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Camp Redhaven

Part One

Maggie giggled as the canoe cut through the otherwise still lake. With a storm on the way, the lake was strictly off-limits to everyone. But everyone knew Brett didn’t count.

 

“He’s on his way for his daily visit, Cora,” she chuckled, bending down to pick up more of the arrows that hadn’t reached a target. “Geez, this year’s cohort are terrible.”

 

Cora grunted as she sat on the forest floor, her already bronzed, toned legs crossed as she meticulously ran a stone along the edge of her axe. 

 

“Hey, Cor, are you listening? Brett’s on his way over again.”

 

Cora finally looked up at her activity buddy. “Good. He can help you with clean up.” She hopped to her feet, leaning on the axe's handle to help her up. She flipped it over in her hand before returning it to its holster that practically lived around her waist.

 

Maggie watched her walk away, noticing a limp that she was sure wasn’t there yesterday. 

 

“You’re supposed to help with the clean up!” she shouted at her back. 

 

Cora didn’t slow her pace but turned just long enough to shout back, “I’ve got plans.”

 

Maggie looked around at all the arrows that still littered the floor, cursing the useless campers she got stuck with. “What do I say to Brett? He’s gonna want to ask you out again.”

 

Cora stopped at their department’s cabin. It was only meant for storage, but Cora insisted on sleeping there. If Maggie was honest, the girl creeped her out. She was only here because Cameron disappeared on his second day. 

 

Maggie was relieved when he didn’t show up at first; he was a douchebag. He’d been a bully since the day their Mums threw them together on a play date fifteen years ago. She almost saw her breakfast again when her Mum announced the ‘exciting’ news that Cameron would be working camp this year, and in her department no less. Nothing could convince her that he was bad news; her Mum looked at them both and saw nothing but dresses and extravagant flower arrangements. 

 

Even so, she was surprised when he was a no-show just a few days in. Cameron didn’t do anything to damage his reputation as a golden boy. But she was too relieved to have her own department back to raise any concerns to management. That was until Creepy Cora showed up. She tried to remain cheery, to bond with the new girl, but even she had limits.

 

“Hey, weirdo,” Cora shouted,  “Did you hear me?”

 

Maggie shook her head, jolting herself back into the present. 

 

“What?”

 

“I said, Tell him to give it up. I only go for the bad guys.”

 

Cora turned back and sauntered into the cabin, slamming the door behind her. 

Options

Should Maggie:

Tell Brett to give up? 0%

Tell him Cora will be back (and get him to help her clean up!) 100%

 

Part Two

The oars sliced through the glassy lake, giving way to the brute strength that was Brett. He could feel Maggie’s eyes ripple over his gleaming muscles as they bulged with every stroke. If only he could get the new girl’s attention like he could every other girl on the camp.

Maggie stood at the side of the lake, her eyelashes batting at him as he beached the boat. She leaned forward, pushing her arms in as she did, and grabbed the stern. Brett hopped out of the vessel and began to stride towards the cabin, leaving Maggie and her attempt at cleavage to pull the boat far enough out of the water to stop it from floating away.

“Hey! Hey Brett! She’ll kill you if you go in there.”

He stopped mid-stride and turned to Maggie just in time to see her fall backwards. 

“You all right?”

“No. Not really. Can you help me, please?”

Brett turned back to the activities cabin, imagining that he could see straight through the walls. His eyes traced her imaginary path as she paced the cabin, her dark hair swinging, the tips grazing the base of her back. He could see her wringing her hands, thinking about what to say to him. He knew the effect he had on women. But this one. This elusive, brazen, enigma of a girl... She had the same effect on him.

“BRETT!”

Maggie’s shrill shouting broke the spell. With a heavy sigh, he stomped back to shore. He gave the boat one quick pull, wedging the stern into the silt, before extending his hand to Maggie. With a pout, she took it, shrieking with surprise as he lifted her up like she weighed little more than a feather. 

“Good now?” he asked.

“Well, no. Cora’s just stormed off and left me with the clean up.”

He grunted as he turned back to the cabin. “Did she say she’ll be long?”

Maggie knew she should tell him to give up the chase. Cora was a cheetah. He’d never catch her unless she wanted to be caught. Even then, it was a false win; the hunter becomes the hunted. He just didn’t know it. But, if she could get him to stay long enough, maybe he’d start to notice the safe, sweet little rabbit in front of him.

“She’s just doing a stock take before the next group comes. She won’t be long at all. I organised the cabin so it’s super easy to find everything. She’d be faster if we get all these arrows counted in.”

Brett didn’t even need to be asked. He raced around the clearing, counting as he picked up each arrow. Figuring she would only get in the way of his system, Maggie sat on the end of the boat and watched him work. 

“Geez, how many actually made the target?” he asked as he picked up the last arrow.

“None. This lot are useless.” 

“Maybe you’re just a bad teacher.”

Maggie pushed herself off the boat, stalked over to him, and snatched the arrows from his hand.

“I am an excellent teacher,” she growled. 

“OK. Sorry. I was just saying…”

“Well, keep your nose out of it! And while you’re at it, you and your lovesick puppy dog routine can stay off my side of the lake!”

She threw the arrows to the ground and stomped off towards the cabin before the fire in her could die out, and she ended up apologising. No one questioned her proficiency at archery, but Brett had a way of talking himself out of everything. But she wasn’t going to let him, not this time.


Options

Does Maggie…

Storm into the cabin and complain to Cora? 25%

Storm off into the woods? 75%

 

Part Three

Maggie knew better than to go into the activities cabin when Cora was taking a break. She had a temper at the best of times, but the one and only time Maggie followed her in there, she went berserk. Maggie could still see the feral look in her eyes as she rushed at the door, practically flinging her outside. Sure, she should have stood up to Cora - she was supposed to be her assistant, after all. Maggie had paid her dues as a trainee counsellor for years, dealing with all the drama and hair-pulling in the girl’s bunks, all the snide little comments from the popular girls. She’d earned her place as activities manager. But, she’d also learned to pick her battles, and interrupting Cora’s alone time wasn’t a battle she could win.

 

With nowhere else to go, she stomped into the woods. Brett didn’t follow. He didn’t even call after her.  She tried not to let that get to her. He was lovesick for the new girl. No doubt he’d already be knocking on the cabin door, begging Cora to go out with him for the millionth time. He’d give up eventually, and when he did, she’d be ready for his apology. 

 

She thought about how long she’d take to agree to a date when he finally noticed her, how long she’d hold her grudge. Probably not long, probably not at all. Brett was gorgeous, talented, well-off, and - according to the gossip around camp - well-endowed. The fact that Cora had turned him down so often was just more evidence of her weirdness. 

 

Lost in thought, imagining the size of the ring Brett might present her with one day, Cora soon found herself just as lost in the woods. She was certain she was walking straight, but she’d not hit the perimeter of the camp. Hopping on one leg, she lifted her foot and studied the tread of her crocs; none of the tracks on the ground seemed to match it. She had to get back. If anyone found out Maggie “bushcraft” Brown got lost in the woods she practically grew up in, she’d never hear the end of it. She already hated her camp nickname, suspecting it was an insult by the jealous bitches stuck on bunk duty, but they’d no doubt come up with worse if they knew she couldn’t even navigate the tame wilderness of camp. Bush-baby? Or Bush-virgin? They seemed to really enunciate the word bush when they used it; she suspected they wouldn’t let that drop any time soon.

 

Maggie continued to walk in circles, preparing herself for the consequences of her outburst. It was the scream that finally stopped her dead. A scream so loud, so piercing, that she swore the trees around her shudder.

Options

Should she…

Run towards the scream? 100%

Run off? 0%

Part Four

Maggie knew she should run in the other direction and get as far away from whatever caused that scream. It was a blood-curdling, primal wail. The kind that comes from something, or someone, that fears for its very life. But her feet voted for her, against her, as they started running towards the sound. It could be a poor, defenceless animal. One that wandered into the clearing and stood on one of the arrows she threw to the ground. It could be Brett battling a bear. It could be Cora, woken by the soft hiss of a poisonous snake. Maggie’s pace slowed as she considered Cora as the victim. She liked her about as much as she liked snakes. Nevertheless, her feet kept pounding along the rugged, cracked ground, suddenly seeming to know their way back to the activity cabin. 

 

As she approached the cabin, she could hear voices. One was Brett's baritone, although it sounded a little higher than usual. The other was Cora's dull drone. Brett sounded frantic, almost begging, whilst Cora seemed to be monologing with uncontrolled rage. 

 

Maggie clung to the side of the cabin and inched around, her body finally listening to her brain and allowing some small amount of rational caution. She needed to know what she was walking into before bursting into the open and marking herself.

 

“Why couldn’t you just leave me alone? Maggie told you, didn’t she? I only have an interest in the bad ones. But you just had to keep pushing. Push, push, push. But now I see. You ARE one of the bad ones.”

 

As Maggie reached the front of the cabin, she crouched down, careful not to draw Cora’s attention. Her axe was raised as if ready to throw straight at Brett. Maggie, eyes wide, watched as Brett lay on his back, his legs flailing as he tried to push himself away from Cora. Blood stained his face, gushing from a cut above those perfect eyebrows. He blinked the stickiness out of his eyes as he shuffled away, tears spilling over his cheeks and brightening his already beautiful blue eyes. Maggie hated herself for it, but she found him ever so slightly less attractive, watching him scuttle away like a bug. But she had to do something. It was Brett. No matter what, it was her Brett. Maybe by saving him, she thought, he’d finally see her. Respect her. Love her.

Options

Should Maggie...

Distract Cora? 67%

Confront Cora? 33%

Part Five

First, the trees near the cabin rustled, but it wasn’t enough to pull Cora away from her target. Next came the vibrations. They were faint as if something heavy but far away was stomping about or something small nearby was throwing a tantrum. Still, Cora did not turn. 

 

A roar ripped through the forest and echoed around the clearing. Maggie thought it sounded like a mighty, ferocious, ravenous bear. Cora was less convinced.

 

“Are you done trying to distract me, Maggie?”

 

Maggie pulled her arms into her, hoping nothing poked out behind the tree to betray her. 

 

“If you thought that would work, you think less of me than I imagined. Come out. I won’t hurt you.”

Maggie peeked around the tree and watched Cora circle the clearing, axe still raised. Unsurprisingly, she was finding it hard to believe her. She ducked back behind the giant oak before Cora could meet her gaze.

 

“I told you. I told him. I’m only after the bad guys. I wouldn’t hurt a sister. Even an uptight princess like you.”

 

Maggie bristled. She wasn’t uptight; she just respected the rules. What was wrong with that? The blisters that formed on top of blisters as she trained to be the district’s archery champion were evidence of her non-princess status. She’d perhaps concede warrior-princess at a push, but even then, that was a push. She wasn’t high maintenance. Not like some of the other women here, at least.

 

 “Come on, let’s talk face to face—woman to woman. If you don’t, I will throw this axe straight at Brett’s head. If you think your aim with an arrow is decent, wait ‘til you see what I can do with this thing.”

 

Maggie didn’t have much of a choice - Brett’s blood would be on her hands if she didn’t do anything. With shaking legs that barely kept her upright, she stepped out from behind the tree.

 

“Fine, let’s talk,” Maggie bellowed across the clearing. 

 

“There you are. Good. Step on out now. We can’t exactly talk with you all the way over there.”

 

Her feet were rooted to the spot. Lead heavy; they wouldn’t lift an inch. With a deep breath, she forced them forward, awkwardly shuffling towards Cora.

 

“What’s wrong with you?” Cora laughed. 

 

Maggie self-consciously looked at her feet before her indignation hit her.

 

“What’s wrong with ME? Are you serious? What’s wrong with you, going around threatening people with axes.”

 

“Not people. Douchebags. Case in point.” Cora jabbed the business end of the axe towards Brett, who was now scrambling up the side of his canoe, desperate to escape. Maggie’s eyes narrowed at him. She tried to save him, and he is still trying to get away, to leave her with this psycho.

 

“You get into that boat, and I’ll end you right here.”

 

Brett slumps onto the stern. Maggie watches as he lets out a huge sob, a bugger bubble inflating and popping as he does. 

 

“See what I mean, Maggie. You come out here all warrior-princess and try to save the day, and your little prince is quite happy to sail away into the sunset while you die in his place. He deserves what’s coming to him.”

 

Maggie tries to suppress a smile at the nickname, so much better than Bushcraft Brown. She needed to focus and get the axe away from Cora.

 

“I agree. He is a loser. But that doesn’t mean you can kill him.”

 

She heard Brett sputter at the word loser as if ready to defend himself. A sharp glare was all it took to get him to slump back down.

 

“Why not? The world would be so much better without Bretts in them. Don’t you agree?”

 

She tried not to entertain the question, but part of her, deep down, shouted YES! YES! I AGREE! She was tired, so very tired. Of being overlooked. Of following the rules and never getting ahead. She was tired of everyone assuming they knew exactly who she was and what she wanted. How could they when she didn’t even know? The little voice got louder. YES! YES! YES! YES! YES! YES! YES! 

 

A sly smile pulled at her lips. “Let him go.” 

 

Cora cackled. “That isn’t going to happen.”

 

“Let him go. Off into the woods. Thirty-second head start. Whoever catches him first deals with him.”

 

Brett tried to find his feet, sputtering as he desperately tried to pull himself up.

 

Cora turned to him. “Good idea, Brett. Get those legs warmed up; you’re going to need them.”  

 

“Does that mean you accept my terms?”

 

“Hell, yes I do. It’s brilliant! I love a good hunt. You’re one Hell of a dark horse, Maggie. I underestimated you.”

 

Maggie just smiled. Most people do. And they are always wrong. 

 

Cora shouted over to Brett. “You ready, man? Your thirty seconds starts in three…”

Brett didn’t wait. He ran into the woods, shouting crazy bitches as he went. Cora sauntered toward the tree line, falling into step with Maggie. 

 

They walked into the woods together before splitting off at the count of thirty. Maggie didn’t know then what she planned to. Maybe she’d kill no one. Maybe Brett. Or Cora. Or both. All she knew right then was that she was grateful for her useless campers. The ones that couldn’t hit a target if their lives depended on it. Cora might have an axe, but Maggie knew all too well how deadly she could be with an arrow.

 

She could hear them: Cora running in the wrong direction, her feet light and fast, and Brett stomping along, breaking every tree branch he walked by. She smiled as she moved towards one of the targets, finally embracing her ridiculous nickname.

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