Adventures and Such at Camp Batterfly: Part Four
"If your name begins with an A, B, or W, you can go in," said the yellow JubJub at the entrance to the mess hall. The camps with the correct appellations dashed past her and into the mess hall.
"If your name begins with a D, S, Y, or L, you can go in." Deanna and Lee promised to save seats and pushed past the crowd and ran in.
"If your name begins with M, H, O, or J, you can go in." Ona raced in.
"F, R, Q, G, or E."
More pets sprinted inside
"N, P, T, Y, or U."
"I, Q, K, or C."
The rest of the campers ran in. Zita was the only one left.
"Hmm, what letter am I missing?" said the JubJub counselor.
"Z," said Zita.
"Oh, right. Z can go in!"
Zita shuffled inside. The entire mess hall was full except for one seat, at a table full of strangers. Marissa, Deanna, Ona, and Lee looked up guiltily from a full table.
"The counselor said no saving seats," said Marissa.
Zita said, "Okay," and walked over to the one empty seat. The seat she sat at said, "Stacker" on it.
The campers sitting at that table were all younger than Zita. There was a counselor sitting there, a sketch Skeith who knew them all by name.
"I don't like macaroni and cheese!" a Pteri whined.
"I'm sorry, Molly," said the counselor, "but you have to eat it anyway."
Molly sighed loudly and poked the macaroni and cheese tentatively with her fork.
"I'll eat yours," said an Ogrin who was already done with her mac and cheese..
"No, Allyn," said the counselor, "Molly has to eat her own."
That was how it went until it was time for Zita to stack her cups. No one had spoken to her.
After lunch, Lightmite made her aware that it was Oak Ledge's turn to sweep the mess hall. She handed Zita an old broom that was taller than she was.
"Go team up with someone who has a dustpan," said Lightmite. Great. Now she had to find a partner in a unit where no one liked her.
"Excuse me, Zita?" said a small voice from behind her. Zita turned around and saw Marissa standing behind her, stooped over and twiddling her fingers. She looked awful guilty. "Would you like to be my partner?" She held up a dustpan.
At first Zita didn't really know what to say. She wasn't really mad at Marissa. "Sure," she said carefully.
"Great!" Marissa shouted, standing up straight again. The Techo threw an arm around Zita and they walked to the corner of the mess hall where no one was sweeping. Zita started sweeping. There sure was a lot of food on the ground.
"I'm so sorry there was room for you at our table!" said Marissa, "But it filled up, you see, and you can't just tell someone that they're not allowed to sit there!"
Zita understood. She wasn't even mad. But Marissa continued.
"We'll make it up to you!" Marissa yelled, getting more excited. "We have down time after lunch! How 'bout you me and Deanna go looking for the totem?"
"Sure," said Zita. Zita had swept everything in their corner into a pile. Marissa fell to her knees and held out the dustpan. They made a good team. They finished soon after. So did the rest of Oak Ledge. Marissa grabbed Zita's hand and then ran over to grab Deanna's. She dashed up to Thornberry.
"We're going to look for the totem!" she shouted.
"Good, good," said Thornberry. She smiled at Zita. "Just don't go too far. And stay together."
The three pets ran off.
"Be back by two!" Thornberry shouted after them.
"Where should we look?" asked Zita, who still didn't know the camp that well.
"Well we can't look where everyone else already looked," said Marissa, "That'd be stupid. So all the obvious places are out."
"Naturally," said Deanna.
Zita didn't know where the obvious places were.
"Let's look in the woods!" Marissa exclaimed.
"Do we have to?" said Deanna, "I don't want to get dirty."
"You're at camp, for Fyora's sake," said Marissa, "Who cares if you get dirty?"
Deanna shrugged. She followed Marissa into the woods. The fell onto their hands and knees and began searching through the leaves.
"This is hopeless," said Deanna, "We can't possibly do this for the entire woods. It couldn't possible be here."
"True," said Marissa, "And we also aren't technically allowed off the path."
Zita had forgotten that. She stood up immediately. and brushed herself off.
After that, the campers decided they'd follow the hiking trail. The one that went all around camp. And they'd look very closely. They still had an hour. They had time. The path twisted and turned and split many times, but Marissa knew where she was going. They walked past the nature cabin. Marissa waved hello to the counselor there.
The counselor said, "Hello, Marissa. Glad to see you back!"
The took multiple turns and ended up at the archery range. Marissa warned them that they had to stay very far away. The totem wouldn't be there. It had been half an hour and they still hadn't found it. Deanna suggested that they head back.
"Sure thing!" said Marissa. She stood on one leg and pirouetted around dramatically and began walking the opposite direction. "We can keep looking tomorrow."
Marissa expertly navigated the twisting path with confidence. Well, at least it started out that way. Her confidence waned as she had them turn around a couple times, saying "Wait no, it's that way." Zita and Deanna exchanged looks. They continued to follow Marissa, because, she still knew the camp the best.
"So, Zita," said Deanna, "You're from Terror Mountain?"
"Yup," said Zita.
"I love Terror Mountain! I go there every year for the Advent Calendar!" said Deanna.
"Cool," said Zita, "I work at the Advent Calendar."
"Really? That's so cool!"
"And you're from Meridell?" said Zita.
"Yes, I am."
"My Faellie Scout troop went to Meridell a few months ago. We helped Illusen, and farmed at Meri Acres. And the we played Extreme Potato Counter until our heads were spinning!"
Deanna laughed. So did Marissa, who overheard.
"You guys are so lucky!" said Marissa. "Neopia Central is so boring!"
"It is not!" said Zita, "You have the Rainbow Pool! and the Money Tree!"
"And all the stores!" said Deanna.
"But we don't even have a yooyuball team!" Marissa cried.
"You like yooyuball?" Zita exclaimed.
"I love it!" said Marissa. "I root for Roo Island, because they're the closest to where I live."
"They're a good team!" said Zita. "Better than mine. Or as they're called, 'The Worst Team a Fortune Can Buy'. "
"They're been doing pretty good lately, your team," said Marissa.
"My owner and brother are sending me daily letters detailing how Terror Mountain is doing."
"Way cool!" said Marissa.
"Well, you better be ready," said Deanna, "because Meridell is climbing the ranks!"
Deanna jumped into the air while she said that, so all three pets started laughing.
"Yeah, we're lost," said Marissa, seemingly finally giving up. They were in the middle of the woods. There was no one around. It was 1:50. They were going to be in so much trouble. They didn't really seem to mind though. They were having so much fun.
They travelled single file down path when it got narrow, humming along to a Sticks n Stones song that they all knew. It was now stuck in all of their heads. That seemed awfully funny to them.
Finally, they reached a unit. There were a bunch of campers there, along with a counselor.
"How," Marissa panted completely out of breath, "Do you we get back to Oak Ledge?"
"You're right next to Oak Ledge," said the counselor. She gestured down the path. Oak Ledge was right there. The three friends blushed. They dashed back to their unit, just on time. They were greeted by Thornberry and told that it was time to change for swimming.
Zita didn't want to go to swimming. She wouldn't get to be with Marissa or Deanna, because they were a different level than her. Marissa and Deanna didn't bring it up, and they chatted happily as they hiked down the hill. They continued conversing as they put their blue caps on their heads. Zita held her yellow one in her hooves. Marissa and Deanna finally realized the problem and looked concerned. Soon enough, Marissa had an idea. She called over Ona and Lee. They were yellow too!
"Hey, Zita!" said Ona, "Looks like we'll be swimming together!"
"Yeah!" said Zita. She didn't even feel shy anymore.
That day they had swimming lessons. They went quickly while Zita, Ona, and Lee laughed together.
After swimming they had arts and crafts where they made flowers out of tissue paper. Zita's didn't look anything like a flower. Marissa's was even worse. They couldn't stop laughing.
That evening, they all got to sit together for dinner. When they were done eating, the JubJub counselor got up to announce something. Everyone at Zita's table, as well as everybody at all the other tables, seemingly knew what she was going to say before she did. Marissa nearly leapt in the air.
"It's time to get prepared for our first campfire!" the counselor exclaimed.
Everyone cheered, including Zita.
"So you'll all need to collect firewood and learn some camp songs!" said the counselor.
Zita thought that sounded like fun. Even Deanna was jumping up and down from excitement. Oak Ledge couldn't wait to get started!
To be continued...