Wednesday, November 16, 2016

Diary of a Struggling Student Entry Sixteen

July 30, 2016  3:30 am

Dear Diary,

I can hardly believe that I am going to return to that place.  I won’t be going alone as my dad and the ranger will be going with me.  I wish my dad would change his mind but, he won’t.  We have all split up and have our assignments.  The ranger, his name, by the way, is Tom, is getting the gear that we will need.  He has access to all the supplies needed to rescue hikers and climbers.  He knows to bring the basics as we won’t have much room.

My dad, his name is Joel, is getting basic supplies for the two of us.  He really knows how to pack only what is needed.

My job is to get the tube, pulleys, and ropes hooked up for our departure.  We have to get this done and get on the tube before dawn.  That is when the thing will come back for me.  I am not really afraid of it, but I do not want to take any chances on the outcome of a meeting.  I really wish my dad was not going.  I just don’t have a good feeling about this. 
I got everything set up and went back to the ranger station to see how the others were doing.  Both of them were there waiting for me.  I asked the ranger for some rope and he said he was bringing extra.  I told him I had to replace the rope for the pulley system as I was afraid it would not hold.  He told me that he would help me change it.  I told him that it was easy to change and to work with my dad and make sure we were not forgetting anything.  Then, they could meet me at the stream and we could leave.  I took the rope and ran down to the stream.

It was about 10 minutes later when my dad and the ranger arrived.  Everything was set to go.  We needed to wait for it to start to get light and then we would leave.  In the summer in Maine, it gets light very early.  I mean really early.  At 4 A.M., it started to get light.  We got the tube and each hooked a safety clip to the rope on the tube to make sure we didn’t fall off.  It was a tight fit, but we did it.

I told them what to expect and that they needed to hang on and not let go no matter what.  I told them it would happen fast.  We quickly put the tube in the water and got on.  The water immediately started to run faster.  Then, what happened was bad!

“Look,” my dad said.

The thing was at the tree with the pulleys.  He had a knife and was cutting the ropes.

“NO!” I shouted.

The thing looked and smiled and the rope was cut.  The tube was going very fast now.  The thing started running for the water and sort of dove or floated into the water.  We were now moving very quickly.  Suddenly, I could feel the grip on my leg.  There were four other legs there.  Why did he always choose mine?
“He has a hold of my leg,” I said.

“Can you kick him off?” asked my dad.


“I will get him off,” said my dad.

“No, don’t do that!  Just hang tight.  We are about to stop,” I said.

“What do you mean, he cut the rope.”

“You always said be prepared for the unexpected.”

At that very moment, the tube jerked and pulled back.  We all went up in the air and the thing that was holding on to me went flying over my head and off into the water a long way downstream.  That is when I saw my dad also going downstream.
“Dad!” I screamed.

Too late, he was gone and the water stopped.

“Get out of the water now!  Get out of the water now!” said a voice I recognized.

I couldn’t move.  My dad had just gone downstream and I didn’t know what to do.

“Get out of the water!”

Then, I felt arms around me and they dragged me out of the water.

“What have you done?  Are you crazy?  Why did you come back here?”

That is when Tom said, “Jason?”

The boy looked over at him and said, “Dad?”

I was right.  It was Tom’s son.  The two of them looked at each other but did not say anything else. 
“My dad has been taken by the water and I need to go get him.”

I started toward the water when Jason grabbed a hold of my arm.

“You know you can’t go near that water.”

“I have to get my dad.”

“Not without a plan.  I will help you but you have to first settle down and figure out just what has happened.”

“Jason, is that really you?” Tom asked.

“Yes it is really me.  But, what happened to you in the water.  You look so much older.”

“You look exactly like you did when you disappeared,” his dad said.

“But, why do you look so much older?” Jason asked.

“You have been gone for 12 years.”

Again, they both looked at each other and went silent.

“Are the other children with you?” I asked.

Jason looked at me with a very surprised expression.

“How do you know about the children?”

“Your dad told me the story of what happened the day you disappeared.  I figured it out.  I knew there was something in the woods around the camp but, I never realized it was kids.  I also couldn’t figure out why you didn’t want to leave.  We had a way out and you kept trying to fight it.  It was because there wasn’t enough room for the kids and you couldn’t leave them.  I also figured out that it wasn’t an accident that you fell off the tube.  You jumped off to get back to the kids.  You never intended to get back home with me.”

“Yes, the children are here and they are safe.”

“We need to figure out what happened to my dad.  Why did his safety clip not hold?”

“Why did we stop so abruptly?  The rope was cut by that thing.”

“I thought maybe something would go wrong so I used the rope you gave me and tied it to a bolder in the water and then to the tube.  I thought it would be best if no one knew the second rope was there.  That way if something did go wrong, we would have a second chance.”

“Well it worked!” said Tom.

“Not for my dad.”

I walked over to the tube and looked at the ropes.  They were not broken and my dad’s clip was not there.

Tom looked at the tube and said, “Your dad’s clip did not break.  He took it off.  He was not going to let that thing have his daughter.  I know exactly why he did it.”

“I have to get my dad back!”

“You will and I will help.  You brought my dad to me and I will get your dad back to you.”


Thursday, November 3, 2016

Diary of a Struggling Student Entry Fifteen

July 30, 2016   2:00 am

Dear Diary,

“That is my dad at the door,” I said.

The ranger went to the door and opened it.

“You need to help me.  My child is missing.” 

“Wait, hold on. Your child is here with me.”

Dad came in and he was not happy.
“What possessed you to do such a thing?  I told you to go to your tent and stay there.  Go back to your tent now and do not leave until I get there.  And, this time I mean do not leave!”

“But Dad, you don’t understand.”

“I understand plenty and you are to go now!  Where is the other ranger?”

“There is no other ranger,” I said.  “You need to let me explain.”

“I don’t need to let you do anything.  NOW GO!”

That is when the ranger intervened. 

“Sir, you do need to listen to what has happened.  There is no other ranger.  The person or thing that came to your site tonight was not a park ranger.  I am the only ranger at this site.”
“What do you mean or thing?  What is going on here?”

“Please just sit down and we will try to explain everything.”

“Yes, Dad we will explain it all if you will just listen.”

He glared at me and I thought he was going to say no.  But, he did sit down and then we told him everything.  I started with what had happened to me when I went to the water.  I told him how I met the ranger’s son and how together we planned a way for us, or rather me, to get back.  The ranger filled in the part about losing his son and the six kids. 

I could see doubt in my dad’s eyes and knew he was not believing any of it.  I handed him my diary and told him to read it.  He was reluctant at first but then read the diary.

When he finished he said, “Most of this is not your handwriting.  Who did you have write it?”

“I don’t know who wrote it but it is exactly what happened to me each day.”

“Each day?  You were gone approximately a half an hour and you expect me to believe all that happened to you in that time period?
He looked at the ranger and said, “You actually believe this to be true?”

“I do believe it is true because of what happened with my son.  I don’t know if the person who helped get your child back was my son but I have to hope he is okay and taking care of those other kids.”

“Okay, say it is true.  And for the record, I am not saying I buy any of this.  Where is the other ranger now?”

“We don’t know. But I do know that he or it will be back in the morning and will try to take your child away.”

“Let him come and see how far he gets!”

I could see my dad was mad and I think a little scared.  He didn’t want to believe what I was saying but I think he was starting to see it was a possibility.

“We need to get out of here and I mean now,” dad said.

“Dad, we can’t just leave.  We have to help my friend.  Those things know for sure that he is alive now and they are going to go after him.  That means the other kids are in danger as well.  No, I am going to stay and fix this.”

“How do you plan on fixing this?  Where is this friend of yours?  We will go get him and the kids and take them out of here as well.”

“They are not here in the campsite.  I will need to go back and get them.”


That came from both my dad and the ranger at the same time.  They both looked shocked and horrified.

“Absolutely not!” The ranger said.

“Forget it,” my dad said.

“I can’t forget it and we have to help them.  This will be a slaughter and it will be my fault.”

I looked right at my dad and said, “You always said to be faithful and true to your friends.  Well friends do not let other friends get hurt, especially when they risked their lives to save you.  No, I will go on my own and I will help my friend.”

“How?  By going back?  How do you plan on getting there?  Do you have a magic carpet that will take you?”

Dad was not happy and getting very upset again.

“No, I don’t have a magic carpet but I have an inner tube that will take me back.”

The ranger was the next to speak.  He said very softly, “Thank you for wanting to help my son but I am afraid I agree with your dad.  That is not going to happen.”

I tried to say something else but he put up his hand and stopped me.

“Let me finish.  I need you to take me to the tube and get the water to start running fast.  I will go on the tube to find my son or whoever is there.  I owe it to my son to try.  Will you please help me get to him?”

“You can’t go alone.  You don’t know where to look or even how to stop at the right spot.  If you get it wrong, the water will take you to those things and you won’t be able to help anyone.”

“After what you just said, do you really think I would ever agree to let you go?” said my dad.

“Together the ranger and I could make it.  I know what to do and I know exactly how to stop in the right place.  I have to do this.”

“Would you at least agree to listen to the plan?” I said.

I didn’t realize but everyone was standing.  We all sat down and I explained my plan including how we would tie the rope to the tree and use the locking pulley to stop the tube at the spot where we needed to get out of the water.  Dad was quick to ask, “Who is we?”

I told him the ranger needed to go because I was sure it was his son and I understood exactly why he needed to go.  It had been 12 years and he finally had some hope.

“How are you planning to get back?’ asked my dad.

“This time I will go prepared.  I will make sure we have what is needed to get back starting with a raft to carry all of us and a pulley system that will pull the weight.  We will each carry a backpack with items needed to return and nothing else.”

“So now the question is, do I have your permission to go?  It will be so much better if I know you are not angry or upset.  But, I do have to do this and it has to be done before dawn when that other thing comes back.”

My dad looked at both the ranger and me and finally said, “You can go on one condition and that is, that I go with you.”

“You can’t,” I said.  “It is too dangerous.  If something happened to you what would mom and the other kids do?”

“I don’t think that it would be a good idea,” said the ranger.  “We have no idea what is going to happen or if we can get back.”

My dad looked right at the ranger and said, “12 years ago you lost your son to whatever is going on out there.  I have no intention of losing my daughter.  Either I go or no one goes.”

Thursday, October 27, 2016

Diary of a Struggling Student Entry Fourteen

July 30, 2016  1 am

Dear Diary,

I knew what I had to do.  I could not let the ranger come back and endanger my family.  He actually had the nerve to come to the tent where my brothers and sisters were staying.  I needed to get him away from the family.

Luckily, the storm passed quickly.  My dad told me to stay in the tent but this was something I had to do.  I quietly got up, grabbed my knapsack and snuck out of the tent.  The moon was now out and I could actually see without a flashlight.  I knew where the ranger station was and headed that way.  I wasn’t sure what I would do when I got there, but I could not let him near my family again.

There was a light in the small house, or should I say ranger station?  I knocked on the door and waited as I heard the footsteps coming to answer my knock.  I didn’t know what I was going to say.  The door opened and to my surprise it was a different ranger.

“Yes, may I help you?” 

“I am here to talk with the other ranger.  Could you get him please?”

“Sorry, but I am the only ranger here.”

“When will the other one get back?”

“You misunderstand. I am the only ranger.  There is no other ranger at this site.”

I now knew for sure that what I was afraid of was actually true.  That thing had come back with me and was determined to take me back again to where I had been.

“Why do you think there is another ranger?”

“I am so sorry; this has been a terrible mistake.  I should never have bothered you.”

“Hold on a minute.  I can see that you are very upset and that something is really wrong.  Please tell me what it is and maybe I can help.”

“You can’t help.  You would never believe what I told you.  I really have to go.”

“I will believe what you tell me and I will help.”

“How can you say that?  You have no idea how crazy what I have to say is.”

“Tell me, does it have anything to do with the stream?”

He could tell by the look on my face that he was right!

“Please, come inside and sit down.  I will tell you why I will believe you.”

It looked like he had tears in his eyes.  Maybe it was the light but he really did look sad.

“Okay, but I can’t stay long as my parents do not know I left the campsite.”

We sat down and he looked at me and said, “I had a son about your age.  Twelve years ago we came here camping with some other families.  My son was the oldest and pretty responsible.  The other families had six kids altogether.  I offered my son’s services to watch the kids for a couple of hours each afternoon to give the adults some time to do other things.  On the third day, my son came to me and said there were some weird things happening down by the stream.  He said he did not feel comfortable taking the kids there anymore.
The stream is not that big and it isn’t really very deep.  Even the smallest kid could stand at the deepest point and walk out without a problem. 
I asked him what he meant by strange things.  He said that he tied the tube we gave him to a tree and the kids would all get on and float down a little ways.  He would then pull the rope and they would come back up and do it all over again.  He said that one time it felt like someone was holding on to the tube as he tried to pull it back.  He said another time the stream started to rush really hard and one of the kids started to go downstream.  He caught him and was able to drag him out of the water but thought he saw something in the water.  Finally, he said one time half of the tube disappeared and he really had to pull to get the tube back.  He said again, ‘I am not going to take the kids there anymore.  Something is wrong’. 
Well you can imagine what I said.  I told him that was the most ridiculous story he had ever told.  He was really good at making up stories, but this one was one of his best.  I also told him if he had come to me and said he did not want to watch the other kids anymore, I would have said ‘okay’ and figured out another plan.  But, since he created this lie, he would be watching the kids tomorrow and they would be going down to the stream.  He tried to explain it wasn’t a story but I knew better.  Finally, I said I would not listen to any more, and sent him to bed.

The next day he tried again to get out of it, but he finally did as I instructed and took the kids down to the stream to play for a couple of hours.
That was the last time I saw my boy.” (This time I could see his eyes were filled with tears. His voice was shaky as he told more.)  “When he didn’t come back with the kids, we went down to see what they were doing.  There was no sign of them, no sign of the tube and no one saw what happened to them. 
I looked for my boy for the rest of the summer and had no luck.  I quit my job and became a ranger. Eleven years ago I got them to let me be the ranger for Katahdin Stream Campground.  I have been here ever since.

So, yes I will believe you and I will do everything I can to help you.  But, you have to tell me what happened.”

I looked at the ranger and said, “I know where your son is.  I know where the other children are as well.”

I actually knew it was his son.  He had somehow gotten out of the water with the kids.  When he left the campsite, he was going to the kids.  He kept them out of sight in case I was a threat to them.  That is why he couldn’t leave.  He couldn’t take them with him and he wasn’t leaving them alone.  I think he planned all along to get me home by jumping back in the water and going back to the kids.

“What do you mean?  How can you possibly know where my son is?”

I then told him the whole story and pulled my diary out of my knapsack.  You need to read this.  I wrote some in the beginning and some at the end, but I did not write what is in-between.

He opened the diary and started to read.  A couple of pages in to the diary he gasped!

“This is my son’s handwriting! I would recognize it anywhere. He always kept a diary.”