Hi, I'm back! After... a really long time, I know, I'm sorry, I needed a break to adjust to college (which was an absolute nightmare) and some time to work on my mental health and solve some problems in my personal life and yeah, all that, but I'm back, with a new chapter, so yay! This story kind of splits into two parts, like two seasons of a TV show, and this is the start of the second part, now that they know who the shooter is. I hope you all enjoy this chapter! Oh, and thanks for all your awesome reviews and favouriting/following this story, it means a lot. OK, enjoy the chapter :)
Oh, and btw, I put up some new character art for this on my Instagram: steampunkwilson so if you're interested in those, check it out :)
"Max, come on, come inside."
"No, I don't want to..." Max couldn't even finish his sentence. He was shaking, not just because of the cold. He couldn't believe what he had just gone through.
"Max, you need to let me look at your arms. You're bleeding!"
Max glanced down at his arms, and sure enough, he was covered in scratches from climbing out the broken window of the car. Now that the adrenaline had died down, they were beginning to hurt quite a bit. He shook his head.
"No, you need to look at Neil. He's been shot, I think he might be..."
"Neil's fine, for now. Nikki's with him, she's trying to stop the bleeding, and I need to check if the other kids are alright. I can't just leave you here."
Max didn't want to move, but let Gwen drag him to his feet. They headed over to the Quartermaster store, where the lock had been completely broken. It looked like they had arrived just in time. Max hated to think about what would have happened if they had arrived a few seconds later.
Cautiously, Gwen pushed open the door, and tried to make out the shadows lurking in the dark. Suddenly, a sharp hook attachment flew past her ear, narrowly missing her.
"Stay back demon!" A high pitched voice cut through the darkness.
"Nerris!" Gwen gasped. "It, it's just me!"
A gasp was heard and Nerris came forwards into the light. She looked terrified, and was clutching another hook attachment as a weapon, and her precious dice.
"Gwen!" She cried, and threw herself at the councillor, hugging her tightly. "I thought you were David!"
"Whoa, it's fine Nerris. David's... we took care of him, OK?"
"You did?" Another voice came through the shadows, and Ered appeared, along with Nurf, both of them looking shaken up, but trying to wear a brave face. They both cracked into expressions of relief.
"Are you OK?" Gwen asked anxiously. "Are you all OK?"
Ered was about to nod, but then hesitated.
"What?" Gwen asked, and then gasped. "Dolph and Space Kid, are they-"
"They're fine!" Ered said quickly. "Well, Space Kid passed out, I think he might be in shock. And Dolph…" The three kids shared glances at each other.
"He's unconscious too." Nurf said eventually. Gwen sighed a little.
"I'm glad you're all OK, just... take them into the Mess Hall, I have to sort out, um, Neil." Biting her lip, she turned and dashed off. The other kids were left staring down at Max.
"Let me guess." Nurf said quietly. "David's the shooter."
Max nodded. Silently, Ered and Nurf picked up the two youngest campers from the floor and the six of them went into the mess hall. True to the name, it was a mess, so Max quickly got onto the floor to clean the breakfast stuff. Nerris helped him until all the trays were washed and they all sat in silence, waiting for the other two to wake up.
Eventually, Max realised that he was still bleeding, and he really did need to take care of himself soon, or he'd pass out. He grabbed a first aid kit from the kitchen and attempted to unstick some plasters while moving his arms as little as possible.
"What are you doing?" A voice startled him, making him drop the kit. He turned to see Ered standing behind him, frowning.
"I just... I needed to fix my arms up." Max gestured to the cuts. An expression of surprising tenderness came over Ered's face as she approached him.
"You need to clean them first." She said. "With water and soap, and use the anti-bacterial wipes. Then you can bandage it."
Max frowned, and went over to a sink, doing what he was told.
"How do you know this stuff?" He asked. Ered shrugged.
"I've gotten myself into a few scrapes with my skateboard back home. My dads made sure I knew how to patch myself up before they let me out on my own." Max nodded and washed all the mud and blood off his arms before coming back to the kit for the wipes. Ered held one out the him and together, they managed to patch Max up.
"Are you injured?" Max asked after securing on some bandages. Ered shook her head.
"Nah, just... shaken up I guess. I mean, I used to think that when you're cool, things just kinda work out." She looked down at the ground. "And now... being cool has done nothing! I couldn't even look after the other kids!" Max watched as the person he had respected and looked up to (secretly) for so long, bit her lip and rubbed her elbow where her jacket had been torn like she was an anxious kid in trouble. "And I'm the oldest. It's my responsibility to-"
"No it's not!" Max said angrily. Ered looked up in surprise. "Gwen said that too, but this isn't her fight, or yours! This is my fault, I'm the one who Jasper wanted to break the curse! I was the one to make friends with him in the first place! I have this stupid power that I can't control! This is all my fault, my responsibility, I dragged you all into this mess and now Neil's probably dead, David's gone crazy and everyone else has gone to shit!" Max barely managed to keep himself from bursting into tears in front of Ered. "I'm just so sick of this mess, and, I can't believe I'm saying this, but I want a nice normal summer at camp where the councillor isn't a sociopath and my friends aren't in danger!" Max stopped for a minute, breathing hard. Ered bit her lip again.
"OK." She said softly. Max blinked in surprise. "You want a normal summer like any other kid. You're entitled to that, dude." She gave him a small smile. "I don't care who started it, we're in this together. This is Camp Campbell, weird creepy shit is mandatory!"
Max laughed a little, and a small smile returned to his face.
"Thanks Ered." He said. "You're right, we are in this together." Ered grinned and raised her hand for a high five. Max was about to return it when Nurf appeared at the kitchen window.
"You guys, Gwen's coming back with Neil! And it looks like she's gonna need all the help she can get!"
Nikki had never seen so much blood. She sat there, her hands on Neil's stomach, shaking and trying to keep it together. Gwen had told her to put pressure on the wound, to not let go, no matter what. She didn't let go, even now when Gwen had carried Neil to the Mess Hall and laid him on a table on top of one of her bedsheets. She kept her hands pressing down on her friend, she didn't want to let go...
"Nikki, Nikki, hey. Look at me." Gwen was there, a hand on her shoulder. "I need you to let go of Neil now, I need to have a look at him, see if I mend it."
"Gwen told me not to let go." Nikki stammered. "No matter what."
"It's me, I'm Gwen, come on Nikki, I need you to work with me here." Gwen gently pried Nikki's hands away from Neil, and she was left alone, shaking, nothing to hold onto.
"Nikki, come here!" She felt a hand on her shoulder and flinched, turning to see Nurf. He didn't look threatening, however, he looked sad and was holding out an arm towards her. Nikki hated to look weak, but sometimes, she really did need a hug. She leaned into him, staining his yellow shirt with her bloody handprints, and felt him wrap his arms around her, keeping her safe, or enclosed.
Gwen was in the background, shouting stuff at the campers, move Space Kid, get me a first aid kit, someone go to town and call an ambulance because we can't get any fucking phone signal, and the campers executed her orders with surprising efficiency. Nikki drew back from Nurf's hug and he looked down at her.
"Are you alright?" He asked. Nikki gave a shaky nod.
"Yeah, I'm fine. Can we, uh, go outside. I don't like it in here."
Nurf nodded. "Let's try make it to town, we can call Neil an ambulance. And I think I need some fresh air." With a small nod towards Gwen, the pair slipped out of the noisy Mess Hall and out into the sunshine. Nikki looked around for David's unconscious body to be lying on the grass where she had last seen it, but it was gone.
"I think Gwen moved him." Nurf said in answer to her unspoken question. "To the councillor's cabin, where she got the sheet. She said she locked the door too."
Nikki nodded and the pair headed down the dirt path together, out of the camp. It was a lot quieter here, just birds flitting through the trees and animals scurrying in the undergrowth. Usually, Nikki would be among them, but she didn't feel like it today. She didn't want to be alone with just her and the wolves or the platypus, wherever she was, she wanted to have someone, someone who knew exactly what she had just seen.
"Hey Nikki?" Nikki looked up to see Nurf looking down at her, a rare smile on his face. "It's gonna be fine, trust me. I've seen stuff like this before. Doctors will be able to fix that little poindexer up, annoying and nerdy as ever."
Nikki smiled back, very faintly. "You know Nurf, when I first got here, Neil told me that you used to be a bully. But you don't really seem like that now. You seem like a pretty nice guy."
Nurf laughed softly. "I had a few personal revelations last summer. And it all applied to the year at school before I came back here, and now I'm a changed man. No more sticking to the social cliché that society forces on youths of troubled backgrounds. No, I want to better myself. I don't want to end up in jail like my mum."
"I didn't realise your mum was in jail."
Nurf nodded. "Oh yeah, she went down for some minor robberies when I was younger, but now she's in there for the next eight years because of manslaughter."
"Ooh." Nikki felt herself getting excited about criminal violence again, beginning to let Neil's condition slip from her mind. "What kind of man did she slaughter?"
"My dad." Nurf shrugged, looking mildly uncomfortable. "Yeah, he wasn't a good dad. She was just defending me, but the stupid jury didn't see it that way. Stupid legal system, they're so fucking pretentious! Once you've gone down for house burglary, nothing counts anymore! Now I have to live with my uncle and he-" Nurf stopped suddenly. "This probably isn't a good conversation to have in this situation. Why don't you... tell me about your parents?"
Nikki shrugged. "I don't really have a dad, but my mum is great! She's always there, just letting me do my own thing, sometimes, she even goes out and lets me make dinner for myself! I burned my hand that one time, and it's kind of annoying when I have to clean the kitchen after making pancakes, but she's cool! Sorry you can't see your mum."
Nurf was wondering whether or not to point out that Nikki's mother might not be as cool as Nikki thought, when they both suddenly stopped walking and he felt something large and invisible hit him in the face.
"What the fuck-" Nurf stumbled back. "Is this... like a wall?" He placed his hand against it.
"Invisible wall huh?" Nikki frowned. "Hmm, brute force!" She rammed herself towards the wall, and bounced off it, landing on the ground. "Hmm, that didn't work. How about we try poking it with a stick?"
Suddenly, Jasper's voice exploded out of nowhere, scaring both the kids.
"YOU ARE GOING NOWHERE!" The familiarly angry tones of the resident ghost sounded, echoing around the forest. The birds and small animals fled at once, scurrying away into a quieter reigon of the forest. Nurf and Nikki froze, ready for combat.
"Where is he, I don't see him!" Nikki said anxiously, bouncing from foot to foot. Nurf frowned, glancing around. Jasper's voice was sounding from the wall itself.
"I think it's like a voicemail." He said slowly. "He's not actually here, he just... left a message for anyone who tries to leave camp."
"But... if we can't leave camp..." Nikki's eyes widened and she looked panicked. Nurf felt the reality of the situation set in with a jolt. If they couldn't leave camp then Neil was in real trouble.
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