Endless Summer Book 1 Act 1 Chapter 6: The World Has a Habit of Crushing You (Choices)

A/N: It’s been awhile, but I’m back with the next chapter of Endless Summer from Pixelberry’s Choices. In this one, Sean wants to investigate the island while Jake just wants to relax. Will Jasmine go with Sean or Jake?

Hey everyone, I’m back! Managed to survive smoke and a sabertooth tiger and, let me tell you, my lungs felt like they were on fire! My legs burned from having to run all the way from the seaside airstrip, trying to keep up with Estela while also trying to catch my breath. Estela told me to come on. The last of our group made it past the gated fence at the resort entrance. Estela, Sean, and Jake heaved the heavy gate closed and backed away. Thirteen pairs of eyes watched the forest in a tense, silent hope that the sabertooth did not follow. Grace was silent and so was Diego. Estela said that she thinks we’re clear. Everyone breathed out an exhausted sigh of relief. Raj was trying to catch his breath, claiming that it was enough exercise for the rest of his life. Lila asked Estela where she was going. I looked up to see Estela slipping her small frame through the fence’s bars. Estela said that she got us back to the resort alive and that we were welcome but now she’s got things to do.

She saves our lives and then blows us off. I don’t know what to think.

I told Estela to be careful. She met my eyes and gave me a nod of respect as she told me that she would. Then she told me stay here because it’s safe at the resort. With that, she vanished into the rainforest like she was a ghost. Raj said that Estela gave her the creeps but, at the same time, he really wanted to be her friend and asked if that was weird. Craig claimed that it was a little weird. If that’s the case, then Raj is every bit as weird as me. I suddenly felt a wave of exhaustion and emotion crash over me. I doubled over, hands on my knees, and tried to catch my breath. Sean asked me if I was all right. I told Sean that I’m fine, I just need to forget. Sean asked if I really said that I needed to forget. I said that I just needed to push it all out of my mind. Jake claimed that I got that right and I should take it from him. He told me that, when you spend your whole life seeing crazy things, you learn to keep it all out. I closed my eyes and took all the things I’ve seen… the tiger stalking me… the plane’s gas tank catching fire… and forced all of it from my mind, as if it was a bad dream. Instantly, my breath returned to me and I felt almost… cheery. I said that it was better. Jake asked me if I wanted to know what’d be EVEN better. Then he headed through the automatic lobby doors. Curious, we all followed.

Inside, Jake reached behind a small bar in the lobby lounge and snatched a bottle of spiced rum. Then he asked us who could use a drink right now. Diego said that it would be him. Zahra seconded that notion. Grace asked Jake to please not and Sean agreed that this wasn’t the time for that. Jake remarked that he was pretty sure that alcohol was INVENTED for times like this. Raj asked if we were going to talk about what just happened. Diego asked Raj if he meant the part where our plane decided to celebrate Fourth of July with some fireworks, or the part where Fantastic Mr. Fox over there went full Elsa on a saber-toothed tiger. The fox only gave a confused noise and, seriously, I need to find a name for that adorable fox. Lila asked if we could all just take a deep breath and calm down. She claimed that there was no sense getting upset over a little freak accident. Freak accident, seriously? Jake practically slammed the bottle down, the sound echoing in the lobby. He insisted that it wasn’t an accident and I am 100% with him on this! Michelle asked Jake how exactly he would know that. Jake reached in his pocket and slammed a small metal cylinder on the bar. It was the padlock I found! Jake explained that I found that at the hangar and risked my life to get it! Then he said that someone unlocked the doors, someone went in there and tampered with his plane!

Jake’s right, it was sabotage.

Jake looked pointedly at Lila and asked if any lightbulbs went off. Lila asked if Jake was seriously talking about himself. Jake asked Lila who had a key to the hangar besides him. Lila asked how she would know and insisted that she’s just a tour guide! Quinn told us to hang on a second and we could say, for argument’s sake, someone DID intentionally destroy Jake’s plane. Quinn then asked why, as in why would anyone do that. I said that it was obvious, to keep us here and, as for who, I think it was someone else on the island. Zahra asked me who exactly it was. I admitted that I don’t know, it’s a big island and who knows who could be lurking out there, watching us? Grace insisted that there’s no sign that that’s even true. Then said that, with what we know, isn’t it more likely that whoever destroyed the plane was… one of us? I said that it might be true but, right now, I’m not willing to tear our group apart by making accusations… not until we have more facts.

And I’m standing by that.

I pointed out that I’ve seen Monsters are due on Maple Street and I know how that ends. Grace smiled and said that I was right, that she was with me. Sean agreed that it was a good call because distrusting each other is the last thing we need right now. Then he claimed that what matters is that we lost our ride. According to Sean, we need to focus on finding another way off the island. Craig interrupted saying that he knows we all think of him as the quiet guy and I wonder if he’s talking about another Craig. Zahra pointed that out by saying what I was thinking, literally no one has ever thought that. Craig ignored Zahra and said that he’s got something to say. He insisted that what we call an accident or sabotage, he calls a GD miracle! Craig accused us of trying to bail on a legit paradise but insisted that we just got a second chance to make the most of our luck! Sean told Craig that this isn’t lucky, this is insanely unlucky! Craig argued that it’s because Sean’s choosing to see it like that! Then Craig told Sean that they’ve been playing together a long time and he’s had his back since day one, since they were freshman roommates, on and off the field. Craig said that he knows Sean’s the team captain but, right now, he needs to hear him out. Sean insisted that he does hear Craig but this is crazy and we can’t risk it. Sean pointed out that he and Craig have so much of their lives ahead of them, senior season… the draft… going pro together like they always talked about. Then Sean asked Craig if he remembered. Craig stayed silent until he remembered that of course he does. Sean smiled, claiming that, one day, he and Craig will buy this whole d*mn island and party there all summer long. Craig pulled away from Sean, shaking his head. Craig said that it was just dreams, that Sean was talking about the future when all we ever really got is right now. I ended up agreeing with Craig, the present matters more and now is the only guarantee. Craig smiled, saying that I get it. Sean asked if I was really saying that I want to stay on this island. I clarified that I was saying that we should make the most out of what we know, what we have, and not risk what we’ve got just to gamble on a future that might not happen. Jake said “Cheers to that!” Michelle remarked that it was great and all, but what the h*ll are we supposed to do now? Sean pointed out that Jake’s plane couldn’t have been the only way out and that there had to be other vehicles SOMEWHERE because it’s a big island. Jurassic Park was a big island and it only had two jeeps. Grace asked Sean if he really wanted to leave the resort. She pointed out that even Estela told us we should stay put and asked if we should wait for someone to come get us. Sean said that he wasn’t going to lie. He claimed that, for now, we’re safer at The Celestial… but we don’t know how long that will last and we don’t know if anyone’s coming. Sean said that we should assume we’re on our own and find our own way out.

He’s got a point, but no plan.

Jake pointed out that Sean wouldn’t even know where to start looking, meanwhile Tony The Tiger and god knows what else is out there is hungry for a snack. I reminded Jake that he was the one who wanted to leave La Huerta first. Jake explained that it was when we had a sure way out. Then told me that I might’ve noticed, things changed a little back there. Jake insisted that we sit tight and stick to the resort because at least we’re fenced in here. I said that we either leave now and search the island for a way out, or we stay put where it’s safe and hope that someone comes for us. I suggested that we settle it with a vote that way we all have equal input. Aleister remarked that democracy is a deeply flawed system subject to the whims of the mob but, in this circumstance, he supposed that was fair. Michelle actually agreed with me, saying that we should vote and she’s definitely having her say in this. Sean said that he’ll start and voted that we leave now. Michelle voted for that too, saying that she just wanted to get out of here. Jake insisted that we stay put and not get ourselves killed. Lila seconded that, saying that help will be here any moment now. Quinn pointed out that we’ve been here over a day now and she doesn’t think anyone’s coming back. So she voted that we leave now. Zahra agreed, saying that she never wanted to come on this stupid trip to begin with. Jake asked Aleister, or Malfoy as he calls him, what his vote was. Aleister remarked that as much as he despises taking Jacob’s side (emphasizing his name) he also casted his vote to stay put. Grace said that she does too, claiming that she didn’t want to be wandering in the rainforest right now. Raj also casted his vote for stay put, pointing out that this place has a spa. Sean then asked Craig for his vote. Craig held Sean’s hopeful gaze for a long moment and said that he wanted to stay here. Quinn summed it up by pointing out that the vote is still four for “leave now,” six for “stay put.” She said that seven makes a majority and pointed out that it’s my turn.

She definitely won’t like my vote.

I’m not going to lie, I had to really think about this one. On one hand, this place is dangerous and we need to get out of here now instead of assuming someone’s coming for us. Plus I had to get back to see my mom, imagining how worried she must’ve been if she ever heard news about the plane crash. On the other hand, could we really go roaming this unknown island with no weapons and no GPS? What if we get cornered by one of those prehistoric carnivores? Plus there’s no guarantee we’ll find a way off this island and, as Grace pointed out, Estela did tell us to stay put. Yet, at the same time, I couldn’t help but feel like I was trying to justify the real truth. That the island was calling me, begging me to stay. There was this horrible selfish part of me that wanted to stay here forever! I looked from Sean to Jake and took a deep breath. Then I voted to stay put. Sean gave a disappointed ah while Jake pointed out that it was a majority and said that he knew I would be smart about this. Craig bragged about how “stay” won and told everyone else to suck it. I told Diego that he’s the only one who didn’t get to vote. Diego said that it was okay but I asked him what he was going to vote for. Diego insisted that it doesn’t matter now. Jake asked if we were done here and said that the hammock out back was calling his name. Sean insisted that, even though we’re staying put, that doesn’t mean we should just sit around and hope that help shows up. He pointed out that we don’t even know if anyone back home knows what happened, and we’re not expected back for a week. Aleister agreed with Sean and said that we must search the resort for a way to contact the mainland and request help. Aleister pointed out that, without cell service or internet here, it’s our only option. All right, I’ll admit, that was one of the cons of staying here but it wasn’t enough to make me go against the island’s call. Jake told Aleister to go ahead, there was more power to him and he wasn’t going to stop him. Sean reminded Jake that we’re all in this together. Jake remarked that sometimes Sean sounds like his old sergeant… and he hated that guy. Jake walked off. After a long look at Sean, Craig followed after him. I asked Sean if he was okay. Sean insisted that he’s fine and said that the rest of us should get searching because, the sooner we call for help, the quicker we get ourselves out of here.

After a half-hour, I searched rooms with Diego, Aleister, and Grace. The little fox trotted after us, staying close. Diego said that this was a picturesque Caribbean island… with absolutely no internet and remarked that he couldn’t tell if we were in heaven or hell. I said that it was hell because I can’t post about our adventures, but heaven because that means that I have enough time to look over my drafts before posting. Diego claimed that, if it turns out to be purgatory, he’s going to be p*ssed. The fox sneezed and a small flurry of snow shook out of his fur. Aleister asked what that “thing” was. Grace said that, whatever he is, he’s not going anywhere and suggested that we give him a name. It was something I volunteered for, since I already had a name in mind. Even though Diego suggested Iceman before I could give my suggestion. Grace then suggested Aaron Brrr! Aleister snidely remarked that we’re all wrong and suggested that the fox’s name be Kelvin. Grace said it was like absolute zero and told Aleister that it was a good idea. Aleister got momentarily speechless and thanked Grace. I thanked everyone for their suggestions but decided to go with Todd, after the fox from one of my favorite childhood movies, The Fox and the Hound. I could tell by the look on Todd’s face that he loved it, which Grace pointed out. Just then, I heard laughter from outside. I went to the window overlooking the pool and spotted Jake and some others relaxing by the hot tub. Jake told Quinn that they said two swigs, then pass the rum. Then he asked her if rules meant nothing to her. Quinn hiccuped and apologized. Craig told her not to worry because he brought more. Raj bragged about how he just came upon the greatest discovery in human history, pool noodles. Diego said that they’re living right. I admitted that it sure does look nice out there. Sean called out to us and I turned around to see Sean with Zahra and Lila. I asked Sean if he had any luck. Sean said that they didn’t have any luck yet, but they found the elevator to the very top floor. Lila explained that it’s Everett Rourke’s office, the owner of the resort. She said that we’re not exactly allowed in there, but— Zahra interrupted, saying that if anyone has some kind of high-tech satellite phone, it’d be the cartoonishly rich dude.

Can’t argue with that logic.

Hopefully Zahra means cartoonishly rich as in Lex Luthor rather than Scrooge McDuck. Sean asked if we were coming. I looked back and forth between Jake and Sean and chose to investigate with Sean. Don’t get me wrong, I’d love to party with Jake but I want to find out more about this island. Why there are creatures I never heard of and creatures that were extinct before the human race was even born. Contact my mom and tell her that I’m okay and try to fight this island’s hold on me. Plus, what makes for a better blog entry? Going to a pool party or investigating the island’s secrets? Yeah, I’m going with the latter. So I told Sean that I was coming which Sean said was awesome. Lila said that we should get going and told us it was this way.

Me, Aleister and Grace followed but I noticed that Diego hesitated in the hall. He told me that it looked really fun out there and said that he’ll catch up with us later. I reminded Diego that this was serious and asked if he’s really going to goof off instead of helping us get a ride out of here? Diego said that he could really use a break right now and then awkwardly turned and headed the other way. Sean told me to forget it and said that we had work to do. I followed Sean, Lila and the others down the halls while Todd trotted to keep up. I told Todd that at least HE’S staying with me. Todd just gave me a smile and made a happy noise. Finally, we reached a set of gleaming silver doors set in the end of a hall. Lila said that this was it, the elevator up to Mr. Rourke’s office. She pressed the call button. The doors slid open and we stepped inside. On the inside of the elevator there were only two buttons: “Lobby”… and “Rourke.” You can bet that I pressed the latter which did nothing. I sighed and told everyone that it wasn’t working, not even lit up. Aleister explained that there’s a card slot there in the panel and we need a keycard to get up there. Zahra told everyone that we don’t, because we’ve got her. Before I realized what was happening, Zahra pried open the panel, exposing a mess of circuitry beneath. Then she asked who wired this amateur cr@p, getting straight to work fiddling with the electronics inside the elevator wall while the rest of us looked on, stunned! I wanted so badly to ask Zahra how she knew how to do that but, at the same time, I didn’t want her to think that I didn’t trust her. So I kept my mouth shut. The others followed my lead, and the only sound was Zahra’s tinkering. She thanked us all for shutting the h*ll up while she worked. Then remarked that we wouldn’t believe how much some people like hearing themselves talk. Sean asked Zahra if she was talking about Craig. Zahra remarked that we have a winner, something that got a giggle from me. After a few minutes, she said that she was done. I heard a hum of electricity, and the elevator button lit up. I told Zahra that it was a nice job and said that there was so much I didn’t know about her. Zahra reminded me that there’s still much more and I should keep my pants on. Aleister admitted that he was mildly impressed and he wasn’t aware of Zahra’s skillset. Then he told Zahra to rewire the automatic doors to prevent any unknown outsiders from entering without our knowing. Sean agreed that it was a solid idea and asked Zahra if she could get on that.

Zahra didn’t like that.

Zahra held a hand up and said she was going to stop him right there. She told Sean that nobody tells her what to do. Zahra walked out of the elevator and down the hall. Lila asked Zahra where she was going. Zahra told us that she’s switching teams. Sean started after her, but reconsidered and said that he’s not going to push his luck. Then he punched the elevator button, sealing the doors shut. We were whisked up the length of the main resort tower in a smooth, gentle ascent. After a loud ding, the car stopped at the top of the floor and the doors glided open.

Sean said that it was one h*ll of a view as we all stepped out into the sprawling, sparsely furnished office. My footsteps echoed. Looking down, I could see my pristine reflection in the polished marble floor. Aleister said that this was Everett Rourke’s office. Lila lightly grazed the glass desk with her fingertips, squealing that she couldn’t believe that she was finally here and then told herself to contain herself. Meanwhile, I can’t believe that I’m investigating with a Rourke fangirl. Other than the fancy design, there was nothing in the entire office except a plain glass desk, a single bronze statue, and a few marble columns. No plants, no artwork, no anything. I said that the room was barren, pointing out that there’s nothing here and it must be so lonely. Aleister claimed that he’s absolutely certain it was. Grace pointed out that there was no computer, no phone, it was a dead end. I stepped close to one of the floor-to-ceiling windows. Todd stayed close beside me, bonking his tiny nose against the glass. Peering down twenty-five stories, I saw my classmates at play on the beach. Sean asked where the h*ll they found those. Those referring to the speeding jet skis that Jake and Zahra used to carve arcs of foaming white wake in the crystal blue water. Sean thanked me for coming along. I told him that of course I would. Sean said that he was serious, that he knew how easy it was to want to take a day off, to let someone else pick up the slack for once but, sometimes, you have a responsibility to other people to do your share… to put in your time. Sean thanked me again and said that he meant it. I told Sean that he’s got it and turned back to the window just in time to see Lila slipping something small into her back pocket. I couldn’t believe what I saw and immediately asked Lila what she just hid from us! Lila tried to play dumb and Sean asked what was happening. I explained to Sean that Lila just pocketed something without telling anyone and I want to know what it was! Lila insisted that she didn’t find anything but I rightfully accused her of lying. Grace suggested that Lila was telling the truth but I insisted that I know what I saw! I met Sean’s gaze and asked if he trusted me. Sean thought about it and nodded. He told Lila that we needed to see what was in her pockets. Lila insisted that there’s nothing but Sean reached out his hand, expectant. Lila groaned and pulled something small and silver out of her back pocket. I couldn’t believe that I was looking at a cufflink. You read that right, Lila was trying to hide a cufflink from us. She explained that it’s one of Mr. Rourke’s cufflinks and guessed that he must’ve dropped it.

All that over a cufflink?

Sean and I examined it. He said that there was a little engraving in the face, three ‘S’s? I suggested that they might be snakes. Lila insisted that she just wanted to return it to Mr. Rourke when we found him. Lila thought that he’d be happy to get it back, maybe happy enough to give her a promotion. I still can’t believe that all this fuss was over a cufflink. Lila reached to take it back but I pocketed the cufflink myself and told Lila that I’ll be sure that she’s the one to give it to him. Lila grunted and stomped her foot, pouting and gave a childish “Fine. Whatever.” Yeah, real mature Lila. Aleister wandered around, frustrated. He kicked hard at the bronze statue and then yelled about how this was absurd and it was like the man was taunting us. Then he asked how there was nothing here? Great, two babies in two minute. I told that condescending a**hole that I guess he wasn’t clever enough to solve this. Aleister asked me if that was so and insisted that I vastly underestimated him. I remarked that we’ll see, won’t we? Aleister took the challenge and said that we most certainly shall. Then he talked about how, if he was an overrated and highly fortunate business simpleton ensconced in an ivory tower, where would he keep his phone? Just as Aleister said that, he rested his hands on Rourke’s desk, which immediately flashed with light! At first, I was shocked and wanted to know what in the world was going on! Grace figured out that the glass was a display and the desk itself is the computer! Lila asked Aleister how he turned that on. Aleister admitted that he hadn’t the faintest idea. Sean congratulated Aleister on his good work and asked if he saw any way to call for help. Sean admitted that he’d honestly settle for an email right now. Aleister told us that the computer appears to require a password. I said that it looks like it’s twelve letters long. Sean suggested that I try something but what? Unlike Zahra, I’m not a master hacker but I typed in something. I remember “Zodiac” was the password to the first computer and typed that in with “sign” after “zodiac,” but then realized that I only had ten letters. So I ended the password with “ed” just to make twelve letters and, just as I expected, it was a no go. Hey, there were no clues and I don’t know what all Rourke’s into. The display buzzed and flashed red. I said it was invalid but it was worth a shot. Sean insisted that we made progress and we need to keep looking around the premises. He claimed that maybe we’ll find the password… or maybe another way to contact home so we should keep moving. As the others headed for the elevator, I paused by the window, gazing down once more at the others swimming along the shore far below. Grace asked if I was coming. I said that I’ll catch up. Sean told me to meet them downstairs… unless I’m just going to go shred some waves with Jake and the others. I heard an almost imperceptibly soft hiss coming from behind me. I paused and turned around to see that a solid marble block rose out of the floor! I drew closer and realized it was a paper shredder! I told Sean that I think the office heard him when he said the word shred! Only to look back at the elevator to see that the others were already gone. I just gave a huh and took a closer look at the shredder. Beneath the machine was a bin of cross-cut documents, completely destroyed but just before the blades was a small stack of folders. Folders marked confidential!

Folders on us?! I’m seeing it but I still can’t believe it!

My heart stopped as I saw that clipped to the top folder was a photo of Sean! I checked the others and saw photos of Grace, Raj and Estela and asked aloud if we were being watched! If that was the case, what did Rourke have on my classmates… and what would I think when I found out? I hesitated before deciding to read the reports. I know, I’m a snoop but I had to know what the files said. So I pulled the dossier folders out of the shredder and flipped them open to the yellowed reports inside. I started with Grace’s report which had her name, birthday, clearance, birthplace, background, psychological profile and threat assessment. Apparently, she’s the daughter of a big shot named Blaire Hall and matched her brilliance in every way because she must and anything less is not an option. Not just that, but the family pressure took their toll on her enough for her to get a criminal record for lashing out? Poor Grace, I had no idea! It was enough to give her a threat assessment of 6 and a cautionary note that her actions could be unpredictable. Next I read Sean’s profile, which said that he was the son of a famous QB whose career got cut short due to head injuries. Not just that, but Sean’s father lost his fortune in a series of bad investments and the family’s hopes rode on Sean! Apparently, Sean is courageous, resilient, a born leader and already a natural hero. Which, in all honesty, I’ve known that since I met him. Sean also has too much riding on his success to rock the boat and he only got a threat assessment of four. So sweet Grace is more dangerous than our QB. Next I read Raj’s which just said that he was a business major who spent most of his time getting high with an IQ of 178. Wait a minute, 178?! Raj is either hiding his intelligence or he’s unaware of it. Anyway, it said that his role remained uncertain and they classified him as a non-threat as long as he didn’t throw a party. I also learned that there was an incident at Hartfield called the Sigma Chi incident. Anyway, his threat assessment is one, which I’m not shocked about at all. Last but not least, I looked at Estela’s and so much of it was blacked out! It didn’t tell me her first and middle name and all I learned was that she vanished for years at a time and last surfaced in a military coup! She will also stop at nothing to do… something that was clearly blacked out! However, she was exceptionally determined, with the skills to pull off her goal thanks to her ex-mentor’s untimely demise. Who her mentor was, I’ll never know. It all ended with the threat assessment of Do Not Approach! If she was dangerous, then why would she save me? Every report had one thing in common, a red stamp that was supposed to be some sort of sign. I stopped reading and closed the dossiers trying to digest everything I just read. I said that I should talk to them about this, but in private. Folding and pocketing the dossiers, I headed for the elevator. It whisked me back down to the lobby level.

I caught up to Sean and the others outside as they scoured the premises for other facilities. Sean asked me if I found anything in Rourke’s office. Believe me, I wanted to tell him but I felt that it shouldn’t be brought up in front of everyone like this. So I lied and said that I found nothing interesting. Together, we searched through more rooms on the lobby level. Circling the building, we came around a bed only to run straight into Jake and the beach crew. I said his name without thinking and felt the tension ratchet up as everyone came to a stop, the two groups blocking each other’s path. Jake told us to excuse them. But Sean just snorted and shook his head. Jake demanded to know if Sean had something to say to him. Sean said that he tries to save his breath for people he respects. Everyone froze, including me! Jake remarked that he doesn’t know how he’ll sleep at night without Sean’s respect. Sean stepped toward Jake, summoning his impressive height. Immediately, I squeezed in between them, pushing them apart. I’m still a little shook up by the dossiers, I really don’t want to deal with this macho BS right now. I even asked them what they were doing. Jake insisted that he wasn’t going to let this guy guilt me and everyone else into following him just to soothe his ego. Sean insisted that Jake was the one with the ego, because he was only thinking about himself and arguing started to erupt on both sides! Oh dear God, this is the last thing we need right now! Michelle told Sean’s group to butt out of their business! Grace scolded Jake’s group, claiming that they could have at least helped! Craig sarcastically asked if we managed to call for help? Then insisted that, since we didn’t, then they helped out as much as we did! Aleister remarked that he’s heard quite enough out of the lowest common denominator! Craig admitted that he doesn’t know what that means and angrily reminded Aleister that he’s bad at math! Frustration was bubbling up inside of me and I was about to scream at all of them to shut up until Diego walked up to me with a pleading look in his eyes. One that begged me not to yell. I kept myself in check… for him. Then Diego said that this was getting bad and asked me what we should do. I felt helpless, watching the two groups tear each other apart and admitted that I have no idea. Lila begged everyone to stop fighting, saying that we all had to consider our actions. She got interrupted by Sean who accused Jake of quitting on life to drink himself stupid in a beach hammock in Central America, but Sean thought that Jake was ex-military and that he could count on him to get us through this. Jake insisted that they didn’t pay him nearly enough and asked Sean if he was a little too old for a babysitter. Then Jake said that he thought Sean was the leader around here anyway, and called him Steve Rogers. Jake shoved his way past Sean, glancing his shoulder. Sean only scoffed and said that it was just more cute nicknames. Then Sean told Jake to do whatever he wants. Sean claimed that Jake might not have anything to go home to, but the rest of us still have a future to— Without warning, Jake wheeled around and slugged Sean in the mouth! I called out to Jake disapprovingly! Jake remarked that now Sean’s actually got something to complain about! Sean staggered back… but not by much. He rubbed his jaw thoughtfully. Then Sean brushed it off by saying that he figured a tough guy like Jake would hit harder. Sean lunged at Jake, connecting a solid hook into his jaw! Everyone around me descended into a cacophony of shouting! Raj and Craig pulled Sean and Jake apart, wresting them back! Craig told them to take it easy. Raj cried about how he couldn’t get a hold of Jake and asked how Jake got so feisty! The two groups separated, retreating all the while trying to get the last word in. Aleister sarcastically wished them luck ever getting off the island without lifting a finger. Michelle said that she’d rather be stuck here forever than owe anything to people like him! Finally, there was silence. The only people left outside were me and Diego who just gave a sarcastic, “that went well.” At the horizon, the sun was beginning to set. The sky cooled to blue, as the rainforest fell into darkness. In the distance, Mount Atropo breathed dark smoke as strange noises echoed among the trees. Unseen shadows rustled in the ferns. Suddenly, I felt deeply vulnerable, with nowhere to hide. Diego pointed out that we fenced ourselves in but, somehow, things got worse. I told Diego that, if we can’t find a way to work together… I don’t think we’re EVER getting out of here.

Live together, die alone.

It’s like they say on Lost, live together, die alone. Now, this post will have to die as I try to figure out how to make everyone live together.

A/N: Looks like the contest winners are at each other’s throats. Can Jasmine and Diego convince them to work together? Find out in the next chapter of Endless Summer and, as always, feel free to give me your thoughts on this one. You can also request a recap in the comments, send it to my email, or my discord at suburbantimewaster#8733.



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