AUTHOR'S NOTE: I apologize for any unrealistic dialogue or actions in this two-shot. Writing in a guy's point-of-view is a little bit of a stretch for me, but practice nonetheless. Some parts of this story are actually borrowed from personal experience in real life. The City Of Lights is a pretty complicated event that is actually real and is thoroughly enjoyed at my summer camp so if there are concepts that you are not familiar or confused with, don't be afraid to ask. Just so there won't be any confusion, the first part is written in Tyler's point-of-view and the second part is written in Casey's point-of-view, if you don't pick up the subtle hints that I leave all over the two parts. Anyways, do please enjoy reading this!
Part One: The City Of Lights
I laughed loudly at my friend's stupid joke, not realizing I had interrupted the group meeting.
"Tyler, shut up. Please." My counselor glared harshly at me.
"Sorry." I muttered quietly under my breath.
"As I was mentioning before, we had some heated debate on what the end-of-camp event should be and by popular demand," the leader of our age group announced, pausing momentarily to create some sort of suspense. "The winning event will be The City Of Lights!"
Yes, I cheered silently, my own thoughts being drowned out by the girls' groaning.
"But Jonah," a girl whined to the age group leader. "We don't wanna run around smelling like sweat all night long hunting silly... cars!" She sighed, flinging her arms for extra drama.
"And why do you think that this game is actually fun for us?" Another girl chimed in, followed by a chorus of "yeah!".
"Ah, I didn't say I was finished!" Jonah interrupted. "This event will be optional to the girls only, so you have the choice of whether or not you want to participate. But keep in mind, if you choose no, an appropriate alternative will be appointed."
"Would that alternative involve aerobics or dancing like whores?" Casey asked skeptically. She tucked her bangs behind her ears with an annoyed look on her face - the kind I would have if I was stuck with a dumb team that didn't know how to run in the right direction again, remembering last year.
"Casey," Jonah gasped slightly. He hadn't really known us all for a very long time since it was his first time working here at this camp, but I could tell he was somewhat told in advance of Casey's bluntness. "I said an appropriate alternative, meaning the female counselors will choose an alternative that appeals to the majority of females that chooses not to participate in The City Of Lights."
"Which would be aerobics and dancing." Casey dully noted.
"I don't know. And stop interrupting me please." Jonah twitched impatiently. "The sign up sheet for you girls is right here, and for the boys, if you have a legitimate reason for not participating, talk to me later. That's it for tonight kids, go to bed and no more cabin-hopping. Unless you happen to love picking up garbage!"
"No way, I'm not signing that." The girls murmured among each other, some leaving the campfire pit and heading back to their cabins, while the rest stayed and chatted with the guys from my cabin.
"Hi!" A girl greeted loudly, sitting down closely next to me.
"Oh. Hi Amanda." I nodded.
"So you're not going to sign up for that stupid thing," She giggled softly. "Right?"
"It's pretty much required for the guys to play." I answered slowly. "You have the choice, not us." I added.
"Oh. Ok, well-" She started before she was interrupted by another voice.
"Amanda, your boyfriend wants you." Casey scoffed.
"Oh, okay. Thanks!" She exclaimed cheeringly, running off to a tall guy waiting for her in the distance.
"Hey." I greeted Casey who sat down next to me. "Thanks."
"Hey." She nodded. "And you're welcome." She added with a scoff, staring intently at Amanda who was hugging her boyfriend Logan.
"Thank god. I was going to have to commit suicide and throw myself into the flaming fire pit." I sighed.
"Don't worry." Casey chuckled. "You'll live. Anyways, you must be pretty happy."
"Happy for what?" I asked, running a hand through my long and messy hair.
"You said a week before the end of school that the biggest thing you were looking forward to all summer was the City Of Lights event." Casey answered. "That is, if the counselors were ever going to pick it."
"Oh, that. Yeah." I chuckled again. "Yeah, I am."
"Well that's cool. You must be stoked though. You think we'll be on the same team ever?" Casey asked curiously. "It's annoying that they never put us together on a team - almost like we're the biggest competition that they deemed it unfair for us to be on the same team.
"Who knows?" I shrugged. "So that means you're signing up too?"
"Yep." Casey nodded in agreement. "Just did. Although, I think I'm the only girl to sign up for this event anyways. As usual." She added with a sigh. I chortled softly at this before she gave me an angry glare.
"Don't worry, you're just like one of the guys. I'm sure that won't be a problem." I reassured her.
"But that's not what I want to be." Casey interrupted.
"What do you mean?" I asked, confused. "Did I say something wrong?"
"Never mind... I've got to go anyways. See you later Tyler." Casey nodded once before getting up and walking back to her cabin.
I walked back into my cabin with the rest of my friends, ushered by our unit leader. He shut the lights off immediately in our cabin and closed the door shut, his footsteps reverberating through the wooden panels of our cabin's floor.
"So, who's coming with?" A guy I had come to know as Kyle during the first day of camp asked loudly.
"I am," replied another guy named Harry added. His joining was followed by nearly everyone else in the cabin except for Tommy, who was sick and out cold on his bunk.
"Tyler?" Kyle asked, putting his hands around my shoulder. "Wanna come and see some girls tonight?"
"Why not?" I smirked, displaying my trademark mischievous grin. "But let's not end up in the wrong cabin again."
"I didn't know the back way," Kyle defended. "I swear. I never knew the counselors were having a poker game in our unit leader's cabin!"
"It's okay. Just watch out for the night-guy," I chuckled quietly. "I think we've got Marc Pinkus again."
"No problem. I'll bore him with my collection of nocturnal sounds," A guy named Jude chimed in, pulling out a tape recorder. "He asked for it."
"Go then." Kyle nodded, opening the door for Jude. "Let's get ready." Kyle said to the rest of us waiting in the cabin. I turned around and grabbed a sweater and a flashlight. We all waited out by the bathroom window as we waited for Jude to come back to signal that the night-guy was preoccupied.
"Ow, stop stepping on my foot!" Kyle mumbled behind his shoulder.
"It wasn't me! It was dorky Li-" Another guy piped up before everyone else shushed them. Then we all heard a door open and close and footsteps come towards the bathroom.
"It's a go-mode now." Jude whispered. We all nodded and waited patiently as Kyle opened the bathroom window quietly and with ease and climbed out. Minutes later, a soft clunk was heard as the ladder we hid under the cabin was pulled out and placed on the cabin wall by Kyle. One by one, we all climbed out quickly and waited in a cluster for the last guy to come out.
"Hide the ladder, quick." I hushed towards the guy who was holding it. He picked it up and shoved it under the cabin quietly as we all waited. After he finished, I nodded to Kyle.
"Advance!" Kyle whispered loudly before we shushed him once again. Then we heard a snap of a twig far away. "Retreat- no wait, that's just a chipmunk." Kyle sighed softly as sounds of a small animal chattering ran away. I stifled my laughter and pushed my way to the front of the pack. I looked left, then right and craned my neck for sounds. Then I walked forwards towards the girls' cabin, followed closely by my cabin-mates. After careful navigation and silence, we arrived at the window of the girls' bathroom.
"Knock on it," Jude whispered. "Quietly."
I reached my hand out apprehensively and tapped the window three times. Amanda, who I conversed with earlier, approached the bathroom window in a pair of silky pants and a tank top that revealed a lot of cleavage. My eyes followed down her shirt automatically, but snapped back up to meet her eyes when she pulled the window open. I smiled innocently.
"They found the ladder," Amanda explained. "Hold on, I'll get one from one of the bunks." She added, leaving the bathroom and returning seconds later with a wooden ladder similar to ours. She picked it up haphazardly and dropped it on the countertop with the edge sticking out just above my head and sighed in exhaustion. Kyle and I grabbed it and pulled it down carefully, setting it on the damp mud and held onto it as the rest of the guys climbed up on it.
"Go," I whispered to Kyle, motioning him to climb on the ladder after everyone else went into the girls' cabin.
"Thanks!" He said a little too loud, his voice echoing in the darkness. "Shit." He whispered, scurrying inside quickly.
"Hold the ladder!" I seethed through my teeth, climbing on carefully as I heard footsteps coming. I jumped through the open window and dragged the ladder back up and set it under the sink. I dashed into the bathroom stall with the rest of the guys, thankful that only five of us came and that we all fit in the stall.
"Hello?" An older male voice we all recognized as Marc asked at the front door, opening it.
"Yeah?" A girl answered, standing in front of the bathroom stall across from the door. "What's up?"
"I heard a loud noise. What was it?" Marc asked skeptically.
"I dropped my shaving cream. Do you have a problem with me shaving at night?" The girl asked annoyingly.
"No. Goodbye." He added, closing the door on his way out.
"You can come out now," the girl replied in a low voice, shutting the window.
"Thanks Brittney." Kyle flashed a smile at the girl as we all got out of the cramped bathroom stall.
"No problem." She added, giggling. I walked around them and went into the bigger room where all the bunks were and scanned for girls that were awake. So far, it seemed all of them were, except for Casey who was reading a book and seemed unfazed by our presence here.
"Hi Tyler," A familiar voice chimed behind me. I spun around to see Amanda, who was pulling up her bra straps from her elbows, annoyed that they weren't as tight as she thought. I coughed before she glanced at me and her hands dropped to her sides.
"Hi," I replied in disdain. I wasn't exactly interested in hearing more about her hair or nails. "Look, to be honest, I've got to-"
"Amanda!" A guy interrupted, walking over and hugging her tightly. "Hey there Tyler!" He added, breaking away from the hug and leaving an arm wrapped around Amanda's hips.
"Good to see you Logan," I muttered. "I thought you couldn't make it?"
"Snuck out to see my babe," Nigel winked suggestively, whooping. "Right pooh-bear?"
"Right honey-bums." Amanda added.
"You know, I hate to break up this little love-fest, but boys are forbidden from being inside girls' cabins," Marc announced loudly, silencing the entire cabin. "Say goodbye to your ladies - you're in big trouble fellahs."
"Shit, I didn't even hear you come in." Kyle muttered under his breath.
"Right, and I didn't hear you come in either," Marc chuckled lightly. "However, I did hear Thompson over there." He added, pointing a thumb to Logan.
"Oh." Logan mumbled under our scrutinized glances.
"'Night ladies. Your men have a long day tomorrow." Marc greeted before escorting us out of the front door of the cabin. "You might not like 'em as much after they're done picking up garbage though."
"Told you so," Casey mumbled as I walked past her.
"What?" I whispered back.
"I don't want to be one of the guys." She repeated from earlier.
"What is that supposed to mean?" I asked angrily. "Are you mad at me or somethi- ow!" I whipped my head over my shoulder that was under the strong clutch of Marc Pinkus and stared at his stoic face.
"Tyler, back to your cabin, now." Marc replied sternly, releasing his grip on my shoulder.
"Fine." I muttered, stomping angrily out of the cabin, huffing under my breath. I glanced back over my shoulder and watched Marc's persistent gaze on me. What an idiot. I trudged up the stairs of my cabin and slammed the door shut as I made my way in. Stripping to my boxers and chucking the articles of clothing away nearby, I climbed into bed and stood at the miscellaneous graffiti written on the top of my bunk. I stayed like that for the rest of the night until fatigue overcame me.
The next night, I was in a much better mood. After all, it was time for the City Of Lights event, and I wasn't going to let a little thing like picking up garbage all morning kill my optimism.
"Ok, boys, gather round," Jonah announced loudly.
"Ahem," Casey coughed, bringing attention to herself. Everyone glanced at her briefly before returning to watching and listening to Jonah impatiently.
"And the female too." Jonah added carelessly. "City of Lights is a night-long event compromised of three teams with a clue to start off with. You will then hunt for the correct car with the matching pattern on your clue. For example, if your clue says long-long-short-long-long-short, then you want to find a car that has their headlights following the pattern. All patterns will be six sequences long, so it will be a bit tricky. One person per team will act as captain, to lead the team and another person on the team will hold all the collected clues. Here's a little extra challenge - you must get all your clues signed by the right car-holder."
"Tell us the teams already!" Kyle interrupted rudely.
"Chill." Jonah ordered. "We'll get to that in a second... I just want to also remind everyone that tomorrow night is the annual Summer Ball and that it's at five forty-five pm, sharp, at the dining hall for the annual banquet."
"We already know about that!" Everyone groaned in unison.
"Right, okay so the captains will be announced and then they'll call your names up. The captain for team Blue is Tyler, for team Red, Casey and... for team Green is Kyle! Get up here, captains."
"Congrats dude," Jude patted. "You'll make a good cap'n."
"Erm, thanks." I mumbled from shock. I got up slowly and made over to Jonah.
"Here are your teams," Jonah instructed, handing the three of us a list of our teammates. "Call your teammates up one at a time and then go to your respective meeting places, discuss strategies, etcetera, and then tell everyone to go change into their team colors and meet back at the meeting places by eight pm sharp, okay?"
We all nodded in agreement and then looked down at our list of teammates. I've got some good guys on my team... not bad, but it's manageable, I thought to myself.
"Jude!" I called out, my voice followed by Casey's, calling out another teammate. Me, Casey and Kyle continued calling out our teammates until we were finished and split up to have our own meetings with our teams.
"Ok, so everyone, wear blue, drink plenty of water and eat some food," I advised to my team. "We're going to try to stick together and get some rest in too - we're going to need every pair of eyes we can get to spot the patterns. Remember, if you see a car with the pattern we're looking for, do the secret signal we mentioned before, alright? You guys can go now - come back seven-fifty for a pre-pep game talk."
The team nodded and talked amongst each other in agreement before heading back into the cabin to get ready.
"You ready?" I asked Casey, who was approaching me after dismissing her team.
"I am," Casey answered with a small smile. "I just hope you are."
"Why, you think I can't run?" I asked teasingly. "Because if you're assuming that, I'm proud to report I've actually been practicing." I added with a light punch to her arm.
"Sure, we'll see what happens tonight." Casey replied, punching back. "Later."
"Bye." I added as she walked away. I headed towards my cabin where I took a short nap and followed the advice I gave earlier.
In a sleepy haze, I woke up and looked around my surroundings. It was dark out through the window and several low rumblings echoed from outside. I glanced down at my watch and saw it was seven-thirty.
Only twenty minutes left... I thought to myself as I got up out of my bunk bed and changed into blue clothes. While searching for a clean pair of socks, I heard a knock on the door.
"Come in," I shouted towards the door. The door opened loudly and as I looked over my back, revealing Casey in red clothes.
"Hey Tyler?" Casey asked curiously.
"Over here!" I shouted, still rummaging through my clothes for some clean socks.
"Do you have a-" Casey paused before staring at the mess I was making. "What are you doing?"
"Looking for some clean socks," I muttered, moving up to another shelf.
"You mean these?" Casey pointed towards a white pair in the middle of the box of overflowing boxers.
"Erm, yeah," I chuckled softly, pulling the socks out and covering the box of boxers with some shirts off of the floor. "Forget you saw that..."
"Alright... Woody Woodpecker?" Casey muttered, stifling her laughter.
"I said, forget it." I repeated sternly. "What did you want to say?"
"Do you have anymore batteries for my flashlight? I'm all out." Casey shrugged.
"Yeah," I nodded, walking over to my bunk bed with Casey following me. "Double a, right?"
"Yes, please." Casey added. I tossed her two and watched as she put them into her flashlight. She flicked it on and a bright beam of light emitted from it. "Thanks." She added, turning it off to preserve what remained in the batteries.
"We should go... it's about to start soon." I noted to Casey who had the door open.
"Good luck." She nodded before heading out the door. I followed her out minutes later and met up with my team. Minutes later, we had a pep talk and lined up to get ready for the event.
"On my count, you will open up your clues and read them. Remember that all teams have different clues, so don't try to follow another team." Jonah announced loudly. "On your marks, get set... go!"
"Go Tyler! Rip it up godamnit!" Various shouts emitted from my team. I ripped the clue open and read it quickly but carefully.
"Three longs, three shorts!" I answered in a low voice and squinting my eyes in the dark, looking for the matching car.
"There!" Someone from my team shouted a little too loudly, pointing towards a car in the far distance, behind the baseball field.
"Wait for it." I commanded, pausing. The car's headlight blinked long three times, and short two times. One more short... It blinked short on the last part of the sequence and then I yelled "run!" as loudly as I could to my teammates. We ran towards the car as fast as we could, our footsteps thundering under the dry green grass below. Panting, we arrived at the car where I ran to the driver's side and showed him the clue. The counselor in the car put down his magazine and glanced briefly at it. He took out a pen lying on the dashboard and wrote his signature on it before I chucked it off to Jude to keep in his jean pocket. The counselor in the car then gave us another envelope with the word 'Team Blue' written on it. We ripped it and revealed another sequence saying 'short, long, short, short, long, long' and so began the City Of Lights event.
An hour later, we were still afloat. The repeating thump of my heart pulsated in my veins, echoing in my ears. I panted softly as beads of sweat trickled down my forehead as the cool summer night air hit my face.
"Ty!" A voice gasped behind me, but I didn't dare to stop running. My team was right behind Casey's, a crucial moment of a win-or-lose matter.
"Casey?" I squinted in the dark, barely making out the familiar features of her face. She kept up with my running still.
"Just wanted to say good luck." She noted duly.
"Why?" I asked skeptically. "You're not even on my team anyways."
"I know. We're beating you," Casey sighed softly. "We're pretty much ahead of everyone else."
"I wouldn't say that," I added, gasping. "We're only behind you by one car."
"Oh?" Casey asked, surprised. "Well, I'll have to watch my back."
"So why are you hanging around here with me then?" I asked.
"Just wanted to check out how my competition's doing." Casey smiled briefly before running off with her team.
"Ty, here's what I'm thinking." Jude gasped slightly behind me. "There are only five cars left."
"Oh, wow, really? I thought there would be more." I added, a little bit relieved to know it was almost over.
"And I got five other people on our team to memorize each remaining car's sequence like you asked earlier," Jude continued. "If we can keep going from each car to the next without pausing, I'm pretty sure we can win. Just barely."
"Let's do it." I nodded.
Thirty minutes later and nearly eleven at night, we arrived at the second-last car and were handed the last clue. Everyone around me silenced as I read out the last sequence carefully to verify it was the correct sequence as the other person on my team had memorized, the only one whose sequence hadn't been found yet. "It's long, short, long, short, long, long. It's yours! Where is it?" I asked my team quickly.
"Over there, by the firepit." Someone from my team piped up. Everyone then darted madly towards the firepit where the last car was waiting for us.
"Go to the basketball court for the finish line," the female counselor said to us after we approached her. "Quick, the red team is nearly finished too."
"Shit, let's go!" I shouted, running towards the basketball court. We sped up as we ran and I looked over my shoulder to see Casey and her team at the top of the hill, receiving the last instructions from another car before I snapped my head back and pushed myself farther towards the basketball court. My team and I arrived, out of breath, under the bright nightlights with some counselors and Jonah, our unit leader, cheering at us. Thank god, we won. Just barely.
"Congratulations to the Blue Team for an excellent victory!" Jonah announced loudly, half an hour later, after everyone arrived and was accounted for. "It was a close match between the Blue and Red teams I have to say, and once again, good job to everyone who participated - you all did terrific. Now, we have a special treat for you all - ice cream. One at a time, starting with the Blue Team, come up and get your ice cream."
"Man, that was intense." Casey muttered, sitting down next to me after she got her ice cream. "Good job Ty."
"Thanks. You too," I nodded, returning the thanks. "You played well."
"You just had a little bit more experience I guess," Casey noted. "I heard about your strategy."
"Well, it worked, didn't it?" I grinned.
"Yes it did." Casey added, picking off the chocolate bits off her ice cream.
"Oh hey Casey, I was wondering," I paused slightly. "Do you have a date for the Summerball yet?"
"Yeah, I'm going with Kyle. He asked me and I thought why not?" She answered. "You?"
"Going stag," I answered quickly. "With Jude." So that's why he didn't tell me about it when I asked him who he was going with... interesting, I never knew he liked Casey, I wondered to myself.
"Oh, cool." She murmured. "Have fun..." She added, standing up from her seat on the bleachers.
"I still don't get what you mean by not wanting to be one of the guys though." I blurted quickly.
"Huh?" Casey asked, confused.
"Let's go somewhere more quieter..." I muttered, grabbing her hand and dragging her towards the firepit that was stationed between our cabins outside. After glancing around at my surroundings - no counselors, no campers and no annoying age group leader, I repeated what I said earlier to Casey.
"Oh, that." Casey mumbled, understanding what I asked her. "It's just that I hate being seen as another one of the guys."
"Why would that be a problem though?" I asked.
"Hello, I'm a girl. And you're a guy," Casey paused momentarily. "Normally... most guy-girl bonds end up being relationships."
"We're not exactly going out though," I noted. "We're just friends. Right?"
"Right," Casey nodded in disappointment. "Just forget it, Tyler."
"No, I want to know!" I shouted a little too loud. "Tell me, please."
"No, I don't want to kill your night." Casey rebutted.
"Just tell me." I pleaded. "What was the mind-blowing thing that you didn't get to tell me today?" I added, scoffing quietly.
"This." Casey mumbled softly, putting her hands on my face and slowly pulled me into a kiss. Before I had any chance to register what was happening, she broke away and turned around, walking quickly towards her cabin.
"Don't ever bring this up ever again..." She muttered, leaving me stranded with my own thoughts as I watched her walk, her blond hair fading into the dark with every rushed step she took.