Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Badge of Secrecy

Anya, always the first to wake at sunset, noticed the letter on the floor before she woke up the other girls. The other girls never saw any of the special orders that came, Anya made sure of it. Not that they couldn’t be trusted, there was just a system around here you followed. This wasn’t the first time they had to take down someone infiltrating the camp, it wouldn’t be the last. But this would be the most difficult. Not only for her, but for many girls in the camp. A pang of guilt surfaced for a moment, she almost didn’t want to go through with this. She imagined grabbing the prisoner and fleeing with her. The reality of the situation and where she was took that thought away fast. Turning on the water and soaking the thin sheet that the order was on disintegrated it. She walked back to the bunks to wake the others as Jen awoke rubbing the sleep out of her eyes with a frown. With a pout on her face and almost a tear in her eye, she looked up at Anya “something bad is gonna happen…” The older girl was a bit shocked, but Jen had always been right when saying stuff like this.

As usual, the girls stepped into the shower to get ready for the patrol tonight. Anya really didn’t want to give the orders, but knew she had to. The showers were the safest place to do so since it can be too hard for anyone else listening to hear anything. Leaning her head down to get the shampoo out, Anya sighed and just held her head there from a moment. She hoped the water would wash away the reality of the situation. It had to be done.

Jen let the water hit her face, trying to hide the tears. She wanted to question the orders, to not follow them, but she didn’t dare say it out loud. She was scared, for the first time in a long time she was actually terrified. She couldn’t shake the feeling of her dream, though she couldn’t remember what happened. It was just bad. So, silently, she sniffled as the water tried to take the sadness away.

As Anya gave the orders, Yui couldn’t help the audible gasp that came out. Everyone heard it, but they knew not to say anything. Yui really enjoyed Danni’s company. She’d sometimes sneak into Danni’s tent each night to talk to her about everything. She just couldn’t believe this; she didn’t want to believe it. She’d never been this angry before. She’d never really been angry at anyone, except the doctors. But she understand them, they were just trying to help. Danni? She was trying to destroy everything. She wasn’t sure if the steam was from the hot water or her anger, she wanted to hurt people. She sat there inhaling and exhaling, flaring her nostrils, trying to calm down. Bracing herself with one arm, she turned the water to cold to try and extinguish the anger.

Beth continued washing just thinking about it all, taking it all in. She wasn’t thinking about how this order affected her, that didn’t matter. She was wondering how this order would affect the whole camp. All the other targets they took down had been either boys that snuck into camp or girls that may have had a few other friends. Danni was different, everyone loved her. She knew the other girls wouldn’t speak up with their doubts about tonight, and she knew why. Beth saw that this could make girls start to question their other friendships. This single order could start witch hunts. Making this public could end the whole operation. Turning off the water, she was the first to step out and get ready.

They still had a few hours before their breakfast came. Instead of helping each other get ready, they sat there in silence not knowing what to say. Anya looked in the mirror seeing Jen directly behind her sniffling, facing her own mirror. Someone had to break the ice. She turned and hugged Jen. She didn’t know what else to do. The youngest girl sat there accepting the hug, and then the tears came harder. Yui sat beside Jen. She didn’t want to look, but the sound of the sobbing just made her want to punch the mirror. She’d join in the crying if she didn’t feel so betrayed. She left the bathroom to go mess with her dart gun. Beth also got to her feet and went to the other room. Anya turned Jen around and looked her in the eye “it’ll be okay, you don’t have to do anything.” Jen nodded and wiped her eyes with her sleeve. Anya hugged her again and then went to get her stuff ready as well.

The knock came at the door exactly at 11pm as per the schedule. Anya opened the door to see Danni carrying their meals. She helped set them on the table while the other girls finished washing their hands. Jen saw that Danni remembered her favorite meal tonight. She excused herself to the bathroom before she started crying again. Danni looked to Anya “is she alright? I thought she’d be devouring her food before anyone else could sit down.” Anya nodded her head “she just had a bad dream.”

Jen came back to the table and started to eat, Danni put her hand on her shoulder to make sure she was okay. The anger and pain welled up inside as she shrugged the traitors hand was from her. Before Danni had a chance to say anything, Yui, looking straight ahead, asked “Why?” The anger in those words dripped from her mouth. That simple word made everyone else at the table visibly uncomfortable. The only response she’d give would be “if you had a brother you loved then you’d understand” Before anyone could react, Danni shoved needles in both Jen and Anya at the same time. They collapsed shortly after from the drug. Diving beside Anya, dodging Yui’s dart, the unskilled girl moved better than anyone thought she would. She grabbed the dart gun from Anya’s belt and shot Yui in the leg from under the table. Dropping the gun, she rolled to the other side of where she was seated and grabbed Jen’s gun. She went to aim for Beth’s leg but it wasn’t there. Staring from atop the table, Beth thought about her possibilities. Danni got to her feet holding her arms out wide “You don’t have to do this. Let me shoot you and just walk out. Please!” She started backing towards the door. Leaving her gun hand up, she reached for the door and turned the knob. “Going somewhere, traitor?” The voice made her cringe. She knew she wasn’t going anywhere now. Sarah aimed her stun gun slowly, enjoying this capture. The dart soared past Danni’s ear. She didn’t know what just happened. Was Beth helping her? She turned just in time to see the other dart hit her in the arm. Before she passed out she looked at Beth barely getting the word out “why?”

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Badge of Justice

Arms crossed and a huffy look on her face, Sarah sat on the swinging her legs back and forth. Her feet just barely off the floor would occasionally hit the coffee table in disdain. She looked at the front door several times, almost tempted to leave, but she knew better than to disobey. The youngest girl to lead a Troop, she had bested everyone else in camp, everyone but HER. She still had to take orders from the older girls, and she knew why, but it didn’t make it any less irritating. She kicked the table again with a loud bang just as an older lady rounded the corner carrying a tray. Not startled at all, the woman sat the tray on the table and started pouring the tea. “Ah youth, how easy it is to anger.” She looked at Sarah, “was it three lumps, my dear?” Sarah turned her head sharply the opposite way, sending her pigtails flying around her head with a “Hmph!” With a trembling hand, the white haired lady handed Sarah her cup and saucer. “Oh come now, don’t be like that. I know you want to be out there right now, but you understand why you can’t.” Greeting the saucer with a sigh and taking a sip of tea Sarah stared at the reflection in the warm liquid. With a resigned childlike tone, Sarah spoke “I know, we want the traitor in camp to think I was captured so she doesn’t run away.” Finally, she looked the Elder in the eye “But how long is it going to take, Grandmother? And does Sis HAVE to be here? She’s being too nice to HIM.” With so much venom in those words, her grandmother was taken aback. Sarah looked away, shameful. She didn’t like upsetting her grandmother.

She had just finished bandaging his shoulder again when the question finally came. He looked at her, hoping she would at least give him an answer. “What…what happened to me?” After almost a week of silent interactions with him, his voice almost startled her. She didn’t think there was any harm in discussing it, “What do you remember?” He almost looked ashamed, especially after how they were treating him. “I…I snuck into the camp at night to capture one of the girls. I was about to sedate her….and the next thing I knew I was here.” The anger returned to girl, making him flinch as if waiting to get hit. “One of the guards saw you and shot you with a tranquilizer dart. When you passed you fell on it. We had to operate to get all of it out. Part of it hit your bone causing the needle to break.” He winced at the thought of falling on the dart. “Why are you treating me so nice?” A not so nice smile crossed her lips. She gathered the old cloth and bowl of water, and got up to leave. She looked at the mirror, hoping to see his reaction “Because, you tried to capture my sister. Now, we will find yours.” The reaction she was hoping for was surpassed by the look of terror on his face. She looked back “I’m Janie by the way.” With her vigor returned, she left him to his own thoughts.

A few hours later someone rapped at the door. Ms. Audrey opened the door to see a young lady in a police uniform. Opening the door wider as she stepped to the side, she invited the police woman inside. “Please wait in here. I’ll get the Madam.” She turned from the living room and left the officer to wait. Just barely out of college, the young officer had her hair up in a bun so that it did not get in the way. A strawberry blond, she was a bit pale. She was skinny, and looked like she could be easily taken down, but she was a Girl Scout. She had passed all their training and the police forces. She could easily take down some one twice her size. Today, though, she was just an errand girl.

With a smile and a hug, she greeted the older lady that had taught her so much in her youth “Mrs. Mary, it’s so wonderful to see you again!” They sat and chatted for a while about old times. The minutes turned to hours before they finally got down to why Emily was here. Placing her hand on the yellow envelope she brought with her, she felt a twinge of sadness for the news it held. She handed it to Mrs. Mary with a solemn tone she told her “This may be bad for the moral of several girls.” Not knowing exactly how bad this would be, she held her breath for the news. Boy Scouts got a merit badge for getting their fingerprints registered. Girl Scouts also had a fingerprinting activity that they did, and would also get their prints registered. The Elder looked so fragile when she saw the names on the papers. The words flowed as if someone else was saying them “We have to make an example of her.” She looked Emily straight in the eye, and regretted what must be done. “Ms. Audrey. Could you bring my granddaughters here, please?” Mrs. Mary got up with Emily and showed her to the door. With a hug, the officer left.

Sarah couldn’t remember the last time she had cried, let alone hugged her own sister. She felt weak, betrayed completely. Why would her friend, everyone’s friend do this? She sat there in Janie’s arms sobbing. Her big sister was angry, but the anger didn’t stop the few tears that gathered in her eyes as she stared at the papers that were strewn across the coffee table. All she could see were the two names. Names she wished were those of someone she didn’t know. David and Danni Stevens.

An hour before sunset a note was passed under the door of the Night Owls…

Monday, July 19, 2010

First Aid Badge

He awoke with a sharp pain in his right shoulder and a very dry mouth. Remembering what had happened, he bolt up in the bed. He only made it halfway before the pain, nausea, and the blackness hit him hard.

Back at the camp looking at his prisoner, he began to drug her so he could take her back. All of the sudden her hand was around his throat and he was being lifted off the ground. With a smile wider than humanly possible the little girl spoke “Do you think we don’t know?” Off in the distance David could see a giant stake in the ground with someone tied to it. Just a foot away stood a normal version of the pigtailed girl that was holding him off the ground by his throat. In her hand was a torch. As she lowered it to the kindling around the stake, David could see the tear streaked face of his sister. He reached out his right hand helplessly, already on the verge of passing out due to lack of oxygen. The little monster holding him stabbed him in the shoulder while laughing.

His eyes shot open. Still in pain, he grabbed his right shoulder with his left hand. He almost sat up again until he remembered what really happened. Wiping his tears away, he looked around the room. The chandelier near the center of the room was barely visible. It was old, but didn’t look costly. It looked as if it use to hold candles where light bulbs now burned. The curtains were drawn, blocking his view of the window to his right. The dresser on the far wall looked old as well, oak, maybe cedar. The mirror above it gave him a view of the bed. It was very comfortable, almost lavish. This was his first time seeing a four poster bed, much less sleeping in one.

The door opened and a girl around his same age walked in holding a tray. He started to scuffle back against the headboard in fear until the pain shot through him and he pass out again. He opened his eyes slowly this time, but couldn’t help the single tear. It had been the same dream again. He looked to his right to see the young lady dressing his wound. Her hair was in a bun, blonde, maybe a light brown. Her eyes followed her hands as she worked them, her mouth in a bitter frown. She tightened the cloth and David winced. Her sash was full of badges, but he couldn’t make any out through his bleariness. She sat up and closed the first aid kit beside her and looked him in the eye. David cringed at the angry girl that looked as if she wanted him in more pain. He opened his mouth to say something, but all that came was an inhuman raspy sound from his dry out throat. Her anger lifted a little and she reached for the bedside table. “Can you sit up?” The voice was soft and poignant, but full of spite. The young man sat up slowly with her aid. She lifted a straw to his lips and he sipped the refreshing water. Coughing as it moistened his throat, he took another gulp, but she pulled it away before he could drink too much. “You’ll give yourself a headache if you drink it too fast, moron.” This time her voice was not as soft, but full of something he couldn’t place. She abhorred him. He saw it in her eyes. She wanted to cause more pain to him, but couldn’t.

Finally, after a few minutes, he was able to speak. All the thoughts that rushed through his head, “Where am I?” “What happened?” “What did you do to me?” “What’s going to happen to me?” “Are you going to kill me?” None of that came out. He was as startled as she was when he asked the first question “What’s your name?”. The shock and pleasantness left her eyes in a flash as they returned a glare. She slammed the cup on the table, picked up the first aid kit, and left the room.

It seemed like hours had passed. He had lost count after trying to follow the ticks on the large clock that he presumed was in the room directly behind him. Should he get up? Just as he was about to move the door opened. His eyes centered on the girl standing at the door and he recoiled violently. The pain in his shoulder didn’t register through the terror he felt. He couldn’t breathe at all. The pigtailed girl sneered at him. Hyperventilating was the only thing his body could do to try and get oxygen. Someone rushed to his side. Everything was muffled, but the voice he heard sounded like the girl from before. Her harsh tone wasn’t directed at him this time. “Sarah! What did you do!?” He couldn’t hear the reply and he still couldn’t catch his breath. “Go get Ms. Audrey! We need a wash cloth and water, and a paper bag!” He felt cool hands on her face and saw what looked like the blurry outline of someone. It turned sharply “GO NOW!”

Sarah turned sharply at the door, huffed loudly, and stomped down stairs quickly. Moments later an older woman entered the room quite fast. Bowl of water, wash cloth, and bag in hand. She walked to the right side of the bed and sat the bowl on the table, handing the bag to the girl on the other side. The girl was trying to tell him get him to listen. She opened the bag and cusped her hand around the top, placing it over David’s mouth. “Breathe deeply and slowly, calm down. It’s okay.” She almost snorted at that last comment. Finally, he could draw air again, but his shoulder was in horrendous pain. He glanced at it as the redness on the cloth over his wound was growing. He winced away and found himself staring into those eyes again, but not so spiteful now. They looked concerned. He almost smiled before passing out again.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Weasel Patch

Watching as quiet falls over the camp, he checks her map again. Using a small red flashlight, so as not to give himself away, he figures out where the tent sits.

He checks the plastic covering on the syringe. Making sure it doesn't come loose in his pocket.

Silently, he makes his way to the tent.

He waits, trying to time the snores in the camp with the zipper. Crawling inside, slowly, he pulls out the syringe and takes the plastic cover off. Soon, he’ll deliver the prisoner.

A pinch, then blurriness. His last thought was cursing his own sister…

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

The Night Owl Patch

The sun had set just a few hours ago as she stirred awake. She roused the three other girls in the cabin as she got her things together and wandered in to the shower. Not even the adults were accommodated like this at the camp. The lights never came on in this building, and its occupants never left during the daylight hours. Some of the younger girls in the camp teased them and called them vampires, but they knew that these girls were the best at what they did. As they finished getting ready, they could hear that everyone outside starting to settle in for a good night’s sleep, and they would make sure it would be uninterrupted.

Though they didn’t leave the camp, they still wore their sashes. Instead of the typical taser, these girls carried tranquillizer guns. They were all in the top five percentage of marksmanship in the camp. These girls were trained on moving and non-moving targets, close range and long range, and could easily distinguish threats from friendly targets. If they couldn’t, they shot both. But the thing that made these girls so special was their ability to see extremely well at night. Raised in an environment of darkness due to a rare disease that they all had in common, Xeroderma pigmentosum. They were basically allergic to sunlight.

Their meals were delivered by one of the older girls. For some reason, she liked visiting them and this was the only time it was allowed. Danni could easily pass for a fourteen year old, but she was about to turn nineteen. She wasn’t very good at a lot of the training in the camp; her sash was only half full. Though she wasn’t good enough to go out on the field trips, she was great at helping around the camp. She was like a big sister to everyone. And when she visited it was always a fun time chatting away like they were normal girls. As they finished their meals Danni collected the trays and wished them a quiet night as usual. They were always a bit sad to see her go; she hadn’t been coming around as much lately. But couldn’t dwell on things like that for now. It was time to start their duty.

The night was humid and hot, the hottest of the summer so far. Their shower was wasted as soon as they stepped out the door. Their cabin was a few yards from camp in a small clearing. They could easily see the rest of the camp from where they were. The line of cabins where the Brownies bunked. The youngest girls that still weren’t accustom to camping. There were a few windows where they could still see faint signs of light, most likely flashlights as a few of the girls huddled under their blankets with each other telling ghost stories. Between the cabins and beyond were row upon row of tents. These were for the Girl Scouts. Most of these had three girls to a tent. Only a select few were allowed their own tent. You had to be extremely good at what you do to get such amenities.

They set the alarm and locked up, these girls were extremely cautious. They all walked together through the short trail to take up their positions. They never thought anyone would be dumb enough to try and come into the camp, but you never know. The oldest of the four, Anya, did her rounds of the Brownies first, as always. The other three continued to their areas. They came up to the mess hall and offices next. Jen broke off this time and started checking her area. Being the youngest, she was in charge of the area where there would be others around to help. Beth and Yui headed towards the tents where Yui started her rounds. Beth continued over to workshops.

The moon was a barely visible crescent, not bad for these girls and not good for anyone trying to sneak into camp. It has been three hours since the sun set and almost everyone in camp was asleep. Anya talked a bit to two of the girls in bunk two that were waiting up for her, Mindy and Charlie. They had a bit of a crush on the older girl. They wanted to be just like her, though they didn’t quite understand why they couldn’t help with her rounds. She tucked them in and continued her checks.

Jen stalked through the mess hall. It was a bit creepy at night. Rows and rows of tables and benches, the walls lined with screened windows. Not a single curtain in site. She often dreamed about being able to eat with all the other girls. She grabbed the cookie that the chef always left out for her and continued over to the offices.

Beth surveyed the workshops, which bored her to tears because she could do this all at one glance. They were all opened areas and if someone was sneaking around they make such a racket that it would probably wake the camp. She picked up a piece of wood and began whittling to pass the time.

Yui had the toughest job of the four. There were so many rows of tents and you couldn’t see over all of them. Not to mention some of the girls snoring made it impossible to hear someone coming. She started coming up on the medium tents that held the Field Trip leaders; she had to all around because she could not see over them. She came up on the last one and stopped. She could have sworn she heard a zipper. She came around the front, slowly, and noticed the heel of a foot barely protruding from the flap. Pulling out her tranquilizer, she aimed through the doorway and lifted the flap quickly. She didn’t even think before pulling the trigger. The target fell shortly after and the girl in the tent awoke sharply. The pigtailed girl almost shot Yui with her taser but quickly changed targets to the boy passed out beside her.

The pigtailed girl got up and went to get her troop to take the boy to a secure location. Yui stood there watching him just in case. She pulled out a little device and pressed the button. It vibrated in her hand. The devices of the three other Night Owls did likewise and put them on the alert that an intruder had been found. They search their areas really good and Beth would join Yui and search the tents for the rest of the night. Jen would keep an eye on the mess hall and cameras at the office, and Anya would exhaustively keep her eye on every single entrance and exit to the Brownies, locking every door with gun in hand. She dared anyone but her to get near them.

The rest of the night went very fast. Just before dawn they made a report of what happened and locked it in the office safe. They got back to their bunk and got ready for bed. As the sun came up they could just barely hear the sounds of the camp coming to life as they started drifting away to dream.

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Gatherer Badge

Downtown Savannah, how I use to walk this place all the time without the worry of being followed. The Squares, like mini parks, added beauty to every other street. Now they are just open areas that are much to easy to be seen in. Walking briskly in and out of every shadow I can find, hoping that turning a corner want lead me into a group of the gatherers. I thought the back alleys would but the unsafest places because of how easy they are to cover, but they seem to not bother going through….”shit”.

The sound of a stun gun a few yards away is not something you want to hear when you are sneaking around the city from someone who uses them. It usually means that one of us has been caught. It’s usually the ones trying to sneak through the back lanes that get caught first. The best place to hide is in plain site without looking like you are trying to. After all, these are still just regular people, they can only see as good as the rest of us at night. Trying to look like you aren’t hiding isn’t really that hard, unless you’re the nervous type. I take the normal route that I always took, hoping they weren’t scouting me long before. Down Bull street, past the birth place of their founder. Missing the puddle and stepping to the high curb, I stop at the ATM for a little cash. Just another little thing to look like a regular person. Seeing the Starbucks crowded, I stop in for a cup so that I have a chance to see how many of the girls are searching Broughton Street. The main streets are always the most dangerous. Well lit, and the traffic on the street slows you down. As I get my coffee, I turn towards the door and curse hindsight for being 20/20. Sure, they are older, but every single person in the Starbucks tonight just happened to be female. A girl with with a gold torched pin on her collar steps between me and the door. All I can do is thank the gods that the girl behind the counter must have been the screw up of the group. I toss the hot coffee at the leader and knock her aside, and bolt for the door. Thankfully I remembered to bring the glass punch, because I just knew the door was locked. Hoping this little plan worked, I jumped at the door with the punch leading the way and tilted my head down, and didn’t stop once I was outside.

The good news, I was only a few blocks away from where I needed to be. Unfortunately, I knew I’d get caught even if I did get there. Always thankful that the traffic lights always seemed to time perfectly for me, I cross Broughten Street just as the traffic starts to go. I run straight for Johnson Square, jumping through the bushes and make a diagnol line towards the monument so that it’s directly at my back. With the dome of City Hall looming straight ahead, I can only hope they don’t have a trap waiting at the corners of Bay Street. Hearing the sounds of bikes in the distance, I try running faster.

Broughten has no traps waiting. Are they trying to find out where I’m going? I make it to the other side just as a ton of traffic races past behind me. I turn to get a look at the Troupe of fifteen girls that had been at Starbucks leering at me from the other side. Turning, I quickly run down the steps beside city hall and make a sharp U-turn at the bottom into one of the barracoons. Taking the three letters I was carrying, I shoved them in a small crack and ran back out. Making a right again, I run through the back alleyway of River Street. I figured if I had any chance, it was a place with tons of stairs to choose from. Unfortunately for me, I didn’t count on being herded. Each stairway I passed had a different girl looking down at me. As I got into the darkest park, covered by Factor’s Walk above, I came to an immediate stop. There were atleast fifteen young girls. Not the ones that chased me down here. The leader of the group, wearing pigtails stepped forward. “Will you Boy Scouts ever learn, you can’t run for long.” She handed the stun gun to the girl next to her. I figured this would give me some chance, but even as I tried to dodge her shaky little hands were quick. Atleast I delivered the letters….

Two young boys walk to the hidden door with a candle and pick up the letters. As the turn to walk away they hear a loud snapping noise and hurry away from the door. They run along the dark damp hallway that had secretly been carved out long ago. Across the large room that was converted into a living room like area, they handed the letters to their Troop leader and sit down on the couch to listen. The tall thin man looked as those he had been hiding in this hole for way too long. A bit hunched over from the low ceiling, he sorted through the letters until he found the one he wanted to read first.

Dear Mom,

There a so many girls here visiting from all over the United States. You should have seen the badge ceremony tonight! Every girl had her own candle and the camp was lit up really pretty. There were so many badges to give out that groups of us had to say the meaning of each letter. I got to be in the first group

B stands for the BADGES to be given today. They are outward signs of an

inner accomplishment. They are not as important as the work needed to earn


One of the girls in my group, Sarah, is the youngest girl to get her Leadership pin. Her pigtails are so cute! And I was told I’d get to go on a tour of the city with her tomorrow night too. I get to try for my Gatherer Badge! I can’t wait!