very camp

He's lying in the hollow over there.

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Copyright © 2018, Michael M Wayman

It was a cold morning in spring as I climbed over Low Glaise Ridge and down to Glaise Lake. I could see young teenage girls and three pink tents and three pale blue tents. Not good. I hate pastel colours and it was rather early in the year to go camping, especially for young and inexperienced girls.

“Hello girls, I'm the duty park ranger today, my name is John Crown. Are you having any problems?”

“No, not really.”

“I have to warn you that there is a very dangerous and violent criminal on the loose. Stay away from him. He might want to steal your food or attack you. Will you all please look at this photo. Have you seen him?”

“Yes, yes. He's lying in the hollow over there.”

I walked over to the hollow and there he was – pretty lifeless.

“Didn't you try to help him?”

“No, no. He's dead, Betty killed him.”

Alarm bells rang in my head.

“Are there any adults in your group...”

“Yes, yes, two adults. My name is Carol, I'm the group leader, the dance master at the Sycamore Carnival Club in Bigtown. This group is registered with the park centre, we are keeping to our plan: four camp sites in eight days. No other problems so far.”

“This is Betty, she's the lead dancer in the Four Crosses Club. Betty and me are pretty small, but we know what we are doing.”

And I was s'posed to accept that this tiny woman had killed that huge man.

“Have you radioed the park centre?”

“No, no, no radios, no smart phones...”

I walked back up the ridge and contacted the park centre with my radio.

The police came very quickly in a helicopter, was it loud. They were all over the place – looking at this, that and the other.

“None of the girls saw or heard anything, they were all asleep. It happened at about three in the morning. I woke up, there were odd noises outside our tent. Suddenly the tent door opened and a big black shape entered the tent and jumped on me and held a knife to my throat. I was very frightened as you can imagine.”

“I managed to kick Betty with my foot. She woke up and stood up. Betty punched the man in the back, I heard his spine break. Betty grabbed his ankles and dragged him out of the tent. He did not struggle, I s'pose he was already dead, heart stopped. I looked at my watch.”

“Betty came back into the tent and wrapped herself around me. I was probably sobbing. Betty is wonderful.”

Betty was annoyed, very annoyed. They were s'posed to be having a very quiet, eight-day hike around the lakes, simple camp cooking, no dancing, no men, no contact with anyone in Bigtown, no Bigtown – just some quiet fun for six young, teenage girls and Carol and herself.

But no, some huge man decides in the middle of nowhere to enter the tent and attack Carol. Not much choice really, Betty quickly terminated him and removed him from the tent. She managed to calm Carol enough so that she could sleep. Betty did not sleep again that night, fortunately nobody else forced their way into the tent.

She was annoyed, very annoyed, Carol was very upset, the hike had been interrupted, that idiot ranger, and it got worse, a helicopter landed with a load of policemen. Why didn't they put the body in the ground or in the helicopter and leave us girls in peace.

She was angry.

“I'm Inspector Jangaron. Can I have your full attention, please.”

“Now, have I got this right? The six girls saw and heard nothing. The escaped prisoner entered the tent with the two adults and threatened one of them with a knife. The other adult, named Betty, killed the man with a single blow to the heart through his spine and then dumped the body into that hollow and went back to sleep.”

“The doctor says that such a blow from the back through the spine to damage the heart is not possible; however that is in his opinion the cause of death. Why don't you save a lot of time and tell me what really happened. I want you all to come back to the park centre for questioning; either you come quietly or in handcuffs.”

“We are on holiday, Inspector. We're staying on holiday. You're seen what Betty did to the prisoner – imagine what she could do to you guys and your pretty-looking helicopter...”

“Constable, arrest and cuff that one, the one they call Betty who never speaks.”

“Don't say that we didn't warn you! Phone your colleagues in Bigtown and ask about...”

The constable moved towards Betty and grabbed her arm. Betty did a backflip and the constable found himself face down on the ground. Betty grabbed the handcuffs from the constable, pulled them apart, broke both cuffs and threw them at the inspector.

The policemen made a dash for the copter and flew away.