The Vote

Xavier was a bully (He was mean to everybody, even his friends) from our S.T.E.A.M. School Summer Camp (During the Summer of 4th grade) who was not only strong, but smart. Somehow, he beat me at everything and anything, and right off the bat, I hated him. And so, to find out who was really better, we were to have A Vote, in which our peers would vote as to who they believed was better.

On the 14th, and last, day of Camp, Xavier came in late, as usual, but was carrying something, which was unusual, given that Xavier usually brought nothing to Camp: a case, like a briefcase, but much smaller. The case had a small handle and two simple hinge locks, and Xavier was carrying the case as if whatever lay inside of there was priceless.

As soon as he walked into the room, instead of going to hang out with his Gang, he immediately announced to the entire Camp that he had something “worth infinite priceless”: the very Wand that Universal Studios had used as Harry Potter’s throughout the Harry Potter movies. Such a statement was absurd! 

So that’s why I was shocked when around 25 of the 30 people in Camp believed him. They all practically begged him to show them, saying that they would do anything to have a look at the “worth infinite priceless” wand. Many of them offered ‘anything’.

But Xavier wanted votes. Votes for The Vote. And that was when I saw how he intended to win.  Only 5 people were the only ones who did not believe in The Lie: My 2 friends, 2 random twin brothers and I. 

Xavier ‘promised’(He never did keep promises, but suddenly, everybody was trusting him) to show them The Wand right after recess, which was after lunch. The Vote was to be taken a few minutes after recess, which would give him enough time to show The Wand to the 25 students that would be willing to Vote in favor of him.

My dream to beat him, for once, had been crushed. But then, I had an idea. A dangerous idea. I would ‘borrow’ The Wand until after The Vote, so that his Followers would not believe him, vote for me, and I would win. Then, I would return The Wand.

I waited until lunchtime, and after everybody had left for lunch. I then opened Xavier’s backpack, since he had placed the case in there, and took The Case out, then closed the backpack. I then examined The Case quickly, finding a $20 Barnes & Noble price tag on the underside of the case.

Unlocking the lock and opening The Case, I found an extravagantly designed Wand, from the attention to detail, all the way down to the textures and even the weight of The Wand. And only $20!

Stop! I scolded myself silently, placing The Wand back into The Case, and locking The Case once again. Pay attention! You’re on a time limit!

I was on a time limit, since I would need to catch up to the rest of the group before they reached the main entrance. There were only cameras in the busy and important parts of the school, such as the main entrance and lunchroom. So, if I could catch up to the group before they crossed the main entrance, I would be fine – if no one realized that I had been gone.

Placing the items within my backpack, under a flap in a hidden pocket, which was at the bottom of the 3rd pocket from the front, I closed up my backpack, then ran out of the room. I turned the corner, where I found the group of students walking down the hall, nearly crossing into the main entrance. I caught up with them, merged with them, then made my way to the front. Nobody knew that I was gone. We then made our way across the main entrance, in full view of the cameras, and into the lunchroom. 

After lunch and recess, we returned to the room. There would be a span of 5 minutes until The Vote. Unless my plan worked out. Xavier’s Followers demanded to see The Wand, but nobody knew where The Wand was. Xavier reported this to Mr. Kuren, who told us to look for The Wand. 

When The Wand could not be found, Mr. Kuren called in Ms. Claireston, The Manager. Ms. Claireston was one of The Big 4, the top 4 people who were in charge of running all of The Camps. Ms. Claireston was #4, and my friends and I had been sent to her many a time before. We all lined up, and Ms. Claireston started to interrogate the students, and when she came to me, I kept a straight face, and she believed me. After Ms. Claireston announced that everybody was telling the truth, she called in The Director, Ms. Smithy. Ms. Smithy was #3 in The Big Four, and I had been to her multiple times before, although none of my friends had.

Ms. Smithy demanded a search of all personal belongings. Nobody protested; nobody even uttered a word, although we all knew that our thoughts were trying to force their way out of our mouths. We all lined up once again, personal belongings in hand, and Ms. Smithy searched us. She came to me, eventually, and when she reached the 3rd pocket, she found the hidden pocket. Opening the pocket, she did not find the flap, due to a lack of light. She zipped up both pockets, searched the rest of my backpack, then moved on. After everybody had been checked, and nothing had been found, Ms. Merrill, The Officer, and #2 in The Big Four, was called in. This spooked everyone, given that Ms. Merrill was only called in for the most serious affairs. I had been sent to her only once before, in the summer of 3rd grade.

Ms. Merrill told us to empty our backpacks. We all made a pile of our belongings, so that she could search our backpacks easier. I thought of taking The Wand and Case out of my backpack and placing them within the pile, towards the bottom, so that Ms. Merrill would not be able to see them. Everybody else was busy emptying their belongings, and so they were not looking in my direction, so I did just that. But what if she searched our piles of stuff? Well, I would be caught. So, I decided to remove The Wand from The Case, then, while everyone was finishing up their piles, slid The Case across the floor, into a dark corner on the far side of the room, away from myself. The Case was useless, anyway, but I needed The Wand. And anyways, I figured that when somebody found The Case, The Search would be put on hold, thus gaining me more time. Ms. Merrill then searched our backpacks, flashlight in hand, and when she got to mine, she found the hidden pocket within the 3rd, and, using the flashlight to shine extra light down there, found the flap. She looked behind the flap, but found nothing. She soon finished searching our backpacks, then announced that she was going to search our piles.

Not good, I thought, thinking as to what to do before she got me. Very bad.

But then, right before she was to begin searching the first person’s pile, one of Xavier’s friends announced that he had found The Case. He told everybody where he had found The Case, but when he opened The Case, there was no Wand. While this was happening, I slid The Wand across the floor, to the far-left corner of the room, deciding that this had gotten out of hand.

Too risky, Too dangerous, I thought as a wave of relief washed over me (Afterall, without The Case or The Wand on me, I was much safer from being caught). Might as well pull out while I still can.

Ms. Merrill then searched our piles, after learning that The Wand  – and The Thief – were both still not found – yet. She searched mine, finding nothing. And so she continued on, and found nothing. And so, Ms. Merrill, frustrated by the fact that only one thing, The Case – the most worthless of the 3 things that needed to be found – had been found so far. So, she told us to stay where we were, so that she could check our persons. Yes, she would check our articles of clothing for The Wand.

But then, as Ms. Merrill was finishing up the last person’s pile, another one of Xavier’s friends exclaimed, saying that he had found The Wand. He held up The Wand for all the world to see, a look of pride on his face. He told the class where he had found The Wand. Ms. Merrill then called off The Search.  Xavier, however, demanded that The Search continue, to find The Thief and to punish The Thief severely. Ms. Claireston, Ms. Smithy, Ms. Merrill and Mr. Kuren all told him that, while they would all love to find The Thief, they had no leads whatsoever as to who stole the items. Ms. Merrill tried to get The Thief to confess by threatening to use the cameras in the room. However, there were no cameras in the room, since there were only cameras in the important rooms, such as the main office.

Ms. Merrill then told both Ms. Smithy and Ms. Claireston to come with her, while Mr. Kuren stayed in the room… Then, the three of them came back. Ms. Merrill announced that they had looked at the cameras, and could find nothing. Ms. Merrill then announced that Mr. Roberts, The Overseer, and #1 in The Big Four, had gotten involved. She announced that all Camps would be shut down, effective immediately, permanently. Everybody was shocked as Ms. Merrill, Ms. Smithy and Ms. Claireston left the room, leaving Mr. Kuren there, confused. He told us that we could have the rest of the day as free time, due to the ‘situation at hand’.

Immediately, I told my friends to get to work winning the majority over, by trying to expose Xavier that The Wand was indeed fake. Long story short, my friends and I put together a very compelling argument (My favorite part: the arguing) to convince the majority that Xavier was lying, and Xavier could not counter the argument effectively. Xavier, meanwhile, tried a last minute attempt to get the majority on his side: He announced that anybody that voted for him could join his friend group. Turns out nobody wanted to be friends with him. We commenced with The Vote, Xavier having no more tricks up his sleeve, and the results were… 29-1, my favor (Guess who would be the only person voting for Xavier?). 

I had won. For once, I had won. I felt like celebrating, but I had something else that I intended to do.

Leaving the room without telling anyone, I went to the main office.

Entering the office, I found The Big Four talking with each other. They stopped talking the second I entered.

“Hello,” I announced, nervous.

“What are you doing here?” Mr. Roberts asked me, a grim expression on his face.

“I was just wondering if you are really going to shut down The Camps… forever,” I told him, my breathing growing faster.

“Yes, we are,” Mr. Roberts answered, staring right into my eyes. “We’ve already sent out the emails, texts, calls, everything.”

He showed me a Google Chromebook, which had all of the emails, texts and calls listed out. “You can read and listen to them if you want.”

I read the texts and emails, and listened to the calls, briefly, and found that they were real. I thought about this new realization, pondering what I should do, until I came to a conclusion.

“I came here to confess,” I announced, my heart rate increasing. “I am The Thief.”

“Why did you confess?” Mr. Roberts questioned, confused. “We had no leads, no evidence against you. You could have gotten away with this all, got off scot-free.”

“Because,” I explained. “I can not let other people suffer from my actions. I should be the one to take the consequences, not them.”

Mr. Roberts thought about this for several moments, the other three of The Big Four silent.

“You’re right,” He nodded, approving of my answer. “They should not suffer. You should.”

I felt my respiratory rate increasing as he turned towards the other members of The Big Four. “We shall need to inform the parents of the students that The Camps will continue to run. But that is for later. For now, a vote. To determine if Mr. Siddharth Gupta here should be… removed from his current Camp.”

All 4 members of The Big Four voted ‘Aye’, to remove me from my current Camp. The vote had been unanimous.

But I did not care. I felt proud of 2 things that I had done: I had confessed, and I had won The Vote.

And yet, a vote had been the very thing that had caused me to be removed from my Camp.

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