Some kids run away to camp on an island. Cliche? What cliche this is not cliche what do you mean!
Also I'm sorry the formatting is all over the place, sorry
And, uh, wow there are huge blocks of text
Also the names are placeholders that's why they're all such generic white girl names
And there will be character profiles coming out
What do you mean you don't know what they look like, just imagine it! (me every time I have to describe what someone looks like)
I glance at my friends, who are piled on top of each other at a table, watching Mia draw. I don't know what she's drawing, but I don't care either. I'll make her show me later. She's scratching away with a pen and the three of them are bouncing ideas off each other, yet watching intently as Mia draws her stick fiures. They're all obsessed with stick figures. Everything they do involves them. I don't think there's a single page in any of their maths books that isn't covered in stick figures.
Stick figures are ok, I guess. I just prefer for my maths book to contain actual maths.
“I'm bored” I announce, hoping at least one of them will look up. It's hard to tell how absorbed they are just by looking.
“Help us then” is the only response I get. Mia looks up at me, her curly hair everywhere, as usual. “We need help thinking up tricky maths formulas to be coming out of the school.” She continues.
Right. Of course. I should've remembered that's all I'm good for.
I ignore her request and start talking again.
“Guys, seriously. I'm so bored all the time. When was the last time we did anything interesting? Let's do something like, fun for once.”
Jade responds without looking up. “Last school holidays when we went rock climbing for Frankie's birthday.”
I groan. “Doesn't count. I wasn't there.”
“Not my fault. You were camping.”
“I knew it!” Frankie pipes up, abandoning the stick figures. “You secretly wanted to come to my birthday but your parents made you go camping!”
Yeah, right. Like I'd pass up a camping opportunity.
Snake island is amazing. You can do anything there. When we go, we're the only people on the island. For ten whole days.
Emily's in one of her moods again. It's not a bad mood, she's just really bored. Again. She's always talking about having fun, like we were put on this world just to have fun. She can be pretty insensible for such a smart person.
Smart. I suppose I'm smart. She's smarter though. Like, she's insane.
She's been going on about how we never do anything fun for a while. She's getting pretty down, so I decide to lighten the atmosphere.
“Let's run away then. We'll go to… I don't know, Italy? Somewhere.”
Mia and Frankie perk up. Oops. I wonder briefly if they'll spot the sarcasm, before realising they'll ignore it anyway.
“Let's go to the Amazon rainforest!” Mia announces.
“And how shall we get there?” I respond, staring straight at her. Delusional.
She's sitting on the picnic table, with her feet on the bench. She swings around to the edge and jumps off, saying “I need to start planning.”
I'm feeling cynical, so I respond “You'll need to learn how to build a plane first. But other than that, I think it's a great idea! I've always wanted to practice snake charming!”
Frankie jumps. “Snake charming? Snakes? Count me out.”
Mia's just begun to think about how she'll find a plane when Emily pipes up.
“Let's go camping. By ourselves.”
I look at her. Usually she's at least slightly sensible. I guess not today.
“Well” I say, getting up. “I'm going to go get my books for next class.”
After Jade leaves and Frankie remembers she has orchestra, I put away my stick figures and start to talk to Emily.
“Can we really go camping?” I ask her.
“Probably” Emily answers, and that's good enough for me. I start drawing all the things I'm going to take.
After a while, Emily looks over my shoulder.
“What's that?” She asks.
“What do you mean? It's obviously my packing list for when we go camping!” I respond. Sometimes she has no common sense.
Emily just nods, saying “when do you want to go? In a week?”
I grin at her. “Yes! But only if Jade and Frankie come.”
“Yep, I'll think of something.”
After orchestra, we're sitting in art class, but not really working, well I'm not at least. Mia's sitting next to Emily, splashing paint around. It looks amazing, don't get me wrong, but she's getting paint everywhere. Emily's also painting; but she's meticulously filling in sections of her sketch with an itty bitty brush, glaring at Mia every few seconds when dirty water splatters onto her page. Jade and I are still “researching”, since we know we'll eventually get out of painting if we're far enough behind.
We're all chatting, except Emily, who's much too focused to listen. Then Mia says
“Guys, when we go camping, we have to bring lots of marshmallows.” What? Since when are we going camping?
“Guys”, Emily says. “Let's go camping. To Snake Island.” What!? No. No no no no no.
“I am not going anywhere there are snakes.” I say. “And that's final!”
Emily just chuckles.
“There are no snakes there, don't be silly. The island's just long and thin.” This feels like a trap. Luckily, Jade takes my side. Well, sort of.
“With our parents? Mine won't want to come. And there's no way I'll be allowed to go alone. Nice idea, let's wait five years. Plus, where even is that? Some random place in the middle of nowhere? Not happening.”
Jade had tricky questions, but Emily has answers.
“With my parents. Well, that's what we'll tell all your parents. We'll tell mine, I don't know, something. And by the way, it's just off the east coast. I know a guy that'll take us there. It's really nice. And absolutely no snakes.” Emily directs that last bit at me. Darn, I'll have to think up more excuses.
“I'm not going.” I announce. “We'll get in trouble. We'll get lost. We might die. No way.”
No one responds. Mia's started chattering about all the things we're going to do there. I hear her mention snake charming a lot. She's insane. Like, crazy insane, not really good insane.
Emily's gotten out a notebook and seems to be planning how we'll get there. She probably wouldn't hear the fire alarm if it went off. Jade's not much better. She appears to be looking it up on google maps. Every so often I hear her say “cool!” and “check this out!”
This has got to be a prank. They're pranking me. That's it.
They can't just go to some random island and camp there. It's got to be breaking several laws!
Now Jade's reading over Emily's plan and pointing at things, discussing details. They're not kidding. What's happening? I hear Emily ask Jade how long we'll go for, then to check the weather.
Oh no. Its happening. Somehow.
“Guys!” I say. “Stop! Get a hold of yourselves! You can't seriously be planning this!”
They all look at me, taken aback.
“We're serious, Frankie.” Jade says. “We're going camping.” Emily nods in agreement.
“In two weeks I think, the weather'll be nice and it gives us plenty of time to plan. Do you have any preferences for food? What don't you eat?”
They're… actually serious? This can't be ok! What should I do? I guess I can't really do anything except help. I don't want to go though. So many things could go wrong! I should tell someone! But… they're all so excited. Maybe it'll be ok. Maybe I can make it be ok.
I decide to make myself start planning with them. I get assigned to work on packing lists. Good. I begin to list out all the things we could possibly need, and it begins to calm me down.
The bell rings for the end of Art and we all pack up our stuff. I collect up my list, which has become quite a pile of papers, and Emily snorts.
“Is that your list?” she says incredulously. “We can't possibly carry that much stuff. We can only pack a backpack each.”
Darn, I think. Everything's so important! What can I cross off?
Emily's looking through my list now. “You have a whole page dedicated to knives? Nah, a pocket knife each will do.” She says, leafing through the pile. “I'll take this home and go through it, ok? You can just have a day to relax a bit.”
I object immediately.
“But- We need all the things on this list. You can't take anything off it!”
“Yeah, yeah” Emily responds, putting the papers in her backpack. “Don't tell anyone, ok?”
I take the list from Frankie, feeling slightly bad that all her hard work will be ignored. It'll probably be faster to just rewrite the list, won't it.
There's so much to do! I decide not to make a text conversation about it, the chance is too high that someone's parents will see. I start to make a list of things we need to do, and it's getting pretty long. There's so much I have to do. I start sorting my list into things other people can do, especially things I can ask Jade to do, she's the most dependable.
I start sorting off the list, arranging transport (three trains and then bribing the boat guy), packing (a large backpack each) and food. (a nightmare.) It's quite relaxing but I'm very wary of anyone coming up towards my room. I don't want anyone to see because they'll know I'm planning something.
For the next three days, I carefully pack, organise, and plan, until every detail of our trip is finalised. Once we arrive safely at Snake Island, we'll have freedom. But until then, every tiny little thing needs to be accounted for. Stuffing up would be very, very bad.
Finally, it's the day before we leave. Luckily, we have school, so I can talk things over with my friends once again.
I hand them each a booklet detailing how we'll get there, along with train tickets, a borrowed pocket knife, and some other useful things. I've already given them their packing lists, but I double check they have everything they need. Then I start to talk over the plan.
“So,” I say, “Tomorrow's Saturday. We each set an alarm for 5:30. Five thirty, you hear me? No getting up later.” I look specifically at Frankie, who likes to sleep in. “Anyway, after you get up, you get dressed in cold weather clothes. It won't snow, but it'll be pretty cold. Plus, five thirty in the morning. Then, you get your stuff, leave a note for your parents that I came to get you, and sneak out of the house. If your parents are already awake, text me. I'll come fetch you. After you sneak out, we meet at my place. We do a last minute check of everything, then at six o'clock, we head to the train station. From there, we'll take the train all the way south to the Wilson's Promontory, and then we take a train into town. From there, we find the boat guy and go to Snake Island. Ok?”
I'm met with several confused looks from my friends.
“Are we supposed to remember that?” asks Jade. Luckily, I'm prepared.
“Flip to page three of your booklets please, I've written out the plan there.” I say proudly. Jade makes an approving sound and Mia begins illustrating every step of the plan. That'll do.
The next morning, when I wake up and fumble around for my booklet, I'm met with a post it note from Emily. It just says “Jade - bring as many empty water bottles as you can.” I carefully tread downstairs and into the kitchen, looking for water bottles. I find several and tie them onto my backpack. That'll do. Then, I gather the rest of my bags (Emily and I packed most of the food) and walk to Emily's house. Luckily, she doesn't live far, and I'm not even tired when I arrive. As expected, I'm the first there, and we quietly go over the lists of food and double check our luggage. We seem to have everything.
While we wait for the others to arrive, I snap a twig off a dead bush in Emily's yard. I start to whittle it. I'll need to practice so I can make cool stuff when we're camping.
I'm just thinking about making a hut and sleeping in that instead of a tent when Mia skips up to me. How she has this much energy before sunrise is a mystery, but I'm certainly glad to see her.
“Umm, Mia,” I say. “Is your sister supposed to be following you?”
“Yep!” Says Mia, and I start to wonder whether it would have been better to not tell her anything and just kidnap her. That girl can't keep a secret. I don't say any of this, because I sort of want to hear why her sister's coming.
“So why's your sister coming then?” I ask, since she's distracted already.
“Well,” Mia answers. “I was packing, and we share a room, so of course she noticed. And she was like ‘whhaaaaaaaaa we’re you goin sis' and so I told her it's none of her business but then she threatened to show Mum and I said ‘oh ok then please don’t tell Mum we're going camping secretly' and then, see, she demanded that she could come. It's gonna be so fun! We can bring your sister, and make them carry stuff, and it'll be great!” Mia blurts this out all in a rush, and I nod sympathetically.
Emily walks up to us.
“Your sister blackmailed you into bringing her, and now you want to bring my sister too? We are not bringing Sadie. I don't think we can avoid bringing Cleo but Sadie is not coming. That's final.”
I watch in amusement as Mia tries several times to do a puppy dog face before falling back on begging.
“Please can they come? Pleeeaaaseeee? Pretty pretty please? With sugar on top! And my eternal thanks? Pleeeaaaassseeeeee?” She says, jumping around. Emily stays firm, insisting that Sadie can't come. This could take a while, and we need to go as soon as Frankie arrives, so I intervene.
“Emily, Cleo will just bother us if we don't bring Sadie. They'll entertain themselves anyway. We can just give them their own tent and make them carry stuff. Plus, we have a spare half an hour, so they can pack. I know you like to be early but we don't need to be an hour early. It's just a train ride, for god's sake. We have time to spare.”
Emily huffs but agrees, and goes to wake up her sister, Sadie. I start quizzing Cleo.
“Did you pack? Do you need a list? It's going to be cold. Oh, heck, we'll have to take extra food. Do you have a sleeping bag? You're fussy, right? What do you eat? Who'll share a tent with her?”
She begins to respond but Mia claps a hand over her mouth and talks for her.
“She packed her own clothes, but she made up her own list! And she only eats bread and butter but we can just feed her broccoli, I'm sure it'll be fine! And she can share with Sadie, who has a tent, right? Emily said she had a spare!”
I nod, then grab her bag and open it.
“So what did you pack,” I say mostly to myself. When I'm done looking through her backpack, I make a list. “This is what else you need. Go home and get that stuff, but don't get caught. I'll make a food list and see what I can find.” I then go inside and find Emily, who's packing for her sister. I leave her be and shove the new food list at Sadie.
“You know where stuff is here, right? You need to find all this food for us and pack it or someone misses out on dinner.” She disappears into the pantry and I run home to grab some extra food and a spare pocket knife. They can share one; all though I'm not too keen on the idea of either of them getting a knife; if I don't give them one they'll just end up borrowing someone else's.
After I find the pocket knife, I sprint back to Emily's. I arrive just in time as Frankie's walking in the gate.
Yay! I'm so excited that Cleo can come! She's my little sister, sure, but she's also the only person that dances with me when I'm happy, even if usually she just wants to trip me over. I dance around, since I'm happy now, until I see Frankie. I run up to her and drag her over to our meetup point on Emily's lawn. Emily and Sadie are still inside packing, Cleo's been sent to get clothes, and Jade's gone home for something, so we're the only two outside. I start getting her up to date, explaining where everyone is.
“Hi Frankie! You're finally here! I bet you slept in a whole bunch, didn't you? Anyway, that doesn't matter now, because we're leaving half an hour late. Apparently Emily's just like, super paranoid and got us to leave really early or something. But it's actually really lucky because it means Sadie and Cleo can pack! Oh wait, lemme explain. Ok so Cleo saw me packing and made me bring her and then I wanted Sadie to come so like, they can play, and so now they're packing, and Emily's getting more food, probably marshmallows, maybe we should go find her, and we might get marshmallows! Anyway, Jade went home, I think she forgot her book or something, and so it's just you and me here now!” I say, getting excited. We haven't even left and we're already having an adventure!
Frankie looks worried, and says
“I knew this was a bad idea. Everything's going to go really, really wrong! I can feel it!”
I pat her on the shoulder and say “Don't be silly, Emily said there are no Snakes there. Everything will be fine! We might even go on adventures! Ooh, it would be cool if we like, nearly drowned and washed up on the wrong island! Or if the boat guy had a heart attack, and we had to drive the boat! Or if there was a big storm and our tents blew away! Wow, we're going to have so many adventures!”
I jump up and down and hug Frankie for effect. I'm so excited!
Frankie steps away and asks “Did you already have marshmallows or something? You're very hyper. Let's just go home, we'll have fun some other time.”
Is she crazy or something? She can't seriously want to pull out now! That would be silly! We haven't even got on a train yet! I tell her that.
“You must be crazy. We haven't even left yet! I'm not gonna pass up an adventure and just go home! No way!” I say, trying to balance on the fence. I can't quite remember when I climbed up here but I feel very tall, which is nice.
I wobble a bit and leap down next to Frankie, who backs away. It's not like I was going to crash into her!
Just then, Jade walks up.
“Mia, don't climb on the fence. And we're not going to go on adventures, stop being silly. Think about starving orphans in Africa or something, you need to be less excited and calm down.”
Then, she turns to Frankie and says “Do you need me to explain better? I heard that explanation Mia gave you, it was terrible. Come on, let's go do something. Get your mind off the panic attack you look ready to have.”
Wait, what! Who's attacking? Can I fight too? I follow them but Jade swats me away and says
“Why don't you draw stick figures on Snake Island or something?”
Then I draw a whole bunch of stick figures attacking in island with snake scales named “panic”.
I step outside, and I'm not quite sure what's happened. Mia's adding green paint to drawing of a snake covered in ants, I think? Wait, she brought paint? That girl has no sense of reality. Oh good, Frankie's arrived. She's whittling with Jade, well Jade's sharpening her pocket knife and Frankie's attacking. Jade's also… Scribbling notes, and looking at pictures of koalas on the internet, I think. I'm not quite sure how she does it.
I check the time. Six twenty five. Definitely time to get a move on.
“Guys” I say, as loudly as I risk. “It's time to go. Everyone grab your stuff, we have to walk to the train station.”
Everyone gets up and finds their bags, which are mostly open, with things strewn around, but we pack them up and are ready to leave. We walk out the gate, and aren't even at the street corner before Cleo and Sadie start complaining.
“We're tired already. Can we have piggy backs? Can you carry our bags? They’re so heavy.” Sadie grumps. Cleo just interjects “Yeah” every second word.
I stand firm, saying “No. You wanted to come, so you carry your own bags,” but Mia dashes into my back yard and emerges using two scooters as roller skates. Well, trying to. She falls off after three metres, but no one cares. We're all just wondering what she's trying to do.
She puts their bags on a scooter each, and then ties a skipping rope to each scooter, in a loop. Then she puts the loops over Cleo and Sadie's heads and announces
“There we go! Now you can be horsies! And you won't complain because you get to sit on the scooters on hills!”
The kids don't like the idea of being “horsies”, but they begrudgingly agree, since Jade and I are both giving them the stink eye and those bags are pretty heavy. They start pulling the scooters and we set off again. They complain a little, but we all ignore them and make it to the train station on time anyway. Then we sit around. I don't mind waiting, it's much better than being late and I brought a book. Jade starts whittling, although I'm positive knives aren't allowed in train stations. Mia's still painting, somehow. She hasn't even smudged the paint by putting it in her bag. Frankie's… well, I don’t know what she's going. I think she's practicing stabbing snakes or something, but I don't really know.
100 pages into my book, I hear the first platform announcement of the day.
“The train to Foster will be arriving on Platform 4 in three minutes. Please make your way to platform 4 safely.” It says, and we pick up our stuff and drag it a few platforms over, waiting for the train. After not much waiting, it arrives, and luckily it's empty. No snooping adults to ask questions. We settle into the train and each do our own thing for a while. I notice that Mia and Frankie have both drifted off to sleep. I suppose I could sleep too.
I decide not to whittle on the train, so I use the remainder of my time with internet to complete a course on hut building, then a course on gutting koalas, then one on constructing fishing rods. It's good to be prepared, and I'd love to pick up some neat skills while I'm there.
I can't believe it. In a few hours, I'll be in the wilderness. I'll be one with nature. I wonder if I can persuade the others to eat some bush tucker. I'm not one hundred percent sure what it is, but it seems super cool.
Then, I hear a train announcement. There have been lots and lots, but Emily stands up when this one starts.
“Wake up the others,” She says. “We get off in two stops.”
I wake up Frankie, then Mia, then Sadie, and tell Cleo we're about to get off, while Emily grabs all our bags and presses the button for the train to stop. We get off just in time, and wait for the bus.
Luckily, it isn't long, and the driver doesn't ask any questions. Lucky.