Surviving Summer Camp
Dedicated to all those who have discovered that summer camp isn't always all it's cracked up to be.
‘Why did I agree to this again?’ I think once again as my bike goes over yet another bump. The other girls scream going over another bump again. They are so dim-witted. I think back to the day that my owner told me I was going to summer camp.
“But Saraaaaaaaaaaaah,” I had wailed. “Chippy and Lukey are going to Faerieland for those two weeks! Why can’t I go with them?!”
“Because I have already paid for the trip, and you’ll meet even more friends at Kiko Lake,” Sarah had said sternly.
“Kiko Lake is sooo boring,” I muttered.
“Shyntila, it is not as boring as you think,” Sarah said, exasperated. “You are going to have fun.” With that she turned on her heel and tread towards or kitchen to make dinner for us. I heard her mumble, “Dear Fyora, I hope she will.” I decided to sulk in my room for the next hour. It didn’t help.
The leading bike stops suddenly. I nearly run into it.
“We’re here!” Jesse sings out. He’s one of our ‘leaders’ and is also a purple Blumaroo. The other one, Anne, tells us to grab our water bottles and get off our bikes for some ‘good ol’ fashioned gardening’. ‘Woo hoo,’ I think unenthusiastically. ‘There’s nothing fun about this trip.’
I clamber off of my bike and get handed a shovel. I look at the short line of three pets I haven’t seen before. The oldest looking, a white Bori, speaks.
“Welcome, NS2. And thank you for participating in this project. You will be helping us take out some flowers that have started to take over the banks of Kiko Lake...”
Blah blah blah blah. It’s not like anyone important lives on Kiko Lake. I look around at the others. Jasmine the desert Kougra and Felicity the camouflage Poogle are standing close to each other. Alexthecreep (yes, that is his real name), the Halloween Mynci, and billy73219 the Maraquan Shoyru are off to my right. James_stag_patronus the ghost Ixi and Kirbylilrascal the pink JubJub are on my left. Juju the rainbow Aisha and Lilypadgirl1234 the gold Nimmo are standing across from me (giggling too... probably about my cheap color). Last there is me. Shyntila the starry Acara. Oh, and that faerie Xweetok... Sodakittenwhatsherface. She hasn’t said much since arriving. There’s a rumor going around that her owner spent her last neopoints to send her here. It sure is an expensive camp.
“OK, kids, let’s split into six groups of two pets each.”
The Bori’s loud call interrupts my thoughts.
“Pair up so that one of you has a shovel, not both of you. GO!”
Instantly, Jasmine hands her shovel to Alex and Lily accepts one from James. All the other pairs are set... I see that Soda and I are the only ones left. I trudge over.
“Hey,” she squeaks. I make an attempt to smile but it fails. Anne pads softly over to us.
“Why don’t you girls start at the end of the path?” the cloud Kougra suggests. We nod and head over. We get there and just stare at what we have to dig up. Someone has to break the silence.
“My strength is 28. What’s yours?” I finally ask.
“Um... I think it’s 27,” she says. I hand her the shovel.
“Start digging, it’ll help,” I tell her. She complies and starts digging up the weeds. When she unearths them, I shove them into a trash bag that we were given. We work silently for a couple of minutes. I have no intention of speaking more than I have to.
Then, “So why did you come here?” she asks. I’m startled by the question. I had been under the impression that she didn’t talk much either.
“My owner made me,” I grumble.
“You mean you didn’t want to come here?” Soda almost looks hurt as she hands me a weed. “I had to beg my owner to let me come!”
‘She’s even weirder than I thought,’ I think.
“You and my sibling HB would get along well,” I note. “HB’s always doing stuff.”
“HB?” Soda looks at me quizzically.
“Yeah, for HawaiianBreeze,” I reply. “We leave out the Girl part ‘cuz HB is a lab pet and changes gender from time to time.”
“Oh,” is all Soda says. I shrug.
“Well, I have a lab cousin on my owner’s side account,” she says, pulling up another weed. “Their nickname is LS (for _light_shadow_) so I suppose I shouldn’t be too surprised. Do you want to shovel?”
I shrug again but take the shovel. As I dig into the dirt, I ask, “Got any siblings?” She nods. “Two brothers and a sister.” I nod, and then say, “I have a sister, a brother, and an alien.” She chuckles at that, and then speaks again.
“At least you don’t have a baby brother who tried to make toast—”
“Out of breadfish?” I answer curiously.
Soda looks at me oddly. “Ye—yes,” she stammers. “How’d you know?”
It’s my turn to chuckle. “My baby brother did the same thing.”
Suddenly we hear Jesse call out to us to go with the skunk Techo that had also greeted us upon arrival. I put down the shovel and we start to walk over.
“Hey, what do you like to be called?” I ask Soda. She smiles.
“Sodakitten. What about you?”
“Oh, my original name is fine. Or, if you prefer, ‘Shyntila, mistress of all elements.’” Sodakitten laughs and we race each other to the group of waiting neopets.
* * *
“OK, young’uns,” Skunky says. “Just follow me over this hill to the lake.” Sodakitten and I snicker at his language. Young’uns? Honestly. Following the pack of pets up the small hill is easy enough. But at the top...
“G-gosh, th-that’s a long way down,” I say, trembling. Sodakitten sniffs.
“That’s nothing. I slide down bigger hills that Dragon makes (somehow!) all the time! Watch,” she tells me. Bounding up on a tree branch, she jumps to another. I cautiously follow her. Then she leaps to a rock.
“Perfect.” She smirks, and then jumps onto the ground; there is a perfect slide going to the water where she had jumped.
I look down at her. “Come on!” she cries. “We don’t have all day!” I look down on the ‘slide’ Sodakitten had just used.
“Wish me happy landings,” I say as I smile weakly. Maybe it’s a good thing that I didn’t go to Faerieland after all. Apparently I have a slight fear of heights. I look again quickly. All I’ve got to do jump. I take a deep breath, close my eyes... and jump.
“Whee!” I land at the bottom with a thud. Looking up at Sodakitten, I grin and say meekly, “That was fun.” She grins back.
“Come on, we’re going to miss the show!” She and I scuttle over as Skunky is showing James and Jasmine a glack. Sodakitten and I immediately ooh and ah.
“This petpetpet is commonly found around here, the northern side of Kiko Lake. They are very picky critters, however, and so many of them do not like to come to just any pets.”
“Why him, though?” Sodakitten asks me quietly. “He’s just an old skunk.” I just barely stifle a laugh. Skunky continues for a couple of minutes, then pulls out from behind him a pair of super-long wellington boots. They must be sixty centimeters tall! He puts them on, takes a net and wades into the lake.
Everyone on land stares at one another. I hear whispers of, “What in Neopia is he doing?” We see him swirl his net around a little. After about a minute he comes back out. He holds the net out to us and invites us to look inside.
Billy gasps. “You caught a rainblug!”” Once the others and I see it, we adore it too.
The Techo smirks. “Who else wants to try?”
I feel a rush of air beside my face. I look to see what had happened. Sodakitten is raising her hand—a bit violently. Skunky seems taken aback. But he agrees to let Sodakitten put on the boots and wade into the lake. Sodakitten immediately grabs the boots and tugs them on. I just stare, wide-eyed.
“What’s wrong, Shyntila? Don’t you want to go in the water too?” Sodakitten innocently asks me.
“I think I’ll see how you fare first,” I answer, grinning. Sodakitten shrugs. Then she grabs the net and shuffles into the water. I marvel at her balance in those things.
Part of the reason I don’t go in is because I’m afraid that the boots will be too big for me. I’ve been small my whole life... a lot like my owner. Huh. I wonder if there is a connection between owner and pet.
“Hey, Shyntila!” Sodakitten’s shout wakes me up. “How am I doing?” I giggle at the sight of her in the lake almost being pulled down by the weight of the water in the net.
“Just fine,” I call.
“Too bad. I’m getting out,” Sodakitten shouts back. I giggle again. When Sodakitten gets back on land she shows her catches to us all. I peer inside: there’s a moffit, a ladyblurg, a skidget and two breeblys. Sodakitten smiles proudly.
“You did a great job, kid!” Skunky says as he slaps Sodakitten on the back. She gasps for breath, and then laughs. I laugh too.
Maybe this won’t be such a bad trip after all.
Yay! First story in the NT! Hopefully more about Shyntila and Sodakittenwhosacutie coming soon!