The Lost Scout
Susan took a deep breath as she peered into the darkness that surrounded her little tent. She was two days into a four day test for her camping merit badge. One of the required badges all girl scouts where required to earn before being allowed to move onto the 'Fun' ones like Horse Riding or Flowering. Though to be fair this one did seem a little dull when compared the others.
And the task was simply enough, for all one needed to do was to picked up there issued gear, that included one pop-up tent a mess kit, Swiss Army Blanket number four, a pillow and first aid kit that included the basic items. Each day in a near by clearing, each girl enduring the test will line up and draw just enough rations to hold them over for one day, the rations took the form of sixteen ounces of coffee or lose leaf tea, seventeen ounces of dried beef, three cups of rice, two salt packets and two pepper packets. And finally two candy bars of the scouts choice. It was this meager diet the scout was suppose to live on for twenty four hours till the next days allotments of rations could be drawn.
"I wish.." Susan said releasing her breath as she peered into the inky darkness. The dying embers of her camp fire provided only a little warmth from the chilly November air. The air was thick with moister south east wind blowing through the trees at fifteen to twenty miles a hour cut her like a knife. And caused her to become chilled.
"I wish." She said closing her eyes as she bent down to pick up a few twigs and pieces of brown tree bark. "I was back home now, or back at my cabin." Her fire was too low to boil water, thus her rice would have to stay safe within its tin cups. And she had in a furry consumed those seventeen ounces of dried beef, she still had enough ground coffee and lose leaf tea left to brew a cup of coffee or some tea. A cup of tea would be nice, but still one needed to boil water and her water supplies where running low. To add to her troubles the nearest source of water was a mile or two away.
Quickly, Susan tossed her collected kindling into the black and grey embers of her cooking fire. Quickly the dried wood started to crackle a little as the fresh fuel was added to it. Taking another deep breath she poured the last of her water into a tin cup. And then using the utmost care she placed the tin cup over the low level fire. She'll go ahead and collect her water, then she'll fix herself a nice cup of tea, before calling it a night. Then tomorrow, she collect her rations.
And with collecting her courage she pressed into the inky darkness. Small flakes of snow where starting to fall around her, a event now unheard of in this part of Mississippi. The thick pinelands of Rankin was a far cry from the cypress shaded bottomland of her childhood haunts on the banks of the mighty Mississippi.
"Bloody hell, Its snowing already." She said taking a deep breath as she pressed on. Guided only by the silvery moonlight that trickled down through the hoarfrost covered tree branch's. The wind nipped at her exposed cheeks and caused her breath to turn to fine white mist.
Thirty minutes later, Susan found herself bending down by a small stream, that while note one of the 'official' marked sources of water would do. The water was clear, and cool and flowed over a clear sandy bottom. Quickly she filled her canteen up with water, she was just about to head back to her camp site something caught her attention.
"Help me!" The voice cried. "Somebody please help me! I've fallen down and I think I've broken my leg!" Came the shrill tone of voice.
Susan blinked and blinked again. The wind was starting to pick up, and the snow was falling was increasing by the minute. There was a chance the wind was playing a cruel trick on her, but.. There was a near human quality about the tone of voice. Making a split second decision she decided to follow the voice into the wind. If indeed there somebody out there, it was her duty as a member of Vicksburg Troop 1400 to help them, that goes double if there a fellow scout.
"Hello!" Called Susan into the darkness as she pulled her coat closer to her slender frame. "Anybody out there!" She called again before starting up the steep embankment.
"Help!" The voice came again, "I've fallen! I was getting water and I lost my footing." The voice called again. "I'm cold.. So very cold."
Susan knew she had little time to ponder the source of the voice. Quickly she pushed into the darkness. The wind blistered her exposed cheekbones and caused her to shiver. She could feel the temper dropping all around her and a sense that she was in a race came upon her, indeed one could say she was in a race. A race against time and the forces of nature.
"I'm coming!" Cried Susan as she pushed herself into the thick woodland. A few minutes later she came upon the source of the voice. A girl around her age lay sprayed down upon the ground. She wore a dated uniform and her skin was flour white and almost seemed to glow in the darkness. All of these features seemed to put Sue on edge. But that fear was dispelled when she saw the look of pain in her eyes.
"Help me.." The young women said taking a deep breath. "Please.." She quickly added.
Susan blinked and blinked again as she peered toward girl. "Its okay, its okay." She said going toward her side. "I'm a scout too, and I'm not going to leave you here along." She then reached over and somehow she managed to lift the girl off the ground. "I'm going to need you to hobble along with me okay." She instructed. "it's a good fifteen or so miles to 'Time Square' so you'll have to weather the night in my tent." She said putting on a brave face as she started to haul the girl up a steep hill.
"Okay, thank you." The scout said taking a deep breath.
"So, you gotta name." Susan said taking a deep breath as she finally reached her tent. Quickly she tugged down upon the zipper and moving the wounded girl into the confines of her tent. Quickly she eased the girl down.
"Coraline.." She said taking a deep breath as she was eased down upon the ground. "Troop 3978.. Jackson.." She said smiling toward Susan. "May I ask your name and troop number?" Coraline said.
"Susan, but everybody around camp call's me.. Sue." She said walking over to her first aid kit. Thankfully Susan had just earned her 'First Aid' Badge and 'Nursing' badge a week or so ago. "And I belong to troop number 1400." She said rolling the girls woolen skirt up. Quickly her pale pink eyes fell upon the source of trouble. Her ankle was swollen to the point of no return and a number of other scratch's and cuts dotted her thing and legs. "Bloody hell.." Susan whispered as she survived the damage.
"Bad…" Coraline asked as she peered toward Susan with a look of great concern sketched upon her face. Quickly she flinched a little as another great wave of pain shot through her whole body.
"Its pretty bad.." Susan taking a deep breath as she stood up and walked over to her bed spread. Quickly she picked up her pillow, once her pillow was in her hand she slide it under Coraline's head. "Something for you to rest your head upon." She said smiling a little as she walked back her kit.
"Thank you…" Coraline said in a weak tone of voice, even in the dim light provided by a battery powered lantern, the girls face took on a almost transparent feature.
"Hey no problem." Susan said taking a deep breath, quickly she cleared her head, before making the sign of the cross again before whispering the old Latin prayer of, In nomine patri et fili spiritu sancta. she whispered as she started to go to work. First spraying the wound with medical first aid spray, before wrapping it up tight with medical tape.
"You know.. Your sweet. I really like you Sue.." Coraline said smiling for the first time since they meet. "You're a really good person. I thought for sure I was gone when I slipped down.." She said closing her eyes for a minute.
"Hey.." Susan said blushing a little as she walked over and picket up her blanket, quickly she wrapped her blanket around the girl. Sure that meant she'll have to go the whole night without a blanket, but it would be worth it. "We're scouts." She said smiling softy as she folded the blanket under her new friend. "You know, where part of this whole one big sisterhood." She said stepping out to check on her boiling water.
The girl did not respond, for she was out like a light. Smiling a little Susan pulled her now warm water off the fire, still smiling she added the last of her ground coffee beans to the steaming water, quickly it become a murky brown color. Quickly she moved into the confines of tent. The wind was staring the dying down now certain feeling of calmness was starting to fall.
"Sleep tight.. Coraline." Susan said finishing the last bit of her coffee. "Tomorrow, when I draw my rations, I'll bring back some help, and we'll get you out here. Your going to fine now, just get some sleep." She said looking over at the sleeping girl. And with that she settled into a dreamless sleep.
Susan awoke to the morning worship songs of songbirds. Slowly she opened her eyes as she breathed in the chilly morning air. "Good morning.." She called out, she fully expected her 'Guest' to be awake now, though possible still in pain. That would soon be squared away though. Slowly she shifted her eyes toward the bedding she had wrapped Coraline in last night and to her shock she found the covers empty and voice of life.
"Coraline?" She called out as she started to look around, there was no way the girl could have moved, for if she recalled correctly her right leg had suffered some pretty bad damage. And even if she did, Sue would have heard her moving around.
"Where could she have gone too.." Susan said taking a deep breath as she poked her head out of the tent. A sudden long burst from a air horn drew her attention away from her searching for a brief minute. It was followed by another low burst.
"Guess its ration time." She said crossing herself, she been doing that more and more often, heck she rarely did that when she was at home, the only other time she'll perform the jester was during certain parts of the mass and that's only because a mean old nun called nicknamed 'Sister Bulldog' made sure all the girls followed the instructions found in the Anglican Missal to a 'T'.
But there was something about being out here in these woods, surrounded by strange sound's and noises that made one feel so small and helpless. She hated that feeling with every fiber of her being, and was gleefully counting down the hours till she her bunkmates in 'Bambi' one of the seven cabins that lined a stretch of road called 'Rue La Daisy'. The road was of course nothing more than a mile or so of hard packed yellow earth. Still it was her home away from home, and provided far more creature comforts than this little hunt.
Soon Susan found herself standing in a tiny little clearing. The first thing she noticed though was only three counselors where present and not the normal four or five, and most dishearten was the lack of food.. She fully expected there to be a pull-along loaded down with rice, beans, fresh meat and the other basic items that made live worth living in this rustic hellhole.
"Hey scout." one of them said peering toward Susan. "Go back to your camp and get your things. There a winter storm moving into the area tonight. And we can't have you girls scattered about in the woods. Just not safe." She spoke with a sense of commandership.
"What about my badges?" Susan said raising a eyebrow. "I'm suppose to taking horse riding class's the last three days of camp. I'm not going to hike back up her after this storm and spend two more days in this god forsaken piece of woodland."
The older women rolled her eyes. "We're going to waver the requirements this once, the lot of you will be getting your badges. And yes, you'll still have time enough to get your 'Horse Riding' badge too.. I promise you that." She said folding her arms across her chest. "Now go fetch you gear scout." There was a pause. "That's a direct order." She quickly added.
Susan could only sigh as she started back up the hill to collect her gear. Fifteen minutes later her tent was packed up along with her cooking kit and the last bit of her food and one or two squares of milk chocolate. "Good bye Coraline, where ever you might be." She said starting back down a narrow trail. Soon she found herself standing once more in the forest meadow, this time surrounded by a dozen or so other scouts who where being tested for there badges.
"Okay girls." One of the scoutmasters said as she walked toward the center of the group. "You need to form up in single file line. As of now, the test is over and you've all passed. There some fresh smoke sausage, warm buttermilk biscuits, plenty of freshly brewed coffee and freshly squeezed orange juice waiting for you all back at the dinning hall." she said smiling. "Your fellow scouts, have already had there breakfast and are now bunkering down in there cabins. There a bad winter storm moving in. So expect plenty of good rib sticking food to keep you gals warm." She added.
A small cheer escaped many of there lips, the diets they been feed over the last two days was barely enough for them.. Most of the time they where kept up at night due to low level hunger pains, or stress from where there next source of water would come from, or would there stock of firewood hold till the end of the trial, and a host of other woodland concerns.
The scout leader smiled a little. "Jolly good ladies." She loudly proclaimed. "Now.. Form up, strap you gear on and as they say in the army, forward march." And with that she took her place toward the back.
Susan smiled as she joined in with the cheering and soon she found herself hiking right along with her fellows. Soon the body of scouts found themselves on one of the hard packed dirt roads that where connected to the main road. As Susan stepped onto this small road, she found herself musing a old Latin verse of Ommes viae Romam Ducunt. Or 'All Roads lead to Roman.' And the more she mused, the more she started to see the roads as tributaries, all feeding into the main road. The main road being 'Cookie Cutter Lane' a name chosen by the first troop of scouts in the early seventies.
Thirty minutes after leaving the rustic camping grounds, the small body of scouts verged onto the main road, unlike the other roads, this one was paved with asphalt and tar. Following this path will take one directly into the center of camp. In center one will find the kitchen, the Clinic, named 'Heaven Can Wait' once more by the first troop and the trading post and offices.
"Well.. I hope you made it out of those woods." she said taking a deep breath as walked into the kitchen. Another adventure had come to a close it seemed. Maybe she should start putting these little adventures down on paper. She could use them to earn another badge. Heck maybe one day she'll even publish them through the Girl Scouts of Mississippi. There was plenty of kindling for good camp fire stories in these tales.
The Voice in the Wood's
A popular Campfire tale
We've all heard it, a voice that calls for help in the middle of the night. A scared little voice, one begging for somebody to come and render aid. And many of times, we've gone out and searched for the source of the voice. But no matter how hard we searched, we've never found the source of the voice. We'll there is a story, one that tells the origins of the voice. It seems there was once a girl by the name of Coraline, she belonged to the local troop out of Jackson, her troop number was 3978.
Coraline was a shy little girl, and was often bullied by her peers. No matter how much she tried, she could never really fit in. She was the oddball and black sheep of her troop all rolled into one. One night, during the summer of '73, Coraline was taking her 'Simple Meal' and 'Camping' merit badge test.
And that's where the road divides. One branch of the story goes like this, there where three girls in Coraline's troop, there names have been lost to the flow of time, but they formed a unholy trinity in her life. Under the cover of darkness, around the time of the new moon, they where said to have suck up upon Coraline while she was coming back from fetching water. With murder in there eyes they picked up three large branch's and with the speed of greased lighting they struck her, once in the head, once in the chest and once in the legs.
And like a sack of rocks she dropped to the ground. They say they hide the body in one of the rocky caves that dot the 'Bad Lands'. And that the voice you hear at night is her calling out for help and justice.
This piece of fiction was written to honor the memory of all those Roleplayed on the Harvest Moon RP board called Maples Landing. I wish I had stuck with you guys and gone down with the ship. Best of luck where ever you guys are.