Mr. Bronston breathed in the rich scent of pine and fresh
air as he surveyed the campsite. He and his group had finally reached their destination,
though the Draik had had to fly over and employ a few carpools to retrieve his
students. It had all been worth it, though, because the horrible journey was over
at last. The duration of the trip couldn't possibly be worse then the drive there,
The Draik felt a tug at his shirtsleeve. He
snapped his head around and saw Zarrelian peering sourly up at him.
"What?" Mr. Bronston snapped, ruffling his leathery
wings. Zarrelian folded his arms.
"You're supposed to come to the lobby. You have
a speech to give about the rules and regulations of the camp, you know," he
replied. Mr. Bronston raised a brow.
"How did you know?" he asked suspiciously.
"One of the other fifth grade teachers told
me to come and get you."
"Oh. Okay, I'm coming."
Mr. Bronston sighed and unfurled his wings,
flying off the ground and soaring over the treetops en route to the campsite's
lobby. He wasn't looking forward to this. The speech, that was. He hadn't prepared
one, and didn't even KNOW the rules of the camp. Oh well. How hard could it
be? After all, most of the students wouldn't even be paying attention to anything
that he was saying.
The Draik landed softly outside the lobby's
door and regally strode in, pausing to throw his fellow fifth grade teachers
a nasty glare. Mr. Bronston stalked onto the stage and stood behind the large
wooden podium, staring over the masses of students. The Draik took a deep breath.
Lecturing his class of thirty Pets was one thing, but addressing a hundred of
them was a different matter entirely. He decided to start out with an ice-breaking
"Welcome to camp..." He glanced at the name
inscribed on the wooden podium. "Crathsona. For the next few days, this camp
will be your home, which means that you need to treat it with just as much respect
as your regular NeoHomes." He grinned. So far, so good. "So, please abide by
these rules..." Mr. Bronston smirked as he began to rattle off the camp rules
that had been thoughtfully posted on the inside of the podium. There were three
pages of them. By the time he had finished, almost every student in the building
was fast asleep. The Draik smiled fondly. It looked as though he had done his
first official camp job well.
Zarrelian groaned as he scanned the day's activity sheet. It was Tuesday morning,
their first full day of camp. The evening before had been terrible. The cabin
was filled with the sounds of sobbing, homesick ridden Pets, and, worst of all,
the nonsensical mutterings of Mr. Bronston, who, as it turned out, talked in
his sleep. Zarrelian had lain awake all night long.
And now, he was going to be forced to go on
a nature hike. The Ixi shuddered. Three hours in the woods... The dark, scary,
rabid-Snowbunny filled woods. Zarrelian hoped that whatever attacked them preferred
Draiks to Ixi.
It wasn't long before Mr. Bronston, accompanied
by twenty or so groggy students, came marching over the field and to the activity
sheet. Mr. Bronston frowned.
"Okay kids, looks like we're scheduled for a
hike in the woods." The Draik cracked his knuckles expressively. "Only, I think
I'm going to change that just a bit..." He eyed the students and grinned maliciously.
"We'll be going for a RUN in the woods!" Mr. Bronston declared. A loud groan
rippled through the crowd of students. Atyur stifled a yawn and raised his paw.
"Why?" he asked. Mr. Bronston scowled.
"Because you're all out of shape! And you know
why? Electronic devices! Why, when I was a young Draik, I was outside all day...
playing Neo-football and Neo-soccer with my brothers!" He bared his fangs viciously.
"We're going a run whether you like it or not.
And no flying! I'm looking at you, Poloroe." He glared at the startled Faerie
Gelert for a moment before turning back to his students.
"Alright kids, we're going through THIS path!
It's called The Huckleberry. It's impossible to get lost as long as you stay
on this path, understood?" Everyone nodded. Mr. Bronston smiled. "Good! Okay,
Buck's coming along, but if you get lost, don't bother following him because
he never knows where he's going." The Draik glared menacingly. "But none of
you WILL get lost, will you?"
Without waiting for an answer, Mr. Bronston
turned and began jogging briskly down the forest path, Buck yipping at his heels.
Atyur shrugged and followed suit, employing his stout, powerful legs to urge
him on to greater speeds. Zarrelian was definitely the one with the disadvantage.
His short, stubby legs were not meant for this kind of rough terrain running.
It wasn't long before he had fallen miles behind everyone else, panting and
clutching a stitch in his side. Pretty soon, he also realized that he was completely
Somehow, Zarrelian had managed to defy the laws
of science and strayed off Huckleberry trail, landing himself a one-way ticket
to the middle of nowhere. Unsure of what to do, the Ixi seated himself in a
clump of ferns and sniffled sadly at his misfortune.
Atyur was amazed at Mr. Bronston's endurance. He had been running at an even
pace for a good forty minutes, yet he hardly seemed out of breath. The orange
Lupe picked up the pace and caught up with his jogging teacher, padding doggedly
"How do you do it, sir? You're like, forty years
old!" he exclaimed. Mr. Bronston stopped short, causing the Pets behind him
to crash into each other.
"You think I'm HOW old?" he cried in disbelief.
"I'm only TWENTY-EIGHT!" The Draik whimpered and ran his claws through his graying
plume of hair. He then turned to his students. "Do I really look THAT old?"
The awkward silence following Mr. Bronston's
remark was shattered by Mrkrawk's piercing cry of, "Hey! Zarrelian's gone!"
Mr. Bronston ran through the throng of grouped
Pets, frantically searching for Zarrelian. After finding no traces of the Halloween
Ixi, he slumped down to the ground and put his head in his hands.
"Argh! I don't believe this. Only Zarrelian
could get lost on Huckleberry trail!" A few more hairs fell softly from the
Draik's head to sprinkle on the leaf-covered ground. Mr. Bronston stood back
up and dusted himself off.
"Okay, here's what we're going to do. I'm going
to go and look for Zarrelian, and you stay in this exact spot until I get back."
He whistled for his Doglefox. "Buck will stay with you. I'll be back soon. DON'T
With that, the Draik whirled around on his heel
and trotted off into the distance before melting in the thick foliage. Atyur
scratched Buck behind the ears.
"So what do we do now?" he mused. Mrkrawk shrugged.
"Mr. Bronston said that we should stay here,
remember? I remember. He specifically said that he would be back soon and to
not go anywhere. He sure seemed angry when he said it, I wonder why. Maybe his
apartment flooded. Our NeoHome flooded once. Well, it didn't really flood, it
just-" Atyur placed a paw over Mrkrawk's mouth, muffling the Krawk's tirade.
The Lupe pricked an ear forward.
"Shh! I hear something," he whispered. The pets
all crouched together, not daring to breathe, as the nearby bushes twitched
and ruffled. Atyur whimpered. What if it was a Bearog? The leaves split, and
To be continued...