Campout by Pent Ghelsburg
Disclaimer: The characters depicted in this work are purely fictional. Any resemblance to persons alive or dead is purely coincidental. They are the original and rightful intellectual property of their creators. I use them with permission and respect. This work involves underaged characters. You have been warned.
A vast wilderness lays beyond. Dotted Rows of Pines and all sorts of evergreens trees were spread through the forests of Aspen. The leaves were flush with the colors of fall varied between dark red and deep brown. The strewn foliage cascaded with the wind as it curled and flowed along with the wind of the season. It was in the middle of the season and hadn't quite gotten too cold to be an obstacle to exploration.
Teras was a young teenager who was in the thralls of adolescence. At 14 years of age, the wolf was a single child who was very much the social type. Already in the second year of high school, Teras had quite a large group of friends. He even had the distinct advantage of more than one whom he considered close. But even still the young teen felt a void in his life and was always seeking something more from a relationship.
Last month the grey wolf had met a younger boy through a community program that allowed for peer mentorship. Teras had learned of the opportunity through his schools outreach group which had been looking for volunteers for some time. Teras wasn't close to graduating yet but he was still very much aware of the requirement for service hours needed to do so. As such he had taken advantage of the opportunity and signed up for it.
He had been assigned a younger cub who had just turned 10. The boy was a foster kid who didn't have a real family just yet. The cat kit went by the name Ira and was the polar opposite of the older teen in just about every way. Where Teras was extroverted and social, Ira was introverted in shy. However, it was in these differences that Teras relished in and he took it upon himself to try and break the kid out of his shell.
Recently Teras learned that his family would be going on a camping trip to the Sierra Nevada. He had never been to that area of the country and thought it might be a good chance for him to explore the great outdoors. When he shared the news with Ira, the younger cub was a little dismayed that they had to part for a while. Despite only knowing each other for about a month, they still had come rather close.
Teras didn't take to his sadness kindly instead, he approached his parents with the idea of bringing the younger boy. They were alright with it so long as Ira got approval from his foster care. The wolf shared the news with the boy the next day. When he found out the cat was ecstatic that he'd be tagging along, forgetting all about the fact that he needed to ask permission. Of course, Teras wasn't nearly as careless and took care of it for him.
The foster parents didn't care as they had a house full of kids, and one less on their plate didn't bother them. They passed along their phone number to Teras and he was on his way with the cat cub back to his place. When they arrived, Ira was dumbfounded by the luxury the other boy lived in. In comparison to his foster care, the house was well decorated and the furniture wasn't in shambles.
Ira had grown up knowing nothing but hand-me-downs. Everything he owned from a young age had been given to him by one of his makeshift siblings. His so-called home had seen better days and his foster parents didn't put much work into maintenance or repair. Everything from his bed to the couches in the living room was mostly torn up. The foster care center had more than enough cats that took advantage of the property.
For the first time in as far as he remembered, Ira got to see a house as it should be. The living room was well lit and didn't smell like something foul. Even the household pet could be seen relaxing, a sight thought to be impossible when his own did not but cause terror. Teras' parents greeted the two at the door. A smile on their face was saddened a little by the disheveled look of the young cat. It broke their heart to see the orphan boy in person and already thoughts of what they could do to help floated around in their head.
"So when are we leaving?" Teras asked as he was keen on getting the adventure underway.
The two parents blinked and answered in unison. "Tomorrow."
Teras tugged his little friend by the paw to his room. The cat followed along without protest as the warmth of the place felt more inviting to him than anything he was used to. Arriving into Teras' room was a shock to him. The wolf's abode had stuff on the walls other than ruined paint. A small collection of figurines is laid in a glass cabinet in the corner. Ira couldn't help but bring himself over as he was intrigued by it.
All of the figures inside were from various anime. The Japanese style of the cartoon was not something that Ira was familiar with. He didn't even have a television in his room and when he got to watch something with his parents, it usually was just the news or older cartoons that were constantly on re-run. The cat stuffed his face against the glass, causing it to fog up a bit. Teras couldn't help but laugh at the other boy.
"Would you like to see them?" The bigger teen made his way over to where the cub was.
Ira hesitated before answering. "Sure!"
Teras opened up the glass cabinet and stood to the side. Ira's face lit up as he took out a plush. The kit brought it close to his chest and hugged it. The wolf's heart raced for a moment as it wasn't often that he took the thing since it was quite old. However, seeing the boy happy for a moment made him smile.
"You can have it if you want." He figured giving one of them away wouldn't harm his collection.
Ira looked up for a moment. "Really?"
"Yeah, you can have it." The wolf smiled warmly at his friend.
The cat's eyes welled up with tears as he lurched over to hug his friend but said nothing.
The two shared an awkward moment of silence before the cat broke the embrace and went back to hugging the plush. Teras shut the glass cabinet and went over to the TV to set up his favorite game. He figured the orphan had never had a chance to play video games before and wanted to see his reaction. The wolf turned the thing on and sat down on his bed. The teen patted the surface next to him, waiting for the cub to join him.
Ira was still clutching the little plush to his chest as he padded over to where his friend was. He sat down and was handed a controller by Teras. The game started before long and the wolf proceeded to show him how to play it. Once he figured it out, the cub's face lit up. Despite the game not being multiplayer Ira thoroughly enjoyed himself. The wolf watched him with a smile as the time ticked by rather quickly.
It wasn't long before Teras' parents beckoned to them. The two friends skipped down the hall making their way to the dining room. Ira could feel his stomach growl as the smell became stronger the closer they came. Already the table was prepared with a place set for the visiting boy. The two parents smiled at him warmly as he made himself comfortable at the table. Teras sat on the side of his extended family enjoyed a hearty meal together. For once it was a prepared meal as opposed to something frozen, a luxury he wasn't afforded often.
Normally Teras' parents made him do the dishes but shooed him off since he had company over. They returned to the teen's room and proceeded to continue playing a different game, this time a multiplayer one. The two played cooperatively since Teras didn't want to make the cub feel bad. Much giggling and laughter were shared between the two as they sped through the levels rather quickly. It wasn't long before the night withered away and the teen's parents knocked at the door, reminding them it was bedtime.
Teras decided to allow the cub to sleep in his bed. Even going as far as lending him some sleepwear since the boy hadn't brought any extra ones himself. Still clutching to the plush, Ira got on the mattress which was more than comforting to the child who had grown used to sleeping on nothing but a bunk bed and a flat one at that. Teras tucked the boy in and smiled at him as he watched him fall asleep before long. The teen retired to the sofa, excited for the day ahead of them.
The next morning came before long with the rise of the sun and the buzzing of the alarm. Teras was quick to be out of bed to check on Ira. The cub was still fast asleep but a quick nudge proved to be worthwhile The cat rubbed his eyes and eased himself out of bed. The plush was still rested within his arms.
"Come on, it's time to get ready." Teras helped the boy to his feet.
The wolf helped his little friend to get ready, which was pretty easy considering Ira hadn't brought anything.
The two stopped in the kitchen to grab a bite to eat, which was simple compared to the one from last night. Sugary pastries waited for them in the toaster. Ira was quick to gorge upon the thing as the sweet taste tantalized his taste buds. Once they were full, they headed into the living room to see the teen's parents were already waiting for them by the door. It seemed it was time to go. The family made their way to the car to depart for the park.
The trip to the Sierra divide was a long one. It was a several-hour trek and it took no time at all for the two boys to get antsy. The parents were more than aware of this and took several detours to break up the trip. Each time they got out to stretch their legs. Since they had gotten up so early, they were able to make it into the park by about midday. The unmistakable creeping of the mountains made it obvious where they were.
The parents pulled into the RV area of the park, where the family was finally able to unpack their stuff and settle it into the communal camping area of the park. Once they were outside of the car both boys were in awe of their surroundings. Neither had been to this area of the world before and the sights of the lush forest and towering mountains were one to behold. The sounds of pining birds could be heard echoing through the area.
The two boys followed Teras' parents who led them into a mostly shaded area. The canopy of trees above obscured the camping site, which made it a bit more chilly. They could make out a small fire near the center, which emanated some warmth but not enough to dissipate the chill where they were standing.
"Will you show him how to set up a tent?" The mother asked her son.
Teras nodded and took the small sack from her. He patted Ira on the back and guided him over to an open area.
Opening the bag revealed the tools they needed. The wolf handed his friend the metal stakes and instructed him to hold them on the ground. Ira did as he was told and the teen followed by carefully striking them into the ground. They were placed in a rectangular fashion before they did the same with the central pivot of the tent. Once that was done, all that was needed to do was tie down the fabric to each of the holds.
Teras unfurled the blue nylon fabric, causing it to flap in the wind. He held it up, waiting for Ira to take the other side of it.
"Grab the other side and drape it over the central pole." He instructed the younger cub.
Ira was a bright kid and did as he was told and so the two were able to erect the tent in short order.
"Alright, want to go exploring?" The wolf asked the smaller boy.
The cat nodded and the two stopped by to tell the teen's parents where they were going. The parents paid them little attention as they were more interested in sunning in the open area they had discovered.
It was already lunchtime so Teras reached his paw into the cooler to grab both of them a sandwich for lunch. He handed one over to the other boy who willingly grabbed it from him. Both of them began snacking on it as they walked away from the campsite. Teras wasn't sure where he wanted to go but walked in a direction of where the light was shining through the forest. He looked over at Ira who was still stuffing his face.
A few moments later he overheard a burp. Sure enough, the younger boy was covering his mouth, seeming ashamed of his lack of propriety. Teras smiled at him but thought nothing of it. Eventually, the two came onto an opening in the trees. The scene before them was one of magnificence. A cliff overlooking a canopy of trees below draped under the falling sun. Small drops of rain fell from the sky as they stepped out from under the trees.
Teras led forward until the cliff came to an end and sat at the end of it. He beckoned for the cub to join him who soon took a seat by his side. Both boys took a moment to finish their meals while watching the sun began to set. It seemed it was later than they thought it was.
"Looks like it's almost time to go to bed for today. We can explore tomorrow. Sound good?" The wolf looked over at his young friend.
Ira nodded and smiled. "Yeah. Thanks for taking me."
The wolf slowly got up and helped the younger one do the same. The two returned the same way they came, helped by a dirt path they followed.
When they arrived back at the campsite, they found the wolf's parents had prepared a fire and were making some food for the night. It had been a long day, though mostly because of the nature of traveling. The father began sharing some scary stories, which resulted in the younger boy burying himself against the bigger one. It didn't seem to bother Teras that much as he slung his arm over the cub to comfort him.
Once the ordeal was over, it was time to retire. By that point, it was pretty dark out as the moonlight was blocked by the tree canopies above. Fortunately, the flickering of the fire provided some light for the area. Teras showed his young friend back to their tent. The teen held open the flap of the tent to allow the other cub inside. Once they were there, he clutched the plushy that he had left behind earlier.
Teras' heart was warmed as he made his way inside. He wasn't sure what time it was but felt like he could go to sleep all the same. The two boys were separated by a small space inside the tent but each of them had their spread that they could enjoy. The wolf rolled over so that he was on his side. He kept his eyes open for quite a while as he wasn't quite that tired yet.
He tossed and turned for a good while before sleep finally began to overtake him. Just as he was dozing off he felt a slight brushing against him. Teras looked behind him and sure enough, the boy was there shaking yet clutching him. It seemed he was having a nightmare, so despite being a bit uncomfortable with their closeness he allowed it all the same. Teras rolled himself over once again.
It didn't take long before sleep consumed him. Teras felt prideful and glad that he took up mentoring the other boy. It had become much more fulfilling than he had hoped. He wondered if perhaps his parents would adopt the boy but didn't dwell very long on the issue. The two remained close for the remainder of the night as they slept through it. It had been a long but productive day and the two had grown closer as a result.