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Chapter 6: The New Arrival

Zero wasn't all that cooperative with anyone - not even me. He seemed intent on avoiding everyone at camp; no matter who said what to him, he never said anything back. At least, not that I could tell. The only time I saw any of the campers after that awful book snatching (it was traumatizing...don't make fun of me for it!) was when I accompanied Pendanski with the water truck. Pendanski would be absolutely awful to him, but he never showed signs of being upset. He never even acknowledged anyone; he just dug his holes and kept to himself.

Part of our junior counselor duties included going out to visit the boys when the water truck went out on its daily runs. It was a lose-lose situation: I was stuck with Pendanski, Peyton with Mr. Sir. Neither was better or worse.

The only positive about it was that the campers seemed to like Pendanski. They didn't try to give him any sass ever, but I think that was mostly because he wouldn't take any if it was given. And although the majority of the campers were immature and cocky, they definitely weren't stupid, and could take a hint. Me standing next to Pendanski as he filled their canteens painted a pretty clear picture for them: mess with me, and you'll get it. They even spoke cohesive sentences to me.

Other than that, I didn't have to be around the boys. And thank God for that. I could spend the rest of my time hiding from them, hiding from my aunt, and hiding from Peyton, who was still on her mission to get me a boyfriend. And if there was one thing I was good at besides finishing two books per day, it was staying hidden. Hey, there are perks with being 5 foot 2.

But enough about me complaining about that. I'd like to get back to Zero.

While juggling all that, you might think I would have given up on trying to figure him out. But that's not the case. If anything, it made me try harder. But, like I said, I became way more involved than I intended.

And, no, it's not because I fell in love with Zero. Um, he's great and all, but he's like, what, thirteen now? Gross.

It was because I found another kindred spirit because of my curiosity of Zero. Someone else who understood me, someone who wouldn't judge me because I wasn't like everyone else.

It was because I met a boy named Stanley Yelnats. The Fourth.

"Trix!" Peyton was staring out the window. "Look!"

I glanced up from the book I was reading. "What do you want to show me, Peyton? More dust?" I pointed to my shoes sitting by the door. "I've got a whole sandbox in my shoes. I don't think I need to see any more."

"No!" She grabbed my shirt and pointed.

Driving down the dusty road was a school bus.

This wasn't an uncommon sight, but it's not like this happened every day. The only reason a bus would be driving toward Camp Green Lake was if there was a vacancy, and that would be due to a number of reasons: snake bites, scorpion bites, innocence proven…the list went on and on.

The point was this: there was someone new entering Camp Green Lake.

And since there hadn't been any new campers since Peyton and I had gotten there, I had a pretty good feeling whose spot he was taking.

"He'd better not think I'm cute," Peyton said, pouting slightly. "I'm still upset about Lewis."

I sighed. She was still on Barf Bag, even though it'd been almost two weeks. "Peyton, I hate to burst your bubble, but you kind of freaked him out. Besides, Pendanski said he's not coming back. The snake bite was too severe for him to be returning any time soon, so his sentence was revoked."

"And he didn't even give me a phone number!" Peyton sighed dramatically. "The pain I endure for the boy I love."

I rolled my eyes and went back to reading. "Whoever he is, he can't be any worse than the geniuses here."

She stared at me for a moment. "Aren't you the least bit curious to see who he is?"


"Ugh!" She laughed. "Trix, you are so dull sometimes! My heart is in pieces, yet I'm still going to make an effort to get to know the new kid. And where does that leave you? Sitting on your butt, reading some book that you've probably read a million times."

"A million and three," I corrected.

She smiled. "I still think you're making a mistake."

I stuck my face back into my book. "Whatever you say, Mom."

She punched me. "You don't know what you're missing out on," she sang as she walked out the door.

"Right," I muttered, going back to my book.

I lasted less than a minute.

Okay, so I was curious. Can you blame me? I wanted to see what I was up against, who I had to add to my list of People to Avoid For the Rest of My Life at Camp Green Lake.

I tossed down my book on my cot, grabbed my baseball hat, and shoved on my sneakers. I threw open the door and sat on the porch steps, not daring to go any further because there were some boys washing my aunt's car.

"Hey, Bee!" one called. "You wanna join us?" He tried to spray me with the hose in his hand, but ended up spraying his buddy, which resulted in a water fight. Seeing as they were distracted, I was able to sneak off the porch steps just in time to meet the bus as it came roaring down the road.

I found a seat on the porch of the Rec Room, pulling the hat brim over my eyes to avert my gaze from any other onlooking campers. The bus doors opened, and out came one of the most pathetic, wimpy people I have ever laid eyes on.