Saul's tear-stained face turned insolently toward his older sister. "I'm not going, and that's that!" he screamed. "I wanna stay right here with Ponta an' nobody's gonna make me go anywhere!" He hugged the squirming puppy possessively.
Melina gave an exasperated gasp and turned away. Slamming the boy's bedroom door, she stamped heavily down the spiral staircase, frowning angrily. "I can't talk him into anything! He refuses to listen!" She plopped down on the kitchen stool in front of her oatmeal. She absently dug a hole into the middle of the steaming mound of cereal and poured milk into it.
Her mother stopped loading the utensil-cleaning unit and gave Melina a tired look. "Refusing won't do him any good. He's going to that camp. I'm just too ill these days to have that tiresome boy constantly trying my patience." She glanced at the computerized wall clock and gasped, "It's ten hours already! The bus goes by in an hour. Have you got his bag packed yet?"
Melina shrugged. "It's packed, but how are we going to get him on the bus?"
A hum was heard above. "Your father is home," was all mother said.
Dad barely managed to deposit a kicking and screaming son on the waiting hoverbus that was to transport he and his young companions to camp. The children's Summer Camp was a new one, situated in Geneva. The efficient robots which ran the institution insured good organization and even tempers. Many parents who had little time to control their troublesome charges seized the opportunity to relieve themselves of unwanted responsibilities. This was the first busload.
Saul sat sideways in his seat, hugging his knees and staring out of the window. The hoverbus stilled its hum and floated gently onto the landing circle. The other children chatted in anticipation and fumbled about gathering their belongings. Saul, alone, remained silent.
His manner was unusually calm for that of an eight-year-old. He was the last to leave the hoverbus, shrinking from the extended synthetic hand of the plastic camp counsellor as it attempted a greeting.
Saul furtively glanced about him. The fountain at the mouth of the river spurted a 120 metre stream of water into the air. Mountains loomed darkly around the lake.
The children boarded an old-fashioned tour boat that was to take them to the campsite. The children thought it to be a novelty to surge on the waves instead of skimming metres over the water. The engines throbbed noisily and the young children were fascinated by the surge and swell of the waves.
The disembarkation was swift and efficient. The robots quickly herded the children toward their respective cabins, giving them the hour for the evening meal.
Saul was hungry. Due to his frustration and anger during the day, he had refused to eat. After dumping his belongings on his narrow bed, he wandered toward the kitchen in order to inhale the supper scents.
Curiosity overcame the boy as he spotted two of the robots conversing near the dining hall. He edged within hearing distance, hidden behind the protective bulk of the hoverbus.
The animated faces were turned toward each other, feigning human conversation. "The subjects will be boarded before their alleged evening meal to be taken to Xonyn Ship. They will then be transported to Cantab in the Wen Star planet belt. They will be sufficiently prepared, enroute, for the pysiology dissections in the Cantab laboratories. The camp staff will take its leave at the same time so as to avoid procecution."
Saul was not too young to understand the exchange. His eyes widened in disbelief. Then came a deep, crushing fear. To run back to the cabin in order to warn the others would only mean death. Time was too short. His own need for survival prevented from crying out and running back.
All he wanted to do was hide. The chatter and laughter of the children became louder as they were led to the dining area and the hoverbus.
Saul backed away from the bus. The riverbank was close, so he crawled behind some bushes. He almost slid on the muddy slope ito the rushing waters, but he snatched at a stubby branch.
The tinny voices were still heard. "Children, we have a surprise for you," the counsellor cheerfully announced. "We are going for a ride and we'll have our meal on the real inter-cosmic ship!"
The boys and girls squealed with delight.
"If you will board the bus, we'll be on our way." The ecstatic children tripped onto the waiting bus, laughing and talking.
Saul felt a very unchildlike desolation as the bus began to hum. He felt terribly disappointed in everything, everyone. Most of the parents would probably never miss their troublesome charges, assuming that the children were taking up permanent residence at that convenient camp.
Saul didn't realize the cause of his feeling of total loss. He merely crouched behind the foliage, sobbing in desperation as the hoverbus rose into the air and skimmed over the grass toward the mountains.
On board, the children sang.
While enjoying Dumptser Madness today, I came across a Ziploc bag in the farthest (furthest?) corner beneath the bar. Inside, I found Cassandra, a magazine published by my classmates at Huron Heights Secondary School the year after I completed Grade 13. Yes, folks, we had Grade 13 back then, a college prep grade.
I had totally forgotten about this little zine. It was supposed to be speculative, with stories depicting the future - the year 2000. It also contains comics. We wrote the stories in 1978. A student supplied pen and ink illustrations and the Practice Office typed it up for us.
I'm pretty sure The Camp was my first attempt at serious writing. It's riddled with passive sentences and stiff prose, but I think the story had something. I had fun reading it.
Now I'm gonna Google the other authors to see if they're still writing.
(Sorry about the font colours. Blogger won't let me make them white for easier reading.)