Military Holidays

Chapter 5. Unexpected results

Two hours later we gathered near the canteen.

‘The swimming pool here is great,’ Sunny said, looking pleased. ‘It’s so big, and long, and there are even two diving boards.

‘Yeah, why don’t you come with us next time,’ Liz suggested.

‘No, thanks,’ Tom wrinkled his face.

‘You’re a so not-athletic person,’ I snorted.

‘It depends on the way you look at it,’ Tom protested.

‘You’re not-athletic any way you look at it,’ Sunny grinned.

‘Have you brought the purgative?’ I decided to get to the point.

‘Yeah, sure,’ Tom nodded and pulled out a vial of transparent liquid from his pocket.

‘Okay, let’s go then,’ Liz said. She looked pale and quite nervous. She and Tom slipped into the canteen.

‘Look over there,’ Sunny jerked her head to the left. ‘Our good friends are coming.’

Wilson was coming towards the canteen, surrounded by Christina and four of his mates. He oozed self-importance and self-confidence. Christina was chattering, keeping her eyes on Victor. He graciously listened to her. But walking past us, he winked at Richelle. It drove me insane. Christina also noticed that of course. She gave Richelle a glance full of fury.

Wilson stopped and looking steadily at us, asked his mates: ‘What’s our motto?’

‘Tit for tat!’ they chorused.

‘That’s it,’ Victor grinned meaningfully and opened the door of the canteen.

‘Michael hasn’t given permission to come in yet,’ Elmo called him.

Wilson turned around and stared at Elmo as if he saw an odd insect. Elmo’s cheeks immediately went bright pink.

At that moment the door swung open. Michael was standing in the doorway.

‘Come in,’ he called.

We all came into the big canteen. People on duty were running in all directions, carrying trays with dishes and glasses. Our table had been already set. Two boys were serving dishes with soup.

Tom rushed past me with an empty tray. I grabbed his hand. ‘Okay?’ I asked.

He nodded joyfully and hurried away.

I felt a great tension inside. I knew it was just a purgative, but I felt as if we were going to give Wilson potassium cyanide or something like that. I forced myself to keep calm and sat down at the table between Richelle and Sunny. The others seemed to feel the same. Even Sunny looked uneasy.

Liz and Tom soon joined us. They both looked pale and nervous. From time to time one of us cast a casual glance at Wilson. We just couldn’t help ourselves.

Victor hadn’t touched his glass of juice yet. At first he talked to his friends, then he said something to Christina. Then he started lazily eating his soup.

I couldn’t stand it. I started eating my soup too, just to keep myself busy. It was probably delicious. But to me it tasted like savorless water or something. All what I could think about was Wilson’s juice. Why the hell doesn’t he drink it, a thought rounded in my head all the time.

I glanced at the others. Tom pretended to be eating soup, but the spoon in his hand was treacherously shaking. Richelle was sipping her juice, looking down at her plate. Elmo, Liz and even always calm Sunny were lazily picking up meal in their plates.

‘Okay, we’ll discuss it later,’ I heard Victor say.

I glanced secretly at him and couldn’t help smiling. Wilson was drinking his juice. To hide my excitement I also grabbed my glass and started drinking greedily. Then I felt that I was hungry as a wolf and pounced on the soup with appetite.

Suddenly Sunny snorted. I glanced at her and smiled. So did Tom and Liz. And all of a sudden we all burst into causeless laughter. I guess it was because of overexcitement.

‘You’re too cheerful today,’ Wilson said. ‘Be careful. Laughter easily might turn into tears. Yeah?’ he looked steadily at me.

‘Drop dead,’ Tom snapped.

‘Be quiet,’ Christina said rudely. ‘Otherwise someone’ll be sorry.’

‘Yeah,’ I grinned. ‘Someone’ll be sorry, that’s it.’

‘You got it at last,’ Wilson didn't catch the real sense of my words.

‘I wish some girls would get it too,’ Christina looked steadily at Richelle. Victor crossly glanced at her. Richelle giggled. Christina’s beautiful face went red with anger. She reached for the saucer with fruit jelly.

I tensed. The conflict was about to move into a new phase, but Michael saved us again.

‘Go to your rooms!’ he commanded. ‘Quiet hour!’

I sighed with relief. I completely didn’t feel like fighting with Wilson and his friends and then brushing fruit jelly off my hair and clothes.

‘Let’s go,’ Richelle took my hand.

###

We left the canteen and walked along the gravel path towards the girls’ building.

‘We’ve done it,’ Tom whispered excitedly.

‘I was so scared,’ Richelle melodramatically sighed. ‘The glass of juice is on the table, but he doesn’t touch it. But now it’s over. Soon he’ll get what he deserves.’

‘Don’t jump to conclusions,’ Liz said doubtfully.

We reached the girls’ sleeping building, when Wilson with his retinue came up to us. Christina wasn’t with them this time.

‘Is there something else you want to say to us?’ I asked defiantly.

‘Relax,’ Victor grinned. ‘I just want to warn you. All of you. I don’t want any conflicts at the party. In fact I don’t want any conflicts at all. But I don’t like it when people cross my path. And my patience is already running out of.’

‘And when our patience is over…’ a fair-haired guy began, but Victor flatly lifted his hand to stop him. The guy went quiet.

‘Anyway,’ Victor went on. ‘I want to give you a piece of friendly advice. People I don’t like usually leave the camp earlier than the others. And…’ he made a meaningful pause, ‘they’re lucky if they escape from here in one piece.’

Saying this, Wilson abruptly turned round and sauntered away. His retinue trailed after him.

‘Poor our Godfather,’ Tom shook his head tragically.

‘Yeah. Life is so unpredictable,’ I grinned to him. ‘You feel like a chairman of the world, but a sword of Damocles is already hanging over your head.’

‘You two count chickens before they are hatched,’ Sunny drawled doubtfully.

‘Relax, Sunny,’ Tom winked at her. ‘No one can cope with my purgative,’ he said and laughed ominously like Lucifer.

###

The rest of time before the party we spent in intense expectation. During teatime we watched Wilson, hoping to notice symptoms of approaching catastrophe, but he was acting as if nothing was happening. He ate his piece of cake with pleasure, drank his tea, and left the canteen, accompanied by his mates. Although Tom positively said that it was too early. According to his calculations, the first symptoms were to appear only in an hour or two. So we had no choice but to wait.

###

After tea time we played volleyball. That is only Sunny, Liz and I were playing. Richelle was sitting on a bench, watching us and looking bored. Elmo stood like a log all the time, from time to time attempting to catch the ball. Tom, quite the opposite, was running around the court, playing fool and cracking jokes.

Then there was dinner, which Wilson, to our deep indignation, swallowed with noticeable appetite. When Tom, who’d served dishes in the canteen that day, brought dessert, Victor remarked that he liked Tom much more as a servant. Tom listened to this with Olympian calm.

Christina for some reason wasn’t at our table. Secretly from Richelle I looked around, looking for her. I thought she could sit at another table, but she wasn’t anywhere in sight. I wondered where she could be.

When dinner was over, we started enquiring Tom why Victor still felt well, to which he replied that it was too early. As he put it, it takes different time for different people to feel effect from medicines. And Wilson was probably one of those people, who had strong organisms.

‘Okay,’ Richelle said. ‘I’m going to my room now. The party is starting soon. I need to prepare.’

She, Liz and Sunny opened the door of their building and disappeared inside.

‘I’m going to change, too,’ I said. ‘I don’t feel like going to the party in this costume of a mountain knight.’

‘Who wants?’ Tom muttered.

###

Hardly had we changed into our normal clothes, when someone knocked at the door.

‘Open the door!’ we heard Liz’s insistent voice.

Elmo went towards the door.

‘Why have they come?’ Tom said in surprise. ‘We arranged to meet near…’ he broke off. The three girls rushed into our room. They’d already changed for the party and made hairdos. Richelle was wearing makeup.

‘You, stupid killer,’ Liz rushed over to Tom. ‘Do you know what you’ve done?’

‘What?’ Tom gaped at her.

‘Whom were you supposed to poison?’ Sunny demanded.

‘What are you talking about?’ Tom’s eyes darted from Liz to Sunny.

‘You, crude killer!’ Liz angrily grabbed Tom’s shoulders and started shaking him.

‘Tom, answer please, whom were you supposed to poison?’ Sunny slowly repeated with a threat in her voice.

‘Hey, what’s going on?’ I put in.

‘Nothing is going on now. It has already happened,’ Richelle replied. ‘And it happened because of our wonderful poisoner.’

‘Has Wilson died?’ Tom’s face paled. He slowly sat down on the edge of his bed. ‘But…What…’

‘Wilson is going around safe and sound!’ Liz shouted. ‘He looks stronger and healthier than a mule!’

‘But Christina was sent to the doctor with suspicion of acute dysentery,’ Sunny added.

‘And the girls from next room said that she had spent at least two hours in the toilet before that,’ Richelle said meaningfully.

‘What?’ my jaw dropped.

‘It isn’t my fault,’ Tom said immediately. ‘I dropped the purgative into Wilson’s glass.’

‘Why then Victor feels absolutely well, while we can’t say the same about Christina?’ Richelle asked.

‘How would I know?’ Tom shrugged. ‘Maybe it’s a coincidence.’

‘A coincidence?’ Liz stamped her foot.

Then the girls more or less clearly told us what had happened. Hardly had they come into their building, when Marina came running up to them and asked how they felt. She was in panic. She said that Christina Anderson had been sent to the doctor because of diarrhea. She would have to spend a few days in a separate room. But if analyses confirmed dysentery, Christina would be sent to the hospital in the city. And the camp probably would be closed till the end of the investigation.

When the girls finished, we all stared at each other in dismay, trying to understand how this mistake could happen.

‘I think Tom just put the purgative into the wrong glass,’ Sunny suggested.

‘I’m not a fool,’ Tom started to defend himself. ‘I counted the chairs and put the glass of purgative juice right on Wilson’s place.’

‘Victor and Christina could change places,’ Elmo said. ‘Does anyone remember where they sat at lunch?’

None of us remembered that. We all were too busy hiding our nervousness.

‘I’m afraid that Elmo’s right and they changed places,’ I sighed.

‘But I still think that it’s a coincidence,’ Tom didn’t agree again. ‘Christina disappeared soon after lunch. The drug couldn’t affect her so quickly.’

‘If you put twenty drops of purgative instead of five, it easily could affect her so quickly,’ Liz objected.

‘I don’t understand why you’re so upset,’ Richelle cheered up suddenly. ‘I am personally glad. We wanted to get rid of one enemy. We’ve done that. Actually, I don’t care who it is, Victor or Christina. Now we have one less enemy to worry about, that’s the point.’

‘Besides I still think that it’s a coincidence and Victor will come down soon, too,’ Tom still hoped.

‘We’ll see,’ Sunny wasn’t so sure. ‘We’ll see.’


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