The Critter Queen Gets a Birthday Surprise

                Once upon a camp year, we had a critter program coordinator named Flexx. She was one of the funniest, wildest, buffest and most creative Critter Queens to have worked at Camp K. She was a dedicated counsellor and made sure to always eat her goose-poop sandwiches and glasses of Laurel Creek Lake water every morning before the kids arrived to camp.

                Dorii, the camp director, is a lover of the Laurel Creek leeches, and she is also an advocate for trying breaking out of your comfort zones and trying new activities. Dorii had recently learned that Flexx had not yet gone for a swim in the Laurel Creek Lake and has never experienced a Laurel Creek Lake leech massage. Dorii felt really sad that Flexx hadn’t yet experienced the soft suckling of Laurel Creek leaches on her legs yet, and decided that a birthday surprise was in order. Little did Dorii know, but Flexx had an incredible and overpowering fear of leeches.

When it was the morning of Flexx’s birthday, she gathered all the campers under the shelter and they all filled their lungs with the fresh morning air and sang Happy Birthday to Flexx as loud as they possibly could until their lungs gave out. Flexx loved the sweet serenade, but the surprise was just beginning.

After the ballad to the Critter Queen, the four strongest counsellors snuck up behind Flexx and threw her up into the air and onto their shoulders. Flexx, perplexed and bewildered, started laughing and begging the counsellors to put her down. But the counsellors, persistent in their quest to give Flexx the ultimate birthday surprise, continued all the way down to the lake, despite their trembling arms and aching legs.

                Once Flexx arrived safely down to the lake, Dorii started the grand ceremony. She had Flexx transferred into her arms, and with utmost grace, softly tiptoed to the end of the dock. Dorii started whispering softly below her breath; a sound so quiet that only she and Flexx were privy to its melodic and entrancing rhythm. “Come my little leeches, come” she repeated methodically. Like the morning tide, Dorii’s words slowly started to gain energy and power, changing slowly from a whisper and growing eventually into a chant. All the campers joined in, encouraging the leeches to come gather so that Flexx could have the ultimate birthday surprise. As the chant gained power, the Laurel Creek water slowly transitioned from emerald green to a pure black color as the leaches congregated at the foot of the dock.

                After every leech in the Laurel Creek Lake had gathered at the foot of the dock, Dorii stood still on the dock for a moment, satisfied with her work. Flexx was silent in her arms, nervous for what was about to happen. Dorii looked down at Flexx, smiling, and shouted at the top of her lungs “HAPPY BIRTHDAY FLEXX!” as she launched her into the water.

                All the campers and counsellors stood on the shoreline, unable to look away as Flexx headed right into the pool of leeches. Flexx was horrified as she accepted her fate and sailed towards the sinister black water.

                For the moment that Flexx was airborne, time seemed to stand still. Everyone watched in anticipation as Flexx tumbled slowly into the water. But all of a sudden, something magical happened. The moment that Flexx’s toe touched the water, the leaches disintegrated and the Laurel Creek water changed back to its original green colour.

                Bewildered and shocked, Flexx climbed triumphantly out of the ladder, feeling surprised and shocked, but mostly, overwhelmed. How was it possible that she dispelled the leeches right as her body entered the water? Was it luck? Was it magic? Did she have superpowers?

Dorii immediately ran over and started weeping. “I am so sorry that your birthday surprise was ruined, Flexx. I wanted nothing more than to give you a Laurel Creek Lake leech massage, and somehow it didn’t work out”.

Critter Queen Flexx was confused. “But Dorii, I told you that I was petrified of leeches. Why would you want to give me a Laurel Creek Lake Leech Massage?”

Dorii suddenly realized what a big mistake she had made. She had completely forgotten that Flexx was terrified of leeches. “I am so sorry Flexx, I had completely forgotten that you hated leeches. I thought this would be an amazing birthday surprise”.

Flexx wasn’t upset with Dorii, firstly, because Dorii is her friend, and secondly because no leeches got on her when she went into the water.

“It’s okay Dorii, I forgive you” said Flexx. “But we should try and figure out the mystery of what happened to those leeches”.

So Dorii and Flexx walked all the way past the Critter Shelter, around the Baseball Shelter and across the Dam Shelter, until eventually they found themselves on the Park Ranger’s doorstep. When the Ranger came to the door, they explained to him the phenomenal events of the afternoon.

After hearing their story, the Ranger’s face lit up into a bright smile. It was the first time he had smiled in almost three decades. They asked him how it was possible that Flexx dispelled the leeches, and he explained a secret legend. Once every century, in the right conditions, the leeches can be annihilated from the lake. But there has to be the right conditions: a full moon, fog, clouds, a sunken canoe in the lake, 79 campers exactly and one birthday girl clad in a pink tank top. The Ranger said the last time the leeches were banished from the lake was when he was four years old, nearly 2000 years ago.

Flexx was overjoyed with the news. She felt amazed that all the conditions were perfectly met and that she was the one that managed to dispel the leeches from the lake. She felt like a superhero!

Dorii and Flexx walked back to the Critter shelter and announced to all of the campers the good news. When the campers heard that the Laurel Creek Lake was free from the leeches for all of time, the campers all cheered, laughed and cried with delight. It was a glorious day for everyone, except one person.

Dorii was sitting quietly in the corner, reflecting on the events of the day. She was happy that Flexx didn’t have an unwanted Laurel Creek Lake leech massage, but she was also disappointed because she was going to miss the leeches. Flexx saw that Dorii was really sad, and she came over to ask what was wrong.

Dorii explained that the leeches were her friends, and that she was sad that they would no longer be there to give her massages and tickle her legs when she went down to the waterfront. Flexx felt really bad for Dorii, so she called over all the Critter counsellors and told them that they should try to cheer Dorii up.

Tesla, being the curious CIT that he is, went immediately over to Dorii and asked her to explain why she was sad. After Dorii explained that she was going to miss the leeches, Tesla’s face lit up.

Tesla ran into the Critter Shelter, opened up the fridge and grabbed his lunch pail from the pile in the fridge. He ran over to Dorii, ripped open the zipper and threw a container on the table. Dorii was stunned to silence, saying nothing as she stared in bewilderment at the contained on the table. That morning, Tesla had forgotten his breakfast and had gone down to the Lake to collect some leeches for his lunch. He had brought back a full contained of Laurel Creek Leeches.

Dorii looked at Tesla, then down at the container. She looked at the container, and then up at Tesla. Dorii smiled the biggest smile she ever did smile, and gave Tesla the biggest hug she ever did hug. “Thank you Tesla, for saving me some Laurel Creek leeches”.

It was a moment of pure happiness and tranquility. Flexx was happy because she didn’t get any Laurel Creek leeches on her; the Ranger was happy because somebody had finally fulfilled the Laurel Creek Leech legend; Tesla was happy because he made Dorii smile; and Dorii was happy because Tesla had saved some Laurel Creek leeches.

It was a glorious and beautiful day for everybody, and all the campers danced happily around the campfire and listened perfectly to their counsellors for the rest of their day. Flexx had an amazing birthday, but best of all, Dorii had some new pets for her apartment!

                 - The End -