A fresh face
"So you actually think this is really going to help? You take a child who tells you he's bi, and throw him for six weeks into a Christian fundamentalist camp to, and I quote "Prey the gay away" with a million and one other gay and bisexual teens. You actually think this is going to force me to become straight? You actually think I'm going to TALK to you people after this?!" 17-year-old Ryan sage complained as he sat in the back of his parents people carrier.
"Ryan, don't argue, this is for your own good" his mum turned around and replied
"My arse it is" he replied in a cross tone
"RYAN!" his dad barked, glaring at him in the rear-view mirror "Don't speak to your mother like that!"
"Ry, sweetie, we're just worried about you. God doesn't want you to be this way, you know that, right?" his mum put her hand on his knee as the car pulled off the main road, slowing down in what appeared to be a long drive way approaching a modern looking building
"It's not about what god wants mum, it's about what I want. It's my body and my life!"
"Doesn't look like much of a camp, does it? I thought Camps were out doors…in tents" his Dad, Harold said as he slowed the car to a stop by the front doors "This, by definition, is not a camp" he said, pulling the hand break on and looking at his wife, Debbie
"No, I told you already; the brochure said it USED to be a camp, that's where it gets the name 'Camp escape' from. The put the building up to accommodate more students" she replied
"Yeah, and administration, a chapel, stuff like that, Dad. Not that I makes me want to be here any more than I did in the first place" Ryan glared over the top of his glasses at his mum
"Ryan, for heaven sake, you are going to try this, you are going to go into it with an open mind and, more importantly, you will do as you are instructed" his mum replied "And don't you dare look at me like that. Now get out and get your suitcase from the boot" she said as his Dad turned off the engine
Ryan continued to glare for a moment, but powerless to do anything about it, he sighed rolled his eyes and unclipped his seatbelt "this is a stupid idea and you both know it" he complained, getting up, sliding the door open and hopping out before sliding it shut again. He stood there, looking up at the building.
Ryan was about average for his age. 5'8" tall with short, spiky blonde hair. He wore rectangular glasses which were starting to react to the abundant sunlight and darken. He had an oval shaped face and a small nose with a sprinkle of freckles dusted across it. Ryan could normally be found with a smile on his face, just not today.
He walked around to the back of their Vauxhall Zafira and placed his hand under the handle, feeling for the boot door release button. He pressed it and as the latch released with a mechanical "Clack" he pulled the boot door up, grabbing his suitcase and dragging it out.
"Excuse me young man!" an older voice came from behind him and he turned around "you must be Ryan, Correct?" He said, offering out his hand, which Ryan just looked at "aah, shy hmm? I'm sorry, I didn't get a look at your car number plate before you opened the boot"
Ryan just stared at him as the man pulled back his hand "BN 57 JTD" he replied. "And you would be?" he asked as his parents joined him
"My name is Father Hammond. I run the facility" he replied
Father Hammond was a little bit taller than Ryan. He was a fair side fatter and had a back beard which had gone grey over his chin. His hair was black but speckled with bits of grey. He didn't look like a priest. He just looked like a man in a shirt and tie, but since he ran the place, Ryan automatically hated him.
"Modern day England and you're still running facilities like this where parents can force their kids into trying to prey themselves straight. Forgive me if I don't drop to the floor and start worshipping the ground you are walking on" Ryan replied dryly
"Ryaaan!" his mother said warningly "Hello again Father. I'm Debbie and this is Harold" she said, pointing to her husband "we spoke on the phone earlier"
"Ah yes, Mister and Misses Sage. How nice to finally meet you" he said, offering his hand to Debbie, who shook it with delight, then to Harold who gripped it firmly and shook it once, nodding with a hum of approval. "would you like to follow me?" he said, turning around and walking back to the main building "did you have any trouble finding us?. The rural parts of Somerset can be a bit of a maze" he said
"No, no trouble at all" Harold replied "Will I be ok leaving the car there?" he asked
"Oh yes" Father Hammond replied as they approached the ramp leading into the building "We shouldn't be too long anyway. We just need a few signatures off you and we'll be done then."
"Fucking wonderful" Ryan muttered under his breath as he dragged his suitcase in
The cool, refreshing environment created by the air conditioning hit him immediately. He had only been out in the summer sun for a few minutes and already was starting to feel hot, but the cool air inside the building reversed that rather quickly "Well, at least It's not like an oven in here, like I expected it to be" he said as they walked down the main ground floor corridor to the offices
Father Hammond looked back at him and replied "No, you'll find the temperature here is quite pleasant, maintained as best we can at 21 degrees centigrade. You'll be told this in detail by the person who goes over the rules with you later but I may as well say It now. One of our rules, to maintain the pleasant environment in here and keep our energy bills own, you must never leave an exterior door open. They are all spring-loaded, as per the requirements of the fire department but for some reason, people still block them open. If we catch you doing that, you will be punished and Ryan, would you please take those sun glasses off"
Debbie interjected "Oh, those are his normal glasses. He has transitions lenses in them so they change to a darker colour as he goes outside, then change back when he comes in. they fade back rather slowly though"
"I see" Hammond replied "Well, here we are, this is my office. You can leave your suitcase outside here. The other students are in their various workshops right now. You have already been assigned a room so I shall call one of your roommates down. Your parents and I can get the paperwork done while he shows you where everything is and gives you the tour."
"Okay" Ryan replied
"Now, just one thing for you Ryan" Hammond picked something up off the desk as he entered the office "This is your ID card. It gets you in to all the rooms you have access to, all you need to do is take the card out, position it against the white pad on the wall next to any door and, if you have access to that room, the light should go green instantly. Just push the door and you'll be away. No need to worry about doing that if the fire alarm goes off. All the locked doors will unlock but rill remain closed. Push them to open them and get out. Excuse me for one second" He said, picking up a microphone "Your attention please, this is a student announcement. Would Lee Mayer, that's Lee Mayer, please report to the head masters office immediately. Thank you" he said, putting the microphone down. The announcement then subsequently played back over the school's public address system "Fire exits are at both ends of the corridors, there is also one on either side of any corridor and of course, the stair wells should the fire alarm sound. A few things to note, carry your ID card with you at all times, it is punishable if you don't and do not attempt to open any of the fire exists except in an emergency. Doing so WILL set off the fire alarms"
"Oh wonderful. It feels just like school. This is exactly how I wanted to spend my summer holidays, in a place that reminded me of the one place in the world I spend most of my life" Ryan said in a sarcastic tone.
His parents sat down in the chairs by the fathers desk "Ryan. Open mind" Harold said
Ryan sat in the chair behind them in a sulk
"Father, if you don't mind me saying so, this place does seem to run a lot like a school" Debbie pointed out
"Well, it does and it doesn't. we don't have lessons, we only have workshops. We do still have detention, among other things but for the most part, we try to keep it as a home-from-home. The reason we have a school-like format is we have found that teens are more used to this type of environment anyway. Some of them don't want to be here any more than Ryan over there but that would be the same no matter what the format was. Be it as a camp with tents, or a respite with dormitories and beds"
"I see" she replied
"So, while all the staff here are vicars, pastors or just parish employees, I am still referred to as the headmaster, Mrs. Higgins, is still the deputy head, we call our other tutoring staff teachers or tutors, which ever the students are more comfortable with, and of course we call our residents students. That way everything follows the familiar pattern" There was a sudden knock at the door "COME IN, LEE!" Hammond called
A Taller boy with brown hair poked his head around the door "you wanted to see me Father?"
"Yes, Lee. Come on in. Don't worry, you aren't in trouble." There was a visible look of relief on Lee's face when Father Hammond told him that. "Meet a new addition to your roommates, Ryan Sage"
Lee came all the way in. he was a little bit taller than Ryan, with a round face and a slim build. His clothes were baggy and he was wearing a T-shirt that said "I'm really glad I met you, you seem like a very interesting person" on it. A few letters were highlighted; "I'm ly ing" was what they spelled
Ryan looked at Lee's t-shirt and smiled immediately. No one else in the room appeared to notice.
Lee saw him smiling and smiled back "Hey. How you doing?" he asked
"I've been better" Ryan laughed
"C'mon." Lee said to Ryan "Lets get you up to the room and show you around"
Ryan stood up and they both stepped out to where Ryan's suitcase was standing "What's it like here?" Ryan asked
Lee let the door close "Imagine, if you will, being forced to listen to all their bible-bashing bullshit every fucking second of every fucking day, even if you're not fucking well religious…are you religious?"
Ryan shook his head "My parents are"
"Thank god. Pun not intended. My family is the same. Fucking Idiots. Come on, I'll give you a hand with that. The dorms start on the fourth floor…ours is on the sixth. Then I'll give you the tour. This building's pretty much the only one you need to look around. The others are all easy enough"
"Okay, thanks" Ryan replied as lee grabbed the other end of his suitcase and headed towards the stairs. "What's our room number?" he asked
"AB611" Ryan replied, making his way up the stairs in front "Which means A Block, Floor 6, room 11"
"I see. So the card lets me in there?"
"Yup" Lee replied. "I have to say, I saw they had made the extra bed up last night. I said to the other guys in there about that so we knew we were getting someone new"
"There's other guys in there?" He asked as they climbed higher
"Fuck, yes. There's me, Alec and Kyle. You'll meet them later. Listen, one of the rules they will tell you about is never block your bedroom door closed. Fuck that, We block it closed anyway. They say it's to do with fire regulations or some bullshit like that, but really it's so they can come and check on us during the night, make sure we aren't sleeping together or something. The standard thing they do, because they don't have much fucking choice, is to bang like fuck on the door so as to wake us up. We go over, move the dressing table it's blocked with and let them in. it's easy enough. They don't check too often though, so you'll get a good nights sleep most nights. Just remember to move it quietly if you need to loo at night or something." He said. Ryan simply nodded in reply "And here we are. AB Sixth" He announced as they got to the top of the stairs. "You're supposed to need your ID card to get onto the corridor but fuck that, the locks on the main stairwell never fucking work." He said, walking into the small alcove and pushing on the door
Ryan laughed, following and towing his suitcase behind him "so how long have you been here?" he asked. Lee seemed to have a good knowledge of the place but can only have been there a few weeks. The camp was only open during the school holidays.
Ryan looked up at the ceiling, as the rows of fluorescent lights mounted in the middle of the ceiling passed them by
"Me? Fuck, this time I've been here for about 2 weeks, this time around. But this has to be about my third bastard trip here" he said as he made his way down the corridor
"Third?!" Ryan exclaimed
"My parents are thick as pig shit. They seem to think that this place has some sort of magical cure for being gay." He said, stopping at a door pulling his ID card out and waving it past the white pad on the wall. The door latch opened with a clack and lee leant lazily on the door to open it, slipping inside.
Ryan looked around as he entered the room. There were 4 steel beds made up into bunk beds, two windows at the end, one at either side of the room with a radiator between them. He looked up there were 2 lights in the ceiling hanging either side of an air conditioning unit. The room was painted a sky blue colour with a laminated wood floor.
"Word to the wise" Lee said, pointing up at a white device sticking out from the ceiling "That is the smoke detector for this room. Do you smoke?" Ryan shook his head "Good. Filthy fucking habit. That fucking thing goes off at the slightest provocation. If you spray deodorant at it, it will go off, if you breath on it, it will go off, if a pillow narrowly misses it, it will go off, if a pillow hit's it, clobbers it off the ceiling and sends it sailing out the window, it will go off. And I tell you, them fuckers get pretty pissed off if you set those fucking things off"
Ryan laughed "Right, thanks. Hey, which one is my bed?" he asked
"Oh fuck, take your pick. There's one bed is supposed to be yours and the other is my boyfriends. He tends not to use it though"
"Boyfriend?" Ryan asked
"Irony of all fucking ironies, I met him here and they put us in the same dorm every fucking year. That's why we block the door" he smiled "and why if those fuckers come hammering on our door in the middle of the night one of us must make sure the un-used bed looks used by pulling back the sheets. Please, as a favour to me, make sure it's done?"
Ryan nodded. He looked around and choose the top bunk bed at the opposite side of the room to the door, walking over to it and dropping his suitcase at the bottom of the ladders
Lee spoke up again "There's 2 drawers under the bed. The one that says "Top" on there is yours, fucking obvious enough I would have thought but some of the retards we get come through this place are stupid enough to make me realise you have to fucking spell things out to some people"
To Be Continued...