Eloy’s watch read 12:15 PM when they saw the sign for Camp Virtue. Indeed, they shortly crested a hill and saw cabin lights. The triangle roof of the cabin extended forward out from the main building. A trellis extended across the base of the triangle, three beams rising outward, one straight up, one diagonal to each side, creating an image like a starburst. Almost before Angel finished parking the van, Eloy was out and running to the cabin.
Eloy opened the door. Sitting on the wide, wooden floor was a young girl listening intently to an old man in an easy chair. The girl had hair long enough to cover her ears. It was messy, but somehow in a way that seemed free rather than unkempt. It was brown at the top, fading to blonde at the bottom. The man looked like he was wearing a scratchy brown blanket held together by a rope tied around his waist, and he was speaking loudly and waving his arms. Eloy had trouble understanding what he was saying through his thick beard.
“Regardez!” said the girl, looking in Eloy’s direction. By this time, Angel had caught up with him, and had shoved through in front.
“Ah,” exclaimed the man, “Bienvenue les amis!”
“I don’t speak French,” Eloy muttered to Angel.
“I would be surprised if you did,” Angel replied matter-of-factly.
Angel and Eloy stared at the man, who stared at the girl.
“Good evening!” said the girl. Her accent was metropolitan American with a hint of southern, no trace of french, “where did you come from?”
Eloy stared. Angel jerked her head in their direction, “you tell us, first.”
The girl’s and man’s eyes widened at Angel’s aggression, but it only took a moment “I’m Eliza Cunningham from Carrboro, North Carolina in the year 2019. This is Gabriel. He’s a monk from thirteenth century France.”
“Bonjour, ah,” he looked back at Eliza and stressing each syllable said, “Hello.”
Eliza smiled back and nodded approvingly. Gabriel put out his fist and without missing a beat Eliza pushed hers to his. In unison, they both withdrew, evidently very pleased at their secret handshake.
Eloy had to consciously close his mouth. Eliza was from the future.
“I’m Eloy,” Eloy offered, “I’m from Richmond, Indiana, 2003.” Eliza beamed, but Eloy figured she did that for everyone. All eyes turned to Angel.
“I’m Angel,” she said, “I’m from Detroit, Michigan, 1975”
“Bienvenue!” exclaimed Eliza.
“Bienvenue!” Gabriel agreed.
Eloy did a double-take in Angel’s direction. She didn’t look like she was from 1975 at all. Maybe it was just that she wasn’t wearing a disco outfit or a huge afro and she wasn’t washed out like an old TV show.
“Is there someone else with you?” Eliza asked.
Eloy started to look behind him, but Angel growled, “There’s no one behind us, Stupid.”
Eliza continued, “There’s another bed is why I ask. Two double rooms and one room with just one bed. Also, there are five chairs here, if you count the loveseat as two. There are five cups in the cupboard, five each of forks, spoons, and knives.”
“The cabin expects five people,” Angel summarized.
“Yes, the cabin or whoever set it up.”
“All right,” said Angel, “you two have special relationships with God, right?”
She thumped her chest, “I get visions,” she pointed at Eloy, “he gets overprotected.”
Eliza patted her shoulder, “I had a physical conscience that took the form of a grasshopper.”
“You had a Jiminy Cricket?” Angel asked, bemused.
“Yep.” Eliza pointed to Gabriel, “He heard God’s voice when he prayed.”
“Does anybody know why we’re here?” Eloy asked, not expecting an answer.
“Virtue,” Eliza said.
“Beyond that, though.”
The virtuous thing to do, Eloy knew, was to let someone else have a bedroom all to him or herself, so he volunteered to bunk with Gabriel. He wondered if it netted him additional virtue credit when he quietly endured Gabriel’s snoring.
Breakfast the next day was curious. After her morning calisthenics, Eliza showed him how to get it. Just open the fridge around mealtime, and it was there. Usually it needed some microwaving. It was individually portioned. Exactly four packages of food in tupperware, one for each person. Not five, he noted. To Eloy’s delight, the breakfast sausage and eggs tasted like it had been prepared the night before by hand.
Angel held tight to the keys of the van. She pointed out that it wouldn’t do anyone much good if they drove out to look for civilization and ended up out of gas in the middle of the woods. She was impervious to Eloy’s argument that he appeared in the van first and therefore it was rightfully his and he should get the keys.
Eloy synchronized his watch with Eliza’s amazing phone that did everything. She was the best prepared of all of them. Her grasshopper had instructed her to hold onto a bag of useful supplies as tightly as she could before she disappeared and it had worked. She had a charger for her cell phone and the cabin had outlets. She said her phone could even connect to the internet and use satellites to tell you where you were, but there were no nearby cell phone towers, and apparently no satellites either. Eliza said she would love to synchronize to the central world clock, but she couldn’t without internet, so her time was just a guess. Nevertheless, her phone set the standard for the whole camp. They were on Eliza time.
This continued for a week. For lack of anything else to do, Eloy joined Eliza in her calisthenics routine, struggled to learn 13th century French with Gabriel, and did his best to avoid Angel whenever he could. It wasn’t hard, as she spent most of her time exploring the surrounding area in a systematic attempt to find an escape back home, or at least back to civilization.
At precisely six fifty-seven Eliza time each night, the whole group crowded into the radio room to watch Eliza deliver her broadcast for help at seven o’ clock. “This is Eliza Cunningham. I am here with three other people. We are stranded at a place called ‘Camp Virtue’ near Endurance Peak and seek assistance.” Eloy was irritated that Angel didn’t declare Eliza incompetent and take over that task, too. Apparently he was the only person here that merited so little confidence.
One day, after another tense fifteen minutes of listening for a response, Eliza stood to indicate it was time to leave. As Gabriel in the back turned to leave so everyone else could get out, the radio crackled to life.
“Eliza,” the radio said, “Come in Eliza. Eliza, this is Destiny. Over.”