I figured it was time someone wrote a fic about the trip Matt and Terry mentioned in the episode "Revenant." Since I had my OC Coba Brooklyn remember the trip as well in my one-shot "Remember," I decided to write a version of the trip with Coba in it. This isn't going to be a big story like my other Batman Beyond fics, but it'll still have chapters without a prologue or an epilogue.
Don't worry, I'm still working on "The Enemy Inside," but I've hit a writer's block. And I've been more focused on drawing stuff lately. ^^;
I do not own Batman Beyond or its characters: I never have and probably never will. I only own my OCs that appear.
Warren McGinnis sighed, rubbing his brow. Why did I think this was a good idea?
Ever since his oldest son Terry was released from juvenile hall, Warren had been trying to take him, Terry's little brother Matt, and Warren's daughter Coba Brooklyn on a camping trip before school started that fall. Convincing Terry and Matt's mother, Mary McGinnis—Warren's ex-wife—to let the boys come with him and Coba had been a challenge, but the woman relented when Warren pointed out that he was the only father Matt and Terry knew.
"Alright, then," she had said with a sigh. Her green gaze narrowed into a glare. "But don't come crying to me if it doesn't work out."
"You know I won't do that. I'll just gloat that it went well."
Now the red-haired, middle-aged man was unloading the car, which was parked in a campsite in a national forest. Terry reluctantly helped with the heavy-lifting while bickering with Matt, whose attention-span was too short to focus on helping instead of chatting or seeing a squirrel and chasing it. Coba struggled to keep herself busy aiding in unpacking, though it was obvious that the noises coming from the boys were overwhelming her.
"That's enough," Warren said sharply, causing Terry and Matt to look at him and Coba to flinch. "Matt, help Coba with the food bags."
"I-I can get them, Dad," Coba promised, nervous that she had failed to meet his expectations because of her sensitivity. "There are only a few left to—"
"Don't argue with me, Coba," McGinnis reprimanded her. He immediately regretted his harsh tone with her as he saw her eyes start to well up with tears.
Terry rolled his eyes when Coba hid her face and shook with suppressed sobs. "Seriously? Another emotional meltdown? That's the third one today!"
Warren glared at the fourteen-year-old. "Go pitch the tent. Matt, give him a hand—without hitting him!"
"Aww, man!" Matt moaned.
"Whatever." Terry carried the tent kit to the spot of grass and flopped it down, then unzipped it to get the parts out. Matt followed suit, awkwardly helping his older brother spread out the tent.
Coba struggled to pull herself together. "S-sorry, Dad," she said meekly.
The man pat her shoulder. "I know you want to prove you can help out, Coba," he said gently, brushing a tear from her cheek, "but I was really trying to find a way to get Matt to help instead of distract Terry when I said that."
His daughter blinked, casting a glance in the boys' direction. "That didn't work out so well," she said grimly.
Before Warren could ask, a solid thump was heard. "Ow!" Terry yelled, yanking the hammer out of Matt's hands while hopping on one foot. "What was that for?"
"It doesn't matter!" came the boy's cheery reply. "It's in the past!"
The girl struggled to hide a smile at the Lion King reference. Though Warren was glad Coba cheered up a touch, he had to reprimand Matt. "Matt! Go sit at the table for five minutes. And be quiet!"
"Aww, man!" Matt moaned for the second time.
"Make that ten." Noticing the boy was about to open his mouth again, Warren quickly added, "One more noise and I'll make it fifteen!"
Frowning, Matt went over to the campsite's wooden picnic table and sat down, cupping his hands around his chin and putting his elbows on his knees. Sighing, Warren looked at Terry. "You okay?"
"Yeah, I'll live," Terry replied somewhat irritably. "Assuming you even care," he muttered to himself, his voice too low for Warren to hear.
Warren turned his gaze to Coba, who had managed to calm down. "Why don't you go help Terry? It's more of a two-person job, anyway."
Coba gave him a quizzical look that was mixed with fear. "But he doesn't like me," she whispered. "None of them do."
"They just don't know you yet, that's all," Warren tried to reassure her, though he knew that it was not the entire truth. Mary did not like Coba because she was Warren's daughter from an affair he had with the late Natalie Brooklyn, and would express it in front of their sons. Though Matt isn't really my son, he thought. He's also the result of an affair, but of one Mary had with someone she met at work. Despite that, I can't help but love Matt like he's my own anyway. "This might help you break the ice with Terry."
"That's a lot of ice to break through," she murmured.
"Can you please give it a shot, anyway?" Warren asked calmly. I know this is all hard for you, he wanted to say, especially since your mother died not long ago, but you mustn't let it stop you. "You know you'll have to live with him and go to school with him in a few weeks."
Brooklyn hesitated for a moment, then nodded. "Okay, Dad. I'll try."
Terry grunted irritably as Coba came over. He looked at her quizzically when she just stood to one side, looking at the tent. "Aren't you going to help?"
"Yes," came her reply. "I'm just taking note of which parts go where, first." After another brief moment, she bent down and inserted the thin poles into the long, thin fabric pockets on the outer sides of the tent. She then helped Terry put the open ends of the poles into their respective pins located at the corners of the tent, resulting in the fabric standing up to reveal a large dome. To keep the tent from being blown away by the wind, they hammered the pegs into the ground through each corner ring.
"Ow!" Terry exclaimed when Coba accidentally hit his thumb with the hammer while he held the peg in place, pulling his hand away as this happened.
"Why don't you hold the pegs instead?" he said slyly.
"You just want to hit my thumbs!"
"How did you guess?"
Instead of answering the question, Coba shrugged. "I suppose I can. My pain-tolerance levels are pretty high, anyway. Though it takes out some of the fun for you, doesn't it?"
Terry nodded with a frown, but took the hammer from her and let her hold the stake. Despite what he had implied, Terry did not purposefully hit Coba's thumb. Sometimes he would miss the peg, but Coba kept her hand firmly placed on the peg, with only her face slightly cringing in pain with each hit that landed on her finger. "Too bad you can't keep your feelings under control like you can your pain," he commented when they finished.
Coba sighed and nodded in agreement. "I wish I knew how to."
The teen-aged boy looked at her sympathetically. "I wish I did, as well," he said quietly.
His half-sister looked at him in surprise. "You do?"
"Yeah." For a brief moment, he felt a sense of kinship brewing towards his half-sister, but he shoved it away and glared. Why should I be nice to her? he thought angrily. She made my parents split! "What? You think I like being angry all the time?"
"The thought did cross my mind," Brooklyn admitted, looking away. "But your tone suggests that you don't like it. Huh? Who's that?"
Terry turned to look at what concerned Coba. A dark green SUV with the forest's name—which Terry had forgotten—had pulled up behind Warren's car. A tall, brown-haired woman with hazel eyes got out of the driver's seat. Her medium-length hair was tied back in a ponytail. "Must be a forest ranger," he heard Coba murmur.
"What makes you say that?" Terry asked.
"Her uniform and hat are the required apparel for this district. I looked it up before we left the house. Plus it says on the side of the rig."
McGinnis face-palmed. How did I miss that?
"Are you Warren McGinnis?" the woman asked Warren as she walked up.
Warren stopped unloading the car and looked at the ranger, offering his hand. "Yes, I am. You must be Ranger Susan Muldoon. We spoke on the phone."
"That's right," the woman smiled, shaking his hand firmly. She looked at Matt, Terry and Coba. "These must be your children."
"Yes. My sons, Matt and Terry, and my daughter Coba," he replied, gesturing to each in turn with a hand.
"Hey," Terry said in greeting.
Matt almost said "hi," but remembered he was in time-out. He waved to Susan. Coba shyly lifted a hand in welcome.
"Hello," Susan replied. She looked back at Warren, lowering her voice. "I'm just stopping by to ask that you report any suspicious activity you may see, since I already told you the rules here. I take it you told the kids?"
"Yes, I have. I'll even tell them again. What do you mean by 'suspicious activity?'"
"Some recent campers have complained of strange sounds, as well as some campers going missing," she said solemnly. "We—the other rangers and I—haven't been able to find the source yet, and there hasn't been a missing persons report in weeks, but that doesn't mean the trouble is gone for good."
A look of worry shadowed Warren's face. "You're sure us staying here is alright?"
"As long as you all stay close together and stick close to the trails, you'll be fine," Susan assured him, "though I don't like the idea of letting people keep coming before the problem's resolved." She handed him four devices. "Give your children each one of these digital trackers and keep one for yourself. We're giving some to all guests now to make extra certain that nothing happens to them. If they get lost, we can track them down and get them back to their groups."
"Good idea," Warren nodded.
"I better be on my way; more campers to check on," she said, raising her voice back to a normal volume. She started for her SUV, but called over her shoulder, "Stay safe, and enjoy your stay!"
"We will!" Warren promised.
The four campers watched the ranger leave. Coba was first to notice the devices in Warren's hands. "Why do they want us to use tracers?" she asked.
"How did you know they're tracers?" Warren inquired.
"Looked them up online before we left. I know the rangers are asking all guests to carry one, but it didn't say why. It was probably left out to keep the people coming," Brooklyn speculated, "though that's not exactly wise. Apparently they haven't seen Jaws."
"Yeah, not closing the beach right away when there was a shark killing people was pretty stupid," Terry agreed.
"You're saying they don't want us to know that there's a shark in the river?" Matt said excitedly, momentarily forgetting about his punishment as he noticed the small-yet-turbulent river beside their campsite.
"No one is saying that," Warren asserted. "Sharks don't swim in rivers."
Coba piped up, "Actually, some do, but usually it's for brief periods of time. Back in 1916, there were sharks—or one shark—that swam up the Matawan Creek in New Jersey, fifteen miles away from the ocean. They—or it—killed two people and injured one boy." Noticing Matt's nervous reaction and Warren's stern gaze, she quickly added, "But it's unlikely that there would be any this far away from the ocean." Unless it's a bull shark, she thought. "Besides, this river is too shallow and narrow for sharks to swim in," unless it's a bull shark, "but large enough for people to swim in—assuming the current isn't too strong."
"Geek," Terry muttered, rolling his eyes.
"Nothing's wrong with brushing up on history, Terry," Warren admonished. Where the slag did that come from? he wondered. I've never been a history buff either! "The tracers are for the rangers to keep track of us in case someone gets hurt or goes missing."
The oldest of the kids frowned. "So basically we don't get any privacy."
"They can't tell what we're doing," Coba reassured him. "There's no camera."
"No, but they can tell when we're using the bathrooms because it'll show that we're there."
"Huh. Good point."
"I have a few once in a while."
"If it makes you feel better, I can hold your tracers as you use the facilities," Warren told them.
"I guess," Terry relented.
Coba shrugged. "Sounds good to me."
Matt simply nodded.
After the group finished unpacking, Warren gave each of the children a tracer, keeping one for himself. Coba helped him prepare lunch, all the while wondering, Was this trip a good idea?
In addition to the shark attacks mentioned above, there were two more attacks along the coast of New Jersey prior to July 12, 1916, the first taking place July 1 that year. This event is commonly referred to as "The Shark Attacks of 1916."
How did you learn about that, WNR?
I was putting books away in the little library in my old elementary school when I came across Lauren Tarshis' I Survived historical fiction series. My eye immediately caught on I Survived The Shark Attacks of 1916. Curious, I sat down and spent 45 minutes reading the whole book, including the facts section Tarshis includes at the end of the stories. After that, I looked deeper into the matter, and it turns out that no one is certain of which kind of shark (or sharks) was attacking people: the two main shark species scientists have narrowed it down to are the bull shark (which can surprisingly survive in fresh water and has been found hundreds of miles up the Mississippi river) and the Great White shark (though I'm guessing it was a young one if one had been attacking people, since a shark caught a couple of days after the last attacks that had human remains in its stomach was only 7' 6" long).
The park ranger, Susan Muldoon, is an OC named in homage to characters created by late author Patrick F. McManus; Susan Parker and "Crazy Eddie" Muldoon. Rest in peace, Mr. McManus.