The lights were on as I pushed the door open. All eyes were on me when I entered.
"Is it true?" Parker asked with eyes filled with tears.
"Yeah," I answered quietly as the graveness of the situation fully gripped me. "But don't worry, we're going to find her," I said, grabbing a stack of dry clothes before heading to the bathroom. I could hear the worried voices of the younger campers as I hurriedly stripped off my wet clothes. Shivers shook my body, making it hard to pull the dry clothes on. After my second layer was added, I finally began to feel some relief from the cold that had gripped me. I headed back to the main room to pull on warm socks as Amy burst through the door, looking like a drowned rat.
I couldn't help laughing briefly at the sight of her.
"Can you believe this?" she asked through chattering teeth.
"Which part?" I asked gravely.
"I know, right?" she said, heading to the bathroom.
The room was now silent as all the girls watched me, waiting for reassurance.
"We're going to find her," I
said firmly, trying to convince myself as much as them as I pulled on my rain slicker.
"It's raining though," said Tracey, one of the shyer girls.
"I know, which means she probably didn't go far," I answered, hoping I was right.
"Ready?" Amy asked, coming out of the bathroom and pulling on her own rain slicker.
"Yep, try not to worry," I told the girls as we headed out of the cabin and raced over the mud-slicked ground toward the mess hall.
The large room was busy with activity. Everyone crowded around one of the round tables that had a map spread out on it. "We're going to split up in teams and take the five different trails," Rick said, pointing to various spots on the map. "It's likely she stayed on familiar ground, but I still want us to search all the trails, including the advanced ones. Mason will team up with someone and take the Mountain Lion trail, while Travis and I will take the Black Bear trail. The easier trails will be divided up by the remaining teams. Amy I want you to stay behind in case Alyssa comes back. She knows you best," he added.
"What about me?" I asked.
Rick turned to me, but before he could answer, Mason answered for him. "You'll be with me," he said.
Rick started to argue, but Mason interrupted again. "Look, she doesn't know the trails at all and I'm your best guide. If we're partnering up, she should be with me."
"You better watch her like a hawk," Rick answered, giving Mason an odd look that was hard to read.
"Yes, sir," Mason said with just a touch of anger.
Without a doubt, the tension between them had something to do with me, but now wasn’t the time to deal with it, not with Lyssa out there somewhere.
Rick handed me a lightweight backpack. "Keep this on at all times," he ordered.
"What is it?" I asked, adjusting the straps on my shoulders so it would fit more comfortably.
"Emergency supplies in case anything happens."
"Oh, okay," I answered, feeling it was overkill. I wasn't the one lost in the forest.
I felt a little better once I saw everyone else shrugging on similar packs.
"Team leaders, grab a walkie-talkie from the chargers and let’s head out. We have a scared little girl to find," he said, pulling on his own pack.
He stopped in front of me before heading out the door. "Do not leave Mason's side, do you understand me?"
I nodded, feeling my emotions getting the better of me again at the concern in his voice.