Sophia and the Werebear

"I can't believe we are finally going on this camping trip!" squealed Zoey. "Can I pick the first patch we earn?"

"You always pick patches, Zoey. I wanna pick," complained Mia.

"Girls, settle down back there," my mom said absently, staring at the road.

"You heard my mom," I told my troop. "If we don't listen to her, she has every possibility of turning around and going back to Danville."

The girls saluted to me and fell silent.

"Wouldn't want to upset Mrs. Flynn," said Allie apologetically.

We were quiet for a bit so Mom could focus on the road. I itched underneath my hand with the spare straw I had, then I was so bored that I had to say something.

"Mrs. Brown's bringing Kylie to earn patches, too, right?"

Kylie's just a Little Spark, but with hard work she'll be a Fireside Girl in no time flat.

"Yup. Though she told me that Cameron might have to come up with them..."

"What?" I shrieked, as Morgan, Camille, and Paige giggled nervously. They knew about how much I utterly despise that good-for-nothing boy.

*Flashback!*

"It's painting time!" the kindergarten teacher said happily, and I worked hard on my picture.

I walked past Cameron's easel with my painting, and I felt something...gooey hit me.

He got green paint all over me. In my hair, on my pink striped dress, on my face, on my arms, and worst of all, on my painting.

And he just stood there and laughed at me. I looked ridiculous, and he did it ON PURPOSE.

That's when I whacked him over the head with my hand.

*Love Händel. In my flashback! I know people.*

"Cameron is just going to ruin the whole trip!" I complained.

Zoey rolled her eyes. "No, he won't. He'll only ruin it if you let him. Besides, maybe this way you can earn the 'Silent Treatment' patch."

The others all nodded in agreement.

I sighed. "I guess you're right."

"Sophia, don't worry about it. It's only a possibility. There's a chance he might not even need to come," said Paige, patting my shoulder consolingly.

"I sure hope so," I sighed. Again.

We arrived at the campsite not long after, and I quickly ran to the trunk and got Franklin out of his traveler.

"Hey, Frankie, boy, you were such a good boy. You didn't squawk in the car, oh no you didn't," I said, scratching his back.

Mom came over with shrimp treats and fed him some. "I'll take Franklin to the duck pond so he can socialize a bit," she said, walking him away from the van.

"Hey, Sophia!" said Mrs. Brown behind me.

I turned around to greet her, and saw her and Kylie carrying their tent and other camping gear.

"Wait 'til you see Cameron," said Kylie confidentially. "He's in a really bad mood." She pointed behind her to an extremely dejected and angry looking ten year old boy. It was Cameron all right.

Terrific. The only being worse than Cameron is moody Cameron. I frowned as I got my pink duffel bag out of the trunk.

"Where's your mom?" asked Mrs. Brown, playing with her bangs to fluff them out more.

"She took Franklin to the duck pond. Come on, I'll take you guys to the campsite!" I replied excitedly. I took off at a run, and Kylie followed me, laughing the whole way.

By the time we got to the campsite, Mrs. Brown had somehow managed to drag Cameron with her, and the four of us set down our bags near the water supply.

"Say hi to Sophia, Cameron, won't you?" Mrs. Brown asked casually, unzipping her purse and getting out her phone. "Darn, no service."

Cameron and I gave each other the death stare we've given for the last five years, and then we parted.

I rejoined my troop happily, tightening my pigtails as I went. "So what patch are we earning first?"

"Morgan suggested we earn the Freshwater Fishing Patch," offered Camille.

"What about pitching our tents? We could pick up an Organization Patch or something," Allie added.

"Let's do the fishing first. Mom and Mrs. Brown said they'd set up camp," I decided.

"After that, can we get the Scat Trail Patch?" Cameron asked behind me, in a mocking tone.

I gave him a look, then turned back around to the girls, and quickly walked away towards my bag to get a fishing rod.

"What's scat?" Kylie asked.

I heard Zoey snicker. "Animal poop."

"Gross, Cameron!"

I looked over at the duck pond and noticed something...my flamingo was strangely missing.

"Hey, where's Franklin?"

oOoOoOo

Franklin the Flamingo slapped his OWCA fedora on, stealthily snuck over to a tree, pulled on the lowest branch with his beak, and hopped into the secret opening in the tree trunk. It led to one of the many OWCA satellite lairs - he was about 100 miles away from his home one.

He landed in his seat, legs sprawled out, and hit a button with his wing.

"Good morning, Agent F," greeted Corporal Carl. "There have been reports of strange flashes happening on Mount Sigma; flashes of red lightning, the report says, at the coordinates on your screen. We're thinking Orville von Roddenstein is once again following in his father's footsteps. Investigate and stop him. Carl out."

"Oh, and tell him I say hi!" said the intern, Mason, sticking his head into the frame and waving. Franklin politely waved back.

"Get back to work, Mason! I swear, interns never do anything anymore!"

Franklin grabbed a jetpack and flew to the coordinates shown. Sure enough, Orville was putting the finishing touches on his machine, whatever it was.

"Greetings, Franklin," he said, pushing a button on a remote and trapping him in a chicken wire cage. "Apparently you heard about my latest -inizer. It's the absolutely fascinating and TOTALLY EVIL WERE-INIZER! At any rate, all I have to do is shoot a beam at any object, and it will become a were-object! ANYTHING! Exhibit A: this poor birch tree." Orville shot it at the tree, which quickly became dead and rotten-looking. "Now it's a were...tree!" Orville attempted to cackle, and ended up just wheezing. "Note to self: work on evil cackle."

Franklin rolled his eyes and started searching for a way out of the cage.

oOoOoOo

"Freshwater Fishing Patch. Done and done," I said as I carefully put my fish with the others.

Zoey sidled up to me. "How about the Tree Study Patch?"

"Great idea. Come on, girls! Everyone got their sketchbooks?"

We went through the forest eagerly, each of us trying to find the perfect tree to draw and identify. I thought I'd never find one...and then I saw it.

The most beautiful specimen of plant to ever have grown.

And Cameron was already sitting next to it.

He was holding a centipede or something, and he held it up to show me as I approached.

"Hey, Sophia. Look at this bug. What kind do you think it is?"

Cameron held the bug in my face, and I backed up.

"Cameron!" I cried. "I think that thing's poisonous!"

He dropped it immediately, and frowned at the welt on his finger. "Huh. You were right. I guess you really are a good Forest Fire Girl."

"Fireside Girl," I said, annoyed.

"That's what I said."

I sighed. This was going nowhere. I just wanted him to go away. "Cameron, I'm trying to draw this tree. Could you please move?"

He crossed his legs and leaned against the tree. "You could always draw me in the picture."

"I think I'll pass."

"Whatever floats your boat, Firefighter Girl," he said, strolling away casually.

"Fireside Girl!" I shouted after him, but he was already ignoring me.

I tried drawing the tree, but it had been tainted by Cameron's ruiny ruin-ness. It no longer looked as beautiful as I had previously thought.

Over the course of the day, we earned five more patches. Each of us got to pick one - that way, it was fair. Patches are always a democratic process. Our last patch was a Cloud-Watching Patch, and the seven of us scattered once more to properly observe them and meditate.

I was a much happier camper than I had been all day when lo-and-behold, my concentration was disturbed by Cameron lying down next to me.

"Watching clouds?" Cameron asked me.

"No, I'm doing a Bulgarian folk dance. Of course I'm cloud-watching."

We sat in silence for a few seconds, staring at the sky.

"Hey, that cloud looks like a giraffe!" he said, pointing at it.

Cameron was right, it kind of did.

I noticed one that looked like a wombat, and I pointed it out to him. "Look, that one looks like Wallace."

"Who's Wallace?" asked Cameron.

"It's Roxie's pet wombat. He doesn't like anyone except me, her, and Michael Rai."

Cameron chuckled. "It does kinda look like a wombat."

More silence. Finally, I couldn't stand the awkwardness any longer.

"So what are you doing here with me? Plotting yet another way to embarrass me?"

He sighed. "You know, for a person who's generally friendly, you seem to get angry at me a lot."

I rolled my eyes. "This isn't anger. This is sarcasm."

"That's what I mean. You're always mad at me, and I don't know why."

"You don't know why?" I cried, incredulous. "Probably has something to do with the fact that you splashed paint all over me in kindergarten. And you haven't exactly been the most welcoming individual in the years since."

"Look, Sophia, I'm tired of this stupid rivalry we have. Can we be friends? I mean, you live three doors down from me; seeing me is unavoidable."

"I'll think about it," I said, tight-lipped.

oOoOoOo

Franklin was almost done picking his way out of the cage using one of his feathers. Orville had been rambling for hours.

"You know, Franklin, I probably should build a way to get this off of Mount Sigma. I mean, it really doesn't even belong here, it belongs at my house. Unfortunately, I used all of my materials to build the -inizer in the first place..."

oOoOoOo

We sat exhaustedly around the campfire, roasting hot dogs. I was sitting between Zoey and Paige, Cameron carefully situated across the campfire.

"I think we had a great day, girls. Seven patches in a day..." I said to my troop. I could hardly believe we'd accomplished so much!

"We beat my mom's record!" said Kylie excitedly. "But I don't think we could ever beat Candace Flynn's."

Mrs. Brown giggled. "Oh, I remember that day. I was so mad Candace beat me!"

Cameron spoke up. "You know, I bet you guys could beat Candace's record...with a little help." He looked at me, and I suddenly noticed what a nice shade of green his eyes were...

oOoOoOo

"...maybe I could shoot a big animal with this thing!" Orville continued.

Franklin had just finished picking the lock. Now to open the door slowly enough so it wouldn't squeak.

"I'll just fire it over here and see what happens," said Orville, pushing the button on the Were-inizer.

Franklin realized he had shot it in the direction of Sophia's campsite! There was no time for stealth now. He escaped with a clang and roundhouse kicked Orville.

Suddenly, they heard a huge roar and several shrill screams.

"Ooh! I hit an animal! Sounds like a bear!"

oOoOoOo

"Wanna hear a spooky story?" Mom asked.

We all nodded eagerly.

"It is said that there is a creature that lives in these woods, who enjoys snacking on humans, but only when the moon is full on a night like tonight." Mom pointed up at the sky for dramatic effect. "So beware...beware the Werebear!"

All of a sudden, the Werebear stormed into the clearing, looking for a victim. It was unthinkably huge, with glistening black fur and eyes the color of blood. The Werebear let out a mighty roar, and everyone screamed and ran for cover.

I'm not a very fast runner, and I tripped on a rock and skinned my knee. However, that wasn't my biggest concern, as the Werebear was right in my face!

I prayed that being eaten wouldn't be too painful.

Suddenly, I heard footsteps and shouts of "CAMERON!"

Cameron appeared, jumped in front of me, and shook his finger at the huge animal, yelling "Stay away from my friend!"

Franklin hoped nothing too horrible had happened to his owner, and he hit the reverse switch and re-fired the Were-inizer. A beam of blue light shot towards the campsite.

Suddenly, a flash of blue light appeared, and the Werebear was hit with it. Before our eyes, he was transformed into a circus bear, and he skipped away happily.

As soon as he was gone, everyone rushed to my side, my mom scooping me up in her arms and hugging me. "Oh my goodness, it's a miracle you're alive!"

Mrs. Brown hugged Cameron. "That was a pretty brave thing to do, kiddo. Everyone was terrified for the both of you, and you went and saved Sophia's life!"

The rest of my troop rushed up, congratulating him on his bravery.

Cameron blushed a little at the attention, and simply said, "It is the duty of any manly, valiant knight to rescue a damsel in distress."

We all giggled. It felt good to be safe.

Suddenly, I noticed Franklin sitting in the duck pond. "Oh, there you are, Franklin. Good thing you weren't around when the Werebear was here."

oOoOoOo

The next morning, I got up at sunrise. I couldn't tell you why; normally, Roxie drags me out of bed, kicking and screaming, around eight-thirty. But today I wanted to appreciate the sun.

I sat outside the tent I shared with my mom and Zoey, just watching the sun come up. It was beautiful.

"Hey, Sophia," Cameron called, sitting down next to me. "Pretty neat sunrise, right?"

I turned to him. "Thank you...for saving my life. If you hadn't..." I stopped short. "You know, Cameron Brown, you're not so bad a kid after all."

Cameron held out his hand, ready for a handshake. "Truce?"

I gladly took it. "Truce. We can be friends."

He smiled at me. He had a nice smile.

"I bet Roxie's already working on a new project," I commented. "When we get back, you can come over and help...if you want to."

"Sounds like a blast, Sophia."