For 50 years, Camp Celestial has been a place of relief for supernatural beings. This year, however, the camp's founder wishes to try something new by bringing in 30 humans to share the summer with the campers.
But is everyone ready for such a change?
I stared out the car window, holding on to my bag tightly. The country fled by and I shifted nervously.
"Everything will be fine," my mother said. "This is a wonderful opportunity for you, Annalise. You'll see."
I rolled my eyes. "Yes," I said dully. "Being around blood suckers, magic users, and beasts is a great opportunity."
She glared at me out of the corner of her eye. "Don't be like that. I don't want you to get in trouble for being rude."
"Why am I even going?" I asked. "This is a camp for supernaturals, not humans."
"It's like I told you: They want to see what it would be like to have a human among their members."
"So I'll be the only one?" I asked, this time nervous.
"No," she said. "No, sweetie. They said there will be 29 others."
I didn't answer as she got off the Interstate. I jiggled my foot. The road quickly turned to dirt and rocks. Rain was in the forecast and already the sky was getting dark. The road was lined with trees and I'm sure that, if I hadn't been so nervous, it would look very beautiful. The closer we got to the camp, though, the more nervous I got. Finally, I had my mom pull over. She rushed to the other side to rub my back as I vomited into the grass.
"It's one summer," she whispered in my ear. "And you're going to be perfectly safe."
I only nodded and she helped back into the car. I rinsed my mouth out and popped a piece of cinnamon gum in my mouth, giving me something extra to do. Then we came upon the camp gates and I bit my lip. She had to pull to a stop and rolled her window down. A small silver box with a speaker had a red button that she pressed and waited. I looked out the windshield and bit my lip.
"Yes?" a voice said through the silver box.
"This is Vera Rourke," my mother said. "I have come to drop my daughter off for the summer."
"Daughter?" they repeated, sounding confused.
"Yes. Annalise Rourke."
We heard rustling then a sharp intake of breath. The red light turned off and there was a buzzing sound as the gates swung open. I bit my lip so hard it bled as we drove up to the camp site. In spite of everything, I was impressed.
I wasn't sure about the acreage but it was gorgeous. There were six cottages, two large buildings, and a huge lake. The grass was as green as could be and the trees swayed gently in the wind. The road was made of gravel and brought us up to a parking lot.
My mom got out first and I put on my sunglasses. I took a deep breath then got out, too. We waited until an older man came running over. He wore jeans and a button up shirt with a white wife beater underneath.
"Vera and Annalise?" he asked and we nodded. "Welcome to Camp Celestial! My name is Pierre! I run this lovely little camp. We are very excited to have you here, Annalise," he said. He smiled at me and I saw a pair of pearly white fangs. I stepped away and his smile faltered. "What's the matter?"
"Annalise has not had the... opportunity to be around others," my mom said softly, putting an arm around my shoulders.
"Oh!" he said, covering his mouth. "Oh, I'm sorry. I didn't realize!"
"It's my own fault," I mumbled.
He frowned. "I don't understand."
"Annalise decided to be schooled traditionally," my mom said.
"Why so?" he asked.
I wiped my forehead of the sweat and he slapped his.
"Where is my head? Follow me! We'll go first to the offices."
I wrapped my arm around my mom's and we follows him into one of the large buildings. It was air conditioned inside and I glanced around. When we first walked in, there was a small sitting area with a table containing many magazines and a few newspapers. A fan rotated slowly above us and a woman waved to me. She was seated behind a desk and I waved a little back nervously.
Pierre led us through another door and we entered what must have been his office. He opened a small fridge, revealing several water bottles and what looked like some juice boxes. He passed us each a water bottle and took out one of the boxes. We all sat down and he set the box to the side.
"How much do you know about Camp Celestial?" he asked me and I glanced at my mom.
"Not much," I answered honestly. "I know that it's like a summer camp for vampires, werewolves, and fairies. I know that you use it as a kind of safe haven after being among the humans the rest of the time of the year."
He nodded. "Camp Celestial has been in operation for nearly 50 years. I started it when a group of humans attacked my son simply for feeding from his wife." He sighed. "That was when I realized we needed a place for the supernatural beings of this world to come together, even if only for three months, to support one another. Since it began, the supernatural men and women that come here have created bonds. Alliances, if you will. If one is attacked or bullied, others rally with them. None are injured; instead a court is held."
"I read something about that," my mom said. "There have been five in the last twenty years, yes?"
"Yes," he said. "But, in the last five years, we've not even had a small argument with the humans. That's encouraging to me. So, we are going to try something new this summer. You and 29 of your fellow humans will stay amongst our people. You will experience camp as our young men and women do. There will be allowances made, of course. We know you need more nourishment than the others."
"Will-Will I be staying with supernatural beings?" I asked timidly.
"Yes," he said and got out a folder. He flipped through the many pages until he pulled one out. "Let me just make a few copies of this first."
While he left to make the copies, I looked out the window. The camp held supernaturals from the ages of 18-29. They all mingled together. From this window, I could see a basketball course. At first, it just looked like normal adults shooting some hoops. Then one of them transformed into a wolf and I gasped. He ran for the hoop, still managing to dribble the ball, and went for a layup. A young woman's back suddenly sprouted wings and she easily blocked the shot.
"Did you see that?" I breathed as the man transformed back to a human, a sour look on his face.
"Pretty fascinating, isn't it?" she whispered and I nodded.
"Okay," Pierre said and came back in. "This is for you, Annalise, and a copy for you, Vera."
"What is it?" my mom asked.
"It's a list of her roommates," he explained. "It lists their name, their gender, and their races. For the vampires, it shows their feeding schedule."
I looked up. "Feeding schedule?"
"That's where this comes in," he said and showed us the juice box. "To put it briefly, a vampire has a certain time of day he or she feeds. Some do it more than once. Couples will feed from each other. Others, though, will partake of these boxes." He pointed at two small holes at the top. "They bite into it to give them the satisfactory feel of feeding and then drink as you would a water bottle."
"What do you mean about the satisfactory feel?" I asked nervously and he glanced at my mother.
She cleared her throat. "Sweetheart, vampires really do feed by sinking their teeth into a vein or artery." My eyes widened. "Then they-"
"You're not in danger," Pierre interrupted as I began to hyperventilate. "Calm down, Annalise. You're not in danger."
"Mom," I whimpered.
"You're okay," she said and held a finger up to Pierre when he started to speak. "Deep breath, sweetie. Come on. You're okay. Remember, baby. Remember everything is okay. You are safe. They will not harm you." She sighed and this time spoke to Pierre. "My husband, her father, was murdered by a group of vampires."
Silence fell heavy in the office. I glanced at Pierre. His face was horrified. He stared between the two of us.
"No," he breathed. "He was?"
She nodded sadly. "That is why Annalise chose not to be around supernatural beings."
"If you would rather go home, Annalise, I completely understand," Pierre said, leaning forward. "In fact, I will still pay the agreed amount."
I looked out the window again. The adults were still playing basketball and Pierre followed my gaze.
"Do you like basketball?" he asked and I nodded.
"I-I was on the varsity squad when I was in high school," I whispered.
"We have a basketball tournament, you know," he said. I looked at him again. He was smiling. "We're very insistent on sports. It helps them work off their energy."
I bit my lip and my eyes landed on the juice box.
"That-That keeps them happy?" I asked, my voice shaking.
"Yes," he said immediately.
I looked at my mother and she kissed my forehead.
"Please do this, my dear," she whispered into my ear. "You need to heal."
I shut my eyes and took a deep breath. I gulped then turned to Pierre.
"When do I meet my roommates?" I asked and he grinned.
"No time like the present," he said and stood up.