Reckless Magic (Page 14)

“I think it’s a forest, and yes, there will be some hiking involved,” Lilly gave me a dejected look. “Your shoes are cute though,” she offered me a bleak smile.

“Not for long….. Is it too late to go home?” I rubbed my bleary eyes, trying to focus on my brand new hiking boots.

“Afraid so. Come on,” we grabbed our things and followed the rest of the students out of the bus.

Someone started pulling backpacks from the luggage compartment and Lilly and I found ours and strapped them on. Aunt Syl and I had to go on an emergency shopping trip since I owned none of the essentials. Normal people don’t keep things like sleeping bags, hiking backpacks, portable stoves, canteens and two-person tents lying around. Ok, well some normal people did, but not me.

I looked around at the other thirty students and doubted any of them did either. Everything looked brand new and high tech; I even saw a random price tag still attached. We might as well have been a commercial for Coleman.

Lilly looked so tiny underneath her gigantic backpack I was convinced she was going to tip over. Her bright red hair covered by an army green hat, she peered out from underneath it barely able to see. But she bore the burden surprisingly well as we made our trek into the wild unknown.

Mr. Lawly appeared to know where he was going, and he was constantly consulting a compass, but after an hour of ruining my brand new hiking boots, I was skeptical. That a group of thirty or so students were following this man blindly into the wilderness did not seem like the brightest idea to me, but I guessed he was trustworthy. And if something were to happen to our only chaperone, I was sure the thirty of us would know exactly how to rough it in the wild until someone came to find us….. yeah, right.

“You’re not afraid are you?” a familiar English accent had come to walk beside me, creating an equally familiar electrical buzzing throughout my veins. And so the shock therapy began.

“Of what?” I asked dryly, not sure what to expect and completely positive I didn’t want to be bothered.

“Of bears and mountain lions and such,” Kiran said seriously.

“There aren’t any bears in the middle of Nebraska,” I laughed incredulously, although inwardly I was cringing.

“Are you sure? We’re close the Niobrara River. I’m pretty sure there are bears, mountain lions and wolves. I hear they like to prey on unsuspecting girls who have clearly never been camping before. This is their home you know, you are the intruder,” he grew more dramatic with every syllable and although I knew he was just trying to scare me, I hated to admit that it was working.

“Oh, and you have been camping?” I glanced at him skeptically, but noticed that his hiking boots looked well worn. “But yes, I am sure, now go away,” I didn’t have the patience for him and I couldn’t afford to faint if we had much longer to go. My pack was getting heavy and my sweat pants were starting to get too hot.

“But who’s going to protect you from the big bad wolf?” I could hear the smile in his voice but I refused to look his direction as I trudged on past him.

“I can take care of myself.,” I called over my shoulder and caught back up with Lilly.

“What was that about?” she asked softly, always the discreet one.

“Ugh. Kiran, playing his games again,” I knew that Lilly wouldn’t understand what I was talking about, but she was polite enough not to ask. Although I considered her a close friend now, I had never been one to open up much to others. I expected she was the same way, since she had never said a word about Talbott, but I saw the way they looked at each other.

I scanned the wilderness in every direction, telling myself over and over that Kiran was just joking, but a small amount of fear crept its way through my body. And then the worst thing possible happened; Kiran snuck up behind me grabbing both of my shoulders and shouting “boo” loudly in my ears. I screamed bloody murder and jumped at least five feet. The entire class turned around to see what the commotion was and all I could do was hang my head in embarrassment. I could hear Kiran’s snickers behind me and I had half a mind to turn around and punch him.

“Alright kids, we’re here,” Mr. Lawly called out from the head of the group. We walked into a clearing in the middle of a dense forest. I could hear running water not far away and assumed it was a creek or a river or something. The space was wide enough to accommodate all of us although I saw no outlet for electricity. The realization that this far out there was no possibility of real plumbing also occurred to me. Welcome to hell.

Although all of the upcoming “P.E. classes” were a bit more involved, this particular one was basically just about surviving. I would have been terrified of what the other ones entailed if I could have been sure I was going to make it through this one. However, the outcome of this weekend was looking more and more pessimistic.

The rest of the morning was spent setting up the campsite and going over the rules. Mr. Lawly talked on and on about what to do with food, and trash and how to go to the bathroom. Yuck. He also gave a long lecture about not wondering off, not pulling pranks and not swimming in the river alone…. or naked. Blah, blah, blah.

After Lilly and I had successfully set up our tent, and gotten sufficiently dirty we headed over to the river with our fishing poles. Mr. Lawly’s idea of camping included “catching” our lunch. This was going to be interesting.

The entire class was set up along the bank, every student holding some type of fancy fishing rod. We found a quiet space at the nearby stream and set up our own respective poles.

Well, we tried to set up our fishing poles. Eventually Mr. Lawly made his way over and explained what we needed to do, and then eventually he just ended up doing it for us. If I wasn’t so frustrated with my freaking fishing pole, I would have found the image of thirty very privileged, very snobby prep school kids trying to catch their own food hilarious. I had just learned why fishing was considered a sport.

I stared into the stream for what seemed like hours, but in actuality was probably more like thirty minutes. I was starving, I was dirty and I was never going to catch a fish, and even if I did the chances of me actually eating it were very slim. Well, at least I wouldn’t have caught a fish if I had the chance.

As I watched the water, hoping for a glimpse of anything fish-like, and tried to ignore the humming of electricity running through my veins at a steady rate I noticed Seraphina approaching out of the corner of my eye. Her habit was to usually ignore Lilly and me, so I didn’t think anything of it, until she stopped directly behind me.

“Stay away from Kiran,” she growled threateningly.

I half turned my head to say something snotty, but she didn’t give me the chance. I felt her palm on my back and with surprising force she shoved me straight into the stream of ice cold water. My head just barely missed a rock in the shallow end of the riverbank, as I went face first beneath the surface, drenching myself completely.

I rolled over quickly into a sitting position with my knees sticking out of the water, not entirely sure what to do. I was horrified and humiliated. I looked around to see everyone laughing at me and somewhere I could hear Mr. Lawly yelling “What did I say about swimming!”

“You’re right Mr. Lawly, I felt like a swim and therefore dove into the freezing cold, three foot stream, with all of my clothes on, on purpose,” I thought to myself.

From where I sat, water flowing over me; I could see Seraphina and her groupies all laughing and pointing. I couldn’t say that Talbott didn’t warn me, but really was any of this my fault? I thought I had left Kiran alone, though clearly not soon enough.

My eyes continued to roam until I found the boy in question, standing away from the crowd staring at me without any smile on his face. I couldn’t make out his expression, but I knew mine was one of pure disgust.

The electricity already shaking my body began to rise with my temper. The angrier I got, the stronger the energy pulsed through me. I had never felt it that strong before. Anger turned to fear when I realized I didn’t know what I was going to do with it. I was so unsure of how my body was going to react to that much force that I was terrified to even stand up. My hands began to shake and I was fully aware I was about to look more like a freak than ever, if that was even possible at this point.

I had to get out of there, I had no other choice. Even if I fainted, at least maybe I could get to shore first. It would have been better than drowning in the middle of the cold shallow stream with an audience whom I doubted would even come to my rescue.

I slammed my hands in the water, to push myself out of the slow current, but that, unfortunately, turned out to be a big mistake. As soon as my palms touched the cool water, energy erupted out of them and what I created was beyond bad.

A giant tidal wave, of what seemed to be the entire river engulfed the shore. I watched in terror as all of my classmates and Mr. Lawly were suddenly and unexplainably covered head to toe in a torrential downpour. Well, at least no one was laughing anymore.

In fact, no one said anything, they all just stared at me….dripping wet. Fish lined the shore, but most of the students continued to hold onto their poles, completely shocked. Seraphina gave me a death stare, even Lilly looked less than happy.

I stood up as the riverbed began to fill again and walked straight through the crowd of people. No one said anything or even attempted to stop me. I didn’t know what I would have done if they did. There was no explanation I could think of that would make sense; there was no explanation I could even give them period. I couldn’t explain what just happened myself.

And so with head down, I marched straight back through the woods and into my tent. I realized it was just a tent, that the only thing separating me from the outside world was a thin layer of canvas, but it would have to do for now.

I ripped off my wet clothes and flung them outside the tent opening. I grabbed my sleeping bag and used it for a towel, regretting the action as soon as I realized it now smelled like river water. I finally found some new clothes and threw myself down on my air-mattress.

Eventually I would have to face them again, but now was not the right time, I was positive of that. My hair was drenched, still dripping and smelled like fish. I closed my eyes and breathed in the solitude, even if it only lasted a minute. I might have destroyed what little illusion of sanity I had left, but at least I had expelled the electricity for now and maybe, just maybe could get a few minutes of rest.

Chapter Thirteen

Eventually everyone dried off. Mr. Lawly made several small fires for all of the students to sit around. He also gave everyone a dried food packet he had brought along for emergencies. I doubted he expected he would need them so soon.

Thankfully Mr. Lawly didn’t banish me. He was actually surprisingly nice; he even built Lilly and me our own fire so I wouldn’t have to face the other students yet. I supposed dealing with thirty vengeful high-schoolers was enough punishment for one girl to endure.

Our activity for the afternoon was supposed to be a long hike through the wilderness. Thanks to me, and the fact that everyone’s shoes needed to dry out, it would only be a short hike through the wilderness. Just in time to get back and try to catch our dinner, hopefully tsunami free.