Again, due to the pleadings of some people, (thank you!) I have posted Chapter 2 of the sequel to IN THE NICK OF TIME currently titled THE TIME OF HIS LIFE. I'm enjoying the process of editing this book, watching Andy, Miranda and Roger and Grandma Geri become more evolved as a new adventure awaits. Enjoy.
Mr. Flanders gestured to the teacher outside. “Whenever your class is ready, that is fine!”
Andy Mackpeace was sitting on the steps of the Historical Society with his friend Miranda Roberts. They were eating lunches and the late September sun was shining on their faces making life feel warm and toasty. The rest of his Social Studies class were sitting there too, eating and talking.
“Have you spoken to Roger this week?” Miranda asked. Roger was Andy’s best friend who had moved away to Montana three weeks ago.
“We email each other almost every day, but since he’s tried out for football, I usually don’t hear from him until late at night.” Andy stuffed the remains of his plastic wraps and brownie crumbs into his paper bag and walked over to throw it away. “Other than that, he’s doing great. Montana is a whole new world for him.”
Mr. Hahn, the teacher, grouped the class together. “Ok, you have your worksheets: the photos you are about to see will help you answer the questions.” Andy and Miranda were in 8th grade, and Social Studies for that year meant learning about their home state: a complete New Hampshire History. Andy thought the whole idea was insane, and sounded boring, but Mr. Hahn was one of those teachers who brought it all to life, making the little struggles and triumphs of New Hampshire sound like a day at the UN.
Their field trip was a great introduction to New Hampshire: a study of the boys’ camps that flourished in the state and continued to do so even today. Andy had never gone to one; Miranda had been to a girls’ Field Hockey training camp, but since they both lived in Silver Lake, a small town, it was sort of pointless. The camps were for the rich kids from Boston and New York who wanted to get out of the city. “Now, I don’t have to remind you to stay quiet in there,”
Mr. Hahn said as the group went filing into the doors. “You’ll have about 45 minutes to do your research.”
The troupe marched up the wide marble stairs swooping up to the second floor. At the top, on the left, was the entrance to a large room with a banner that read:
BOYS’ CAMPS, CULTURE, AND THE NEW HAMPSHIRE EXPERIENCE: 1898-2008.
“These stupid camps have been around this long!” Miranda said, passing under the banner. “Oh, and of course, the girls’ camps aren’t even represented here!”
The room was a series of make shift walls which contained photographs, printed materials and camp flyers arranged chronologically. She and Andy strolled through the turn of the 20th century camps, names like Camp Pasquaney, Camp Asquam, and Chocorua, looking at the old style clothes and haircuts.
“Check out what the counselors are wearing!” Miranda whispered. She gestured to a photo of college aged men sitting on the grass wearing jackets and ties and long pants and shoes.
“That had to have been for the photographer,” Andy said. “That’d be ridiculous to wear that all day in the sun!” He was right. Other photos showed the counselors in shorts, hiking boots, loose shirts and old hats.
“Question 1: List several differences in the style of clothing throughout the span of the century”.
Andy and Miranda began writing the answers to their questions.
As Andy rounded the corner of one wall and entered the area marked 1920-1940, he came into a group of photos showing a camp called Camp Forest Hills. The display started with a hand-drawn cartoon map of the camp. Camp Forest Hills had been situated at the base of a small mountain, with a lake at the top of it. The base contained the playing fields and some shacks, with a road winding up the hill, through the pine trees to the lake. Along the road were buildings, presumably camp sites, cabins, and bathrooms, which ended at a small lake shaped like a pair of glasses. “Spectacle Pond”, the map read. According to the map, the lake had a long dock built on it stretching from the beach out into the water.
Andy examined every inch of the map. He turned his head to stare at the several photos regarding daily life at Camp Forest Hills. The first showed a row of boys and counselors standing on that long wooden dock, and they looked about ready to dive off. The caption read: ‘Diving and Swimming are an intricate part of learning survival techniques at Camp Forest Hills. Boys are taught to swim, dive, and compete in healthy, active games.’
Andy laughed to himself. ‘Learning survival techniques?’
His eyes moved to the next photo: a group shot of the counselors and the boys. The caption read: ‘Camp Forest Hills, Groton, New Hampshire. Boys and Counselors, Summer of 1925.’ Andy looked at the faces of those non-grinning people from 82 years ago. He started with the top row of, clearly, the counselors. There was an older man there too who looked like a doctor or perhaps the owner of the camp.
‘Who were these people?’ Andy thought. ‘Did they like it there? Were they happy? What were they thinking?’ Andy peered closer as he moved toward the second row.
He began at the left and guessed the ages of the camp kids were about his own: thirteen, fourteen, fifteen. One boy had two ears sticking straight out while his mouth pouted in some sort of “Jeez, do we have to be here doing this!” frown. Andy laughed out loud.
He roamed through the row, scanning the short kid peering out between two heads, the bright blond haired kid, past the taller guy with a shock of hair combed straight back, all of them glaring at the camera. ‘These were the rich kids,’ he thought. He moved toward the right, studying, looking for signs of what it had been like to have lived back then, when his eyes came upon Jake Hollis.
“Who killed me?” Jake said. “I died here. I was murdered.”
The words vibrated through time, through 82 years and landed on the first person who was able to hear them. Andy spun around to see if anyone else noticed this. No one was paying him any attention, and even Miranda had raced ahead to look for any sign of a girl’s camp. Did the picture really talk? No, that’s impossible, Andy thought. But there was energy. Energy zinging at him from the photograph. Something was being said to him.
Andy stared at the boy: he was the last kid on the right in the second row: he was kneeling on his right knee, his arms folded across his chest and he was looking straight into the camera. He had dark, dark hair that wasn’t parted or pasted back on his skull. It was a full head of straight hair with bangs that completely covered his forehead. His shoulders were broad for a boy his age, and his eyebrows were dark too, giving his eyes a callous, obstinate look. He appeared to be about 5’7” or 5’8”; since he was kneeling, it was hard for Andy to tell. The boy was average in weight. He was wearing shorts and this short sleeved camp shirt, just like many of the others, and his face had a feigned hardness that was rehearsed. Despite the coldness in the eye, Andy felt he looked like the type of guy whom you could depend on, you could trust.
“Who killed me?” Jake’s voice said again. “Who killed me?”
Like the ripples a lake makes when you throw a rock into it, the words pulsated out from the picture and into the room. Goose bumps slithered across Andy’s arms, and a shiver went up his back. He looked behind him and saw one of his classmates peering over his shoulder. Andy was about to say, “Hey, did you hear that?” when the classmate wandered off, bored.
Andy turned to the picture again. The vibrations got stronger.
“I was murdered here.”
The energy came from that boy: that boy who was the last boy on the right in the second row. It filled Andy’s ears and his head and he turned away. He looked at the windows and the September sun beaming in, making the museum gathering stuffy, almost sleep inducing. He wondered if that was what made him imagine the voice. He turned and read his assignment sheet. But, the temptation was too strong. He raised his head again toward that innocent photograph, and every time he put his eyes back on the boy, the dark words came through. Stronger. Insistent.
“Who killed me?
I was murdered here.
“Stop it!” Andy yelled as he keeled over toward the display. He grabbed for the wall, missed, hit a menu board instead and knocked over a table of brochures. The racket was like a cannon shot, and Andy bolted, his stomach turned to mush. The young boy ran as fast as he could out of the exhibit, out of the stuffy air and those god-awful vibrating pulses.
He flew down the stairs, dropping his notebook and his pen. He saw the Men’s room at the bottom and pushed the door. It crashed into the wall with a BANG! echoing across the lobby and up the stairs into the photo exhibit. The door stayed open. Andy headed for a toilet, but his brain knew he’d never make it. He reached a garbage can instead and hurled up his lunch. His retching reverberated through the building, and everyone, from the research librarian in the back room, to the entire Social Studies class on the second floor, heard every chunk of his sandwich and brownie hitting the bottom of the empty can.