by Hydrargentium

Before Call-out could come up with a snappy response, Mu interrupted.

“Maybe we should get to the problem at hand?”

“Right, right,” Big Dave grinned. “You can see her from the back windows over here.”

Navigating a path through the rows of tables, occasionally pausing to knee a bench back in place underneath, he led them to the far corner. One wall was painted boards, and covered in art made from macaroni and twigs and a clamour of liberally applied water-based paints. The other held long windows full of small dusty panes.

Pulling a red bandana from his back pocket, Dave rubbed the dust from a couple of the window panes.

“If you look that way,” he suggested, pointing to a spot beyond the corner of the building, “you should be able to see her. By the tire swing.”

Leaning forward, Mu and Call-out looked out the cleaned-off panes. Through the curtain of rain, they could make out a large tree overhanging the waterfront, although it was only visible as a dark mass against the expanse of churning lake behind it.

Call-out shook his head. “I don’t see anyone-”

“Just wait for it,” Dave interrupted.

A few moments later, a bright flash illuminated the tree. On the ground nearby, on a normally beaten-down patch of dirt made muddy by the weather, a human figure could be seen, glowing brightly.

“She’s on fire.” Call-out looked dramatically at Mu. “In the rain.”

Mu shrugged.

“In this rain. This downpour to end all downpours.” He cleared his throat. “On. Fire.”

“Yes,” Mu replied. She was used to this.

Call-out looked more closely at the girl. He guessed seven or eight years old, judging by her size. She was lying on her belly in the mud, kicking her legs and slamming her fists into the muck. The flames surrounding her subsided somewhat, then flared up again.

He realized he could hear her screaming. Not in pain, but like a child throwing a tantrum — which, he also realized, was exactly what was going on.

He caught Mu’s eye. She seemed to have come to the same conclusion. Together, they turned to the camp director, who was mopping his forehead with his bandana.

“That,” said Call-out, “is one unhappy camper.”