Chapter 13: Cailen
When I woke up, it was too bright. I had been hoping to leave early, but I had completely forgotten to tell anyone this.
And it turns out that, other than Asher, no one was capable of reading my mind.
I practically fell out of bed in my hurry to get up, but paused when I realized that I was still wearing the same clothes from yesterday. I lifted my sleeve to my nose and sniffed.
I needed a shower. Badly. I assumed that it would probably be hard to find a place to clean up on our trip, so I decided that I should probably deal with that before leaving.
I looked around my tent and discovered that, like Bay had promised, my bag was packed and seemingly ready to go on the stool that had originally held the pitcher of water.
I picked it up and slung it over my shoulder before peaking outside. Everyone was busy like the day before, all doing their separate jobs, but there was a stiff feeling in the air.
Despite appearing relatively normal, I could tell that everyone was on edge. I had a feeling it had to do with what happened the night before.
I moved the curtain a bit further over and cautiously scooted out of the tent. Immediately the people nearby moved away from me. It was like I had a disease that they didn't want to catch.
In response to their hostility, I blushed and tried to blend into the background. I'm not used to people paying attention to me, especially not negative attention.
I kept my head down as I continued to walk forward. I needed to find Bay or Elle, or even Sky. Unfortunately, I ran into Sarah instead.
"Oh... hi Cailen," she paused and looked at me in disgust, "I thought you would have left by now."
"I did too, but no one woke me up and I really need to shower. Can you please tell me where I can find a place to clean up? Then I'll be out of your hair.
" She sighed and raised her eyes up to the sky in exasperation.
"Follow me," she turned around and began walking back to where she had come from without checking to make sure that I was behind her.
I stayed close to her, hoping it would protect me from any other dirty looks. Eventually we arrived at the restrooms and she ushered me in, and showed me the showers.
"Here you go," she began to walk away, but paused when she seemed to remember something, "You and your friends had better be out of here in no more than an hour.
I can't keep listening to everyone's complaints." I crossed my arms, irritated and tired of this ordeal.
"Fine," I responded. She walked away, while I grabbed a nearby towel and finally took my shower.
I did my best to be quick, and when I got out and changed into clean clothes I felt refreshed and ready to go.
I picked up my backpack and went on a search for the rest of my group, but I couldn't find them.
I looked in all of the places I had been previously, but I had barely just gotten here and didn't know the camp that well. I started to freak out when I couldn't find them.
Maybe they left without me. No, why would they do that? More likely they gave up on me.
They probably came to their senses after sleeping and were hiding from me so they didn't have to come along. Nevertheless, I walked through what I thought was the entirety of the camp.
Eventually I stumbled upon a small section that I hadn't been to before.
I had to duck under some branches that formed a natural wall, but after I made my way through I came across a breathtaking clearing that at first glance seemed to be empty. It wasn't.
I jumped back in surprise when I heard some rusling not far from me. Luckly, I was able to breathe a sigh of relief when I recognized Sky's shaggy hair peeking out from behind a rock.
His head was facing away from me, but I could tell that he was agitated.
"Hey! Who's there?" his head whipped back and forth, but he still hadn't turned around.
"It's Cailen. Behind you," I shuffled my feet uncomfortably when he looked back.
His face had wrinkle marks from possibly a blanket or pillow on the side of it and his eyes were swollen from exhaustion.
I felt like I was intruding on something personal, but we really needed to leave soon.
"Look," I began, "Sorry to, um, bother you, but if you are still coming with us we need to leave no later than in half an hour.
"Yeah, don't worry, I'm coming," he dragged his hand over his face and rubbed his eyes, "I didn't get a great night of sleep, but I'll try to be fast."
"If you don't want to come anymore--" I began before he stopped me with an irritated look.
"I swear to god, if you question our choice to come with you again, I will bail," he rolled his eyes, "Just let me get ready, okay?"
"Oh, sorry," I muttered as I turned around to leave.
"It's fine, it's just," I stopped and looked back at him. He paused for a second and ran his fingers through his hair, frustrated, "Just, you didn't need to apologize. I'm tired, that's all."
"Okay, sorry... I mean yeah, alright, I'll go," I turned around again and hurriedly left the grove, anxious to get out of the awkward conversation.
I mean, what was he even doing there in the first place? Did he sleep there? As I was trying to figure it out, I practically ran into Elle.
"Oh! There you are!" She grabbed my shoulders to steady me and smiled in relief. "We have been looking for you forever. I guess we just missed you, huh?"
"Yeah, I've been looking for you too," I looked around for a second and realized that Elle was alone, "Where's Bay?" I asked, shocked to not see the two of them together.
"Oh, we decided to split up to find you when you weren't in your tent. We discussed it and are all going to meet over by the fire pit."
"Okay, I guess we should go then, right?" I began walking towards the center of the camp with Elle skipping alongside me. When we reached the firepit, somehow Bay and Sky were already there.
Both were looking through their bags, double checking to make sure that everything was ready.
"Ho- How did you get here so quickly?" I asked Sky, genuinely amazed at how fast he must have moved to get there before me.
"Don't underestimate me," he said, giving me a quick look before turning back to his bag.
"Noted," I cleared my throat. Was I in charge of this? Should I say something inspiring? What was I supposed to do? Luckily Elle must have noticed how lost I was because she spoke up for me.
"This is exciting! We are actually going to do something to help people!" she clapped her hands together and Bay grinned in response.
I honestly couldn't get over how happy both of them were. Despite everything that had happened they were so positive. I hoped that by being near them for a bit, that energy would rub off on me.
"So, is everyone ready?" I asked. The trio looked at each other and nodded in response.
"Here we go, I guess," I stopped and had a moment of realization, "Wait, where are we going?
" I forgot that we actually didn't know where Asher was and I had no idea where we were in proximity to the city.
"Yeah, I thought that we would just figure it out once we left," said Bay as she stood up and started to move.
She must have seen the look of concern on my face because she clarified with, "Don't worry, we will talk about it more once we leave,
but it probably makes sense to find our way to civilization first and learn more from there."
"Okay, so which way do we go?" I raised an eyebrow.
"That way," Bay said as she pointed in a vague direction to her left.
"Well, I'm ready. Let's go!" Elle said as she hopped up and began to lead our group that way. Here goes nothing. Our relatively clueless group began the hike into unknown dangers ahead.
Thank you again! Let me know what you think! -Mai