Andrew woke up from his dream with a start. He looked around for any sign of the bus that was supposed to take him away from the camp. Finding that he was still lying in his bunk, he relaxed a little bit.
Only a little bit, though. The potent smell of marijuana was still very present in the room. If Brad or another counselor walked by, they might catch a whiff of it through the door. The anxiety Andrew remembered from his dream now came back in full force, and he wondered if he would ever get back to sleep.
Dooby’s snores could be heard in the bunk above. If he was having any guilt-induced nightmares, his manner of sleeping did not indicate it. Why should he, though? He was a seasoned pothead. Besides, he probably had very little reputation left to ruin, whereas Andrew himself had already been pegged as one of the best players in his class. These thoughts did little to comfort him, and he chided himself for not bringing even a scrap of reading material to the camp as he glanced around the room, desperately looking for something, anything, to take his mind off the stress.
Finally, he reached down into his bag to grab his flip-phone, thinking that he could at least reread old texts from his friends until he got tired again. As he extended his arm, however, he noticed a darker-than-usual shadow in the corner of the room. A shadow in the shape of a very tall man.
Oddly, Andrew’s first thought was that one of the counselors had been in the room the entire time, and that they were about to be thrown out of the camp. But the man was utterly silent, and made no move to apprehend either of them.
Andrew prepared to verbally confront the man. With the help of a still-stoned Dooby, they could subdue the stranger and figure out why he was creeping around in teenage boy’s bedrooms. He was probably a molester or something. However, as the words were preparing to exit his mouth, the man said, “It would be better if you didn’t make a scene.”
This stunned Andrew so thoroughly that he actually obeyed the man’s instruction. He wondered why Dooby hadn’t so much as stirred at the sound of the voice.
A flash of lightning, followed soon by a boom of thunder, briefly lit up the room, but Andrew could not make out many details of the man. When the man reached over and flipped the light switch, causing Andrew to squint and shield his itchy, red-tinged eyes from the sudden onslaught of light, Dooby still did not emit even a snort.
Now Andrew could get a good look at the man, who stood by the door idly as if waiting for Andrew to make the first move. Andrew was struck by how familiar the man looked, but he couldn’t quite place where he knew the face from, until…
“That’s right, Andrew. I’m you.”
This proclamation was so absurd that Andrew could only respond to it with a threat. “If you don’t get out of here, I’m telling the counselors.”
“Good idea,” the man said. “They’d love to find out what’s been going on in here.”
Andrew was unnerved by the man’s seeming indifference to the threat of being found. And the more he looked at the man, the more the similarities in their faces became apparent. “If you’re me, why don’t you tell me something only I would know, retard.”
“Remember Kelsey, Andrew? You had the biggest crush on her in third grade. You even made her a special Valentine which said you were going to marry her, but chickened out and threw it in your neighbor’s trashcan. Then she moved to Vancouver and you never saw her again.”
Andrew wanted to deny it but found that he had no more lies left in him. “Wow. So you’re, like, an older version of me.” He had meant to make it a question, but it came out as a statement.
“Precisely. And I came because it seems like you could use some guidance,” said the older Andrew.
By now, the younger Andrew had sat up in the bunk and swung his legs over the side. “Like a guidance counselor? That’s retarded. I’m doing just fine.”
“Sounds like something I would have said eight years ago,” the older Andrew said fondly. “Wait, I DID say it eight years ago!” He chuckled at his own joke, then became serious again. “We’ll ignore the ‘guidance’ part for now. We can just go chill out somewhere. I think we both agree that you’re not getting any more sleep tonight.”
Andrew wanted to protest, thinking about how bad he would do in the camp if he only slept for a few hours, but then silently agreed. He got up and reached for the handle of the door.
“I wouldn’t go that way,” the older Andrew warned. “There’s always a counselor in the hallway. They sleep in shifts.”
“Then how did you get in here?” Andrew asked.
Moving towards the window, the older Andrew merely shrugged in response to his younger self’s question. “We can go out through here.” He unlatched the windowpane and swung it outward with a loud clang. Andrew cast a worried glance in Dooby’s direction.
“He won’t wake up,” the older Andrew said simply, with such a tone of finality that the younger Andrew did not doubt him. “Now let’s go.”