"Please," Carrie pinched the bridge of her nose, as if thinking that would stop the smell of blood from flooding her sense. "Please, tell me he's OK. Tell me we didn't fuck this one up, guys."
"He's fine. Well, for the most part," Mark scratched the back of his head and looked at Lewis for advice. All he got was his back. "The important part is he's still breathing. And we can get him to the infirmary before anyone else notices. Oh, and before he dies from blood lost."
Carrie groaned, eyeing the red stains on the boys' bright yellow t-shirts. That was going to take a lot of bleach to remove, or they could use one of the bonfires to burn them. They could probably throw the kid in one of them, too, if they had the time. "We got a kid bleeding with just a week before fall comes in. You know how many people send their kids here for the fall." She narrowed her eyes at the pair. "Make sure this doesn't happen again. Have the kid in the infirmary in twenty and let Maggie take care of the rest." She turned away and headed for the girls' cabin, her boots squishing through the mud that surrounded the lake. "And make sure you guys wash your shirts or get new ones before inspection."
"Yeah," Lewis laughed, golden curls bouncing with his bobbing head. "We don't wanna end up like Jake, right Marky?" He wiggled his fingers at the brunette like a little kid. "All it took was one drop of blood, and-"
"Less talking, more moving." Called out Carrie, her petite figure retreating through the darkness.
"Christ," Mark shook his head at her as he went around the body lying halfway through the lake. He took another look at the boy, watching his chest rise and fall. If he and Lewis were a second too late, they would have lost a camper. Again. And they could only file so many missing reports every season. "C'mon, man. Help me pick him up. His clothes are still wet." He said, his own shirt and khakis sticking to his body from the water. He was the one who noticed the disturbance in the water and he had to dive in himself to save the boy. Not only did he risk his own neck, but he could have lost his khakis. He liked those khakis. As the pair lugged the boy through the darkness, Mark gave him another once over. "What was he doing in the lake this late anyway?"
"Night swimming, man." Mark looked at Lewis incredulously. The guy was stoned nearly half the time he was here yet these were the words that caught him off guard. "You never heard of night swimming?"
"I've heard of it but I didn't think a kid would be this stupid to do it."
Lewis laughed. "Well, I might have said something about some of the girls skinny dipping to celebrate the last week of camp."
"Dude," Mark frowned, pointing out the gash marks along the camper's arms and torso. "We almost lost a kid."
"Hey, how was I suppose to know it was going to be out in the lake? It never shows up during the last few weeks of camp." Lewis rolled his eyes, as if he were being scolded for not taking out the trash when he was told. "It was just a prank, man. The kid's fine anyway. Well, he will be once we get him to the infirmary. C'mon."
As they headed for the infirmary, Mark was starting to wonder if the sweet pay and benefits of Camp Green Hill was really worth this. Carrie had recommended him to the camp head counselor and he was told he had promised. He looked loyal, trust-worthy, and knew when to look away when he was told to. He looked down at the camper in his arms one last time and swallowed. He had a feeling if he said anything, he'd be the next one in the lake with it.
"Toby. Tell Carter to help me with this window, will you?"
"'Kay, mom." Pushing his crayons and coloring books aside, Toby slid off his seat and headed for his brother's room, almost tripping over his feet as the caravan ran through a dip on the road ("Sorry!" his father shouted from the front). The little boy managed to get to the back and open the door without tripping again. "Cart'?" He asked as he poked his head in, only to be blinded by the flash of a camera. "Hey!" He shouted, rubbing at his eyes to clear the black spots.
"Hey, yourself." Carter placed his Polaroid on his lap, grinning sheepishly. "Sorry, I was in the zone." The picture slowly slid out and Carter waved it around to see the image. "Good picture, though." He handed the photo to Toby. "What's up?" He asked.
"Mom needs help with the windows." Toby made a face. "More flies."
"Damnit, it's always the flies." Carter stood and stretched his hands over his head, his fingertips brushing against the ceiling. He was glad he wasn't tall enough for his head to touch it, at least. "Alright, I'm coming. Wanna keep that?" He asked, pointing at the photo.
"Nah, it looks lame." Carter rolled his eyes. Why was 'lame' the universal language for nine-year-olds these days? It felt so dated. Better than Toby swearing, he guessed. "Are you even gonna get to take pictures at camp?" Asked his little brother as they made their way out of Carter's closet of a room. "Mom said they expect you to go outside and not use your cellphone unless for emergencies." Toby frowned. "That sounds so boring."
"It does, when you're a kid glued to his Ipad," Said Carter as he knelt under the kitchen table and swiped the window cleaner and another roll of paper towels from under it. "Camping's for kids from the before time, back when anything from PlayStation was the best thing ever." Carter was into that, too, but then his grandpa showed him his albums full of photos when he was a photographer traveling abroad. It was only a matter of time before Carter was taking pictures himself and loving it ever since. "Besides, I'm still going to take pictures. I won't need wi-fi to take my photos. I'll get to be outside and get even better shots than I would while on the road. You get it?"
"Mnn," Toby was barely paying attention, walking away from the conversation to return to coloring. Carter sighed. He loved his brother but his attention span sometimes astounded him.
"Coming, mom!" Carter jogged over, pushing away the strings of beads that made up the door to the driver's a passenger's seats of the house on wheels. "Windows?" He asked.
"Windows," Sighing, his mother kissed his father's cheek before she got up and showed her son the windows in question. Carter blenched. It was like someone spilled a bag sesame seeds with mucus on it. "And we cleaned them at the last rest stop, too." She pouted at her son. "Could you-"
"Say no more, mom." He threw a mock salute, brandishing the roll of paper towels and window cleaner like a shield and sword. "I got this."
"My hero," She giggled as Carter walked over and flipped the window open, using the latch to keep it slanted and to bring the dirty plane into the caravan. "You made sure you packed everything for camp, right?"
"Always do, mom," Said Carter, trying not to barf. The heat and high velocity was not kind to these bugs. "Clothes, tooth paste, bear mace. I got everything."
"Hey, hey, no hurting the bears." Said his mother. "When your dad and I were hiking it across Colorado-"
"You got lost while pregnant with Toby and followed a bear that had suddenly been passing by. That bear led you back to your commune and you and dad swear that bears have been watching over us ever since." Carter had heard he story plenty of times. It was the reason why Toby had so many stuffed animal back home and why Carter was told to not mess with nature the times before he went to camp. It was still a little strange to him, considering on the numerous times he heard this story, his parents were lost either in Montana or Yellow Stone or it was he who his mother was pregnant with. But since his parents were in a commune with other hippies when they were younger. Some drugs must had contribute to the alterations of the story.
"It's true. And we've respected nature ever since and taught you, Toby, and Art the same." Said his mother, her vibes with mother nature brimming. Having three kids didn't stop his parents from living on with the psychedelic life style. That would explain their tricked out, colorful caravan, the smell of incense, the oldies music playing from the car radio, and the large beaded necklaces and long hair his parents still wore. They toned it down, but the way of the hippie still followed through their veins. "Speaking of which, make sure you call Art once you settle in, alright?"
"I thought they didn't allow cell phones at camp?" Asked Carter.
"This one lets you use your cell phone in some places," Said his mom as she bundled up the bead curtain.
Carter frowned. "Then that's where everyone else is going to be." He shook his head. "Is it really a camp if everyone's going to be on their phones?"
"It is a camp, sweetie. Art said so, he's passed by it so many times and said it look like a place you'd be into." She said as she looked at him. "Just trust your brother and give the place a chance, OK? Unless you want to come on the trip with us?"
"No thanks. I wanna go to camp, mom. Really." Though it might have been harsh to say that so quickly, Carter meant what he said. Every year, his parents would get together with their old commune friends and drive around the country, attending festivals and events that were riddled with marijuana smoke and being stuck in the caravan with a ton of other people. Toby liked it because he would get to hang out with kids his own age but Carter thought his yearly visit to camp couldn't come even faster. Even if it was at a camp he had never been to.
"Carter, come take a photo of this! It's amazing!"
The brunette washed away the last gathering of dead flies before he closed the window. Time for his escape. He grinned at his mom, promising her they'd talk more about this later, and ran to his room to grab his Polaroid. He ran back to the front of the caravan and readied his camera. Through the lenses, he could see the road leading up to the camp grounds of Green Hill, a glimmering lake behind it with rocky mountains littering right behind it.
"Looks amazing, isn't it?" Asked his father as he joined the herd of cars heading straight for the camp. "Art said it's one of those new fancy camps with the comfort of home. Boy, crazy we managed to find this nice little place smacked in the middle of no where, huh?"
This in no way was the little of nowhere. The cabins looked more like houses. Power lines could be seen over the tree tops. Signs that bared sponsors for energy drinks and vacation homes off the coast of Maryland were plastered everywhere. This place wasn't a camp. It looked more like a vacation getaway in the year 3021. Carter wondered if it was too late to join the commune vacation.
AN: Hey guys! Thanks or checking this new story out! It's the first one I'll be posting to this site so I will be focusing my time on it before I start writing other stories. There will be more chapters to come and more chapters that will dive straight into the mysteries of Camp Green Hill and plenty of romance for the protag Carter. Thanks again for reading and I hope you enjoyed the prologue!