A small van pulled into the parking lot of Happy Acres Camp. It parked in an empty spot. The people inside the
van slowly got out. Among them was Aaron Shutt, Jeffrey
Geiger, Danny Nyland, Billy Kronk, Kate Austin and Diane
"Where are we?" Aaron asked.
"Disneyland, don't you know that?" Jeffrey asked crassly. "We're obviously here during the busy season." He looked at Kate.
"What?" She asked.
"You so obviously know everything, you tell us why we're here?" Jeffrey asked.
"You tell me, I was just herded into a smelly rental van like a sheep." Kate replied shooting darts at Jeffrey with her eyes. "Does anyone here have anything to say about this?" Kate asked the others. "Anything intelligent?"
"Wait Kate," Billy said. "You really asked two things there." Kate looked at him.
"What would that be?"
"You asked if anyone had anything to say, then if anone had anything intelligent to say." Billy said looking at Danny. "Two different questions, requiring two different answers."
"Why the hell are you looking at me?" Danny asked.
"Oh I think you know why." Billy said. "Does the name Sarah Jacobs ring a bell?"
"No it doesnt." Danny said. "Speaking of ringing bells Dr Kronk..."
"Stop it!" Diane yelled. The dueling duos stopped and looked at her. She fell to the ground. "My head is gonna explode!"
"Small loss there." Aaron cracked.
"What did you say?" Diane looked at him. Someone shot off a starters pistol. The group turned their attention to the shooter; Philip Watters, chief of staff.
"Thats enough out of you." Phillip said. He stood there dressed in wilderness gear next to hospital attorney Alan Birch.
"You were right." Alan said as they looked on at the silent six. "We need this weekend retreat or the hospital will collapse from the inside."
"I suppose you all want to know why you are here." Phillip said.
"Yes, and why you look like a cadet review." Jeffrey noted his outfit. "Are we going hunting?"
"I wouldn't talk, Jeffrey, you have one of your very own." Phillip said to him. "In fact you all do."
"Why?" Jeffrey said. "Other than to give LL Bean a boost in business, is there a good reason why we're out here and not saving lives?"
"Yes." Phillip said. "Staff morale is at an all time low. Its all over the hospital but most of it is linked to you six." They started to protest. "I do not care what your personal problems are with each other. What I do care about is people who don't pay enough attention to their work and people start dying." Phillip explained. "Which brings us here."
"We've had a consultant help us with what to do about it." Alan continued passing out a piece of paper. "This is it, Survivor 101."
"Survivor?" Kate asked. "I won't eat a rat for anybody."
"Of course you won't eat rats." Alan said.
"Good thing." Jeffrey said. "Kate doesnt believe in eating her own kind."
Kate glared at him.
"This is exact kind of thing I am talking about. Dissention in the ranks." Phillip said. "Lack of respect personally and professionally."
"So what is this?" Aaron asked.
"This is as survival test." Alan said with his paper. "Basically its a version of capture the flag, but in the woods." Alan said directing their attention to the paper. "Three teams of two will try to get the other teams. Blue team, red team, yellow team." He got colored strips from out of his survivor kit. "Jeffrey and Adam will be blue team."
"Figures." Muttered Billy.
"What was that?" Jeffrey asked.
"Nothing." He said loudly.
"Yellow team will be Diane and Kate." Alan said as he handed the strips to them.
"Yellows not really my color Alan." Diane said.
"Though it is fitting." Billy muttered.
"Red team is Kronk and Nyland." Alan said.
"Oh no, I am not going into the woods with a meathead." Danny protested.
"You won't be going into the woods with a meathead, you're going with me." Billy said.
"Whats the differance?" Danny asked.
"Hey!" Phillip said. "Does anyone have any questions before you set off?"
"I have a question." Danny said. "Why aren't our intrepid leaders involved with this?"
"We need to be around for emergency reasons." Alan said. "Cell phones do not work well up here so we need to be around."
"Whos running the shop?" Jeffrey asked.
"Dennis Hancock." Phillip said. "Let's hope he doesnt get a big head while we're gone." He clapped his hands together. "Get your water and supplies, food, directions. They will be ten feet in. Grab as much as you can carry. You have the day to get your opponents flag and come back here. And remember, you can't win if you try to grab your own teams flag."
"Yeah, team red!" Jeffrey yelled.
"One more thing." Phillip said. "If you can't survive each other, there is no way we'll be able to survive as a hospital." He held up his starters pistol. "Be back in twelve hours starting...." He shot off the pistol. "...now!"
The three teams broke into a run and headed for three separate trails, it looked like part of team red tried to run off with team yellow. Phillip shook his head.
"And may god help us all." Alan intoned quietly.
Twenty Minutes later
"Okay." Aaron said as they stopped on the trail. "So
whose flag are we going for?"
"A thing like this takes military strategy." Jeffrey said. "You know what that means?"
"We go for the weaker group." Jeffrey said. "Among our compatriots, who would that be?"
"Well offhand I'd say Kronk and Nyland." Aaron said. "They will be infighting so much, the flag will be of little or no importance to them."
"Good point." Jeffrey nodded.
"Course we do have a girl team." Aaron said.
"Yeah, but whos to say what Austin is capable of once she gets going?" Jeffrey said.
"Let's go this way." Aaron said. "Team Red will be easier to get."
"Kate wait up!" Diane said leaning over to tie her shoe. "We're supposed to do this as a team."
"Hurry up." Kate said. "I want to get this nonsense over by sundown."
"Phillip doesnt think this is nonsense." Diane said. "He thinks this will help us."
"Phillip says, Phillip says. Suckup!" Kate muttered.
"What'd you say?" Diane asked.
"Nothing." Kate said. She took a sip of water. "We havent even discussed which flag to go for. Would it be easier for team blue or team red?" Kate looked at Diane who had her eyes wide with fear. "What?"
"Don't look but there is a big brown bear behind you."
"What?" Kate turned and was nose to chest with the bear Diane saw. She slowly looked up. The bear had its face in a fierce snarl.
"Don't move Diane." Kate said. "If I can stare it down, it won't bother us." She said she slowly turned her head to the left. Diane was gone. She was running quickly on a threadbare trail to the left. The bear grunted and almost knocked Kate a mile when it decided to give chase.
"Diane!" Kate called. "Look out! Its coming after you!"
Diane turned to look, to see where the bear was, but when she turned back she couldnt stop herself from tripping over a large root. She yelped in surprise and started tumbling down a small hill full of branches and under brush. Kate moved to help her but the bear returned to a crouch like position. It sat at the place where Diane tripped and sniffed the air.
"Diane." Kate thought to herself. "I hope you're still alive down there. Don't move, maybe he will go away." She watched ther move slightly forward, is if it was about to go down and further investigate. "Lie still, don't move a muscle. Don't you dare even breathe." She silently prayed. The bear gave a contemptous snort and then moved away. Kate slowly exhaled realizing she had been holding her breath for almost a full minute. She quietly came from her hiding space, careful not to move too quickly or loudly,lest she bring the animal back.
She crept to the edge of the hill where she Diane tumble.
"Diane!" She called whispering loudly. She raised her voice a little. "Diane? Are you there?"
"I don't get this whole freaky exercise." Danny muttered. "How the hell are we supposed to protect our flag if we don't know where the thing is?"
"I guess thats Phillips way of making of us work harder." Billy said.
"Great." Danny sighed.
"You got the canteen?" Billy asked.
"Yeah." Danny passed it to him. "You know, speaking of flags which one are we aiming for...Kronk!" Danny looked up at Billy who was guzzling the water. "You pig!"
"What?" Billy said. "I was thirsty."
"You should save some for me, or at least for later." Danny said.
"What-ever. And I wouldnt be talking about 'pig' Mr Smart Guy." Billy countered.
"Hey, how the hell was I supposed to know that Sarah was YOUR girlfriend?" Danny asked.
"She hung around the hospital for weeks on end, didn't you get the hint after a while?" Billy stood in his face.
"I thought she was an attractive hyprochrodiac." Danny said.
"You still should have asked." Billy said. "Maybe next time I'll do the same thing."
"All right, those are fighting words!" Danny said throwing his pack.
"Ah yeah." Billy said. "I been wanting this for a long time now!"
The two locked together and fell to the ground. They rolled everywhere as they punched each other. It was hard to see who has the upper hand, cause it looked like both had it at once. They both managed to exhaust each other after ten minutes. Billy got up and dusted himself off. He gave Danny a hand, which he quickly slapped away.
"Fine, be that way. You fight like a girl anyway." Billy snarked.
Danny got up on his own. "Where are we?"
The fight had taken then far off the trail. They looked around, and tried to find their map.
"We're in uncharted territory. There is no telling how far we have gone from our last location." Billy said.
"Okay, we go this way." Danny said pointing in one direction.
"Why this way?" Billy asked.
"It looks like north to me." Danny replied.
"Well if you take your head out of your ass long enough you'd see you were wrong." Billy said.
"Okay." Danny said. "Can you think of a better way?"
Billy stood there for a minute. "Okay we go your way."
A half Hour later
"Was it such a good idea pairing Kronk and Nyland considering whats going on with this Sarah girl?" Alan asked.
"It was either that or pair Kronk with Grad, and Austin with Nyland, lord knows what might have happened." Phillip said. "I'm gonna call the hospital."
"Okay." Alan said. "But we've been gone only a few hours."
"Yeah, but you know what can happen in a few hours, don't you?" Phillip asked while punching in his office number.
"Right." Alan replied. "Perhaps we should have a national guard unit on standby?"
Phillip rolled his eyes and waited for the other end to pick up.
The phone rang in Phillips office. Dennis Hancock, the hospitals "jack of all trades" guy quickly answered it.
"Its me, Dennis." Phillip said. "How are things?"
"Couldnt be better." Dennis said. He looked down at his desk where a pregnant woman was having a baby. Because of the earlier baby race this year to have a baby for the new millenium, all the birthing rooms had already been booked. The ones that were free were taken and the ER was filled to capacity with expecting mothers. To make matters worse, the nurses were on strike, the cafeteria was closed due to a bacteria hoax and one of Dennis's favorite shows was just cancelled. There was no way he was gonna tell Phillip everything that was going on, especially the fact that one of the expectant mothers was now giving birth on his desk.
"Whats that sound?" Phillip asked. "I hear a baby?"
"Thats just the tv set." Dennis said as he brought the baby out of the mother. "It's a boy!" He said over the phone.
"Well if you have nothing to report, other than soap opera news, then I guess I'll let you go." Phillip said.
"All right." Dennis said moving to put the phone down.
"Yea?" Dennis asked.
"Put everything back on my desk where you left it." Phillip said.
"No problem." Phillip said. Camille looked at him.
"Why didn't you tell him about the babies and the hospital strike?" She asked.
"And have him have a heart attack on his teamwork retreat?" Dennis said. "He's got better fish to fry. Whats next?"
Phillip hung up. Alan drank his coffee. "So hows things?"
"Dennis is settling nicely into my chair. Nothing else new." He shrugged.
"Team reds flags in sight." Jeffrey said. "And as hoped, Danny and Billy are nowhere near it."
"Thats funny." Aaron said.
"Yeah, but remember what you said, they would be infighting so much they wouldnt care." Jeffrey said.
"Phillip didnt tell us where our flags are either." Aaron said as they came out of the underbrush. "There is no way to defend them."
"Probably thats the point. Either that or this is the shoddiest planned outing in history. He only gave us three hours worth of supplies."
"Another incentive..." Aaron said. "for getting back quickly." He grabbed the flag hesistantly. He looked around as if he expected an alarm to go off.
"Come on." Jeffrey said. "If there was anyone here they would have revealed themselves by now."
Aaron sighed. "All right. Let's go back."
There was some snapping twigs. The duo looked around. They froze for a couple of seconds, for it was still considered warm for that time of year. Many types of animals were still out. After a couple of minutes a squirrel came out of a thick bush. The two sighed.
"Great, we've let Rocky the non flying squirrel frighten us." Aaron muttered as he turned to go back down the trail.
"The trouble is that you havent been outdoors enough." Jeffrey said. "You gotta be a man of the land like me."
"If you're such a man of the land, how come you didn't know fifteen minutes ago you were doing a number one in the biggest patch of poison ivy I've ever seen?" Aaron asked.
"So I goofed up. Big deal. Let's get back." Jeffrey waved at him and headed down the trail in front of him. Aaron shrugged and followed him.
A few minutes later
Kate slowly crept down the hill calling Dianes name. There was no response. She was sure she had fallen down in this direction. It was possible she was out cold.
"Diane Grad!" Kate yelled. She stepped into the crunchy pile of leaves. "Diane!" She moved to make another step.
"Watch it, you might step on me!" Diane moaned from under the pile. Kate exhaled excitedly and moved the leaves from on top of her colleague.
"You don't know how glad I am to see you." Kate said. "How'd did you end up here? I saw you fall over there."
"I thought the bear might be still around." She explained with a small grimace. "I covered myself up incase he came down."
"Good idea. Luckily he lost interest." Kate examined her.
"Typical male." Diane snorted.
"How are you? Do you feel any pain?" Kate asked.
"Just in my ankle." Diane said. "I think anyway. I tried to stand once and it hurt like a bastard."
"Must be it then." Kate carefully took off Dianes boot and sock and rolled up her pant leg. "Does it hurt when I do this?" She touched her ankle.
"Yes!!!" Diane yelled loudly.
"All right." Kate said. "Looks like you broke your ankle in two parts." She put the sock back on. "We might have to make a splint and get you back to base camp."
"What about the flag?" Diane asked as Diane took their identifying yellow strips. She started to make a splin with that and some sticks.
"Screw the flag, screw the game." Kate said. "This injury is more important, getting you back to base camp. Phillip will understand." Kate quickly finished the splint. "Now we are going to get you up, but lean on me so we can get some weight off of that ankle."
"All right." Diane said. Kate put her hand undeneath Dianes right arm and helped her up. Diane bent her knee so her ankle wouldnt touch the ground.
"All right." Kate said. She shifted a little from Dianes weight. "We can't be that far away."
"We were walking for little under half an hour before the bear." Diane said. "Its almost twelve thirty."
"I wonder what the other guys are doing." Kate said. She stopped cold as she heard a crunching sound behind her.
"What is that?" Diane asked.
"I don't know. I'm not sticking around to find out." Kate said moving up the hill faster. She inadverdantly bumped Dianes ankle a few times on the way up causing her to call out in pain. "Sorry."
Kate and Diane reached the top of the hill. Kate heard the footsteps coming up behind her. She turned her head the best she could and looked. She could hear her name being called.
"Kate!" A male voice said.
Kate turned all the way around with Diane. "Hey!" She said. "What are you doing here?"
The team of Kronk and Nyland moved through the forest. They were working their way through an area that didn't seem to have a path.
"Are you sure we're going the right way?" Danny asked Billy.
"No." Billy said. "Bad news, I think we're almost out of food and water."
"What? How can that be?" Danny asked.
"Well I ate some of the food on the way up, before you got us lost." He replied. Danny glared at him. "I had no breakfast!"
"Great, now there isnt enough for both of us." Danny said. "I didn't get us lost."
"You did so get us lost." Billy said. "You had to fight with me."
"You started that when you pigged down the water." Danny reminded him.
"I aint going into this again." Billy said. "If we go this way we'll hit a rangers station."
"Why a rangers station? Shouldnt we be heading back down the hill? Like normal people would?"
"At the rangers station there would be a radio. We could radio for help." Billy explained to Danny.
"Oh yeah." Danny said. "Then they can like swoop in with choppers and skydivers and such."
"Yeah!" Billy said.
"Billy, you're delusional. I doubt we're even in the same park anymore." Danny said. He started to wonder if that food Billy had eater had gone bad on the way up. Most of it was made with mayonaise he had noticed.
"Sshh!" Billy said. "A wolf is talking to me!"
"What?" Danny asked. "Let's go!" He tried bringing Billy into another direction, going opposite the way they had been going. "You're not in your right mind."
"Why no, Mr Wolf, I don't know where little red riding hood is." Billy chattered.
"Come on!" Danny said. A big snap sounded above his head. Danny looked up quickly and got konked in the head with a big branch. Billy watched as Danny tumbled to the ground. He snapped out of his weird trance.
"I feel better." He said. He slowly woke Danny up. "Danny?" He pulled him up.
"I'm not Danny, my name is Greg Montgomery, and you are my wife Dharma!" Danny said dazed. Billy pushed him back on the ground.
"You're better off here." Billy decided. "We better not move till I'm sure about you and your safety."
"Hail the conquering heroes!" Jeffrey called. Phillip and Alan looked at each other, then walked out of the office. They were greeted with the sight of Jeffrey and Aaron, with team reds flag, and Kate helping a limping
"Who won?" Alan asked. Jeffrey held his red flag aloft.
"Us." He said.
"What happened to Diane?" Phillip asked as Kate helped her sit down on one of the wooden benches.
"We encountered a bear." Kate said.
"Yeah, I was stupid enough to run away from it. I fell and hurt my leg. We came back without a flag." Diane said.
"Sorry Phillip." Kate said. "I know you wanted all of us to bring back a flag ideally..."
"Ideally, smeally." Phillip said. "This is two fine examples of teamwork."
"Eh?" Jeffrey asked.
"You see, it didn't matter who won. I placed the flags not too far apart." Phillip said. "You two worked together and got the flag. Thats great. But you two have always been great together." He said addressing Aaron and Jeffrey.
"Keep going." Jeffrey said smugly enjoying the praise.
"As if his ego isnt inflated enough." Kate said.
"You two worked together too, but not in the same way. You worked out a conscious decision to come back here with your wounded party rather than try and get the flag, therefore making a painful situation worse." Phillip said to Kate and Diane. "You havent always gotten along."
"Thats for sure." Diane noted.
"But you brushed that aside when Kate helped you back." Alan said. "Thats what we wanted to accomplish."
"We had two other things planned. A swimming party and a dinner tonight, but seeing as Diane is incapable of doing that, its better that we go back now while its still light out."
"Sounds good to me." Aaron said.
"Okay, lets get everything together." Alan said.
"Wait a minute." Diane said. "Wheres Danny and Billy?"
They looked around. For the first time in ten minutes they noticed they hadnt come back with the others.
"Hmm." Phillip said.
"Anyone else besides me notice that we didn't miss them?" Jeffrey asked. Kate looked at him. "Well? It's true isnt it?"
"Okay let's go look for them." Phillip said. "They can't be that far away."
Billy and Danny were well on their way back down the mountain when they discovered their flag was gone.
"Great." Danny said.
"We were so lost, we forgot to even try to look for the other teams flags." Billy said. Danny glared at him. "Without laying blame, I'd have to say we pretty much lost the stupid capture the flag game."
"What do we do now?" Danny asked.
"The obvious." Billy said. "We keep going till we get back."
"All right." Danny said.
At about the halfway point Alan and Phillip met up with the wayward members of team red. The others chose to stay at the base of the mountain to pack.
"Where have you guys been?" Phillip asked.
"Don't ask." Billy and Danny chimed in together. They both looked at each other and laughed. They walked by a surprised Alan and Jeffrey, and continued to head down the main trail.
"Danny." Billy said as they were out of ear shot of the others. "If you want to date Sarah, thats all right with me."
"Really?" Danny asked.
"Yeah. I was thinking of ending it anyway. You know that Diane Grad is looking better every day now."
"Thanks." Danny said.
Alan And Phillip looked on as they followed them.
"Oh well. In the spirit of teawork, I guess its good they didnt kill each other." Phillip laughed.
When they reached the base, Phillip called up the hospital one last time.
"Okay," Phillip said. "Dennis have a stetcher ready for when we come on. Diane injured her ankle."
"Okay." Dennis said. Camille went to make sure the arrangement was made. "When will you be back?"
"An hour or two." Phillip said. "Cause of Dianes injury we're going to come back early."
"All right." Dennis said.
"Anything new?". Phillip asked.
"This Sarah girl that Danny and Billy were arguing about came by. She was looking for them. She had a guy with her, so I got the impression that they were both being dropped like a hot potato."
"Wonderful." Phillip said. "At least one of them will be glad to hear that."
"See you in a while." Phillip said moving to hang up.
"Oh Phillip." Dennis said. "One more thing."
"If you see anything weird in your office, remember, its not my fault!" Dennis said and hung up.
"Ok." Phillip said.
"What was that about?" Alan asked.
"Beats me." Phillip said. "I'm afraid to ask. All right let's go."
Alan and Phillip boarded the bus and head back for hospital sweet hospital, hoping for the best, and never getting the worst ever again.