I awoke to the ear-splitting snoring of Will A., whose putrid breath washed over my face. The first in the tent to awaken, I immediately tried to fall into blissful sleep once more, attempting to get the most out of every second not spent walking. Unfortunately, after about just two minutes, our adult leader Catherine came over to wake up the entire tent. Rudely thrust into the waking world, I suddenly noticed the noxious funk in the tent. Despite the fact that it was only our first day, the stench was reminiscent of the penguin exhibit at the Oregon Zoo (actually, the penguins smelled better than the tent).
As we all reluctantly woke inside of our sleeping bag cocoons, I began to register the sights and sounds around me. From outside the tent, I could hear Doug, our wilderness guide, boiling water for breakfast. In the background, I could hear the incessant hum of the yellowjackets, who were always nearby, but never interested enough to be aggravated into stinging us.
On the other side of the tent, I saw Ian H. shrinking back into his sleeping bag like a snail into its shell (if the snail was a pale, sickly ginger, that is). Without opening his eyes, Lucas S. reached for his fuzzy, green jacket.
That’s when “The Sting” happened. Lucas emitted an ear-shattering scream, which in turn made the rest of us scream like Mr. Chekov when Khan put the alien worm in his ear. Lucas violently threw his jacket toward the other end of the tent, and in a bloodcurdling cry, he shrieked, “There’s a BEE in the tent!”
With those simple words, I began to believe that my life was over. Lucas lifted up his pinky finger, which began to swell like a balloon animal gone wrong. By this point, we had all huddled into the corner opposite of our unwanted guest. It crawled out of the jacket, but it didn’t fly toward us; it only sat there, and we stared at it for what seemed like an eternity. In my mind, the theme song from The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly cued as I stared into the soulless, innumerable eyes of the winged beast. I had hoped that Doug or Catherine, like responsible adults, would come make sure that everyone was okay, but no such thing happened. As it began to climb up the side of the tent, I reached for my pocket knife (I know, it was a little overkill) and slowly began to approach the six legged beast. “Graham, you’re going to cut the tent,” whispered Ian, careful not to upset the yellowjacket. I stood there, with the knife, for several moments, before I resheathed it.
We knew we had to do something. Lucas tried to call out to Doug, but after a small chuckle, Doug gruffly replied, “You boys can deal with it. It’s literally just a yellowjacket.” It was then that we knew no one was going to save us. Moving slowly and cautiously, Will reached over to the other side of the tent, and unzipped it with as much care as if he were defusing a bomb. We had to move quickly before any more yellowjackets decided to join the party. Like a viper, Lucas swiped his jacket, smothered the yellowjacket, and threw it outside of the tent flap faster than you could say, “It’s gonna sting you.” As soon as the jacket had passed the entrance, Will’s arm shot to the zipper and sealed it off, separating us from the yellow menace. I sighed and watched my warm breath dance in the cold air.
After the adrenaline slowly ebbed away, we left the tent through the other entrance like cave animals that hadn’t seen the sun in years. We were glad to be outside; in our terror, the repugnant stench became trivial, but since the threat had faded, we were in dire need of some fresh air. Limping like a wounded soldier, Lucas slowly made his way over to Doug. The rest of us were as silent as shadows in the night, praying that our friend would live. After a lengthy and thorough inspection, Doug declared that we were all, in fact, “being a bunch of babies.” Doug showed less compassion than a potato. Despite the hardship we had just suffered through, we somehow found the strength to move onward with the day.
Eventually, we discovered what happened that morning. The night before, Will had foolishly left the tent open in his wild frenzy to reach the warm, tempting hot chocolate before Doug sent us to bed. It was then that the pinky assassin had entered, and silently waited and watched before striking the next morning.