Spit and Sawdust: Chapter One

“You want a story? I got a story to tell…” Telling stories was a nightly tradition at Camp Victory. Every evening they would huddle round the campfire, burn marshmallows and sausages, play guitar, sing songs and as the embers crackled lower, the horror stories would come out.

“This is a story about two children who thought they knew better than everyone else and paid the price…”

Chris looked around the expectant faces in the orange flickering light. Kids loved the stories, not because it scared them, but because it made them feel safe. Stories of the monsters across the lake brought them together and there was strength in numbers.

“These two kids went across to the other side of the lake, because they didn’t realise who the Dawners really were. They didn’t believe the stories, they thought they were just kids with less money.” There were some chuckles – the kids here had rich parents. “But they’re not – they’ll slice you, dice you, shake, you, bake you, rip out your guts into a long string and hang them over the trees to dry as white jerky…”

More laughter. He had a good crowd this season, the kind who enjoyed burning Daddy Long Legs with a magnifying glass. Everyone was smiling except for the twins. They looked bored, even when he stared straight at them, hoping to get his point across. If ever there were likely candidates to go AWOL, it was them.

“Although these particular kids weren’t killed straight away. They were kept alive and chopped up one piece at time, so they could be eaten for breakfast, lunch and dinner…”

“Doesn’t sound too bad,” she said, under her breath. She’d heard variations of the story too many times. She was Twin #1, five minutes older than her brother, Twin #2, who smirked beside her. He got her jokes.

THEY WERE THE LAST TO BE PICKED FOR TEAM SPORTS AND RELISHED THEIR OUTSIDER STATUS

“What was that?” said Chris. The twins had been his bane of the summer, as they were every year. They’d have been kicked out if their parents weren’t old Victory alumni, despite being the battered Volvo estate beside the Mercedes of other families. Because of their ‘heir’ status the little schweinhausen were guaranteed a free place each season.

Her brother replied for her. “My sister was just saying, she thought the Dawners changed into koalas in the last story, not bats…”

She laughed, while the kids around them groaned. Her brother had a thing about koalas. Any opportunity to sneak them into a conversation was a challenge accepted.

“Look, I haven’t even got to the part where they change into animals yet.” Chris, their Camp Leader Nazi, was getting irate. Even better. “And they weren’t going to change into koalas, they’re not local to this area, it was going to be snakes…”

He groaned. “Fudge it, you’ve just ruined the story.”

There was a chorus of sighs, groans and boos and the siblings soaked them in. The twins dreaded their annual holiday in hell at the summer camp each year – they were paying penance for their parents’ still-controversial yin-yang meeting there many moons before.

They detested the camp motto of ‘No Second Place’. For them, games were meant to be fun, not humiliating the opposition. Swimming races should be healthy exercise and getting your best time, not kicking water in the loser’s face.

Instead, they played their own game to keep sane over the week. They just did everything really, really badly, awarding each other points for how much they could screw things up – own goals, balls in the woods, petrol on fires, running the wrong way round the track. As such, they were the last to be picked for team sports and relished their outsider status.

“You get a gold star,” she whispered to her brother.

“I’d say it was a joint effort,” he said.

TO BE CONTINUED

SOUNDTRACK

If this story was a movie, here’s the compilation album, retrieved from the bargain bin in Woolies. Listen while reading, or float away on your own adventure…

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