“It’s beautiful!” The log cabin was another story larger than their old, one story, mundane, brick house. Gazing out the car window dreamily, Sophie admired the way the second story balcony wrapped around the house to face the woods. “I love it.”
“Good, ‘cause, starting tomorrow, that’s where you’ll be staying.” It wasn’t until later that she realized he hadn’t included himself in that statement.
“Where are we staying tonight?”
“We will sleep in a hotel.”
“Oh, I’ve never been in a hotel.” Her father didn’t answer; he was focused on his phone. They were stopped at a stop sign down the street from the log cabin, and he pressed his phone to his ear.
“Oh. We can? …Yeah, alright…We’ll be there in a few minutes, Galvin.” After hanging up the phone, he pulled into a gas station, and after filling up the tank, he asked, “Would you like to go ahead and stay tonight?”
Sophie nodded with no hesitation, and forced herself to calmly say, “Of course.”
“Alright,” he grunted, pulling out of the gas station and driving back towards the cabin. When they pulled into the driveway, she grabbed her things and studied her new surroundings. The grass was a perfect green, unable to touch the house because of an interceding sidewalk and garden. They walked along that sidewalk until they reached the door. Oddly enough, Sophie’s father rang the doorbell.
“Don’t you have a key?”
But the door opened then, so he couldn’t answer her question. “Hello!” The man looked down at Sophie. “You must be Sophie Graham.”
Nodding hesitantly at the man, she could see coldness deep in his icy blue eyes, even considering his friendly smile. Also, she thought he needed to shave; He was a bit scruffy.
Sophie then noticed what —who— was behind him. All she could really see were girls lined up in the cabin’s living room. What is all this?
“Welcome to Camp Koradel, Sophie.”
“Mr. Wellman, I haven’t explained…”
The strange man nodded knowingly. “We’ll inform her of the circumstances.”
“Alright; thank you.” Sophie stared at her father, and he looked back with a sad smile. “Well, Hun, I guess this is goodbye.”
“You’re just going to leave me here?”
“Of course, dear.”
Not sure whether she should laugh or cry, she turned to the man in the doorway. “How long will I be staying here?”
Before she could reply, her father’s beefy arms were around her. “I guess this is goodbye,” he repeated.
“Yeah, um, okay,” she muttered awkwardly, knowing he was just trying to put on a show, and she shifted the weight of her luggage uncomfortably.
“Oh, excuse my poor manners! Let me take your things.” He picked up her baggage and carried it inside for her.
“I don’t understand,” she demanded.
“They will explain,” he said in a bored tone. “I must leave now. I love you.” With that, he left hastily.
“Love you too,” she mumbled into the still silence, and then she stepped inside the cabin door. It was gorgeous on the inside, everything composed of a soft brown wood. The floors were wooden as well, and in the room she walked into, seven girls were standing in a straight line. Trying not to stare at any of them individually, she directed her eyes over the flat screen TV, the wooden table, the two brown leather couches, and even the ceiling fan above them.
“Alright, girls,” Mr. Wellman said, entering the room suddenly, “this is Sophie Graham. She doesn’t really know what’s going on here, so we must explain it to her.”
“Tell me what?” She looked at Mr. Wellman, but a girl with brown hair, a black tank top, and jean shorts, answered, “Why we’re here at Camp Koradel.”
“Galvin, we can explain everything to her.” Another girl said, looking at the man next to Sophie. This girl was wearing the same clothes as the first girl, but she had blonde hair with black highlights.
He hesitated a moment, then nodded his approval. “Okay, goodnight, girls.” His large hand patted her shoulder as he past her; then he was gone.
The seven girls relaxed; the brown haired one walked towards her. “C’mon, Sophie, we’ll explain everything.”
Sophie followed the girl reluctantly, and saw that the other girls had pulled out two huge mattresses and were placing blankets over them.
“We don’t always sleep in here, only on special occasions.” Brownie looked at Sophie with complete understanding. “I’m the newest here before you. It’s all crazy, but at least they know you’re a girl. When they found out my name was Erin, they gave us the address to the boys’ camp!”
Sophie giggled despite her confusion. “That must have been interesting.”
“But at least you knew about the war, Erin,” said a blonde girl.
“True…” The 8 girls (including Sophie) sat in a big circle, and Blondey looked at Sophie.
“We should probably start with names. I’m Paige.”
The girl beside her had reddish-brown hair and light green eyes. “I’m Sabrina.” To her left was Anna, who was the girl with blond and black hair. Next was Kasie, a pale girl with brown hair and mossy green eyes. She was the prettiest in Sophie’s eyes, and she kind of reminded her of herself.
Then there was Mary, who had her arm interlocked with Kasie’s. She was the palest, which was a stark contrast with her black hair, and she also had piercing blue eyes and a loop lip ring. Charley sat next to Mary, and she also had black hair, but beautiful, hazel eyes and dark skin.
“Okay,” said Erin, who was on Charley’s left and my right, “now we have to tell her about the war.”
Anna took over. “First of all, you’ve heard all about the “hatred of America,” right?”
“Yes, of course, but what does that have to do with us?”
Charley snorted. “Honestly, nothing, but adults are idiots. They ‘need’” —she put air quotes around the word— “our help to fight off Canada and Mexico. California was the first to send in kids, because Mexico attacked there at the part that touches Baja California.”
“If you’re 15 or older, you have to go to the War. Isn’t that just wonderful?” Kasie said sarcastically.
“Why would they let kids do that?” She asked, looking at Erin.
“It’s absurd, isn’t it?”
Sophie nodded. “It is.” She paused for a moment, and there was a tense silence until she said, “Wait, parents are fighting, too, right?”
Sabrina answered, “Only if they want to, and we’ll be lined ahead of them anyway.”
“So, we’re all at this camp because of a stupid war that we didn’t even choose to go in to.” As she spoke, Anna’s eyes burned with anger.
“How long have y’all been here?”
Erin spoke up. “I’ve only been here for a month, and Mary and Kasie came about 2 months before me.”
“Charley, Sabrina, Paige, and I have been here since it started almost 6 months ago,” Anna offered.
Sophie’s eyes widened and she said, “It’s been 6 months and I’m just now hearing about this?”
“That’s only because word has been spreading to this area. The government didn’t want it on National television or anything, so no one around here knew until about two weeks ago. Well,” Anna said, still angry, “the kids didn’t.”
There was a long pause in which Sophie used to take everything in. “So,” she wondered out loud, “What exactly do we do here?”
“Training,” Charley answered.
A door opened and closed then, and Paige whispered, “That’s Madame Rosette. She stays overnight, but Galvin does the training.”
“Hello, ladies! Where’s the newbie?”
Sophie turned to the woman and failed to suppress her giggles. She wasn’t old, but her face appeared to be mainly plastic. Speaking of plastic…
“Hey, Sophie,” She said with an odd smile. “I’m Madame Rosette; now,” she started, getting straight to the point, “would you like me to strip search you, or Mr. Wellman?”
Sophie’s eyes widened. “Err, Excuse me?”
“If you have too many scars, they have to skin you,” Erin explained with a sad smile.
“Like a fish,” Paige giggled.
“Well, come on, Sophie!” She stood slowly from the circle of giggling girls and followed Madame Rosette. She was led down a tapering hallway into a two-bed bedroom. It was pretty bland: white walls, light blue blankets and pillows, a white dresser, and Sophie’s bag were the only things there. “This will be your room; Erin is your roommate.” She stared at Sophie, waiting.
She hesitated. “Can’t I just say—?”
“No, I need to see. Bra and underwear only, please.”
Slowly, Sophie let her pants slide down to the ground, and she pulled her long sleeved shirt over her head. After a few moments of awkward silence, Madame Rosette ordered her to lie on the bed; she obeyed, laying her back against the firm mattress. She could hear Madame Rosette rummaging through something, and when she stood next to the bed, she was holding a razor in her hand.
“Let me see your arm.”
Lifting her left arm, Sophie closed her eyes; she couldn’t watch. The razor pressed against her wrist, and then she felt the familiar bite of the blade sliding across her skin. It went the wrong direction though, and pulled a thin layer of her skin off as Madame Rosette rubbed it down Sophie’s arm. It didn’t hurt, but the cool air on her fresh skin felt odd.
Madame Rosette repeated this procedure until Sophie’s forearm was almost completely raw, and then she sighed. “We’ll finish this tomorrow. You may go back to the living room.”
When she returned, the girls were laughing in front of something Sophie couldn’t see. Glancing over her shoulder, Erin saw Sophie standing there awkwardly, so she jumped up, took Sophie’s hand, and chimed, “C’mon, you’ve got to see this.”
A couple of the girls looked up at her, scooting themselves over to make room for Sophie. She could see now that they were looking at a computer, and when she saw it, she covered her mouth to stifle her girly giggles.
They had taken a picture of Mr. Wellman and had drawn over it, and had also drawn a picture of Madame Rosette, which exaggerated her huge breasts just a little bit. Though they were in a camp, training for a battle that their parents were too weak to fight alone, they were sitting here acting like normal, perverted teenagers and laughing carelessly. No one even asked Sophie if she’d had too many scars, so she just never mentioned it. Instead, she joked around with them for a while until everyone calmed down.
They were each lying on their backs on their huge “bed” in the living room when Anna said, “I used to think Galvin was hot.”
“He is hot, but he’s an absolute jerk, and totally off-limits,” Paige said with a chuckle.
“He’ll probably be all over you for the next few days, Sophie.”
“Why?” She asked Anna.
“Because,” she answered, “not only is he a huge flirt, but you are also very pretty, and you don’t know him yet.”
“What’s wrong with him?”
Erin answered this question for her, “Oh, you’ll see soon. Trust me.”
As the lights went out and everyone said goodnight, Sophie wasn’t sure why, but she did trust Erin.