Justice RIDES AGAIN!!!
Gerald sat on the edge of the road, eyes streaming and still chuckling. As the weirdly mean punk girl dragged the fungus blanketed deer and what little remained of Mr. Mushroom away, the tears began to slow and he noticed again that he was hot. His skin was oozing all over trying to cool off, and it was soaking through his sweatshirt now, staining it a pale yellowish tint. He stripped it off. The hell with it. If you can't be yourself in wonderland, he thought, who even are you?
No more hiding.
He rolled the sweatshirt up, careful not to lose his earbuds or the bit of Mr. Mushroom's head, and stuck the roll through the straps of his backpack. He stood up and stretched, then winced. His tailbone was definitely bruised. Not-Adam was still treading earth nearby, which made him feel a little unsteady on his feet. He took a knee to steady himself. It was odd watching the way he moved through the earth. Like the solid ground was fluid, but only in close contact with the boys skin. It seemed to swirl and eddy as his arms passed through it, but then instantly reverted to how it was. It made his eyes go funny watching the transition, so he stopped. At least the sense of standing on a waterbed had passed. He wondered if, like a swimmer in deep water without a ladder to climb, the boy would need help to get out of the ground, with nothing solid to hold on to. Would he need a towel after?
Gerald decided he would ask. Something like... need a hand? No... that was too casual. Maybe: Hello there, I was wondering if you require assistance? Absolutely not, what is wrong with you? You'd think you never talked to people before!
Ugh. Talking to people is hard. Okay, imagine if he was Adam. What would you say? Adam! What are you doing down there?! You're going to get your clothes all dirty and mom will be mad! This started him chuckling again and he decided to just go for it. What the hell right? Wonderland. Be yourself.
"Ahoy there! Need help to come ashore? Seems like you've lost your land legs, sailor!"
Immediately, he regretted saying this. What the hell was that? Some kind of stupid joke? He found himself chuckling still, so maybe so. But you shouldn't laugh at your own jokes, he had heard, so he forced himself to stop and look serious. Which felt dumb. But then again, the hell with that. This was camp. Be camp Gerald, not middle school Gerald!
Before the boy could give him an answer, he heard someone come up behind him.
"Hm. Looks like we'll all be dead in two days at this rate. That'll be fun" Then more quietly but still audible "Dibs on suicide."
Heh. Sounds like the sort of joke I contemplate, but never dare to say out loud, he thought. He half turned on his knee to size up the new arrival. Older. Taller. (Was he the youngest camper here?! Did mom even check the recommended ages for this camp?!) More than that though, there was a distinct sense about the boy that he wasn't joking at all. So, uh... that was terrifying. Fear loosened his tongue and he babbled whatever was rattling round his brain before he could stop himself.
"Um. Hi there! Gerald. I- uh. Oh!" he hooked his thumb back over his shoulder to indicate not-Adam. "So, one of our fellow campers fell into deep end of the earth and I was just about to try to get him back into the shallow end. Of the earth? Want to help?"
Stupid. Don't ever talk again, genius!