And now my foot is covered in blood. Fantastic. Because who doesn’t want to step in, what I’m hoping is just, period blood.
Oh, no, it’s not mine. See, I lack certain body parts that cause periods, so I literally can’t have been the one who… wait, does this much blood really come out of… Ya know what, we should get Brittany in here to confirm that I’m just stepping in fresh period.
While we’re waiting for her to get here though, why don’t I tell you a bit about myself?
My name is Jace. Jace Fergus. I’m not what you would call a terribly attractive guy; I’m 5’8” and… well, let’s just say I’m kinda on the heavy side. I’ve got wire rim glasses, shaggy brown hair, and I don’t exactly have features that most girls my age would be into. Then again, how many girls in the 17-19 year range can you think of that want to hang around a pudgy nerd for any real length of time? I mean, yeah, sure, as friends… though how often does that just mean “homework aide?”
Anyway, I just finished up my junior year of high school, turned eighteen all of a month ago, and got dragged into this summer camp thing. No, I didn’t join because I took a fancy to anyone present, I didn’t want to be here at all. Unfortunately, fate didn’t think I was needed at home repairing the eight computers my dad brought home from work to fix up regularly… no, fate told me to STFU for a moment and it would place me where it thought I should be.
It was the last day of school, I was just getting ready to leave history and hit the parking lot when Coach Bronson showed up.
“Hey, Hernandez, can I borrow Fergus for a second?” Coach called in from the door.
Miss Hernandez was fairly new at the school, which meant she avoided conflict whenever possible, so she waved me off into the care of the head Phys Ed teacher. I didn’t know what I was getting dragged along for, but I assumed it was because I didn’t do great in that testing they do that determines if you’re stuck doing PE again later in high school. I really didn’t want to be stuck as a senior in a PE course…
“Right, so, Fergus. You’re probably wondering what fresh hell I have for you mere moments before that sweet release that is the last bell before summer.” Coach started, looking at me as if expecting a response.
I shrugged. He wasn’t wrong, but I didn’t feel like saying so.
“Well, here’s how things are looking for you. On the one hand, I should be forcing you to take Phys Ed again. You didn’t pass mile requirements, you couldn’t even do a single push up, and across the board you underperformed. But, and this is important, I’m a pretty generous guy.”
He took a breath, almost as if intentionally giving me a moment to get my hopes up.
“We’re going to fudge some numbers here, make it look like you just barely passed your requirements. In exchange though, you’ve got summer camp. The person who was supposed to come along got violently ill, and our back up left the country for the summer. They were nice enough to pre-pay, so we just need another body to serve as a councillor. That’s where you come in. You don’t want to take the class over, I would wager, and I don’t want to waste more time trying to hunt up more volunteers for this.”
I was so very lost about what was happening, so when he shoved papers into my hands and walked away shouting something about being at school on Wednesday ready to go, I was only half paying attention. When the bell for the end of the day went off, I had recovered enough to shamble my way to my car and collapsed in the driver’s seat. About ten minutes later a knock on the passenger window shook me from my slump.
I popped the lock, and the door swung open for my long time friend Chelsea Eriksdottr. Chelsea was what some might call “classically attractive, with some extra.” Long blonde hair, electric blue eyes, and bodacious curves that made her 5’5” frame pop. I had harboured a crush on her since elementary school when she beat up this guy who was bullying me, but I know I’m nothing to a girl like that, so I’ve kept it down inside. I know, I know, if I don’t make an attempt I can’t complain about her not seeing me as anything other than a friend.
She buckled herself in and smiled at me. Normally that would be enough to make me smile, but that whole thing with the coach was still eating me up.
“What’s wrong, J?” Chelsea asked, her face darkening with concern. “You look like you’ve been bullied again. Do you need me to go get Tommy? I know he’ll set whoever’s picking on you straight.”
I shook my head. No, I didn’t want her to go get her boyfriend to stand up for me. I didn’t need people knowing I was that much of a loser. Plus, I’d never be able to live down the ridicule from Tommy himself if she did go get him.
“I… I have summer school, kinda.” I replied, my voice shaking a little.
I felt her put the back of her hand on my forehead, “Are you sure you’re not sick or something? You’ve got stellar grades in almost every class, don’t you? And you’re not a problem student, so I can’t imagine what you’d be stuck taking summer classes for…”
“Not summer classes,” I started, “I failed the PE testing last year, and if I don’t want to repeat the class I have to help with this stupid camp.”
Chelsea removed her hand from my head and took the papers I had been holding absentmindedly in my lap. She looked over everything, scratched her head and made some thinking noises, and eventually threw the pile on my back seat.
“You know, Brittany is supposed to be going to this thing. I can ask her what’s going on, see if she can keep an eye on you. I mean, having someone to watch your back couldn’t hurt, right?” She said as I started driving us homeward.
I shook my head, “I don’t need her keeping an eye on me. She’ll have her hands full with her own stuff anyway, so I shouldn’t bother her more than needed.”
We drove the rest of the way to her mom’s place in silence, said goodbye, and then I drove the rest of the way to my dad’s house. Our house is kind of small; my dad gets the downstairs for work and his room, I got the upstairs for my projects and my room. It’s not all that clean, and its kinda dark, but we get by. When I got in, I found dad passed out next to another desktop tower, likely the one he had been having trouble with since last night. I decided to make myself an early dinner and get some things packed for my new “summer plans.” I left the paperwork on the front of the fridge, checked how many days I would be there, and took my bowl of canned chilli upstairs.
I grabbed my spare messenger bag, some tape, and started grabbing enough clothes for two weeks without a washing machine. It’s a tight fit, but I knew I could get everything in the main pocket. In the side pocket I stored the roll of tape, for when I have to repack everything. I grabbed my solar multi-charger, my mp3 player, my old e-reader, and my spare glasses case. Basically everything I would need for an extended trip anywhere, all packed up and ready to go… kind of like mom’s bug out bags…
“Jace, you up there?” came dad’s voice from the stairs.
I went down the stairs quickly, figuring I would need to be physically present for this conversation. I walked into the kitchen and saw dad going over the papers for the trip. His brows were knit, and I could see confusion playing all over his face.
“Hey dad.” I said.
“Hey, big guy… what’s uh…” he waved the paper around, “What’s this?”
So I sat down and explained to him what all had happened. Told him what I thought about the whole thing. And eventually admitted that this would be better than repeating the course, since all my senior year classes were for getting a tech school to let me in.
“I don’t like it, but I guess I just have to let you go. That said, I have ten PCs that came in today that need RAM upgrades and two that need the CPU replaced. If you can get those taken care of tomorrow, I can finish up the beast here, and once those all get taken back to the office I should be getting a fat bonus.” He said after he digested everything.
I looked at him, “Like we could get that 3D printer fat?”
He grinned and nodded. I bolted out of my chair and ran to the line of towers. I won’t bore you with the tech stuff, so let’s jump to the day of the meet up.