12 January 2011

an excerpt from DAY CAMP

here's a chapter from my newly-completed and in-the-process-of-being-edited novel(ette). whatcha think?


“You can't do it! You can't do it!” Anna bellowed from one of the benches.

The group sat at the red picnic tables in the center of everything: the sports field, the church, Ms. Annie's white building. They tore out lunch bags and devoured their contents with haste, as if they needed to finish before something catastrophic happened. Their counselor, at the head of the tables, read one of those teen magazines with big pictures and brightly-colored fonts.

 “I can do it better!” screamed Anna above the roar of the group.

Of all the campers at Aphanyk, she was by far the loudest. She could be heard for miles around; neighbors didn't complain about the camp generally, but they complained about Anna, especially when she was on the nature hike, where the trails run parallel to a farm. The farmer there said his chickens were once so spooked by the sound of Anna's voice, they didn't lay eggs for the whole rest of the week.

At camp, she went largely ignored. Her constant stream of noise became background very quickly. Even overcautious Ms. Annie stopped processing Anna's shrill voice. This, however, did not seem to stop Anna.

“Hey! Let me show you! Hey! Hey!” Anna broadcast to the satellites in space. She held up a drawing she'd made to the others around her. They looked at it briefly, nodding, then went back to their goobers and fruit juice.

Anna decided to take a walk, because she wanted a drink of water and the only place she could get it was from a hose around the side of the white building.

“Hey, counselor lady, I'm getting a drink,” shrilled Anna.

She wasn't supposed to do this by herself, but her counselor still examined the models on page 42 with great interest. So Anna went by herself, past the tables where her fellow campers ate, down the gravel path beside the white building, and around the corner into the gravel lot. She shouted a song as she went, as only she could. It was one of the silly songs Frank taught her.

“A Pizza Hut, a Pizza Hut! Kentucky Fried Chicken and a Pizza Hut!
A Pizza Hut, a Pizza Hut! Kentucky Fried Chicken and a Pizza Hut!
McDonald's, McDonald's! Kentucky Fried Chicken and a Pizza Hut!”

The hose was attached to a spigot off the side of the building. It was a very powerful hose; one of the reasons you needed two people to go was because the spigot was up a slight hill, and it would send you flying down that hill if you weren't careful. So the buddy system was in place for one to turn on and the other to drink, then to switch.

Anna figured she could do it herself, no problem.

“McDonald's, McDonald's! Kentucky Fried Chicken and a Pizza Hut!”

Anna climbed up the hill with the end of the hose in hand, pushing gravel down in her wake. At the top she put a hand on the spigot and tried ever so gently to twist it open. It wouldn't budge.

“A Dairy Queen, a Dairy Queen! A Dunkin' Donuts and a Dairy Queen!” Anna continued singing.

She tried again. She knew she wanted just a trickle, not the full blast of the hose. It really wouldn't budge. It was stuck or something.

“A Dairy Queen, a Dairy Queen. A Dunkin' Donuts and a Dairy Queen!”

She decided it wouldn't hurt to give it a really good twist, because it was so hard to turn. She got her hand ready on the spigot.

“Roy Rogers, Roy Rogers!—”

Anna twisted with all her strength, and magically it opened. She went to point the hose at her face when she lost her footing and fell over into the gravel, still holding the hose, which now shot at her with such a great force, propelling water and gravel into her face. She screamed and shouted as she tumbled and bruised. When she hit the bottom, sopping wet and covered in dirt and gravel, she screamed more; she yelled; she begged for someone to come save her.

And, mysteriously, no one heard.

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