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Sandy slammed her locker shut for the last time and pulled the lock off. Jessica, who had begged and pleaded and stamped her foot until she was ensured the two's lockers were neighbors, closed hers as well. For the first time in their relatively short lives, both girls were in an awed silence. Jessica, the more talkative of the pair, was quick to remedy that.
“Wow.” She gasped, turning on her friend. “This is it. We're done with school for like, forever.”
“Forever is one summer?” Sandy asked with a lopsided grin. “We're done with elementary, not school.”
Jessica stuck her tongue out. Immediately both girls began laughing. In just a few minutes, seven years of school was done for the best friends. Together they headed back to the class room where they had sat for six long hours daily to return the locks to Mrs. Gilligan.
Inside the room looked much neater than it ever had, although in reality it was simply empty. All the desks were wiped clean and arranged in neat little rows. The floor had been swept and mopped, the windows were washed, and all the normal clutter had been packed away in honor of Mrs. Gilligan's retirement. While the rest of the class found their seats for the last time, Sandy noted that the board had HAVE A GREAT SUMMER written on it in bold blue letters. Jessica pulled her away from the board so they could find seats together.
“Now I know that you guys are excited for the summer-” Mrs. Gilligan was cut off by a loud cheering from the sixth graders in her class. “But for some of you this is the last chance to go on the Elmwood Elementary week long camping trip!” She tried to sound exciting, but very few of the class felt the same.
“It won't be the last chance for Thomas.” Jessica whispered just loud enough for everyone to hear. The class laughed, minus a stringy ginger boy who made a face.
“I'm not going anyway.” Thomas said in a voice that was angrier than the situation called for. “My parents are taking me to Paris!”
The classes attention shifted to him. Jessica let out a little humph! And sank into her chair. “I can't believe we have to go.” She whispered.
“At least we're going together.” Sandy replied calmly. Most of the sixth graders had gotten out of the optional school camping trip, but Jessica had been roped in to watch her little brother, Colin. Sandy, being the wonderful self-sacrificing and wholeheartedly loyal best friend decided to go with her. A few kids actually wanted to go, but they were mostly the social outcasts who refused to believe that education continued after elementary school.
Sandy sighed. Even if a few more kids her age were going, she was sure that the whole week would feel like the two of them surrounded by little kids. There was nothing she could do about it now though. Jessica was counting on her to go.
Mrs. Gilligan had finished talking and was standing in front of the class room silently, like she didn't know what to do, when the bell rang. The kids, all of whom were done with Elmwood Elementary, jumped to their feet and cheered. The teacher seemed little taken aback as they streamed from her room without so much as a goodbye.
“Oh my god.” Sandy said as she looked back at their teacher. “We will never see her again.”
Jessica snorted. “Goodbye and good riddance.” She replied nastily, tugging at her friends arm. Sandy looked forward again, all thoughts of the sad looking older woman gone from her mind in an instant.
There was a loud thud as Jessica threw her last bag into the back seat of the camp bus. Sandy let out a long sigh. “that's the last one.” She said, patting her hands on her jeans.
“I can't believe that we have to ride in the kindergarten bus.” Jessica whined. Since only a few sixth graders were going, the principle figured there was no reason to buy them their own bus. So the kids were split into all the other buses. They had hoped to be put in the fifth grade bus, but Jessica's parents wanted her to be with her little brother.
So it was that twenty minutes later when the bus pulled out of the parking lot, Jessica had done her best to get as far away from her brother as she could. While Colin sat in the front of the bus, Jessica and Sandy were in the seat furthest in the back, surrounded by five tiny girls. Sandy tried to smile at them, but the little girls were loud and the things they talked about made no sense to the older girls.
“But unicorns only eat moonlight and rainbows!” One whined.
“No! I saw one once. They are mean.” Another called back.
“Yeah, they have that sharp thing on the top of their heads.”
“That's a horn” A tiny redhead pointed out.
“No Cherry! It's a spear!” Another girl yelled back at her.
Jessica put her hands over her ears, as if she had a chance f blocking the kindergartener’s voices out. Sandy could only smile at her friend's pained expression.
“I thought you knew how to deal with little brats.” Sandy whispered.
“I know how to deal with one.” Jessica shot back. Then a wicked grin spread across her face. Sandy knew that smile, her friend often wore it before they got into large amounts of trouble. She almost wanted to stop her friend, but decided if Jessica had something to get the girls to stop talking, that she would just go along with it.
“Have you kids ever heard of werewolves?” Jessica asked. The kids stopped talking suddenly and looked at her. Jessica's grin widened, she was loving the attention.
“What's that?” One of the girls asked. She was the thinnest of them, and she had freckles and red hair. Sandy remembered that one of the other girls had called her Cherry. What kind of parents names their kid after fruit?
Jessica laugh was airy and sounded a bit forced. “Oh you haven't?” She leaned forward, until she was close to one of the girls. “That's probably for the best. You guys would be too scared.” And she sat back suddenly, her lips sealed and eyes closed, waiting for the girls to take the bait.
They looked at each other. The one furthest from Sandy looked frightened, but the rest were giggling with excitement. “Tell us!” Cherry cried finally. “Tell us, tell us, tell us!”
Jessica cracked one eye open. “Are you sure?” She said slowly. “I mean, they are very scary creatures.”
“Tell us!” The girls said together. Jessica had them.
“Alright, but don't say I didn't warn you. Werewolves used to be normal people like me and you.” She began by taking turns pointing at the girls sitting around her. The girl at the end shrieked when the finger was pointing at her. “Until one day they get bitten by a mad wolf! Once you get bitten, well you turn into one of the wolves.” Jessica looked out the window. The sun was starting to fall under the tree line, which meant that they would be arriving at camp in less than an hour.
She pointed at the just barely visible sun. “They only come out at night, once a month during the full moon. And that's tonight!” Jessica shouted the last sentence unexpectedly, causing the girls to scream in fright, except for Cherry, who managed a laugh instead.
A teacher sitting at the front turned around and called for the back to quite down.
“Sorry!” Sandy yelled back, but she was smiling as much as Jessica was. They both could tell that none of the kids were going to sleep well that night. But that was just fine because...
“What do you mean we're sleeping in the kindergarten room?” Jessica cried as soon as they stepped off the bus.
“Ms. Spencer please stop yelling.” One of the kindergarten teachers, Mrs. Darvil, replied sharply. “We don't have enough girls your age or teachers to open the last cabin. You will just have to be in the same cabin as the girls you rode with. Besides, they seem fond of you.” Mrs. Darvil added, waving at the group of five wide eyed girls.
Jessica ran her hands through her hair and groaned angrily as soon as Mrs. Darvil was out of earshot. “I can understand riding with them.”
“Even though we didn't sit with your brother.” Sandy pointed out quietly.
“But having to sleep in the same room?” Jessica pouted. “I remember that room, it was awful.”
And so it was. The room was poorly lit, like some of the lights had gone out and no one ever bothered to replace them. But that was not even close to the worst part of it- everything in the room was a different color, and somehow absolutely nothing matched. Sandy didn't even know there were that many colors.
“Oh my gawd.” Jessica cried upon entering the room. “It's like a crayon box threw up in here.”
The girls looked at each other for a moment, and burst into laughter. “You are so weird.” Sandy smiled.
“Of course.” Jessica replied, waving her hand. They both picked up their bags, Jessica had twice the amount, and dragged them to the back corner of the room, towards the bunk furthest from the door. Both girls knew the drill after so many years of a week at camp. The first night you unpack and go to bed, but this year seemed like it would be just a little bit different. The older girls had just finished unpacking when the group of girls was back, this time with more of their friends.
“Hi Jessica.” The little red headed girl said, rocking back on her heels. “Can you tell us the story again?”
“No, we need to be getting ready for bed-” Sandy started.
“Of course I can!” Jessica said, spreading her arms out wide and patting the bed she had just made. “Come sit by me and I'll tell you all.”
Sandy rolled her eyes, but leaned over from the top bunk to be as involved as she could be. The young girls all crowded onto Jessica's bed, and those who didn't fit sat on the floor. So Jessica began her story again. She made it as scary as possible, waving her hands like claws, and howling. Sandy would let out a ferocious growl whenever she was sure that the kids had forgotten about her.
By the end, three of them had cried, and one of them had jumped up and ran away. Jessica couldn't help but laugh at the scared faces they were making. When the teacher in the room called for lights out, the rest of the tiny group had to be taken to their beds individually so they “wouldn't get eaten by the wolf.”
Jessica and Sandy were still laughing to themselves when the lights finally went out. In the dark, Sandy leaned down and received a high five from her bunk mate. The girls had one final laugh, and fell asleep. The room was brightly lit by the full moon, and the only noise that could be heard was the gentle breathing of the girls.
Sometime just after midnight, Sandy was woken suddenly by a soft tug. She almost screamed, but had the sense to look down first. Cherry was standing at the bottom bunk, tugging at both of the girl's sheets.
“Whut?” Jessica slurred sleepily, tugging her sheets back.
“What is it?” Sandy asked, leaning over her bunk. She wobbled slightly, and jumped back to avoid falling from her bed.
“I heard something out side.” Cherry whispered, her face a mask of fear. “Please go check for me?”
Jessica pulled the pillow over her head. “No. I'm asleep.”
“Sweetie there's nothing outside, go back to sleep.” Sandy tried to sound comforting, but after hearing the child's fears her own fear's started to flare up. Sandy thought for a second that she too heard something, but no, that was crazy. It was a camp for elementary kids. The scariest thing that could get on these grounds would be a hungry raccoon.
While Sandy had fallen into a mental loop of alternatively scaring and reassuring herself, Jessica had already risen from her bed, stretched, and took Cherry by the shoulders. “Are you coming?” Jessica asked.
Sandy snapped from her circular thoughts. “Of course.” She said and hopped down from her bunk, wincing as she landed with a loud thud. The two other girls froze as well, but after a minute no one heard anything. Jessica sighed and shot her friends the shh face.
The three walked slowly toward the front door. Jessica seemed to have no cares in the world. Sandy wondered if she could properly function this early in the morning.
“I bet it was a werewolf!” Cherry was whispering to Jessica. “I just know it has to be. It was loud and I think I heard it howl.” She went quite when it became obvious neither girl was listening to her. Jessica walked forward with a blank look, and Sandy was counting the pools of moonlight she stepped into.
Once they reached the door, Jessica hesitated. She glanced around at the nearest beds, where a few of the kindergarten teachers were sleeping soundly. Apparently satisfied that the teachers were not faking it and getting ready to bust them for being out of bed, Jessica twisted the knob slowly and stepped outside. Sandy and Cherry followed closely.
“See?” Sandy said, throwing her hands out wide. “Nothing here.” She them took a moment to look around. She could see why all kids were required to be in their rooms by nightfall. This place was spooky. The trees seemed to be leaning in, and was Sandy imagining things or was it getting foggy...? Sandy fell back into her loop, frighteningly looking around at the trees, grounds, and cabins.
Jessica took a few steps forward, didn't hear anything and turned around. She became fully awake in an instant. “Sandy.” She whispered urgently to her petrified friend, but it was no use.
“You made two mistakes with your story.” Cherry said in a voice that was far from what it should have been. It was deep and heartless, rasping as though she were out of breath.
Cherry was quivering, her arms were stretching, her nose got longer, but somehow she kept talking, in a voice that got gruffer by the second. “We don't need a full moon to transform, but it makes the process simpler.”
Sandy finally stopped staring up into the dark sky. Jessica grabbed for her best friend's arm. “And second,” The wolf continued as it fell to it's paws. “A bite doesn't change you. Certainly not. It kills you.”