Summer really was the best season to be a kid in Myso Valley, California. Of course, very few people would know that. The town was so small it wouldn't show up on any map; you couldn't find it if you were looking for it. Although, those who lived there might wonder why you would be looking for such a place at all. With a population barely reaching 230, it was affectionately called many names by its residents, chiefly The Wrong Side of No Tracks, Hufker's Folly, or Hootersville. Of course, none of these nicknames would make sense if one wasn't familiar with the area...
The biggest attraction the town had to offer was the Hooters. Granted, it was a well kept place, but the appeal only reached to young college students with time off, escaping Alameda for awhile. And honestly, there was no policy about public drinking limits in Myso, so after a certain time of night, customers stopped eating, but continued their heavy drinking. It could get pretty dangerous.
It had always been dangerous, though. Philip Hufker found that out the hard way, when he founded the town way back during the time of the Gold Rush. He thought it would be a good idea, and it almost was, until he actually struck gold, and was killed for it by bandits. Ironically, the Hooters was built over his former property. Rest in peace, Mr. Hufker.
The town had no train tracks, but the boys of Myso Valley had a reputation for being...those boys. The boys every girls' parents dreaded their daughter meeting. The boys from the wrong side of the tracks. Who came up with the idea, no one knows. But it was an unspoken rule that the teenagers of Myso Valley were to be avoided.
But the dusty little town wasn't home to strictly bad people. Those born there loved their shops, their church, their grocery store. And they loved seeing the kids of the summer season. These were the handful of kids whose parents dropped them off, with a half hearted kiss or hug, and then sped back to civilization. Five of those kids were military brats, who lived near each other in Alameda, and were best friends. Those five specifically, were town favorites, because they were polite, respectful, and helpful.
Take for example, Alex Charter, the 16 year old son of a Navy commander, who couldn't be trusted with staying alone all summer while his parents traveled. He was shipped out to stay with his grandmother in Myso Valley, setting the chain reaction that followed.
James Wilson, the impulsive 15 year old (15 and a half, as he would constantly remind everyone) had to bunk with his uncle -who spent all day at a bar- while his step dad and mother were on separate submarines somewhere in the Pacific.
Kristen Macheer's single dad decided that if James and Alex were going to visit family, then Kristen would be fine visiting Alex's grandmother, whom she had never even met. He arranged it with Alex's parents, and it was settled. Kristen grudgingly agreed, as long as he bought her a new canvas and a fresh set of paints.
Diana Fitz wasn't surprised when her dad had to work in The Middle East. When he said he would be gone for all of June and July, she dutifully hugged him and pretended she didn't know her mother would just drop her off at a friends' house in Myso and jet to Vegas with girlfriends from her "book club," (which was really more of a "wine club". ) She just planned on making the most of Myso Valley with Alex, Kristen and James.
What did surprise her was when Tim McGee had to come with them. Tim, 16, made up the last of their little group, and basically was known as the quiet, and seriously smart one. Yes, he usually spent summers in the Valley with the rest of them, but he also spent some time in one camp or another. Usually math or science camp. Tim's dad, annoyed at his son's lacking in football, soccer, or basketball, decided to send him to be with his grandmother, Penny, like the rest of his friends.
So, for the fourth summer in a row, the teenagers were dropped at Myso Valley, where they settled in, and went out to meet the other Navy brats in the area. During the days they went swimming, saw movies, and basically did every odd job the elderly neighbors could want.
But during the night, they liked to just hang out. Their meeting spot at an all night diner -cliché, but standard- kept the food coming, while they just enjoyed being off school.
So, life was good. But good old Hootersville was dangerous during the nights, and after a month in town, an accident altered the kids' lives forever, and by the end of July, three were dead.