All right! Let's keep going. What happened once they went up to the hotel? Thanks for reviewing, Bloodylilcorpse and Lord Candycane.
My parents saw me enter the hotel, but not the three other ghosts that followed.
"Don't bother leaving the door open." Briana told me on the way there. "We can go through walls, so we'll just wait in your bedroom."
I had to stay around, talking to Mom and Dad for a few minutes, so when I walked into my room, I was met with a pretty unpleasant scene.
Della was curled in on herself, looking as if she wished she'd just die all over again. Briana and Sarah were both standing up, and I could tell without them saying anything that they'd been laying onto her.
"Got nothing to say, huh?" Briana taunted. "You sure had a lot to say when you were following me around two summers ago."
"Yeah, that you weren't having us leave the camp alive." Sarah joined in. "What now? Come on, pull out one of your pathetic-lonely-little-girl lines, about how long you've waited for a buddy, how-"
"I'm sorry." Della mumbled as an interruption, but she didn't look up.
I didn't know what to say to defend her. But the other girls hadn't noticed me until now, so I made my presence known by going to sit down beside Della. She raised her head as soon as she sensed me, and managed a smile.
I finally looked up at the girls. "We said we'd talk." I said. "But if you're just going to use it as an excuse to give Della crap about what she did, you can go home."
There was a long pause. Then Briana took a few steps away. "Okay, okay. Talk. Whatever. Brooke, wasn't it? You tell us your story, then we decide what happens next."
I gave a nod, then looked at Sarah. Her eyes flickered between the three of us. Then she shrugged. "I'm still mad, but I'll listen for now."
There were twin beds in my room, so Della and I sat on one, Briana and Sarah on the other. We were all in invisible ghost form except for me, but I made my voice inaudible to living people so my parents didn't think I was talking to myself.
Then I told my story. I didn't edit it the way I'd done for my friends, because the girls already knew that I wouldn't have thought of dying at all if nothing had happened, and the fact that I chose to end my life still cast Della in a more positive light than they'd seen her in.
There were no interruptions until I got to the bit when I had heard from my bunkies that Della usually wanted to kill the girls she befriended.
"And you still wanted to be friends with her?" Briana said. Her eyes burned. "Were you crazy?"
"Um, I actually avoided her for a few days after that." I admitted.
Briana calmed down. "Okay, okay. Sorry. Go on."
It was only when I got to the part when I died that I got another interruption. This one was calmer, though. Briana spoke first. "That's the moment. The bite doesn't hurt that much, does it? But that moment when the venom gets to your heart and makes it stop – that's when you die. That shudder meant you were gone."
"I felt it too." Sarah said in almost a whisper. "The bite didn't feel real. That was the one thing that made me realize that my life was over."
Then I told the bit about my friends. Finally, it was over.
"So..." I said shyly. "What's your opinion?"
"I still think you're nuts." Sarah said instantly.
Briana nudged her. "She doesn't mean that." she said quickly. "She knows what it's like to find it hard to make friends."
Sarah nodded. "Yeah. But I would've rather been alive than had one friend."
I shrugged. "You knew Della was a ghost from the start. I didn't. We decided to stick together on the second day of camp. I didn't know for sure until after halfway." Then I was struck with a thought. "Briana, what happened to you? I heard a lot about Sarah, but not you."
The darker girl stared into her lap for a moment. Then she sighed. "Della, can't you tell the story? I've already told it to Sarah. I don't want to think about it again."
Della gave a nod. "There was a spare bunk in Briana's cabin that summer." she began. "So I acted a bit more like a true camper that year. I slept in the spare bunk, showed myself to the supervisor so I could swim and be someone's buddy, ate in the mess hall – and no one was any the wiser. Anyway, I knew I'd have to look for a buddy in my cabin, and I chose Briana because...well, I liked her best."
Briana cut in at that point. "Wait! That's why you chose me?"
Della actually managed a little giggle. "Well duh. Why would I want to hang out with a girl I didn't like?" She carried on with her story. "So I tried to befriend Briana, but she and Meg were already besties. I could've gone after her other bunkie, but I don't know...I just didn't. Briana didn't like me for some reason. Like, right from the start. Meg was fine with me, though. So when I first asked Briana to be my buddy, just for one day, she said no. By Visiting Day, she knew what I really was, but no one believed her. And then I started trying to scare her away from the lake."
"And on the last day of camp, I just decided I couldn't take it any more and tried to get through the forest." Briana finished. "And you know the rest."
"That's why I didn't show myself to anyone but Sarah the next year." Della took up the story again. "I was worried that might happen the same way. I didn't expect Briana to act like a camper for another summer. I mean, I knew she was around, but we never saw each other, really."
"I avoided you." Briana told her bluntly. "I knew you'd try to make friends with me if I didn't, and I didn't want to have to keep telling you to go away. And...well...by that point, I needed a buddy. I figured that Della's tactic was actually a good one."
Sarah looked thoughtful. "But...if you wanted a buddy, why didn't you try to lure Meg to the woods?"
Briana rolled her eyes. "Meg has a major future ahead of her. But my plan was never to lure anyone to the woods, anyway. I knew Della was going to try again. I figured I could rescue whoever she went for, and then-"
"They'd be your buddy." All three of us chorused.
Sarah smiled sadly. "I guess that's what happened. So...was it completely a coincidence that you and the other girls gave me a second chance?"
Briana shrugged. "Not exactly. It was my idea, and I sort of guessed something when I heard someone calling to you at the campfire to be her buddy – I didn't see Della there, but I figured it had to be her when I heard it, but you were the only other one who seemed to hear it. But I actually did think you deserved another chance – I mean, you'd suffered enough." She stopped, and then turned to me. "So, you want to hear our judgement?"
I nodded, not sure if I was making the right choice.
"Well, you made your choice." Sarah spoke up. "So as long as neither of us have to see you again, I'm going to let it go."
"I guess that's okay." Briana agreed. "I'd rather some retribution, but..." she sighed. "I'd rather leave than be bothered making another ghost pay for her actions. But..." she gave me a sideways glance. "Are you going back to Camp Cold Lake this summer?"
I shrugged. "Probably. I'm not tied to it any more, right?"
"I guess not." Briana said. "But you should probably both go or stay, just in case."
Della shrugged, too. "I guess I could go under a different name and pretend to be alive. It's been a while since I was a living camper. Most of the counsellors never knew me. Even Liz only started at the camp about five years ago, although the water safety rules were taken just as seriously." She smiled at me. "So, you, me, Camp Cold Lake this year?"
I grinned. "Definitely!"
Briana and Sarah exchanged looks. Then they shrugged, waved, and left.
I'm planning on ending this story pretty soon. Brooke is still coming to terms with her death. Going back to her deathplace might be just what she needs.