OMNI AND I sat in partial silence in the taxi, but Tika was chattering away
like she couldn't stop. Finally, I could tell Omni was just getting so aggravated;
I had to catch Tika and keep her on my lap.
"Don't worry, you know, you're coming with me
and Omni isn't, so I've gotta spend some time with her, kay?"
Tika chattered in agreement, and I turned to
Omni. I took a deep breath and started to tell her what I had meant to tell
her for quite a while.
"Omni-I know sometimes I don't act it, but you
really are important to me. I mean, for one you created me, and for two you
take care of me. But it's not just that. You're my best friend, and you will
be 'till the end of time. And even then..."
She listened to me talk, her eyes tearing up.
"Thanks...thanks, Po," She stuttered. "That...that meant a lot to me. I mean-I
know you needed me, but you always seem to like your friends better..." She
trailed off, and gave me a long hug. "I'm gonna miss you a lot, Po Some say
NeoPets are just a picture, but..."
"I know what they say," I nodded, and returned
The taxi pulled to a halt in front of the camp,
and at first glance it was beautiful. A few cabins were scattered about, and
a few bigger buildings, but they bordered a crystal clear lake that shimmered
in the mid-morning sun. I sighed watching the Beekadoodles flitter from tree
to tree, taking it all in. I turned around to help Omni lug my trunk out of
the storage compartment in the taxi.
She set the trunk down by my paws and gazed out
at the lake. "It's beautiful," she said.
"I know," I replied. "I never thought..." I trailed
off. Omni was saying goodbye now, and this was going to be hard. "Omni-don't
say good bye. It's too final. Just tell me you're always there for me and-and
leave." I smiled down at my feet. "It's better that way," I said, choking back
Omni knelt down and wrapped her arms around my
neck. "You're right," she smiled one of those mournful smiles. "See you in four
weeks, at visitors day. And remember, write lots of letters!"
She stepped back into the taxi, and didn't look
back-Omni and I are too much a like. I watched the car drive away into the distance,
watching until the very last dust cloud died down. Then I padded toward the
nearest building and found a cloud Kau behind the glass window. When she noticed
me, she quickly put down her magazine and slid open the glass door.
"Hello, dear! Here, take this map," she smiled
and handed me a small map of the camp. "You're cabin is the first building to
your right!" She chirped cheerfully.
"Thanks," I said, and walked off lugging the
trunk, which Tika perched on behind me.
The cabin came into view. It was small, but it
looked like it would be a cozy housing for the eight weeks I'd be here. Sighing,
I knocked on the door to see if anyone was in there.
"Hello?" I called, and, hearing no one, I stepped
in. It was empty so, choosing a bed and the top bunk, a positioned my trunk
and hoisted myself up.
I waited a few minutes before I remembered the
map in my pocket.
This whole camp was at my fingertips, and I wasn't
going to let this opportunity wash away.
I glanced once around the dark cabin, looking
wistfully out the window at the foreboding forest that branched out in the back
of the building. The yearning to explore gnawed at me, so I quickly spread the
map out on my pillow.
I picked out three buildings to explore: one
was the mess hall, one was the computer lab, and the last one was the one that
puzzled me. It was one of three cabins in the whole camp, but it was called
cabin thirteen. It wouldn't have been as odd if it wasn't for the fact that
the other two cabins were called 'Boy 1' and 'Girl 1'.
The mess hall proved to be nothing big. I met
the chefs, though, that was exciting. Of course, I'd met the soup faerie before-but
I was psyched to meet Aletra, host of my favourite daytime TV show! I snapped
a picture of them together-it was my goal to improve my photography.
After that I wandered over to the computer lab,
and I found Nisiko, the creative writing tutor. I knew she was going to be the
tutor, of course, it said so in the brochure. Still, it was a pleasant surprise
to have one of my friends there. Snapping a photo, I thanked her a walked out
Now it was time to tackle the main reason I set
out to explore-Cabin Thirteen.
I traveled a little down a gravel path, only
to find it ending abruptly. That was the first time I thought Cabin Thirteen
was just a joke but then, looking at the map again, I saw that Cabin Thirteen
wasn't right on the trail-you had to travel a little through the woods to get
Just when I thought I'd found the right place
to enter the woods, a crunching on the gravel made me jump. Turning around,
I saw a formidable yellow Eyrie rambling down the path.
"Hello!" He squawked, and I smiled at him.
"Hi! You must be Branston, am I correct?" I turned
on my charming smile. "Your camp is wonderful! I'm just doing a bit of exploring!"
I eyed the medallion that hung around his neck-it
looked a little different than the one I'd seen him wear in Cheat!. Ignoring
that, I turned my attention back to what he was saying.
"I'm sure you'll love your summer here! You're
Polayo, am I correct? Anyway, there's nothing down here," he said the last part
almost nervously, as if there was something to hide. "Why don't you go and see
if any of your fellow campers have arrived? They'll all be arriving in a few
moments!" He turned to walk away.
"Wait, Mr. Branston!" I called sweetly. "It's
my goal to improve my photography this summer, may I take a picture of you?"
He sighed, as if it were a chore, and scrabbled
back over to me. Posing in a way that was easy for me to snap a good picture,
the flash lit the shadows the star trees cast over the ground. He smiled as
I called a thank you after him, and then when he was gone, I started to rustle
around in the trees again.
I walked into the forest, the calmness settling
around me. The shafts of light fell on the pine needle ground in such a soothing
way, I almost fell asleep.
Luckily I didn't, or I would have missed the
sight I saw next.
Cabin Thirteen loomed above me, it's broken windows
and flapping shutters giving it an eerie look. Stepping inside the dark cabin
and letting the door slam behind me, I peered around me. There were cabinets
hanging off their hinges, dishes piled around a muddy sink. In one corner, it
seemed, there was a pile of blankets, but on closer inspection I saw it was
actually some sort of bed. Obviously it hadn't been touched in years.
I crept over toward the sink. Turning the creaking
handle, brown, rusty water rushed out. Eventually, the water started turning
clearer and clearer until it looked drinkable. I shut it off, and noticed the
sink was unusually white where the water had hit it.
I heard yelling outside, quite suddenly. Although
it was not close by-in fact, it sounded very far off-I jumped up, out the door,
and sprinted down the path. I don't know if I was just trying to get out of
there because that place freaked me, but I definitely wanted out.
Down at the end of the path, I saw a spotted
Kougra and a yellow Aisha laughing and yelling and throwing water balloons at
each other. Branston-that Eyrie I'd met earlier-was trying to get them to stop
in vain. Obviously they were having the greatest time. I was laughing just watching
As soon as they heard me laughing, they both
looked over at me.
"Po!" The spotted Kougra shouted, and suddenly
I recognised her.
"Cali!" I called out, smiling. I hadn't seen
her in ages, but she was one of my good friends. Calixzo and I had known each
other for ages-when her owner created her new account and got Cali, we met her
first day. We'd been good friends ever since.
"What are you doing here?" I asked.
"I'm coming here for the summer. Oh yeah, have
you met Tazzmar?"
My mouth must have dropped open. "Have I? Tazz
Tazz was one of my best friends, I was amazed
he was here. You see, I'd known Tazz quite a while, probably my whole life.
He was Ev's boyfriend, so ever since then we'd gotten even closer.
The yellow Aisha came up closer. "Po?" he goggled.
"My god, how are you both here?" I asked, amazed.
"I dunno-it's strange, isn't it?" said Cali.
"Thank god you've stopped!" Barked Branston,
obviously furious with them. "Come-now! To my office. I will not take this kind
of behaviour at my camp!"
Nervously, we all tiptoed along behind him, our
"This is too weird," I muttered to myself. "Hey,
I've gotta show you guys something when we're out of here, Kay?"
"What is it?" hissed Cali.
"You'll see," I replied, hoping I sounded mysterious.
Tazz just rolled his eyes. "I can't believe we're
in trouble on the first day!"
"Don't worry...he's probably as bad at disciplining
as he is at Cheat!."
When Cali made that comment, I cracked up, and
I couldn't even stop when Branston turned around and glared at me. It wasn't
until Tazz took a firm hold on my hand and told me to shut up that I was able
to quiet down.
Branston's office was cold and unwelcoming. He
sat down behind his desk and was about to give us a great big talk and tell
us how disappointed he was in us when, we were saved by the bell.
The dinner bell.
It seemed to make him even more aggravated. "FINE!
Go!" He roared at us. "You got lucky this time. But next time, I will definitely
have a talk with you-this is my camp and you'll follow my rules," he growled.
I jumped down from the chair I was sitting in
a dashed out the door towards the mess hall. He totally creeped me out, and
I didn't want to stay around him anymore than I had to.
I waited by the door of the mess hall for Tazz
and Cali, who walked along like nothing had happened.
"I guess that once we walk in there, we will
officially meet all the other campers. I wonder how many there are?"
I opened the door, expecting to see hundreds
of pets of all species chattering away, expecting to hear hundreds of voices
which you could barely talk over-but instead I found three faerie Aishas, one
of them a half-Alien Aisha, all eating some mashed clawmatoes. They were talking
about the courses they'd be teaching-of course, they were Quatringa, tutor of
singing; Nisiko, the teacher of creative writing; and Wyndchyme, the half-Alien
Aisha, who was this years guru of stage productions and acting.
"Where's everyone else?" I asked Nisiko as I
sat down with my mashed clawmatoes.
"This is everyone, I believe. I thought there
were supposed to be more, but when I asked Branston he said this was everyone.
The strange thing is, though, he wouldn't let me see the list. I could have
sworn there were eight campers...I guess it's just three, though."
Tazz and Cali were now done in the line, and
we started to talk-not just the three of us, but also with Quatri, Wyndie, and
Nisiko about what was expected the next few weeks.
"You'll love it here," said Wyndie. "From the
way things look, it's a great camp. By the way, who's signed up for Stage Productions?"
"I am!" I said, and waited for Cali and Tazz
to say they were too. When I didn't hear anything, I turned around. "You guys
aren't going to...?"
"Well... I didn't sign up for it, but if you're
still taking students, I guess I will. A one person play will be kinda hard,"
she laughed. "And Tazz, how about you?"
"Well, I signed up for singing, but-well, since
there are only three of us, why don't we all sign up for everything? It'd be
a lot more fun, I think."
"That's not a bad idea," said Quatri. "I was
going to ask who was signed up for singing, but I guess it's useless now...hey,
Nisiko, what do you think?"
"Sounds good to me-there certainly is enough
room in all the classes!"
We all laughed.
I knew this was going to be an exciting summer.
To be continued...