"Finn, I know I should know this already, but what animal do you shapeshift into" I asked as we were walking to breakfast. Finn stopped. "Why don't I show you" he suggested. Before I could reply, there was a weird shimmer in the air -like you get during a heat wave- and Finn had suddenly vanished, and in his place was a strange, white, weasel like creature. It was as long as a border terrier, and had a pointed snout that ended with a cute pink nose and quivering whiskers. As it moved, its muscles rippled across its body, and its green eyes had the same mischievous glint as Finn's had. It took me a while to convince myself that this really was Finn, and not just an illusion.
After a few seconds in that form he changed back to himself. "Wow" I said to him. He smiled a thanks at me. "What was that" I asked him. "Well" he began, "it's an American mink, but for some reason I'm a lot bigger than the ones you would see in the wild". I was about to ask another question, but just then we arrived at the dining hall and Michael dragged Finn away. I went over to the cereal cart, eyeing up the homemade muesli. There was no need to rush because even though it was a Friday it was a bank holiday, so I could eat for as long as I wanted to. Suddenly Dax, the tall, dark haired boy and his friend Gideon came over to me. "Hi" said Dax. I looked around, utterly confused. Why was he randomly introducing himself to me?
"Hi" I said uncertainly. Dax sighed. "Okay" he began, "let's just get to the point. Lisa told us that you were planning to go AWOL, and because I've done it before, I'm here to give you advice". Then Gideon spoke up, "Yeah, we're masters of avoiding detection; we once went so far as to convince the government –and unfortunately my dad- that I had jumped out the window of a three story building". I just stood there, intrigued and annoyed. Why did they care what I was doing? Also, wasn't that blonde girl who got annoyed by spirits -and who also freaked me out on my first day- called Lisa? "Why do you care" I finally asked them. "Why shouldn't we, we're all COLA'S" he replied, and then started again, "Just make sure you have medical supplies, lots of food, shelter and this book". He handed me a torn 'wilderness survival' book. "It helped me" he said, walking away, "and it will help you".
"So what was all of that about" asked Morgan as we sat down to eat our breakfast. "Oh, Dax just gave me this book to help us 'survive' or something. Apparently he's gone AWOL before, and this was the book he used" I said. Morgan shrugged, and just continued stuffing her face. I had just reached over for the salt, when it felt like something had hit the side of my head. A sharp throb of pain ran through me, and suddenly I couldn't feel my legs, or my arms, or my head. I was vaguely aware of me falling to the ground, and Morgan bending over me, her expression frantic. Suddenly, a huge burning sensation ran down through my wrist and towards my heart. I wanted to scream. I wanted to thrash and kick at anything that moved. But I was paralysed, held in the grasp of this pain like a puppet with its master.
All of a sudden, there was a woman in front of me. She was dressed in white, and her face seemed to radiate warmth and kindness. Mum, I tried to say, but I was too weak. "It's okay darling" she said, coming towards me, "I'll make it better" she kissed my head and gave me a warm hug. She smells of pine needles, I thought to myself. But then she began to vanish. I tried to scream at her to stay, but I began to feel sleepy. Soooo sleepy...
When I opened my eyes, the pain had ended. I could feel my legs. I could feel my arms. I could feel my head. But I couldn't see my mum. Then I realised that I was screaming at the top of my lungs, and tears were running down my face. I quickly tried to calm myself, because Morgan was about to tell the nurse. "I'm fine" I quickly reassured her. Morgan looked at me doubtfully, "I don't call collapsing for no reason, being unconscious for about a minute, and then randomly start crying fine" she replied, "anyway, what was with that? One minute you're stuffing your face and then the next...Kabloey" she threw her hands up to mimic an explosion. I told her what I'd seen and she stared at me in wonder. "It must have been one of your 'visions' Mrs. Sartre was talking about" she said. "Maybe" I shrugged.
The next day Michael, Finn, Autumn, Morgan and I all ate our breakfast nervously, and Finn was so nervous he choked on his sausage. "Right" I said later as we joined the excited crowd, all heading towards the BBQ, "Just act normal; remember Mrs. Dan can smell fear". I handed out the mini phones.
It was only then I took in my surroundings. There were lots of different stands, hot dog stands, burger stands, chicken stands- you name it, we had it. There were groups of COLA'S dancing to the 80's music, and even the teachers were pulling shapes. Just then I turned back to the others.
"When we call you, ask someone to go to the toilet, but remember" Michael cracked a crazy grin, "have fun". Morgan gave a snort of laughter. "Oh yeah, fun" she muttered, walking to the hot dog stand. I just hung around with Michael, tense with nerves. Just before midway through the BBQ, I whispered to Michael: "I think we should start phoning". He nodded, secretly dialling Morgan's number, and told me to dial Finn's. Then a few minutes later, I dialled Autumn's. "I think we should go now" I told Michael.
We asked one of the teachers, and two minutes later we were with the others. "Now I know this sounds stupid" I said, embarrassed, "but make sure you go to the toilet, because I'm not sure when our next chance will be". Surprisingly no-one laughed. I guess they were all too nervous. I was.
We snuck out round the back, and finally got to the gate. I looked around, and then froze. There was a guard, armed with a gun. "I hope it's not loaded" whispered Finn, and I realised that he was looking at the exact same thing as I was. "I've got it" I whispered to the others. I took a deep breath, and then stared at the gun.
A small click rang through the dark metal. The guard looked around, confused. "I've just disabled the gun, and now it's time for the guard" I whispered to Morgan. She gave me the thumbs up sign, and then told Autumn the news. I turned back to the guard, and concentrated on a little pebble. It wobbled a bit. Suddenly, there was a tiny clang, and the guard slumped to the ground, unconscious. I walked passed him, and gave him a sheepish look. "Sorry" I apologised.
We had just got through the gate, and had just started to relax, when shouts of alarm rang out from inside the guard's tower: "There's a man down, I repeat, a man down". Cold feelings of terror ran down my spine, and from the looks the others were giving me, they were feeling the same way.
"What should we do" Morgan whispered to me, just as the guards started to pour towards the gate. Suddenly, the gate swung open, and hundreds of guards spilled out. "How about run!" I yelled, as we scampered towards a row of blackberry bushes, shadowed by a dense forest. One of the guards spotted us, and fired a dart straight at my leg. I dived sideways, but the dart still managed to nick my thigh. I didn't have time to stop and tend to my wound, because all the guards were starting to fire at us. Hundreds of tiny missiles flew through the air, but I was pretty sure that they had all missed. I dived into the bushes, closely followed by the others. Michael beckoned silently for us to crawl towards the forest, hidden by the heaps of bushes. We all followed him. But just as we were halfway, a helicopter passed overhead. We weren't under cover from any trees, shrubs or buildings; and even though we had bushes all around us, from the air, we were easy targets. "Uh-oh, we're dead" whispered Finn, trying not to draw attention to us. "I'll try to find an exit" I whispered back. The helicopters got closer.
I looked around franticly, trying to find an exit. There were none. I started to panic. I couldn't go back to the lodge, even though it was great. I just couldn't face Owen. He would be so disappointed in me. I couldn't stand making someone disappointed, because I liked people to look up to me, and to like my company. So I couldn't get caught. I had to get Jess back. I'd promised that I would. And I don't break promises. The Helicopter got closer. We all closed our eyes, waiting for the sharp sting of the darts.
Suddenly, the Orb started to vibrate in my pocket. I took it out, completely forgetting that I hadn't told Morgan about it. Then Morgan spotted it. "You said that was from Owen" she accused. I turned round. "I just couldn't tell you, I thought that"- Morgan cut me off with a hard stare. "You thought what" she hissed, "that I'd freak out? Are there any more secrets that you'd like to share with us?" Before I could answer, Autumn stepped in. "I don't think it's really the time for arguments" she stated. Morgan agreed. Just then, the Orb shot out of my hand, and fell to the floor. Then it started to hum a sad tune, one that made me think of all the people who have died in wars. From the looks on everyone else's faces, they were thinking the same. Then suddenly, we started falling. And then there was nothing.