Flashlight (Part One)


     I don’t know why I was stuck with six idiots (five idiots and one normal human being, to be exact) in some stupid camp. I mean, the school seemed to force us to enter this graduation camp thing. I never liked this kind of camps anyway. I’d rather be staying home playing computer games, chatting on the telephone, watching soaps or whatnot. Sigh – adults just don’t seem to understand kids.
     We went here yesterday, traveling by bus. Once we got here I noticed a stink going on there. My inconsiderate classmates said I must have been ‘smelling things’. They are probably the most annoying kids in the world. Funny I’ve got to share the classroom with them.
     Once we reached the camp, we headed to the hall. Hall! Hah! What a joke. It didn’t have projectors, computers, air conditioners or even ceiling fans. I suspect there weren’t even windows inside. How very lucky I am to be in this kind of place. I could boil an egg without 200 – nah, any – mobile phones at all.
     Then some counselor came onto the so-called stage and lectured for hours about rules and regulations and the like. What a big waste of time. It’s not like we’re gonna get a screw loose without the bothersome rules. I mean, what’s the problem of a little lack of discipline? (And in case you need your brain tested, the answer is NO.)
     After some physical activities and lots and lots of sweating (about a gallon per hour at least), we finally got round to having dinner. The dinner was irritating, with nothing but spinach, spinach and more spinach on the table, with the occasional exception of, of course, broccoli, broccoli and, well you get the idea. And we were expected to finish up the meal or there would be no supper. A very meaningless scheme, if you ask me. I could hardly fill up my bowl without vomiting half of the previous one first.
     Then we got more lectures at the hall, this time by Miss Chatterbox (that’s our nickname for Miss Chung, cause she’s always talking non-stop) about that topic we all damn know enough of – the graduation ceremony. Booooooring. And we could have booed her had she not been so mean. She’s almost like a monster to us, ready to chomp us at will. She’s always so bad.
     Guess what, then came the best part – going to our rooms and locking ourselves in for the night. On the way to our cabin, I saw some curious lights flashing in the mountains. I didn’t care. Who would be nosy enough to seek for the source of the light anyway?
     Oliver, the key-holder, opened the door. As we walked into the room, Oliver asked, ‘did anyone see that strange light outside?’ Man, I guess that answers my question.
     ‘I did,’ said Tom, entering. Whoa. So there are TWO people interested. Those two must be quite interesting to scientific study. Perhaps they could develop a cure for nosiness?
     ‘So did I,’ said a boy about my height, whom I didn’t know. He was unpacking on his bed.
     ‘Me too,’ said Julian, who was about to enter the bathroom. Kevin echoed him.
     ‘Do you know that Julian is in love with Kris?’ the boy changed the topic.
     ‘Bosh,’ said Kevin ‘Jive,’ said Oliver at the same time.
     ‘Poppycock,’ said Julian after blushing as he went into the bathroom.
     ‘So he is,’ the boy whispered into my ear. ‘Shut up, nutter,’ I snapped. ‘I don’t even know you.’
     ‘My name is Jamie,’ he stated.
     ‘A boy named Jamie?’ I asked, resisting a giggle.
     ‘In case you didn’t know,’ said Jamie with a British accent. ‘Jamie is a unisex name. And “unisex” means “neutral”.’
     What a show off. Still, that was enough to shut me up. The room went silent, but somebody was at the door. Oliver, the key-holder, opened the door for him. It was Danny. He was rather short, and always spoke softly. It’s hardly believable that he is always the head of the class.
     ‘Did you see the strange light flashing scarily in the mountains?’ Oliver asked Danny as if he was talking to a child, closing the door at the same time.
     ‘Yes,’ Danny replied. ‘It’s terrible, but at least it didn’t hurt my eyes.’
     ‘So everyone in the room has seen the light,’ said Oliver.
     Everyone but Charlie,’ Jamie corrected.
     Everybody stared at me. I tried to state in my most businesslike matter, ‘I have no interest whatsoever in this particular thing, err, issue.’ But they knew I was pretending.
     ‘Come on, Charlie,’ said Oliver. ‘We all know you saw it. Don’t try to avoid us,’ he said. ‘Yeah,’ Jamie agreed as Julian came out of the bathroom; ‘strange lights can’t kill.’
     I disobeyed. While everybody talked on and on about the topic, Danny and I escaped to the bathrooms with our clothing.
     I threw off all my clothes and stepped into the shower. Ah, that feels nice. I felt the cold water pressing against my soft skin. ‘If anything is good in this camp, the shower is,’ I found myself saying without an audience. Then the thought stuck me. I was too busy thinking of escaping the Interpersonal Strange Light Conference 2010, I had forgotten to bring in my towel!
     ‘COULD ANYONE BRING IN MY TOWEL???’ I cried at the top of my lungs. But their conference was starting to evolve into heated arguments and wild ideas were pouring out of their minds every second. I heard Danny’s soft voices trying to cry out something similar. I tried it again and again, but received no reply. Desperate, I dried myself with the dirty T-shirt and came out, still a bit wet and in the nude.
     When I was sighted, everyone broke into fits of laughter. I didn’t take any time. I grabbed the towel by a corner and ran straight inside the toilet. It’s awful. How I wished I were at home.
     I quickly dried myself with the towel, climbed into the pajamas and rushed outside. Danny was still inside the toilet, trying to attract attention. I could now hear that he forgot his pants. I went to his bed on the top bunk, and took his pants. I expected Oliver to say, ‘Breaking into other people’s stuff without their permission? That’s very naughty!’ since ‘That’s very naughty’ and ‘That’s not right’ were his pet phrases. But he didn’t. I grabbed his pants as I did to his towel, climbed down the ladder, and rushed in front of the door.
     ‘Open up! Pants delivery service!’ I shouted. Danny opened, still in his underpants. ‘Oh! My pants! You’re the only one who understands me, Charles,’ he said in his soft voice.
     ‘Always glad to help, dude!’ I replied with a smile.
     He smiled back. We both checked our watches. ‘Nine thirty,’ I reported. Danny nodded. He reset his watch.
     The conference was in full swing. I heard Jamie shouting insults at Kevin when their opinions differed. Kevin turned away, looking like an owl listening to a fox.
     The club members Oliver and Jamie were more talkative than Tom, Kevin and Julian, but all of them talked, and it was so noisy that everyone had to shout. Oliver didn’t even bother to bath.
     ‘Nine forty-five!’ I screamed after a while. The lights-out time was ten, so I was more than worried. I was mad. Everyone was nutty as fruitcakes, except for two persons – Danny and me. ‘What about a quick pillow fight before bedtime?’ Tom suggested. Usually I would not object to a nice game before bed-time, but today was different. I was exhausted.
     ‘I’ll join in!’ Kevin was the first to cry, followed by Julian. However, Oliver and Jamie hesitated, being caught in a heated conversation about whether the people that were generating the lights were Japanese tourists who got lost or local authorities scanning the area.
     Oliver said, ‘Well all right then’ in a whatever-you-want way, so Jamie gave up thinking and joined. They both grew eager to play.
     At that moment, Danny sneezed a sneeze so loud that everybody heard it in spite of the noise. ‘SWINE ‘FLU!’ cried Kevin and Oliver in unison.
     I told you they were nutters, and that’s more than pure nutters. They were weirdoes! And you ain’t seen nothing yet. They would prove to be even crazier later (I’ve left that bit to soft Danny, though.)
     They pillow-fought as Danny and I tried to catch some Zs. Impossible without earmuffs. Their regular screams and ‘hey’s and ‘watch out, here he comes’s were obnoxious. It will be miraculous if we could get some sleep.
     I fixed my eyes on my wristwatch. 21:59:52. 21:59:53. 21:59:54. … 21:59:58 21:59:59. ‘LIGHTS OUT!’ I screamed for the loudest time I had done for the day. It was just my luck that Miss Chatterbox was passing by. Everybody froze. Fortunately, our walls were soundproof. She didn’t hear us. I breathed a sigh of relief and closed my eyes. Then I opened them again. ‘Hey everyone,’ I shouted, quieter this time. ‘Go to bed! It’s ten!’
     ‘Charlie is right,’ said Julian as he climbed onto his bed. ‘We’ve got to go to sleep, or we’re in big trouble.’ Tom followed his example. Oliver, Jamie and Kevin shrugged and went to bed.
     ‘What do you think about the strange lights?’ Oliver reopened the topic.
     ‘Shut your trap,’ I told him. ‘Or you’ll have everyone chat with the grave.’ Yes, that’s how the counselor had put it.
     ‘That was just a joke,’ Jamie retorted.
     ‘A threat,’ added Oliver.
     ‘It’s none of our business,’ I said, almost at the voice of Danny. ‘Why meddle into it?’
     ‘Curiosity has ordered me to,’ Oliver said loudly. ‘Hey Jamie. I know you live around here. Could you take us for a little look?’
     ‘Nonsense,’ Julian said. ‘We’re gonna be in even greater trouble.
     Ignoring Julian, Jamie said, ‘Sure. Everyone armed with torches?’
     ‘Flashlights,’ Oliver replied.
     ‘Torches,’ Jamie insisted.
     ‘Flashlights,’ Oliver argued.
     ‘You’re like little children, arguing over this kind of stuff. Just tell everyone how we will get there in secret,’ said Kevin
     ‘Don’t inquire me,’ said Jamie. ‘Follow, and you will see.’
     ‘Okay then. Oliver, Jamie and Kevin will go. The rest of us will stay here in the cozy beds,’ I told them.
     ‘I’m going too,’ said Tom.
     ‘Rubbish. Everyone will go.’ Oliver said. ‘Whether you want to or not, or my name is not Oliver Ling!’
     ‘I’m not going,’ Julian insisted.
     ‘Neither am I,’ I rejoined.
     ‘I don’t think that’s such a good idea,’ Danny said softly. He covered his face with his blanket and shrank into the sheets.
     ‘You are going, no matter what! Tom, make Julian go. Oliver, Charlie. And Kevin, take care of Danny. I will figure out the way to the lights.
     ‘Have you even considered that the light sources have left already?’ I protested. Oliver did not even care. He gripped my toes with his terrible fingers. ‘Are you going or not?’
     ‘Not in a million years,’ I replied.
     ‘Fast forward. You are now in year 1002011. You must go.
     ‘Shut up, and get down here,’ he ordered. I sighed. ‘All right then. He let go of my toes, and I got myself out of bed. I was about to put on tomorrow’s clothes when Oliver said, ‘no time for changing. We have little time. You must go in slippers and pajamas.
     ‘I shan’t!’
     ‘You shall!’
     I shook my head. Now I get it. The Ultimate Golden Rule of Dealing with Oliver is to obey!
     ‘You win, Ol,’ I muttered. I got my flashlight, put on a small rucksack with food, water, and a coat, then said, ’I’m ready.’
     Danny had stopped protesting for a long time; in fact, he never protested at all. On the other hand, Julian was still protesting about the clothing. At last, Tom and Julian agreed on T-shirt, shorts and slippers. Then I understood. They had planned the trip during the conference. And they didn’t let me or Danny know! Cost for being with these people.




Copyright © 2009 Abracadabra
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