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Rated: ASR · Prose · Comedy · #2116164
Some Beacon Scouts go exploring and get a little bit lost.
         It was an overcast day, as was often the case for the town of Rhodes. It was a chilly fall day, and while it had not begun to rain yet, it seemed likely it would. Despite this there was a group of people outside. The Beacon Scouts had gathered for a day of exploring and learning to use teamwork. Or to perform an exercise that would keep them occupied for a while. Either description would be accurate.
         In front of the group of Beacon Scouts stood a tall man with an adult version of the yellow and brown uniform. He had large wide-brimmed hat, a carefully trimmed mustache, and large aviator sunglasses. "Alright, now that everyone is here we can begin," he said, in a voice that was both somehow authoritarian and disinterested at the same time. "Today we will be practicing how to keep in contact while separated. First thing you all need to do is pair up."
         Among the crowd was a blond haired and slightly short eight-year-old boy. He glanced around at the group. He raised his hand and without waiting to be called on began to speak, "Scout Leader Steward, there are nine of us, and that's an odd number, and you can't divide an odd number evenly."
         Scout leader Steward opened his mouth to speak then did a quick headcount of the scouts. He muttered something under his breath and said, "Well Felix, there will just have to be a group of three people I guess." All the scouts nodded as if this was some sage-like wisdom. "So, first partner up."
         Felix was unsure of who to go with. This was his first year with the scouts and he didn't know anyone well beyond his sister, Addie, and her best friend, Coby. And they had immediately partnered up. Maybe he could be their third partner though...
         "Hey!" Felix heard someone behind him and turned around. Standing behind him was an eight-year-old girl. She was slightly taller than him and was holding her baseball cap in her hands, revealing her black hair cut into a short pixie mohawk. "Uh, can I be your partner."
         "Um...sure Zuri," replied Felix. She was in his class at school, but he didn't know her well. She had just moved into town this year, and they did not travel in the same circles in school. Well, at least he had a partner.
         "Felix," called out Steward. Felix turned to look at him, "Since you pointed out that a group would have to have three, you can be that group. Take Ruth with you.
         "Huh?!" exclaimed Felix. He then heard someone behind him and turned around. He let out a frightened squeak as he looked up...and up. Standing well above him was Ruth. She was only nine years old but was already over five feet tall. And unlike many tall people Felix knew, she wasn't skinny, but had some brawn on her, making her even more imposing. Felix had seen her at school and heard stories. Her light brown hair was kept pretty short for a girl and made her look kind of tough. She almost never talked and always seemed like she was about to snap and clobber whoever was nearby. Her presence in the group had always made him nervous, especially given he was short for his age, but before now he never had to interact with her. He flinched as she raised her hand, but relaxed when he saw it was just a little wave.
         "Alright, now that you all have partners," said Steward, "Listen up! When I give the word each group will go in a different direction. You will continue until you find the blue ropes Scout Assistant Jana has set up. Do not go past the blue ropes. The last thing I need is some of you getting lost." He sighed and added softly, "Again." He reached into a bag and pulled out some walkie-talkies. "Each group will receive a walkie-talkie. You'll use it to communicate with myself and each other to report your surroundings. Then you'll find your way back to this hill. Any questions?"
         Coby raised her hand, "What happens if we get attacked by wolves?"
         "Don't worry, that won't happen," Scout Leader Steward assured her, "Wolves are rare and leave people alone. If you're attacked by anything it'll be a bear. Any other questions?"
         Theo raised his hand, "Who gets the walkie-talkie?"
         "Figure it out among yourselves," replied Scout Leader Steward. As soon as he said this he face palmed, and all the partners began to argue with each other about who should get the privilege of holding the walkie-talkie.
"You want to be in charge of it?" Zuri asked Felix.
"Uh...no if you don't want be," he replied. Glancing back at Ruth he added, "Or, you know, you Ruth."
"I'm good," said Ruth. Her voice was slightly scratchy and deep (well deep for a nine year old at any rate).
As the arguing continued Steward finally yelled, "Alright! Alright! Why don't you trade
the walkie-talkie every few minutes, so no one holds it the whole time." There seemed to be general agreement with that, although Steward knew it wouldn't last the whole time. It would keep them from fighting while they were around him at any rate.
         He made his way up to the top of the small hill. On top was a recliner chair. "Alright everyone get ready...set...go!" Even though they didn't have to run, all the groups did, hurrying off in different directions. Steward sat on the chair and reclined, breathing a sigh of relief. He set the walkie-talkie next to himself and waited.
         Felix, Ruth, and Zuri had made it a decent distance away from the hill. They continued in silence for some time before Zuri spoke up. "Hey I think I see the blue ropes!" She pointed ahead and sure enough between the trees were the ropes.
         "Nice spot Zuri," said Felix, "Now-" He stopped as there was a growl from nearby. "Bear!" What happened next was all a blur to Felix. One moment he was with the girls and the next he was alone and slipping down a slight incline. "Woah!" He heard the growl again and turned around to face...a small dog. It must have gotten lost and run into the woods. It barked at him a few times, doing its best to be intimidating before wandering off. "At least it's not a bear," Felix said to himself.
         Suddenly the walkie-talkie started to crackle. "Felix, Zuri, Ruth, are you there?" asked Scout Leader Steward over the walkie-talkie.
         "Uh yeah, we're all here," said Felix, "At the blue ropes." He nervously glanced around at the empty forest. He was lucky he had a natural talent for lying.
         "Can you describe what you see?" asked Steward. Felix did his best. "Okay, how about the girls?"
         "Um...let me check," replied Felix. He turned off the walkie-talkie for a sec and then turned it back on. "They, uh, said they're good."
         "...Okay. Why don'tcha head on back?" replied Steward.
         "Okay! I...we will!" Felix turned off his walkie-talkie and began to look around. The girls couldn't have gone far. He hoped anyway.
         He began his search by retracing his steps. He examined the dirt around where they were last. There were some large shoe prints headed off in one direction and he decided to follow them. As he was making his way through the dark forest when he heard some noise from a small cave below him. He took a moment to build up his courage and then ventured down the small hill and into the cave. The cave was tiny so the light from outside meant he could still see decently. And what he saw surprised him. Huddled in the corner of the cave was Ruth, her head down. He slowly approached her and tapped her on her shoulder. "Ruth?"
         Ruth suddenly sprang to life, flailing, and shouted, "Gah! Don't hurt me!" Ruth then looked up to see it was Felix. "Oh...uh...heh...ummm..."
         The light was just bright enough for Felix to see the light dusting of freckles across Ruth's face and her slight overbite. She looked a lot less intimidating like this. And her vocal fumbling wasn't exactly scary.
         "So, uh, I thought you were behind me when we ran, and then you weren't and I was lost, and so I hid out here and hoped someone would fine me," she awkwardly explained, and then added, "Oh, and uh, I guess you did. Is Zuri with you?"
         "No, I found you first. We should find her," he said. Then he sheepishly added, "Especially since I told Scout Leader Steward that you two were with me."
         "Well we should find her then!" Ruth declared, standing up. She stood too fast, and nearly hit her head on the cave ceiling, but managed to just avoid it. The two Beacon Scouts walked out the cave and into the open. "Hey," said Ruth, "Maybe you should get on my shoulders so you can see further. I think I can carry you."
         Felix didn't even quite come up to Ruth's shoulder so he figured she was right. And he wasn't particularly heavy. "Alright, if you're sure." Ruth knelt down and Felix climbed onto her shoulders. She stood back up and he steadied himself.
         "Just look out for, like, low hanging branches and stuff," said Ruth. Despite her rather obvious advice Felix spent the next several minutes untangling himself from various small branches. At least he avoided the big ones.
         Some movement out of the corner of Felix's eye caught his attention. "Zuri, is that you?" he called out.
         Zuri's head popped out of the bushes, leaves entangled in her hair, even with her hat. "Felix, is that you?"
         Felix was silent for a moment before deadpanning, "No."
         Zuri climbed out of the bush and walked up to Felix and Ruth. "Oh, hey Ruth."
         "Ruth helped me find you," Felix informed her, still sitting atop his living perch.
         "Thanks Ruth!" said Zuri.
         "Uh, you're welcome," replied Ruth, giving her a shy smile. "Really I just let him sit on my shoulders." She knelt down to let Felix off. After a moment, he got the message and hopped down.
         "Well now everything is alright-" Felix was cut off by the sound of thunder. The two girls glared at him, astounded he would be so stupid as to tempt fate. "Oops...heh...I think Scout Leader Steward was back that way." The three Beacon Scouts began to run through the forest.
         As they made their way back they came to a snarl of branches and bushes. Felix was a very fast runner, and made it there first. He crawled on through a small gap. Ruth was right behind him, and began to crawl through, but ran into a problem. A light blush spread across her face and she informed the others, "I'm stuck." Some thunder dramatically boomed overhead.
         "What? Ug! We should have just gone around!" complained Zuri.
         "That's what I'm thinking now," replied Ruth, "But could you help me please?"
         "Sorry Ruth," said Felix, pulling her from one side. On the other Zuri pushed.
         "He-Hey! Watch where you're pushing!" Ruth cried out.
         "It's not my fault you have such a big butt!" retorted Zuri. She gave one last big push and Ruth popped out the other side. Zuri quickly followed her through.
         Ruth picked herself up and the three started running again. "Oh, uh thanks," said Ruth as they ran.
         "No problem," replied Felix and Zuri in unison.
         Back at the base camp (or base chair as the case was) Scout Leader Steward was glaring at the sky.
         "The weather report said it would only be overcast. No thunder, not even rain. They have satellites, how do you mess that up?" He turned his attention back to The Beacon Scouts assembled before him. "Alright is everyone here?" He answered his question by quickly counting the scouts. "We're missing three..." There was the sound of thunder from overhead. "Would you stop that?!" He yelled at the sky. A much less impressive boom, almost sheepish sounding, answered him. "Where are Ruth, Zuri, and Felix?"
         As luck would have it those three burst through some bushes into the clearing. "We're...here." panted Felix.
         "Good good," said Steward. He felt a raindrop on his arm. "Hurry to the van!" The scouts followed his order and ran towards a dull yellow 12 seat van parked nearby. The Words "Beacon Scouts" were crudely spray painted on the side in bronze. The rest of the Beacon Scouts made it to the van before the tired trio of Zuri, Ruth, and Felix. "I'll have Scout Assistant Jana pick up my chair," Steward muttered to himself, sending out a quick text message.
         Felix, Zuri, and Ruth, being the last ones in, ended up towards the front of the van. They all sat down, breathing sighs of relief as the rain began to come down.
         "Well that was actually kind of fun," said Felix. He was wedged in the middle, a fate he was used to given his small size.
         "Yeah," agreed Ruth. "In retrospect."
         "What's retrospect?" asked Zuri.
         "It means in hindsight. Like looking back," explained Ruth.
         "Oh," said Zuri, "Well then in retrospect, it was fun." She grinned at the other two. "I'm pretty new here, and I really don't have friends...unless you two want to be?"
         "Yeah, sure!" agreed Felix. Ruth nodded and gave a thumbs up.
         "Yay!" cried out Zuri, hugging Felix. Ruth leaned over and hugged Felix too.
         "I wish I could hug you too Zuri," she said, "I, uh, love hugs."
         The union of friends suddenly jolted apart as the van lurched forward. The three settled in for the trip home through the rain.

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