Archie had somehow got all of us outside and into the shape of a circle in minutes. He spent time looking at each of us in turn, trying to make sure he could tell who we were and so that we knew who was in charge. When his eyes fell upon me, I suddenly felt cold. His eyes were sharp and appeared bitter - did he know what I had done with that girl? Not possible. But there was definitely a hint of pity there and I did not appreciate that.
"Right!" He yelled in a cheerful tone. "My priority is for you all to get to know each other. So, the first thing we're going to do is get to know each others names. Now I'm sure that you have already made some introductions but we're going to play a little game that is going to make sure everybody knows everybody else's name." His voice sounded upbeat but there was definitely some force behind it - we had to be here and we had to do what this guy said. I looked around briefly and it was clear that I wasn't the only one who didn't like that.
"So! In my hand I have a ball." It was a small ball, bigger than a tennis ball but smaller than a football; where he had produced it from confused a great deal of us. "And I am going to throw it at one of you, but only after yelling out your name. Like so." He yelled out my name and threw the ball vaguely in my direction. He hadn't aimed at all so that it would be a slight surprise - he clearly wanted to throw me but it didn't work and I easily caught the ball. "So we're going to start with Cayden over here." I smiled, already hating this game. "The idea is that Cayden will throw the ball to someone else after calling out their name. They will then throw it back, calling out Cayden's name. We will repeat this until Cayden doesn't know anyone else's name. Then Cayden will throw the ball back to me and I will pick someone else. The clever thing is that whoever comes next will know all of the names that Cayden knew along with a few of their own. Isn't that clever, Cayden?" I nodded, knowing that if he said my name once more I would happily throw the ball with all my might into various parts of his body that he would not be able to use ever again.
"Go!" He yelled and I was glad to have hear the last of his annoying voice. I scanned the circle. Izikael was stood beside me so i decided to choose him first. "Izikael!" I called, mimicking Archie's tone as I gently passed the ball to him. He fumbled slightly, laughing it off. He passed it back and that was that.
I only knew one other name so I didn't have much of a decision to make. I pulled my arm back and threw the ball, releasing it a split second before I called out Hemingway's name. It didn't make much difference as the ball flew past his shoulder and landed just behind him. He tumbled to the ground to pick it up. Hell, this lot were shit. He passed the ball back with some aim and skill but not enough to match my own.
"Archie!" I called out, putting some spin on the ball so that it hit the ground just before his feet and bounced up into his arms. The rest of the group looked impressed - and why shouldn't they? It was a tough shot! - but Archie just looked disappointed. We all knew that I had shown him up and that I was setting a good example for the others to do the same. Maybe this wasn't going to be as bad after all.
We completed the game relatively quickly, learning one name at a time. Once we had finished, half of us sat down, hoping that we could get away from Archie and his stupid activities. "Right. So now that we all know all of our names, let's make this a little harder." He produced a second ball and this time, none of us could tell where it had come from (it had definitely not been there a minute ago) but none of us asked for fear of the answer. "Let's play with two balls!"
* * * * * * * * * *
Archie tortured us for a little while longer until it was time for a break and some refreshments. It seemed like most of the camp was gathered in one building so I decided to go exploring. It wasn't long before I found who I was looking for.
Music girl was laughing with some new found friend. "Can I share the joke?" I asked as I approached.
"I doubt you'd understand." She said bluntly, parrtly turning away from me.
"Try me." I made sure that I laughed a little as I checked out Music girl's friend. She was pretty cute so I gave her a little wink. I caught her grinning out of the corner of my eye. I introduced myself properly and found out that Music girl was actually called Blake. It struck me as a bit of an odd name at first but thought that it suited her. I decided to steer the conversation towards music. "So Blake. You play guitar?"
"Yes." This girl seemed a little moody - I couldn't have done anything that bad could I? No. Not possible.
"I'd like to hear you sometime." I smiled at her, hoping to get some form of response. There was nothing.
"We were saying she might get forced into doing camp fire songs." Her friend, Kia, laughed. I joined in, clearly aware that Kia was interested in me. Maybe I could give her a go as well.
"She might." I commented. "I play as well you know." But she wasn't interested.
Bianca was walking past so I decided to get her introduced to the girls in the hope that she might put in a good word for me. Unfortunately, it seemed that both Blake and Kia were more interested in making fun of Bianca and who was I to stop them? I could barely stop myself from laughing - they did have a point. I was about to offer my own insights into the discussion when I saw soup flying through the air and ducked away. As Kia and Bianca crashed into each other, I stood back and watched them go at each other, grinning. I took in every movement, admiring Kia's passion and Bianca's enthusiasm. I knew it would only be a matter of time until someone came to break this up so I enjoyed the fight while it lasted.
I saw Blake get pushed away and rushed over to check how she was.She had fallen into that guy - that guy whose name I still couldn't remember - so was alright. But as soon as I got there, she had gone. I couldn't leave him without figuring out what his name was since I knew that it would bug me. "Hey," I said with an accompanying smile. "Girls are cray-zy!" He clearly wasn't terribly interested in what I was saying. "But bitch-fights, you've got to admit, they're pretty hot!" He barely reacted so I winked and prepared to leave.
"As long as neither of them are hurt," He said, watching the girls more than me. I studied his face, struggling to place his name. I decided that I wasn't going to get it so I got up and punched him gently.
"They'll be fine. Anyway man, I've got to go - see you around!" I spotted Izikael stood in the background and made my way over to him. I stood just behind him, watching whatever it was that he was watching. His eyes were following a girl - at least I think they were - but I couldn't tell which one.
He must have lost her as he turned to me. "Did I miss much?"
"That stuff is the best. You shouldn't need me to tell you that."
"Why do they do it?" He looked at me with eyes like a child. He really didn't have a clue.
"Am I going to have to teach you everything about girls?" He nodded slowly.
"We're going to have to take this slow because it's quite clear from looking at you that you won't be able to cope with much more." He nodded as we left. "But for the love of all that is holy, never say that to a girl."