"So, relax, enjoy yourselves. There's nothing human here but you, if you need to take your collars off." Jay said sardonically, as he stepped out of nothing into a bright summer's day. LaVonna bounced up and down, clinging onto his hand as Salman joined them. "Nice briefing."
"Extremely helpful," Salman said with deep insincerity, "but, it is beautiful here."
Jay had to agree. The summer sun glittered off the lake waters as wavelets rippled in the light breeze. There were rowing boats tied to the short wooden pier, and a set of painted chalets faced the water. LaVonna pulled free of his hand, bending down to examine the grass with obvious delight. He pulled his jacket off, enjoying the warmth.
"Rowboats, a maintained pier, and painted chalets. Whatever got rid of the people here it was recent." Jay shifted weight uneasily, surveying the glorious sunlit woods behind the chalets with suspicion.
"Or this may merely be a place they send agents to relax," Salman said optimistically.
"Yeah, or they've got something they want nuked, disintegrated, and soul-drained."
"You are a cynic," Salman reproved and then laughed, raising a hand to his torc, "and probably correct."
"Anyone bring suntan lotion?" Jay joked. Salman shook his head, lifting the bag he had brought with him.
"Only clothes. We are in cabin twelve. Let us see what supplies we have be-ah!" Salman lunged, an instant ahead of Jay, scooping up LaVonna as she jumped up and ran towards the lake bank. She struggled, reaching out towards the water with both arms.
"Do you think she can swim?" Jay asked, and Salman grimaced, patting her head to try to distract her from her determined efforts to get to the lake.
"I think we had best teach her." He fell silent, and Jay did the same. How to teach someone who spoke no language at all? Giving up, Jay shrugged.
"I'll look for a shallow bit. She can learn to float first," he said. "You have the keys?" Awkwardly, Salman tried to fumble them out without letting go of the squirming ten-year-old, and throw them to Jay. He missed as she kicked out again, the keys rolling towards the water.
"Fornicating. Damnation," he cursed, wrapping both arms round the determined child. If she'd been wearing shoes those kicks would have hurt.
"You mean fucking hell," Jay muttered, edging carefully down the lakebank towards the keys.
"That is what I said." Salman grimaced, shrugging expressively. "The translators."
"The translators," Jay agreed, resigned. The devices were very good, but they had their limits. He had no idea at all what language LaVonna heard, or if she just got their untranslated speech.
Scooping the keys up, Jay scrambled back up to the level ground, wiping the muddy metal off on his jeans. He hurried up the path towards their two-week home-from-home, opening the yellow door to let Salman get LaVonna inside and hastily closing it before she could run back to the lake.
With the door closed, the girl stopped struggling and started looking round intrigued. It was a decent chalet, one large room with bunks and kitchen area and a smaller one off to the side. Whoever stocked the place had left in a hurry. The sheets were folded in a pile on top of bare mattresses, ready for them to make the beds. The kitchen stock was piled on the table.
"Let her roam?" Jay asked, glancing around the two rooms and rushing across to close a window.
"It seems safe." Salman agreed, putting her down with obvious relief. Immediately she scurried up the ladder to the top bunk, surefooted as a cat. As she peered down at them, beaming, they began to check the rest of the chalet. In the bedroom drawers, Jay found more clothes, and grinned.
"Nice. Swimsuits are poly-nylon. They won't dissolve if I-" Jay put a finger to his collar and Salman nodded from his examination of the kitchen side.
"Good. The food that is here is in airtight containers. So long as we are careful to reseal it, it shall also be preserved." He checked the taps. "Running water, and it is marked drinkable."
"Seems like a great place. I wonder why the people left?"
From the next room there was an ominous creak. Jay's hand flew to his collar. Salman did the same. Exchanging a quick glance, both of them walked towards the door to the next room. Carefully they peered round.
LaVonna grinned at them brilliantly from the low bed, the springs creaking as the bed flexed under her weight. Jay let out a sigh of relief, looking at Salman sheepishly as he lowered his hand. LaVonna jumped experimentally, giggled, and began to bounce. Peals of laughter rang out, along with the creaking of springs.
"It was inevitable," Salman said and Jay nodded.
"If there is a bed," Jay replied, with heavy gravitas, "little sisters will bounce on it."
They looked at each other and burst out laughing. Jay recovered first.
"We have the bunks. She takes the bed."
"Unless she has nightmares. And then she will have the bunks and we will be kicked out of bed entirely." Salman smiled, and Jay rubbed his forehead ruefully. They had both had experience of waking up with the girl curled on their pillow, or under their bed, or on their feet. Usually they woke up on the floor.
"Somehow we'll cope," he said dryly, and grinned. "This should be a great holiday. Where are we anyway?"
"I am unsure," the older teen said with a shrug, "but the pamphlet on the table said it was called Camp Crystal Lake."