Tim stood up on one of the tables at the front of the room. Tim was a no nonsense type of guy, the type of person who told it like it was and inspired trust. I had talked with him a few times while on camp, he had been running camps like this for years and seemed to genuinely enjoy the rowdy company of children. “Pipe down everyone and pay attention! We haven’t got much to tell you, but the authorities have told us that currently the highway is closed except to essential personnel. They are hoping to have the roads open again by tomorrow at the latest, so worst case scenario, we will be here for one more night, but hopefully we will be out sooner.”
“Is it zombies?” yelled a boy from the back of the room, high fiving his friend and laughing. Some of the younger kids started to cry.
“Don’t be ridiculous Cooper,” admonished Tim. “The last thing we need is for people to get hysterical. We need to be respectful of everyone’s feelings and remember that we have people aged six to…well, older than six,“ he laughed gesturing towards himself and the other counsellors. “I don’t want to hear of any of you kids making up stupid stories and scaring the younger kids or there will be consequences. To be honest, they did not tell us any details at all, just that we were not to leave the township. I’m going to add a caveat on that though and ask that no-one leave the camp. You all know the boundaries, I don’t want to have to police this.” There was a collective groan from the older kids, myself included.
“That’s not fair, why are we being treated like prisoners? We haven’t done anything wrong,” called out Matt. “Us older kids should be allowed to leave the camp, what if we want to call our parents? They are coming to pick us up from the bus station in just over an hour, what will they think if we aren’t there?”
“Your parents will be advised about what is happening, but the boundary rule applies to all of you, not just the younger kids. Also, if you want to phone your parents, there is a phone in the office, you can call from there,” Tim advised. “The police said they will be by to tell us as soon as the road is open again. If we haven’t heard anything by by five pm, I’ll go down to the roadblock and see if there is an update to share with you at dinner time. Now who’s hungry? I’m sure Chef will rustle us up some morning tea,” he added looking hopefully towards the kitchen. “Afterwards, remember the new rules about not leaving the camp area, you can go down to the river, but no further. Otherwise, normal camp rules apply, and just pretend it was yesterday!”
Lily, Matt, Pet and myself sat down at one of the tables. As Matt continued his speculation about what could be causing the road block, I looked around the room to see if I could spot the mysterious Josh. He was sitting at a table with his dad. Tim was talking animatedly to him, it looked like Josh was being told off. Josh kept his head low, one of his fingernails gouging a line into the wooden table as he listened. I could see the tension in his body from here. Abruptly, Josh got up and stormed out of the dining room. I looked at Tim, it was clear from his face that he wanted to go after him. As he pushed his chair away from the table with a scape on the stone floor, two of the smaller girls approached him in tears. His demeanour changed instantly as he sat back down and drew them towards him to listen to what they were saying. Whatever he said worked, the girls stopped crying and the three of them left the dining room. They made their way to the office, so I assumed they would be the first two to call their parents.
While we ate our hastily put together morning tea of cheese and crackers, Matt took out his survival pack and emptied it onto the table. Lily and I looked at each other and rolled our eyes.
“What?” exclaimed Matt. “You have no idea what’s caused this, for all you know, that moment back there could have been the last of civilisation as we know it and you will all be pinching yourselves that you don’t have handy survival packs. Don’t think you can come running to me for my useful stuff come the apocalypse!”
|Matt’s Survival Kit
· 87 coffee filters (to filter water)
· Small first aid kit
· Flick knife
· Cotton balls
· Loud whistle
· Zip-lock bag with dry straw/grass (for lighting fires)
· 5 paper towels
· Small pack of antiseptic wipes
· Small ball of string
· 25 cable ties
· Small notebook and pencil in zip-lock bag
· Two new garbage bags
“So show us what is in this life saving pack,” I jeered. Matt stood up, hastily shoving the contents back into its bag. I grabbed him by the forearm. “Sorry, I was only joking, I actually am really interested, please show me?” I pleaded with him. To be honest, there were some things on the table that I could not identify and others that I could, but did not understand their reason for being in a survival pack. If nothing else, it would give me and Lily something to laugh about later.
Lily and I sat for a few moments in stunned, but impressed silence, after Matt had gone through his pack. He was much smarter than I had given him credit for and had thought each item and its inclusion through, everything had a purpose. The most impressive thing was that, when packed properly, it all fitted into a bag no larger than my toiletry bag. If there ever was an apocalypse I would be sure to have Matt on my side.
Some people had left the dining room, others were waiting outside the office to call their parents. Matt said he was going to see if he could get any ‘intel’, Lily and I rolled our eyes and headed to the office to join the queue for phone calls. As we stood in line, I kept thinking about Josh. I wondered why he didn’t want to participate in any of the camp activities. Having started out as a conscientious objector, I was quite impressed that he had withstood the pressure to join in for so many years, I had only lasted a day and it was better being a part of the group, what was his problem? What did he do all day, surely he must get lonely on his own? Maybe with the ban on leaving the camp grounds I would be able to find him and break down his defences, or knowing my luck with boys, I would just turn bright red and have nothing to say. It was worth trying though. I hated a mystery, especially when the mystery was so damn good looking!
Soon it was my turn to phone my dad, I tried the home line and his mobile. He was hopeless with his mobile, so I don’t know why I even bothered. Most of the time it sat in the bowl of miscellany on our hall table, out of charge. I don’t know why I thought today would be any different. It wasn’t. I couldn’t get through, he was probably already on his way to pick me up. I told Tim who said the SMS messages had been sent to all parents and that the bus station would notify any parents who had not received them.
I wanted to call Kate. I knew she would be hanging out for me to get home, but I thought I would be pushing my luck asking, so I pretended there was one more number to reach my dad on. There were only a few kids in the queue behind me so Tim told me I could give it a try after they had called their parents.
After the other kids had spoken to their parents I dialled Kate’s number and turned away from the desk where Tim was completing some paperwork, I wanted to have the illusion of privacy at least. After a few rings, Kate picked up. “Hi Dad,” I said brightly. “I tried your other numbers but couldn’t get through.” I hoped that if I gave a long enough lead in Kate would get the gist. “It looks like we will be stuck at camp for a bit longer as the highway has been closed, we are hoping that it will open tonight, but it might not open until tomorrow.”
I could hear the disappointment in Kate’s voice. “That is such a bummer Jenna! I’m guessing you can’t get in touch with your dad and you only get one phone call, am I right?” Kate asked. I replied that this was correct. “I’ll walk over to your dad’s house later and let him know I’ve spoken to you Jenna, It’s probably better if you are delayed a bit there is a horrible flu going around at the moment,” said Kate.
“Thanks Dad, I love you too and miss you, I can’t wait to see you tomorrow,” I said hanging up.
“I’ve never met your dad Jenna, but it sounds like he should audition for the soprano section of the local church choir,” said Tim not looking up from his notes. “Enjoy the rest of your morning, see you at lunch.”