A/N: This is the first story I've ever submitted to this site, so I'm kind of nervous. If you find any errors, please let me know. I hope you enjoy.
Elka took another hesitant step, this time over a fallen log. She clutched the trunk of an adjacent tree as she stepped over it delicately. Unfortunately for Elka and her nice expensive boots, she was then rudely assaulted with the horrors of nature once again when she placed her foot down and heard the squish of fresh mud.
"Ew, ew, ew!" she squealed, quickly hopped off the log, and sprinted a few yards ahead. She continued her guarded steps, intently watching the leafy floor of the woods for anything muddy or slithering, just in case.
"'Thanks!'" Elka quoted Chloe out loud in a mocking tone. "Thanks for nothing," she mumbled to herself, wishing she had disagreed to participate.
A few hours ago, Chloe had launched a small bottle rocket with great success at first, but a strong gust of wind blew it way off course and deep into the woods by the beach. Normally, Elka would have never even considered helping Chloe retrieve it—especially given that many others had decided to help in the search—but Elka and Nils had a deal that if Elka got out of her comfort zone more often then he'd fly to her house in a few years and take her to prom in a helicopter.
After a few minutes and some uncomfortable squishing later, Elka's eyes locked onto a neon orange object, still visible in the near-darkness of night, not far in the distance.
"Well, at least I found the damn thing," she grunted. However, when she took her next step, she was met with another grunting from somewhere in the shadows, this one much louder than her own. She stopped dead in her tracks, her eyes blew wide as she turned around rapidly, trying to search for the source of the sound. "Hello?" she called out into the darkness. "Who's there?"
The growling resumed and a panting of sorts was heard from the same location in the shade. "Who's there?" she repeated, voice wavering. There was an audible snap from what sounded like a twig. "This isn't funny! Come out now—"
Elka silenced herself as soon as she saw a shadow coming toward her from between the trees. At that moment, she screamed louder than she had ever screamed before. It then struck her with something—but what?—and she was knocked backwards into some shrubs. As she landed, she heard another voice—Nils.
"Get away from her!" he shouted, and using his newly-mastered telekinesis, threw a large fallen tree branch at the figure. Having bought himself some time, he darted to Elka and yanked her up with a firm tug. "Come on!" he said, and they ran back toward the campsite, well out of the creature's range. Once the beach was visible, they slowed their pace.
"What," Elka paused, breathing heavily, "what was that?"
Nils ran a nervous hand through his hair and swallowed in an attempt to alleviate his dry throat. "A bear, I think. One of those psychic bears."
"Great," Elka panted as she fell back against the wall of the boathouse.
Nils nodded, calming down. He then looked up at her face and his panic was renewed briefly. "Elka, you're bleeding! Are you okay?"
"Where?" she asked, eyes wide and voice thick with fear.
"Your forehead," he said, brushing her hair back from the blood. There were a few scratches on the left side of her face, near her hairline, but luckily they weren't very deep. "You must have fallen into some thorns or something when it knocked you over."
Elka let out a loud sigh.
"Let's go find a counselor and a first aid kit," Nils advised, wrapping a comforting arm around her. They made their way up the sandy hill toward the Lodge.
After a brief interlude of Milla Vodello, M.D., Elka was patched up and ready for bed. She was still a little shaken up, so Nils decided to walk her back to her cabin. Once inside, they saw Chloe sitting on the floor, a bright orange bottle rocket in her lap.
"Everyone's back from the woods, right?" Nils asked Chloe, leaning against the door frame. He still had a hand on Elka's shoulder.
"I think so. They all gave up and went to the lodge for some ice cream cones or something. Strange human foods, I tell you."
"You saw everyone?" he questioned, verifying that the bear hadn't found any additional victims.
"Pretty sure," Chloe said and then looked up. When she saw Elka's bandage, she asked, "What happened?"
"Well," Elka began, preparing herself for a melodramatic rant. "Because of you, a bear came and attacked me! A bear! It was big and smelly and angry! It pushed me down and I would be dead if it weren't for my boyfriend!"
"Sorry that happened," she responded insincerely, given that no matter what she said, Elka would hold a grudge, even though it wasn't Chloe's fault that she got hurt in the first place. But alas, she was dealing with Elka, the strangest human of all. "JT found my rocket about forty-five earth minutes ago."
"Thanks for informing me before you almost got me killed," Elka huffed, falling onto her bunk. Nils followed her in for a brief good night kiss, but right before he left, she stopped him.
"Wait! I swear I saw that rocket sitting in some leaves in the woods right before I was attacked." She sat up, suddenly energized.
Nils raised his eyebrows, confused, and then looked over at the rocket in Chloe's hands. "Elka, some things are just better left unknown," he advised with a small smile. After that, as he turned to leave again, Elka stopped him once more.
"Nils," she said softly. He glanced back at her over his shoulder. "Thanks for looking after me." Her face was flushed; she felt embarrassed about showing vulnerability in front of another girl, even if it was Chloe.
He smiled, walked over to her bunk again, and leaned in to kiss her cheek. "I love you," he said.
"I love you too," Elka whispered. "And you're totally taking me to prom now. No excuses. A nice tux and a pink boutonnière to match my dress! And that helicopter too!"
"You got it, sexy lady. Anything you want." He winked.
She then smacked him playfully on the arm and pulled him in for a tight, tight hug.