Sasha and Mariel spent the rest of the afternoon checking out all the cabins. A fair number of rabbits, squirrels, and other four-legged squatters had moved in while the camp lay vacant, and needed encouragement to move back out. After their first encounter with a porcupine, and the tell-tale stench of an irritated skunk, they took the precaution of stomping around in the pine needles and fallen branches before entering a new cabin, waiting a few minutes to see if the noise warned the squatters to vacate the premises. Even so, they cupped their hands to the window of each cabin to scan the interior before entering. Neither was certain which would be worse: having to de-stink themselves, or explain to Tess why a cabin was uninhabitable.
Tess tracked their progress by the good-natured bickering and laughter, allowing them to make a game of acclimating to their new home. Near dusk, they found a cabin they could agree upon which coincidentally was close to the mess hall. They returned to retrieve their duffels, jackets and blankets, hoping to drag everything down the dusty path so they could move it all in one trip. They dragged a fair amount of leaves and dirt into the cabin in the process. At that point, the cleanest part of the cabin was the path their duffels had cleared. Still, they had to make one more trip for the last of the blankets.
“Sure didn’t seem like we’d brought that much stuff.” Mariel grumbled.
“I bet Tess added a few more things to the pile she thought we’d need.” Or to make sure the house was empty. Sasha shivered as she thought about what the townspeople might do to the house once they realized she was gone. Would they care? Or would they think they’d finally chased her off, and go back to their boring lives until someone else came along for them to abuse? A picture of the house, windows broken, furniture smashed and ripped apart flashed in her brain. Tears welled in her eyes and her stomach roiled.
She picked up a duffel bag. and flung it more violently than necessary onto one of the bunks. Mariel knew her too well to comment, sensing, if not understanding her pain. They worked quietly for a few minutes, stacking everything near the two bunks they’d chosen for their own before heading back to the mess hall to collect the last of their things.
The clearing where they’d landed when they first arrived had begun to fill with people while they cleared cabins. Some looked to be about their own age or younger, while others were clearly adults.
“I sure hope they’re teachers and cooks and stuff and not wardens.” Mariel whispered behind her hand.
“You do realize if they can talk inside our heads, they can hear your whispers too.” Sasha cautioned.
“Well, I hope they at least have the decency to respect a person’s privacy!” Mariel retorted. “This training Tess mentioned had better include how to keep unwanted visitors out of our heads.”
“Speaking of Tess, I haven’t seen or heard from her since she left us hours ago. She didn’t seem too happy about playing errand boy. I wonder if she’s leaving the ‘babysitting’ to someone else so she can use her superior mind for more important things?” Sasha scanned the open area for a grey feline but saw only humans.
Inside the mess hall, some of the adults had moved ice chests and b...