He went back home and placed his books neatly on his table. Then, he stripped himself and went for a shower. It was a hard world for a fifteen year old teenager. His family emigrated to Singapore not long ago. It was a small tropical country which took him a few years to adapt totally. He learned English and after many difficulties, finally managed to master it, but with a little-off tune fluency.
He stepped out of the bathroom and made his way to the kitchen. His mother was inside, preparing dinner.
"Mum, I'm going to one of Malaysia's rainforest for hiking. Scouts stuff. It's during the June holidays."
"How long is it going to be?" She was busy tossing the contents of the frying pan around, like an expert chef.
"Two weeks, I suppose. It's from the 3rd Of June to the 18th. Here's the form. Sign it."
"Then, I guess we must prepare soon. It's three days to the 3rd of June." She placed her pan down and wiped her oily hands on her apron. She took up the pen and signed it.
He took the form and went back to his room. He was going to meet fellow scouts from Singapore and perhaps, even neighboring countries on this trip. It would be fun, hiking and camping in the forest. There would be kayaking too. It would be quite a challenging activity. He did not quite like water, not to mention the sea. Pushing the thought aside, he stood up to make a call to his friend.
"Hello? May I speak to Kevin?"
"Yep. Are you White? Hold on."
It was his sister, he supposed. White could recognize it from the tone.
"Wassup, White?" They did not call him White for nothing. His skin was very pale. Not any amount of sun tan would darken it. And if he ever had sunburns, his skin would be brown for awhile, but to become even whiter when his skin flaked off.
"Nothing. Just wanna chat. You are going for the hike right?"
"Yes. You started packing your backpack yet?"
"Nah. Wanna come over? We can pack together."
"Good Idea. Be over in a couple of minutes."
Kevin had put down the phone. They stayed in the same HDB flat, a few floors away. They study in the same secondary school too, and of course, the same Co-Curricular Activity.
While waiting for Kevin, the phone rang again.
"Hello? Who's this?"
" Vanessa speaking. Are you free next week?"
"Nope, sorry. I have a scouts camp going on."
"Okay, never mind. Happy Camping. Bye."
It was his girlfriend. Or maybe not. They liked each other, but yet to clarify their actual relationships. He sat there and began packing his bag.
Three days later.
"Hi, Whitie." He gave White a friendly slap on his back.
"How's your day going?" They were at the campsite. They had hiked for a few hours into the rainforest. It was nearly lunchtime, so it was decided that they were to settle down for a break.
"So far, so good. I'm in Group Alpha. What's your group?"
"Delta. Too bad we are not in the same group, man. If not, this camp would be more fun."
Somebody shouted for White.
"Bye. Gotta help out."
He trudged back through the forest to his group.
"Eh. What we having for lunch?"
"Nothing good. Take this."
It was a can of baked beans. He shoved a few spoonfuls of it into his mouth and passed it to the next person. He got another tin of sardines, half full.
"What's the next event?"
"Kayaking. Should be. The group leader said so."
White's heart skipped a beat.
"Nothing. Just don't quite like it." He went on to cleaning his oily hands.
"Relax bud. Nobody ever gets lost in the sea kayaking. I mean, not many people get lost. Comeon, hundreds of us scouts gonna be kayaking offshore later. It's in a diamond formation. So if any of us gets swept away or capsizes, somebody would know and help out."
White nodded, feeling relieved. The break was soon over and the different groups proceeded to packing up and continuing on their journey. The cheerful scouts trekked through the forest, among the insects, trees, and some animals. Occasionally, they got a few lice stuck to their ankles. The black creature happily drank the blood flowing freely from its victim.
"Eew. What I gonna do with this bloodsucker?"
"Burn it I guess."
The group leader came and scattered salt over the lice. It soon withered, turning inside out.
"Dehydrates this creature. It's a horrible thing to do. Should have burnt it. It's easier and it would survive. Never mind, get going."
The scouts reached the beach. Over a hundred kayaks were waiting for them. They chose their paddles and got into the kayaks. The guy who had consoled White earlier teamed up with him. It was a two-person kayak. They pushed off the shore with their paddles.
"Port side. Starboard. Port. Starboard." They managed to co-ordinate their timings as they steered their kayak along the others. It was a sight. The hundred over kayaks pushed forward in a diamond formation, with four leaders guiding them. The front leader would lead. The starboard leader and the port leader would be at the sides, making sure nobody gets past beyond them. The back leader would ensure that nobody gets left behind.
After a few hours, the light paddle had soon began to feel like a 3-kg paddle. White's arms were abit feeling pretty sore.
"Damnit." His companion muttered. His name was Christopher, as he had learned earlier.
"Drizzle. And look at the dark clouds. Gonna have a storm soon."
"God. So what do we do?"
"Continue paddling. So what if there's a storm. We gotta reach our destination in time, or we gotta kayak in the night."
White nodded. Within the next ten minutes, the drizzle had intensified into a storm. The waves swept the kayaks up and down.
"Shit. I feel like puking. Motion sickness."
"Grab a bite." Christopher tossed him a chocolate bar. White tore it open and munched it.
"Yep. Let's continue. The tide's going against us." The kayaks were starting to bump against one another often. The waves brought them crashing into one another.
"Man, our kayaks quite unstable. You lean to the left. I lean to the right. Hope it would stabilize."
White nodded, as they paddled harder. There was a fog coming up, and they paddled through it.
"Oh, my freaking …"
There were a lot of murmurs. Confusion rose up into the air.
"Shit, I can't see the others. Are we alone?"
"Nah. It's the fog. You can hear the others, that means they are nearby."
That was when they crashed into another kayak and capsized. The water flooded into White's mouth as he gaped for air. The lifejacket pushed him up, his head above the water. He coughed and sputtered the saltwater out of his mouth.
" Christopher, where are you?" He called out. Nobody replied. The fog was getting worst. He could not see his capsized kayak anywhere around him.
"Calm down." He told himself, yet he could not control himself from panicking. You would, if you were all alone, in the sea, with nothing below your feet, except for water. He kicked and swam around furiously, with no sense of direction. In the end, he grew tired and allowed the wave to bring him away.
He shouted desperately for help. Yet, nobody answered his pleas. It was then that he knocked into a rock and fell unconscious.