible.
Swan was starting to get worried. What if they never found the place where the tracks led? What if they went all the way to the City? Swan shivered.
They walked for what felt like forever. It couldn't be much longer than half an hour, but when you're in a dark, creepy forest looking for monsters time doesn't fly. At all.
Suddenly Sunny stopped like she had faced a wall.
"Look!" she whispered, her voice a little scared. Her index finger - that pointed forward - trembled a bit.
Swan looked over Sunny's shoulder and her jaw dropped.
They had found something.
Swan shook her head in disbelief. Was this the place?
Did they find the place where the Monsters came from?
It looked creepy. Swan understood completely why Sunny had been afraid. The tall trees curved over it, making a somewhat daunting atmosphere. Long, thick vines climbed up the walls.
It was a tall, old silo.
The wooden walls were covered in vines and moss. They looked pretty rotten too. The metal-looking parts were horribly rusted. There was no door, just a thing that looked like a window without glass, and it was very high, near the pointy roof.
"Is this the place?" Swan quietly asked.
"I don't know, but look at how much of that white powder is beside it", the camper responded, observing the silo carefully.
Swan took steps closer.
"Stop! What if it falls down and crushes you? It looks old and rotten!" Sunny warned, trying to stop Swan from walking.
"We need to take a closer look!" Swan argued and kept on moving. She reached the silo and looked up.
It really was tall.
She touched the mossy and greenish wall. It felt wet and disgusting, so Swan pulled her hand away quickly. The whole place smelled sickening, rotten and just plain horrible.
"Come away from it!" Sunny shouted.
Swan shook her head. "No, you come here!"
Sighing, Sunny came closer. "Sometimes I wonder if I'm too nice", she muttered.
Swan laughed. "That's the best part in you!"
She walked around the silo, but there wasn't anything behind it. No door there, or windows. There was no way to get inside. Yet she was sure she needed to go there.
"What do you think, are those vines strong enough to handle my weight?" Swan asked when she got back where Sunny stood.
"Hm, yes, they look pretty steady - wait - don't tell me you're going to climb!"
"It's the only way to go inside."
"Why do you have to go inside?"
"There might be something there!"
Sunny clasped her hands together. "Exactly! How do you know what the 'something' is? It can be a monster, a crazy cat lady, a gigantic goose, a mad scientist who came from the future -"
Swan put her hand on Sunny's mouth. "There's nothing to be afraid of."
"Besides, if you want, you can climb up with me", Swan continued.
"No way! I'm here to catch you."
Swan was pretty sure Sunny couldn't catch her if she fell, but didn't argue.
Sunny tried to convince Swan to keep her feet safely on the ground. "But what if the building brokes? You might die! This silo is old and made of rotten wood!"
"My death won't be made of wood. Now tell me which vines look the strongest."
Hesitantly Sunny pointed at the most big vines. Swan put her hands around the little trunk and pulled. It seemed pretty steady.
Swan had always enjoyed climbing in trees, but she was never very talented in it. She had a slight fear of heights, and the silo was tall. Luckily not too tall, so she wasn't scared. Not yet.
Taking a deep breath, she took a tight grasp. She pulled her body to the air, placing her feet on the biggest vines. Her hands were already sweaty. She started to wonder if she could actually succeed; the task seemed harder with every passing second.
Brushing the doubting thoughts away, Swan took a good grip and began to move upwards. It was easier than she thought. The vine leaves tickled her arms and feet and the hideous smell of putrid made her scrunch her nose in disgust, but there wasn't anything too bad that could stop the brunette from reaching her destination.
After slowly dragging herself from branch to another, she finally made it to the top. The large glassless window was now right next to her - she had to plan how to go through it.
"Be careful!" Sunny shouted from the ground.
Swan placed her body right beside the hole in the wall. Quickly she put one foot in. The vine she was holding onto let out a loud snapping sound. Swan gasped and held on tighter.
Don't look down, don't look down, don't look down...
Another crack - now even louder.
The vine loosened in her hands.
Screaming, Swan jumped inside, hitting her foot that was already there on the floor harshly. She groaned.
"You okay?" Sunny's voice came from the outside. Swan put her head out of the 'window'.
"I'm fine, don't worry! Just a sec and I'm back", she promised, backing away from the window.
She was standing in a dark, big room. No living creatures, no furniture or windows, stairs, boxes - nothing. Only the nasty smell that was unbearable, it made Swan cough. And a huge amount of dust.
She was lucky the floor didn't crash down.
There was so black that Swan could barely see anything. Now she really hoped the sun would come out of the clouds. Maybe there was something she couldn't see, so she started to investigate.
Swan took a couple of steps forward. She waved her hands, hoping they'd touch an interesting thing. Suddenly her foot hit something and she tripped on snow.
At least it seemed like snow.
Swan stood up from the soft whiteness. She dusted herself.
What did I land on? Surely there's no snow here? What did Sunny say again about the things that might be in this silo - did she mention a mad scientist from the future? Could a mad scientist form snow out of nowhere? Wait, is there snow in the future? This could possibly be the scientist's poop too - wait yuck!
Swan snapped out of her thoughts and hit her forehead hard.
Idiot! What are you thinking about again! Focus!
Swan looked at the white thing again. From afar it looked like snow, but when she was close she realised it was - white powder! Just like the one in the footprints!
Oh, more monster dandruff!
Her nose scrunched in disgust.
I was sitting on monster dandruff.
Swan told herself the powder wasn't anything like that. She had to investigate the powder, but didn't know how. Surely she couldn't taste it? She had touched it though - nothing special in that, it was just soft.
But - she could smell it!
Swan kneeled down and took a handful of the powder. She opened and closed her fist, watching as the white, soft thing dripped through her fingers.
It looked harmless. How could a thing like that have anything to do with horrifying monsters? How did it get there at the first place? Why did the tracks lead there? So many questions, not many answers. Screw that - there were no answers.
Not thinking any further Swan shoved her nose close to the powder - so close that the two things almost touched. She took a deep breath, taking in everything the smell could offer.
A sickening stink.
Suddenly the brunette gasped in horror.
She stumbled backwards, gaping for air. The girl held her throat, starting to cough uncontrollably. Her eyes filled with water.
"Swan? Are you alright?" Sunny's worried voice came from the window.
However, Swan couldn't answer. Her lungs refused to work, breathing became harder and harder, the coughing began to get louder and louder...
What happened? What was the powder made of? Thousands of questions ran through Swan's panicking mind.
Her vision started to get blurry from the lack of oxygen. She breathed heavily, trying to get even a bit of air to her lungs. She had to lie on the floor to keep conscious.
This couldn't be the way she would die.
She saw black spots, darkness, the world began to spin.
Suddenly she remembered the last time she thought she'd die.
She was running. From a monster - or monsters. She saw the darkness, the black spots, she remembered the breath on her skin, bruises, the cage, black figures - wait.
Where did she see a cage? What did a cage have to do with her monster escape? Were there a cage in the forest? Was she in a cage? Was the monster in a cage?
Swan couldn't think anymore. Her brain ached in pain. The darkness became heavy - oppressing - it was too much. Her consious was about to fade when a Monster ran out of the black world, growling. Swan screamed on the top of her hurting lungs and closed her eyes, ready for the impact to come.
However, it didn't.
Swan opened her eyes slowly. The darkness she saw just a second ago wasn't there anymore. She breathed heavily, but her lungs felt okay.
She could breath normally!
But - how? What happened?
"Swan!" Sunny's voice was panicking.
Swan stood up. She felt a little giddy, but fine. She was fine.
"I'm okay!" Swan shouted back to Sunny.
Now she had to figure out what on Earth just happened.
She turned to stare at the powder on the floor.
When I smelled that, it smelt really sick. I can't smell that from this far, even though the powder is right next to me. That means the effects happen only if you go really really close.
What are the effects? Hallucinations? The monster sure was one, although it could've been a memory that attacked my brain when I saw the familiar blackness. But what about the coughing? Breathing trouble? That wasn't a hallucination. Maybe the powder just has that kind of effect on people, along with the hallucinations.
Sunny's distant voice came from the outside, snapping Swan out from her thoughts. "Swan! Can you come down from there? I'm starting to worry!"
"Don't worry! I'm coming."
Swan decided to not take any powder with her. It was some kind of drug after all.
She covered her tracks - the footprints - and fixed the powder pile she had touched. Then she leaped out of the window and got out, now using the other side of the silo. No more broken vines for her.
The way down was easier now that she had done it before, just a minute and she was on the ground, standing next to Sunny.
"What on Earth happened? I heard you scream!" Sunny questioned, worriedly.
"Something strange. There was more powder in the empty room, and I smelled it." Swan continued to tell the whole story. She tried to add in every detail, the cage included. Sunny listened carefully.
When Swan had finished, Sunny sighed. "Why's this so complicated!"
"I know right! Mysteries after mysteries. Feels like we're in a story."
"Yes! Right, a story! A fanfic - about - about vampires! What if they're here watching us now?" Sunny twilred around. "Which one is my best side?"
"Both!" Swan laughed.
Sunny giggled too. "Phew, I'm glad we can add jokes to this depressing situation. Like the way we came here, the unrealistic stepping sound you made to scare me, it was kinda funny. Lightened the mood."
"What sound? I didn't make any sounds."
Sunny tilted her head in confusion. "But I'm sure I heard faint, weird sound all the way here! It was too unrealistic to be human's steps, so I thought it was you pulling pranks on me."
"I didn't hear anything... I was deep in thought."
'Too unrealistic to be human's steps.' Wait - oh no.
Swan froze. Sunny looked horrified too.
"Are you thinking what I'm thinking?" she asked with a shaky tone. Swan nodded slowly, her eyes wide.
They were being followed.
As they stared at each other in horror, a little voice echoed in the forest.
Sunny gasped. "That's the voice!" she whisper-shouted. Swan gulped.
They backed away, closer to the silo. Swan grabbed a big stick from he ground and raised it. Sunny looked like she was ready to kick - or run.
Another odd noise. It came from a nearby bush.
Swan tensed up. She felt her heart beat heavily against her chest. Sunny inhaled next to her.
Something unhuman raced out of the bush.
The campers screamed multiple times.
They got ready for the fight.
Swan was ready to throw her stick at the attacker, but she stopped herself and stared at the strange thing before her eyes.
It was a bird.
And not any bird - it was a waterfowl.
More specifically, a goose.
With a purple collar.
"What the heck!" Swan yelled, "Is this a joke? Who's pulling pranks on us!" She threw the branch she was holding aggressively to the ground.
Sunny looked amused. "We were scared of a simple bird, haha! The sound I heard came from its swim fins!" She began laughing.
"It's not funny. How did a bird follow us in the first place? By foot?" Swan frowned. "Why does it have a collar?"
"It must belong to a camper!" Sunny realised.
"That's true. It probably saw us leaving and followed us, because it has small bird brains. To who does it belong to?"
"Someone who likes animals - no idea! It doesn't matter." Sunny looked up to the sky. "We just need to go home now, before it gets dark."
Swan looked up. The clouds were as dark as before, no change there. She couldn't tell what time it was.
"Do we go the same way back or...?" Swan questioned. Sunny tapped her chin.
Suddenly the goose grabbed the hem of Swan's t-shirt. It began to jerk her to the direction of the bush it came out of. "Stop!" Swan exclaimed and tried to remove the annoying bird from her shirt's hem.
"It looks like it's trying to show us something!" Sunny muttered.
Swan was annoyed. "To me it looks like it's dumb and trying to rip my shirt!" She snatched her shirt out of the bird's beak.
"No, let it show the way. Come on - what do we have to lose?" Sunny smiled.
"A lot..." Swan mumbled, but Sunny had stopped listening. The girl began following the bird, that moved forward the direction it came from.
Sighing, Swan followed.
The goose was surprisingly fast with walking. It led their way, Sunny right behind it, looking interested and Swan after them all, looking annoyed.
That stupid bird will just make us get lost!
They must've looked pretty strange, a multicolored goose leading two brunettes through a silent forest. Swan huffed in frustation. What was Sunny thinking?
They probably walked for a long time. Swan tried many times to tell Sunny she was doing a mistake, but the camper was determinded to find what the goose was going to show them. Swan was sure that the goose was just pointlessly wandering around, but Sunny didn't listen.
However, the bird seemed to know where it was going.
After walking for a while, Swan started to hear quiet voices. She tapped the senior camper's shoulder. "Did you hear that?"
Sunny nodded. She had a knowing smile on her face. Swan had no idea what she was missing. Shrugging, Swan didn't continue the converstation before the voices became even louder.
"Sunny! Do you know where we are?" Swan asked, very confused.
The brunette's face told Swan Sunny did indeed know.
Sunny and the goose seem to have a conspiracy against me.
Just after Swan had thought of that she realised where they were. Her jaw dropped when the trees left behind and a clearing opened before their eyes.
They were at the Camp.
How was it possible? They didn't come back the same way. They had followed a GOOSE!
Sunny turned to Swan. "We took a shortcut. I know who owns the goose now - she has taught the bird tricks. It has quite the brain."
"Hmph.." Swan didn't want to admit she was wrong.
"Come - we need to find the others and tell them what we found!" Sunny grabbed Swan's wrist and dragged her to the Tavern. The goose was left behind.
Sunny ran through the glade, Swan stumbling after her. Nobody was outside - at least at her sight. The sky wasn't as black at the Camp, it must've been already mid-day.
Sunny pushed the Tavern doors open with a rush. "Guys! I have huge news! We found something big!" she shouted excitingly.
The campers were sitting around a bunch of tables that were put next to each other. Flo was in the middle, looking like she was running a meeting. The ravenette looked at the two with raised eyebrows, surprised.
"Sunny, Swan? Where were you? We were searching the whole Camp for you!" she looked relieved, but also annoyed with the brunettes.
Everyone on the table turned to look at the two, with weird expressions.
Sunny became explaining. "You will understand! We found something important! We followed the monster's footprints -"
Flo raised her hand, signaling Sunny to stop.
"Wait. You followed the footprints? I - Icy - everyone - told you not to go! Sunny, I thought you were more responsible!"
Flo seemed disappointed, annoyed - she was that kind of Flo Swan didn't want to meet.
"When Swan went I obviously had to go after her. Now, listen and understand. This is helpful", Sunny promised. Flo smeed like she wanted to argue, but she was still the boss - she was still smart and open to all kinds of information that could help the campers.
And then Sunny went on and on about the journey - how she found the powder on the tracks, how they discovered the silo and what Swan found from the inside. She told about everything, including every little detail, often asking how Swan had felt during the situations and what Swan had seen.
The campers listened carefully. Flo had her eyes closed. Icy asked extra questions. Frosty, Maple, Minty and Blue let out the most of the surprised sounds. Wavey, Wistep, Dew and Breezey had theories. Lily wanted to know if they were injured.
Shiver said their discovery was spooky. With multiple o's.
"What was the powder? Swan, what do you think?" Goldi asked.
"Scientist poop - monster dandruff - I mean - some kind drug, maybe." Swan covered her rambling with a cough.
Flo nodded, like she had just decided something.
"I think we need to go there. Tomorrow. Sunny, you lead us. Swan stays here, no more adventures for her", the boss announced.
"Is this a punishment?" Swan was disappointed. She couldn't investigate? Why?
"Sorry Swan, but you've done enough. I'm not saying it was wrong thing to follow the tracks - thanks for finding this thing out - but we did tell you to not to go. You didn't listen - it's kinda your fault. I gotta keep strict, sorry."
Swan mumbled something for her defense, but she knew perfectly well Flo was right.
"Tomorrow at dawn, Sunny leads us there. Lily, Maple, Minty, Frosty, Robbie and Darkie. You come with us", Flo listed.
The selected campers let out cheering sounds, others groaned. Everyone wanted to see the place.
"I want to come - Flo, you're in debt for the extra pancake! I will never give you one of my pancakes if you don't let me come!" Wavey demanded.
Flo cleared her throat. "Right. Then Wavey comes too."
Wavey seemed proud.
"What is this? I have told you Flo, you don't need Wavey's pancakes, you can take extra from the kitchen! You just have to ask. How many times I've told you, you still eat the other one for Wavey", Icy chided, raising her eyebrows.
"Wavey always has the most syrup!" Flo argued.
The girl with multicolor hair smiled proudly.
"How's that possible?" Icy's face was confused.
"Guys, guys! No need to argue, but I'm at Flo's side; Wavey always has the most syrup! It's a funny coincidence", Sunny laughed. Then she turned to look at Fallen. "Hey, and Fallen, could you come outside for a second?"
Fallen nodded and stood up. She seemed a little surprised. Sunny led Fallen outside. Swan followed the two curiously.
Swan spotted the goose in front of the Tavern.
When they were out of the sight, Sunny started to speak. "Fallen, we found your pet. It followed us to the Forest - luckily it knew a nice shortcut back here! You really taught it awesome tricks, it's a genius!"
Fallen turned to look at the goose and let out a happy sound. She kneeled down to hug the bird.
"Wollow! I was worried!" Fallen exclaimed happily.
"Does that thing have a name?" Swan asked, raising her eyebrow.
"Well of course! I named it Wollow." Fallen informed.
"Wollow? Why did you choose that? It doesn't mean anything."
"It - well - it just - called me. Like she was destined to be a Wollow!"
Swan tilted her head. "It's a she? How do you know? You need to know the colors well for genderizing."
"I know my geese, thank you very much."
Sunny interrupted. "But thank you Fallen for teaching Wollow, she really helped us! Such a wise goose!"
"One question - why didn't you tell the others about that thing, Wollow and how it helped us?" Swan questioned the founder.
Fallen looked awkward.
"Uhm... Others don't know about the pet... I kinda - uh - shouldn't have it as a pet..." she muttered.
"It's a wild animal. You shouldn't trap it", Swan lectured.
"I know! And I don't even have her trapped. She's wild and free. She just comes back to me, I feed her, teach her tricks", Fallen said, petting her goose. "I even found her a cute collar!"
"We meet at the River. Not every day but pretty often", she continued.
"That's why you were defending geese yesterday!" Swan realised and the other girl smiled.
"Hey Swan! Could you come to the medicine house for a sec? I need to check if you're okay!" Moss yelled from the door.
The brunette followed her healer to the house. Moss showed her the way inside, to the lobby. Decorated with couches and many many closets full of medicine plants, it looked comfy. Swan remembered the place well.
Moss began her check, tested arms and legs for bruises and asked her to do little things like cough to show if she had something in her throat.
Moss looks so calm now, the last time she was panicking - wait! I can ask her about her discovery now!
Moss looked up. She was checking Swan's knees.
"What did you find yesterday? I heard you speak. You said it would cause panic. You said you found 'it' not far from our camp. What is it?" Swan demanded.
Moss went pale.
"I don't know what you're talking about", she stated blankly.
"Think again. I will tell the others what I heard and then they're all demanding the answer from you!"
Moss shook her head. "You're m-mistaken."
"I know I'm not. Tell me or the panic will spread!"
Life goals: blackmailing - achieved!
Moss stood up and glanced worriedly around. "Please, Swan... Don't make me do this..." she pleaded, with a sad look in her eyes.
"I won't tell anyone", the newcomer promised.
Moss took a deep breath.
"I found a claw. A claw of a Monster."
Swan tensed up excitingly. She would hear all the answers!
But of course, it couldn't happen.
Chapter Four Edit
The girl with black hair turned her head to look at her friend. She was hiding her fear, but as the ravenette's good friend the other girl could see right through the mask.
Covering her own fear for the others' sake. She's such a good boss for us.
"You really weren't lying when you said the place was creepy", the leader muttered.
"Wow! Sunny, did Swan really climb there? It's so high!" a girl who stood a little further - Robbie - marveled.
Frosty sighed briefly. "This silo is... It's just so... It's so..."
Sunny couldn't agree with the boy more. The place was absolutely indescribable. Yes, you could say it was dark, rotten and disgusting, but it didn't give a good picture of the atmosphere. The silo was something you had to experience.
"I agree, Frosty", Sunny said, "This place is so so!"
Wavey walked closer to Sunny. "Should we go inside?" she asked.
Sunny shifted her weight from foot to foot and pondered.
There could be something new inside, if someone other has visited this place.
She observed the silo with her eyes. It looked just the same - rotten, dirty walls, the same vines, the same sickening stink, same-looking tall trees curving over it...
But then again it could be dangerous. I don't want anyone getting hurt. Yesterday Swan almost choked there. It was really scary... I don't want it happening again.
Wavey stared at the brunette, waiting patiently. "So what's the deal?"
I can't decide! Yes or no? Danger and possible answers or possible cluelessness and safety?
"No. We won't risk anything."
Wavey nodded, she seemed like she wanted to keep everyone safe too.
"So no one's going up there?" Lily asked and came closer.
"Yeppers! I figured it would be the best if Swan's reckless act doesn't happen again. Let's keep our feet on the ground and investigate this area. Okay? Everyone agrees?" Sunny raised her voice at the end so everyone would hear. The campers nodded, some were pleased, some were a little disappointed.
Flo clapped her hands. "Great! Now let's work. Observe the area, the walls, the ground - carefully!" she announced.
The campers splitted up, eager to find some clues. Sunny and Flo stayed there together, watching over the others.
"We won't find anything, y'know", Flo said, breaking the silence. Her gaze never left the silo.
"Why are you so sure?"
"We aren't meant to. Finding this place wasn't supposed to happen. Swan shouldn't have followed the footprints. This is all wrong. We were never meant to know these secrets. We leave them be, they leave us be."
"They didn't leave us be. They attacked the kitchen without a reason! Doing nothing only causes trouble for us. Finding nothing, closing our eyes from the truth, hiding in shadows, that is all wrong. Without figuring out what is going on leads us to our doom. The more we know, the safer we are."
"Sunny... You don't understand. With every piece of information we get, my life becomes harder and harder. Deciding between options like risking somebody's life to save the others is impossible. That kind of questions are to come if we continue this road to answers - answers that aren't needed! We only have to survive!"
Flo sighed deeply and shook her head.
"Can't you see, Sunny? Do you realise you need somebody else for this position? What I want for us is not what the others want. I think differently. I'm in your way... Sorry. I'm just not worthy enough to be the one in charge... "
"Flo, look at me."
The ravenette shifted her gaze slowly to her friend.
"Now's not the time to doubt your abilities as our boss. You have said yourself, the position doesn't make you any more important, and that's right. You're already very important to us, with or without being the boss. I know nobody would want to replace you. Haven't you realised yet? Everything you say is accepted without hesitating. We do what you say, because we know - we're so sure - that you are correct. That you want the best for us. That you're the best possible boss for the Camp."
Sunny's words were soft, but her tone was tough. She put her hand on Flo's shoulder.
"Flo, we trust you. I trust you."
Flo stared at her friend for a moment. Then her face broke into a slight smile that soon expanded into a wide one. "Thanks, Sunny. You really helped."
Sunny returned the smile.
"No problem! That's my job!" she replied cheerfully.
Flo shook her head, smiling. "No seriously, you healed my confidence. I don't know what we'd do without you!"
"No, I don't know what we would do without you!"
Flo smirked evilly. "You'd have fun."
The other girl laughed. "No no no no, you are fun -"
She was cut off by a scream.
The one to shout was Minty. "Hey! Everyone - I found something!"
"What is it?" Flo asked, her voice curious.
Minty looked at the ground and then back to Flo. "Something!"
The senior members rushed over to the younger girl. Robbie and Darkie had appeared, they were kneeling down to examine.
Sunny looked over Minty's shoulder, and saw a big pile of the white powder. She was a bit disappointed - nothing else was found? The powder was old news. Despite that she congratulated Minty for her discovery.
"But the powder is nothing new. Keep an eye out for something else. And by the way, that's dangerous. Don't touch it! Don't smell it! And absolutely don't taste it!" Sunny lectured.
Robbie tilted her head innocently. "Why can't I taste it? What if it's unicorn poop?"
Darkie scrunched her nose in disgust. "Why would you want to taste unicorn poop?" she queried.
"It tastes like rainbows?" Robbie responded jokingly, and shrugged.
"But rainbows don't taste like anything. They are only raindrops and the Sun -"
"No lectures! Y'know, unicorn poop obviously tastes like rainbows. Enough said", Robbie stated.
Darkie raised her eyebrow. "Shouldn't unicorn poop look like a rainbow too?"
"Monster poop would be closer to the truth", Flo interjected. "But being serious, no touching, stay away from it."
During the next hour or so the campers found more white powder, some very old cans and faint prints that could've been a monster's. They were messy though, and left a long time ago. The campers lacked success, but Sunny was sure they would find something. Why wouldn't they? Of course their effort had to be rewarded!
"There's nothing here!" Maple groaned and kicked dirt.
"There has to be! Keep on looking", Sunny encouraged.
"Let's go a little further from the silo. There can be something. Like the footprints at the Camp weren't just next to the kitchen, they were further", Wavey suggested.
"That's a great idea, Wavey!" Flo praised. "Did everyone hear that? Go a little deeper in the woods!"
The campers obeyed.
"You saw that, Flo dear? They did what you said, instantly!" Sunny whispered. The ravenette smiled brightly and nodded.
Suddenly a loud shriek broke the comfortable silence, echoing from the tall trees, filling the silent forest with tension.
"HEY! There's something here!" Maple yelled from the woods. Her voice was confused - maybe even scared.
"Is it 'something' again or is it something?" Flo souted back.
"No! It's - you gotta see this!"
Flo gave Sunny a quick glance before the two ran where the voice came from. Maple and Lily were standing next to some new footprints on the ground. Sunny couldn't see them clearly at first, since the two other campers were in the way.
Hm, monster footprints found?
"Are those monter's? They look kind of new, did the monsters visit this place during the night?" Flo questioned, peeking over Maple's shoulder.
Maple's voice was shaky when she spoke. "N-No... These a-are..."
"Human's", Lily breathed.
Sunny's brain went blank, but luckily Flo still knew how to speak. "What do you mean? Aren't they just footprints of one of the campers?" she asked, bewildered.
Lily's voice was just above a whisper. "No... There's no way our shoes would make such prints. Look." She pointed at the ground. Flo leaned closer, Sunny behind her.
The shoeprints were clearly visible - no doubt, they were new. They were kind of big, but could've been some camper's. The pattern of the shoe sole though, it was something Sunny had never seen.
It was an odd zig-zag pattern. The symbols looked almost like letters of a foreign language - the language of answers, the one so unknown to the campers, the one they desperately wanted to learn, if they just could read the text, everything would've been so easy...
"You see those tiny holes dappling the strange pattern? Weird - they look like they're made by some kind of spikes!" Lily pointed out, moving her finger gently above the prints.
"That's true! Maybe the one to visit this place had shoes with spikes!" Maple noted.
"Wow, that's one stylish villain!" Lily exclaimed with a chuckle.
Sunny had normalized herself from the shock. "Not necessarily a villain", she reminded, but felt afraid. Who was the person and how did they know about the silo?
"How can you be so normal? Don't you understand? Someone - who's definitely not a camper - visited the silo during the night. A person other than a camper! I haven't seen anyone expect you guys for years, can't you see what it means? The person knew exactly why they came here. They visited this silo, the silo that's only full of monster powder! This means the person has a connection with these beasts!" Flo took deep breaths after her aggressive speech, clenching her hands into fists.
There was a silence for a moment.
"Oh gosh", Lily managed to whisper.
Where did the person come from? Why did they visit? How did they know about this place? What's their possible connection with the monsters?
It was all about questions.
There were only questions, questions. Problems, problems. Trouble, trouble. Struggle, struggle.
And where were the answers?
Everything was so freaking complicated.
"Did you try following these? Where did the prints lead?" Sunny asked the two girls who did the discovery.
"Of course", Maple replied and waved her hand at the direction where the footprints led, "But we didn't find anything. The tracks just fade and fade until they're invisible. It's no use to follow them."
"Oh dear Lords of the Stalker Geese", Flo breathed. "Why is it all like this? Why are we spammed with trouble and horror? Why us? We're just ordinary people trying to survive after a catastrophe!"
"There's no reason, and you know it", Lily sighed, closing her eyes like she was tired of everything.
"Or maybe we're just so strong. Maybe it's us, because we can survive - heck, we will survive! It's us because we're the winners. We are the only ones who will go through this, that's why it's us! Maybe everyone else has fallen down and then there is only us in the world, facing this - surviving this - because we are the most powerful people!" Sunny threw her fist up in the air, glancing at her friends, her lips forming an encouraging smile.
The faces of her friends lighted up. They started to smile with Sunny, and raised their fists too.
That speech didn't really make sense, but ah well! At least I brightened their minds.
"The next thing we have to do is find the others and tell them about this", Flo informed. Lily and Maple both nodded and rushed away.
"Good speech!" Flo praised and gave her friend a high five.
Sunny chuckled. "That's what I'm made of! Inspirational speeches, and... chocolate. Yes, I'm made of chocolate. Eighty percent of me is that scrumptious, warm brown godliness. Shhh, it's a secret - oh no! Now you know my biggest secret! Don't eat me please!" Sunny covered her head with her hand dramatically.
Flo let out a playful snort. "I don't trust you. You have to prove me you're a chocolate hybrid."
Sunny released her hands from above her brown-haired head and grinned widely. "That sweet liquid runs in my veins instead of blood! That's why many have tried to trap me, never succeeding! I'm invincible! Chocolate makes me the strongest human being on Earth!"
Flo rolled her eyes playfully, a smile playing on her lips. "Oh come on, you silly", she said and grabbed Sunny's arm, dragging the brunette along, back to the silo.
The first thing they saw after getting out of the thicker woods had Sunny's heart racing.
"Darkie!" Sunny shrieked.
The girl with dark brown hair was hanging on the vines of the silo's wall. She looked like she had just come outside of the big window Swan used the day before.
"What are you doing? I thought we decided not to climb there!" Flo yelled, annoyed that the orders hadn't been listened to.
Wavey, Frosty and Lily were standing under the window, looking up worriedly. Wavey had crossed her arms and she looked a little pissed, but concern was more major in her eyes. Frosty looked downright scared and Lily seemed like she had walked into a weird situation. Wavey turned around when she saw the two seniors.
"I told her not to go! I tried stopping her with all I had, gave her hunderds of reason why she shouldn't break the rule, but she just insisted and insisted that she had to go see if anything had changed. I really tried to stop her!" Wavey explained frustatedly and let out a long, stressed sigh.
"They argued like two pissed stoneheads! I must say, it was entertaining..." Frosty chuckled, but shut his mouth when Wavey death glared him.
"Don't make fun of this! It's serious bussiness. She could get herself killed!" Wavey turned to Flo, a sad look in her eyes. "I'm sorry, I really tried to stop her! I failed at being a friend. I failed to protect her", she sighed and hung her head down.
Sunny patted the girl's shoulder. "Of course you didn't fail! You did well trying to stop her, but she made her choices. Darkie thought it was best if she checked the changes up there too. She's alive now, and she's coming down, in one piece!" Sunny reassured.
Wavey raised her gaze, and Sunny did so too. Darkie was coming down agilely, placing her feet carefully on the vines. Just a few seconds and she had safely landed. Her smile faded when she saw others glaring at her.
"What?" she asked confusedly and raised her hands in defeat.
"What 'what'? You know what what this what is!" Wavey stated sternly, placing her hands on her hips.
"Uh", Darkie muttered and laughed nervously.
"I told you not to go!" Wavey shouted, but she sounded more worried than mad.
"Sorry! I just wanted to know if anything had happened. That's important information for us!" Darkie defended.
"Well, had anything changed?" Lily asked curiously.
"No. Everything was exactly like Swan described."
"Shame..." Lily muttered.
"That means you risked your life for nothing. You could've fallen!" Wavey pointed out, still annoyed.
"I like falling. Especially in my sleep."
"This is no dream! Wake up!"
"Why do I have to wake up if this isn't a dream -"
"Cut it, you both! Darkie, know that you should follow our rules, although it was probably a good thing to check it out. Wavey was just worrying about you, she isn't angry. Everything alright between you now?" Flo cleared the situation. The both girls nodded.
"Right. Sorry for overreacting", Wavey said to Darkie.
"It's fine. It was my fault for not listening; I understand you were just being a good friend for caring about me", Darkie replied, smiling. The multicolor head returned the smile.
"Lily, did you tell them about the tracks?" Flo asked.
"I did, but Darkie didn't hear it."
"Alright, explain to her. We'll look for Maple and the others."
Flo and Sunny walked to the other direction, and found Minty and Robbie, accompanied with Maple. They were discussing furiously. The three didn't even notice the seniors arriving before they announced their presence.
Minty's eyes were round. "H-Humans!" she managed to stutter.
"Yes, we're humans." Flo raised her eyebrow.
"I mean - there were human footprints! A human knows about this silo! That's - creepy!" Minty looked shocked, like she couldn't believe it.
"I know. We're discussing this later at the Camp", Flo informed. "Found something?" she continued.
Minty and Robbie shook their heads. "Absolutely nothing."
"Then we may return."
When they reached the silo again, the other campers were ready to leave. They had already investigated the area, and there was nothing inside the silo either.
But they had found the human's footprints - that was an extremely important discovery. Sunny thanked Maple and Lily in her head for finding them.
"Returning?" Frosty questioned.
"Yep", Flo responded, popping the 'p'.
"Excellent! Just in time to sink the fish-nets."
With no more words, the nine started their way back to the Camp. Even if they took the shortcut, it did take sometime. But it left Sunny time to think, which was a good thing.
At first her thoughts were wandering on the footprints, and the questions they created. It led nowhere, so she stopped wondering, moving to the next topic to ponder.
Her mind flew over the picture of Darkie hanging on the vines. It reminded Sunny of Swan, and how she had been there too. The thought of Swan in that morning made Sunny smile. She had been so sour.
Her face was so annoyed when we left without her! The death glares targeted at Flo were absolutely hilarious! Good thing she didn't complain... At least when I was around, haha!
She didn't look very pleased with me yesterday either when I walked in while she and Moss were talking. Moss had just revealed she found a monster's claw, and when I came Swan was left without more information, her annoyed face was so funny!
Haha, I shouldn't think this way! I should understand that others don't know everything and are extremely curious. I'm privileged to know more as a founder camper. Swan would probably die to know all the things I know and she doesn't, like the rest of the information about the monster claw or the thing that happened when she arrived... I think I blurted out something about that accident before! Well, we'll tell the other's when we're ready.
Sunny's thoughts wondered from topic to topic.
We should have a get together sometime. Swan doesn't know much about us yet and we need to get to know each other better anyway. Oh, we can have a singing night today, didn't Icy complain about the leftovers? Perfect! Better ask Flo.
"Hey, Flozie! What do you say - let's have a singing get together tonight!"
Surprisingly, Flo agreed that it was a good idea. They discussed for a while and decided to do it.
They finally reached the Camp, and Birchy was there waiting. She was sitting on the ground, leaning on the wall of boys' dorms - just where the shortcut lead. She was looking extremely bored sitting there, playing with her hair.
When the blonde saw the others, her face lit up. "Finally! You have no idea how long I've been waiting! You wanna know what we did today? I sat here, meanwhile the others used the day to repare the kitchen, cook, clean, doing the basic shifts and so on. Gosh, I'd rather take Flamey's WC cleaning shift than sit the whole day waiting", she ranted.
"We're here now! Need me for anything?" Flo asked.
"Yes, actually, Shiver wants your opinion on the kitchen..." Birchy started to lead the boss away.
"Guys, go take a snack. I'm sure Icy has something prepared", Sunny suggested.
"I will inform the others about our discovery. I just have to tell Moss first and then I'll talk about it in the Tavern", Lily promised and went looking for Moss.
Robbie, Wavey and Minty left to the Tavern for snack, while Frosty went to do his fishing duties and Darkie plus Maple wanted to freshen up. Sunny followed the first three.
On her way across the glade Swan appeared. Of course she began asking questions.
"You're back! Tell me what you found!" the earlier grumpiness was gone; she was just completely curious.
"Not much, but something important. Lily explains it soon, don't worry."
"Come on! Why can't you tell me? Lily will leave out details!"
"She won't, she'll be very careful to inform you guys about everything", Sunny promised and smiled.
"Unfair. Yesterday you stopped Moss from telling me about her discovery, now this? Can't you tell me anything? I thought you were nice", Swan muttered.
Sunny giggled at her frustatedness.
"You know enough about the monster claw, and I won't blurt out anything anymore! My lips are sealed." She moved her hand over her lips, like a zipper.
"Only things I know are that the monster claw was found near the camp on the day before yesterday. It proves that the Monsters had visited near this place before - maybe not that day, but they had been here earlier too. Yesterday wasn't the first time."
Sunny clasped her hands together. "See? You have so much information already! There's not much more about that thing. I won't tell you anything else - I don't even know what we were discussing! Weird bussiness! What's that 'monster' you were talking about?"
Swan rolled her eyes. "Whatever..."
"Cheer up! You probably had fun together here too, and there's a singing night today! Fun ahead!" Sunny cheered.
Swan sighed. "Yay, I had so fun doing the laundry, helping with cooking and picking green hair out of food. And I don't even like to sing."
"Come on Swany, wipe that black cloud away! You don't have to sing, and I bet you had nice time talking to the campers while working, right?"
"Well, cooking went fine with Shiver and Kinky. Kinky knew a lot about hairy food prevention, but then again I was overloaded with Shiver's spookiness... Washing with Blue and Darky was pretty good too, expect Blue kept talking about something called 'Robin and Regina', and I have no idea what it is, are those code language words? The other codewords came from Darky, who went on and on about this thing called 'Lams'. It was kinda awkward when I had no idea what they were talking about..."
Sunny didn't realise how big her smile had widened when she listened. Swan was so clueless about the campers' interests that it was hilarious! "Don't worry, you aren't missing anything, those are just.. Their interests. Right. Now come and have a snack with me!" she commanded and dragged the newcomer to the Tavern.
Lily had just finished her speech and answered to every question - yep, she had that politician in herself. The other people who saw the silo helped with questions too. The Tavern was now filled with nervous discussing. Sunny was chewing the last piece of her carrot bread, listening to the faint noises she heard over her own thoughts.
Getting Lily to explain took longer than expected because of her duties, but nobody wanted to take her place. The campers had had their meal already, prepared the get together and continued reparing the kitchen - which was almost finished now. It was time for night snack - and soon the singing would begin. Sunny was very excited.
Icy came to the front and clapped her hands to get everyone silent. "Okay everyone! Our dear Sunny had this genius idea to have a singing get together, so here it is! Step outside, we've got everything ready for a blast!" she announced. With cheers, the campers exited the Tavern.
Sunny followed them outside. It was already pretty dark - not too dark, just kind of dusky, like looking everything through sepia-colored glasses. The weather was warmer than expected. It created a nice atmosphere.
The place where the night was held was the spot in front of girls' dorms. There were many logs put around to a big circle, and a cosy campfire in the middle. It looked awesome - the night was going to be fun! Sunny chose the best log to sit on, it was between Wistep and Breezey.
When everyone had settled down, Icy began speaking:
"Okay. We're here to talk about ourselves and sing something nice. We have decided to do the singing part first. So, what shall we sing?"
Darky bounced on her seat. "Oh oh oh! I know! A song from Hamilton!" she cheered excitedly.
Some nods were seen.
Swan let out a cough. "What if I don't know Hamilton at all?" she questioned.
"Then just any song from some musical!" Breezey suggested.
Sunny nodded furiously. YES! I love musicals!
"I think there's one problem... We can't ever choose which musical", Flo pointed out.
"True..." Dew muttered.
Shiver raised her hand, a mischievous grin on her lips. "I know what we should sing!"
Icy tilted her head. "Yes?"
Shiver closed her eyes and started to sing. "We're no strangers to lie..."
"You know the rules, and so do I!" Birchy joined in, grinning.
"Please no", Swan groaned, along with some others.
"Hey, I know a perfect song! The theme of Once Upon A Time!" Blue clapped her hands, like she just discovered the meaning of life.
"No, there's even better theme we could sing. It's Thomas the Tank Engine", Shiver spoke again.
"Absolutely and utterly no!" Shivy yelled.
"....Bee movie theme?" Shiver tried.
"Does that stuff even have lyrics?" Flamey raised his eyebrow.
"Hey, let's sing a Disney song!" Birchy realised.
"Yes, yes, yes, please!" Icy agreed.
"I don't remember the lyrics for those", Goldi pointed out.
"Can we sing something more modern?" Wistep sighed.
"Imagine Dragons!" Blue screamed.
"Yes!" Flamey shouted excitedly.
Frosty cut them off. "Let's sing something we all know. Like some old nursery rhyme. About fish."
Lily rolled her eyes and mocked, "A song about fish? How would that go? Like, oh yay, I'm a fish with scales, just happily swimmin' around - oh no! Deppy dep dep, I swam into a net! Frosty the Fishman with his net, I'm a goner, soon in the kitchen on a plate, covered with hair as green as my former home which wasn't even green! Yay the song of us, fish nuggets!"
Frosty looked somehow hurt. He placed a hand on his heart.
"Very funny, Lily", Moss raised her eyebrow at her healer friend.
Flamy raised his hands. "Hey! Let's do something unique. Rap! Back back to the basics... Bumchica bum bum..."
"Yes, we can rap!" Shiver got excited. "I know what song we should rap. Ugh, never yo gonna yo give ya up, dog! Hollaaa!"
"Didn't I say no already?" Swan narrowed her eyes at the skeleton.
"I know! If we won't rap or sing modernly, we can sing a ballad!" Fallen exclaimed.
Dew cleared her throat. "Aaand I-Eeee-Yaaaa will aaalways looovee yooouuu!"
"No ballads! They are depressing and too hard to sing anyway. The high notes, ugh!" Breezey shook her head.
The campers began muttering quietly, before Shivy realised something.
"The song we're gonna sing has to have lyrics we all know. So, what song is so popular that everyone knows it?"
There was a moment of silent thinking.
Kinky jumped up. "I know, I know! The song that played hundred times on radio a few years ago! Gangnam Style! Remember?" she was glancing at the others excitedly.
"Good idea!" Flamey clapped his hands.
"Uhh", Minty interjected, "We do know that song, but... Wasn't the idea that we all know the lyrics? The problem is that, the Gangnam Style song, it's just, y'know, NOT IN ENGLISH?" she face palmed.
"Ooohh", Kinky laughed nervously.
"We won't ever agree on the song", Robbie sighed.
The campers started to join the pessimistic converstation.
"Robbie's right. This is too hard."
"I know - we can't ever agree."
"Who even decided to do this?"
"Nice idea, but doesn't work."
"We are gonna sit here forever."
"Every song is too difficult anyway."
"The lyrics would have to be easy for everyone, is that possible?"
"Let's just go to sleep."
"Yeah, this won't work."
Sunny hit her hands very strongly against the hard log, causing everyone to snap their heads around to look at her confusedly. Sunny felt really disappointed in her friends - cutting a fun night off just because of a disagreement? Seriously?
"Guys! What on Earth are you doing? We are supposed to have fun!" Sunny looked waitingly at Flo, Icy, Moss and Shiver, who hadn't said anything during the short protest. They looked awkward.
"This is a cool idea, but it's leading nowhere. We can't decide on the song, it pretty much ruins this", Swan huffed. Sunny wished she could telephatically reach the girl and scream into her head, Don't ruin this, dummy!
Sunny mouthed her to shut up and cleared her throat. "Ahem. I've solved this problem. Now, my most dear campmates, I announce to you that yours truly has decided the song for us to sing - we'll sing Wings!"
The youngsters let out realising sounds.
"That's the song you taught to us last year!" Darky exclaimed with wide eyes.
"That's right! It means you all know the lyrics - and I think it fits us perfectly!" Sunny smiled brightly.
Swan looked awkward. "Guess do I know the song..."
"You said you don't wanna sing anyway, so it doesn't matter! You can dance", Sunny offered.
"I really do like to dance, but I'm so bad at improvising... Is the song even fast enough to dance to..." the newcomer murmured.
"It is, actually it has great rhythm -" Sunny was cut off by Fallen.
Fallen stood up. "Hey, I can dance with you so you don't have to be alone! I'll show you some moves, just copy what I do", she said and solved the problem.
"I can dance too!" Blue volunteered.
Sunny clasped her hands together, a big grin on her face. "Great! Anyone else wanna join?"
"Not me", Minty said, "I'm so bad at dancing."
"Same", Maple admitted.
Flo, who had been silent the whole time, spoke:
"Alright! Now we need the rhythm. Clap your hands like this -" she did a serie of claps "- and just follow my lead when the tempo changes. You can stump your feet too."
Minty shook her head nostalgically. "I wish I had my violin..." she groaned.
"And my alto sax", Kinky sighed.
"Plus my alto sax too!" Wavey added.
"We'll have to go with what we have. Okay? Everyone's ready? Alright, let's go!" After those words a huge smile appeared on Flo's face. She began singing, with the others joining in, Sunny included.
"Take me to the sky
Put your hands up in the sky
If you're feeling the vibe
If you're ready to fly
Let's do this!"
Everyone's voice played fantastically, echoing in the night. However, the voices of Dew, Flo, Robbie, Wistep and Wavey really stood out perfectly. The long, swiftly moving shadows of the three dancing girls created a beautiful jumble of light and darkness on the faces of the singing campers, the shadows dancing in sync with the three.
"I remember the young me
I didn't have any worries..."
The soft cracle of the burning logs in the campfire mixed with the clapping rhythm the campers made. The fire was beautiful with all the deep hues of orange and red. The night was beautiful. Life was beautiful.
"These tiny feathers became wings
Because I was full of faith
Those wings would let me fly
With the sound of laughter
Like a bird."
The lyrics were so inspirational. They had something to do with the campers too; they'd grow their wings and fly freely, do what they want, without anything or anyone bringing them down.
"I go to places people tell me not to go
Do things they tell me not to do
Want things I shouldn't
I get hurt, I get hurt
You can call me stupid
But then I'll just crack a smile
I don't wanna succeed doing something I don't like
I believe myself, I push myself."
At that moment it seemed like there was no worries at all - no monsters, powder, nothing. Like everything bad that ever happened had turned to ash and was blown away with the same wind that carried their wings.
"I trust myself
But my back hurts
'cause I let my wings sprout
I believe you,
My beginnings may seem humble
So prosperous will my future be."
Yes, sometimes it hurted to do the things you loved. It hurted to left everything familiar behind and try your own wings and how far they carried, let them sprout. The ones who tried got wounded again and again, but there was always a prize in the end.
"Fly, fly up in the sky, fly, fly get 'em up high."
The same thing went with the campers and their lives - sometimes it hurted to try and live at the Camp. But it was their decision - none of them would fly alone.
"This is the path you chose, kid
Don't chicken out now
This is only the first flight."
They shouldn't be afraid - they chose to stay - to survive! No fear, it was just their first try - a try that will last and become a life decision.
The refrain started - as beautifully as a dream.
"Take me to the sky
If only I could fly freely
If only I could escape forever..."
Escape - an escape from the monsters, the escape from trouble - it was the fact they had each other. And their own, strong wings.
"If my wings could fly
I pierce through the air
It gets heavier and heavier
and I fly."
They fly - just fly. Their decisions make the feathers, the belief makes the wings, their own strenght carries them.
"Fly, I fly, I fly away
Higher than, higher than, higher than the sky
Fly, I fly, I fly away
With all of my strenght
My rosy wings will carry me."
Their voices echoed in the night, bouncing from the trees, ringing perfectly, flying perfectly with their hopes.
"Spread, spread, spread my wings
La la la la la la, la la la la la la
Spread, spread, spread my wings
La la la la la la, la la la la la la..."
Sunny's thoughts flew with the lyrics and the rhythm, opening her the gate of heaven of hope.
"Wings are made to fly, fly, fly, fly
Fly, fly, fly
If my wings could fly."
If they could fly, fly, fly, just work with the dreams! Just do as they wanted, nothing else. Sunny's mind calmed down when the chorus ended.
"Now I know to grow older
and I break up your regret
I chose my thing
I have limitless faith
It's time to be brave
I'm not afraid
Because I believe in myself
Because I'm different than before..."
There was always the second chance - the next day would be a new beginning. The next day something new, exciting and wonderful would happen. That reminded Sunny of the fact that Flo would be taking Swan to a dangerous journey the next morning. That was a beginning too.
"I won't cry about the path I'm going
I won't put my head down
My place will the sky be
and I will be flying, fly."
The meaningful lyrics had their hearts racing, and they sang even more powerfully when the refrain began again.
"Spread, spread, spread my wings
La la la la la la, la la la la la la
Spread, spread, spread my wings
La la la la la la, la la la la la la..."
The campers - they were full of faith. They believed in their decisions. They had their wings - they had multiple wings when they were together! Flying might seem hard, but they could do it. They would fly.
"Wings are made to fly, fly, fly, fly
Fly, fly, fly..."
It was so easy to spread the wings.
"If my wings could fly~"
(Credit - the song is Wings by BTS. Translated lyrics were found on Youtube, all the finetuning and other changes done by me, Swan.)
Chapter Five Edit
"Stop it! You look like a drunk."
Swan shook her head, trying to get the grogginess away. She blinked her heavy eyelids a few times and looked at the ravenette standing sternly in front of her.
"Thanks for the compliment."
Flo rolled her eyes. "Just stop that annoying swaying! It gets on my nerves."
The four girls were standing on the edge of the glade, the faint morning light filtering through the heavy white clouds. It was cold and humid, but the sleepiness numbed all the feelings.
"It's not like I can help it. Not my fault to be extremely sleepy when somebody made me get up before dawn!"
Flo sighed, like the reason was too obvious. "Y'know, it takes some time to get where you're going. And by some time I mean a long time. And by long time I mean forever."
"You haven't even explained what's going on."
The boss smirked. "Impatient. Soon you'll see."
Swan crossed her arms. "Tell me."
"Waking up this early makes anyone unmature..."
"Ahem, I woke up before you did and I'm being extremely mature, dear child."
Swan raised her eyebrows curiously. "Really? Why aren't you tired at all?"
Flo just grinned. "I have my secrets."
"Seriously. Spill that precious secret", Swan hissed.
"I've done this so many times that it doesn't affect me anymore", the boss replied with a smile.
"Really? That's - is that the only reason?"
"Well of course the fact that I can go back to sleep right after this helps too."
Swan sighed. She was about to respond, but somebody cut her off.
"Enough chit-chat. We're still here when sun sets if we continue this", Wistep - one of the four girls - interrupted.
"That's true. Thanks, Wis." Flo looked at Swan. "I guess I'm explaining now", she said and clasped her hands together.
"We're going to the borders", Moss blurted out of nowhere.
"Don't steal my lines!" Flo whined.
B-Borders? The place where every tool and useful resource is found? The place near the city? The dangerous one?
"Oopsie!" Moss giggled.
"I never have the chance to be dramatic. Why can't I ever tell the most shocking parts? Somebody always steals my lines. Where's the scriptwriter? I need to make complaint to the director."
Moss chuckled. "I guess I'm going to steal the next dramatic line too." She looked at Swan, trying to hold her laughter. "Swan... I am your father."
Swan grew annoyed. Why are they fake-arguing with each other when we're discussing an important topic! The borders don't sound like a place where you go when you want to have fun.
"Stop that and explain! Why the heck are you dragging me to the borders?" she shouted and waved her hands in front of Flo and Moss.
"Don't boss your boss, rookie. We were about to. Never question our tactics", Flo stated with a playful glare.
"No shouting or the others will wake up", Moss reminded, her voice was friendly.
"The thing is, every time a newcomer comes they're taken to the Forest so they get to know their surroundings. But this time we need to visit the borders because the repairing after the attack ate away lots of our resources. So to hit two birds with one stone we decided to take you there with us", Flo explained.
"Hm, maybe that makes sense... But it was a dangerous place after all, why to take somebody so unexperienced there with you?"
"I told you. Two birds with one stone."
"It's a big risk!"
Flo raised her eyebrow. "You wanna go or not?"
Do I? I know they won't make me. The place sounds risky, I think I shouldn't go for the sake of safety. But then again, it's a huge chance to see what's out there, maybe find answers... Gosh I'm too curious!
Flo smirked knowingly, like she had known the answer all along. "That's what I thought. Now stop worrying and leave already, time's running out", she commanded, pointing at the Forest.
Swan frowned at the ravenette. "What? Aren't you going?"
"I told ya, I'm going back to sleep after this and I'm not planning to ruin that."
Swan just huffed.
"Hold on a little, Flo. We need to wait for the others", Wistep reminded.
"Oh, right. Almost forgot. They should be here soon." Flo nodded at the other black-haired girl. Now that the two bespectacled ravenettes were standing right next to each other Swan realised how samelooking they were - expect Flo was older.
Swan cleared her throat. "Um, is there others coming too? Who?" she asked.
"Of course. You need a founder member to guide you since Moss hasn't visited the borders too many times", Flo explained and stared at the silent Camp waitingly. It was quiet, only the plastic windows glowed with faint light from the homemade lanterns inside.
"Who?" Swan repeated, "Founder member as in Sunny? Icy?"
She noticed a few dark silhuoettes moving closer to them.
"I think I see them", Moss said quietly.
Nobody answered Swan's question.
So who's the guide, Sunny, Icy? Swan peered at the approaching people.
She didn't see Sunny, neither did she see Icy.
The turtleneck sweater, the skirt, the glasses. You couldn't get mistaken.
Yep, it was Shiver.
Swan wasn't sure why she was a little disappointed. She had absoluetly nothing against Shiver. Maybe the girl just confused Swan with all of her spookiness and skeletalness.
"Hey guys! Ready to go?" the girl with the black bob shouted and smiled.
"As ready as we'll ever be", Moss replied, returning the smile.
Swan looked at the campers that came with Shiver. There were three; Flamey, Blue and Dew, all of them seemed tired - expect the latter, she looked like she was going to burst out of her skin at any second. Her eyes were filled with eagerness. Swan wasn't sure what was going on.
Flo clapped her hands. "Off to the woods then. Make sure to be careful. Be as fast as you can. And be back before" - Flo glanced quickly at Shiver - "the thing."
The last words seemed to be targeted at the other founders.
I wonder what's 'the thing'? Seems serious. Why can't they ever tell us what's going on?
Shiver nodded. "Follow me." She started walking towards the Forest from the corner of the choice house where they were standing.
And that's how the journey began. At that moment Swan or any of the campers had no idea what the borders had in store for them...
Shiver led the six campers without a word. At the second Swan placed her feet on the wet ground of the Forest, all the memories from two days ago rushed to her head.
The silo. The atmosphere. All of it - the experience of smelling the powder, Sunny's screams - wow. It had been a lot, but Swan didn't regret her decision. Well, maybe a little - because of not following the rules she couldn't return to the silo when the others did. She didn't see the footprints. And that annoyed her to no end.
"Swanswanswanswan!" A voice snapped her out of her thoughts. An excited voice. She turned her head to see Dew - the girl was still looking like she was about to explode.
"Hi", Swan said because she had no idea how else to reply.
"I've been waiting for so freaking long to have the chance to talk to you! Since the chat we had in the Tavern a couple of days ago, remember? Flo interrupted us when I had something important to note." Dew's eyes flickered with alacrity.
Swan was starting to get curious. "Yes?"
"We were talking about what we remember. You fell into your thoughts and had a flashback about the scary woman who threw you into a room full of other people!"
"Remember, it could have been my imagination."
"No! It was not. Swan, listen now. Don't doubt. This is really important."
Swan wanted to believe that.
"I was just about to say that I realised something about your memory."
Swan nodded her head quickly. Don't hesitate! Tell me already!
Dew took a deep breath. "I -"
"Shhh!" Everyone stopped walking after Shiver hissed. "I think I heard something", the guide whispered.
There's something already? Please, we've only walked for what, five minutes?
Dew's face was so displeased that if Swan hadn't known better she'd think someody had eaten the girl's chocolate bar right in front of her.
Everyone was tensed up, waiting for Shiver to say something. The skeleton looked focused.
After a moment of silence Shiver turned around. "False alarm!" she giggled and continued the journey.
It was still enough to interrupt an important thing. Don't they teach manners to skeletons in Underworld?
Dew sighed. "Alright. I was about to say that -"
"Dew! I have something to tell you about your cleaning shift tomorrow!" Shiver called and motioned Dew to come closer.
You got to be kidding me.
Dew shot Shiver the dirtiest glare possible, but did as she was told. Swan was left as the last one in the group. She huffed in annoyance.
The brunette realised that a blonde was now walking next to her. She must've looked really surprised since the other camper raised her eyebrows.
"Are you sure? You looked pretty murderous a second ago."
Woah, did she just say I looked murderous?
"Not planning on murdering anyone, don't worry. Shiver just cut off a converstation between me and Dew."
Blue was silent for a moment.
"Actually I have something to tell you too."
Swan raised her eyebrows really high. Now she was surprised - why everyone had something to tell her?
Blue sighed. "It's been bugging me all the time. Since you came it has haunted me. From the first second I heard your name..."
Swan tilted her head in confusion. Name?
"Is your first name by any means... Emma?" Blue asked.
"The main character in Once Upon a Time is Emma Swan."
Swan couldn't help but laugh. Her stomach started to hurt and it was hard to walk.
"Why are you laughing! It's not funny! I mean, this can't be coincidence", Blue pouted.
The newcomer tried to hold her laughter. "Do I look like that Emma Swan girl?" she asked, wiping the water from laughing too hard off her eyes.
"Well, no -"
"See? What even made you think so?"
Blue looked embarrassed. "I might have watched it a little too much back then", she muttered awkwardly.
"It's no big deal", Swan reassured, but then her face turned more serious. "You remember quite a lot about your past, don't you?" she asked.
Blue just shrugged. "I don't know. Maybe more than we usually do - well, more than a new camper should. It's not special."
"Tell me something", Swan pleaded, hoping that the other girl's memories would freshen her own too.
Blue looked at the newcomer weirdly. "Alright... What should I tell you. Hm, so you recall all the basics - how society works and so on?"
The brunette nodded.
"You just don't know about your friends and family and the stuff that brought you to this point."
She nodded again.
"I think that's the case with everyone. I can't say I remember more than other people - like the founders - but even their memory has blurred for some reason. I only recall some names, what I loved to do and of course everything about OUAT - fortunately."
"So what exactly are those things?"
Blue put her hand inside her grey jacket and pulled out a necklace. It had an owl face and a half of a heart in it. The blonde caressed it with her thumb.
"The other part of this belonged to my cousin. I'm so glad I haven't lost this. It reminds me of my family... Or the beloved ones I had, whoever they were."
Blue sighed deeply and hid her necklace under the jacket again.
"I don't even remember what was my cousin's name... Heck, I don't even know if they were a girl or a boy! But I know for sure my cousin was dear to me. I don't even know if they're alive anymore... I wish I could meet them, just once before this place takes me too."
Silence fell on them. Swan didn't realise Blue had teared up a little during her recollection and was now quietly wiping her eyes. The newcomer was never a comforter, so she kept her mouth shut. She just watched as Blue quickened her pace to catch up with Wistep.
Swan stayed as the last one in their group. Now she had the time to observe her surroundings with her eyes, to look for something - anything - she hadn't seen before.
Although there wasn't much to see.
The wind blew strongly. Shivering, Swan pulled her hoodie tighter around her. Since it was only dawntime, the weather was very chilly and humid. The wind had a fresh smell of morning dew in it though, it made Swan feel comfortable.
The ground was annoyingly wet from the nightly dampness. The brunette knew that her shoes could splash with water at any second. Even the sound of scrunching leaves and needles seemed like they were underwater.
Everything she saw was something she had seen before. Not like she expected much, but the landscape was almost exactly the same she had stared for the whole walk to the silo.
The trees. The pines, spruces - do they even need to be mentioned? The same tall figures, the same thick trunks with pitch dripping slowly down them. Now in the dim dawnlight Swan realised that the big trees had somewhat majestetic atmosphere around them. They looked almost exquisite.
Almost, since they were daunting, big and dark and in a Forest full of Monsters.
Swan nearly tripped on a troot. It gave her a nice flashback - notice the sarcasm - of her first night in the woods. She shook her head to get the memory away and peered at the sky instead.
Why was it so lightless?
Sure, it was really early at the morning, but it should've been less dark anyway. Why were those heavy, low-hanging clouds there all the time? Why didn't they let the sunlight through them very well? The newcomer reminisced what Sunny had said about the clouds being up there for a long time.
While she was staring at the sky, she almost tripped again.
Making herself more focused on walking, she tried to recall every unsolved mystery there was. And there was a lot of them, more questions than there was hair on Icy's head.
Swan tried to count with her fingers, listing the mysteries in her head.
What are the Monsters, where they come from and why do they exist. Why did the Monsters attack the Camp and why the kitchen. What was the white powder thing all about. How did the City got destroyed. Where I and everyone else who came after the founders were before making the run in the Forest, what my memory meant, who the woman was, who the other people were. What the claw Moss found meant, why are there always clouds in the sky, whose footprints the ones near the silo were, how did the person know about the silo - phew!
Swan's head spinned and she took a breath deeper than her confusion. There was so freaking many questions. She couldn't even list them all!
She grew frustated. Why to bother finding answers when all they got was more questions? It started to seem useless to her.
Don't fall into that trap. That's what everyone wants you to think - giving up under the frustatedness. This only takes lots of effort and time.
Time, that they didn't necessarily have. If the Monsters would continue their attacks, they'd need answers and solutions quickly.
Swan tried to man up. She began to look into things from a different perspective - if they only focused on the biggest questions out there, the little ones - that might be very important - could be ignored. So, what were the little things Swan had had in her mind? The little questions that bugged her a while and then were forgotten?
When I was spending my first night in the Tavern, Sunny blurted out something about a thing that happened when I came. Flo got mad at her afterwards... It must've been important. I wish I knew.
What else? Did someone slip another secret out on the first night? Wait - Flo did! It was when I asked if there were more boys than Flamey and Frosty. She said there was before, and when I asked details she ignored my question! Oh gosh, I wonder what happened to those poor guys...
Moving onto my second day. Nothing special, expect Dew getting interrupted. No, wait a minute, there was! Flo was about to take me to the tour but then Icy came to say that Sunny had done or said something. It might not be important though, just their camper stuff or something like that.
Then the day I went to the silo with Sunny. A lot of questions appeared that day - which one of them is minor? The powder isn't, neither the silo itself, or the hallucination... Oh right, the hallucination! The cage! The cage I saw while I was affected. The one I was in or a Monster was in or somebody else was in. Or maybe it just existed near the place I was back then? Man I wish I knew the answers to these.
Anything else? Not really. Expect Fallen's goose - what was the name? Wolwol? Lowlow? Weelow? Anyway, that thing is creepy and definitely a mystery. I don't like the way it stares at me - like it sees right through me. Like it knows everything about me. I feel like if I wake up at night the goose appears from under my bed and says 'lol ecks dee I'm stalking you'.
Swan shook her head to get her thoughts away and saw that Dew had appeared right in front of her. Swan was instantly filled with curiosity. Dew started walking beside the newcomer.
"Shiver took forever to talk, but I'm free now. Ready to hear what I have to say?"
Swan nodded furiously. Why was Dew even asking?
The blonde sighed. "Okay, first you need to explain a little better what you remembered. The details. Please, try."
And Swan tried. She told everything she had experienced there, from the beginning where the female dragged her to the room, to the part where the female checked her prisoners, and the end where the light escaped the room and Swan saw her own face. Dew listened carefully, her eyes were half closed and Swan was sure she'd trip on something at any second.
Then the younger girl opened her eyes, looking at Swan with a serious face. "I've been there."
Swan gulped. "Where?"
"In that room in your memory! When you first told us about it, I think I had a flashback."
Swan's face must've looked very confused since Dew began explaining.
"When I first came, I had repeating nightmares almost every night. There was always a woman. And a dark room. The atmosphere was so daunting and oppressive that I always woke up sweaty and my heart was beating like crazy." Dew shivered.
The wind blew Swan's hair on her face. "What happened in your nightmares?" she asked while tugging the annoying strands of hair behind her ear.
Dew seemed hesitant to recall such things. "T-There was either the room, where the female threw me and watched me scream in pain. O-Or, sometimes there was a different scene. A cage."
Swan's eyes lit up. Cage? Was there connection?
"Cage", Swan whispered, "explain. Now."
For a short moment there was a flash of confusion and fear in Dew's eyes, but she quickly blinked them away. She took a deep, shaky breath and stared at nowhere.
"I'm standing outside. It's dark, I can't see what's around me. Only reason why I know I'm not inside is because I can feel the coldness of nature all over me.
Then there's a bright flash. I notice a silhouette standing just a few meters away from me and I don't need to see any better to know it's the woman - the torturer! Luckily she doesn't notice I'm there.
I realise there's something behind the woman. A huge cage - the biggest I've ever seen. It climbs up in the sky, glitters inhumanly in the bright flashes of light, holds something horrendous inside. The female opens the big gate of the cage, it creaks and complains loudly and I can hear noises coming from the inside.
That's when I understand what the woman is doing. I know she's letting something free - something that'll break out and kill someone I care about. I have no idea how I realised that, but I guess dreams aren't very logical.
I try. I really try to run and stop her. I dash over, I scream, I hit, cry, yell, kick. Anything to make her stop. I shout insults at her, punch her limbs, dig my nails in her skin, rip her hair. My eyes are wet and I feel the pressure and panic weighing me down. I do it harder. Nothing works. She remains untouched.
Nothing I do affects her. She pushes me aside, kicking me into dirt without even looking at my direction. She flings the gate open. My hopes and efforts shatter with my bones as she slams my body down, out of her way. I feel a draught brush against my skin and at that second I know it's too late.
I feel like it's over, like everything's over. My world came to its end. Now the woman has done what she wanted to do, everything's gone. That someone I desperately tried to help was gone forever - because I couldn't help! I had failed! It was freed, everyone was in danger. Everyone I ever cared about - because of me!
While I drown in my thoughts the female has come closer to me. She clearly isn't pleased with me. Her shadow casts on me, I don't see her face - I never see - but I know I'm as doomed as the person I tried to help. I stumble further, but it's useless. She pulls out a weapon, and I instantly know she's going to hit me like she has done hundreds of times before. I scream for the doomed one - I scream because of the pain - louder than I ever have. She gets ready to strike and I hide my face, ready to feel the weapon dig inside my skin. And I wait for the impact to come.
But it never does. I realise I'm in my room inside the girls' dorms - Flo, Fallen and Darky are all there sleeping peacefully. But I have no peace. My day is ruined. My skin is sweaty and my heart bangs against my ribs so hard that I'm worried I'll wake the others' up. I breath loudly, trying to assert myself that it's just a nightmare, but I can't help but wonder if I've actually gone through that."
Swan didn't look at Dew. She didn't say anything. She couldn't - not after what Dew had just told her. At first she tried to find the words of comfort, but soon she realised there was none, so she stayed quiet.
They continued like that until Swan had to break the atmosphere. "I'm sorry", she whispered. She didn't know what else to say. She wasn't a comforter.
Dew didn't reply straight away.
"It's okay. You don't have to say you're sorry. It's not your fault in any way I had to go through such nightmares." The blonde's voice was stronger than Swan expected, but she avoided eye contact. Swan thought she noticed something glittering in the camper's eyes, but decided it was only her tired eyes and the dim light messing around with her.
"I reminded you of your nightmares back then. I brought them up today. I demanded you to explain. I need to apologize."
Dew shook her head, wiped her eyes and turned to look at Swan. She smiled - it was a little sad though. "I decided to tell you, so it's fine. I thought it'd be best if you knew."
"Glad you are. Should I tell Flo? I think Icy informed her about your memory back then... I told nobody about my nightmares when I still had them. I actually had forgotten about them before you kinda reminded me a few days ago."
Dew glared at Swan playfully. "I said not to apologize!"
"Sorr - I mean not sorry!"
Dew rolled her eyes. "I guess that's better..."
They fell into silence again, but it was a comfortable one. Swan yawned. She was still sleepy, only her fast thoughts had kept her awake. However, now she felt her feet getting heavier and heavier with every step. She wished to know how long they had walked - it felt like forever. Shiver was too far in the front though, Swan didn't have the power to catch up with her pace and ask. She yawned again.
I need to keep my brain busy or I fall asleep while walking! Wait - could I sleepwalk? Sounds useful! How can I do that?
Swan glanced at Dew, ready to tell her amazing idea before she realised what she was just trying to suggest.
Wow, what a genius I was being again.
Instead of learning how to sleepwalk Swan focused on a thing she hadn't payed attention on before. She had observed the trees and ground and sky too many times, but had she ever thought how they were moving? Yes, they were walking, but how did Shiver know where they were going? Was she following some marks on the surroundings or what? They weren't following a path and there wasn't any notable marks on the trees or rocks.
Suddenly catching up with Shiver didn't sound too bad.
After noting Dew, Swan began jogging and soon caught up with the skeleton. She was first in the line with Wistep. Swan took the spot in between the two.
"So Shiver, how do you remember the way to the borders?" Straight to the point.
Shiver showed her signature smile. "I have a good memory. Besides, I've been there so many times."
"But what if you forgot where to turn." It sounded like statement, just like Shiver could forget the way at any passing second.
"So you don't trust me." Shiver pretended to be hurt.
"Uhh nooo, I didn't say anything like that. I was just wondering", Swan mumbled, embarrassed that it had come out that way.
"Shiver, don't play with her. You know there's a way if you forgot", Wistep said and joined the converstation.
Shiver laughed like it was the best joke she had ever heard. "Of course there is! Look, I have it here" - she searched something from the pocket of her jacket - "ta-da! A magical map!" She waved a piece of dirty, extremely wrinkly paper in front of Swan's face.
"You have a map of the Forest?" Swan asked curiously. It could be useful.
"No", Shiver crushed the alacrity, "it's only a red line with the most important landmarks marked there."
Swan tilted her head. "How can you navigate just seeing a plain, red line?"
Maybe she had underestimated Shiver's skills. What if only spooky people could navigate that way?
Wistep spoke again. "We use it only if we don't remember where to turn. The way is always the same and pretty easy to memorize. The same turns will sink into the depths of your brain very quickly and then you hardly even need that map. Usually we remember how much we've walked and where we are, then if you forgot, just check the map for the next turn", she explained.
Swan stared at Wistep, wondering why she was so smart. Personally, she hadn't understood a word. Despite that she nodded.
"But wouldn't it be easier if you left marks on the landmarks here? I mean, red paint spots or whatever on trees and big rocks. No map needed."
Shiver looked at Swan like she was being crazy. "Marks? On nature here? Are you seriously asking that?" Her face broke into a gigantic grin.
The brunette didn't quite understand what was so funny.
"If there's monsters running wild in the Forest, who would leave something like marks to lead them straight to our Camp?" Wistep asked, amused.
"Good point..." Swan muttered before the silence filled the Forest once again.
Time flew. The campers kept walking and walking and walking and walking... It wasn't so dark anymore, but it clearly was early. The humidity started to feel less bad too. The wind blew even more aggressively, which made walking swiftly even more hard.
Swan wondered if the other campers had woken up yet. Maybe they were in the Tavern right at that moment eating breakfast. Her stomach protested at the thought of food. They had had a small breakfast before they left, but Swan had been too tired to focus on eating. Now she really regretted that.
"How long's left?" she asked Shiver after a while. The newcomer's legs started to feel a little strenghtless. Well, maybe we exclude that 'little'.
Shiver turned to smile at Swan. "We're there."
Swan's eyes widened. "What! Now?" she stuttered.
"Well, about twenty meters before the trees start to thin out. Then there's bushes and tall grass and poof - the borders!"
All the way there Swan had waited eagerly to reach their destination, but now that they were there it felt unreal. She hadn't even thought what the borders could possibly look like. The name didn't tell much.
"How long did this take?"
"I don't know - about three hours if we were fast. Four, if slow. Maybe three and a half."
Wow, I didn't even realise it took that long...
Swan noticed the changes in her surroundings. The Forest wasn't as thick anymore, there were lesser trees and other plants. Her heart started pound with pure excitement.
The ones who had been behind - Blue, Dew, Moss and Flamey, who Swan hadn't heard saying a single word - came closer so they were a close group. The big trees really started to look smaller, there was much fewer of them and some of them looked even burnt and like they were crashed down with force.
And then there were bushes. A huge amount of them, sticking together so tightly that it was hard to get past them. Tall grass tickled Swan's feet - there was so much of that too - but she tried to not think of ticks, snakes or any bugs hiding in there. All the smells mixed together, annoying Swan's nose with their chaos.
Swan pushed the tall, dry grass - it was even taller than her - away with her hands and tried to stomp it to the ground. It was hard to see anything. Swan tried to hurry, she wanted to see the borders instantly. Only Shiver was in front of her while she was doing her grass-stomping-dash.
Suddenly the grass and bushes all disappeared to little shadows of their tall selves. Shiver stepped away from the view so the others could see.
"Welcome to the borders."
If somebody would ask Swan to describe what she saw, she wouldn't find right words. What was in front of her left her speechless.
In a different way the silo did.
If Swan had to look for adjectives, she would've used the most powerful ones she could think of. There really weren't right words. You really had to see the place to understand.
In front of her was a few meters of burnt, short grass. Behind that, there was a literal chaos.
There were so many items. Countlessly much. From little pieces of fabric and twisted spoons to halves of houses and and whole destroyed roofs. And there was more junk that Swan had seen in her entire life, there were objects as far as her eye could see. It was like a boundless dump - expect it didn't look dirty or ugly. It was majestic in it's own way.
But even more than anything it looked sad. It was the end of a generation - their generation, Swan realised. It showed her the remainings of their once so great society. She saw no bodies though, but it sure looked like the City had blown up. She wondered how on Earth did she survive such doom.
When she looked to the right or the left, she only saw the tree line behind the grass part, but not the end of it. Just the line, going further and further, reaching the horizon. The slight smell of old tickled Swan's nose.
The place sure was the hugest thing out there.
Shiver broke the silence. She wasn't as speechless as the others, she had seen the borders many times before. "Look forward. Can you see that little cloud of mist in the horizon, and the figures of buildings behind that?" she questioned.
Swan squinted her eyes, and yes - faint figure were seen behind the puff of what looked like thick fog. It was like an outline of a city.
Then it hit her.
I was an outline.
The outline of the City.
Now Swan was too astonished to mutter out a single word. Why didn't she realise before? It was obvious. They campers might had even told her.
"It looks so... intact", Flamey noted. It was the first thing Swan heard him say - he had been talking with Blue and Moss the whole way there.
"It does", Shiver agreed, "but it probably isn't. We don't know - nobody has visited that place since the day it exploded. Because of the intact look we aren't even sure if it even exploded in the first place. But look at the junk - it sure seems so!"
"But why haven't you visited the City?" Swan interrupted.
"Are you crazy! Why would anyone want to go back to the City ever! It's terribly dangerous place, and who wants to dig up old ghosts anyway!" Moss almost shouted at Swan.
Woah, that sure was a reaction.
"There'd be answers?" Swan suggested quietly.
Blue rolled her eyes. "Don't you think about anything else? The City is the most dangerous place out there, and it's horribly far. This distance you se here fakes it all."
There wasn't much Swan could say for her defense anymore. She shut her mouth.
Shiver clapped her hands. "Okay everyone. Now we need to find anything useful. Keep your eyes open for lighters, plates, cattles and all kinds of little stuff. If you see anything spooky, take it."
The campers split up, and Swan was left with Shiver. They began searching for any useful items, which was pretty hard. The first thing Swan dug up was a very twisted fork with some kind of star pattern.
"Hey Shiver! Isn't this thing spooky?" she called out to Shiver, who was placing something in the bag she brought with her.
Shiver stared at the fork with raised eyebrows. "You wouldn't recognize a spooky thing even if it's thrown at your face", she stated.
Swan felt somehow betrayed. "W-What? But - it'd be useful! And the pattern is cool - doesn't your spooky mean cool or something like that?"
Shiver looked at Swan with an are-you-kidding-me-face. "There's a reason why there's no definition to 'my spooky'", she said and turned her back to the brunette.
And there's probably a reason why you're called a skeleton, too.
After some time Swan did find something too. Lighters and pillowcases, and a few other items. She was about to get her hands on a good-looking glass she had been trying to fish out of a chimney, when a strong breeze almost threw her to her butt.
"Gosh, this wind is getting more annoying by every passing second", she muttered to nobody in particular.
"What did you say?"
It was Shiver, standing not very far from her. A strong gust threw Swan's hair on her face, so she couldn't see the ravenette's expression.
Swan shrugged. "Nothing important. Just the wind is getting annoying, stronger and stronger with every minute and it just almost made me fall." She had to raise her voice because the rustle of the wind faded her words away.
"Crap", was all Swan could hear Shiver say before the breeze hit her face. It became hard to breath when she was facing the direction.
Shiver raised her gaze to look at the sky, and Swan mirrored her actions. She hadn't realised how black and heavy the clouds had become so suddenly. It wasn't as bright anymore either - it was like somebody had turned back time to midnight.
"Oh my dear skeletons. Why didn't I notice?" Shiver muttered to herself.
"Notice what? The weather changing? It's no big deal - maybe it rains a little." Swan couldn't understand why the skeleton was so worried.
"A little! You have no idea. I knew it was a mistake to go look for items under that large wall, I couldn't keep an eye on the weather..." The breeze blew again, even more powerfully, and swallowed the end of the sentence.
"We need to leave. Right now", Shiver breathed and grabbed the newcomer's wrist to drag her along.
"What's the matter?" Swan tried to shout but the noice got covered under the loud rustling.
"Everyone! Everyone! Guys! We need to leave! Right now!" Shiver yelled over the chaos. Her voice was panicking.
Moss was the first one to run over with Flamey. Moss seemed to know what was going on. She was panting. "I'm sorry Shiv - I didn't notice while I was inside a broken garage -"
Shiver cut her off. "Me neither. It doesn't matter anymore - we just need to run as fast as we can. Where are the others?"
Swan had never seen the girl looking so serious.
"I'm here!" Blue cried out, her voice just above the terribly noisy wind. "Me too!" Dew ran behind her, and so did Wistep. They had looks of horror on their faces. The bags they had for carrying items were still hanging on their arms.
"We have to run. Now. I don't know if we can make it, but we have to try", Shiver stated and Moss nodded. They were getting ready to dash, but Swan grabbed the healer's arm.
She knew the situation was serious, but she needed the answers. It was now or never. "No. Explain now", she said sternly. She had no idea where she got that confidence from.
"Swan", Shiver hissed and glared at the brunette, "stop that. This is serious."
"No. Why should I run if I don't know why I'm escaping?" She didn't let go of the dirty blonde's arm, only stared at Shiver patiently. "It's 'the thing' Flo warned you about before leaving, right?"
Shiver narrowed her eyes, but decided to answer. "There's a huge storm coming. And when I say huge I mean one of the worst ones we've experienced in years. It will destroy us if we're still here when it starts."
Swan released her grip. "How do you know?"
"Frosty's our foreteller. When fish freak out or disappear, we know there's a storm coming. If they are gone for long, it means the storm is big. They've been gone for days. Frosty has done everything there's to do to fish out something to eat but it's useless. It means the storm is enormous."
"That's why we have to dash or we get ourselves killed", Moss interrupted. She was dead serious.
Flamey sighed. "It's no use. We don't have the power to run all the way back to camp."
"No, you're wrong. I've spend so much time with Sunny that I have some positiveness in myself too", Swan told Flamey and the others. She had been the one to delay their journey back, so she had to be the one to pour some confidence to them.
The wind was now so strong that she almost had to yell.
"Listen", Swan began "We got that power."
"Power", Blue repeated, joining the speech.
"We just need to try. We need to run, as fast as we can. And we'll stay alive."
"We have survived this long, we will get through this too", Blue assured, screaming over the wind.
Shiver shot a quick glance at Moss and nodded. "Thank you for this, but now we really got to sprint!"
Shiver dashed back to the woods, Moss and the others right behind her. Swan commanded her already tired legs to action, and followed.
The sky was already black. It was so dark the campers stumbled many times. The powerful wind was now so forceful that if anyone tried to speak it would've been impossible. Luckily it came from behind and made the running a bit easier.
Swan ran and ran, trying to keep up with the fast speed. She was already panting, and this gave her bad memories. It was like she was living it all again. She shook her head, throwing the thoughts away. She needed to focus.
The campers jumped over roots, dodged branches, avoided trunks. Swan couldn't hear their heavy breathing, but he was sure it was there. Her brains started to fill with doubt - would they survive?
Soon the first, cold raindrops fell on them, wetting their skin. Swan's heart began throbbing even harder, if possible.
The way back would take three hours and it had already started to rain. It was impossible.
Swan gulped and prayed to nobody in particular. Will we make it to the Camp in time?
This takes three hours. It's useless.
She sighed in defeat.
We will die.
Chapter Six Edit
It wasn't a loud one. Faint, in fact - barely audible.
It wasn't a your-house-just-got-blasted-kind of thud, neither an I'm-banging-your-door-because-it's-emergency-one either. Quieter, but not soft.
Oh no, it definitely wasn't soft.
Even if the blown up house would've been far, or the banged door in a completely different forest to make the noise more faint, it possibly couldn't sound like that.
It was more like a person-fell-from-their-bed-thud, or the slammed-my-last-money-on-the-table-for-my-lessor-kind. A faint thud, with some hint of pain in it - aggressive, too.
It was a confident thud.
Why can't thuds be confident? The ones echoing in silence were model examples. Thuds can't be categorized? There's a lot more in them than you might think. These thuds had much power, and they didn't say sorry.
Neither did they end.
A thud. A thud. A thud. A thud.
The brunette jolted awake. Her head was spinning, and she felt pressured.
Had she just had a dream about thuds?
She shook her head in confusion. That was weird. But dreams were dreams, they were usually strange. Nothing else. Right?
Or were the thuds real?
Why would they be real? It was just a dream. Why was she worrying so much? If there's a thud, then there's a thud. And nothing more complicated.
But if there was one - a few, actually - it'd mean something was happening.
No. Of course not. I'm overacting. She pushed the thoughts away.
The girl blinked a few times. It was dark in the room, the only lantern was turned off. Not much light came through the plastic window, maybe because their room wasn't facing the sun when it rose - not that you saw the sun anyway - or simply because the curtains were in the way.
It had to be morning time.
The girl with dark brown hair yawned and stretched. If it was morning, she could as well get up. She removed the warmness of her white sheets off of her feet and placed her bare feet on the cold floor.
She eyed the room quickly. Two of the three other beds were empty - like the other one of them always was - but there was somebody missing from the bed beside her own. The sheets were messy, so the person left in a hurry.
Then she realised. Ah, the journey. Moss and a few others were taking the newest member of Blogclan with them to see the Forest.
However, she wasn't the only one in the small room. The soft snoring told her that her roommate was still asleep.
Well, not for long.
Before she woke the other girl up, the brunette had to check the time more carefully. She pushed the curtains open and stared at the morning view. Calm and beautiful indeed, in the faint sunlight. There was a possibility that it was pretty early.
Whatever. I'm going to wake her up now. We're the first ones having breakfast for once!
The girl approached the other bed and snatched the sheets off of the sleeper, revealing a messy haired young girl. And with the bed head, we're not talking about messy, we're talking about a catastrophe.
The reddish brown haired girl muttered something not necessarily friendly in response.
"We're actually not in a hurry, so you have a few minutes."
The brunette decided to dress up while her roommate tried to climb up from her bed. She changed into her lavender striped shirt and shorts.
When she was done, she noticed that no progress had happened with her friend.
"Maple! You gotta get up now. It must be about eight o'clock and you know Flo wants us to eat before nine", she commanded, tapping the sleeper's shoulder.
"Go bother Moss instead", Maple mumbled, not even turning around.
"Moss isn't here. She left, remember?"
Maple's eyes shot open and she turned around. "Huh? What? Left? Where?" she asked with her sleepy voice.
Minty rolled her eyes. "You listen well. The forest tour thing, remember? For Swan", she reminded.
Maple closed her eyes again. "I did remember that..."
Minty sighed. "Don't go back to sleep! Rise and shine, y'know? Wake up!"
"Give me a sec", the messhead turned her back to her roommate.
"Okay", Minty agreed, "I'm going to get some fresh air. But when I come back you must be awake."
"Yeah, whatever." Maple pulled her sheets over her head.
She opened the door of room four and stepped out, to the tiny hallway. Nobody was there, it was dead silent and dim. The girl started to ponder if she got the time wrong.
I don't care. I need fresh air and fresh air I'm getting.
Minty opened the dorms' door slowly, placing her bare feet on the cold and wet grass. She hadn't taken her shoes, but she wasn't planning on going anywhere from the doorstep anyway.
The Camp looked peaceful. The heavy white clouds decorated the sky and the dimness created a sleepy atmosphere. The humidness tickled Minty's hoodieless skin nicely.
She wanted to smell the freshness of morning dew. Closing her eyes, the brunette took a deep breath.
She snapped her eyes open instantly.
Something wasn't right.
The smell wasn't pure and fresh, it was bitter, smoky.
She sniffled the air again, and panic filled her. Smoke. This is smoke. With wide eyes, Minty peeped around, her heart beating hard on her chest.
And then her heart dropped to the ground.
There was a tall pillar of black smoke climbing up from the warehouse's direction.
Minty stood still, unable to move. Her mind was panicking, begging her to do something, but her body felt like stone. She had no idea what to do. Her heart was about to bang her rib cage into bits and pieces.
The warehouse let out a loud whiz and released a huge gush of pitch black smoke.
Minty took a step forward. She couldn't decide what to do! She didn't even have shoes. It was extremely serious, they kept almost all of their belongings in the warehouse, but she was afraid. Why was the warehouse on fire? Had someone - or something - lit it up? Whatever it was, it couldn't be far. There wasn't any visible flames, so the fire was only starting.
That's another reason why I have to do something! I can stop this.
Minty took another step, feeling the dewy grass wetting her soles. She hesitated, stopped, and then sprinted forward.
The warehouse was just behind the corner, but running the short distance seemed like a lifetime. The moist grass felt unpleasant under her sprinting feet, the dew was so cold that the girl's soles started to feel numb. Soon it felt like she was running on ice. With every step the horrible stink of smoke grew stronger.
Minty curved around the trees that blocked the view, almost slipping on the grass. She was panting - even though she only ran a short distance, but her heart had been racing already - and leaned on her knees. But what she saw nearly swiped her off of her feet.
The warehouse was almost entirely covered in black, depressing puffs. They were as dark as nightmares, slithering up in the sky, predicting the worst. Luckily only a few bright flames were licking the walls, but they were growing more taller and taller with every second, dancing eerily in the early morning. Sparks flew everywhere, the hissing and cracling turned louder and louder, not to mention the stink.
And it wasn't even bad yet.
Yet. Minty gulped. What should I do? The situation would get totally out of control at any second, and she knew it. She was nervous, panicking and wished for somebody to help. But there was just her, her and her, and she had to decide. Alone. At that second.
Water. It was the first thing that came to her mind. Water works on fire! She glanced around, but of course no water was around. She knew there was some ice inside the warehouse - well, maybe she should've used the imperfect - but it wasn't useful.
What was there for her to do anymore?
Then she realised. Help, I need to get help! She should have done it in the first place! She sprinted back, ready to wake the others up.
By the time she had gotten back to the dorms her feet were so numb that she found it hard to walk. The floor was even colder with wet soles and she slipped many times while trying to get in.
Minty was panting in the hallway, pondering who she should wake up. It had to be someone important. No, someone clever. A person who'd know what to do.
The first thing that came to her mind was Flo. Flo, Flo, Flo... She's in - in room two! Minty twirled around to face the second door. She practically leaped in, hitting herself on the door. She hit the door with her body, tripped, and flew to the floor.
"Wh-? What the question mark?" she heard somebody - probably Darky - mumble.
Minty ignored the question. She clumsily got up from the floor, glancing swiflty around the room in search for the boss. She spotted Flo sleeping in a bed at the back of the room, and sprinted over.
"Flo! Flo! Oh no! Flo no!" she stuttered, shaking the ravenette violently by her shoulders. Her mind was a mess, she couldn't think straight.
"Get lost, Swan. I need my beauty sleep", Flo mumbled and turned around.
What the heck.
"FLO!" Minty screeched. "Warehouse - red - Flamey's kin - you must come now!"
Flo moved her head to face the younger girl and blinked sleepily a few times. She must had noticed the desperate tone in Minty's voice. "Minty? What's going on?" she asked worriedly and tried to suffocate a yawn.
Minty's hands were shaking when she tried to point at the warehouse's direction. She knew her eyes were wider than ever. "The warehouse! It's serious - just - just go!"
"Minty. Explain. Right at this second."
Minty shook her head furiously. "No! There's no time! Flo, please, you have to go!"
Not waiting for an answer, the brunette dashed out of the room. She knew she had to wake someone else up too. But who? She couldn't think well, her brains felt cold and blank, like they had been put in an ice cube and left there, denying Minty's access to use them. There was floating mist of panic anywhere, blurring her eyesight.
Wavey. Wavey is smart, I have to get Wavey!
She ran over to the room number six - after a moment of intense pondering - and flung the door open. It hit the wall harshly, creating a loud slamming sound. She managed to avoid the backfiring door, jumping close to the nearest bed. She kicked it hard after seeing a purple strand of hair coming from under the sheets.
"Wavey, Wavey, Wavey, Wavye, Wayve, Weayve, Wayne!"
A dark blonde head popped up from under the sheets. "Huh? Wayne? Who's that?" she muttered, climbing up from the bed.
"It's a disaster!" Minty shouted, grabbing Wavey's wrist to drag her up.
The camper yawned before replying. "Wayne is a disaster?"
Minty shook her head. Nobody was taking her seriously! "Wavey, I need you to come with me right now. Flo's slow, and - the warehouse is - it's on - on fire!"
The girl was instantly awake.
"What?" she asked in disbelief.
"Trust me, I saw it! We need to do something. Follow me", Minty stated, never letting go of Wavey's wrist.
Wavey hesitated a second. "But I haven't dressed up -"
"What are you talking about?" Robbie's sleepy voice came from the other side of the room.
"Robbie! Go wake the others up now - we have a problem at the warehouse!" Minty yelled, dragging the girl with multicolor hair out of the room. She was glad she had gained a bit of her senses back already.
"If Flo didn't wake up, why didn't you try to wake Sunny or Icy or someone like that?" Wavey asked as they ran.
"Dangit, I wish I had thought of that... But you're good use anyway!"
When they sprinted through the hallway, it turned out that Minty's ramping had waken some campers up.
"What's going on?" A tired voice came from the door of room three. It was Icy, she was rubbing her eyes while Goldi looked curious and Kinky complained about noise behind her. Some others were standing on their rooms' doorways too, Maple included.
"Warehouse! Warehouse!" Minty managed to shout before slamming the front door open and dashing outside.
"I don't have shoes!" Wavey tried to stop Minty and pull her wrist out of her grip.
"But we don't have time!" The brunette didn't even turn her head to look at the other girl.
Wavey was silent for a second, only the faint noise of their bare feet against the dewy grass was heard. Minty felt the cold dewdrops and the numbness creep from her soles up to her ankles.
"Is it serious?" Wavey called, and Minty felt the girl's hand shiver out of the coldness on her skin.
Minty turned around the corner.
"See for yourself."
Wavey looked frozen, her eyes were wide and her hair was on her face. Minty shifted her gaze slowly from her friend to the horrific view in front of them.
They were taller, stronger, brighter.
She was mesmerized by the fire for a moment, watching as the flames flowed beautifully in their warm light, licking the walls hungrily, climbing higher and higher.
Minty wanted to make herself look away from the flames. They weren't a good sight, they weren't beautiful, they were deadly, they were evil.
Her eyes were burning just by looking at the fire, and that fact finally ended her tranze. She had to blink a few times to get her eyes normalized again. The radiating warmth heated her skin up unpleasantly.
It was an uncomfortable situation in every way.
The brunette looked at the other camper. She stood still like a statue, her face showed pure horror. Minty could almost see the questions circling over her head. The warm brightness flickered on her face, creating a dance of light and darkness.
"Wavey! We need to do something!" Minty shook Wavey's shoulder, feeling the panic sneak back to her mind again.
Wavey didn't even stir.
Shivers ran down Minty's spine. "Wavey!" she yelled with a panicking, shaky voice.
She hated how weak she sounded.
Wavey turned her head, faster than Minty expected, and spoke. "We need to find the positive side. Look for anything positive in this situation", she said. The warm glow of the flames made her worried green eyes seem red.
More devilish, like the rest of the situation.
Minty was glancing around, but she couldn't focus. She heard shouting and screams from behind, maybe the other campers had woken up. She was a little relieved they possibly got help, but at that moment Minty couldn't think of that. She had to find something positive about the fire situation - something that'd give them a hint on what to do.
Only positive thing Minty could think of was that the fire hadn't pervaded through the whole warehouse yet. There were flames only on the right side, but they were fast moving towards the another side too. Maybe the morning dew had kept the walls somewhat wet, Minty didn't care.
"The fire spreads slowly!" Minty exclaimed, over the annoying crackling of the flames that filled her ears.
"Is that the only good thing?" Wavey sounded frustated, her eyes never leaving the view. They moved very quickly over the scenery again and again.
"Yes, but at least we have time!"
The multicolorhead muttered something under her breath. "Only a little time... I thought we'd notice something that could help us save something from there..." was all Minty could hear.
"We can still save a lot of stuff, we have time, remember?" she encouraged.
Wavey nodded, her face was now completely serious. The flashing colors of fire looked like a lightshow on the girl's white pyjama. It was kind of funny.
But it was far from that.
Wavey's next sentence awoke Minty from her tranze. "Do you know what we need to do now?"
There was only one answer to that.
"I came to that conclusion too. Oh boy, this is going to be hard..."
"And we need to act now. Now!"
Suddenly a loud screech cut through the air.
"By the hair on my head! What the heck is going on here?"
The campers had arrived, finally!
"Oh my gosh!" someone who sounded like Lily yelled.
"Water! We need water!" Wavey shouted over the panicking chaos.
"She's right!" Minty joined in.
Icy catched up with the situation instantly. "There's buckets in the wash house and the laundry house, maybe in the kitchen too." Her voice wasn't as horrified as she looked.
"Go go go!" Minty motioned to the River's direction. "Run run run!"
She didn't stay to see if the others obeyed.
The brunette dashed through the glade faster than she had ever before. She headed straight to the River, her feet stomping against the ground. She still didn't have her shoes, and her feet were now number than she thought was possible.
Though she didn't have the time to care.
She ran until she reached the Path, and didn't slow down even then. Her heart was beating like crazy and her hair was on her face. She tugged the strands away quickly.
The run on the Path wasn't very enjoyable. Especially not for barefooted.
The mud got everywhere. Minty felt her feet sink in it, she felt as the sticky brown mud splashed everywhere as she run. Her soles, her feet, her clothes, they all got their splatters.
She was going to have real fun in the wash house.
Finally she reached the River. She resisted the urge to wash her feet in the flowing water, and dashed over to the laundry house to get the buckets.
There were two.
Hm, I guess it's enough.
She grabbed them and filled them with water quickly. The water splashed on her feet when she forded into the River. It felt nice on her aching feet. She noticed Kinky, Breezey and Birchy near the wash house from the corner of her eye.
Minty lifted the buckets slowly, not wanting a single drop to go waste. They were heavier than she had thought. How could she run all the way through the Camp without splashing the precious water all around the glade? It seemed impossible.
This won't ever work.
Lifting her optimism back up with the buckets, she started her way back. She moved more slowly now. The moments when she made her way through the Forest and over the glade with snail speed felt paining. Her forehead was wet with sweat from her nervousness.
If it was going to be this slow, there was no way they could put out the fire.
When she finally reached the warehouse Minty's arms ached terribly. She almost dropped the buckets down from her hands and collapsed to the ground. But she knew she couldn't, so she searched for the core of the fire and threw her water there. The flames let out a long hiss, but didn't seem to turn any smaller.
This is impossible, pointless, useless.
"Come one, Minty! Go on! The next bucket of water is needed, we gotta carry on!" Sunny, who was doing something weird - probably trying some extinguishing technology - near the flames, shouted and flashed an encouraging smile.
Minty nodded. Yes. I have to carry on.
She sprinted back.
The morning continued with the same routine. The campers ran to the River and back to the warehouse, threw the water at the flames, repeated and repeated. It had already started to seem more like midday than early morning. Everyone was hungry, dead tired and done.
Luckily they were making progress.
The fire had died down notably much. It was about time - they had repeated their boring ritual for a few hours. The fire was still there though, so they had work to do. Fortunately the campers were full of hope, and knew they'd put this fire down.
But was the fire their only problem?
There was so many questions unanswered. The most daunting ones were probably what, why and how. Were the mosters the ones who did it? Could they be that smart? Or was it somebody else? Why on Earth did they do it? And how? Surely no matches were included. A blowtorch? Something else?
Needless to say, there were no clues.
They had to figure it out theirselves. It wasn't easy with all of the questions around.
It was never easy.
"Finally!" Goldi shouted while throwing the last bucketful of water into the no longer existing flames. Then she threw the bucket too and flopped to the ground.
Minty collapsed too. She was completely out of breath, and her feet were bleeding. Her clothes were covered in mud, dirty water, ash, blood and sweat. She just lay on the already somewhat dry grass, trying to catch her breath. Every part of her body was aching - not to mention her brain. All the happenings were troubling her mind, and she wished she knew as much as the founder members did. Or that she was as foolishly curious as Swan who had gotten to know a lot of things just by doing weird decisions.
"Good job, everyone", Flo panted, "this proves how well we can act in serious situations." She had to lean on a nearby tree to keep upright.
"Well done Minty for finding this out in time", Icy - who was lying on the ground too - added, "and of course Wavey too."
"It was a pure coincidence", Minty managed to say.
"A good one. If we had found this out later, the whole warehouse would've been destroyed", Icy reminded.
"It doesn't look good now either..." Minty shifted her gaze over to the wrecked warehouse.
Half of it was completely burned. The side was dark, smelly and fairly fallen. The other half was moderately whole. It was scorched too, but there wasn't too bad damage. The warehouse looked repairable, and that gave Minty a little hope.
A little, since nobody had checked the inside yet.
A figure rose feebly up from the ground, nearing the burnt building. She brushed her fingers against the dark wall, looked at the ash on her finger and blew it away.
"Who's ready to check the damage inside?" she asked and glanced around.
"But Wavey! Are you sure it's safe inside?" Fallen - who was leaning on a tree - exclaimed.
"Of course not. I don't want anyone to get hurt, but if there's anything we can save in that warehouse we gotta do it now. What if the pyromaniac comes back? Who knows what they'll do! Steal our resources? It's possible, and we have to prevent that from happening."
"Good thinking", Flo agreed. "I'll put somebody to search the surroundings for any clues."
Minty stood up slowly. Her feet were shaking. "I'll come with Wavey."
"Okay. Uhh, Darkie, Lily and Shivy, come give us a few helping hands", Wavey said, pointing at the ones she mentioned.
Shivy stood up, Lily and Darkie right behind her. Minty followed them to the door. It was on the non-burnt side. Wavey placed her hand on the doorhandle, and slowly pushed the door open. It creaked loudly. Minty felt all of the eyes on them as they stepped in.
The warehouse was big, although there was a lot of free space because it was mostly a warehouse for food. It was dark inside when the walls were almost completely black. The light that got through the broken roof seemed to be eaten by the darkness, like the spirits of the flames were there haunting them. There was ash flying everywhere, making Minty cough. The smell of burnt was disgusting.
"Be careful. I'll look at the damage in the more burnt part. Lily, can you come with me?" Wavey said.
"Of course." Lily followed Wavey to the other side and the two were swallowed by the darkness and a puff of ash.
Darkie started to walk forward. "Let's see."
They spent the next fifteen minutes trying to define which items were too damaged. There were so many things from aprons and little pots to bigger things like huge bowls and cattles. But the main part of the trouble wasn't the damaged items.
The food was.
They had stored almost all of their food there. Now most of it was ruined. Screw that, all of it was unedible. Who would want to eat food covered by a layer of ash?
"Holy semi-truck, this is bad", Darkie mumbled while picking a completely burnt piece of fish from the storage vessel. All of the ice that had been there to keep their fish cold was now gone.
"At least it's grilled now", Shivy noted.
"Oh yeah? You'd eat this?"
"Well, I haven't eaten grilled fish in ages -"
"So you wouldn't mind if I placed this on your plate and fed it to you?"
"I can use the fork by myself, thank you very much."
Darkie glared at Shivy, who was grinning.
"Y'know Darkie, a thick layer of sauce really makes any food edible", Minty giggled and joined the tussling.
Darkie raised her eyebrow. "Any food? So you'd eat a plateful of soup that's fully covered by Icy's hair if only there's sauce on it?"
"Uh, now we're talking about impossible."
Shivy snorted, which caused all three to burst out laughing. Their laughter echoed from the walls and filled the warehouse with a nice melody.
Shivy wiped her eyes from laughing too much. "Okay, so jokes aside, we know this is really serious. Almost all of our food was here, and now nothing's left. What'll we eat? Sure, we have something in the kitchen and the Tavern, but it isn't enough for more than a few days, at most. We're in trouble."
Minty nodded knowingly. "Maybe the others found something", she said, but it was wishful thinking.
Soon Lily and Wavey came back from the other side. Wavey's shirt was even more ashy now, not to mention their hands. Just the looks on their faces were enough to tell. Nothing.
"We can save these pots and aprons and all the storage vessels, but all of the food is gone", Lily stated the obvious.
Shivy nodded sadly. "Let's inform Flo."
When they stepped out of the warehouse, there was a thick cloud of anxiety in the air. And that wasn't the only cloud; big, dark clouds had gathered up in the sky, and the wind was now a lot stronger. Minty was sure something was going on - Flo'd explain soon, for sure.
Minty was going to say something, but realised that the campers looked serious and worried. More than they were before the few entered the warehouse. Everyone was glancing nervously around, their eyes wide.
Something had happened during those fifteen minutes.
"Uhh what's going on?" Lily asked Robbie, who was standing the closest. The girl turned her head and whispered something.
"Footprints", was all Minty could hear. And then it all clicked in her head.
Oh dear no.
Darkie let out a gasp. "Don't tell me they found -"
Robbie's face told more than thousand words.
"Where's Flo?" Wavey asked with a serious tone.
"Behind the corner", Robbie managed to answer.
Wavey dashed there, not even thanking Robbie. The girl looked too shocked to even understand the situation though. Minty stared at the corner for a second, and ran after Wavey.
Flo was standing there, near the treeline. She had her hands in her hair, her face annoyed, clueless, frustated, mad, scared - all of the emotions. She was staring at the ground - actually more like glaring. If Minty hadn't known better, she would've thought that the ravenette had just found a body of her relative and was now plotting her revenge.
But instead of a body, there were monster footprints on the ground
Minty gulped, feeling her hands get sweaty. The monsters had done this. They were that smart.
And they definitely hadn't tried to cover their tracks.
More like they had tried to leave as many tracks as possible! Many, many sharp-edged and creepy footprints decorated the ground like a daunting Halloween pattern. Minty recognized them instantly, there was no way they could be any other animal's. Knowing that, the girl felt the shivers run down her spine.
She realised something else too. The thuds - in her dream! They had been real. The Monsters had made noise, and Minty had even heard it. It meant they hadn't even tried to be quiet.
"Oh gosh", Wavey - who was now standing next to Minty - whispered. It made the campers who had gathered there notice them and come closer.
"How come we didn't notice this earlier!" Minty almost shouted.
"These are covered by undergrowth if you look from further", Maple sighed. She shook her head tiredly.
"How can the monsters do something like this? With what? How are they that smart? And why?" Wavey listed all the questions.
Maple raised her eyebrows. "You know you're asking in vain."
Wavey sighed too. They all knew that.
Suddenly Flo let out a frustated yell. "When will this end?" she bemoaned.
"Don't worry", Sunny said, "nothing bad lasts forever!"
"This doesn't seem so", muttered Flo and massaged her temples.
Sunny patted her back and smiled. "Look on the bright side. This can't get any worse!"
Breezey appeared from the woods. She looked shocked when she spoke: "Uhh, Sunny... I think you're wrong."
Sunny's face went more serious. "No..."
"Yes. Uhh, Flouston, w-we have a problem. A serious one."
"What is it?" Flo looked devastated.
"T-There's something you need to see."
Minty glanced at Wavey who was standing next to her. She stared at Breezey with worried eyes. Flo exchanged glances with Sunny before following Breezey. Wavey went after them without hesitating, and so did Minty.
Breezey stood right where the Forest started and the Camp area ended. She was pointing at the ground, her hand shaky, eyes wide, lips trembling.
Minty peeked over the shoulder of the boss, who took the right to examine the discovery first. However she couldn't see anything. "What's this?" Flo asked.
Sunny squinted her eyes. "Look's like a footprint...?"
Breezey nodded slowly. "It is." She gulped. "But not a monter's."
Realization hit Minty harder than a bullet could. She felt cold inside, an unpleasant lump forming in her stomach.
Flo gasped. "Are you trying to say that this footprint -"
"Yes. It's a human's footprint."
This can't be happening.
"The monsters that burned this", Flo stated slowly, "didn't come alone. There was a human with them."
"Show me", Minty demanded and shoved Flo out of the way. When the boss wasn't blocking the view she saw it - the same shoeprint like the one's at the silo.
"Oh no. I've seen those before!"
Sunny nodded. "Me too. And you too, Flo! These are exactly samelooking as the human shoeprints near the silo."
"Are you sure?" Breezey asked cautiously. She seemed like she didn't want to admit the scary fact.
"You can't be mistaken. These prints are so... original", Wavey told, her voice serious. Minty had forgotten that she had been there too.
It was true. They had to be left by the same person. The shoe's pattern was too different to get mistaken with any other one. The weird zig-zag pattern was there, the "spikeholes" were there, the slightly bigger size; they looked exactly the same. Like the ones at the silo were cloned and teleported there.
"Gosh, now I remember! Dangit, they are the same. There's no doubt", Flo admitted.
"And what are we going to do now?" asked Breezey. She looked utterly helpless, like somebody had thrown her into a bottomless pit and she was drowning there, without a single way to help herself.
Maybe it was like that. They were all drowning in questions, and there was no escape out of it.
Flo was silent for a while. "I don't know."
That caught Minty off guard - Flo, their boss, didn't know what to do! She always knew, or at least had a little idea. But now, she was as clueless as the rest of them.
And that sure got Minty horribly afraid.
Sunny started to speak: "Look on the bright side. This answers questions - we know this person is somehow involved in the recent events. They have something to do with the monsters, they probably lit the warehouse up instead of them so we know that the monsters aren't that smart. If it's so, then the person... might be their leader."
"Gosh!" Breezey exclaimed, "that's so true! And creepy." She shivered.
Minty felt cold sweat on her forehead. She didn't want to believe it. After countless of months living peacefully something like this came and destroyed it all. She glanced at Wavey to see her reaction.
The girl was frozen in statue mode again.
"Wavey?" Minty tapped her shoulder.
Wavey quickly snapped her head to Minty's direction. "I think I realised something. A few days ago in the Tavern, Swan had a memory - you know what, actually it's not important."
Flo was already interested. "Tell me."
"Uh okay... so we were recalling stuff from the old days back in the City, and then I suggested that Swan could close her eyes and try to remember something. And she had a - flashback. About a woman... torturing people."
Wavey explained the details carefully.
"Icy was there too. She said she would tell you all this. I guess she forgot..."
Flo looked deep in thought. "So what you think is, these shoeprints here and at the silo were left by the same person - the person in Swan's flashback?" she asked, looking Wavey straight in the eye.
"It does make sense. But can we really trust Swan's daydream?"
"I think we can. It was just a thing that crossed my mind though, you don't need to take it seriously."
"I will take it seriously. I need to ask Swan for details later." Flo seemed to nod to herself. "But the main question is - who the heck is this woman - if it is a woman - where does she come from, what does she have to do with the monsters and why the heck she's being a total butthole to us!" Flo almost yelled, and glared at the shoeprints like the person could hear her if she addressed her words at them.
"I'm sure we'll figure that out", Sunny encouraged.
"I just don't get it. We've lived in peace without disturbing anyone for so long. Why's this happening now? You all remember how we weren't worried at all when we found clawmarks on trees nearer and nearer the Camp. We knew they were coming closer, we discussed it but it just didn't seem too important. Of course they wouldn't find the Camp, we thought. Oh dear past Flo, you were wrong. Horribly."
Flo kicked the dirt and kept complaining.
"Why us? It all started to go downhill right after Swan came, when we found those clawprints on a tree just about two hundred meters from the Camp and when Moss discovered the monster claw from the corner of our Camp I knew -"
Wavey stopped Flo. "Hold on... Did you say you found clawprints near the Camp when Swan came? And Moss found a monster's claw?" She looked horrified, and a little betrayed. Minty realised too that she hadn't heard about anything like this.
Flo laughed nervously. "Oopsie." Then she cursed herself under her breath.
"Flo! We trusted you guys..." Breezey mumbled. She looked sad. Minty felt a little hurt too, didn't the founders trust them enough to tell? She was still hopeful. Flo would have a good explanation. She had to.
Flo looked like a tiny animal cornered between trouble and trouble. "Look guys, I can explain. We didn't want you to worry!"
"But it applies to all of us. This is our camp. We need to know." Wavey stared at Flo with disappointment. Sunny just stood there like a statue, eyeing the situation carefully, ready the defend Flo if needed.
"I'm sorry, I really am, but you need to understand that we tried to think of your best."
"I guess so... Is there still something you're hiding from us?" Wavey asked.
Breezey sighed deeply. "Come on!"
"No, hear me out, this time I planned to tell you! I was about to do it at breakfast..."
Minty crossed her arms. "Spill it now."
"But the others need to hear too -"
Breezey cut the boss off. "Tell them later. Spill it out, now."
Flo took a deep breath. "Okay...So, Frosty hasn't gotten any fish in a few days. You know what it means."
"A storm coming", Sunny finished.
Flo nodded. "Yep, and it's not a small storm... You feel that wind getting stronger? Yeah, it's actually a huge storm. Like bigger than in years."
Minty felt a little flash of fear. "Oh my. How bad? Do we need to shelter? Prepare?"
"Oh my pies. Is it like real real real bad bad?" Breezey seemed to have gotten afraid too.
Then Minty remembered something. "But but but you sent the Forest group thing out there when you knew about the storm! They're in danger!" How could Flo be that careless?
"Don't worry, Shiver and Moss know about it. They're alert at all times and they have plenty of time to go there and back."
"We have to do something right now. You should've told us earlier, we need time to prepare", Wavey commanded.
"Well, when I planned to tell at breakfast I didn't know there was going to be a big fire show at our backyard..."
"I'm gonna go inform the others -"
Flo stopped Wavey from moving. "Hold up - I will tell them. Just gather them in the Tavern."
"Oh and one more thing - what's the situation in the warehouse? Food's alright?"
"Right, about that... It looks like we're left without breakfast today. And possibly on other days too..."
"You need help?"
Minty turned to Frosty, who was pointing at the big box in Minty's hands. She shook her head.
"I'm fine. You should go to your fish and see if you can catch any", she suggested.
"I already told every one of you, there's absolutely no fish. It's useless. Besides, you should thank me. I found out about the storm after all", the boy said, grinning.
Minty laughed. "I'll pass. I think it's unfair that you just slept over the whole chaos while we were panicking here."
"Not my fault! Nobody woke me up."
"Yeah, use that excuse. Now, if you could move out of the way..."
Minty walked past Frosty, who stuck his tongue out at the brunette. Minty rolled her eyes, stepping inside the dorms.
They had brought the most important things to the girls' dorms and decided to make it their shelter since it had many beds and was strongly built anyway. The rest of the food was there, and all the other most useful items, such as lighters, plates, etcetera.
It had taken some time. The stronger wind was noticable, not as bad as it could be, but definitely not a little puff either. The sky was as black as their fears. Flo had said it was going to be way worse. Minty hoped it was false.
There wasn't much hope though.
Like Wavey had wanted, the founder members had told them about the two things they had hidden. The monster claw was a creepy thing to hear about - Moss had found something like that near the Camp right before the kitchen attack! It meaned the Monsters had visited the camp area earlier. Minty shivered at the thought.
The clawmarks on trees not far from the Camp that had been discovered when Swan came weren't a simple fact either. The Monsters had been approaching the Camp back then too! A week before they attacked. Wow, it all made Minty's head spin.
And the storm didn't help it at all.
For an hour or so, after a flea-sized breakfast, when Flo had told about these three hidden things, they had been working. Carrying all the heavy stuff wasn't that easy with aching legs and body, Minty had realised that the hard way. She huffed, dropping the box to the floor.
"Careful with that!"
Minty glared at Shivy. "Easy for you to say. My legs are dead and I need charging. A plug and a lead please."
"I'm tired too, but don't worry, Icy said these are the last boxes. It's about time - you noticed the wind?"
"It's not even that bad yet."
"It is. Come outside."
"But I was there a minute ago -" Shivy shoved Minty outside, cutting off her sentence.
Shivy pointed at the trees. "See how those trees swing from side to side? And how I have to talk louder?" she asked.
"But I don't feel the wind as strongly on my skin as it looks on the trees."
"We're here surrounded by houses and trees so they kinda block it away. I know it's going to be really powerful."
Minty looked at Shivy strangely. "Where exactly are you aiming with this speech?"
Shivy sighed. "I mean, the ones who left with Shiver and Moss aren't back yet. They should be here already, the storm is so close. Soon it's so windy they can't walk and so black they can't see. I'm afraid... Are they in trouble?"
"They'll come", Minty reassured.
"I sure hope so..."
"Flo's not worried so everything's okay", Minty kept telling her only partly convincing reassurances.
The blonde let out a fake laugh. "Oh yeah? Didn't you see how she wanders around looking and fidgets with her fingers? How she wishes every little sound coming from the Forest is the others? How she every time someone mentions her name thinks it's Shiver or Moss? Flo's absolutely freaked out and she's not hiding it well. The others are in horrible danger."
Minty felt shivers run down her spine. Now she didn't know what to say.
Shivy's expression turned more serious and she looked like she had decided something important. "You know what? I'm going to go look for them", she stated.
"What! You're absolutely not doing that!" Is Shivy completely crazy?
"I am. I'm going to find Flo." She almost turned away.
Minty grabbed Shivy's wrist. "No! If they're in danger, why would you go and get yourself in trouble too? It's just makes us more worried!" Minty shouted, desperate to convince Shivy to stay.
"I won't go far, I promise. Just a little closer to the borders, just to see if they're there. Not many hours away, it takes only a few minutes. Please, let me go. I'll come back in a second, I promise." Shivy's tone was pleading, and her eyes were serious. Minty knew that whatever she'd say wouldn't work. She decided to do the only thing that seemed wise.
Shivy's eyes widened, and she stared at the brunette, her jaw dropping. "Wh-what?"
Minty let go of her wrist. "Go! The sooner you leave, the faster you're back. If the storm's rising you need to go before it starts. It means right now. Go!"
Shivy looked like she didn't believe Minty would allow her to go. She glanced at the dorms worriedly. "But I need to inform Flo and she'll probably say no anyway -"
"Are you backing away now? I'll tell Flo. Just go go go go, run run run, do it already!"
Shivy took a step backwards, towards the Forest. She smiled. "Thanks", she whispered, Minty barely heard it over the whistling breeze.
"Promise you'll come back soon", Minty demanded, pointing her finger at the girl who was backing away. Shivy was now standing right in front of the tree line, her other foot already in the Forest, ready to get swallowed into the world of tall, creepy trees. And trouble, in this case.
"No matter what, I'm back as soon as I can", Shivy promised, "but are you sure you don't want to come with me?"
She didn't know how much she'd regret that decision.
Shivy smiled widely and waved her hand, turned around, and then she ran. Minty watched as she went.
In a second the blonde faded into the darkness, disappeared out of Minty's sight, got covered by the spreading shadows.
She'll be okay. She can take care of herself and won't even go far. Minty knew she was worrying over nothing, but she couldn't help it. What if Shivy got in trouble? For a second she thought of running after her. However she was sure she shouldn't.
And she'd regret that even more.
It didn't take long to find Flo. Of course she was mad - but Minty dodged the apples well, so no harm done - and she went on and on about the danger. She was worried sick, and anybody could see that. Luckily Icy was there to calm Flo down, and took her out of the room.
She probably roped Flo to her bed since she was nowhere to be seen after that.
Minty was now sitting in front the hallway's plastic window. She sat there, on a chair she brought there, and stared. Only stared. Outside, but at nowhere.
She saw leaves flying everywhere, like a tornado. Sand flew around too - where did sand even come from, she didn't know - and it looked like a sandstorm and a leaf tornado combined outside. The trees surrounding the Camp almost touched the ground. It didn't look like a good weather to be outside.
But still there were others out there.
She felt uncomfortable in her skin, like she wanted to burst out of it and run to look for them. Nervousness streamed in her veins, making her heart bang hard and her body restless. She was pretty sure Shivy had come back, but Shiver's group? They were out there. In trouble. Without help.
No. Minty shook her head to get such thoughts away. She assured herself they'd be alive. They have to be.
"Aren't we all?" Minty turned around and looked tiredly at the multicolorhead in front of her.
"Yeah, but you need to calm down. Shiv - Moss is responsible. I mean, they both are."
Minty squinted her eyes at Wavey. She was still wearing her formerly white pyjamas, that were now quite colorful with splashes of dirt, muddy water, grass, blood and ash. Her hair was messy and sweaty. It looked like a last-minute Halloween costume.
"Wavey really, you need to stop taking care of everything and go change. That's so dirty outfit and you're even cold in it."
"I'm not cold."
"You're literally shivering in that."
Wavey smiled slightly. "I was about to anyway. Icy and Sunny kept me busy with stuff."
"You're like the boss 2.0. Actually, 6.0 if we count all of the founders."
The other girl rolled her eyes, but failed to cover her smile. "Hey thanks, I take that as a compliment. But I'm gonna change now, try to survive!"
And that's how she walked away, leaving Minty alone with her depressing thoughts.
She zoned out again, leaning her head on her palm. She sighed, closing her eyes. It was all eating her up inside.
She didn't have time to drown into her mind before Flo came to the hallway. She seemed perfectly normal, not madder than usual, calm, pretty sane... Wow, Icy was a wizard. How did she normalize a freaked out Flo that easily?
Flo called for Goldi and Kinky, who appeared from two different rooms. They looked somewhat worried, and the boss seemed to notice that.
"You counted everyone? Are the campers safely inside?" she asked.
"Yeah", Kinky said. "Almost everyone's here", Goldi continued. "There's only a little problem", Kinky finished, glancing at Goldi.
"What do you mean 'a little problem'?"
"Y'know, almost everyone is here. Expect the group." Kinky gulped.
"Uhh, there's just a liiiittle thing..."
Flo was getting annoyed. "Yes?" she patiently asked.
"Uhh, this teeny tiny problem we have -" Goldi glanced nervously at Kinky, who avoided eye contact. "Tiny little thing", Kinky mumbled.
"Tell me!" Flo yelled on top of her lungs.
Goldi gulped loudly. Minty's heart dropped harder than ever as soon as she heard the next words escape Goldi's mouth.
"We can't find Shivy anywhere."
Chapter Seven Edit
It was now in bits and pieces, unrepairable, gone.
It dropped to the ground, almost through it, not surviving the hard impact.
No, the shattered thing wasn't the glass that fell from the girl's hands. It became millions of pieces too, but this thing that dropped with the glass was a lot more valuable. It was broken now, beyond repair.
Maple's feeling of safety and the hope that they would survive. It was gone - in pieces, nobody could fix it easily.
Only because of that one little sentence. Those five words were more powerful than dynamite, they blew all the hopes up. The little sentence, it didn't make sense, it couldn't be true.
She couldn't be gone! Minty said she promised to come back. She had to. Were they joking?
Where was she?
"What?!" the words escaped Maple's mouth.
Confusion. The first reaction.
"S-Shivy isn't here", Goldi repeated.
"You got to be kidding me!"
Disbelief. The second reaction.
"We searched every little corner. She's definitely not here." Kinky shook her head sadly.
"But she can be a little late, that's all. She might come soon. She will come soon. Right?"
Optimism. The third reaction.
"She's not 'a little late'. She's gone for goose's sake! Do you understand? Gone! Shivy went missing. She isn't here."
"But - where is she then?"
Acceptance. The fourth reaction.
"In danger", Kinky stated the simple but horrible truth.
Maple felt like she was going to vomit. Why did they accept it so easily? Why didn't they do anything? Why were they so... calm? "Oh no", she gulped, feeling cold inside.
Horror. The fifth reaction.
Minty was holding her breath, frozen in her spot, wide-eyed. Goldi looked really guilty and Flo's face could've been hilarious in another situation. Luckily Kinky was able to speak. "Don't worry, it'll work out. I'm horrified too... But if Shiver's there, if Moss is there, if the rest of the group is there, Shivy might have found them. Maybe they're on their way back." Kinky's voice was full of fake optimism and she tried to flash an encouraging smile. It was the fakest Maple had ever seen.
Maple realised her eyes were a little wet. "You don't understand! The fact we have here, Shivy's disappearance, it's so... it's so... so..."
Horrible. Terrible. Horrendous. Awful. Terrifying.
Minty slammed her hands on the windowsill. She kicked over the chair she had been sitting on. "It's all my fault! I let her go in the first place. If she's dead I'll never forgive mysefl!" she nearly yelled. She seemed to be fighting back tears.
"No. It's not your fault." Flo's voice was weak, like she was barely able to speak.
"Is it Shivy's fault then? She was only trying to be brave, helpful, a good friend!"
"No! It's nobody's fault. The storm is the guilty and we can't stop it from happening. Accept that - they'll survive."
Maple gulped. Will they? There were absolutely no guarantees, and Maple knew that perfectly well. She was so worried about her friends that she felt sick, nauseous, done.
"How can you be that sure? We can't just leave it be. If Shivy dies I can never forgive myself! We gotta do something!" Minty stared at Flo with a mix of despair and insistence.
"No. This converstation is over", Flo replied with a cold tone and hard glare, dashing off to find the founders. She hadn't said it, but she must've been worried sick.
Silence fell on them.
Kinky excused herself and ran away, probably to tell the others about the disaster. Goldi coughed multiple times and then faded awkwardly into the shadows. Maple looked at Minty, who was frozen there, staring at nowhere. Maple approached her friend slowly.
She put her hand on the brunette's shoulder. "Minty? Are you okay?"
Minty bit her lip. "No."
Before Maple could say anything, her roommate twirled around and sprinted away, clenching her hands into fists and back.
Maple was left there standing alone in the empty hallway.
She sighed. What now? She knew she had to bury her depressing thoughts and stay cheerful. The right attitude worked in every situation.
Maple ran her hand through her brown hair. Correction, tried to run her hand through it. Her hair was messier than usual - which meant <em> pretty messy - since she hadn't had time to comb it. She straightened her posture and walked after Minty.
After thinking about it a little, she realised it was better if she wouldn't bother Minty. She needed her own time to calm down. Minty had gone to their own room, so Maple chose to enter room two. For no reason.
The room was surprisingly dim. Maybe their depressed feelings had even affected the atmosphere. All the beds were messy, the sheets all over the place. It sure looked like everyone left in a hurry.
Fallen was lying on her bed. She was pulling her dark blonde hair - a habit that probably came from Icy - and kept sighing. She didn't seem to have any intentions to clean up the room.
"Hey! I came to keep you company. Minty needed to rest", Maple chirped.
Fallen shifted her gaze to look at the one who entered. She smiled faintly. "Great", she managed to say, but it seemed feelingless.
"You okay?" Maple asked, sitting down on the girl's bed. She picked a sheet from the ground and tried to fold it nicely.
Fallen sighed. "Yeah, just a tad bit worried. Kinky told us about Shivy."
Maple knew Fallen was good friends with Shivy and obviously worried. Not that she wouldn't be worried about anyone. The brunette nodded.
"I heard too. I actually broke a glass in the hallway then. Come to think about it, it might've been wise to do something to the pieces..."
Maple removed her glasses and started to wipe the dirty lenses with her sleeve.
"But anyway, now that we're stuck inside for like forever, we need to think of something to do. We just can't lie on our beds, playing with hair and sighing. Hint hint, Fallen."
The camper sighed. "I know, I know. I'm just quietly worrying here. Don't mind me."
Another voice joined the converstation. "Fallen's in worry mode. She obviously won't come to her senses any time soon. Give up, Maple."
Maple turned to look at the girl with chestnut colored hair who was sitting on a bed across the room. "Oh hi, Darky. Whatcha doing?" Maple noticed the black notebook in Darky's hands.
She shrugged. "Nothing much. Just drawing. Stuff."
"What are you drawing?" Maple got up and curiously walked over to the brunette. Darky covered her sketchbook with her hands.
"What do you mean by 'stuff'?"
"I mean stuff."
"So what is it?"
"Can you stop asking questions?" Darky glared at the camper, obviously not in the mood.
Darky rolled her eyes. "Of course. If it's that important to you, see for yourself." She moved her hands out of the way.
It was a picture of a knife, drawn with a charcoal. It looked well drawn in Maple's opinion.
Maple raised her eyebrows. "Yikes, a knife. Who are you going to murder?"
"Nobody! I was just drawing out my fears. This is one of them, a knife. In a situation like this I thought it'd be wise. I haven't used my sketchbook in ages either."
Maple tried to flip the pages back. "Ooh, what else is in this?" she asked curiously.
Darky pulled Maple's hands away. "Nothing! Just drawings of coffee cake and some Lams fanart. Y'know, basic stuff."
"Aha. Snazzy. So you have a knife and Lams fanart. Are you gonna murder the ship?"
Darky's face turned into the definition of horror. "Never! How dare you!" She placed her hands on her eyes and seemed to be suffering.
Maple started laughing. "I was just playing around with you! You should've seen your face, priceless!" She almost choked on her words.
"Priceless indeed", Darky muttered. She didn't seem to want to play with things sacred to her.
Maple rolled her eyes playfully. "Come on, you're both so lame today. I get it, it's a serious situation and I'm worried too, but that's why we have to stay positive. Laugh and stuff. Understood?"
Fallen sighed. "Sorry. I'm too worried to laugh though... Flo should send a patrol to look for Shiver's group and Shivy. I'd go." She inhaled deeply.
"I thought that way too, but then Flo reasoned her decision by saying that we don't need anyone else risking their lives anymore. I bet there's others who would want to go after them too, but we gotta wait. Maybe they're safe and on their way." Maple stared at Fallen, hoping she had easened her worries.
"Stop that sighing! You sound like a philosopher pondering the meaning of life!"
"Sorry", she said with an exhale. "And I know the answer already. It's 42."
Maple was about to respond, but Darky cut her off. "We can't do anything so I'm just gonna keep drawing", she stated, not looking up from her sketchbook, "next stop, an oven."
"What? An oven?" Maple frowned in confusion.
"Yeah, I'm still drawing my fears -"
Darky stopped talking and looked like she had realised something. She smiled awkwardly.
"Wait, uh, not fears anymore. Yep, it's gonna be something else. Uh, yeah, I'm definitely not afraid of ovens! Who would be? That's ridiculous!" she laughed nervously.
Maple's lips broke into a grin. "Are you afraid of ovens?"
"Never said that."
"What have ovens ever done to you?"
"For the last time, I'm not -"
Darky sighed deeply and threw her hands in the air in surrender. "Okay okay! I'm not the best in the kitchen. Besides, I'm not afraid of knives and ovens. I just dislike them. A lot."
"Huh, weird fears. I think I'm not gonna ask for details..."
"Look who's talking. You are afraid of peanut butter." Darky smiled evilly.
"No! Who on Earth is afraid of peanut butter?" Maple shouted.
"No. I only dislike peanut butter. It doesn't mean I'm scared of it!" Maple rolled her eyes.
"Ahem, you just said that my dislikes are fears and now you're taking those words back -"
The door slammed open.
"Guys! I need you!"
It was Flo, standing in the doorway, looking like she was in a hurry.
"Aw, how sweet." Maple placed a hand on her heart.
"Ha ha. I need you two -" she pointed at Fallen and Maple "- to watch out for the missing ones from the hallway's window. Frosty will join you."
Darky closed her sketchbook. "What about me?" she asked, tilting her head.
Flo nodded at her. "Sunny'll think of something if you really want. She's in her room."
"I feel excluded."
"No you don't." Flo stared at the girls. "Well, what are you waiting for? Off you go!"
Maple stood up and ran to the hallway, Fallen close behind. When they were closing the door behind them, Maple heard Flo from the inside say: "Geez, this place is a mess."
"It's not!" Darky called back to the boss before dashing off to find Sunny.
Frosty was already sitting in front of the window, messing focusedly with his sandy brown hair. He didn't even hear the girls approaching before Maple slammed her hand on his shoulder, making the boy jump.
"Shouldn't you pay a little more attention?" she asked, an evil grin on her face.
"I was paying attention", Frosty defended.
"On your hair, yes. On the view, not so much. We are supposed to keep an eye out for Shivy and Shiver's group, not to check if you have lice."
"I wasn't doing a lice check!" Frosty argued, narrowing his eyes at the brunette.
"Sure. Now, if you could fetch a pair of chairs for us ladies?"
Frosty rolled his eyes. "Why me?"
"Because you are a gentleman."
"True, you aren't if you don't get those chairs for us. Action."
Frosty stood up, muttered something to himself and walked away. Soon he got back with two other chairs, and placed them in front of Maple. He glared at the girl.
"Anything else for Your Majesty?" he asked jokingly.
"Not at the moment. Thanks, slave."
Frosty had already opened his mouth to speak, but Fallen cut him off. "Sorry to end this nice little chit-chat, but we really need to focus. It's serious, remember?"
"Yeah, sorry", Maple said, a little ashamed. How could she be so calm and normal in a situation like this?
Silence fell on them like a heavy blanket. The three stared outside, eyes focused on the tree line, mind thinking, hopes up. Maple felt nervousness build up inside her. What if they didn't show up? What would Flo do?
If the others were there in the Forest, they were in freaking danger.
The sky was black like a devil's heart. The trees swung up and down, as if they were cursed by the power of the storm. Loud whoosing sound made by the wind filled their ears as it echoed from the walls of the building. Leaves flew everywhere, they looked like they were trying to escape the situation as fast as they could.
Maple wondered if it was going to rain or not. No. Every time fish have disappeared and it has lead to a storm, it has never rained. It won't happen this time either. It was weird, why didn't it rain? It was a storm after all. What was it without the pouring waterdrops?
Just a bunch of aggressive winds.
Luckily the buildings were made to be lasting. Just because of situations like this.
Maple's gaze shifted from tree to tree, rock to rock, building to building. She hoped to spot a glimpse of Shiver or Wistep's black hair, or Dew, Moss, Shivy or Blue's blonde hair, or Swan's brown hair, or maybe Flamey's purple tips dyed hair. Anything.
Maple didn't know how long she had waited. Sleepiness sneaked into her head. She was tired, her eyelids almost refused to stay open. But she fighted back, she knew she had to keep awake.
"Guys." Frosty's extremely silent whisper made Maple a bit startled. She barely heard what the boy said.
He pointed outside. "Look! Can you see that?" The boy's voice was scared, but also a little hopeful. Only a little. Microscopic little.
Maple searched the area with her eyes. What did Frosty see? The group? Shivy? Her heart began thudding in her chest.
Then she saw it.
A person. In dirty, bloody and ragged clothes. Probably a girl. Near the treeline on the other side of the camp.
Who was she?
The person was half crawling, half worming forward strenghtlessly. She seemed to be in pain. After a few more crawled centimeters she tried to stand up, but collapsed to the ground, her hair flying everywhere.
It was black.
Her hair. Black like the clouds in the sky. Covering her face, and the shoulders of her motionless body.
Maple stumbled up from her seat, knocking over her chair. Her eyes were wide open, she wasn't tired anymore, she was absolutely horrified.
"It's Wistep", she breathed, "we need to help her."
Fallen stood up instantly. "Wistep?" The girl's face was full of mixed emotions - fear, disbelief, shock, hope. Her eyes were wider than Maple thought was possible.
"I'm sure. That's Wistep! We need to help her - she seems to be suffering!" Maple was about to run outside.
"H-Hold on", Frosty stopped her, "it's dangerous outside. The wind will take you. Trees will fall on you!" He looked more serious than ever. He took a deep breath, glancing outside. "Look, I'm very concerned too, but we need to ask Flo or something -"
"No! We don't have time!" Maple shouted at Frosty's face and swung the door open. She was greeted with a powerful wind that almost made her fall. She couldn't breathe while facing the wind. She had to gasp for breath. Bravely the brunette stepped outside and ran.
"Don't -" Frosty tried to say before Fallen knocked him over and dashed after Maple.
It was extremely hard to run. The forceful gust fighted back when the girls tried to break through the walls of the winds. Maple's ears were overwhelmed by the loud whoosing sound and her legs were like rock.
Wistep's body was lying on the ground on the other side of the glade, not moving the least bit. She looked wrecked and dirty. There was a small nasty pool of blood under her. The sight made Maple's chest clench in fear.
Was she dead?
Her mind returned to the moment when she saw Wistep crawl to the Camp, just to collapse feebly to the ground.
Had she witnessed the death of her friend?
Maple tried to push such thoughts away. She was only meters away from Wistep, she'd reach her soon, help her up, see how she'd open her eyes and speak... She'd smile and tell her it was only a prank, it had all been a joke, the monsters, the woman, all the terrorizing - they never happened. It was a joke.
Oh how she wished that to be true.
Fallen was beside Wistep's body first. Maple catched up with her swiftly. She found it hard to see what was going on, the wind blew her hair on her face all the time.
Fallen kneeled down next to Wistep. The blonde reached her hand out to touch - probably to push the ravenette's hair out of her face - but quickly pulled her hand away, staring at it in horror.
Her fingers were covered with blood.
The girls exchanged worried glances. Fallen tried to dry her hand out of the horrible red liquid that was dripping down her fingers. Maple gulped, and pushed her hands under Wistep's body, not caring if the blood stained them. Slowly she turned the body around, so that the ravenette's face was out of the dirt.
Wistep's eyes were closed. Maple eyed her face carefully. There was a small, bleeding scar from her eye to her lip, but otherwise the face looked fine.
Where is this blood coming from?
Maple examinated the body quickly. She started from the feet. There were unpleasant wounds and bruises all over them, but nothing too major. Then she looked at her midriff. What she saw made her shiver in terror and disgust.
The other side of Wistep's dark blue t-shirt was completely soaked with blood. A piece of the fabric was missing too, so Maple saw the big and bad looking wound on the girl's side clearly. She spotted a lot of blood and bunch of other things she didn't want to name. It made the brunette want to vomit.
She gave a quick check to the girl's arms too. Wistep's right arm had a deep, bloody wound on it, but it wasn't even nearly as bad as the one on her side. Maple felt sick inside when she looked at her blood colored, deep red hands.
Oh Wistep dear, what has done this to you?
Maple wanted to shout to Fallen, tell her to pick the ravenette up and carry her, but words couldn't be heard in the gust, and Maple knew that. Luckily Fallen seemed be on the same wavelenght. She nodded, and the two lifted the unconscious girl up.
At least they hoped she was only unconscious.
Either one of them felt or heard Wistep's heartbeat - if it was there - over the raging storm. Luckily her body radiated faint warmth. Maybe she was alive after all.
The girls tried to carry the ravenette to the dorms as fast as possible, but it was difficult. Because of the weather, Wistep's body weight like stone. It was hard enough to even walk yourself, but with a body on your shoulders? Think yourself.
Maple was ready to drop Wistep to the ground by the time they reached the dorms. Her hair was on her face, she was really sweaty and had blood on her arms. Breathing hurt her lungs, and she just wanted to give up.
Frosty swung the dorms' door open, a horrified look on his face. "Maple! Fallen! And - flipping fishsticks! Wistep?" He ran to help the girls get the wounded in.
"What's going on here?"
Icy had come to stand there in the doorway, looking confused. When she saw what the three were holding, she gasped loudly. "Holy hair gods! Wistep! What happened?"
"Help us!" Fallen yelled, ignoring the question.
With Icy's help they got the girl inside. They managed to carry her to her bed, and called Lily to check the condition. Maple waited beside her bed, her heart in her mouth, watching as Lily wiped the blood away, checked her limbs, helped her with everything she had.
After a life-long moment of depressing silence, Lily stood up from the bed she had been sitting on. She looked everyone in the eye before stating one, short sentence:
Maple felt like she was going to collapse from the pure relief. Her feet were strenghtless out of the sudden happiness, and she smiled.
Lily held her hand up. "Hold on before getting relieved. Yes, she is alive, but she has pretty bad wounds. I don't know what has made the nasty wound on her side or the one on her arm, but they sure aren't little things. I wonder why they left so late that they got attacked by the storm, or is there another reason for the lateness? They faced trouble? I don't know, for now we just have to hope Wistep resuscitates, if she does."
"But where are the others?" Robbie - who shared a room with Wistep - asked.
Lily shrugged. "I don't know, maybe -"
Suddenly a figure dashed inside the room, looking shocked. It was Darkie.
"Oh my gosh, guys! I think I saw two - two people outside! And they look like they've gotten hit by a semi-truck!" the brunette shouted. Her trembling finger pointed at the hallway's window's direction.
Maple exchanged glances with everyone in the room, before sprinting after Darkie. She almost hit the wall because she didn't slow down. Fallen, Frosty, Lily, Icy, Flo and Robbie - everyone who had been in the room - gathered around her. Maple stared outside, and yes, she noticed two figures already halfway through the glade. Despite Darkie's description of them 'looking hit by a semi-truck', they looked pretty whole to Maple, compared to Wistep. And they were slowly but surely approaching the dorms.
"One of them is a boy", Frosty noted, "and the other one must be a girl."
"Flamey. And someone else", Icy stated.
"But.. why didn't they accompany Wistep? Did they get lost? And where's the rest?" Robbie questioned.
"I wish I knew... But we have to help them!" yelled Darkie and slammed her hand on the windowsill.
"We don't need to. They are almost here", Flo said blankly, never breaking the view to outside.
With 'almost' Flo probably meant 'next year'. The two moved painfully slowly, maybe the wind caused it, maybe they were injured. At least they looked to be kind of hurt, nothing too bad, but still. When they came closer, Maple noticed that the other one was indeed Flamey. The person who kept him company had brown hair... She looked a little like... Swan?
Suddenly the door was slammed open, and a person fell on the doorstep. He groaned, and Frosty ran to help him up. A girl slowly followed him in, seeming to be as tired.
"Flamey! Are you okay?" Frosty asked his housemate, shaking him by the shoulders. Flamey just barely stood there, panting heavily.
"That", he said between breaths, "was worse than losing Overwatch world cup."
"But are you okay? What happened?" Frosty continued asking.
"Hello? I'm here too!" Swan, who was half leaning on the wall, half lying on the ground, reminded jokingly. She seemed at least as exhausted as Flamey, her hair dirty and clothes wrinkled. No notable injuries though - wait. There was something deep red on her arm - something definitely not normal.
"Sorry -" Frosty was about to say, but Maple cut him off.
"Swan, what's that red thing on your left arm?" she questioned.
The newcomer panted a short moment before lifting her hoodie's sleeve, revealing a bloody cut from her shoulder down to her elbow. "This? It's nothing, Flamey got it worse", she shrugged.
"No, I'm just fine -" Flamey tried to say, but Lily had already noticed the big maroon colored spot on his long baggy camouflage pants. She cut him off quickly.
"Heck, there's a blood lake on your thigh! What in the name of all the names has happened to you?"
"I can explain", Swan began, "Shiver and Moss noticed the storm's rising too late, so we had to run. But running all the way was impossible and we faced some trouble -" her explanation ended to her loud breathing.
"What trouble? And where are Shiver and Moss?" asked Fallen.
Swan went pale. "They aren't here?"
Maple ignored the question. "Why did you split up? Wistep is basically dead -"
"What! Wistep's dead?" Flamey's eyes widened to the size of the Moon.
Icy sighed. "No, she's just injured. Did you see what happened to her? What happened to you?" She eyed both carefully.
"We had only ran a short distance - about half an hour - but we were all terribly exhausted and our limbs and lungs were on fire." Swan paused to take deep breaths. "It all went downhill when trees started to fall on us."
"Trees fell on you?" Maple asked, confused.
"Do you have any idea how strong the wind is? Yeah, trees started collapsing on us, and imagine such tall and big trees with thick branches falling on you. Yep, the outcome is definitely not pretty", Swan explicated, raising her arm to show the wound. She inhaled and exhaled before continuing. "This is what you get when you're hit by a needley, huge branch that attacks you. And it's not even bad. Wistep almost got pierced."
Flo joined the question flood. "What about Moss and Shiver? Or Dew and Blue?"
"We were all together before the first tree chaos. After that only Wistep, me and Swan were together. We had lost Shiver, Moss, Blue and Dew. Luckily Wistep knew where to go... But then she disappeared too, it was pure luck that me and Swan got here."
"Wistep got there before you despite getting pierced... Huh", Lily marveled.
A new voice joined the situation. "What's going on here?"
"What the - Flamey! Swan?"
"The heck happened?"
Three new figures - Wavey, who had changed out of her pyjamas, Birchy, who was extremely confused, and Breezey, who looked like she had dropped from a tree. All of them stared at the two members of Shiver's group with shocked expressions.
Flo gave them a short explanation, but it didn't seem to be enough. "I don't get it. Where is the rest?" Birchy wondered.
Breezey's horrified face didn't seem to normalize. "If I knew what was going on while helping Sunny, I wouldn't have stayed there for so long! Are you guys okay?"
Flamey moved from his position. "Just okay -" he grunted " - but I'm horribly hungry. Is there anything to eat?"
Everyone turned awkward. Maple coughed. "Yeah, about that... The warehouse was kind of burnt down... We kind of don't have food. We will kind of starve. Kind of."
Swan slammed her hands on the floor. "What! While I was gone this happened? Why? Why do I always miss the best parts?"
"Trust me, it wasn't the 'best part'..." Wavey muttered.
"Other stuff was revealed too. Like what happened when you came and about a monster claw that was found! Crazy, don't you think?" Darkie said.
"Someone needs to explain me", Swan stated seriously, eyeing everyone carefully.
"I can", Lily volunteered, "but you need to come with me so I can check your condition. Both of you. I can't do miracles because pretty much all of my stuff is in the medicine house right now, but we'll see. Follow me."
Mumbling something, the two went after Lily. They moved slowly and uneasily. Maple wondered if there were more injured than they admitted.
"So", Flo began, "now that there's a massive gathering on this hallway, we should maybe return to our works. Sunny and maybe you too, Icy, might need some help with setting this place up."
Muttering quietly to themselves, the campers disappeared to their rooms, or went after Icy or to look for Sunny. However, Maple stayed there. She wanted to keep an eye out for the rest. She was really scared for them, and hoped they'd show up soon.
She didn't have to wait for long.
As soon as she saw it, Maple backed away from the window. She glanced around for others. "Guys! Guys! I think I see -"
Icy appeared from room one. "More people? Who?" she asked seriously.
"That seems to be someone blonde... carrying someone blonde."
"That tells a lot. Do they look alright?"
Maple shifted her gaze from Icy to the window. "The one carrying does. But there must be a reason why the other blonde is being carried so I think she's hurt." Maple gulped. How many of them were injured? How could trees be that dangerous?
"Who are they? Moss, Blue or Dew? Maybe Shivy?"
Quick sting of hope flashed through Maple at Shivy's name. That's right! She might have found the group! "I think that's Dew, because she has shortish hair. And the other one has dirty blonde, so either Moss or Blue. It's kinda hard to see when it's so dark."
"So no Shivy or Shiver, and either Moss or Blue is missing too", Icy said worriedly.
"Yep, that's very unsnazzy. I think we should help her. It seems to be really hard to carry a girl in a gust like that."
"Maybe you're right. I'll go", Icy was already about to open the door, but Maple grabbed her arm.
"Wait! I want to help them", she pleaded with sad eyes.
"You've already been there, my turn."
With those words, the kitchen boss disappeared into the storm. The wind messed Maple's hair up when the door was opened. Not that it wasn't already messy.
Maple stared from the window as Icy ran (slowly) to the two, helping the carrying girl by lifting the unconscious one up. They both looked beaten up, especially the lifted one.
It was indeed Dew.
The brunette watched as they reached the Tavern. She opened the door for them, widening her eyes as she saw their bloody faces.
"What in cookies' name! You look terrible!" she gasped.
"Thanks", Moss murmured, and stepped in. She massaged her feet. "That was one heck of a run", she groaned.
"Is Dew okay?"
"I'm fine, thanks for asking", Moss replied with a joking tone. "No seriously, she got... uhh... just take a look at her back. I tried to heal her a little, but it's darn hard to look for medicine herbs while running for your life. When she fainted, I thought we'd never get away from there."
"But you're here now", Icy said and placed Dew on the floor. She turned her gently around so she could see the blonde's back. Maple's body filled with horror. She couldn't describe what see saw - or more like what she didn't see.
"Dear gosh no", Icy hissed, fear evident in her voice.
There was a piece missing from Dew's back.
Not that literally. It sure seemed like someone had bitten a piece from her back, but it was more like a deep cut. Really deep. Maple knew enough anatomy know that there were things that shouldn't have been visible when looking at the wound.
Moss seemed to be as shaken as the two other campers. "I didn't realise it was that bad! I saw the blood, it's all over me now, but that much, oh no -"
Icy cut her off. "What happened?"
Moss took a deep breath. "We had lost Shiver, Wistep, Flamey and Swan already, and - wait, are they safe?"
Maple stared at Icy. "Shiver isn't. Yet."
"I have strong faith in her, I know she'll be here at any minute. Anyway, there were these few trees that started to fall on us. We were surrounded by them, and there was nowhere to hide, no escape anywhere. So they just collapsed", Moss gulped, "on us. Dew dodged a branch bigger than a human for me... And now she just looks eaten. I didn't get any big injuries. I wish I had been hit instead of her..."
"She isn't gone yet, remember? We have hope", Icy reminded, and pulled her fellow founder into a hug. Maple hated to disturb the moment, but she had to.
"Uhh, Moss? You said you lost a lot of people, but you didn't list Blue. Where is she?"
"Blue? Isn't she here? I was so focused on carrying Dew safe from the situation that I only realised later I had lost Blue. I thought she escaped. She's strong after all."
Maple bit her lip, fear flaming inside. "She hasn't come..."
Moss went even paler. "Oh no..."
"Like you said, she is strong. She'll be here sooner than I say 'food'. Now, let's help Dew to her room, and Lily can check on her, you need rest, Moss..."
Icy helped the healer lift up Dew, and they left for the rooms. "I'll keep watching!" Maple called after them.
She stared intensely at the wind-haunted view. So, we've got Wistep, Flamey, Swan, Moss and Dew now. Only Shiver and Blue missing. And Shivy. I never asked them if they saw her... Probably not. Fear grasped her heart. What happened to her?
As she waited, she noticed the sky was darkening. It was getting late. The weather was turning angrier and angrier by every minute. The brunette sat there, dozens of emotions firing each other inside her mind. But one of them was superior - fear.
She didn't realise she had been zoning out. When she came back to her senses, she - barely - heard noises coming from the outside. Very faint, muffled by the whoosing of the wind, but it was a noise after all. There was a living being outside.
Before she had time to react, somebody swung open the door almost detaching it from its hinges. The person crawled into the hallway.
"To heck with the weather! By all the skeletons, that was one freaking run, oh crap -"
Maple almost jumped out of joy. "Shiver! Boy am I so glad you're alive -"
"Me too, lad, me too." She panted a moment, lying on the floor. "Remind me to never do that again", she breathed.
"Are you okay?" Maple asked, studying Shiver's expression, messy black hair and dirty clothes.
"I'm still in one piece so take that as a yes", Shiver exhaled loudly. "Mark my words, I will never ever run again, even if it's the last thing I do..."
"At least you seem normal to me. Don't you really have any injuries?"
"I do have a little something on my left arm, but don't ya worry, it's only a little scratch. I'll be fine in no time!"
"I'll still make sure Lily or Moss checks your wounds. Almost everyone's safe, by the way. But did you see Shivy? And where's Blue?"
Shiver raised her eyebrows. "Shivy? Nope, didn't see her... Was I supposed to? And what about Blue? Didn't she come?"
Maple looked anywhere but Shiver. "Shivy went looking for you... But disappeared. Blue was lost by Moss and Dew. She isn't here yet."
"I was left alone very soon after starting our dash. I thought I was the last one to arrive... I hope Blue's safe. But I'm pretty sure she comes soon."
"Me too. Now, I think I should take you to Lily..." Maple held her hand out to Shiver, and she stood up from the floor. "I can walk myself, thank you very much. You can keep guard here", the skeleton said, and walked away. She didn't move easily either.
Okay. I'll wait then. Shivy and Blue will be here soon.
So she took her chair again, and sat down, fixing her gaze on the treeline. Patiently, she stayed there, knowing that any minute, she'd see two figures. One with dirty blonde hair, and one with plain blonde. They'd approach the dorms, slowly but surely. They might've been injured, but they'd be alive. Alive and safe.
She waited all night.
But they never came.
Chapter Eight Edit
Just a dark tunnel. Tunnel with fallen walls, destroyed roofs, burned floors. Everything that made a house was lost.
Gone for good.
But the darkness didn’t occupy every little inch of the space. No, there was something crawling inside the void, making its way through the trouble.
Was it an intelligent creature? Judging from what it was doing, it didn’t seem very clever. Nobody would want to be in that tunnel, everyone with a little piece of intelligence would stay out of the place for good.
Maybe it didn’t have a choice? Something dragged the creature in, swallowed it into the depths of the tunnel’s darkness, and the being was now struggling to get out.
It tried to get out. Crawl for the light. That seemed very intelligent and brave – not anyone could break out of the void. It was almost impossible.
That’s right. The creature would never succeed. It was doomed to be there for the rest of its life.
Was that light ?
No, that wasn’t possible. There was no way there could be light in the tunnel. It had to be a misunderstanding.
But what if there wasn’t light in the tunnel, what if it was the tunnel’s end. What if there was light at the end.
It might’ve been so. It had to be so.
The darkness was starting to fade. The creature arose from its miserable position. There was the thing it had been looking for – it had gotten out. It had beat the tunnel.
The light, the exit, the final, the escape. It was there, square shaped, surrounded by wood, made of plastic.
The hallway’s window.
She shook her head slowly, feeling relieved. She was out of the tunnel of her mind, through her thoughts that had crashed her beliefs, escaped from the depressing feeling that the events had caused. She was safe now, she had crawled out.
Safe for now.
It had all been so dark. Luckily the window close to her had given a little hope, brought the light that broke her tranze. Without it… she would’ve been stuck in that tunnel.
Why did she wake up this early? She didn’t want to. She didn’t need to. Why then?
Why was she outside her room, walking on the hallway? Why was she drowning in her thoughts in the middle of walking?
Why was she going towards the window?
Answers? Good joke! Expect, there was an answer for the last one…
Someone sat in front of the window. Someone who seemed to be sleeping. No, half sleeping, half worrying.
The girl recognized her friend immediatelly. She ran towards her, slightly panicking. Why was she out at this time?
She shook the shoulders of the brunette. “Maple? Are you alright? Why are you sleeping on the hallway?”
The girl snapped her eyes open. “Darkie! You scared me!” she exclaimed with her tired voice.
“That doesn’t answer my questions.”
Her eyes widened. “Oh no, I fell asleep! I was waiting for Blue and Shivy. Speaking of them – did they come?” Maple glanced worriedly outside, observing the still dim view.
“I don’t think so…” Darkie replied, feeling a little anxious herself. What had happened to the two?
Maple went even paler. “This can’t be happening…” she mumbled.
“Don’t worry. They’ll be back”, Darkie promised, but she wasn’t that sure either.
“Why do people keep saying that! It’s not true, and I’ve heard it to the point when I’m sick of it!”
“What else should I say then? ‘No, they’re dead for sure. Let’s just prepare the funeral’.”
“No! Say that – they are – they will – they’re gonna – UGH!” Maple hit her head hard on the windowsill.
“Told you”, Darkie huffed, rolling her eyes. Then her tone turned softer. “Look, everyone’s worried. There’s no point to dwell on it. The weather looks better, I’m sure Flo and the founders have prepared something.”
“I hope so -” the girl’s sentence ended with a yawn.
“I think you should sleep.”
“No. I’m not tired”, Maple argued.
“Yes. You are tired.”
“No -” Maple yawned loudly and slammed her hand on her mouth, cursing herself.
“Mhm. I’ll throw you to your bed if you don’t sleep”, Darkie threatened, grinning evilly.
“I’d like to see you do that.”
“Oh really? Okay, that’s it -” Darkie was about to dash after Maple, who disappeared to room four, laughing tiredly.
Unfortunately, a new voice stopped the brunette from attacking. “Morning, Darkie. What’s going on?”
Darkie twirled around. “Uh, morning. Maple had just stayed up all night waiting for Shivy and Blue, and refused to go to sleep”, she explained awkwardly.
Icy nodded. “I see. Now, it’s clear that the two haven’t arrived, and me, Flo and Sunny decided to go look for them. And also food. Never forget food.”
Darkie’s stomach grumbled at the mention of food. Ignore, ignore, ignore. She put on a brave smile. “Yeah. I volunteer to go looking for them.”
“Usually I’d think this out well before agreeing, but this time I’ll let it slip. Which one do you want to go searching for, Shivy or Blue?”
The campers sounded like objects, like she’d had to choose a toy that was hidden and then find it. Presented that way, the situation seemed almost comical. But I can’t decide.“Uh, it doesn’t matter”, Darkie quickly replied.
Icy nodded. “Blue it is then. Someone has already volunteered to go look for Shivy, so it’s a draw this way. You should go find a few people to accompany you. Three to five, if possible. And someone who was with the group yesterday and can tell which way they took.”
“Got it. Just one thing… Is it safe outside now? It doesn’t look like it’s blowing much, but…”
Icy glanced at the window’s direction. “It should be safe. Lily visited the medicine house earlier this morning. Wistep and Dew needed some medicine from there…” Icy’s voice faded away.
Darkie felt a splash of fear inside her. “Holy deathgenerators! I totally forgot about them! Are they okay? Are they awake?” she asked Icy, worry and guilt sneaking up from the bottom of her depths. How could she forget?
“I don’t know”, Icy shook her head, “maybe you should go see them.”
Darkie nodded determinedly. “I will. And after that we’ll leave to search for Blue.”
After that Darkie sprinted to room number two, Dew’s. She opened the door quietly, making sure she wouldn’t make any noise. The door creaked a little, and the faint light coming from the hallway quickly invaded the room, overwhelming every little millimeter with it’s yellowish, weak brightness.
What Darkie saw inside, made her dumbfounded.
There were two things that looked like mattresses dragged from beds on the floor, one under the window and one closer to Dew’s bed. Huh, why are the mattresses here?
Before she had the time to voice her thoughts, someone had already acknowledged her presence.
“Ack, shut the light off! And get the heck out of here, I’m trying to sleep.”
Darkie was pretty sure that the source of the voice was sleeping in the bed near the window. She rolled her eyes. “Good morning to you too. Could someone explain me what’s the meaning of this sleepover?”
Darkie leaped softly over the stuff on the floor – including the other mattress – and approached the window. She crouched over the sleeper and snatched the sheets away.
“Hah! Swan! I knew it!” Darkie whisper-shouted, waving the sheets in the air.
Swan tried to catch it. “Hey! Give that back!”
“Shush! Don’t wake everyone up.”
Giving an evil smirk, Darkie sat down on Swan’s mattress.
“You’re making my bed dirty! Get your dusty pants off it!” Swan whisper-shouted. Darkie just rolled her eyes playfully.
“You have at least as dirty clothes. I notice you haven’t changed.”
Swan sighed. “Yeah. I wanted to shower first, but I couldn’t do it yesterday. Hopefully I can soon…”
“You can probably go outside soon. Lily visited the medicine house this morning and said that it’s pretty safe”, Darkie explained. “Speaking of Lily, has she planned this sleepover? Why are you and Flamey sleeping in this room? Okay, I get it – Flamey doesn’t have his own room here, but it doesn’t explain why you aren’t in your room.”
Swan started playing with her dirty hair, her nose crunching in disgust. “Lily thought that it was best if ‘injured’ people slept in the same room. So she got my mattress here and a new one for Flamey and put us here. Wistep is in her original room because she needed peace, and I think Moss and Shiver are too, since they are founders and do what the heck they wanna. But Lily said nothing about Shivy and Blue.”
Darkie coughed awkwardly. “Maybe because they aren’t here.”
Swan didn’t even blink. “Really?”
“Yep… It’s pretty shocking.”
Swan shrugged. “True… But I guess I wasn’t that surprised. Of course I hoped they’d return, but I guess I was expecting the worst.” She sighed.
“Hey, never expect the worst. Anyway, the reason why I came here was to check on Dew. Is she alright?” Darkie asked, peeking at the direction of the girl’s bed.
“I don’t know. Check yourself.”
“You’ve slept in the same room and you don’t even know if she’s alive.” Darkie raised her eyebrow.
“There would be a massive fuss and crazy funeral preparing in the death case.”
“You sound so positive today…”
“Sorry… I’m just tired and my legs hurt and I’m sweaty and I have a headache and -”
Darkie shushed again. “I got it.” Then she turned to look at Dew’s hopefully sleeping figure. “I won’t wake Dew up. Let’s wait and see if Lily comes. We could check on Flamey now though. He seems to be still sleeping. Should we wake him up?”
Darkie frowned at the brunette. “What are you mumbling about now? Yes, we. Was there a misunderstanding?”
“I was planning to continue sleeping”, Swan announced and flashed a smile.
“You were planning .”
“I still am.”
“You can keep planning. Now, let’s wake him up.” Darkie stood up and approached Flamey’s bed. She poked his shoulder lightly. “Flamers? You awake?”
Swan came to sit on the floor beside the boy’s mattress. “Seems to be sleeping to me.”
“Flaaaamey! Rise and shine! We want to see if you’re okay”, Darkie whispered, poking him again.
“ We …” Swan mumbled, rolling her eyes.
“Shut up.” Darkie poked the sleeper again, now even harder. “Flamey!” Her poking turned to slapping.
“Stop abusing him!”
“I’m not ‘abusing’ him. I’m trying to wake him up. Gently.”
“Well, if you ask me, waking someone up and abusing someone have a big difference, so if that looks even a little like the latter -”
“But I’m not asking you.”
Flamey let out a yawn. “Who turned on the TV? I can hear an annoying talk show…” He opened his eyes slowly, but didn’t move.
Swan turned to glare at Darkie. “See? Your high-pitched babbling made him think that you’re a talk show host. Way to go.”
“Me?” Darkie scoffed at the brunette’s dumbness. “Anyway, he’s awake now, and that’s the main thing.”
“Are you sure he is?” Swan glanced at Flamey with a raised eyebrow.
“Of course. His eyes are open!”
“That doesn’t mean he’s awake. I’m speaking from experience.”
“I swear, he is -”
Someone cleared their throat. “Ahem, you can ask me if you wanna know whether I’m awake or not, because the answer is – yes.”
Darkie smiled. “Morning, Flamey!” Then she turned to grin at Swan. “Told ya he was awake.”
Suddenly Flamey’s expression turned darker, and his brown eyes more thoughtful.
Darkie noticed that and frowned. “Flamey? Why do you look so triggered?”
He kept silent for a moment. “I don’t want you to call me that anymore”, he stated, slowly but clearly enough for the girls to hear.
Darkie was hit with a confusion bullet. “Huh? What do you mean? You don’t want us calling you Flamey?”
Flamey shook his head, looking at the ground. “No… calling me he .”
Darkie frowned in confusion, and glanced at Swan, who looked as bewildered as her gendermate. “We should call you… a she?”
Flamey shook his head furiously. “No! Neither!”
“Um, what?” Swan stared at Flamey like he had just shifted into a talking whale with a tricycle, vomit-orange bowler and a thick Martian accent.
Flamey let out a long stressed sigh. “You are obviously not going to get it, so I obviously have to explain. And you’ll obviously listen and obviously understand. Ok?”
The brunettes nodded in sync.
“Good. Now, let’s go back to the moment when I came to my senses… To be more specific, yesterday afternoon when we were running through the Forest. During that run, I kinda thought… a lot. About the meaning of life and why am I here and what I am and a bunch of other deep stuff too… Yeah, running for your life is a really awakening experience. And as it took long, I had lots of time to think…”
Swan jolted up swiftly like a lightning. She pointed her finger at Flamey, staring at the boy murderously. “What!? You used the whole freaking time thinking ! We were supposed to run – focus – we were about to die! And you little philosopher pondered all the way here, we could’ve gotten killed! If we had died, I would’ve murdered you!”
Darkie glared at Swan, she wanted to tell her to be quiet. Flamey cleared his throat awkwardly, “Uh, yeah.” Then he took a deep breath. “Anyway, I came to the conclusion that I am non-binary.”
There was a long silence after that announcement.
Swan broke it first. “And that means you’re neither a boy or a girl…?”
Flamey nodded furiously. “Bingo! And I want people to use they and them pronouns when talking about me.”
“You’re making my life so complicated. I won’t ever remember to use those pronouns”, Swan sighed.
Flamey shrugged. “That’s alright, you’ll get used to it. I know you imagined that every time you call me a boy I’d try to choke you, but I’m only going to stare at you disapprovingly. Very disapprovingly. And that should be enough to choke you.”
Darkie spoke after being silent for a minute. “But that’s cool! Congrats! Or at least I think I should congratulate you…” she muttered the last part.
“I’m gonna tell the others soon too. Speaking of the others, where are our roommates? I mean, Dew’s there, and I think I can see Darky sleeping there, but where are Flo and Fallen?”
Darkie glanced around. “Flo’s somewhere planning with Icy, I think, and Fallen is helping Sunny, I suppose. Or maybe she’s the one who volunteered to go look for Shivy already. That’d make sense.” She shrugged.
“Why’s everyone always helping Sunny?” Flamey wondered.
“Well, maybe because the writer finds it tiresome to have too many people around, so sending some people away from the situation from time to time is the easiest solution”, Swan explained, she said it so relaxedly and carelessly that it was even weirder.
The two stared at the newcomer like she was crazy.
“Um, what?” she asked, laughing nervously.
“…the heck? Did you hit your head or something?” Darkie started to wonder if Swan needed some medicine from Lily too.
“Oh, so you didn’t get the joke… It just came to my mind because last night I had the craziest dream ever. I was writing this! About all of the mad stuff happening. I mean – I was making a biography of myself! And in the end everyone hated the book.” Swan started to laugh at the last part.
Flamey clapped their hands excitedly. “Overgosh! That’s a great idea! If you ever write that book I promise I’ll quote every part I like on Discord!”
“Uh, what? You’re both being so strange today. Why did I even come? Oh right, I had to check on Dew. Well that went off topic. Should I do it now?” Not waiting for an answer to come, Darkie stood up, stepping next to the girl’s bed. Only Dew’s face was showing, she was facing the roof directly. Darkie squinted her eyes to see in the dimness.
Dew’s eyes were closed. She was pale, her skin gray, lips dry. Her short blonde hair was all around the pillow, creating mysterious shapes and forms, like signals. Signals for help.
Her blonde hair, snow pale skin and the fragileness made her seem like some sort of an angel.
She looked like a statue. A statue of an angel.
A fallen angel.
But she was alive.
Darkie needed to know how horribly injured Dew was, if her back was a whole or not. She gently took the sheets off of the girl, making sure not to disturb.
Dew’s torso was all wrapped in bandages. Darkie didn’t notice red splatters on them, maybe because the cut was on her back that wasn’t showing. Lily had put towels under her so that the blood wouldn’t stain the bed, and it had been a wise move, since the white towels were colored with big bloody spots. They looked dry though.
“What the heck are you doing with my patient?”
Spinning around, surprised Darkie spotted Lily standing in the doorway, staring strangely at the brunette. She must’ve looked odd, standing there with Dew’s sheets in her hands.
“Morning, Lily. I wanted to see if she’s okay”, Darkie smiled, pointing at Dew.
Lily nodded slowly. “Okay… You can put the sheets back now. She needs absolute peace.”
Darkie did as she was told, putting the sheets back as gently as she had taken them away. Then she looked at Lily again. “Will she be okay? The blood looked dry, but she’s dead pale.”
Lily pressed her lips together. “Umm… Her back has a nasty wound.”
“That’s not an answer.”
“It’s not supposed to be. I can’t give you false hope.”
“Lily… We know you try your best. And Moss will too when she recovers.” Darkie put on an encouraging smile. Lily smiled back.
“Oh and how’s Wistep? Can I go see her?” Darkie asked the healer.
For a moment Lily looked horrified. “No! Nobody can go see her”, she commanded, her face so serious that it was unrealistic.
“Why? Is Wistep alright?” Darkie inquired cautiously.
Lily closed her eyes, not replying.
Fear creeped its way into Darkie. What had happened? “Lily, you need to tell us.”
“No! I-it’s nothing. Forget I even said anything!” the healer snapped.
Darkie was already getting mad. “Lily! Is Wistep okay?” she yelled back, pointing at Lily angrily.
“Shhh! Dew has to sleep, remember?” Flamey whispered from the shadows.
Lily gave Darkie a blank face, and turned to do something to Dew. Huffing, Darkie went back to Swan and Flamey. There was something she hadn’t discussed yet.
She sat down, sighing. “Okay, guys… I’m gonna go on a patrol that is looking for Blue. I need someone who was with Shiver’s group to guide us. Could one of you come? How big are your wounds? Can you walk?”
Swan’s eyes lit up. “I can go! I’m feeling brilliant and I remember the way fantastically!” she exclaimed.
“I could too. My leg feels good”, Flamey noted.
“I only had a little scratch on my arm. I’m in better condition than Flamey”, Swan quickly said.
“What, is this a competition or what”, Flamey rolled their eyes.
“I’ve been missing out on lot, like I didn’t see the fire and the other visit to the silo…” Swan muttered awkwardly.
“I’ve been missing out on more, ahem. Actually, you’ve been a part of a lot”, Flamey reminded the newcomer.
“Well, Flamey has a point. I won’t take you with us, Swan, or else you’ll gonna be missing out on the Camp’s rebuilding”, Darkie added in.
“What! That’s so unfair.”
“No cases for you today, Sherlock.”
“But Watson, you can’t do this!”
Swan crossed her arms. “Fine! I’ll theorize with Wavey then. I already did. She thinks that there’s something else behind the trees falling than only the wind.”
Flamey shook their head. “I don’t think so. She didn’t see how powerful the wind actually was.”
Darkie nodded. “Yeah. And Swan, Wavey will only confuse you. She’ll turn so mastermindic that you’ll be more bewildered than a brainless snail.”
“There’s that tiny possibility.”
Darkie stood up, dusting her jeans. “Anyway, I’m going to ask if Shiver or Moss will go with me. Flamey, I don’t want you to do hard stuff with your leg. Bye guys, have fun getting bored!” she called, leaping over the stuff on the floor, reaching the door and stepping out.
She glanced at the window’s direction. How was it so bright already? How long did I spend there with the two? A year? Two? Now she really needed to get the ball rolling. She had promised to Icy to be out as fast as possible, but yet she didn’t have any company.
She walked on the hallway, not really knowing where she was going until Moss came in from the dorms’ door. She looked very recovered, and was carrying many complicated items that Darkie’s mind was too lazy to name. Darkie thanked her good luck silently.
She stopped the healer. “Moss.”
“Darkie”, Moss acknowledged the brunette’s presence with a nod.
“Group. Looking for Blue. Come with us.”
Nodding once more, Moss made her way to room six. It was also Wistep’s room, maybe she had medicine? Was Wistep okay after all?
Well that was incredibly easy.
But I still need two more people. She glanced around. Moss had been outside, so it was definitely safe there. Who could she ask? There were campers wandering around, going from room to room to chat and wonder. But there wasn’t nobody in particular that she could’ve asked…
“Heya, Darkie? Whatcha thinking? You look like you’re stepped on by an elephant.”
Darkie blinked and realised she was staring eye to eye with Kinky. “So do I look flatter than usual?”
“Like a sheet of paper.”
“Watch out then. I might cause you a paper cut.”
“Worst joke ever.”
“I know”, Darkie flipped her dark brown hair fabulously. Then her smile faded. “In all seriousness, we’ll be that flat in no time if we don’t get any food soon.”
Kinky’s blank face petrified. “Death’s awaiting”, she deadpanned.
“Thank you for your optimism and encouraging words! I highly appreciate them.”
Kinky narrowed her brown eyes at the overly sarcastic girl. “Sorry… Survival, woo!” she raised her fist emotionlessly, keeping the pokerface.
“Speaking of survival, I’m going to go look for Blue with Moss. And I need you to join us.”
“Sure, why not! I really want to save Blue and Shivy. Hopefully they’re okay!”
“Leaving soon. Get your stuff together.” Darkie nodded and exited the scene.
“Thank you for your nice byes! I highly appreciate it!” someone called after Darkie, making her roll her eyes.
Making her way back into the depths of the dorms, she wondered who’d be her next target. One to go… I’ll aim for… Breezey.
She spun around.
I’m going to the wrong direction. Breezey’s in room number one… hopefully.
She ran to the door, barging in. The room was also hers, so she didn’t care what she did in there. She shouted from the door: “Breezey Brez Brezzy and more nicknames! You are coming with us.”
The bewildered girl stared at her from her bed. “But dear mister police, I haven’t done anything wrong! If it’s about that bonus pancake last week, I swear I didn’t steal it! Please don’t punish me kind mister!” she begged dramatically.
“You have no choice.”
“Fine then! I’ll go to the prisoner then! Let me call my lawyer first.” She made a phone with her fingers. “Hello? I’m being accused. You better bring me a burger. Bye.”
Darkie made a finger gun and pointed at Breezey. “The burger is mine”, she hissed.
Breezey bemoaned teatherically. “I surrender! Please shoot Birchy instead!”
Birchy looked up from the bed that she was lying on. It seemed like she was reading something – which of course wasn’t very possible. She stared at the two very blankly for a silent moment, before stating: “Guilty.”
Breezey pretended to be hurt. “Birchy! I trusted in you!”
“Ha! Betrayed by your own friend.” Darkie made a fake evil laughter.
Breezey fell to her knees, faking loud sobbing. “Shoot me now! Nothing matters anymore!” she cried.
“Very well…” Darkie aimed at Breezey’s head with her fingers. “KABOOM!”
Breezey looked up at Darkie with an unamused expression. “That isn’t a sound of a gun.”
“My gun is superior.”
Breezey stood up. “You just ruined my death.”
Darkie glared at her, before the two burst out laughing. Birchy didn’t even turn her head as her roommates rolled on the floor, giggling uncontrollably.
Darkie wiped her eyes. “Anyway. I came to ask if you wanted to go look for Blue with me and a few others, not to accuse you for eating that pancake.”
Breeze nodded furiously. “Of course! Happy to help with such a serious thing. I however believe they’re okay.”
“Great! Come to the front door in five minutes.” Then the brunette turned to Birchy. “And Birchy, I suggest you throw that invisible book away and go see Flo. I bet she has something for you to do.”
Birchy raised her eyebrows slightly, looking at Darkie. “She already asked me to get a butterbeer for her from the nearest store.”
“Correction, ask Icy. She’ll have something realistic for you to do.”
Brichy shrugged. “True, to go to the nearest store is pretty unrealistic. I better visit The Three Broomsticks or something.”
“Yeah, sure. Call me if you don’t fall off your broomstick.” Darkie was already near the door. “Anyway, Breezey, five mins. Not even a second more.” She made the number with her fingers and exited.
Moss and Kinky were already there, chatting about semitruck knows what. Darkie joined them, but stayed out of the converstation. As they waited for Breezey, Darkie began wishing that she had given her five seconds instead of minutes.
Soon Breezey walked out of her room’s door. “I’m ready, set, go!” she exclaimed.
“Finally! You took so long”, Darkie complained.
“But you said five minutes…”
“And you took five minutes, twenty-two seconds, twelve milliseconds.”
Breezey raised her eyebrows. “You counted?”
Kinky waved her hand in front of the two. “Let’s just go before their bodies rot even more.”
Darkie made a disgusted sound. Breezey just stared at Kinky disapprovingly. “That was too much…” she mumbled, shaking her head.
“I didn’t mean to say that aloud…”
“Alarm clock sound! Guys, let’s go”, Moss interrupted and already went outside.
Darkie rushed after her, stepping outside. She took a deep breath, enjoying the freshness of the air. It smelled like pines and rain. It was decently chilly and a little humid, there were a few weak winds here and there, but overall it was notably better weather.
“Keep going”, Breezey whispered and pushed Darkie forward. Darkie pulled her black hoodie tighter around her and followed Moss.
Moss was freaking fast. Maybe her legs got so much stronger during the run? How the heck didn’t they hurt at all? Darkie found it hard to keep up, but luckily so did Kinky. Breezey was as fast as a lighting.
“Moss!” Darkie screeched. How the heck did she move so quickly?
The dirty blonde slowed down and turned her head. “Yes?”
“Where exactly did you lose Blue? And could you please slow down, isn’t walking hurting you at all?”
“Nope”, Moss flashed a proud grin, “and I want to get this over with as soon as possible. Blue and Shivy will be taken to safety and healed, and then the most important part – food.” Moss didn’t show any intentions on slowing down her pace.
“Where did Blue disappear?” Darkie repeated, catching up with the healer.
Moss stared at nowhere. “There were only me, Dew and Blue… And then Dew kinda became a broiler, I focused on helping her… Later I realised Blue was gone.” Her tone sounded really guilty.
“It was not your fault”, reassured Darkie, her voice just above a whisper.
“I try to believe that. I really do. I tell myself she’s strong, surely she escaped the trouble. But then again – she didn’t return. What if she got knocked out like Dew? I was the only one there, the only person who could’ve helped. And I just left, too concerned about Dew to remember the entirity…”
She took a deep breath, releasing a puff of steam into the cold air. Darkie watched as it faded slowly, mixed up with the air, got blended with the dark green and brown earthy shades of the background.
“And there’s only one string that keeps me out of the deep, dark hole of guilt. Her strenght. I hope she used that, I hope she had luck, I hope she planned herself out, I hope she dodged the trees. I hope she made it. I believe in her. And that is what I cling onto, I hold onto it, trying to balance myself so I wouldn’t fall. Because if I trip and collapse into the black hole of guilt and get sucked in, I’m a goner.”
Moss let out an emotionless laugh.
“You can tell me guilt is nothing. You can say it’s only a tiny little emotion. That it’s not hard to overcome the feeling when I should know it’s not my fault. But that is so wrong. Guilt is by far the worst way to feel. You made someone feel that way, you caused that, you made that happen. And when the ‘that’ is something horrible, you are in an endless void, void that is inside you. Void that drinks every piece of sanity out of you, filling you with a horrendous feeling. It just kills you slowly, slowly and painfully .”
Moss was breathing loudly.
“Sorry about that lecture… I guess I just got a little carried away…” she mumbled.
Darkie shook her head. “No, Moss, that was beautiful. In a scary way…” she whispered. “I think everyone should hear that. When did you become so wise?”
“Always been”, Moss replied with a smug smile.
Darkie grinned and was about to respond, but Kinky’s shouting from behind cut her off. “Guys, what’s going on? Are you focusing?” she asked.
Moss turned to give her a thumbs up. “Yep! There’s still a lot to walk, keep positive!”
“You seem so normal despite feeling guilty”, Darkie wondered aloud, realising her mistake after the words had flowed out. Why did I bring it up again?
However, Moss didn’t seem affected. “Normal? I haven’t been normal in forever! I mean, I have never been what you call ‘normal’, but after arriving to the Camp – correction, after making the Camp exist – I had to give up a few little things.” She shrugged.
“Screaming AWWESOMMEE at everything and making a lot of typos. And caps lock. Never forget caps lock.”
“Doesn’t sound like a big loss.”
“Don’t you dare…” Moss shook her finger at Darkie, narrowing her eyes.
“I dare. Fight me.”
“I warn you. I can kick like a mad horse if you offend my fandoms.”
“In that case…”
Moss made a victorious sound. “Hah! My kicking skills made you back away.”
“No, offending fandoms did. That is a crime.”
“I agree. On a high level.”
After that they continued chatting casually. Kinky and Breezey caught up with the two, and joined the converstation. Moss kept her eyes peeled and ears open, she spinned around at every crack, looked up swiftly when a branch touched her head, thought that every cough her groupmates made was the death scream of Blue. It was starting to get on Darkie’s nerves.
Approximately half an hour had passed by when Breezey seemed to have decided it was enough. “Moss, stop being so paranoid. Blue’s ghost won’t appear behind the nearest tree. Relax”, she said softly.
“How do you know…”
“Relax you fool!”
“Fine!” Moss yelled, biting her lip.
Breezey nodded her head approvingly. “Now that you have calmed down, tell me who are in the other groups. Food and Shivy searchers.”
Moss thought for a moment. “Icy did mention it…” She was silent for a moment, her eyes focused. “Fallen went looking for Shivy. Frosty accompanied her, so did Goldi and Sunny. Group one in search for food had Robbie and… Darky. And the second one… Wavey and Birchy. The rest of the founders are home repairing everything that was destroyed with the help of a few. Luckily there wasn’t much harm done.”
“Yep”, Breezey agreed, popping the ‘p’. “That’s where we got lucky, seeing how terribly the storm treated the forest and our friends.”
The Forest? Darkie scanned the area. Trees, trees, trees… And fallen trees too. Plus branches everywhere. Of course Darkie had noticed the chaos before. Totally.
So(up), Moss, how long do you think it still takes before we reach the place where you guess you lost track of Blue?” Darkie questioned, playing with a strand of her dark brown hair.
“Well, we’ve walked for about half an hour, so roughly the same amount.” The blonde shrugged.
“Dang”, Kinky snorted, “this life only consists of walking, strolling, strutting and trekking, hiking, you name it.” She kicked the wet moss while passing a huge bunch of it.
“Never forget running, dashing, sprinting”, Darkie remarked, smirking.
“I hope it would consist of food, food, food and food”, Breezey giggled.
“Running low on food at the moment, though”, Darkie puffed. She was getting annoyed at the Forest. Her shoes were about to get overwhelmed with water and she was so hungry. Plus she always became grumpy in the hunger situation. She really tried to resist the annoyed feeling.
“Oh yes.” Moss nodded a thousand times. “I’m so hungry that I could eat a wolf. Ravenous hunger absolutely.”
Kinky agreed. “Just gotta hope the others find something edible. Berries. Vegetables.”
“Icy has some in store. But we can’t waste it all today, so we’re probably getting a little meal when we get back. Nobody wants to starve”, Moss told them.
True, nobody wants to starve… But is it really our choice?
As they carried on, Darkie felt really pressured. There were walls around her, on every side, squishing her between them, turning her into a pancake. Her chest hurt. Maybe it was fear or anxiousness. Maybe hunger. Whatever it was, she wasn’t pleased with it. At all.
The ground was kind enough to wet Darkie’s shoes to the point when there was an ocean inside of them. All of the trees and the nature looked so wrecked that it made the atmosphere even scarier. Darkie stirred. Slight mist had risen. She just wanted to get home. Her brains kept repeating, how long, how long, how far, how far…
Moss halted abruptly. She froze like she had been touched with Elsa’s powers. Her eyes scanned the area, focused – and a little worriedly?
“What is it?” Breezey whispered.
“This is the place”, Moss breathed, “this is where I realised Blue was gone.”
Darkie glanced around. There was an area with many fallen trees right in front of them. Actually, more like a jungle. Darkie gulped, fear taking hold on her heart. If Blue is there, she might be dead. What if a tree fell on her…
“Do you remember what direction you came from with Dew? There’s a jumble as far as my eye can see. We can’t possibly go through it all”, Kinky stated.
“Uh”, Moss squinted her eyes close, trying to think. She was silent longer than necessary, which made Darkie realise the answer. “I can’t remember…” Moss breathed, agony clear in her voice. She bit her lip anxiously.
“Not the slighest bit?” Kinky tried to lure the answer out.
Moss shook her head, too guilty to speak.
Breezey nodded to herself. “You know what that means. We’re splitting up”, she ordered.
“In half?” Darkie questioned.
“I think we should all go alone.”
Alone? How could they possibly go alone? It might be dangerous! What if someone found Blue unconscious and couldn’t contact the others, how could she be carried then?
Darkie was about to voice her thoughts, but Kinky beat her. “Alone? What do you mean? How can we find each other after that?”
“How about… we call each other if Blue is found? And if nobody finds her or nobody hears the calls, let’s gather here” – Breeze pointed at the big rock behind them – “that is our landmark.”
“Alright. Me and Darkie will go forwards and Breezey to the left and Kinky to the right”, Moss took the lead.
Breezey gave the healer an approving nod. “Got it. See you soon.”
With that she was gone.
Kinky waved and dashed off too. Moss and Darkie headed forwards, right to the center of the big tree chaos. Darkie dodged branches that were about to hit her and made sure to keep her eyes open. Blue could’ve been anywhere.
The brunette felt the strong emotions radiating from Moss clearly, making her even more pressured.
After a long silent moment, Moss spoke. “I’m going to that direction. You go there”, she commanded, and was about to leave, but surprisingly stopped.
“Darkie?” she turned her head to look at the brunette.
“What?” Darkie tilted her head in confusion. Did she recall something else?
“Remember when I told you that guilt is the worst emotion out there.”
“Yeah.” Where is she aiming with this?
“I was wrong”, Moss stared at Darkie with a look so desperate that the girl would never forget it, “it’s not the worst.” She gulped loudly. “Regret is.”
Darkie felt a bang of something hard on her chest. She couldn’t reply. She just stood there, frozen. And Moss was already gone.
She must feel really bad… Although it’s not her fault at all. Darkie clenched her hands into fists. I’m gonna find Blue. I sure as heck will. Determinedly she rushed ahead, bursts of confidence exploding inside her.
Brances scratched her skin as she ran. She dodged most of them, and leaped over tree trunks on the ground. It might’ve been smarter to not run since she could’ve payed more attention on searching, but she only realised that later. Darkie tried to observe every little corner with her eyes, but she had to squint them closed often to avoid getting blinded by a sharp branch.
Suddenly she stopped. How am I supposed to find her? She needed a plan, not to run around aimlessly like a headless chicken.
Then realisation hit her. I can call for her! What a genius idea! How come didn’t she think of that earlier?
“Blue!” Darkie cried out. “Blue!”
She began walking and pricked up her ears. If Blue was conscious and in this direction, she’d hear her at some point. Full of newfound hope she continued calling the missing one’s name.
“Blue! Are you there?” Darkie took a deep breath. “Bluuuu- !” She froze in the middle of screaming. What was that? Did someone just answer her?
Yes. There was a faint voice in the distance. Her eyes widened. Is it Blue? Her heart began thudding.
“Blue? It’s me, Darkie! Are you somewhere there? I’m here to help you!” She forced her tone to as stable as possible.
Oh my gosh! It’s her! Darkie began running for the source of the voice, so relieved that she could’ve collapsed. “Blue! Stay there, I’m coming!”
Where is she? She peeped around like crazy. She can be behind that tree, under that big branch, on top of that log, in that hole –
Then she saw it.
The hugest tree trunk she had ever lied her eyes on. Gigantic, taller than two Darkies, thicker than you’d ever believe. The bottom part of it had fallen partly on a big rock, leaving only a little space between the trunk and the ground.
And in that little space, there was a muddy and pale Blue.
Darkie sprinted over to her instantly, kneeling down next to her. “Blue! Dear Blue, you’re alive!” she mumbled, so relieved that her hands were shaking and her heart was raging.
Darkie thought Blue would’ve thanked her or asked for help, but what she said totally wasn’t what she expected.
Blue snorted. “It was about time! Do you have any idea how uncomfortable and bored I’ve been here? I had to replay Control in my head thousands of times and repeated every cute Robin and Regina moment”, she complained.
Darkie’s face broke into a smile. At least she’s normal. “Are you okay? Does it hurt anywhere?” she asked.
Blue shrugged as well as she could with half of her body under the tree. “Not too much. But my leg is stuck.”
Darkie stood up and eyed Blue’s position. Her head and arms were free and not trapped under the tree. Her body from below waist was under it, but not squished and it looked like she could’ve moved that part if she wanted. But her legs were hidden, and she probably couldn’t do anything with them.
“Which one is stuck?” Darkie asked with a serious tone.
“My left one”, Blue replied, “it’s the only reason I’m still here. Otherwise I can move pretty well…”
Darkie sat back down. “Does it hurt?”
“No… Well, only a little. There’s a broken branch just above my leg, pressuring it, and I think it’s made a scratch.”
Scratch? Oh no… Darkie couldn’t help but be pessimistic. “Are you sure it’s only a little scratch?”
Blue just stared at Darkie uninterestedly. “Yeah. Now get me out of here!”
Darkie rolled her eyes, but obeyed. “So how should I get you out?” She looked at Blue, the trunk, then back at Blue. “I could cut the tree, but then I’d need a tool for it. Like a lightsaber. A life saver, lightsaber, lightsaber, lightsaber, lightsaber…”
“Understood!” Blue snapped. “No lightsabers in the distance so find another way.”
Darkie grabbed the blonde’s arms and pulled.
“Agh! Ouch! That hurts!” Blue screeched.
“Too bad”, Darkie hissed and pulled harder. She had to get Blue out.
“Eek! Help! My leg!” she screamed, squinting her eyes in pain.
Darkie let go.
Blue started hissing to herself. “My leg felt like it was going to detach! Like someone had stabbed it!” she groaned.
“But I have to drag you if you wanna get out…”
“I know! Just do it more gently! Don’t you have any help with you?” Blue raised her eyebrow.
“That’s right! I do have. We split up. I just have to call for them.” Darkie cursed her forgetfulness in her head.
“Great. Then scream for your heart’s desire.”
Darkie took a deep breath. “Moss! Kinky! Breezey! I found Blue!” she yelled on top of her lungs.
“Yeah! She found me! Now get your butts here and help me!” Blue joined the shouting.
They kept yelling the names for awhile, but had to stop when Blue started coughing. Darkie was worried about her condition – Blue had acted brave, but that was what she always did, and spending a night in a cold Forest lying under a tree trunk probably wasn’t very healthy.
“They’ll come as soon as they can”, Darkie promised. “Now, we can only make up a plan. How to get you free?”
“That’s the question.”
“What if… You try to press your feet against the ground so the branch won’t dig into your skin”, Darkie announced her desperate idea.
“Works for me. Pull.”
Blue bit her lip as the brunette took her arms and pulled her with force. Darkie studied her expression, which turned more and more painful with every second.
Blue glared at her. “What now? Why’d you pause?” she asked, annoyed.
“I can’t pull if it hurts you.”
“I didn’t say so.”
“But your face showed that.”
“It can hurt a little. Pull!”
“No!” Darkie yelled back. “We have to find another way.”
Blue calmed down. “It hurted less. That’s good. So, I press my legs against the ground and… kick the trunk?”
Darkie frowned. “Can you kick?”
“Maybe. Only my left leg is stuck. Let’s try.”
Darkie grabbed her wrists again. Blue nodded, and Darkie pulled. She kicked the dirt and used her feet to make the movements more powerful. She heard something hit against the trunk – Blue’s kicking leg.
Suddenly she tripped.
Her grip loosened and she let go, falling on her butt. She groaned. Dusting her jeans, she stood up again. “Did it hurt?” she asked Blue, slightly panting.
The blonde shook her head. “But you almost dislocated my arms. Grab my arm, not wrist.”
“Shall we try again?”
“Definitely. Give all you got.”
Darkie grabbed Blue’s arms, and pulled harder than she ever had. Blue’s free foot was drumming against the tree as she hissed in slight pain. Darkie used every little piece of power in her body, pushed her feet against the ground, tightened her grip around Blue’s arms, and she pulled. So freaking hard.
Suddenly Darkie fell.
And Blue fell next to her.
They both panted on the ground, before Darkie started laughing victoriously. “We did it! Blue, gosh, we did it!” she screamed, full of happiness.
Blue gave a smile back. “Yes we did. And I think my arms are gonna be darn hurting tomorrow.”
“Is your leg alright?”
“As alright as it can be. Now, let’s go back to the Camp.” Blue tried to stand up, but almost tripped. Darkie rushed to help her up.
“Are you sure it’s okay?” Darkie asked slowly, not really buying it.
“Yeah”, Blue smiled bravely, “only strained.”
She almost fell after the first step she took. She began cringing in pain.
“Can you walk?” Darkie asked, worry swelling inside her chest like a black hole.
“I can, I can, I can”, the dirty blonde repeated, but it seemed like she was only trying to reassure herself. The way she was gritting her teeth and gasping when putting her weight on her left foot both indicated the fact that she was not okay.
Darkie bit her lip, staring at her friend. “You can’t. Are you sure your leg is just strained? It looks way worse.” Looking at Blue’s thigh, she instantly noticed the red spot on the girl’s leg, where the branch had stabbed her. She touched it swiftly with her finger, realising it got covered with blood.
The brunette gulped. “Oh no. Don’t tell me you’re -”
Blue raised her hand to signal Darkie to stop. “It’s only a little scratch!” she hissed, but didn’t do well trying to hide the pain.
“It’s not! You’re bleeding. A lot.” Darkie shivered in fear. Blood. Bleeding. They were in the middle of nowhere. They would never get back to the Camp in time.
“Just help me home! The healers will fix me” – Blue let out a shriek of pain and started to squeeze her thigh – “let’s go. Right now.”
Nodding, Darkie helped her injured friend walk by leaning to her. She couldn’t help but be afraid, their chance – no, Blue’s chance – of survival was very slim. Their speed was snail-slow, Blue was groaning all the time, and the bleeding got faster and faster. And where were the others? Where had they disappeared? They should’ve been back already, what happened to them too? Didn’t they hear the calls?
Suddenly Darkie heard a loud sound. Branches cracking. Grass getting stepped on. Someone running.
Darkie felt sudden hope. Moss? Breezey? Kinky? Did they find us? I wish the person comes here!
It was like someone had heard her thoughts, a boy dashed from the woods, his eyes wide and hair messy.
“Guys! I finally found you. We – we found her!” he panted, looking shocked. He should’ve been happy, instead he seemed horrified.
Who? In which group was he in? Wait – he went looking for Shivy! Why’s he so thunderstruck?
“Really? Where was she?” the brunette questioned, failing to express her relief of Shivy’s discovery and the fear that was born because of Frosty’s shock.
“You’ll never believe. We would’ve never expected it, like why on Earth was she there…”
She cut him off. “And? What’s her condition?” she asked, feeling a firework of fear explode inside her, spreading all the colors of fright into every corner of her body – nervousness, anxiousness, coldness, sweatiness, you name it.
“Condition?” Frosty bit his lip anxiously. “You have to see it yourself.”
Darkie grew annoyed with the male. “We don’t have time! Is she okay or not?”
He gulped. “No. There’s something terribly wrong.”
Chapter 9 Edit
It couldn’t be true.
It just couldn’t.
How? How did they let it happen?
How did she let it happen?
Why? Why her ? Why not me instead?
It was all her fault. All her fault.
She fell to her knees, sobbing loudly. How had she been so dumb? Why was she so careless? She buried her face into her dirty hands, repeating one word in her mind – no.
She had killed the girl.
She had caused the death. Maybe she didn’t stab her or poison her, but it was her fault she was there. She was the reason why her friend was lying lifelessly on the ground.
I’m a killer. A murderer.
She refused to look at the body. But she knew she had to do it. She owed it to her friend. To at least look what she had done to her.
Moving her hands out of her face, she wiped her eyes. Everything was so blurry, it felt like she was watching the world through a dirty window. Her legs wouldn’t work when she tried to stand up. Her body wouldn’t obey when she wanted to near the body. Her brains wouldn’t stop the crying when she told them to. Her eyes wouldn’t start seeing.
But she still saw it. Saw her.
There she was.
Her friend. Someone she had known. A person, a living, moving person she had actually spoken to was now on the ground. Lying there, like she would do until the end of this World.
It was a heartbreaking sight. No, a guilt-growing sight. The victim of the storm, the Forest, sacrificed for the never ending greenness, destined to lie under the stars forever, until she’d decay and become a part of the Forest too.
Her blonde hair, all over her pale face and the grass, sticking in every direction. It looked like someone had harshly grabbed her hair and dragged her to death. Her clothes were like dead leaves, ragged and muddy, just lying there on her body.
Why wasn’t she moving? Why wasn’t she talking? Why wasn’t she joking at her dumbness? Why wouldn’t she start laughing at the situation?
Why wouldn’t she open her eyes already?
Stop playing. It’s not funny!
Shaking, she kneeled down next to the body. You’re joking. Tell me you’re only joking! She brought her hand to the girl’s face, and touched her skin, just to shockedly pull it away.
It was stone cold.
Cold as death.
Suddenly she felt like she was a block of ice. She was freezing inside, her hands were frosting, it was snowing inside her body. Eternal Winter, Winter of guilt, Winter of death.
It can’t be over. She can’t be dead!
She reached out her cold hand again, ready to brush the greasy hair out of the girl’s face. She had to see the eyes, her eyes, how they blinked, how her irises moved when she shifted her gaze, how she winked and narrowed her eyes at her friends. They had to be open, full of life, looking lively at the world.
Swiftly she pushed the girl’s blonde hair away, and stared straight at her friend’s formerly so lively eyes.
They were empty.
Empty of life. Dull, misty and grey, clouded with lost possibilities she left behind. They were staring right past her friend, not focusing on anything nor seeing anything, as if the girl was looking at someone whom the others couldn’t see. Greeting someone, hesitantly letting them in.
Death, that was the someone, a creature the dead one’s friend couldn’t see yet, not in years.
It was the most frightening sight ever.
She stared at her drained eyes, she saw the death in them, she knew it was true.
She was dead.
Shaking her head furiously to herself, she fell on the ground next to the girl who used to live. No! This can’t be true! she cried to herself, this must be all my imagination. Right, this must be a dream! No, a nightmare. A horrific nightmare that came to haunt me.
She stared at the body in front of her, looked at the blank expression, her hazy eyes, withered body. She could feel her cold skin when she touched her, she could see the lifeless eyes, she could tell it wasn’t her imagination.
She tried to swallow her tears.
It didn’t work.
She buried her face to her hands, hitting her head on the grass. She cried to her friend’s hair, hair that smelled like earth. As she cried, she soaked them with her tears. She put her lips near her ear to whisper her desperate calls into it.
Come back to me. Please, come back…
She squinted her eyes closed.
If the dead heard her friend’s begging, she didn’t answer.
After a moment of hysterious crying, she lifted her head from the grass. Stop. Crying won’t help you. Crying won’t help her. Man up. She eyed the Forest around her. How could she get the body back to the Camp?
Suddenly she heard a crack. Snapping her head at the direction of the faint voice, she hoped to see another camper.
Nobody replied, but the sounds increased by every passing second.
She peeked into the woods, there were only trees and trees. Not even a branch moved, yet it was full of voices. No footsteps, no talking, no shouting – just voices, nothing humanlike.
Um, hello? What is this? Can you come out and help me?
They heard her calls.
They came out.
Dark creatures, formed out of mist and fears, floating just above the ground, reaching out their skeletal hands. She looked at them, terrified, trying to stumble back. She saw her worst nightmares in them, she saw her friend’s death, she saw herself.
Who are you? Why are you coming towards me? Oh my gosh, are you the Monsters? she panicked to herself.
They didn’t respond. They didn’t stop.
No! What do you want from me? Go away!
They came closer and closer, circling her, trying to touch, trying to suck her in. They wanted her to be a part of their world, part of them, part of that demonic substance they held.
Stop! I won’t ever become anything like you! Stay away from me!
Their bony fingers were just centimeters away from her, waiting to take over her, eager to become one. She felt the coldness creep into her heart. Panicking, she tried to press herself against the ground.
Help me, somebody, help!
Then it hit her.
A cold finger too, but the realisation hurt more.
They were demons.
They wanted her because they needed her. They had to own her to be whole again, they needed her in order to be what they were.
She had seen her nightmares in them. She had seen the blonde’s death in them. She had seen herself.
They were death, killers, nightmares, everything she had always hated.
They were her.
She was the demons.
She was a demon.
It was the truth. The most destroying fact, it pierced her, slammed her to the ground in pain. Her demons didn’t even hurt. Truth did, she was a killer.
She screamed in pain, head against the mud, shouting to herself to stop. Stop everything.
A murderer. That’s what she was.
She couldn’t stop yelling, she’d do it until her voice would disappear. She would scream until the end of the world.
She was everything she had hated.
But there was a voice echoing in the void of pain. It was there, in the middle of her own screaming.
It was one simple word. A name. A name full of painful emotions.
Blue. She is dead.
She is not here anymore. I killed her, she thought bitterly, closing her eyes and blocking her ears to prevent herself from hearing any more.
But soon the voice was back.
No. No more names… They are gone. Somewhere I can’t reach…
Moss? Moss is… She is… Hidden? Is she still inside? Is the humanity still there? Is there still… a normal person?
“I found Blue!”
Found? she raised her head from the ground to hear better. What did they find? Her body is here.
She glanced around. Was it?
“Yeah, she found me!”
Me? Found… me? The voice sounds familiar… Who’s ‘me’?
Then the puzzle pieces started going to their right places.
‘I found Blue’ and ‘she found me’ mean that… And if she was the one calling… Then she is… Then Blue is…
She stood up slowly and dusted herself. She glanced around, before dashing away.
The body wasn’t there.
They need me. Blue and… Darkie, they need my help.
She ran through the Forest, through the scratching branches, leaped over trunks and holes. Where were they? Nobody yelled anymore. Did they get help or did something happen?
“Blue! Darkie! Where are you? I’m here!” she shouted.
She sighed and stopped. They had made a deal; if the others weren’t found, they would meet at the big rock Breezey had pointed at. She turned around and began jogging again.
Her thoughts were like a tornado. Good thing they called for the others. If they hadn’t… God, I don’t know what could’ve happened to me.
She cursed herself aloud. How was I so dumb? As a healer I should’ve known that hunger, being dehydrated and strong emotions lead to hallucinations. I should’ve expected it. I should’ve known it wasn’t true. I should’ve protected myself.
She shook her head as she dodged a backfiring branch. It’s too late now. At least I know they’re all okay and somewhere there. I just need to find them.
She didn’t have to search for long before she reached the place where they had split up. She glanced around, trying to find the big rock when she spotted something familiar that caught her by surprise.
Breezey was sitting on the rock.
“Breezey!” Moss shouted.
The girl with golden brown hair snapped her haid at her direction. “Moss! I’m glad you came. I heard Darkie calling our names, but I couldn’t locate the voice anywhere, so I followed our original plan. Did you see Kinky?” she asked.
Moss shook her head. “I didn’t. Maybe she already found the others?”
“Maybe.” Breezey shrugged. “I think we need to go to the direction where Darkie went. I bet she’s there.”
“Yeah, Sherlock. Let’s go.” Not wanting to waste any time, she began running to the right direction. If Blue was somewhere in her reach, she’d find her and scream ‘I’m sorry!’ forever.
Breezey came to run next to her, her eyes examinating everything around her. “This way”, she whispered and took a sharp turn, quickening her pace.
Breezey dashed like a bee had stung her butt. Moss tried to keep up, but her legs were still a little sore from the marathon on the day before. Despite what she had told Darkie, yes her legs hurt. Dang much.
Just when she was about to tell Breezey to slow down a bit, the girl stopped as if she had hit a wall. She glanced behind her and said: “I think they were here.”
There was a huge tree trunk fallen on the ground, and a lot of leaves and branches. But no Darkie or Blue, and no signs that they had been there.
“How do you know?” Moss asked, raising an eyebrow.
Breezey closed her eyes thoughtfully. “I can sense them… I can picture Blue lying under that trunk, Darkie desperately helping her right beside, as they both scream for help… Plus I can see their footprints.”
Moss shifted her gaze down, noticing fresh shoeprints on the muddy ground that was wet from the storm. They were indeed made by Darkie’s tennis shoes and Blue’s sneakers… Well, not that Moss had examinated their shoes before, but if there were new shoeprints in the recently refreshed forest, why the heck wouldn’t they be the two’s?
“Judging from that really trudden area next to the trunk, I think Blue was somehow stuck or hiding under it, and as nobody’s not here anymore Darkie obviously managed to get her out. But where are they now?” Breezey wondered.
“I don’t know… Maybe we should follow the footprints?”
“Yeah. I’m so glad that even if it didn’t rain it was really humid!”
After that they didn’t say a word, Moss silently jogging behind Breezey, who kept her eyes fixed on the shoeprints. Instead of helping Breezey with the directions, Moss studied the footprints more carefully than her companion. To her surprise, she spotted a third pair of shoes joining the ones of the girls.
“Hey, Breezey, did you notice these extra prints that don’t belong to the girls?” Moss called to her friend.
Breezey turned her head back to give a playful glare. “Of course. I’m not that blind. And how could I not? They’re basically Dumbo-size.”
Moss frowned. “Dumbo? Don’t you mean jumbo?”
“No, I mean that elephant. Dumbo. Elephant-sized.”
“But Dumbo was a flying elephant, and I’m pretty sure those footprints aren’t flying, because if my eyes aren’t lying to me I think they’re on the ground.”
“Gosh, you have so little brains.”
“You don’t have at all.”
Moss flashed an evil grin. “Thank you. Shall we go on now?”
Breezey took the lead again, leaping over bushes and undergrowth like a young deer. Moss on the other hand scurried after her, probably looking like a decrepit old goat. But at least she had the right to look like that. She had already accomplished her marathon the day before. Even a young goatling would turn into an aged fart after something like that.
Moss had no idea how long had passed by as she tried to move her foot before the other foot. Breezey’s agile figure was starting to get blurry and her head spinned. She wasn’t capable of this kind of run right after the last one. Especially when she hadn’t eaten a bite, not to mention drunk anything. Her mouth felt drier than Sahara. And did the pain in her legs even need to be mentioned?
Stay strong. Reaching the place where Darkie and Blue went is much more important than having a break now.
She gritted her teeth and carried on.
After forever of quiet running Breezey broke the silence. “Moss?” she called with a worried voice, keeping her eyes on the ground.
“Yeah?” Moss managed to breath out.
Breezey stopped on her tracks and turned to look at the healer behind her. “Do you see the blood?”
Cold shivers ran down the dirty blonde’s back. Blood? She shifted her gaze down.
“See?” Breezey whispered and pointed at the little red splatters decorating the footsteps. “Someone has gotten hurt.”
Moss kneeled down as her thighs protested. She was just glad she got a moment to rest and normalize her breathing rhythm, but the sight still made fear grasp her heart. What had happened to them?
She didn’t have to be a healer to know it was indeed blood. She touched it lightly with her finger – it wasn’t completely dry yet, meaning they weren’t too far. She examinated it for a moment, but couldn’t spot anything special.
If I had that herb mix me and Lily made just recently with me, I could give some treatment to the wound, or if I had some kind of bandages… Better look around.
“Someone has a bleeding wound probably on their lower body. I’d suggest Blue as she was the one to get lost. And she’s so stubborn that she’d walk even when injured”, Moss lectured. She could see the concerned glint in her friend’s eyes as she nodded.
“Let’s go”, was all she said.
Step, step, step, step. Moss replayed the litany in her head over and over again. She only focused on two things – one, following Breezey’s swift figure, two, putting one foot before the other, using all of the little energy she had on moving. She just pushed herself, pushed and pushed and pushed, even though she was sure it was going to backfire as she was dehydrated, hungry and hadn’t slept much. Wistep had needed all of her attention last night.
Wistep, she repeated the name in her head like a prayer. I hope Lily knows what to do with her. She sighed deeply. The trip to the borders caused nothing good. Poor Wistep…
She took a deep breath, hoping the humid air would mitigate her thirst even a little bit. It didn’t help, but at least thinking got her mind off of the running. At least Dew’s getting better… Lily told me she had checked on her earlier and noticed that the wounds aren’t unfixable. At least the blood had dried, which is a plus. Now we only have to wish she wakes up… There’s a chance she will.
It’s a shame how Wistep – Her thoughts were cut off harshly as she felt a bang of pain on her side. She fell to her knees, gasping and holding her side. As a healer Moss had an idea what was going on, but it really didn’t help her the slighest bit. “Breezey! Wait up!” she called with a hoarse voice.
The other girl slowed down and turned around. Her eyes widened as she saw what Moss was doing. “Gosh! Are you okay?” she exclaimed, looking shocked and scared.
“Just fine”, Moss hissed, “it’s only a big stich or a weird cramp. Either way, it’ll pass” – she gritted her teeth as talking started to hurt – “soon.”
Breezey’s face hardened. “You can’t go on. You still haven’t recovered from the journey”, she stated honestly.
Moss just smiled at her. “I’ve got this. Don’t worry.”
“I’ll carry you then. We won’t give up.”
Moss laughed and then bit her lips as her side protested. “Nonsense! I’ve got my legs and as long as I’m conscious I will run right behind you”, she assured.
“You’re not conscious for long if you go on like this. Let’s walk the rest.”
“That’ll take too long. Trust me, I can do it! I’m determined like – like, umm… Wait a second as I think of a good character from my fandoms…”
“I’m dragging you. See, those shoeprints are pretty fresh! It can’t take long before we reach them. You won’t be embarrassed with the dragging for long, I promise.” Breezey grinned slightly.
“Embarrassed, pfft! I have been embarrassed so many times that it feels like nothing!” The pain was starting to fade, and Moss was able to stand up.
Breezey snorted. “Dragging it is then. Hold my wrist!”
“Aye aye captain!”
“If that’s a Spongebob reference I don’t want to hear it.”
“So you do remember something from the City.”
“Unfortunately yes. Now let’s go.” Moss didn’t even have time to take a good grip before Breezey began dashing again.
In reality, the dragging didn’t help that much. Moss tried to think of nice thoughts as her lungs and muscles were burning. This is fun, la la la la. So fun.Moss huffed bitterly. Optimistic part of my brain, the strategy isn’t working. This ain’t fun.
It didn’t take long until she was completely and utterly done. Her legs felt like they were stabbed with knives, it was like someone had poured something very flammable into her lungs and waited for a little spark to light them up. And they had lit up. “Breezey! Wait up. I need some rest…” she panted.
Breezey slowed down her pace a bit, but didn’t stop. “Keep being strong. We’re almost there. I can hear noises and I see a blurry, tall figure there. I think it’s a big tree. I’m sure they headed there”, she told and smiled encouragingly.
Moss nodded, and squinted her eyes closed. Carry on. It’s not far. Just move. Almost there.
“Hello? Darkie! Blue!” Breezey called out. “It’s me, Breezey! And Moss!”
Moss’ heart thudded loudly as she waited for an answer. Was the two even there or had they completely mistaken?
Soon a faint, distant-sounding voice echoed through the Forest and made Moss more relieved than ever.
She couldn’t tell what the answerer had said, but apparently Breezey had. “Yeah! Breezey and Moss! Where are you?” she shouted back.
Someone replied again, but it was only a whisper from far away in the healer’s ears.
However, Breezey seemed to catch every word. “Okay! Come get us. We’re near the tall figure! Did you reach that place yet?” She paused to listen. “Alright! We’re waiting.”
“What did they say?” Moss questioned. She was so tired that it was getting hard to talk.
“Didn’t you hear? Darkie is right ahead with Blue. Frosty found them and brought them here. I didn’t quite catch why but I’m sure it’ll be explained. Darkie’s running back to get us, they hadn’t reached their destination yet but they’re close.”
“So Frosty is the elephant.”
“Yeah, and he’s not even that big.”
Moss changed the subject. “Who’s injured?”
“They didn’t say. You can ask Darkie though, I hear her coming. She’s making noise loud like an elephant.” Breezey nodded at the direction of the huge tree she saw earlier.
It was true; branches crackled, grass got trampled, leaves rustled, mud splashed. And loud running steps echoed. For a few seconds this odd symphony continued until a panting person appeared from the bushes.
“Moss, Breezey! I’m so glad to see you!” she exclaimed.
“Me too. Now, what’s going on?” Breezey asked, getting straight to the point.
“A lot of stuff. Frosty said his group found Shivy, but… well, um, I don’t think she’s doing well.” Darkie played with her hair nervously. “But we’ll see for ourselves soon. Anyway, where’s Kinky?” Darkie peeked over Breezey shoulder.
“Kinky? I thought Kinky was here with you.” Breezey’s voice was full of confusion.
“No, she isn’t. We didn’t see anyone beside you.” Darkie bit her lip anxiously.
“That means she’s still in the Forest…” Breezey mumbled.
“We gotta go look for her after checking Shivy’s condition out. I bet Kinky’s alright but Shivy is most likely not”, Moss interrupted and stared at the both girls.
Darkie nodded. “Right. Let’s catch up with Blue and Frosty before they get worried. Oh, and by the way, Blue has a wound on her leg. Can you take a look at it, Moss?” She glanced at the healer with pleading eyes.
“Of course.” Moss smiled at the younger girl.
“Come on, guys”, Breezey rushed and pushed the two forward. Darkie nodded and began running.
Without a warning, Breezey grabbed Moss’ wrist and pulled her along. Even walking would’ve hurt her legs. Moss inhaled and exhaled deeply, trying to keep up a breathing rhythm. She only focused on taking another step, and then another, and another and another…
Her eyelids were starting to get heavy, but luckily the sprint was far from long. Darkie halted right in front of them, making Breezey bump into her. Moss stumbled, but kept her balance. She rubbed her eyes and yawned, feeling cuts form on her dry lips at the action. She licked the drop of blood away and turned to look at Blue and Frosty.
Moss crushed Blue into a tight hug. The other dirty blonde seemed very confused and stiffened, not hugging back. That didn’t bother Moss the slighest bit. She was so relieved. More relieved than the campers would be when they realise there weren’t any hair in Icy’s soup.
“I thought I had caused your death”, Moss mumbled into Blue’s shoulder.
“But you didn’t! Yay! Now, let go, seriously I can’t breath…” Blue sounded muffled.
Moss released the girl from her hug instantly. “Sorry! I’m just so happy you’re alive.”
Blue smiled slightly. “As you can see, I’m alive and breathing! All fine, don’t worry”, she assured.
Moss returned the smile. As she came back to her senses, it faded. “How’s your leg?” she questioned. There was worry in her tone.
A new voice prevented Blue from answering, making the girl glare at the interrupter. “It’s good for now, thanks to me!”
“Frosty”, Moss acknowledged. She raised her eyebrow as she studied the boy from head to toe. Frosty looked strange. Yes, his face was a little dirty and he was sweaty, but there was something weirder in him. He had a hoodie Moss had never seen.
Hoodie, that was missing the other sleeve.
“What happened to your hoodie? I have never seen that one before. And you look like a zombie.” Moss pointed at the white cloth the boy with sandy brown hair was wearing.
“Oh, this isn’t really my hoodie. It was in the spare clothes basket and I happened to need a hoodie, so I took it. And as Blue’s thigh was bleeding and needed a bandage, I ripped my sleeve off”, Frosty explained.
“I didn’t need it.” Blue narrowed her eyes at the boy.
“You did. Stop arguing.”
Darkie grinned widely. “See, Frosty? Maple was right about you. You’re a true gentleman.” She nudged his shoulder.
“Shut up. I’m just trying to be helpful.”
“And that’s what gentlemen do.”
Darkie smirked and was about to respond with something probably very clever, but Blue cut her off.
“If this sleeve is so important to you I can gladly give it back”, Blue snapped.
“Keep it or I will glue it on your leg”, Frosty threatened.
“Huh, nasty much? Maybe I’ll glue it on your face.”
Frosty’s nose crunched.
Blue smirked. “Boom.”
Darkie cleared her throat. “Can I present you my genius comeback now?” she asked, eyes glowing.
Breezey shook her head. “We’re gonna move on now. Shivy, remember? Moss, check Blue’s leg.”
She really seems to have taken the lead…
Moss kneeled down quickly and touched the sleeve. Blue didn’t even have time to complain. Blood hadn’t come through the temporary bandage, which was a good sign.
“Does it hurt?” Moss inquired. She looked up to stare straight into Blue’s eyes.
Blue shook her head. “Nope.”
“You sure?” Moss didn’t quite believe the blonde.
“Hundred percent sure.”
“Don’t lie to me.”
“I’m not lying!”
“You are. Answer honestly. Does it hurt?” Moss’ tone was dead serious.
“It doesn’t, for heck’s sake!” Blue screamed and for a passing moment it seemed like she was about to kick Moss.
Moss sighed. She was getting annoyed with the stubborness. “Listen, Blue. This is important, I need to know how well you’re actually feeling. I don’t want to argue with you but my hunger is making me surly. I’m asking one more time – does your leg hurt?”
Blue glared at Moss for a long moment before replying. “Yes. Darn much. But don’t think I will admit ever again.”
Moss nodded swiftly. “Thank you. But you can walk, right?”
“Of course. I walked the whole way here.”
Darkie coughed. “But you needed me to lean on you!” she interrupted. Blue sent her a murderous glare.
“I believe you’ll continue doing that”, Moss suggested.
Frosty clapped his hands. “If this show is over, we could carry on. Shivy might be who knows what by now”, he stated.
“He’s correct. What direction?” Breezey questioned.
Frosty pointed forwards. “Towards the figure. You’ll never guess what it is. Expect if one of you is secretly Wavey. In that case, I’m sorry the surprise was ruined by your brain.”
“Very funny. Can’t you just tell us”, Blue snorted.
“Nope, it’s a surprise.” Frosty grinned evilly.
Blue rolled her eyes. “You’re making a surprise out of the place Shivy was found in a bad condition? Seriously?”
“Well, when you put it that way…”
“Guys, stop. Let’s move on”, Darkie commanded.
Blue nodded. “She’s right, let’s go. Show the way, blonde boy.”
“I’m not blonde…” Frosty muttered as she started walking.
“It just rhymed.”
“Brunette starts with a B too…”
“And walk starts with a W.”
Frosty took the hint and quickened his pace -probably out of annoyance though. Moss grabbed Breezey’s arm and tried to keep up with the speed. Blue limped behind them, Darkie right beside her.
As they walked, the tall figure in front of them became less blurry. It looked like a tree, just as Moss had suspected – narrow in the middle, but kind of pointy on the top. It was ramshackle, rough and and stinked – it sure seemed like an aged pine. Really tall one.
But by every passing second Moss grew more and more suspicious. She didn’t feel her aching legs or dry throat anymore. All she could see was the pine.
It wasn’t normal.
It couldn’t be a tree.
Frosty pushed past the last bushes. Moss and Breezey dashed after him, finally realising where they were.
Even though Moss had never visited the place, she recognized it instantly.
The stink basically cut holes into the healer’s nose. Her ears were ringing and she was more dumbfounded than ever. All she could hear was Breezey repeating ‘oh my gosh’.
“Frosty, what is going on?” Darkie asked – she sounded shocked.
“We found her here. Just lying on the ground – look, she’s still there. Fallen, Sunny and Goldi are there too.” Frosty pointed forwards, where a group had gathered right in front of the silo.
The three were crouching over something, but Fallen turned around at the mention of her name. “Frosty! Finally! You found them, thank goodness. Come here, quickly!”
Adrenaline rushed through the veins of Moss. She glanced at her friends before dashing over to Fallen.
“What happened?” Moss managed to ask before gasping.
Shivy was a horrifying sight.
She didn’t look normal. In fact, the opposite.
It was like she had been dropped from the top of the silo.
Was it even Shivy? Her face looked mangled and abnormal, her skin ghost pale – paler than Moss thought was possible – and mouth hanging wide open. Her lips seemed to be very dry, so the time she had lied there had to be long – possibly the whole night.
The impression her position gave, it was so extraordinary.
She was like a corpse. Like an empty shell. A husk without a heart, without lungs, without her own little Shivyness. Something was missing, something really, really important.
And that made Moss terrifyingly frightened.
Shivy’s limbs and hair were put into ordinary positions and her face had been raised from the ground. It seemed like all the first aid actions had been done already.
“I have no idea”, Goldi stated, answering the healer’s previous question honestly.
“Yeah”, Fallen, who was sitting next to the unconscious girl, Shivy’s head lying on her legs. “We did all we could to help her. It doesn’t seem to be working… I don’t know what’s going on – I’m-I’m scared.”
Sunny was massaging Shivy’s limbs. “We didn’t find any visible wounds from her body”, she said, and Moss knew immediately that it was a dead serious situation. She had only seen the happy founder so stern a few times in her life, and never in vain.
“So the damage might be inside.”
“Unfortunately that might be the case… I thought you could do something.”
Oh, yeah, I could! Moss nodded stiffly. “I will try. Let me check.”
Fallen smiled slightly. “Great! We spotted some herbs that might come handy. Look, here we have a bit of -”
Moss agreed and nodded, but didn’t hear a thing. It went from one ear and out from the other. All she could see was Shivy, poor Shivy. Her pulse beat loudly in her ears as she slowly observed every part of the unconscious girl.
What is going on? What is this, please, someone tell me, please… Explain this to me. What is happening?
Blindly she took the herbs that were handed to her and mindlessly did the actions she was so used to doing. She just knew she was putting smashed leaves on an invisible wound, cleaning invisible cuts, wiping invisible blood away. Her fingers brushed swiftly over the cold skin.
“Is it helping?” Goldi asked quietly.
“Helping?” Moss laughed sarcastically. “Applying herbs on healthy skin? Cleaning away blood that doesn’t exist? Believing she has physical wounds? No, I can tell you, it’s definitely not working.”
Goldi gasped. Sunny signaled her friend to stop being negative. Moss gritted her teeth. “Sorry. This just makes me so stressed and tense”, she apogolized.
“That’s understandable”, Fallen noted and smiled encouragingly. Moss thanked the girl’s supportiveness in her mind.
A silent moment was experienced.
“So what now?” Darkie asked, breaking the silence.
“We are going home”, Sunny stated.
“How? Do we just… carry her?” Frosty raised his eyebrows.
“No idea. I’m bad at planning”, admitted Fallen.
“And don’t forget Kinky! She’s somewhere in the Forest, lost”, Breezey reminded.
“Kinky? Holy cheeselords, is she missing too?” Sunny stared at Breezey with wide eyes.
“Kinda. Like, partly.”
“Partly missing? What does that mean? Part of her is gone?”
“No, I meant like she’s kinda gone.”
“Kinda gone? You mean she’s also kinda not gone? A ghosty replica of her is here with us?”
“No, I meant that she’s… like lost… but not… kinda like… uh that she…”
“That’s what I thought.” Sunny looked amused. “Now, who will go looking for Kinky? Volunteers?”
“I will!” Fallen waved her hand in the air.
“I can accompany you”, Breezey promised. “I know where we went.”
Sunny clapped. “Great! You can go now. Be back as soon as you can”, she advised. The girls nodded and Breezey dragged Fallen away. Their figures disappeared into the woods, only footsteps echoing and branches cracking after them.
“And that leaves us seven here. Shivy needs to be carried. I will take care of her arms and upper body, Frosty – could you help with the legs? We can take turns so nobody gets too tired.” Sunny glanced at her friends, looking for approval.
Frosty shrugged. “Works for me. Let’s just be gentle.”
“… man!” Darkie squeaked. Sunny stared at her with a raised eyebrow, before letting the short confusion go. She began giving directions and helping Frosty carry Shivy.
“You okay, Blue? You’ve been kinda quiet…” Moss whispered to the girl that had come to stand next to her.
“Yeah. I just have nothing to say.”
“Nothing that you’d like to hear.”
“Gotcha.” Moss snorted and couldn’t hide her smile.
Darkie walked closer. “Come on, Blue. Let’s get walking.” She motioned her to lean on to her.
“I don’t need help.”
Darkie sighed and gagged when she had to inhale air with the horrendous stink. “Now’s not the time to be difficult.”
“I’m not being difficult. I’m just stating a fact.”
Darkie seemed stubborn, so Moss intervened their converstation. “Let Blue walk alone as long as she can take it. Then she’ll beg for your help.” Moss smirked.
“You won’t see that day.”
Moss rolled her eyes. “Whatever floats your boat. But I warn you, we won’t walk any slower because of you.”
“Yeah of course.”
Sunny came over, puffing. She was carrying Shivy with the help of Frosty and Goldi. Shivy looked pretty lifeless lying there in their arms, head hanging down. It was like from a romantic movie where a woman was carried by her husband. Expect Shivy had three husbands and only one was male.
I’m remembering weird City stuff right now…
“Come on guys, positiveness! Onwards!” Sunny cheered. She probably would’ve raised her fist in the air if it had been possible.
Moss glanced back as the group started their journey. The silo was left behind and soon the tall, creepy building was covered by the trees. Nobody even paid close attention on it, nobody searched the area if Frosty’s group hadn’t done it before, nobody wondered why Shivy had been found there. Did she just wander there and suddenly blacked out? What had happened?
Moss shook her head and turned away, leaving the silo and its every secret far behind.
Little did she know, she would regret that.
Blue began limping in front of Moss, and Darkie by her side kept her eyes on the injured girl. She didn’t seem to need help though – actually she moved pretty fast.
If we keep up with this speed, we’ll be home quicker than I say doodledeydey dingery dong. I hope Blue’s bandage is lasting enough…
Moss was glad her feet didn’t ache anymore – at least too much. The break had been heaven. She had even managed to forget her thirst and hunger… Now she was reminded of them again. Oops.
She anxiously licked her lips. What was the feeling in her throat? Thrist? Dryness? Worry? Fear? It felt like someone was slowly choking her from the inside. She swallowed. I’m probably just thirsty and concerned.
As they continued, it all became worse.
Her throat burned. It felt like a rope around her neck was tightened with every passing second. She tried to breathe calmly. It didn’t help – in fact, it made it worse.
Moss slowed down her steps. She needed to take it easy. There was no hurry. No rush. She tried to memorize if a suffocating feeling was a symptom of something more serious than dehydration. She pondered and pondered, went through the lockers of knowledge in her mind, recalled everything she had done and experienced with Lily.
Nothing came to her mind.
Dehydration. It’s only dehydration. With that repeating in her mind, she gained more power to keep on going.
Suddenly a bang of pain exploded in her stomach. Moss halted abruptly.
Darkie glanced at her worriedly. “Are you okay, Moss?”
Moss exhaled. “Yeah. Just a little thristy.” She stared at Darkie, but the only thing she could see were black spots all over her vision.
“You sure? You look pale. I wish I had water with me…”
“It’s okay”, Moss assured. Her throat felt like sandpaper as she talked. She swallowed. Even swallowing was difficult.
“When was the last time you drank?” Darkie asked, fearful glint in her eyes.
Moss shrugged. “I’m not sure… When I came from the borders I think Lily gave me water. That was… yesterday. Noon?”
“So basically it’s been a day since you last drank… That’s a lot.”
“I forgot to do so before we left. Yeah, my bad.” She knew a headache was forming and ready to attack her.
“No. Moss. We need to get you something to drink, I can see you’re dehydrated…”
Blue, who was a few steps ahead, turned around and frowned at the two. “Guys. I haven’t drunk since we left to see the borders. And know that I’m easily dehydrated – yet I’m feeling fine. There’s probably nothing wrong with you, Moss.”
“That’s what I said”, Moss noted Darkie.
“But Blue – Moss has ran and hiked a lot in recently and you got to relax under that trunk. She’s been under more strain.”
“Relaxed under a tree trunk, please -” Blue began, but Moss cut her off.
“I slept too, Darkie. I was at the dorms, remember?”
Darkie laughed dryly. “No you didn’t. I know what you were doing. You were wide awake with Lily. There’s something wrong with Wistep, right? I know there is. I heard you both, making nose when I’m trying to sleep and going to and fro on the hallway. I wanted to see what was going on, and saw you. I never thought it was anything serious, but I’m starting to think differently. Admit it.” Darkie stared sternly at the healer.
“I don’t know what you’re talking about…” Moss mumbled nervously. She must not know anything.
“Moss…” Darkie’s tone was cautionary. It was kind of amusing she was commanding an older girl – the healer who had been there for so long, a founder, basically her boss.
“I admit I didn’t sleep too well…” Her voice was getting hoarse.
“Why?” Blue demanded. Apparently she had joined the arguement.
“None of your business”, Moss snapped. She knew she could be a bit harsh with Blue.
“If Wistep is dead without me knowing, I will freaking murder you”, Blue threatened, pointing her finger accusingly at the blonde. Moss stared back emotionlessly. She was too tired to care. Blue was blurry and Moss couldn’t see her expression clearly.
“I bet she isn’t. At least I hope so…” Darkie glared at Moss before her gaze became pleading. “I will trust you, Moss, if you tell me now that she is alive.”
Darkie’s eyes widened slowly. Blue stared Moss down. The healer didn’t even blink.
“Heck”, Blue cursed under her breath. She turned her back at the two girls and quickened her pace to catch up with the Shivy carrying others.
Darkie’s eyes were sparkling with sadness when she looked straight at Moss. “Is she dead?” she whispered.
Moss wanted to tell her everything, she had to speak now, she needed to shout her thoughts out loud – yet there was no voice coming from her troat. Her lips moved, trying to say something, but she couldn’t form words. Her vocal cords didn’t work and her mind was completely blank.
“I trusted in you…” Darkie hissed and dashed out of the healer’s reach. Moss wanted to scream after her, yell everything out. Instead she breathed slowly and muttered one short word to herself.
The mega howler she had just experienced with the younger girls wasn’t the only reason for her saying that. The spots were another.
Black spots – hundreds of them. It seemed like someone had splattered black paint all across her eyes and then pushed her into a carousel.
Her head spinned and she was losing her balance. She couldn’t even see the ground anymore. Stopping, she lagged from the others and had to lean to a tree.
She knew exactly what was happening.
I can’t pass out now. She brushed her dirty blonde hair out of her face, taking deep breaths. Her inside was on fire, and she desperately needed water to put it out. She craved for something to pour down her throat. The others can’t possibly carry me too. I have to keep going now. I must stay strong.
Cumbersomely she dragged her feet forwards for one step. Two. Three.
Suddenly she groaned loudly, hugging her stomach tightly. She bit her already dry lips in pain. There was something in her stomach, cutting holes into her skin and causing horrendous ache. At that moment she thought she was going to die.
Strong. Keep strong.
She moved forwards a step. And panted.
Her friends’ figures weren’t anywhere she could see anymore. Her balance was gone, and she was close to tripping. Panicking, Moss tried to recall methods she should be doing in a fainting situation.
Sadly she was too dizzy to remember.
She touched her head and flinched. Rushed plans ran through her brain. I have to –
Before she had the time to act, it all came crashing down.
Her back hit the wet grass in seconds. It hurt, but she didn’t feel anything at all. She tried to shout to her friends, tell them to wait up a little until she’d stand up and run to catch up with them. It would take just a second, they only had to wait a short moment.
Only a hoarse rasp escaped her dry mouth when she tried to call out to them. And that was all she had time to do.
Then the black curtains fell down and signaled that the show had ended.
She was in a boat.
The boat swayed from side to side smoothly, and she swayed with it.
There had to be waves swaying the boat. Waves meant water, water meant something to drink. Just behind the boat’s edges.
So close, yet so far away.
She wanted to move, crane her neck over the edges and sip the delicious, refreshing water. As much as she tried, her body was powerless. She couldn’t move a bit. She couldn’t put extinguish her thirst with the water.
There had to be water, right?
Boats were in water, right?
Swaying meant a boat, right?
She was in a boat, right?
She didn’t hear the splashing of waves, though.
Whatever. There had to be water. She was only arguing with herself.
But she did hear something. Little cracking and muffled thuds, distant voices coming from another dimension. Somewhere she didn’t belong. Not now.
She had to drink fast. She knew it. There was a storm raising, she felt it, and after the lightnings would strike and the thunder would rage it’d be too late. Her boat would capsize.
Action should’ve happened as soon as possible. But how? Her muscles wouldn’t work. Her brains couldn’t command them. She couldn’t move an inch – there was only blankness.
The storm rose faster than she had thought. It came right out of the blue, leaving her unprepared. Suddenly the dark clouds were already hanging right above her head, ready to rage. Rush of panic ran through her, but she was unable to escape.
A lightning stroke.
Her boat began swaying uncontrollably, almost making her fly into the water. She kind of hoped that had happened. The boat kept swaying horribly.
No, the boat was steady.
She was the one moving.
But that wasn’t possible. She couldn’t do that.
Maybe her body wasn’t moving. Her mind was.
And the storm was capsizing it. She would fall from her boat and drown. Drown in that liquid she was craving for.
She would fall and drown. She was afraid of falling. She was afraid of drowning.
It was her worst nightmare.
The end was close, she knew that, but she had no idea what to do in that situation. Plan hurriedly? Pray for help? Prepare her last will? Think of good things? See her life in fast motion?
She didn’t have too much time to ponder.
It rose in seconds, both the thunder and a huge wave, hitting her poor boat and throwing the girl into the water – water that she still couldn’t see.
She didn’t feel the water’s coldness or the wetness. She didn’t hear the splashes. She didn’t feel anything.
She just sank.
Something was pressed on her lips, cold liquid pouring down her throat.
It felt like heaven.
She coughed. It hurt. She almost choked on the water. It didn’t matter though.
She hadn’t drowned. She wasn’t wet – there never was a boat, nor a sea, not even a storm. It had all been in her mind, unconsciousness playing tricks on her.
Every muscle and part of her body ached. She tried to reach out to the person helping her and thank them, but her eyes were glued closed. She only managed to groan.
“She’s waking up!” someone cheered.
“Shush. Be quiet”, another voice scolded, “I’ve got this.”
The person sat on her bed. “Moss?” she whispered. “Say something. Please.”
Moss took a deep breath. Her lungs still hurt. She tried to say the only thing that came to her mind.
“Aussie… Aussie aussie aussie aussie aussie.”
The girl gave a short laugh. “Seems okay to me. Can you open your eyes?”
Slowly Moss began opening her eyes. Her eyelids were heavy and she blinked continously. The light burned her retinas. After a short moment of blinking, she started seeing the another girl with dirty blonde hair sitting on her bed, smiling brightly.
“Moss, I was so worried”, Lily whispered.
“What happened?” Moss asked, although she had a slight idea.
“You fainted out of dehydration. Blue noticed you were gone and they found you unconscious on the ground. Goldi and Darkie managed to carry you as Sunny and Frosty did the same with Shivy. Blue tried helping, but Sunny didn’t let her. It took longer, but at least you all got here alive. ”
So the image of the boat came from the swaying of the carrying… Makes sense.
“I was such a fool, completely forgot to drink. Is Blue okay? Did she get her leg treated? Was Kinky found? What about Shivy?” she asked worriedly.
“Fallen and Breezey came before you guys did, and they had found Kinky. She had still been looking for Blue. It’s soon night time, by the way. And I took care of Blue’s leg. Nasty wound, but Blue’s strong and will recover. As for Shivy… she’s right across the room.”
Uneasily Moss got up and glanced around. She was in the medicine house. A cozy feeling filled her stomach when she saw the familiar house – her second home.
Someone was sleeping in the other bed. Shivy, for sure. Moss couldn’t see her clearly, but she looked peaceful.
“Is she feeling fine?”
“Let’s discuss this… later. When, uh, she leaves.” Lily motioned her head on the door’s direction. Moss turned around to notice an awkward Darkie.
“Oh, hi, Darkie”, Moss greeted and waved at her.
Darkie walked closer, hanging her head low. What’s up with her? Darkie sighed, and sat on the floor beside her bed.
“I’m so sorry I was such a jerk when you told us about Wistep… Like I’m disappointed that you don’t tell me but if it’s healers only business. Yeah… that.” she laughed nervously.
“It’s fine, really, it was my fault anyway. l wasn’t feeling too well back then.” Moss smiled at her friend.
“I know Blue’s sorry too”, Darkie blurted out.
Moss raised an eyebrow. “Did she say so?”
“No, but I can read her like an open book. Maybe she doesn’t admit, but she didn’t want to hurt you.”
“Nobody hurt me, seriously, I’m fine. You didn’t do anything wrong. Tell that to Blue too.”
Darkie nodded. “I will.”
“I promise I’ll update you on the Wistep situation as soon as I can”, Moss promised, glancing at Lily.
“Thanks, Moss.” Darkie smiled widely. “It seems like you have some important healer duties to attend now, so I’m gonna go tell the others that you’re awake and fine.” She was instantly gone after finishing her sentence.
Moss turned to Lily. “So, about Wistep… Is she – ?”
Lily just nodded.
Swallowing the lump in her throat, Moss got back to what she knew she should be doing. “Anyway… How’s Shivy?”
Lily stiffened. “As the others reported, she has no visible injuries. I’ve treated her with basic stuff. But y’know… There’s something off.”
Moss nodded blankly. She had took notice of that too.
“…I don’t know what it is. It’s worrying me.”
Moss bit her lip. “Me too. Don’t be afraid, we’ll figure something out. We’ve gone through a lot of injuries in our lives, seen a lot of things – this is nothing more special. Just another mystery we need to solve.”
Lily’s eyes were like holes of concern. “You don’t understand. It’s not only a mystery. She doesn’t seem normal… I just can’t put my finger on it.”
“I know what you mean. I saw her – I saw her lying on the ground next to the silo, unconscious and ghostly. I know what you mean with the unnormal.”
Lily shook her head. “Something happened when you were… asleep.”
Moss felt her heart skipping a beat anxiously. “What? With Shivy?”
Lily nodded quickly. “Shivy woke up for a minute. I was there beside her… and she spoke.”
Nervousness ran through Moss like a burning rain. “And? What did she say?”
Lily seemed too scared to talk. “She repeated one thing over and over again. That one sentence, she said it three times. And then she fell back unconscious.”
“What did she say?” Moss repeated her question.
Lily took a deep breath. “That she needs to go back.”
“Back? Back to where?”
Lily gulped. “Back to the silo.”