23. Then There Were Three

Getting a fire going was pretty easy since the logs were already smouldering nicely. We piled them together, added a few smaller bits of wood, and hey presto.

We focused on getting the rabbit cleaned and organising a way to cook it. I could feel eyes on us, but made sure not to respond. There was no doubt in my mind that the issue was not over yet. At some point we would be made to pay for my outburst, but for the time being I intended to eat dinner and plan for tomorrow.

It’s worth mentioning that while our little dispute was ongoing, the Cool Kids totally ignored us. I don’t mean they watched quietly, I mean I don’t think they even noticed. Whatever they were talking about must have been far more important and interesting than what us plebs got up to.

Cooking the rabbit was kind of tricky without utensils. Although we’d probably find out later that Captain Grayson had a drawer full of spoons, forks, pots and pans. I emptied my stew into one of the other dishes and placed my dish on top of the fire. Thanks to Flossie’s knife, cutting up the rabbit wasn’t too hard. I placed the chunks on the dish like it was a hot plate and let them sizzle away.

My spike with the handle worked well as a tool to take bits of rabbit off the hot plate, but you had to be quick.

We impaled the main body onto Maurice’s metal rod and balanced it (rather precariously) on posts hammered into the ground. Turning it so the flames cooked it evenly took some doing, and it fell into the fire a couple of times. But it tasted quite good, if a little plain.

Together with the stew, we had quite a filling meal. It also helped that Dudley came up with the idea of whittling some of the firewood into crude spoons using Flossie’s knife. We sat around the fire stuffing our faces.

Darkness crept up on us, revealing a stunning sky of stars. Was it different to our own sky? I have no idea. I didn’t recognise any constellations, but then I probably wouldn’t back home either. In London, where I lived, the city lights made it hard to see the night sky properly. Plus it was  London, so heavy rain clouds were the norm. I did think maybe there’d be two or three moons up there, but there weren’t any.

We lay on our blankets, staring up at the glittering sky, which definitely seemed to be stuffed to overfilling with pinpoints of light.

The other groups settled down for the night and one thing became apparent. There were only three groups now. The four girls hadn’t returned, and it didn’t look like they were coming back.

My first thought was that they were dead. They met some monster, or some unsavory people, and were killed. I didn’t know if that’s what happened to them, and it might be a bit presumptuous to assume they couldn’t take care of themselves just because they were girls, but if any group had failed to come back, I would think the same thing.

On the other hand, maybe they ran into a band of handsome knights and got invited back to their castle for tea and crumpets. Even the most strident feminazi might find that a hard offer to turn down.

Whatever their fate, we didn’t talk about it, even though I’m sure everyone noticed.

One by one the others drifted off to sleep. It had been a long day—hard to believe it was still only our first—but I lay there with my eyes wide open. Partly because I worried about a sneak attack when we were all asleep, but mainly because I felt too anxious to rest.

I’ve never been able to fall asleep in a car or a train or even on a plane when they turn off all the cabin lights and give you a pillow and blanket. The idea of the vehicle crashing, no matter how unlikely it might seem, always keeps me up. I felt like that as I lay by a dying fire in a strange world. The crash could come at any moment.

I got up to add some more fuel to the fire and chanced a look over at Golden Boy’s group. Or should I say Tin’s group. They had managed to rebuild their fire, and while it wasn’t as big as before it was still bigger than ours. They were all huddled together, boys and girls leaning against each other under blankets. All except for one. Jenny sat a little apart, arms around her knees.

I looked away but that image of her stayed with me. It would be the last I’d see of her for a long time.

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