Sleeping at Girls Camp is always iffy - you're in the woods, temperatures always change and there are no comfy mattresses. This year I got to the usual Wednesday sleep through-the-night phase and was looking forward to getting a little more rest on Thursday and Friday nights.
Friday night I woke up with my heart pounding, I identified the anxiety as a foreign smell and then rationalized to myself that it was probably from the campfire program though I hadn't remembered sitting in the smoke so determinedly closed my eyes. Then something dropped from the Loft. Quick terror at the knowledge that my friend and I were not alone. Flashing thoughts about the idea of someone else in the cabin without my knowledge sent my heart racing again. Another hollow crack of a drop. Scrambling for my flashlight I shine it all over the ceiling and floor. Patty and I finally decided it was an acorn shell and I keep telling myself over and over it's a squirrel - turning off the flashlight I huddled in my blankets too afraid to move....just waiting. Actually I started praying, thinking about the non-protection I had if "something or one" was really there. Is that a footstep - no. Time crawls by and then another drop, click on the light and wonder if I'm seeing an M&M that dropped. Light off praying. Then I hear a quick tapping (probably trees I'm reassuring myself) and sweep the flashlight around the room again at which time the smoke smell is stronger and I know it is not from the campfire -- this smells like a forest fire. Visions of scrambling to find places for about 130 girls in the cars of the leaders (instead of the usual buses) or wading into Lake Rucker away from the fire are filling my mind. About then I see a tiny light grey mouse jumping up into my bag and a few seconds later running across to the corner of the cabin and disappearing. The smoke is stronger and more important - my heart is fluttering fast - I'm praying that the right people will know how to act and then I'm wondering if I'm the one supposed to do something - anything. I pry myself out from the blankets and out to the porch to see if I can see any smoke or flames (please no I'm praying). I can see the stars, I can see the trees, other cabins in the distance, no flames, no smoke - but I can't see very far and it is definitely a forest fire smell. Alison Curtis from the tent in front of the cabin calls up to ask if I smell smoke too. I tell her I woke up with my heart racing and she says she's been huddled with terror too and then around from the back of the cabin Julie Shafer coming from her tent, said she has been watching the lights flashing around and smelling the smoke and she has been feeling the same adrenaline alertness that we are. Alison is hearing the helicopters and I'm trying to tell her it is a train that comes through every night. We are all speculating and wondering why we're all afraid - and wondering about exactly what. About then Pam Hosking the camp director comes walking up with Lindsay Nausin checking out the camp and she came to see and listened to our anxiety. The craft ladies have already smelled the smoke and have gone to alert her. She said she'd call the Fire Department and see where and what the problem is. She said the smell is getting fainter. By then Patty Hill is up and awake and she, Alison, and Julie decide to go to the bathroom. About then we notice a woodpecker perched on the side of the window outside the loft. As the ladies walk off I go in and watch the mouse scurrying out of my bag again and heading for his bolt hole. When I investigate, there is a forgotten bag of trail mix from my first day's lunch that now has holes in it and I dump out the bag and sweep the mix off the side of the porch on the ground. Then clean up the mess. I figured he'd find it again. I realize I can't stay in that cabin by myself and reassure my fantasy mind that "if" someone where up in the loft being alone is bad and maybe letting "him" go away while we're gone would be good - so I slip on my shoes and run after the other ladies.
We're all speculating and trying to be calm. It is amazing all the thoughts that race through your mind in the deepest dark of the night. I and Patty explained about the dropping shells, Julie talked about the lights popping up in the night and smelling the smoke. Maybe it was the light I kept flashing around the cabin, maybe it's the High Adventure or 4th level girls. I ask Julie to come up behind me I as check out the loft - there will be no sleep until I know the loft is clear. The woodpecker is still there and I have to force myself into the door and then up the stairs - Julie is such a sweetheart she was right there behind me. Not a thing except a wrapper from Patty's cough drops, an M&M and some shells. I tell them about the mouse and we all go back to bed. Pam comes a few minutes later with Lindsay and Shannon Griffen to tell us the fire is on the other side of the river and the Fire Department will call if anything pops up in our part of the woods. I think we all fell asleep - till early in the morning I hear some more tapping and in that half wake stage I start dreaming about rattlesnakes and other dangers. A half hour later some critter bumps into an empty water bottle and it rolls across the floor- I 'dream' about a head rolling and decide that sleep is over rated and get up to read my scriptures but dumping out the bag last night my iPad is dark. So I pack all my stuff that I can quietly do as the Cookies and Brethren aren't up or need any help yet. I can feel the fantasies of the night slip away with the arrival of the sun. It's easy to laugh about the unexpected in the full light of day. Did you know that mice only take the nuts and chocolate? - they leave the raisins.