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Mr. T walked into the classroom to find all the students talking amongst themselves in small groups.
"Please take your seats and take out the books you've been reading." Mr. T said firmly.
All the students took their seats and began to dig through their backpacks to get the books each had chosen from the 'suggested reading' list.
Mr. T wrote the word 'Thesis' on the white board at the front of the room, then said, "What I'd like for you to do is write a thesis statement for your book. What I mean by that is that I'd like for you to sum up the overall point of the entire book in one sentence. I realize that depending on the book that it might be difficult to do, but your teachers can give you individual help as you need it to discard the unimportant details."
The room fell silent as everyone started considering how they would describe their books in such simple terms.
Mr. T then wrote 'Summary' on the board and said, "After you've identified the point of the book, I'd like for you to give a brief summary of the entire story. This usually works best when you write a sentence each for the introduction, body and Conclusion. Remember to keep it brief. The entire summary is to be one paragraph."
Mr. T looked around with satisfaction as everyone seemed to be concentrating intently on their assignment.
He made his way to one of the groups of students and quietly said, "Simon, I need to talk with you about something. Please come with me."
Simon looked at Mr. T with question as a trickle of fear ran up his spine. He glanced over and noticed an expression of concern on Arlo's face.
"Should I bring my books?" Simon asked in a small voice, trying to hide the tremble of fear.
"No, we'll be back in just a few minutes." Mr. T said, then extended his hand to indicate the door to his office.
Simon reluctantly got up from his chair and walked to the door with Mr. T at his side.
* * * * *
Mr. T motioned for Simon to enter, then moved the door, leaving it about six inches open.
In the back of his mind, Simon felt a slight sense of relief at the gesture. If Mr. T had closed the door he would have panicked... knowing that the door wasn't closed, that he wasn't completely alone with an adult, gave him the courage to continue.
"Please take a seat Simon." Mr. T said as he sat behind his desk.
Simon reluctantly took the offered seat, then looked at Mr. T with question.
"It's come to my attention that you've found a way to bypass the security features that we've put in place and have been visiting inappropriate sites on the Internet." Mr. T said firmly.
Simon ducked his head and mumbled, "Yes sir."
"I think it's important that you understand why we restrict access to pornographic materials. The images that you see are harmful to a developing young mind. The pornography industry as a whole is corrupt and objectifies people. Pornography leads you to seek sexual gratification for it's own sake, filling your mind with graphic images that are designed to stimulate you. In reality, sexuality is just one component part of a relationship and should happen naturally as a relationship progresses. Repeated exposure to the graphic sexual images can lead you to make some unwise decisions that will ultimately hurt you." Mr. T said with concern.
"I understand." Simon said quietly.
"My father has left the decision to me of whether we should revoke your Internet privileges for your own safety. Although I'm reluctant to do so, I understand that the lure of these images can be quite compelling." Mr. T said with concern sounding in his voice.
"May I explain why I visited those sites?" Simon asked cautiously.
"Go ahead." Mr. T said as he sat back in his chair.
Simon took a deep breath and thought for a moment before saying, "If you have a list of the sites that I visited, you'll notice that none of them have pictures. The site that I spent the most time on was a gay story archive. I went through it looking for a certain type of story. A lot of the stories were kind of like what you were talking about with the pictures, they just talked about random, anonymous sex. A few of the stories were even worse than that and really bothered me, but I finally found what I was looking for." Simon said seriously.
"Which was?" Mr. T asked cautiously.
"If you'll go to pyro.csuproductions.com I'll show you." Simon said, sounding more confident.
"Just a second." Mr. T said as he opened a browser window and typed in the URL.
"When you get there, go to Pyro's stories and look at the story called 'Camp Time'." Simon said as he leaned forward to see the computer's monitor.
"Okay. I'm there." Mr. T said as the story filled the screen.
"That is what I was looking for. It's a story about someone my age; someone who is hurting and alone... and gay. It talks about his pain and his struggle and how he finally finds love and acceptance." Simon said with a slight smile at the memory.
"I don't understand why you need to break the rules to read a story like this when you have an entire library to choose from." Mr. T said as he looked away from the site.
"I think you *do* understand. Please don't take this the wrong way, but what Native American role models are there for you in movies, on television and in the library?" Simon asked as he rested back in his seat.
"No one really springs to mind." Mr. T said reluctantly.
"It's the same for me. If I were straight, I could turn on the television, rent any video or read any book and see examples of romance and love. But to find a story about someone who I can identify with... I have to go underground." Simon said, now with a tone of pleading in his voice.
"But in the last few years, some of the prime time television shows have introduced gay characters." Mr. T said in thought.
"Yeah. Adult characters. And of those, can you name a single one of them who has had a healthy, long-lasting relationship?" Simon asked seriously.
"Not off the top of my head." Mr. T said carefully.
"Face it. Gay television characters are the butt of the jokes and take every stereotype to the extreme. I suppose it's better than being completely absent from the media, but not by much." Simon said, now sounding tired.
"...and Tonto never gets the girl." Mr. T muttered to himself.
Simon gave a weak smile and nodded in understanding.
Mr. T closed the browser window, then opened an application that Simon didn't immediately recognize.
"Are you killing my Internet access?" Simon asked as he realized that Mr. T had his user account on the screen.
"No. This story, 'Camp Time', do you think you can find other stories like it?" Mr. T asked as he opened a submenu and typed in a command.
"Yes. I've started reading another story by Pyro called 'The Lonely Prince', I've only read two chapters, but so far it looks like it's going to be great."
"Good. Then if you'd be willing, I'd like for you to do a job for me." Mr. T said as he looked away from the computer.
"What's that?" Simon asked curiously.
"Read more of these stories. When you find a good one, copy the link and email it to me. Together, we're going to build a library of uplifting stories that your classmates may be able to identify with." Mr. T said, then closed the application.
"Is it okay if there's a little sex in some of the stories?" Simon asked hesitantly.
Mr. T thought about the question and finally said, "If the sexual contact is a healthy expression of love, I think it will be fine. When you email me the link, you can mention anything that might be disturbing in the story and I'll make a judgment whether or not to include it in our library. Some of our students have been through some... extreme experiences, we need to protect them from things they might not be able to deal with."
"I'll keep that in mind. I've had some extreme experiences of my own." Simon said with a pained look.
Mr. T looked at Simon with concern and asked, "Is there anything you need to talk about?"
Simon snapped out of his wandering thoughts and said, "No, I'm doing okay. Dr. Dan is working with me to deal with things. Every now and then I just flash back a little."
"Well, if you ever need to talk about anything, you know where to find me. No matter when you need me, I'll always have time for you." Mr. T said quietly.
"Thanks Mr. T, I think I knew that but it's good to hear you say it." Simon said with a contented smile.
"Let's get back out to the class before Arlo worries himself sick." Mr. T said with a smile as he stood.
"What did you do to my account?" Simon asked as he also stood.
"I reduced the restrictions on your account so you won't have to work around network security to read your stories. I also listed 'Pyro's Place' in the lockout exception file in case either of us find someone who might enjoy an uplifting story." Mr. T said as he walked toward the office door.
"Thanks for listening to me Mr. T. I promise I won't bypass network security again." Simon said seriously.
Mr. T stopped with his hand on the door knob and said, "If you need to access something that you don't have clearance for, just come to me and ask me."
Simon smiled at Mr. T and said, "I will, I promise."
* * * * *
"Are you in trouble?" Arlo asked with concern as Simon took his seat.
"Almost, but Mr. T was cool enough to let me explain before he blasted me." Simon said as he pulled out a clean sheet of paper.
"What did you do?" Arlo asked curiously.
Simon smiled at his friend and said, "I used that little hack you showed me to bypass the network security but I must've screwed it up because he caught me."
"Mr. T knows that you hacked the network?" Arlo asked with renewed fear.
"Yeah. But he didn't seem too worried about that part of it, he was just worried that I was looking at stuff that was going to hurt me..." Simon trailed off in thought.
"You sound surprised." Arlo said in a considering voice.
"When I realized why he called me into his office, I thought I was in serious trouble. I guess I was surprised when he actually listened to me and cared about what I said." Simon said honestly.
"If you can't figure out what he's going to do, then no one can. You've been here longer than anyone." Arlo said quietly.
"Yeah, but when I got here I was a real mess. I was scared of everyone and didn't really get to know Mr. T or any of the other teachers. I'm still learning how to get along here just like you and everyone else." Simon said seriously.
"So you're not in any trouble?" Arlo asked, seeing the need to change the subject.
"No. It's cool. What did I miss out here?" Simon asked as he looked around.
"Not much. We were all just finishing up our story stuff. It's almost time for lunch so we probably won't do anything else." Arlo said in thought.
* * * * *
As the group of boys walked into the cafeteria and automatically took their place in the serving line, an eight year old brown haired boy dropped back in the line to stand with Mouse, Luke and Kyle.
"JJ said that the new guys went to your classroom. How were they?" Obie asked with excitement.
"We only got to talk to two of the guys, but they seemed alright. They're pretty normal... I mean they have a dad and have nice clothes and I bet they live in a house so I don't know why they'd want to go to school here when they could be around normal kids." Mouse said in thought.
"How old do you think Kevin is?" Kyle asked Mouse seriously.
"He's about Obie's size so I guess he'd be about 8 or 9." Mouse said in thought, then looked at Luke to see him nodding in agreement.
"He's going to be 12 in about a month. Kenny is his twin brother." Kyle said seriously.
"Is he sick?" Mouse asked with immediate concern.
"I'd never tell anyone about the stuff that happened to you, and I won't do that to Kevin either. But I will tell you that he's not sick, he's small because he had a hard life growing up. He's going to school here because he probably couldn't fit in at a regular school. Trust me when I say that Kevin *needs* to be here." Kyle said frankly.
"What about his brother? He seemed pretty normal." Mouse said cautiously.
Kyle thought about the statement for a minute, then said, "It depends on how you define normal. Kenny could probably go to a public school and do okay, but he's been through enough stuff that he should be able to fit in here too."
"They're Clan aren't they?" Obie suddenly asked.
Kyle looked at Obie with question.
"I didn't think about it before, but that's why they're all coming here as a group isn't it? Those guys are Clan members and they're going to go to school here where they can get up and go if they need to do something for the Clan." Obie said in a voice of deep thought.
"And I thought I was the telepath here." Kyle said with a smile.
"Am I right?" Obie asked seriously.
"More or less. Not all the guys are Clan members... yet." Kyle said with a secretive smile.
"Wow. Well that does it for me, if they're Clan, then they've got to be okay." Mouse said firmly.
Kyle immediately shook his head in disagreement.
"They aren't okay?" Mouse asked in confusion.
"They're fine. But you can't assume that someone is okay because they're a part of the Clan. We're all people, we make choices, some good and some bad. If you want to know if someone is okay, you need to get to know them and decide for yourself. Otherwise, you're leaving yourself open to get used or hurt." Kyle said seriously.
"Okay, thanks Kyle. I guess it's easy for us Camp guys to think of you Clan guys as being bigger and better than regular people." Mouse said timidly.
"Nope. We're the same. We just have different jobs." Kyle said carefully.
"You Clan guys rescue kids in trouble, you done it for all of us. But what's our job?" Obie asked curiously.
"After we've rescued the kids, it's up to you Camp guys to help them heal. You give them a family where they can belong and feel safe and find hope for the future." Kyle said firmly.
Obie, Mouse and Luke looked at each other in surprise at the statement.
"So your jobs are no less important than ours, because without you guys to take care of the new kids, what's the point of us having the Camp? We could just dump all you guys into the CPS system and hope for the best." Kyle said passionately.
Mouse thought seriously about the words before quietly saying, "Yeah. I never thought about us having a job or doing anything important but I guess we do."
Kyle felt a nudge from behind him. He turned to see Gabe pointing to the line ahead of them.
"Whoops, sorry." Kyle quickly said and motioned for the other boys to move forward with him.
* * * * *
After making their selections, the boys automatically went to the table where the people from cabin one normally sat.
"You guys mind if I join you?" Obie asked quietly as he followed Luke and Mouse to the table.
"No problem, you can join us too if you want to Kyle." Mouse said as he took his seat.
"Yeah. Thanks Mouse. But just don't be too mad if I have to leave in the middle of lunch. Cory likes to talk business while we eat and I might have to go over there if it has something to do with me." Kyle said as he sat down.
"So *that's* why you guys sit together at that big table?" Obie asked in surprise.
"Well, yeah.... why did you think?" Kyle asked in confusion.
"We kinda thought it was a way of saying you Clan guys were better than us Camp guys." Mouse said frankly.
"You mean it's not?" Simon asked as he took the seat beside Mouse.
"I bet you don't even know what we're talking about." Mouse said with a grin.
Simon thought about it for a second, then said, "From what I overheard as I was walking up and the fact that Kyle is here, I'd have to say... the Clan table?"
Luke chuckled as he nodded.
"Shut up." Mouse said to Luke dryly.
"No wonder he never talks." Obie said with a smile at Mouse.
"Just so you guys know, I'm going to talk to Cory about the reputation the Clan is getting around the camp. I guess we just didn't think about how it would look to you guys when we decided to sit together at lunch." Kyle said with concern.
"You Clan guys don't have to prove anything to us. I was just a little surprised to find out why you sit together." Mouse said quickly.
"It's not that. What I'm concerned about is that if you guys who've been around for a while think that about us, what do the new guys think? If we seem unapproachable and full of ourselves then none of the new guys will feel comfortable coming to us if they need something. That is just one less reason for them to want to stay here." Kyle said in thought.
"Wow. If you Clan guys are all this serious at lunch, it's probably a good thing that you sit together." Obie said with a teasing smile.
Kyle chuckled at the statement, then said, "We'll have to consider that too."
* * * * *
The hours since lunch had passed normally as the students rotated through their circuit of afternoon classes.
The cabin one students were relieved to reach the last class of the day which was art.
"What's wrong Arlo?" Simon asked with concern as they walked into the cabin and took their seats.
"I don't know, I feel kind of like I do when I'm having one of my visions, but... I'm not having one." Arlo said with a weary and concerned expression.
"Maybe you need to lay down, you look really tired." Simon said quietly.
"Yeah. I think I need to, besides, I'm ahead on my work for this class." Arlo said, then hugged himself for warmth as he suddenly felt cold.
"Mrs. Sixto, can I take Arlo to our cabin? He's not feeling well." Simon asked as he approached her desk.
The art teacher looked at Arlo shivering as he sat in his seat, then said, "Take him to your cabin and someone will be by to check on you in a few minutes."
"Thank you Mrs. Sixto." Simon said quickly and hurried back to Arlo.
* * * * *
"I hear that Arlo isn't feeling well." Chief Tecumseh said as he walked into Cabin One.
"He was just feeling a little weird at first, but now it's like he's freezing cold and can't get warm." Simon said with full worry for his friend.
Chief Tecumseh put a hand on Simon's shoulder to assure him.
Simon flinched away as if in pain and stumbled back a few steps before turning to look at Chief Tecumseh with a mix of fear and anger in his eyes.
Chief Tecumseh looked at Simon consideringly, then said in a pained voice, "Please forgive me Simon, I forgot for a moment."
Simon took two deep breaths and tried to calm himself as he heard his pulse pounding in his ears.
"Is there anything I can do?" Chief Tecumseh asked with concern.
"No. I'll be fine. Dr. Dan has been able to help me with everything else, but I still can't stand to have anyone touch me." Simon said as he finally felt the adrenaline rush starting to subside.
"Very well. Let us see what assistance we can provide young Arlo." Chief Tecumseh said quietly and walked to the couch where Arlo was laying.
"C... c... c... can't g... g... get warm." Arlo said, then his teeth started to chatter.
Chief Tecumseh gently moved the back of his hand to Arlo's cheek to gauge his temperature, then withdrew it quickly.
"It can't be." Chief Tecumseh whispered and could see a cloud of mist form as his warm, moist breath came near Arlo.
"What's wrong with him?" Simon asked in panic.
"I suspect it is something far beyond my ability to correct." Chief Tecumseh said in thought as he walked to the phone.
Chief Tecumseh dialed the phone quickly, and waited as it rang.
"Foote residence." A young woman's voice answered.
"I need to speak with Aubrey, it's important, tell him it's Hawkeye." Chief Tecumseh said with urgency.
"I'm sorry Chief Tecumseh. Uncle Aubrey was called out on an emergency this morning. We're not expecting him back for a few days." The woman said apologetically.
"Do you have a number where I can reach him. I really am in desperate need of his help." Chief Tecumseh said frankly.
"No. He's going to a remote village in the South. If you really need help, my cousin Jerico is here. He's been away learning the ways of the Shaman for the past few years. He could probably help you." She said in thought.
Chief Tecumseh took a deep, cleansing breath before saying, "The Great Spirit must have a plan..."
The girl giggled and said, "I'll go get him."
After a moment of hearing whispered voices speaking in the background, a voice called, "I've got it Lucy, hang up."
"This is Jerico Foote, can I help you?"
"I think I've got a fox spirit here. Are you Shaman enough to handle it?" Chief Tecumseh asked bluntly as he watched Simon put another blanket over Arlo.
"How certain are you?" Jerico asked quickly.
"I have seen one who was possessed with a fox spirit before, and this is what it looked like." Chief Tecumseh said seriously.
"Good enough for me. Lucy said you're from Camp Little Eagle, right?" Jerico asked in confirmation.
"Yes, please hurry. This spirit is quite aggressive." Chief Tecumseh said with concern, then noticed the blue tinge to Arlo's skin.
Chief Tecumseh put his hand over the mouthpiece of the phone and quickly said to Simon, "Go and get Derek, he should be in his office."
Simon nodded and ran out the door.
"Have someone meet me to help carry in my things. I'll be there... in eight minutes if the Great Spirit will provide a tail wind." Jerico said quickly.
"Go! Now!" Chief Tecumseh said firmly and hung up the phone.
As Chief Tecumseh walked back to the couch where Arlo was laying, he noticed that the blue color was becoming more pronounced and the boy's eyes were starting to drift closed.
"Young Arlo. You must stay awake. Listen to my words, it is dangerous for you to sleep now. Stay awake." Chief Tecumseh said seriously.
* * * * *
"Mr. T was called away on an emergency. I brought the older guys in case they can help." Simon said in a rush as he hurried into the room.
"Yeah, every telepath at Camp Little Eagle freaked out at the same time." Mouse said quickly as he looked around.
"Good work Simon. We can use all the help we can get. Harold, I need you to go to the bathroom and turn the shower to the hottest water you can stand. Uri and Devon, pick up Arlo and carry him to the bathroom." Chief Tecumseh said firmly.
Mouse gave Chief Tecumseh a disapproving look for a moment for calling him Harold, then did as he was told.
"Is there anything I can do?" Simon asked helplessly.
"Stay near to me. If I can think of anything to help Arlo, I may need you to get it immediately." Chief Tecumseh said seriously.
"He is so cold that it burns to touch him." Uri said in surprise.
"Imagine how he feels. Get him under the hot water now." Chief Tecumseh said urgently.
* * * * *
As the boys reached the shower, they stopped and looked at Chief Tecumseh with question.
"Well go on. We have an excellent clothes drying machine if that's what you're worried about. Just get that boy warm." Chief Tecumseh said with a shooing motion.
Uri and Devon stepped into the shower, clothes, shoes and all, and held Arlo under the shower's spray.
A cloud of steam erupted as the hot water hit the pocket of cold that was surrounding Arlo.
"NO!" Arlo screamed in a strangled voice of pain.
A wall of force erupted out from Arlo, and knocked Devon and Uri away and forced the others in the room to fight for balance.
A moment later Arlo collapsed in the floor of the shower stall.
"Get him back under the shower's spray." Chief Tecumseh said as he regained his balance.
Uri and Devon picked up Arlo again and forced him under the shower's spray.
Once again, the hot water hit the cold pocket of air surrounding Arlo and a cloud of steam billowed out from his body.
"Is it working?" Mouse asked into the steam cloud, trying to see anything.
"It's too early to tell." Chief Tecumseh said in thought.
* * * * *
Mr. T rushed into cabin one and immediately noticed steam rolling out of the bathroom door.
As Mr. T was walking into the foggy bathroom, Luke was rushing out with tears in his eyes.
"Mrs. Sixto said that there was an emergency over here." Mr. T said as he rushed into the room and looked around.
"What happened Father?" Mr. T asked with concern at the sight of Uri and Devon holding Arlo under the shower.
"Feel his face and tell me what you think." Chief Tecumseh said as he led his son closer to Arlo.
Mr. T stepped forward through the fog and put his hand on Arlo's face and was surprised by how cold the boy was. Before he could withdraw his hand, the water had started to freeze on his fingertips.
"A fox spirit?" Mr. T said uncertainly as Chief Tecumseh guided him away from the shower's spray.
"Perhaps. But it doesn't make sense, not with the eagle spirits protecting our camp." Chief Tecumseh said as he watched Uri and Devon turning Arlo to try and get the warm water all over him.
"Is Uncle Aubrey on his way over?" Mr. T asked as he turned his full attention to his father.
"No. He was called away for an emergency in the South. His student said that he would come and offer whatever assistance he can." Chief Tecumseh said gravely.
"If this is a fox spirit, we need a powerful Shaman to fight it." Mr. T said desperately.
"We have no choice in the matter. The novice Shaman is the only one available to us. To make matters worse, the hot water isn't going to last much longer and I can think of nothing more to keep Arlo warm enough to survive." Chief Tecumseh said gravely.
"Is there anything I can do now?" Simon asked in a small voice.
"Yes. Go to the guest parking lot beside the administration building and wait for the Shaman. He has not been here before and would not know how to find this cabin. Tell him to hurry." Chief Tecumseh said firmly.
Simon nodded and ran out of the room with tears streaking down his cheeks.
* * * * *
"Are you the Shaman?" Simon asked desperately as the old 1950's pickup truck pulled into the guest parking lot.
"Yes. Will you help me?" The Native American man in his mid twenties asked as he set the parking brake.
"Please hurry." Simon said in a pleading voice.
"Take this. What's your name?" The young man asked as he handed Simon a large copper bowl.
"Simon. You've got to move faster. Arlo can't last much longer."
"I can't help your friend if I don't have the things I need." The Shaman said as he started heaping things in the bowl.
Within a few seconds the young Shaman had filled the bowl with things that were random junk and garbage to Simon's untrained eyes.
The young man then pulled a robe and a feathered fan from the passenger side of the truck.
"Lead the way." The young Shaman said as he pulled the robe on.
"Come on." Simon said as he started to run full out toward cabin one cutting across the open grass, completely ignoring the walking paths.
* * * * *
"I'm afraid you're too late." Mr. T said as he stood in the foggy shower stall with the body of Arlo still being held by Uri and Devon.
"Maybe not. Simon, fill that bowl half-way with water and bring it here." The Shaman said seriously.
"He's dead." Devon said in a disbelieving whisper.
"Excuse me? Shaman here. I'm in tight with the Great Spirit. At least let me give it a shot. What have you got to lose?" The young man said as he lit something in a small clay bowl.
"Derek, please. We must trust the emissary of the Great Spirit." Chief Tecumseh said quietly.
Mr. T reluctantly nodded his acceptance.
"Good, then lay him down in the floor and step away. All of you." The Shaman instructed professionally.
"Here's the water, what do you want me to do with it?" Simon asked quickly.
"Set it beside your friend, then stand back. What I'm about to do is extremely dangerous, so no matter what happens, everyone stay back." The Shaman said as he lined up a row of pouches beside him.
The young Shaman started to chant as he sprinkled a pinch of something from the first pouch into the clay bowl.
There was a sparkle like miniature fireworks, then a puff of smoke.
Without looking, the Shaman reached down to the second pouch and pulled a clump of herbs out.
He dropped the clump into the clay bowl as he continued to chant.
Within a few seconds, a thick smoke started rising from the bowl. Without interrupting his chant, the Shaman picked up his fan and started fanning the smoke over Arlo's unmoving body.
After long seconds of fanning, the Shaman abruptly stopped both fanning and chanting. Quickly, he picked up Arlo's limp hand and put the fingertips into the water of the copper bowl.
With his other hand, he drew a crystal out of one of the pouches and carefully touched it to the other side of the bowl.
"Arlo, listen to me. Go into the light. You'll be safe in the light." The Shaman said in a clear voice, then shook his head.
"He doesn't know me. Simon... all of you. Call to him. Tell him to go into the light." The Shaman said quickly, then in a more panicked voice said, "DO IT NOW!"
"Come on Arlo. It's Simon. Do what the Shaman says and go into the light." Simon said in a desperate voice.
"This is your teacher, Mr. T. Simon is right, you need to go into the light." Mr. T said with tears streaking down his face.
"This is Chief Tecumseh. Trust in the emissary of the Great Spirit. Join with the light." Chief Tecumseh said in a pained voice.
"It's working... almost... almost... Got 'im." The Shaman said and quickly pulled the crystal away from the side of the bowl, and pulled Arlo's hand out of the water at the same time.
"What *exactly* did you just do?" Chief Tecumseh asked carefully.
"Preserved your friend's soul." The Shaman said as he held his hand over Arlo's face, making sure to keep it at least an inch away.
"It sounded like you just sent Arlo into the light, as in, to the other side, the afterlife." Mr. T said suspiciously.
"No, Arlo's soul is in the bowl. The light was just to lead him where he needed to be." The Shaman said, then nodded as if deciding something.
"When we asked you to save Arlo, we really meant body AND spirit." Mr. T said slowly.
The Shaman glanced at Mr. T and gave him a considering look before saying, "This fox spirit is far too strong for me to expel. I doubt that any Shaman alive today could expel the spirit without destroying the soul of the host. Now that Arlo's soul is safe, I'm free to battle the spirit that has inhabited his body. When that battle is finished, I'll just put Arlo back into his body where he belongs."
"Is there anything we can do to help?" Simon asked quietly.
"You're Arlo's friend right?" The Shaman asked seriously.
Simon nodded hesitantly.
"Good. Think about where Arlo is most comfortable and take him there. Once you have him in his most comfortable place, then talk to him. Tell him what's going on and tell him that by tomorrow morning he'll be back to normal. He won't be able to hear your spoken words, but he'll be able to feel what you mean." The Shaman said carefully.
"What if I spill him?" Simon asked in panic.
"Get him... Mr. T to help you move him. While you're doing that, I'm going to get to work on identifying our unwelcomed guest and figuring out how to get rid of him." The Shaman said seriously.
"Where do you want to take him?" Mr. T asked quietly.
"To the table by the big window. We like to sit there and talk while we look out at the camp." Simon said in a lost tone.
"It's going to be fine. Come on, I'll help you." Mr. T said as he stood.
Simon reluctantly stood, then bent down to take hold of one side of the bowl.
"Slow and easy. We aren't in any hurry." Mr. T said gently.
* * * * *
As Mr. T and Simon walked out into the main room of the cabin, they noticed Luke huddled into a ball, crying in the floor.
"Let's get Arlo settled, then I'll talk to Luke." Mr. T whispered as they carefully moved to the table.
They positioned the bowl on the table and made sure that it was steady before letting go.
"Just talk to him. Let him know everything is going to be alright." Mr. T said softly.
"But how can it be? Arlo's body is dead." Simon said with tears in his eyes.
"We don't have any choice but to trust in the Shaman. He seems to know what he's doing and he says that Arlo will be back in his own body by morning. Trust in him and trust that the Great Spirit has a plan for the greater good." Mr. T said as he looked Simon in the eyes.
"But I don't believe in the Great Spirit." Simon said softly.
Mr. T smiled and said, "Faith doesn't just happen. Not everyone has it and the Great Spirit doesn't require it to do what must be done. But it's possible that this experience could open your eyes to a greater power that watches over us all. I'm not asking you to believe, I'm just asking you to keep an open mind about the possibility."
"Okay, I'm going to talk to Arlo now. Luke needs you." Simon said quietly.
"Call me if you need anything." Mr. T said as he turned.
"Yeah, I will." Simon said as he took a seat at the small table and looked into the copper bowl of water that housed the soul of his best friend.
* * * * *
"Would you guys get him some dry clothes? I want to get him changed and into bed before I do anything else." The Shaman said in thought.
"Isn't he dead?" Devon asked slowly.
"No, the fox spirit has claimed this body and is making it his own. If you'll look closely, you'll see that he's taking shallow breaths." the Shaman said seriously.
"Come Devon, we will get Arlo some clothes." Uri said as he walked toward the bathroom door.
"Is there anything I can do to help Arlo?" Mouse asked timidly.
The Shaman smiled at him and said, "Go pull back the covers on his bed and if there isn't a chair nearby, bring one in. Someone will need to stay with him at all times."
"Okay." Mouse said quickly and rushed out of the room.
The Shaman held his hand over Arlo's face and concentrated.
"No. It can't be." He mumbled to himself as he brought up his other hand and held it over Arlo's heart.
"Shhh. I can feel your pain. Don't worry, I'm beginning to understand what you are and I'm not going to destroy you." The Shaman whispered as he concentrated.
"Whoever you are, you don't belong here. I know it feels like a safe place to hide but you're hurting Arlo by being here."
Arlo's eyes opened and looked around in panic.
"Shhh. I'm not going to hurt you. Rest now and when you're a little stronger we'll figure out where you belong and find a way to get you back there." The Shaman whispered.
The Shaman looked deeply into the wild eyes and found no intelligence, only animalistic fear and mistrust.
"Just sleep now. I won't let anyone else hurt you. Just sleep and we'll get this all sorted out." The Shaman said as he gently stroked the boy's auburn hair.
"You're not going to get rid of it?" Devon asked in a challenging voice from the bathroom doorway, holding a stack of clothes.
"I'm going to get rid of it, I just won't destroy it." The young Shaman gently said as he watched the troubled eyes fighting to stay open.
"Why not? It attacked Arlo, shouldn't you get rid of it so it can't attack anyone else.?" Devon asked as Uri walked to his side.
"It isn't that simple." The young Shaman said as he glanced down to find his patient asleep.
"Would you please dress him and put him to bed while I prepare the things I need?" The Shaman asked as he turned his attention to Uri and Devon.
"Um, yeah. Sure." Devon said uncertainly.
"He's in a deep sleep. He shouldn't wake up, but if he does, just talk to him gently and come get me." The young Shaman said as he stood.
"This evil spirit won't attack us will it?" Uri asked with a note of fear.
"No. The spirit won't attack except in self defense and he isn't evil, he's frightened." The Shaman said quietly.
* * * * *
"What's wrong?" The Shaman asked as he walked into the common room of the cabin.
"I don't know. Luke started crying and I can't get him to stop." Mr. T said as he held the crying boy in his arms as Mouse stood by, looking on with wide eyes.
"Why is he crying?" The Shaman asked with concern.
"I don't know. Luke won't talk for days at a time and when he does talk, he only says one or two words. I can't get him to say anything at all right now." Mr. T said as he tried to sooth Luke.
The Shaman noticed Mouse's look of concern and asked, "Do you know what's wrong with your friend?"
Mouse turned his attention to the Shaman and quickly said, "No. Not really. I mean, I think it's about some of the stuff that was done to him before he came here, but he never told no one about that. Not even Dr. Dan."
"Dr. Dan?" The young Shaman asked, glancing at Mr. T.
"Dr. Daniel Richardson. He is a child psychologist that works with the boys." Mr. T said in a distracted voice.
"I think it would be a good idea if you called him. I'd like to try talking with Luke, maybe I can help." The Shaman said hopefully.
Mr. T nodded and stood, still carrying the 12 year old boy in his arms.
"Luke, my name is Jerico. I'm a Shaman." The Shaman said as he accepted Luke from Mr. T.
Luke didn't make any show of hearing but clutched tightly to the Shaman's chest.
"Where can I take him so we can talk privately?" The Shaman asked Mouse quietly.
"Our room. It's right over here." Mouse said as he led the way down the hall.
As the Shaman was about to enter the room, he noticed Uri and Devon carrying Arlo's body toward the hall.
"Would one of you stay with him and come and get me if he wakes up?" The Shaman asked hopefully.
"We both will stay with him." Uri said immediately.
"Thank you." The Shaman said with gratitude and followed Mouse into the bedroom.
* * * * *
Simon reached into the bowl and touched his fingertips to the water as he said, "The Shaman says you can't hear the words I'm saying but you'll know that I'm here and that everything will be okay."
"I don't know why I believe it, but I think I do. I think he knows what he's doing and he'll have you back in your body by morning." Simon said quietly.
"I guess I never really thought about how good a friend you are to me Arlo. You put up with all my weirdness and don't complain about it at all."
"You act like I'm doing you some kind of big favor by being your friend. So what if you have a vision now and then. It's no big deal."
"You put up with me keeping the light on when I sleep and my nightmares every night. Even if you weren't my best friend, you're probably the only person in the world who could stand to be my roommate."
"I guess what I'm really saying is that I've never had a friend before and you're the best friend I could ever imagine. You've been there for me since the day you arrived and I never thought that someday I might lose you..." Simon said, then realized what he was saying.
"...Not that I'm going to lose you now. But this whole mess made me think about how horrible my life would be without you."
* * * * *
The Shaman concentrated on the boy in his arms, and hugged him a little tighter.
A moment later the Shaman looked up and quietly asked, "What is your name?"
"Mouse." He said in a whisper.
The Shaman smiled at the name and quietly asked, "Mouse, could you do something for me?" .
"Sure, if it'll help Luke." Mouse said immediately.
"Yes. I think it will. I just need for you to bring me an apple from the cafeteria." The Shaman said quietly.
"Okay." Mouse said as he turned to run out of the room.
"Wait." The Shaman called quickly.
Mouse stopped in his tracks and turned to face the Shaman with question.
"The nicer the apple is, the more it will help Luke. If you can find one without any bruises or cuts, it will help him even more. I need the best apple you can find." The Shaman said seriously.
"Yeah." Mouse said, then took off running.
After a long silent moment, the Shaman finally said to Luke, "I'm a chosen one too. Running away from your gifts doesn't help you or anyone else."
Luke looked up at the Shaman with panic as he started to pull away.
"I'm not going to try and force you to do anything. I have accepted my gifts and chosen a life of service as a Shaman. Whatever choice you make is your own and I won't try to influence you in any way. You don't have to worry about me. Nothing you say or think around me can hurt me." The Shaman said seriously.
"Did I cause what happened to Arlo?" Luke asked in a trembling voice.
"No. I can't say how or why he was possessed by the rogue spirit, but I can promise you that you had nothing to do with it." The Shaman said seriously.
"Are you sure?" Luke asked in a whisper.
"Yes. Your friend Arlo is a spirit medium. It's almost like he has a flashing neon sign over his head that says 'Possess Me' to the entire spirit world." The Shaman said carefully.
"Tell me what you want to do about your gifts and I'll try to help you if I can." The Shaman said as he renewed his hug.
Luke enjoyed the hug and quietly said, "I don't want to be a chosen one."
The Shaman gently smoothed Luke's brown mop of hair and said, "Only the Great Spirit can bestow and withdraw our gifts. If it were in my power, I would take the burden away from you."
"I... my parents... they... they were part of a satanic church. They wanted me to be a high priest and... and..." Luke trailed off in tears.
"And perform sacrifices and other horrible things." The Shaman said quietly as he continued to stroke Luke's hair.
"Human sacrifices so we could gain the favor of... the dark one." Luke whispered.
The Shaman hugged him tighter and said, "I'm guessing that you've seen the dark side of our gifts. If you would like, I can show you the other side. I can show you how we can help people and make the world a better place."
"But I'm evil... I've been dedicated to Him. They made me take unholy communion. I ate Human flesh and drank blood." Luke said, then started crying again.
"Luke..." The Shaman began to say, but was interrupted.
"Lucifer. They named me Lucifer in his honor." Luke said into the Shaman's chest.
"Luke, look at me. Look with your second sight and see my spirit. Tell me what you see." The Shaman said seriously.
Luke reluctantly pulled back from the Shaman and got a distant look in his eyes.
"I can see the light of your spirit... it's almost burning... it's beautiful." Luke said distantly.
"I can see your spirit too. A chosen one who has been corrupted by evil has a distinct aura. All those things you went through were to try and corrupt you. But you never *chose* to follow that path. Your spirit is pure and the choice is still yours." The Shaman said seriously.
"So I don't have to be evil and cause bad things to happen?" Luke asked uncertainly.
"No. Not unless that is what you choose to do. All those things your parents did meant nothing if you didn't make that choice." The Shaman said as he looked Luke in the eyes.
"But I was able to wither plants and make people sick just by talking to them and touching them." Luke said in confusion.
"Those are the gifts that you carry with you. The choice is yours if you make a plant wither or grow big and strong. You can make the healthy become sick or help the sick become healthy. I believe that we were brought together in this place and time so you could have your choice clearly defined."
Mouse rushed into the room and thrust an apple toward the Shaman.
"Luke, this apple is a symbol of your choice. By accepting it, you are accepting the responsibility of your gifts. No matter which path you take in the future, it will be with the knowledge that when you accepted the apple, you stopped denying what you truly are." The Shaman said seriously.
Luke looked up at Mouse holding the apple out to him, then turned and looked at the Shaman with question.
"If you refuse the apple, you can continue as you have been. Not speaking, not being a part of anything... who knows? Someday you might even find a way to be happy." The Shaman said in thought.
Luke looked at Mouse again and saw the true concern in his eyes.
Carefully, Luke accepted the apple and then took a big bite of it.
"Is Luke going to be okay now?" Mouse asked the Shaman hopefully.
"What do you say Luke? Are you going to be okay?" The Shaman asked him with a gentle smile.
Luke looked into Mouse's worried eyes and said, "Yeah, I'm going to be fine."
"Oh wow. That's so cool. I never heard Luke say that many words in a week before! Can you say something else or was that it? Trent is gonna be so jealous. Up to now even though he stuttered, he still talked more than you. Maybe Jerico can help Trent too... I mean after he fixes Arlo." Mouse rambled.
"From the sound of it, you may not get the chance to talk." The Shaman said with a teasing smile at Luke.
"I don't have that much to say anyway." Luke said with a smile at Mouse.
* * * * *
Simon moved his hand to the side of the bowl and gripped it, letting his fingers barely touch the water.
"I guess it's time for me to tell you about me. I couldn't tell anyone before but... I know you'll understand."
"I've never had a family. I don't know what my real name is or where I was born." Simon said in a distant voice as he looked out the window at the camp.
"My first memory is of some woman carrying me. I don't know who she was, but I'm pretty sure she was smuggling drugs across the border. All I remember is how afraid she was as she ran with me. I remember being scared as she ran and ran."
"That's how it was for me when I was a kid. They used me to smuggle drugs and things across the border into the country. Most of the time I'd have a toy or something filled with drugs and I'd hold on to it while the border guards searched us. Other times... they put the drugs inside me." Simon finished in a pained voice as he clenched his eyes tightly shut.
"Up until I was about seven or eight, I was passed around to whoever needed me for hauling drugs, then after I hauled this really big load for a guy named Severin, he sold me to these porn guys for the movies... I was with them for about four years before the Clan rescued me."
"I know you never said anything about it, but I could see it in your eyes the first time we met that you know who I am and what I did. Hell, anyone whose ever signed on the Internet and even accidentally seen a kiddie porn site has probably seen at least one of my pictures."
"All that stuff is why I can't leave Camp Little Eagle. I can't go to the library with you or to the mall... it's just too dangerous. The CIA, FBI, ATF and Interpol are all trying to get me, not to mention that the drug smugglers and porno guys all want to get me first and shut me up... permanently." Simon said as a tear escaped his eye and dropped into the bowl of water.
"Don't worry about all of that. I'm here and I'm really happy. I never had a clue of what it would be like to be a normal kid. I'm still not sure what that means. But you're the one who has made everything possible."
"You take the time to talk to me and you really care about what I have to say. Since I met you I've made all kinds of friends and I finally have a real life. Even if I can't ever leave Camp Little Eagle, I'm happy and it was all worth it just because I got to know you."
Simon fell silent as he looked into the bowl of water, hoping that Arlo was understanding what he felt.
* * * * *
The Shaman walked into the common room carrying Luke. Mouse trailed a step behind him.
"I tried to call Dr. Richardson, but he's having an unscheduled session with a patient right now. John said that he can interrupt if it's an emergency." Mr. T said seriously.
"That's fine. I don't think it's an emergency, what do you think Luke?" The Shaman asked the boy in his arms.
"Nope. No emergency. I can talk to Dr. Dan tomorrow afternoon at our usual time." Luke said with a smile at Mr. T.
"You talked!" Mr. T said joyfully as he bolted up from his chair and pulled Luke from the Shaman's arms and into a hug.
"I brought him the apple that made him better." Mouse said proudly.
"You must have found the perfect apple." The Shaman said with a smile.
"That reminds me, Mrs. Birch from the cafeteria called about Mouse bursting in and scattering a case of apples all over her walk-in cooler. I told her that Mouse would be over to clean it up before dinner..." Mr. T said and looked at Mouse expectantly.
"Okay. I'll pick up the apples and apologize to Mrs. Birch for making a mess." Mouse said reluctantly.
"I'll help you. I mean, you made the mess so you could help me." Luke said with a smile as Mr. T sat him on the floor and released him from the hug.
"Yeah... it's weird hearing you talk. It seems funny." Mouse said in thought as he started walking toward the door.
"Yeah, for me too." Luke said with a smile as he followed.
"Call us if there's anything we can do to help Arlo." Mouse said seriously as he looked at the Shaman.
"I will." The Shaman said with a smile at the two friends walking out of the room.
* * * * *
"He just woke up." Devon said as he rushed into the common room.
The Shaman hurried to follow Devon back to the bedroom where Arlo's body was resting on a bed.
Chief Tecumseh was sitting in the chair by the bed, watching silently.
The Shaman moved to the other side of the bed and looked into the wide, terrified eyes.
"It's okay. You're safe." Jerico said gently as he reached out to stroked the boy's cheek.
The boy flinched away in terror and scooted up in the bed, pulling himself into a ball.
"I promise that I'll do whatever I can to help you." The Shaman said gently as he sat on the edge of the bed and put his arms around the huddled boy.
Chief Tecumseh looked at the young Shaman with question. By all he knew, by all he had ever heard, a fox spirit needed to be defeated and cast out where it could cause no more harm.
The boy hesitantly put his arms around the Shaman to return the hug.
"That's right. You're safe." Jerico said peacefully.
Between one moment and the next the tentative hug turned into desperate clutching as the boy's body was wracked with sobs.
"I know, I know. That's all over now. You're here and you're loved." The Shaman said with pain in his voice.
"You *love* the demon that possessed one of my students?" Chief Tecumseh asked in a voice between disbelief and anger.
"I try to love all the children of the Great Spirit. This isn't a fox spirit or a demon, he's a lost and frightened child who, for whatever reason, has become separated from his body." The Shaman said in a gentle voice as he held the child to his chest.
"But how could the dislocated spirit of a child be powerful enough to overcome the eagle spirits?" Chief Tecumseh asked in challenge.
"He didn't. He was able to pass through the wards on this camp because he is a child in need. All children in need are welcomed here and will be protected by the eagle spirits."
"What about Arlo? Why wasn't he protected?" Devon challenged.
The Shaman considered the question before answering, "Sometimes it takes pain and loss to make us realize that something is wrong and needs to be changed."
Devon shook his head as tears of frustration filled his eyes and asked in a shaking voice, "Why can't you just answer the question? Arlo is one of the nicest people I've ever met, why did this happen to him?"
The Shaman shifted the boy in his arms and renewed his hug before saying, "You want an answer? I'll give you one. Arlo was going to be possessed sooner or later. He's a high level spirit medium without any training at all. I think that this little guy in my arms was sent here to make us aware of the problem before something possesses Arlo that we can't deal with."
Chief Tecumseh looked at the young Shaman cautiously before asking, "What do you intend to do with the spirit that inhabits Arlo's body now?"
The Shaman hugged the boy in his arms a little tighter as he said, "I don't know. I only hope the Great Spirit will provide a way that he can survive."
"What do you mean you don't know?" Uri asked carefully.
"This little guy was able to take over Arlo's body, but he can't stay. Even now I can feel him getting weaker. If I can't find a way to preserve him, his spirit will dissipate. He won't move on to an afterlife, he'll simply... stop being." The Shaman said sadly.
"What about the bowl of water?" Devon asked cautiously.
"It wouldn't help him. His soul would probably dissipate even faster. This little guy is... incomplete. He doesn't have consciousness or any real memory. He's a lost little boy that's scared and wanting very badly just to be loved." Jerico said then gave the boy in his arms another squeeze.
"What about Arlo's soul?" Chief Tecumseh asked quietly, finally beginning to understand.
"Arlo's soul is complete. His consciousness and memory, everything that makes a soul alive is with him. When I put him back in his body, he'll just feel like he had a very long, very strange dream." The Shaman said seriously.
"So what can we do now?" Devon asked as he looked at the boy clutched tightly to the Shaman's chest.
The Shaman looked up with tears in his eyes as he said, "Pray. Because if I can't find something to help him before morning, this little guy is going to be lost forever..."