Resting his head against the window, Casper observed the various cloud formations beneath them come and go, illuminated by the rays of light from the rising sun. The cabin itself was dark, with a few lights across the floor guiding the way up-and-down the aisle. Journeying through the night from his home state of Ohio to make the Californian airport in time for the even longer bus trip to the camp itself, he was already beginning to feel the heavy strain of tired eyes.
Casper had never been able to sleep while travelling. The cramped nature of travel, the hum of engines, fellow travellers being obnoxiously loud. No, what he needed was a soft bed with two or three pillows, and relative quiet. Turning his attention from the never-ending sky to the dimly-lit screen within the back of the chair in front of him, he idly switched through the various menus. Music, films, and unfortunately for him a live tracking map of the plane which proudly announced there was 2 hours of the flight left. Groaning quietly in displeasure, he couldn’t help but think about the five hour bus trip that awaited him after he made it through this part of the journey. Not to mention all of the time spent in between each trip sorting out luggage and waiting around for apparently no good reason. It looked to be a fun day.
Managing to pass the time by watching one of the recently released romcoms available on the entertainment system in front of him (for all he hated planes, casper had to admit they had a surprisingly good selection of movies), hearing the voice of the pilot announce the plane was coming in to land filled Casper with a beautiful, albeit temporary, spurt of energy. Soon, he thought. All he had to do was get through the airport, and survive the bus journey. Then, not only would he be free to sleep, preferably for an entire day he felt like, but to be reunited with Alex. The pair had attended previous summer camps together, and in fact met at a summer camp, and so the process of attending camps during the summer holidays had become something of a welcome tradition between the two. Despite the fact Casper hated the activities that generally went along with such camps. Physical activity, no. Bugs, no. Rough beds, no. But to see Alex at a camp one last time? Well, that made it worth it. The next year Casper was headed for an east-coast university and would be beyond the age for attending these camps, and the two had vowed to make the last one an event to remember.
Being rudely taken away from his thoughts at the bump of the aircraft against the hard tarmac, Casper gathered his things together and reached for his backpack in the overhead luggage with a much-needed stretch. After the mass of people apparently fighting to get out of the plane first, he couldn’t blame them, had died down he ambled down the aisle. Giving a polite smile of thanks to the cabin crew seeing the passengers off, he continued on to make his way through the airport. It was surprisingly busy for being so early in the morning. But then again, were airports ever quiet?
Having waited to be at the back of the horde of passengers, Casper was faced with the consequence of lingering around at luggage collection, the seats having already been snatched up. Maybe they were right to get off of the plane after all. Thankfully, it didn’t take too long for Casper to spot his bag of luggage. To this day, he was yet to see another bag of dark blue with white clouds, in a much similar fashion to the wallpaper of Andy’s room in Toy Story. Perhaps one day. Just seeing the bag brought back the memories of his struggle to pack it, the same struggle he has endured for several summers in a row. He’d never gotten much better at packing, although to his credit he no longer just resorted to bringing more than one bag. More than anything having more than one bag just made more of a hassle out of repacking at the end of the camp, when it always seemed as though either his bags had shrunk or the things he had brought with him had gotten bigger, because they would just not fit.
Collecting his luggage, Casper made a beeline for the nearest area he could find to purchase a cup of coffee. Then, armed with the finest caffeinated beverage the Californian airport had to offer, he headed for the airport’s exit. The camp had provided instruction for finding the bus, it was to be found in some parking bay or other. He couldn’t quite remember the exact bay, bar the letter ‘C’, but the instructions said it wouldn’t be hard to miss.
Finally escaping the maze that was Sacramento airport, or what seemed like a maze to his tired mind at any rate, the humid heat of the Californian morning hit him instantly. It did little to help his already drowsy state. Lugging his bag along behind him, with his suitcase straps slung over both shoulders, Casper took a sip of the already dwindling coffee and followed the large signs directing travellers to the parking bays. It didn’t take him long to spot the bright yellow bus, with the designation of ‘ACES HIGH’ sprawled in large print across the sides. Bingo. It didn’t look like the bus of luxury he was secretly hoping for, but it’d do. Making his way to the bus, which had its glass doors closed, Casper stood awkwardly outside for a moment in the hopes that his waves would catch the driver's attention. When it did not, he tapped on the glass and failed to hide the slight jump he got at the immediate hiss of the doors as they opened.“Hi, I’m Casper. I think this- oh, it’s Casper Fawn, actually, sorry. If you need the full name…”
trailing off momentarily, he continued on to ask, “Is the bus for the camp?”
Looking toward him blankly as the young boy made himself heard from the bottom of the steps at the doors of the bus, the driver looked down to a clipboard and checked off a name.“This is the one. Go ahead and sling your luggage in the back, kid. Won’t be too long ‘till everybody’s here and head on up to the camp. Few hours or so.”
Returning a nod to the driver, Casper carefully lay his luggage down in the compartment of the bus. Judging from the space available, he was one of the first to arrive at the bus. Indeed, clambering his way up the two steps of the bus with his backpack now slung over his shoulder, there were plenty seats left. Opting to not force himself to be social while so tired, he took a seat at the back with nobody else around. He could make friends later, right now, he was just trying to survive the exhaustion. Relaxing in the surprisingly comfortable seat, Casper gave his eyes a rest after putting in his earphones and shoving on a shuffle of some music.
Others came shuffling in soon enough, as the driver had promised, but Casper kept his eyes down and thankfully managed to have the seat beside him remain empty. Though, thinking on it, he questioned whether or not this was actually a good thing. Well, he’d worry about it later at any rate, for now he had managed to escape having to be social which was certainly good for the short-term. He was far too tired for small-talk.
The journey itself seemed to pass relatively quickly as Casper listened to the music, and soon enough the bus had reached the campers home for the next few weeks. Aces High. By this point, Casper would have quite happily accepted warm and sharp chips of gravel as a bed if it meant he could actually lie down, and go to sleep. In fact - he’d accept being knocked out by an old ‘enemy’ from a previous summer camp if it would allow his body to rest. He could hope he didn’t look too much of a grump to the rest of the campers who were assembling outside of the bus, and undoubtedly looking around to get a view of their fellows for the summer.
Lining up to receive his envelope with his assignment, Casper managed to offer a polite smile and quiet thanks to the camp director before continuing on his way. Jack of Clubs. He couldn’t help but wonder where Alex had been assigned. Certainly, regardless of how desperately exhausted he was, the first order of business after settling into his room was scoping out the camp to see whereabouts she was hiding. He knew she was already here, for in typical Alex fashion she had decided not to endure a bus ride with strangers for several hours. He couldn’t say he blamed her, even if it would have provided a good opportunity to catch up at the very least.
Casper found building which housed his room after only a little searching, the camp was laid out well to its credit, and made his way down the corridor with luggage in tow. Gently nudging the already slightly ajar door open with his shoulder, Casper was greeted by who he could only assume was to be his roommate for the summer.“Oh, hey.”
The zipper strained in protest as Silas tugged at tiny piece of metal. After just a smidge more force, the overstuffed suitcase popped open, nearly sending the zipper flying across the room. The amount of clothes that spilled out was astronomical. What was even more unfathomable, was that all of this clothing belonged to a male. A straight male, no less. And, of that fact, Silas had no shame. The charismatic young male took pride in looking fly, day in and day out.
A locker-like closet stood beside his chosen bunk. There was a deep, wide drawer along the bottom, and two tall doors above it that opened like a cabinet. Inside the closet were a few metal, slightly rusted, hangers resting on an equally tarnished rod. It wasn’t glamorous, and there definitely weren’t enough hangers for all of his clothes, but he could certainly hang those most prone to wrinkles up.
Silas was in the process of folding up a pair of jeans and placing it in the drawer when the cabin’s front door opened wider with a telltale squeak. In the doorway stood a shockingly small boy with sandy blond hair, who greeted him. Silas flashed a chiclet grin in response.“Sup, roomie! I’m Silo.”
The younger teen put down the denim and stepped around the bed to go shake the older one’s hand. Proper, just like his momma raised him to be.
Reaching out to meet the boy’s hand in a rather awkward manner, trying not to have his backpack slide off of his arm while edging into the room with his luggage behind him, Casper was at least happy to know the boy seemed friendly. Until now, he always seemed to draw the short straw when it came down to roommates each summer, being placed with those he knew he wasn’t going to get along with.“Casper,”
he replied, with a polite smile shortly following his introduction, “Nice to meet you.”
Chucking his backpack onto the only free bed after shaking the boy’s hand, Casper hauled his bag of luggage from the doorway, lifting it onto the bed. Before setting about unpacking his things, however, Casper instead turned his attention back to his new roommate. He was aware his introduction had been rather unintentionally terse, a result of his long journey without rest. Though, where he had avoided making small-talk until now, if there was one person it was worth pushing through his weariness for, it was the person he would be sharing a room with for the summer.“So, uh, have you been to a summer camp before?”“Kinda. I did a sleepover camp last summer for football. But… uh… the whole paying lots of money to stay in the mountains with the bears and very limited electricity thing is new. It was mom’s idea, so it’ll prolly be great. Just a lil… rural, ya know?”
Silas went back to organizing his things, he could fold and talk at the same time. Multitaskin’ ain’t nothing but a thing. “What about you?”
Similarly turning his attention to sorting out his own luggage as Silas spoke of his past experience, Casper tittered at the thought of paying substantial sums of money to get away from luxury. “I’ve been having rural summers for a few years now.”
he said while unzipping his luggage, and laying out several items of clothing on the bed. “Never wanted to come the first time, seemed kinda’ weird to spend a summer away from everybody you know back home, but I ended up liking it. Even though I hate bugs, and lots of exercise, and pretty much everything that happens in summer camp.”
Opening the closet beside his bed, Casper examined the challenge that lay before him. There was no way he was going to be able to hang up everything he wanted, which meant clothes were going to get creased, and fast. “...and I forgot how much I hated never having enough space for everything.”
Offering a slight shrug toward Silo as he turned around to fetch his clothes from the bed and begin hanging some of them up, he continued, “It’s always good, though! Dunno what it is about summer camps, can’t explain exactly why they’re good, but they are.”
An audible yawn escaped his lips as he retrieved the first item of clothing from the bed. “I can’t believe how tired I am. That bus trip took it outta’ me. Whereabouts have you come up from?”
Silas chuckled when Casper mentioned not having enough space. “Yo, I feel you there. These closets are dismal.”
Satisfied with his progress so far, Silo plopped his rear down on the creaky mattress. Tucking his left leg under his right knee, he turned his attention to Casper as he continued chatting. “Aside from the bugs, your description of camp sounds right up my alley. I’m looking forward to it. Though, I’m pretty worn out myself, came from the opposite side of the country. Florida. Orlando city boy, born and raised. And you? I’m guessing someplace not so sunny.”
That boy’s skin was extra white, and not enough freckles to assume coastal living.“Oh, Florida! That’s cool. You’ve had an even longer journey than me then, hah. I’m from Ohio, not so sunny.”
Folding a pair of jeans neatly to place at the bottom of the locker, not having the space to hang them up, he turned to Silo to ask the first question that came to his mind not long after, “I’ve never actually been to Florida. But, like. You must live so close to Disneyland. Have you been? It’s honestly probably the place I want to go to the most right now. Maybe next summer when I don’t have camp to I’ll get there, actually!”
Disneyworld, of course that was what the boy thought of. Florida - Orlando in particular - was home to three brands of people: tourists, elderly, and the poor. Silas belonged to the third group, but that was neither here nor there, and Casper certainly didn’t need to know that. He had, in fact, finally made it to Disneyworld for his 14th birthday. Honestly, it wasn’t all that it was cracked up to be, or maybe Silo was just jaded by having lived so close to it for all his life. “It’s world, by the way. Disneyland is here in Cali. And y-”
Silas was about to answer him more fully when the front door opened yet again.
In walked a male
that Silas recognized as one of the counselors from outside. He was dressed head to toe in black, with the exception of the white shirt that bore a black clubs symbol underneath his… was he wearing a jacket? Yes, a leather jacket, right here in the Californian summer heat. Was he nuts? Silas had to admit, he was impressed by the counselor’s dedication to his style. It wasn’t a look that Silo would ever sport, but it was… a look
. “Hey, I’m Jar.”
The older emo said in greeting, intentionally leaving the front door open behind him for Isabel. He knew both of the campers’ names that were in his cabin, but not yet their faces. Taking a stab at it, he guessed, “You must be Casper? … and, Silas?”
Once the boys nodded in agreement, Jareth spoke again. “Great, well, in a matter of seconds you’ll meet your other counselor, Izzy. She’ll probably do most of the talking, her and her sister are pretty good at that, not as much as Kylie, though. Dude, save your ears around that one by seeking alternate shelter.”
Soon enough, Isabel
, one half of the Espinoza fraternal twins, came in with a clipboard in hand, wearing her camo print sweats she’s had for years, her white camp tee that was tugged to one side, pulled tight, and tied in a knot to showcase some of her flat, muscular stomach, and black combat boots. The heat was nothing to her, which is why she didn’t really ‘dress up’ like some of her girlfriends. This was fucking camp - she was going to be comfortable.
The latina, who adores ice skating but did not pursue it as a career, because she would rather live in a small suburban home in LA, making constant visits to rural Alaska, with the love of her life than spend every waking hour being a professional figure skater, was not a woman to be underestimated. She chose a life where she felt most at home, not a life where she had to put fourteen hours a week of ice time, two lessons a week with the choreographer, two lessons a week with the spin coach, two days of off-ice classes, three days of ballet, and any spare time left video analysing her jump positions…
Home was where her Wolfe was.
Not because she couldn’t take care of herself. Not because she needed him. Not because he ‘changed’ what she thought she’d do for the rest of her life, because if there was anyone who stuck to their guns, it was this 4’8” (her height might be the most prominent feature on her) young adult nicknamed ‘Izzy’. He made her happy and happiness was really all that mattered in life - so she would build a future with him, using all her other skills. Yeah, as much as Isabel loved ice skating and did it most of her life, she knew she was more than just an athlete. She was a strong, independent, confident, and intellectual woman. There was more going for her than her childhood hobby. If one absolutely needed to know what they were doing, currently, both Wolfe and Izzy were in the process of starting their own business. A dog orphanage. “I do not talk a lot. I talk enough.”
The tiny brunette immediately showed her colors of being a fiery counselor, not afraid to voice her opinion. Looking up from her clipboard, her dark void of eyes, unsympathetically scanning the campers’ faces, Izzy checked off their names on the list, but kept her attention on them, “Jayce and Remy-boy will be getting the rest of the lot.”
she informed her roomie, and partner-in-crime, for the whole summer. Unfortunately, Isabel was a woman with a resting bitch face, so even if she generally did care about the kids she was responsible for, for ten weeks, she did not look like she would react well if they made messes she had to clean up.
Motivation speech time… Isabel contemplated her next words, but decided to throw the emo-boy the torch to start them off, “Before you can explore the campgrounds, since today is more of a day to relax and meet people, tomorrow being the ‘official’ first day of camp, my boy, Jareth here, has a few things to say.”
With her elbow, she nudged the darkly clad counselor and gave a pleasant smile - obviously having full intention of putting the spotlight on him. “I do?”
Jareth looked over at the she-devil with any eyebrow cocked. He didn’t.
And neither did she, if she had so quickly thrown him under the bus. Did he look like the kind of guy that was good with inspirational speeches and rules? Hell no, quite the opposite. Honestly, he only agreed to this whole 10 weeks in the wilds thing because Remy had gotten wrapped up in it… and Jareth wasn’t about to spend a summer celibate before he went on the first tour with his band in the fall. There was that, and love, oh the things we do for love…“Right, well, uhhh.”
Jar stammered, trying to recall any of the things that Ash had prepped them with the past two weeks, his mind completely drawing a blank. Oh well, time to improvise, Jar-style. “This is the Jack of Clubs cabin, welcome. It’s the dankest of all the cabins because one, black is the best color, and two, you have the raddest group of counselors. Seriously, Troy could kill a man with his bare hands, and that's both terrifying and awesome, and definitely the kind of person that you want on your team for competitive shit - which there will be, so I hope you’re good at sports, because I like to win. You look like you are,”
Jar said, gesturing at Silas with his finger.“You know it, man.”“Great! What else is important… uhh.”
He looked up with sudden recollection in his crystal blue eyes. “Ah! Breakfast is at 7:30AM sharp, so be up early enough to eat, or you won’t until lunch, which is at 11:30 everyday. Meal times are always scheduled, and the kitchen doesn’t stay open all day, so don’t starve yourself by sleeping in. And… if you get hurt, we got a nurse that stays in the same place as Ash. Main office. That being said, try not to die. No swimming alone or without a counselor around, because that’s one way to die and, like I just said, we don’t want that.”
Jareth looked over to Isabel now and smirked smugly. “That’s about all I got, you’re up, Partner”
Naturally, Isabel was prepared, even if she bought herself some time using Jareth, because she knew it would be hilarious
. Knowing Jareth had fast reflexes, she tossed the clipboard for him to catch, then she approached the two campers. Just her and her tiny self. “He ain’t lying when he says we’re competitive. The only two that aren’t as… fit here, I suppose, are counselors, Jude and Remy. The rest of us, though? Yeah, we want to kick ass. Our biggest competition being the Hearts, because they have both Connor and Ender. Those two together, are a 12 man football team. The Sports Tourney and the Obstacle Course, watch, we’re going to rock it. Even if it means waking up 5 in the morning and going for a run.”
Okay, she wasn’t really motivating them… Izzy was more showing her threatening competitive side.
Changing the subject, she smiled up at them, batting her eyes innocently, but really, this bitch gave off vicious vibes, “If you do anything stupid, don’t get it on our radar or worse, don’t let the director catch you. I honestly don’t care how you want to have fun, so long as you don’t fuck up our chances on winning the big competitions. Oh, and to emphasize Jareth’s point, don’t die. We can be friends, I’m nice when I want to be, but you’re also a liability. Work with us, and we’ll work with you. Get it? Got it? Good.”
Looking at the time, Isabel sighed, “Kay, do what you want. Report here at 8 PM so we can go to the Pit together. Mess Hall will be open all day today. Here.”
She gave the two campers names tags, which also had emergency contact information behind them. It was just the main lines on the camp grounds, as well as the Clubs’ counselors cell numbers, even if service sucked and they’d have to find a good service area (chances were slim to none). “I forgot something at the main office, if you have anymore questions, Jareth can help you. Don’t stray too far away and check in throughout the day with any of the Club counselors, even better if you find me or Jareth. We have walkies since service here is god awful.”
And with that, Izzy turned on her heel and exited the room. “Nice meeting you two.”
Once Isabel was out of sight and - more importantly - earshot, Jareth shrugged. “She’s something, right? Kinda prickly, but if you get either Julie or Wolfe on your side, she softens up a bit.”
Jar ran a hand through his shaggy ebony locks, shaking his head to get the fringe out of his eyes. “So… do you actually have any questions?”
Casper wasn’t quite sure to make of what he had just listened to, spending most of the time in which they were speaking trying to figure out what it meant to be in the ‘dankest cabin’ instead of properly listening to what they had to say. He decided in the end it was probably a good thing. His attention was quickly drawn from unfamiliar vocabulary, however, when he heard talk of competitions. He’d had plenty of that already, or rather, he’d already spent most of his time during previous summer camps trying to avoid competition. 7:30am for breakfast, not good. Potentially being woken up at 5am to go on a run, not good. Having counselors determined to win a sports tourney and obstacle course, not good. No, this was not good at all.
Clearing his throat gently, and feeling a bit more confident now that the, in his mind, more aggressive counselor of the two had left, he asked, “...what if we don’t like competitions?”
Pausing for a moment, he added on to his question, “..or getting up early in the morning..”