This is my NaNoWriMo Novel, and why I haven’t been posting. 🙂 Note, it has not been edited AT ALL! Please don’t judge me based on a rough draft. And Please don’t steal! This is my story!  I wrote it, it’s mine, and leagally, it is copyrighted(Look!)! Go write your own! You may link to it though if you like. 😉

Chapter 1, In the clutches of evil Dr. Hamilton

“The  name’th, Urhg!”  A young girl in a shack fiddling with an audio recorder, stops the recording, “Oh, rats!”  Her name is Jacki. Jacki Crabtree.  When she was “a little kid” (about age 4), she had an awful habit of lisping.  Of course, now she was grown up (8, almost 9), and had outgrown it… for the most part.  Every once in a while she would thlip up, uh, excuse  me, slip.  This was one of those times. “The name’s Crabtree. Jacquelyn Crabtree.  I’m on a stake out, in an undisclosed location.  I’m on a mission to catch evil Dr. Hamilton, the world’s most wanted doctor.  We received a tip from an unknown source, that there would be a pick up in these woods at precisely 14:00 hours. OH! What’s that? Shh, I think I hear someone!”  Jacki peeks out the window and sees a young woman walking up.  She is dressed in normal clothes, jeans and a casual top. “JACKI! It’s time to go!” she calls, ”We’re going to be late! Come on!” Jacki ducks down and hides under the curtain. “Uh OH! I think I’ve been spotted!”  “ Jacki! I know you’re in there! Want me to go get Mom?” Jacki stands up “Oh no, looks like I’m caught. Resistance is futile. Ok, Ok I’m coming! Why do I have to go again?”  Jamie, her older sister walks down the trail with Jacki “Why are you acting this way? You liked going to the dentist last time. And anyway, it’s just a routine cleaning.  They aren’t going to use the drill or anything as long as you have kept your teeth clean.” “This is it! The end of Jacquelyn Crabtree.  I have been captured by the Doctor’s thugs and am now being dragged to his torture chamber.  But I’ll never talk!  I’ve been here before!  I escaped then, I can escape now!”  A hygienist comes into a waiting room decorated in cartoon fish with giant teeth, “Jacki, your turn!” How could anyone be so peppy at a time like this? “MOM! I need to go to the bathroom! RIGHT NOW!”  “Well I guess I can take Caleb.” Jacki’s little brother trots back with the hygienist. “How could someone like the dentist so much? I did it! Maybe if I stay in here long enough, they’ll forget. Hey, look, a window... I can use my grappling belt to lower myself to the safety of the Green Sprinter!”  As she’s washing her hands, very carefully and thoroughly, her mother came looking for her “Jacki! It’s been 15 minutes, everyone else is done. It’s your turn.”  “No more stalling now.” “Now this is really it! The true end. Here comes Dr. Hamilton.  I won’t talk! You can’t make ME!”  A kind looking old man comes into the examining room, “Hey Jacki!  How have you been?” Jacki thinks “You’re instruments of torture will never work on me!  I’ll never talk!  I can’t talk with your hand in my mouth anyway.” “Looks like you’ve got a couple of small cavities.  You’ve got to remember to floss, everyday.” He left to talk to Jacki’s mom about when she wanted to fill the cavities “Well, you say they are really small? I guess we could do them today.  Better put Jacki under, though.” “You just thought it was torture! HA! Now you shall really taste the wrath of Dr. Hamilton! MWAHAHA!” It’s true! Oh! It can’t be! The true torture devices are being brought out! THE DRILL! The… whatever  that thing is! The whatsit! The pokeys! NO! NOT THE POKEYS! OH NO! Here it comes! The tear gas! No! Jacquelyn Crabtree can resist even the strongest of weapons! She…she… has fallen asleep.  No will is as strong as that of a dentist. Our heroine awakes in her beloved booster seat, in the Green Sprinter. Her mouth feels funny. Oh NO! Dr. Hamilton must have implanted some sort of tracking devise! Jacki looks in the mirror. No tracking devises. Great! Invisible  trackers! Now he’ll always know where she is!  Looks like her fellow agents made it out unscathed. Probably for the better, they may have talked. As soon as the Green sprinter arrives at the HQ, Jacquelyn runs to the cafeteria and orders an extra spicy hot sauce as a transmitter detox. “The extreme spiciness of the sauce will burn away any electronic devises implanted in my mouth.”  Her mother, erm, director, finds her with the ingredients laid out on the counter and Jacki with a cup about to drink. “Uh, Jack what are you doing with the hot sauce?  And what are those spices? ” But before she can stop her Jacki drinks it, and proceeds to spit it all over the sink. “AAAAAH! Liquid FIIIRE!”  Jacki fills her now empty cup with water, and tries to wash out the taste, but to no avail. “Oh Honey! What are you doing!? Here!” She inquires as her mother hands her a glass of milk. Ah! Sweet relief. “I was burning out the transmitters the evil doctor Hamilton implanted in my teeth, but I almost burned out my teeth too.” The discouraged Jacquelyn sobbed. “A good agent wouldn’t have made such an awful mistake. A good agent would have had the lab run a electronic detox, not try to do it herself with hot sauce.” “Well, the only thing better for a burning mouth and throat than milk, is chocolate milk, here.  It takes years of experience to become a seasoned agent. Don’t feel so bad.  I don’t know what we’re going to put on the tacos tonight though.  I guess we could have the chicken I was baking for tomorrow.”

Chapter 2, “Jacki’s Simply Gourmet”

“Jacki!  Wanna help me with dinner?”  The perfect opportunity for the head chef of “C’rabs”, the world renowned chef, Mademoiselle Jacqui, to show her stuff!  Aside from her hands on experience, three months on cold cuts, two on slow-cooker and years of toast, she had trained in all the top culinary arts schools in the county.  The exclusive (4H cooking and food prep, as well as dietary education), and the extravagant (Home Ec at Home). “Alright Jack, tonight we are making chicken and dressing.  I already have the chicken roasting, would you like to help with the dressing?” Viola! Ze perfect opportunity for a Cooking show! “Hallo and welcome to, ‘Jacki’s Simply Gourmet’!  Zees week we have been making a home-style roast chicken dinner.  I have been going through one dish a day with you.  Today, it is time for, (badadadum!) ze dressing!  We will be making a cornbread dressing.  First, we start out with two pans of your favorite cornbread, I like ze plain, not sweet kind. You can let eet sit out overnight to dry zome, or just let eet cool, so you don’t burn your petite leettle hands.  Next, ze fun part! Crumbling ze bread! Just tear eet oop into tiny little beets.”Jacki got a little wild with her crumbling “Careful!  Don’t knock it out of the pan” “Right! We don’t want to lose any of ze precious crumbs!  Zat’s what makes up most of ze dish! As I was saying, ze finer ze crumble, ze finer ze dressing! After you have ze bread sufficiently crumbled, add in ze seasonings.  You can use zees list of my personal favorites at zee bottom of the screen” Jacki said this because she just dumped the seasonings in that her mother had set out for her to “Mix zem thoroughly! We don’t want pockets of spice and pockets of bland! Now add 2 large eggs.” “It’s traditional to beat the eggs before cracking them into the crumbs.” “Yes! And we do like to follow traditions heer at ‘Simply Gourmet’.  But sometimes, we make new ones!  Also, make sure to fish out ze shells. Zat’s tradition too, and a good one to follow.” You have probably guessed what just happened. “Now stir everything…” “CAREFULLY!” “Right, carefully, stir eet all up, and dump eet…” “Even MORE carefully!” ‘Yes, into ze pan.  Bake eet in a very hot oven for a very long time. And now, *blows kiss* you have a wonderful corn bread dressing for ze holidays, or just dinner. Zat is all ze time we have for today.  Zank’s to my guest, Mandy Crabtree, for your assistance today. Tomorrow we  will be preparing…” Jacki leans over to her mom “what are we having for dinner tomorrow?” “Meatloaf, mashed potatoes and crock pot green beans.” “Can I help with the green beans?” “If you’d like, I was going to have Krissi do it, but you can if you want.”  “Will you help me?”  “You can ask Krissi to.” “Ok. I hope you can join us tomorrow as we make delicious crock pot green beans!” “Very nice Play by Play Jacki.” “Why, Zank you Mazzair!” “How about you go get suited up. I think everyone else is about to go for a romp in the woods. I’ll have some water ready for hot chocolate when you get back.”

Chapter 3, Journey through the tundra

“The rations are running low. The dogs are exhausted.  We are in the middle of nowhere.  I think we are lost.  Will we ever find our way out?” The famous explorer Jacki Crabtree and her team are on an expedition to the North Pole.  The team is compiled of four other explorers; fearless Jamie, witty Alex, clever Krissy, our heroine Jacki, and the youngest explorer to journey to the North Pole, Caleb.  But even with all these skilled explorers on hand, the lack of food can get to you. Yes, they had nearly run out. If only they could find the outpost! Stocked with the best provisions you can keep in an outpost in the middle of nowhere, and food too. Did I mention food? Yes, if only.  But everything looks the same when you are lost. In the snow. In the woods. But wait! Was this it? Ah! Yes! The large boulder that marked the head of the trail! But now, which way on the trail?  Perhaps North? That is the direction they were headed, and they couldn’t have already gone too far. “Let’s go North” “No, I don’t think that’s right.  Isn’t this the spot where the trail curves north, but is actually going south?” “Yeah, I think Alex is right. We should go the other way.” “Let’s go this way!” “Ok!” The youngest two of our expedition take off south down the trail.  Alex and Krissy follow them. “See? They think it’s right too!” Alex laughs “Come on!”  Jamie lags around behind them “I really think this is the wrong way guys.” “Hurry up!” “We’re almost there!” “See! There’s the split trees!” “Uh, yeah. But those are on the way south. Past the tree house.” “Let’s keep going this way for awhile. I’m pretty sure it’s right.” The promise of the treats awaiting them was really just too much. Add to that the bitter cold and wind, and it really is hard to think straight.  I suppose it is this you can blame for them not noticing the change of directions in the trail.  It did straighten out, like they thought, but it headed them west, instead of north. So here they were, walking off into the sunset, like the heroes of the old stories. A nice picture it makes, true, but this was not where they wanted to be going. “Hey guys! I’m pretty sure this is not going north anymore.  I think we found a new trail! Do you want to keep going this way, or try to find the house?” “Let’s keep going! I thought we had found all the trails!” “Yeah let’s see where this one goes!” Well, you heard it here first, folks. On and on. This new trail was intriguing to say the least. They wound through the woods, forgetting the tree house, with the excitement of new adventures that may await them down this new trail.  Adventure seems to do that too you. Makes you forget things like, say their lack of food.  They even forgot that. What would lie down this trail? A cave? Perhaps a creek, frozen over now, but promising for next summer. What’s that up ahead? A cave? No. The opposite. A large outcrop of rock. Actually, not just large, huge!  How had they not found this before? How do you miss a hundred foot tall boulder?  This must be a whole new part of the forest.  In all the years that the Crabapples had lived there, and explored the woods, they thought, as far as they went, how had they not found this? Caleb had already started climbing up. “Caleb! Stop that! You could fall!” Jamie ran after him, only to find what looked like a staircase, cut into the rock.  The rest of them followed after.  What a day this was turning out to be! “My team and I are ascending a new peak we have found!  It appears to have been formed by an iceberg, thousands of years ago.  There is a strange stair way that looks to lead up to the top.  How did this get here? Very strange. We are slowly and cautiously making our way up the summit. There is a lot of moss, covering everything. Must be a wet place when it’s warm out.  There really isn’t much snow, and we are mostly blocked from the wind.  There are bends on the track up. The stairs have logs at the edges, with dirt and rock on the rest of them.  These must have been built a long time ago.  There are little tiny caves in the walls along the whole way.” “Woah! Watch out, there’s a big patch of ice right there. It’d be a nasty fall. Hold onto the wall.”  Jamie had forgotten her reluctance to take this trail. As I said, adventure does that to you. She hadn’t however, forgotten to be careful.  The way most of us get hurt on adventures. We get swept up in the excitement of it all. But where was I? Ah yes. “We have reached the top now.  It is mostly flat, but on different levels almost. There is more snow up here too, but not as much as you would think.  I suppose it all blows off. There are trees growing up out of some of the cracks.  Some of these are huge!” Alex threw a rock into one of these ‘huge’ cracks. It’s true, they were pretty big.  It took about 15 seconds for it to hit the bottom.  He dropped one over the edge too. Only about 7. “There must be caves under here. Why else would it take so long?” “There are little holes and spots that look burnt every ten or 15 feet. The holes look like they have been rubbed.” “Hey guys! Look! This looks like an Indian camp!  See the little holes in the rock?  They would put things in these and take long rocks and grind it into meal, or paste, or powder, or whatever.  Kind of like a blender or food processor.  Next time we go into town we should see if we can find some stuff about what kind of Indians used to live here.  I bet the library will have some stuff.” “JACKI! Look!” Caleb called from around a rock. “Hmm. A huge tree, growing out of a huge rock. Curious. WOW! There’s a huge crack in it! It’s been hollowed out, almost like a room.  There are rough shelves on one side, and, what looks like a couch made out of chicken feed sacks and leaves. I wonder how all this got here?” An ancient sycamore, hollowed out, but still living, was growing up through a crack near the center of the rock.  A heavy curtain hung in front of the ‘door’, a large crack facing south. Inside, there was a couch, a book shelf with a cabinet underneath it and what almost looked like a bed.  Yes, that’s what it must have been. It was big and flat and cushy (well, as cushy as you can get out of burlap and leaves.)  There were also those tap light thingies all over.  Caleb ran around (as much as you can inside a tree), and turned them all on. “This is a good spot.  Do you want to take a break here?” “It’s out of the snow and wind, pretty warm too.” “Yeah, then we can explore it more!” “Caleb, where’d you find that?”  Caleb was sitting on the bed eating a handful of trail mix and a cookie “They were in the box over there.” “You mean the cabinet?” “Ok.” “Yep here it is!”Alex pulled out a big tin of cookies and one of trail mix. At this, everyone remembered how hungry they were, and grabbed a handful of each (Not a big one, this was someone else’s food after all.) “Someone comes up here a lot.  Look at all the stuff in here!”  There were batteries, presumably for the lights, a well stocked little first aid kit, a couple of flashlights, note pads, pens and pencils, books of every kind, even some coloring books and crayons.  Picture books, chapter books, and big books of short stories.  Jacki and Caleb’s favorite was even in there, ‘The adventures of Barney Keel’.  Krissy picked it up and started reading to them on the bed.  After all that adventure, and a snack never hurt, they were exhausted and fell asleep before Barney had gotten through his introduction. “Should I leave them here?” “Yeah, I guess so.” “Well, but I wanted to go look around some more.”  “That’s ok, I’ll stay here with them!” Krissy had found her favorite book too. “Whoever it is that comes up here has great taste in books!” She thought as she covered the two sleepers in a blanket that had been sitting next to the bed. As Jamie and Alex went back out into the cold, the curtain slapped heavily back in place “It’s surprising how well that keeps out the cold and snow.” “I know!  I had forgotten how cold it was out here.” They walked along being careful not to step in any holes or cracks.  They found a little passage way and decided to go inside.  It was good to get out of the wind in here. “It’s surprising we found this. Those trees almost completely hide the entrance from sight.”  Before long down the path, it widened  out to almost a cave, with trees and tree roots along the top of the gorge. This was an out of the ordinary little place.  After a short way of the tree and root roof, it turned into a rock roof. A real cave! Alex stepped in first “Let me go ahead of you” “Oh, how chivalrous of you.” Alex blushed “You know the way back best of anyone.  If you get hurt, we will have a hard time getting home.” Splash!  Jamie burst out laughing “MY HERO! Really though thank you.  You have higher boots than me, I might have gotten wet and had to walk all the way home.” “Let’s go get one of those flashlights and come back.” “Ok.” They started back to the tree. When they got back the lights were all out, except one or two. “Hello?” “Hi! Back so soon?” Krissy closed her book and tapped another light. “Lex, why are you so wet?” “We found a cave! I went in first and stepped in… well, something.  That’s why we came back. To get a flashlight.” “Oh, here use this one.” She handed them the light she had been using to read with. “Thanks.” They headed back out, and Krissy got the other flashlight and resumed her reading. Back at the cave, Alex led with the light, but this time around the water. It was a little stream leading back through the cave on one side, with plenty of room on  the other to walk. “Maybe we should go back, it probably drips through the rock some where.” “Well, but the rest of the cave is really nice and dry.” “True. Ok, but not too far.” They didn’t have to go too much further.  They came to the end of the cave.  A little pool rippled into the stream, but there was nothing feeding the pool. “A spring!” Alex’s voice echoed. “Do you think it’s ok to drink from?”  Jamie bent over and smelled the water. “It smells ok.  You can drink a little if you want, but not much. If you get sick or something, I guess it isn’t ok.” She smiled.  “We should probably be getting back home, it’s going to get dark soon.”  They made their way back to the tree. When they got there, the little kids were awake and helping Krissy clean up. “Hey! Look over here!” Krissy said as she put the books in the cabinet. There was a small note pinned on the door.  “Jim and Tammie were here.” And a list “Tent, Stakes, Matches, Bedrolls, Cooler” Everyone exploded into waves of laughter.  It wasn’t an Indian camp at all! It was just the neighbor’s favorite campsite!  Those holes were anchors for the stakes and the burnt places were where they had their fire!  Just then, who would come hiking up, but the neighbor kids who started the whole thing! “Hey! You guys found it! Took you long enough.” Jim said. “Hi Jim! We are on our way home. We ate some of your snacks, hope you don’t mind.” “No, That’s what we put them there for. How did you find Sycamore Mound anyway?” “Find what?” “Sycamore Mound. That’s what we call this rock. Because of the trees.” They hadn’t noticed before, but it was true. Most of the trees were sycamore, like the big one. On the way down the Crabtrees explained how they found their way to the rock. “We were hiking through the woods, not really following any trail. We had been out a while, and we were getting hungry, we have some snack stuff hidden there, so we started trying to find our tree house.  Well, after finding yours, I guess we should call our something else, it’s not even in a tree.” “Oh no! You can still call it that! We call it the ‘Burrow’.  Ya know, my dad found this place when he was a kid.” “Oh! So is he the one who put in the stairs and hollowed out the tree?” “Well, no, not really.  The stairs were there when he found it.  He built the Burrow though. It’s actually more than one tree. That’s how it got to be so big.” “Oh, that makes more sense. I was wondering how a tree could get to be so big.” “Anyway! We thought we were on trail to the tree house, but then it started going the wrong way.  And we found, what did you call it? Mount Sycamore?” “He he, uh, close enough.” By this time, our party had reached the trail again. “Um, does anyone know how to get home from here?”  “Jim? You’ve been here before, do you know how to get to our house?” “Sure! That’s how I usually go there.” Jim took the lead. “So, if your dad didn’t put in the stairs, who did?” “That’s the million dollar question.  He’s always joked that the Indians put them in and drilled the anchors on top.” Jamie pretended she didn’t hear that and dropped behind “He has some great stories of when he was a kid playing out here.” “Hey, does he know about the spring in the cave?” “Yeah, he had a sample of it tested a few years ago to see if it was safe to drink.  Some of the cleanest, clearest water you can find. It taste’ really good too.” They crunched along through the snow covered leaves, chatting and laughing along the way. When they reached home, Jacki told her mom all about their day’s journey over a cup of steaming hot chocolate. “We didn’t reach our initial goal, but we have made some remarkable discoveries.  A previously undiscovered (by us) mountain, and explored it, finding some amazing things.  We found an outpost, stashed full of goodies and tools. It also made a good napping spot.  While we were napping, Jamie and Alex found a cave with a spring in it. Jim said it was fine for drinking! Do you think we could go camping up there some time?” “You’ll have to see if daddy will take you.  I think it’s a great idea!”

Chapter 4, Camping on Mount Sycamore

From the journal of Mr. Charles Crabtree; “As part of my assignment, I’m going to be following my children for three days.  Feels strange to be spying on my own kids, but honestly, they make great material for the show.  They have been asking me to take them camping on Sycamore Mound for a few days, and I’m running out of content. I have taken a few days off this week.  We leave Thursday.  Four kids, one dad. We’ll see how this works out.  Hopefully enough will happen for a whole show.” He had no idea what was about to happen.  It all began when with, well, the beginning.  How else do you prepare for a camping trip, but by packing? Thursday morning  Mr. Crabtree asked Jamie to get the packing list together for them. Bottled water Tent Sleeping bags and air beds Hot dog forks Frying pan Can “pot” Cast iron Dutch oven Toaster Grill top Aluminum foil Camp plates Tin cups Camp multi-tensils Rags Knifes Tongs Spatula Cutting board Soap Camp shower and toilet Tarps Chairs Coolers Glow sticks Hatchet Fire Spider Matches Fire starters Hand sanitizer “I think that’s it.  Can you think of anything else?” “Uh, maybe some food would be good?” “That’s going to be on it’s own list.” “Oh, alright. Uh, looks good, but who’s going to lug that huge oven up that rock?” “Uh, well, you, but you can make a second trip for it.” “Fine. Are you sure we couldn’t do without it? Ok. If we get up there and remember that we forgot something, we can always come back and get it.” “Yeah, that’s what I was thinking. Would you start getting the stuff together?  We will each need a plate, cup, and utensil, you can put those in this box. We’ll pack our own bed things.  Just pack the small tent.  I was thinking the girls could sleep in the tree.” Alex clicked his heals “Yes Sir! Er, Yes Ma’am!” “Hardy har har.” Thursday, Dinner, Hot dogs, chips, Soda Friday, Breakfast, toast and jelly, bacon Lunch, Sandwiches Dinner, Potato dinners Saturday, Breakfast, Eggs, ham, omelets Lunch, sandwiches (eat on the way home) “How’s this sound Lex?” Jamie shouts here menu plan into the garage. “Ooh! Snacks! Don’t forget snacks!” Alex calls back as he stacks some folding chairs. Hot dogs Ketchup Mustard Hot dog buns Chips Bread Jelly Bacon Ham Cheese Mayonnaise Pickles Hamburger Can of tomato sauce Can of vegetables Eggs “Oh, hi Krissy.  Hey look at this.  I feel like something’s missing.”Krissy scans over the menu and both packing lists “What about the potatoes and tent stakes?” “Oh yeah!” Potatoes “Actually, dad said not to bring any stakes.  It would be to hard to anchor them in. He said to bring rope and sandbags instead.” So on they trekked. Off into the cruel, harsh wilderness. Their sole possessions strapped to the backs of our weary travelers.  The skies were gray, reflecting perfectly in the pool as they marched across to the other side, ever following that ancient trial, reminding Alex of an old rhyme. “The trail rolls ever on and on Connecting hill and dale And I too must now march along On this lonesome trail The sigh of trees the only sound As I march to the trails end The crunch of leaves upon the ground The call of birds my only friend” “Wow Alex. That’s so… I don’t know. Haunting, but wistful and magical, all at the same time. Send chills up my spine.” “Where did you get that?” “I don’t know, I wrote it a while back.” On the marched, in a very thoughtful manner. Wistfully walking, as if in a dream. Mulling over his words.  It was this type of weather that made one so melancholy and poetic. In all honesty, it was quite a comical sight to behold. Five strangely clad figures, all wearing hats, coats, scarves, and gloves suitable for a snow storm, hiking through the leaf carpeted forest.  All but the smallest of them thinking deeply.  She was in the lead, bouncing her way along the trail.  She was thinking too, but not about some work of poetry. No, she was thinking of the fine adventures that await them on the top of that huge, distant rock. It didn’t take long, walking in this manner, for them to get to Sycamore Mound, and then, the climb. Now, walking carrying heavy items, like a cast iron Dutch oven and four sand bags, is not so much of a problem when they are properly attached.  But carrying them up a 100 foot rock, that is another matter, even if there are stairs. After they all carried up their loads, leaving the oven, cooler and sand bags at the bottom, they set everything next to the Burrow. “Ok, girls could you set up camp?  We’re going to go back down to get the rest of the stuff.” “Sure”  Jamie then asked Jacki “Could you go get some wood?  Look over by the cave.  There will probably be more in there than out here. It’s just around that rock.” Jacki went were Jamie had pointed.  This was a curious place. A roof of roots that turned to rock?  Sounds like a home for Tree crab Jacki. She climbed through the canopy gathering loose branches and dropping them to the ground every few feet.  It didn’t take long. When you are some busy being a crab, stuff happens fast. “Time flies when you’re a crab.”  She skittered down the tree and picked up her sticks.  She found an old dead tree that had fallen over.  She piled her sticks on it branches like a sleigh, and dragged it back to camp.  “Woah! That’s a lot of wood!  That tree will come in handy too.” They had a good blaze going in the fire ring, Krissy was laying out the tent and putting the poles together.  “So, were supposed to put the tent up, but not stake it down?”  “Right, that’s what the sand bags are for.  Since the stakes could slip in the rock we are going to weigh it down with the sandbags.  Go ahead and set it up, we’ll let dad tie it down when her gets all the sandbags up here.”  “Jacki could you help me with these glow sticks before it gets too dark?”  Jamie was cracking and shaking glow sticks and putting them around the edges of camp.  “Jamie? Where are the flash lights?” “OH! That’s what I forgot! Uh, ok. Look in the tree.”  Jacki walks over to the tree and looks inside. The lights are all on and three beds are set up.  She looks in the cabinet, but, what’s this? One flash light. Great. Now what? “Jamie! There’s only one there! Should we go home and get some more?” “Uh, well, I think we can manage with one for tonight.  Someone can go back in the morning to get the rest of them. For now we need to work on dinner.  You want to get the hot dogs out and start working on yours?”  Jacki looked around the camp, where was the cooler? Ah, must be in the tree. Nope, not there. “Jamie, where is it?” Krissy popped her head out of the tent flap “Oh, it’s in here. I didn’t want the tent to blow away before the guys got up here and set up.” Ah HA!  Jacki went into the tent.  What strange things tents are.  The way the sound echoes .  The subtle light. The crunchy floor and walls.  “I’m glad I’m not sleeping out here.”  Jacki opened the giant blue cooler to get out the meat.  There was only enough food for tonight and tomorrow morning.  She got a cold slimy hot dog out of the package and stuck it on her fork over the fire.  “Jamie, I don’t think that’s going to be enough food for all of us for three days.” “Well, see, I was afraid to bring all the food up here at once.  I didn’t want it to go bad. So I left it down in the fridge at home.  Every day after breakfast we can bring up the food for the rest of the day, plus tomorrows breakfast.” “Oh! Cool. So, how long is it going to take them to get the rest of the stuff up here?”  Jacki blew some ash off her hot dog. “I don’t know. Jamie, don’t you think they should be up here by now?” Krissy joined in. “You think we should go check on them?” Jamie turned her hot dog. “I’ll go down after I’m done with this. Krissy did you set up the toilet yet?” “Yeah, it’s over  behind the Burrow. I hung up some tarps around it and tied the hand sanitizer to the smaller tree. We can change clothes in there too, I left plenty of space.”  “Ok, thanks.”  Jamie grabbed a handful of chips and headed down the rock with the flash light. She scanned the ground with the beam as she walked along. “DAAAAD! ALEEEEX! Where are they?”  The moon was high and bright by now, casting eerie shadows along the ground and over her face.   She came to the bottom of the rock, there were the rest of the sand bags. Something was wrong.  Really wrong. “DADDY! ALEEX!”  What happened to them?  She followed the trail towards the house, searching for any sign of them.  She came around a bend in the path. Two glowing eyes, and a huge, dark body.  Then it turned and bounded off into the trees. Just a deer. Whoop, and there goes another.  She kept going, by now running. She was almost home, and still no sign of them.  Had she gone the wrong way?  She couldn’t hear anything. Silence.  Something was very wrong.  Why wasn’t there any noise? Then. A beam of light. She stopped in her tracks. Someone was coming up the path. She could hardly breath. Why did she come out here alone? And then, another light came on. Oh! Who was it? It was Dad and Alex!  They were fine! “Hey! Everything ok? It started getting dark, so we went back to get the lights.” How comforting her father’s voice was after such a panic! So sweet and strong.  She ran to him and melted in his arms sobbing and freezing. “Hey, baby. Shh. It’s ok. Everything’s fine.”  “I thought something happened to you.  Then I found the sand bags. Then there was a deer. Then the lights.” After she had composed herself some, they started back up the trail. “Why don’t you have a coat on?”  “I didn’t think I’d need it. I thought I find you sooner.”  “Here, use mine.”  “It’s not that bad.” “No, you use mine, I’ll use the extra blanket we brought.” “Fine” They chatted as they walked along, Not even really thinking of what could be going on up at the camp. Before long they were at the bottom of the mound.  There were three sand bags left. “Well, I can make another trip down.” “I can carry one of them. I don’t want you guys coming back down here.” So each carrying a bag, they hiked up the hill.  Alex had a head lamp, so he took the lead. The other two carried their flash lights in their mouths. It was slow going anyway, but especially in the dark. They finally made it to the top, but what was that? Blood curdling shrieks echoed all around them.  They dropped their bags and ran to the camp. They found Jacki sitting on the a stone holding her leg crying.  “She tripped over a rock and fell down into that hollow!” Krissy was helping her crying sister to a chair by the fire. Mr. Crabtree carefully pulled up her pants leg.  Her leg was badly scratched up, and was already very swollen. “Can you wiggle your toes?” “AAAH! Yes, but it really hurts!” “Ok, sweetie, we’re going to take you back to the house. Can you walk on it?”  “NO! I already tried, I almost fell again.” So, they put out the fire and made their second trip down the rock, but this time much, much slower because they had to carry our small friend.  “Daddy, I’m sorry I messed up the camping trip.” “Honey, you didn’t mean to fall! No one’s mad at you for getting hurt!” Everyone was silent as they walked to the house.  “I knew something was going to happen. Why didn’t I just wait for dad to come back? Why didn’t I take them with me.   I should have left the flash light with them, the moon’s plenty bright.  Why?  This whole things my fault. I’m the one who asked Daddy to take us camping this weekend. He took all these extra days off, and now Jacki’s hurt.  I should have left the light with them.  If I had just stayed up there, she wouldn’t have fallen.” Jamie kept thinking “It’s all my fault.” And, “What if. What if. What if.” “Dad, I’m so so sorry.” “What? Did you push her?” “Well, no. But if I had left the flash light,” “You would have fallen down the stairs, and Jacki would probably still have fallen too, just in the light.  Then I’d have two daughters on the way to the emergency room.” “I wouldn’t have fallen down the stairs. The moons plenty bright.” “Up there. It’s dark down here in the trees. They had the fire, and the lights in the burrow.  There’s really nothing you could have done to stop it, she was on the other side of the tree, you wouldn’t have seen her.”  By now they were almost to the house.  Jacki was not crying any more, but her leg was still throbbing. “What’s up?! JACKI! What happened?!”  “I was on my way to the bathroom, well, as much of one as you can have on top of a rock, and I fell into a hole, and now I can’t walk on it without it feeling like it’s going to fall off!” Yes, girls often talk in running sentences, especially when they are excited, or in a lot of pain.  Both of which are our situation with Jacki.  Mr. Crabtree carefully set Jacki on the couch and went to the bedroom with Mrs. Crabtree to talk.  “I think I need to take her in to town.” “Is it that bad?” “She can’t walk on it, and it’s really swollen and bruised.  I think we should have it looked at.  It looks like my arm did when I broke it at her age.”  “So you think it’s broken?” “I don’t know. It’s so hard to tell.  The bones usually bend more than actually breaking, but if it is broken, I would feel awful if we didn’t bring her in right away.”  “Ok.” They came back to the living room. Everyone was in a hustle over Jacki.  Alex was  getting her a change of pants, a pair of shorts, so they didn’t touch her leg. After helping her change, Jamie sat with her reading “Barney Keel”. Krissy was getting her a huge cup of hot chocolate (really much too big for such a small girl). Even Caleb was drawing her a stack of pictures.  “Ok, Lumber Jack. I’m going to take you in to town.” “Can I come with her? Please?” Mr. Crabtree sighed and nodded.  They carefully carried Jacki out to the van (otherwise known as The Green Sprinter).  Jamie sat with her in the back. “Please be very careful Daddy.” “You don’t want me to drive crazy?” It was a gamble, but the joke paid off with a small smile. When they got to the hospital it was late in the evening, and not many people were there.  Jacki sat on her sisters lap in the waiting room while her father checked her in.  There wasn’t much to look at, it was all very medical looking and cold. White ceiling tile with cracks in it. Why do they put those cracks? To make it more interesting?  If you stare at it long enough, you can see faces.  Oooh, look! A dog wearing glasses.  Or you can go cross eyed.  What else is in here? That’s an interesting picture. What is that supposed to be anyway?  A lady in the woods at night? Or a cow in a library with a purple hat on?  There’s a frog in the background.  How many chairs are there in here? One, two, three, four, five, six, seven, eight, nine, ten, eleven, twelve. Huh. Why would they have twelve chairs in here? They are all red and blue. Red, red, blue, blue, red, blue, blue, red, blue, blue, red.  What kind of pattern is that? Oh well.  Ooh! They have those cool swishy blinds.  But, these are different. They aren’t all white. They go white, blue, white, blue, white, white.  Why do they have such strange colors in hospitals? Wow, I wonder what happened to that lady? She looks fine. “Jacki Crabtree?” “Here.” The Crabtrees  walk back to the examining room. “I’m guessing your Jacki.  I’m Dr, Humphrey” The doctor was a kind looking old lady, wearing pink and purple kitten scrubs. “Could I see you try to stand up for me?” Jacki stood up, but only put pressure on one leg. “Can you put your other leg down?” “It hurts too much. I fell over last time.” “Ok. Could you set her on the table for me? Thank you. Woo, looks like you had quite a tumble! What happened?” “I was camping up on Sycamore mound. It was kind of dark, but the moon’s really bright tonight, and we had a good fire going. I went around the burrow to go to the bathroom, and I tripped over a rock and fell in a big hole.” Dr. Humphrey looked over at Mr. Crabtree “Sycamore mound is a huge glacial rock in the woods near our house.  The burrow is an old hollow sycamore tree on top of the rock. We had the camp bathroom set up behind it. On her way back there she fell in a dip, about two 1/2 feet down.” After some further examination, Dr. Humphrey decided to take an x-ray. “Well, Congratulations. You have your first broken leg. It is called a ‘Greenstick’ or partial fracture.  It’s where the bone brakes only on one side, and just bends on the other.  We will put on a temporary cast tonight, and then you can come back in a few days to get a regular cast.” Later that week Mom took Jacki to get her regular cast on, “Well, that’s a nice looking cast you have there!” “Could we stop at the store and get some stickers?”  “I think that can be arranged.”  They go to the craft store and make a bee line for the stickers. But first, transportation must be arranged. “Would you like to get a wheel chair?” “No, I can use the crutches. I could use the practice anyway.” “Are you sure? I always liked riding in a wheel chair. Just let me know if you change your mind.” “Yep. I’ll be fine.”   So, slowly but surely, the made their way back to the stickers. All the way back in the back of that big store.  It felt like hours later, but look!  There they are! Glittery stars, kittens, puppies, frogs fish. Any kind of sticker you could want! Jacki picked out some butterflies and flowers “These will go with anything. I couldn’t wear cats to church!” “Oh, of course not. Butterflies are definitely an all occasion thing.” But, now came the really trial. The trip back to the front of the store.  “Do you want me to carry those for you?” “Nope, I got it.” What seemed like hours longer than it took to get to the back later, they finally made it to the checkout! “Oh my! What happened to you sweetie?” Why is it that the old ladies in craft stores refer to everyone as ‘honey’ and ‘sugar’. Makes you hungry. “I fell when we were camping on a big rock and broke my green sticks.” “Your what?” “My green st-” “She means she got a greenstick fracture.” “Ah, I see. Well, at least that’s all you broke. You could get killed falling down a big rock.” “I didn’t fall all the way down, just down a little cliff.” “Land sakes! Lucky you made it!  Have a nice day! Don’t go climbin’ anymore cliffs!  Hope your leg gets better soon!” “Me too!” “Me three!” As soon as the got to the van, Jacki got to work on her stickers. First she put flowers all along the bottom of her cast, then along the bottom of each crutch.  Next, she put butterflies all over the rest of them. “Make sure you leave room for people to sign their names.” “To do what?!” “Sign their name.  It’s kind of a tradition to draw on and write your name on a cast.” Wide eyed Jacki perked up “Ooh!” Jacki’s eyes lit up. “That is a great idea!” When they got home, everyone started talking at once. “Guys they’re HOOME!” “HI!” “What took you so long?” “When are we having lunch?” “Why did you get blue?” “Did it hurt?” “Can I draw on it?” “I thought you were going to get the pink.” “Mom, I’m hungry!” “When do you get it off?” “Are there any stickers left?” After answering all their questions, Jacki hobbled over to the couch to watch a movie. “Jacki? Can I color on your cast?” Caleb had all his markers ready. “Sure, but be careful. Don’t get any on the stickers.” “Ok” So, Caleb and Jacki colored while they watched the movie.  They drew frogs, and dragonflies, and birds, making sure to leave room for more names. All Jacki’s friends from church would want to sign it.  It was pretty cool having a cast. But it really hurt to have a broken leg. It’s not worth it. It would be much better to just get an autograph book and let them sign that. Then the only thing that would hurt would be, you might get a paper cut. But a paper cut is much, much, worse than a broken leg. Never again will the phrase “Brake a leg!” be just an expression.  “Jacki, Caleb, lunch is ready.” Ah, great. Now she has to walk all the way in to the kitchen. Mmh, at least lunch is chicken nuggets tatter tots.  ‘Tatter tots cover over a multitude of sins.’ But, still, walking all the way to the kitchen, when you practically have to crawl?  That is no picnic .  Ah!  “Need a lift?” Alex picked her up and set her in her chair. Now, that is an efficient way to get around! “Weee! Thanks Alex!”  What? No! Say it isn’t so! Not chicken nuggets, left over hamburger casserole. “Mom, I thought we were having Chicken.”  “Well, I remembered we need to eat the casserole. It’s about to go bad. Why? You liked it last time.”  “Well” Jacki sighed “It’s fine. But I was all ready for chicken and tater tots.” Just then, the oven timer went off and Jamie pulled out a tray of delicious, golden tatter tots! “We are having tots, just not chicken.” Jamie said with a smile. “Here ya go.” As I said, ‘Tatter tots cover over a multitude of sins,’ even leftover hamburger casserole.

1 thought on “Crabapples”

  1. So you’re doing NaNoWriMo? Good for you! I’ve thought about it for the past three years, and attempted it once, but didn’t like the story I had started, and didn’t have time the other years. Oh well.
    I enjoyed reading this! 😀


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