Camp Cannibal

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Distance

"....."

I'm lost. I'm confused. I burned Jaiden's bracelet. I mean I knew she had more but...

"What?" I ask in a monotoned manner.

Florence just stands there. Just barley holding her tears back.

"Wait here." I say. I tread my way to Ashley almost losing my balance. It feels like the world is in slow motion as she comes into my line of sight.

She's laughing surrounded by campers. I stop right before I reach her. I can't ask her in front of everyone.

Thoughts start to dart around in my mind. What if she's the killer? It can't be, Ashley wouldn't do that...would she. I look back at the laughing Ashley.

No. She wouldn't. She wouldn't

There's probably a good explanation.

But no matter how much I want to hear that explanation I can't bring myself to ask her about the bracelet. I see the unmistakable Jaiden designed bracelet dangling around her arm. I'll do it eventually. But not now. I can't now. My heart starts to sink. I miss Jaiden.

I turn back to Florence. I see her sitting down on a log. She looks like a statue. I can worry about Ashley later. I have to comfort my friend.

I walk to Florence and sit down next to her.

She leans her head on my shoulder and I pull her into an embrace. She clings onto me and we stay like that for the rest of the evening.

§§§

Morning came and surprisingly Florence was okay. Well, she acted like she was okay.

"Good morning..." I say.

"Morning." She smiles at me

"Good day." Madeline says.

"Good Morning." I respond.

I'm over our little spat but I'm not sure how to feel about her at the moment. I get up and make my bed.

Elise comes out of the bathroom dressed. She quickly walks over to Madeline's bed and sits beside her.

I watch Florence go in after her. I'm not sure if she's really okay.

I decide not to mention last night.

I plan on talking to Ashley today. I have to know where she got that bracelet. For Florence.

§§§

Florence and I enter the grand cafeteria which seems pretty empty because of the minimal amount of campers. I love it. We get into line, grab our breakfast, and sit down at an empty table. I'm ready to dig in until Florence nudges my arm.

"Huh?" I ask.

Florence points at Ashley. I knew she wasn't over it but to my surprise she didn't look upset.

"Okay so Ashley is my main suspect right now since there's literally no one else that's sus." Florence blabbers on.

"Okay, what are you even talking about?" I ask confused.

She stares at me with an excited expression and stares singing the mission impossible song.

I distance myself from her afraid of what she might do but my efforts are wasted as she grabs me by the shoulders and pulls me in close.

"We're spiiieesss." She whispers.

"....yea, no" I say.

"What do you mean no? Yes. We. Are. If we figure out who the killer is we could be like famous! We'll be like Scooby Doo and the gang! You can be Scooby, I'll be Velma, and Henry can be my shaggy."

She says that last part all dreamy like.

"First, of all that's dangerous. This isn't some goon in a costume, this is a serious murderer.

Second, of all we are not equipped to handle this person. It's mostly likely a man and neither of us are strong enough to fight him or know how to fight.

Third, of all..why am I the dog?!" I exclaim.

She laughs.

"Because you are as cute as one!" She says pinching my cheeks. I slap away her hands.

"Also, Ashley's a girl and I'm positive I can kick her B U T T!"

"Look! We are not spies. The only thing I'm gonna do is ask Ashley where she got the bracelet and that's it." I tense.

"What if she lies?" Florence says.

"Do you wanna be the one to tell a potentially dangerous murderer that we know she's lying?" I ask

She stays quiet for a second.

"You better not say ye-"

"Yes."

I rub my temples.

"Never mind."

I close my eyes. I go over what I'm going to say to Ashley. It's not even hard. It's just "I like that bracelet. Where'd you get it from?" I smile. My smile drops. Okay, okay, you got this.

I turn to Florence.

She's gone.

I frantically scan the cafeteria and I see her approaching Ashley. "No, No, No, No, No!" I quickly stand up and run to Florence's side. Unfortunately, she's already started talking.

"So, like that's a super cute bracelet!" She starts, being a little overdramatic.

Ashley doesn't seem to notice.

"Where'd you get it?" She asks.

"Oh, I wasn't the one who bought it. It was a gift!" Ashley says.

Florence and I look at each other.

"Um, from who?" I ask.

Ashley shrugs. "I don't know. I got it from a secret admirer on Valentine's day." She says. "Isn't that cute!" She beams.

"Hah...yea." Florence says.

I know what she's thinking about. Jaiden went missing February 3rd. Declared dead February 10th.

And Ashley got Jaiden's bracelet for Valentine's.

I notice Florence's mood change.

"Well." I cut in. "Thanks, for telling us. We're gonna go back to our table now." I drag Florence with me.

We arrive at our table and eat in silence.

" So it's someone close to Ashley."

Florence suddenly says.

"Huh?"

"The person who gifted her the bracelet, it's someone close to her or at least an acquaintance." Florence reasons.

"How do you know? It could just be some random psycho who likes her." I debate.

She looks at me.

"Most people who get murdered or stalked by someone, it was someone they knew."

I think it over. She was...right.

"This was too personal to be a stranger. It could be someone from the camp! O-or one of her friends! They killed....her..then knew Ashley likes bracelets and gave it to her." Florence concludes.

"Most likely a man too, since it was given to her for valentine's day." I say.

Florence gives me a little slap.

"Hey! What was that for." I say.

"Lesbians and Bi people exist." She says.

"I know! I said most likely."

§§§

"Okay, campers!" Railey's authoritative voice starts. "Today we're rotating activities! We have Badminton with Henry, making instruments out of vegetables with Dennis, jewelry making and painting with Ashley, and horseback riding with me!"

Florence chokes a little. "Horseback riding?" She asks me. I nod. "The only horse i've ever ridden was a rocking horse!" She yell-whispers.

"Everyone find your camp counselor, they will lead you to your first activity, after that you will walk to your next one when the timer runs out. Break!"

Everyone quickly found their counselor and started heading to their first destination.

Florence linked her arm with mine. "This is it. My last day on earth! I'm gonna die majestically on a horse." She dramatically puts the back of her hand to her forehead. I know she's just joking but I don't wanna hear about her dying.

We arrive to the stables.

"Pick a horse and saddle up." Railey instructs.

Florence looks at me helplessly. I help her pick a horse and put on a saddle. Don't get me started about her getting on the horse.

We eventually make it out of the stables. Railey leads us on a nice walk around the campus, then Florence got bored, tried to go faster and ended up not being able to control her horse. Railey had to catch up the her and grab Florence's horse by the reins.

There was a lot of second hand embarrassment. Soon it was time to switch.

"Soooooo..." Florence puts her hand on my shoulder. "I think that went well." I roll my eyes and walk a bit faster.

Florence gasps. Sadly, I already know why. Henry.

He was wearing a fitting white athletic crewneck with matching white shorts and sneakers. He waved when he saw us coming closer. Florence walks in front of me. "How do I look?" She asks.

"Fine." I say.

"Fine?! Just fine?!" Florence furiously starts fixing her hair. I chuckle as I grab a badminton racket and walk onto Henry's court.

"So." Henry begins. "I believe you remember your badminton champion." He says arms wide open.

"Well, "badminton champion" you are about to meet your demise!" I joke back.

Henry is ridiculously good at badminton. I've never beaten him before, nor has anyone else.

Florence struts onto court.

"Oh! A new competitor." Henry smiles.

"If you're so good, then why don't you play against Corinne and I at the same time?" Florence challenges.

Henry laughs. "Simple!"

"Good."

Florence suddenly serves the birdie. Henry hits it with ease.

It flies to my side, I hit it.

Henry pretends to yawn, "So, when do you think you'll lose?" He hits it.

"NEVER!" Florence chucks the birdie back to his side.

I watch in awe as Henry and Florence hit the birdie back and forth endlessly. I'm not even part of the game anymore and I don't mind one bit. I step back and watch the game unfold. Florence is suspiciously good at badminton.

Oh my gosh....no way! HIT IT! ONE MORE TIME!

Florence wins!

I run over to her. "That was amazing!" I exclaim. "Where'd you learn to play?" She shrugs. "I don't know? Just naturally good at it I guess." She pretends to be humble.

I giggle and point at the sulking Henry on the floor. We walk to him.

"No! My crown!" He fake cries. He instantly sits up and starts smiling again. "Here you go!" He hands over a pretend crown to Florence. She puts it on. "Thank you."

He stands up. "Where'd you learn to play?" He asks. "That's what I said!" I say.

Florence gives the same response.

Henry claps. "Guess, I'll just have to beat you next time." He says.

"Wanna play another game?"

Florence shakes her head but she looks a little..sad?

"Naw, that's enough badminton for the week. Imma go..put the racket away." She starts to walk away.

I start to go after her but Henry taps my shoulder. "What happened to her?" He asks.

"I'm not too sure." I say, which is the truth but...it's probably about Jaiden.

I really need to talk to someone about it. It's been gnawing at me. I've never been good at keeping secrets. Even if I keep it for 50 years eventually, I'm going to spill it.

"But.." I start.

Henry faces me. "Yes?"

I sigh. "You know her neighborhood has become kinda..popular...with the..severed head killer."

He nods.

"Her best friend died because of it."

Henry covers his mouth in shock. "Oh."

"Yea, she sometimes gets down because of it especially if you mention it." I explain.

"Well, that makes sense.... I hope she feels better soon." He says sympathetically. He starts to walk away.

"But that's not all..."

What am I doing.?

"I found her best friend's bracelet here and we also saw Ashley wearing one and we don't know who it is and it's really stressful and I just needed to tell someone." I finish.

Henry seems frozen at the information. He slowly faces me again. "Don't worry...I'll help you."

He says. My hearts flutters.

"Really?" I say. "You don't think we should call the police-"

"No." He says flatly.

I was kind of surprised by his answer. "We shouldn't worry anyone. I'll help you I promise." He says with a soft smile.

"Okay...thank you." I say.

He nods.

"Also, we found out Ashley got that bracelet as a gift for Valentine's Day."

He thinks for a moment. "Interesting."

Was all he said.

" Well, I'm pretty much as lost as you...but it's probably someone around her age and you know who has a massive crush on Ashley?" He asks.

"Who!" I wait in anticipation.

"Brandon!" He says.

I squint. "Who's Brandon?" Henry looks shocked. "You've gone here for 5 years and you don't know who Brandon is? He's one of the cooks. I doubt he's some killer but he's the only guy I know who has a crush on her."

I nod my head. "Well, we'll just have to find out."

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