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Chapter 1: Getting Ready At The HUB
It was 4:00 in the morning in the live-action world. I, Baxter Smith, got out of bed. "Good morning," I whispered to Mom. "Good morning," she replied. "I'll be up in just a few minutes."
I walked to the guest bedroom and found my dog, Daphne, sleeping on the sofa-bed. I stroked her head and she made pig noises and stretched. She followed me to the living room and looked out the window. I went on the computer, checked my e-mail and Facebook, and turned the TV on to Bay News 9. It said it was going to be cloudy in the morning and sunny later on in the day.
"There's some light showers over in Lakeland," the meteorologist said. "They would possibly continue until 11 a.m., so drive safely, for those of you over there. Tampa will be very pleased with the weather today. Today will be a high of 75 and a low of 59. Now we'll take a look at Pinpoint Doppler 9000." The TV showed a radar map of the Tampa Bay Area and played the orchestra and drum music.
When it was time for me to go, I took my suitcase, my DS, my iPhone, my PSP, my iPod, and my guitar case. I put all my valuables in my suitcase. I was wearing a light blue t-shirt with a guitar on it, jeans, and my yellow and black Vans. I was ready at 5:30 a.m. I said goodbye and left the house. I drove my 1988 Cadillac Brougham to Krispy Kreme and picked up a lot of donuts of many flavors. With the wind blowing in my long rockstar hair, I drove downtown to the HUB, a place where the youth group hung out on Sunday nights and that was owned by First Presbyterian Church. And waiting for me outside was none other than Tanner White. He was dressed in a dark grey t-shirt, khaki shorts, and black Converse low-tops. "Baxter!" he said as I got out of the car. He gave me a handshake and asked, "How are ya, man?"
"Awesome. And you?"
"Not bad. You excited about our trip?"
"Heck yeah! Let's join the others inside."
"OK," Tanner said as he smoothed his long, curly hair.
We went inside and there were rows of suitcases lined up against the wall. I went up to McLean Murphy and said hello.
"You got everything you need?" she asked me.
"Yes," I said. "I also got a little surprise for everyone." I took the large boxes of Krispy Kreme donuts and put them on the table.
"Hey Bax, how's your summer going?" Matt Murphy asked.
"Amazing. I got donuts for us."
Two minutes later, William Allen, Collin Jones, Tyler Jaenicke, Kasey Ward, Rachel Yoshida, and Jenna Engert walked in. I was so thrilled to see them. But how did they all arrive at once?
I high-fived all of them and asked them if they were excited.
And guess what? They were.
"Hey, I came up with a new song," William told me. He sang his version of "I Love To Boogie" by T-Rex. Then we both cracked up.
"What's up, Baxter?" Tyler said. "I've always wanted to go to Oakey Oaks. They have this field that's like one mile long, and we can try some football there. And a lot of girls there. Oh, they are hot."
"Hey Bax-star!" Jenna said in a singsong voice. "I think you'll be so excited to see the poodle girls there, don't you think? I hope we have some free time every day that we're in Oakey Oaks."
Collin took a sheet of paper from a table. "What? B+? B+ in English?" He still remembered the funny YouTube video.
"Like my new haircut?" Kasey asked. She now had a blonde pixie cut hairstyle. I thought it was dazzling.
Some of the girls in the HUB were dancing to the music coming out of the speakers. The song playing at the moment was "Party In The USA" by Miley Cyrus.
As soon as all the people attending the trip were at the HUB, McLean made an announcement. "OK! I want everyone to get in a circle. We're playing the Name Game first." Everyone sat down in a circle. To play the Name Game, when it's your turn, you have to pat your knees twice, clap your hands twice, and snap your fingers twice while you're saying your name and then someone else's name. If your name is said as the second name by another person, then it's your turn. If it's your turn and you don't say anything while snapping your fingers or if you don't snap or say the names along with the beat, you have to go all the way to the end of the circle.
William started off. Pat pat clap clap. "William, Collin." Pat pat clap clap. "Collin, Baxter." Pat pat clap clap. "Baxter, Tanner." Pat pat clap clap. "Tanner, David." Pat pat clap clap. "David..."
David Dunkel got all the way to the end. We had a couple more rounds, and then we played more games, such as Ninja (You had to make an original position and hit someone's hand to get them out, and you had to remain in the new position.), Catchphrase, and Finger War (You had to hold hands with another person, stick your finger out, and try to touch that person with your finger before he/she does it with his/her finger.).
After we played games, I made an announcement. "Hey, I got donuts for everyone!"
"Woo-hoo!" everyone else chimed in.
Everyone grabbed a few donuts one person at a time. For myself, I picked a chocolate frosted donut, a chocolate glazed donut, a cruller, a frosted sprinkled donut, an apple fritter, and a powdered sugar donut. All the donuts were still warm. We also poured ourselves some fresh squeezed orange juice and sat down in beanbags to watch the band (which composed of Drew Cappello on drums, Kasey Ward on bass, Tanner White, David Dunkel, Ricky Cagno, and Stephen Griggs on guitar, Matt Murphy on piano and lead vocals, and his wife McLean as an additional singer) play a few Christian rock songs. Afterwards, we did a quick bible study about caring about your friends and God. Tanner was asked to lead the following prayer.
"Dear God, we just wanna thank You for all You've done for us, and we pray that You'll help us have an awesome time in Oakey Oaks for two and a half weeks. Keep us safe in a whole new world. In Christ's Name we pray, Amen."
"Also, I'm gonna put you all in groups," McLean said. "And when we're staying at our own place there, one or two people will have a roommate who is a citizen of Oakey Oaks. And don't worry, you'll have some free time." Every member applauded and clapped their hands.
Our hearts were beating rapidly when we started to get put into groups.
"Stephen Griggs, David Dunkel, and Ricky Cagno."
"Matt Murphy, me, Drew Cappello, Collin Jones, and Rachel Yoshida."
"Lauren Muller, Paige Muller, Catherine Weaver, John Howard, and Watson Ransom."
"Andrew Rametta, Henry Crowder, Stone Barli, and Marin Arsenault."
"Baxter Smith, Tanner White, William Allen, Tyler Jaenicke, and Jenna Engert." I was with people that care about me! I was happy to be in this group.
"Kasey Ward, Hinton Rago, Avram Rago, Brittany Rudolph, and Paul Anderson." Avram and Hinton, who were brothers, high-fived each other.
"Alright, we'll be carpooling as well," McLean said. "Y'all ready?"
"Heck yeah!" Watson Ransom hooted.
"I can hardly wait, Baxter," Rachel murmured.
"You're darn right we are," I said.
McLean paused for five seconds. "Everyone grab your belongings and let's get out of here! Go! Go! Go!" she told us quickly.
"YAHOO!" we cheered as we grabbed our bags and suitcases and headed outside.
Our journey began!