By Kevin Shea
Kat settled a little, but was then smacked with the urge to vomit. She stumbled past her husband nearly fell off the dock, but slapped onto the wet dirt and grass instead.
“Honey?!” Chris rushed over to her curled body.
The world spun. The waves crashed below and then above. A birch tree twisted into a distorted, dancing skeleton, then melted into the black sky forming a murky grey. Incoherent shouts called from around her. A sharp poke dug into her side and she rolled drunkenly away from the pain. she groaned, but heard nothing more than the incessant gargles and screeches of the grey. She had never seen a body before, especially not a child’s body.
Suddenly, the tidal wave of stars and branches calmed down and replaced the grey. Chris stood over her. His eyes examined her face nervously.
“Let me take you back to bed, dear.”
“This situation is only going to get worse. You need me.” She struggled to speak. Air gradually returned to her panting lungs. He nodded lethargically and let out a sigh.
“How long ‘till the police get here?”
“Too long. Maybe 30 minutes, maybe an hour; it’s one of the problems of living so far from anything.” His gaze was stuck on the road far behind her.
“Should we wake the kids?” The dark cabins scared her. Were they safe? Maybe another lifeless body lay cold and silent among the bunks of snoring children.
“Yes, but none of the kids should know what’s really going on, and if they ask where…” His gaze shifted back to the moonlit dock. “Well, we’ll say she’s sick and went home.”
The small cabin facing the dock stared back at Katherine. Its dark, empty eyes and its long vertical mouth looked menacingly at her. It sat in silence, absorbing the scene before it: A husband and wife tantalizingly close to Polliwog dock. Three young counselors sucked in by the extra-large buoy bumping into the legs of the dock with every push of a wave. A picnic table covered in pine needles kept the teenagers from getting to close. If only Katherine could know what the cabin had seen earlier.
“Alright, let’s get the kids.”
The teenagers gazed at Katherine. Eyebrows raised. Lips trembling. Some shifted where they stood like they needed to pee. Others shook like they were in the cold. Their eyes all read the same. Fear. Wide, bulging eyes. The eyes of kids who still hadn’t seen what the world held, what their parents hid from them. Somewhere, though, were two eyes that saw things differently. In a way that Katherine, nor many other people, could understand. But she did know they were thirsty.
Katherine strode over to the three teenagers and wrapped her arms around them. The tears, which she and everyone else had been holding back, poured onto their cheeks and soaked their shirts and pajamas. A symphony of hollers, cries, sobs, grunts, and wheezes emanated from the small group.
Yesterday, Katherine had watched Eloise dash from base to base in an intense game of kickball on the athletic field. A grin stretched across her face. Her wide innocent eyes had absorbed every action on the field. But then she had lost focus. Perhaps one of her friends had distracted her, or perhaps a bird – she adored the outdoors.
The kickball ball knocked her into the dirt. A crowd of worried children rushed over and circled around her. There were no cuts or bruises, only mud stains. But she after she got up, she acted like a wounded animal. She played less and spoke less. Her wide eyes stared past the trees, far into the distance like in a dream. The worry lines on her forehead, however, indicated this was less a dream, and more a nightmare.
The front door of one of the cabins slammed shut. The children shuffled to the lodge.
Slowly, children plodded along the gravel path, and headed towards the winding steps that led to the lodge. One child with yellow Pokémon pajamas, dozed off and nearly bumped into a large oak tree. His counselor, Jason, a tall, thin 17-year-old from New Jersey, grabbed by the scruff of his collar and swung him back in line. The child’s eyes burst open, darting from side to side, looking for danger. In less than a minute the same child walked into the tetherball pole. The conga-line technique was soon put into effect.
The mass crunching of gravel echoed throughout the camp. Katherine wondered whether Danny could hear the marching from where he was. She didn’t want to believe he could do such a thing, but why else would he run off?
A burst of shouting and screaming broke her train of thought, and she turned to face the where it came from, cabin 6. Katherine huffed and slumped her shoulders. Eloise lived in cabin 6 was. Katherine took off past the train of children trudging forward, all of whom were oblivious as to why they were being woken during their precious sleep. She hoped cabin 6 was just as unaware of the death of their friend.
Kevin Shea is an editor and contributor for The Apollos, read his full bio here!