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By David Heulfryn
James woke from his brief nap and prodded Tom to wake him also. After a brief kiss they stood up and slipped back into their swim shorts.
"We can't stay here forever," James said, "as much as I want to."
"Let's get back then. I'm sure Sophie or Katie will have something nice cooking." Tom added.
They waded into the water and swam out to sea and around the rock that cut off the cove from the main beach.
Once back on the beach, the strolled their way back to camp.
As they rounded the corner and their camp came into view, Tom and James didn't find the calm and quiet scene that had met them so many times when they came back from their strolls. Instead they heard shouting, raised voices and people were facing up to each other. Henry was at the centre of it all and his voice boomed along the shore closely followed by that of Katie.
"I'm not having those bent fuckers around me." Henry shouted at a man who had obviously come from the production team to try and calm the situation.
"Look, just everyone calm down." He tried to gain control.
"They are our friends; we've got to support them." Katie spat at Henry.
"Yours, not mine."
No-one noticed as Tom and James headed towards them and it was only little Charlie who timidly said to no-one in particular "They're here." and pointed at the two boys.
Even though Henry hadn't heard Charlie, he noticed him point and turned to look. His face contorted and reddened as he saw them sauntering over.
"What's going..." James started saying but was soon interrupted by Henry who'd dashed over to them and stood face to face to James.
James looked confused and Tom was concerned that Henry would do something stupid. "Hey, just calm..."
"You two fucking benders had better keep away from me, better still get the fuck of this island."
"What are you on about?" James asked and stepped backwards to put some space between them.
"You were fucking seen. So just go back where you came from and fuck each other up the arse cuz we ain't got no room for perverts with us."
The middle aged man came over and put an arm between Henry and James. He was obviously concerned about touching either boy but Henry was not bothered about pushing the arm away.
He rounded on the man. "Just go back and sort it out so these two queers are away from me."
Henry walked away and back to the group of boys who stood behind him. Like a flock of starlings moving in unison, the gang turned and followed Henry off the beach and into the woods.
James noticed Katie standing near the huts watching them. Even from this distance he could see that she was crying, her face was screwed up and he watched as she wiped he eyes with the back of her hand.
"Walk with me boys." The man said and started to go back along beach, moving further away from their encampment.
Tom suddenly began to sob and James wrapped his arm around his shoulder.
"What are we going to do?" Tom asked.
"I don't know, but it'll be alright. I'll make sure it is." James squeezed him tightly.
When they were out of view of the camp, the man finally spoke. "Look guys, it seems someone saw you both doing things together. It makes no difference to me or the team if you're both gay or just experimenting. To each his own."
He was patronising and insincere which James found unsettling.
"It would seem that some of the other kids aren't that understanding." He continued and James rolled his eyes as the man was a master of understatement.
The three of them sat on the warm sand; Tom had regained his composure now and was more angry than upset. James just looked indifferent as the man spouted platitudes but provided no real solutions. In the end he left them alone with a suggestion that they do not return until later that evening.
James just sat silently as the man stood up and walked away. He rounded the corner and disappeared from view but James still remained still and silent. Looking at him, Tom furrowed his brow and looked at the steel eyes as he stared into open space. He thought he detected a slight moistness but his face remained still, his muscles taut.
"Are you alright?" Tom whispered but James didn't move or respond. "Are you alright?" He said again, this time just placing a hand on his bare shoulder. His skin felt warm and clammy, his hand sticking to James for a moment until he prised it off.
Then James erupted. The anger and frustration within him boiled to the surface and all Tom could do was watch him stomped around shouting and kicking the sand. The wind blew the sand into Tom's face who turned away to rub his eyes and spit the tiny grains from his mouth. He tried to comfort James and calm him down but was just pushed away. He felt rejected and a few tears welled in his eyes.
Tom saw Katie as she came up the beach, when she saw James she stood stock still and watched him, she caught Tom's eye and he motioned for her to come over. He wanted someone with him, someone to help him.
"Bastards! They are all fucking bastards!" James yelled and ran in to the sea. Knee deep, he dived forward and began frantically swimming out to see.
Tom ran to the shoreline. "James!" He shouted but he doubted he could hear over the splashing his arms caused around his ears.
Running up to Tom, Katie put an arm around his shoulder.
"I'm going after him." He told her but she held him back.
"No, leave him. At least for a while. If he goes too far then I'll let you."
They both watched intently as James shrank the further out he went. Tom was jittery and his leg kept twitching, he wanted to go out after him.
"He's stopped." Katie said and they watched as his head bobbed up and down in the water.
Relieved, Tom hugged her tightly, his eyes leaving James for the first time. When he turned back to watch him, his heart jumped as he was gone. But the scare was brief as he caught sight of him slowly swimming back to shore.
Reaching the shallows, James stood up to wade out of the water only to be met by Tom who dashed over and squeezed their bodies tightly together.
"Don't ever scare me like that again." Tom whispered into his ear.
"It's out of my system now, at least most of it. I still want to punch that bastard's light out though." James pulled away and just pecked Tom on the lips.
Katie watched as they walked back together, hand in hand.
"I tried to sort it out, James. But he was just having nothing of it." Katie said. "I must admit it was a bit of a shock to me at first as I had no idea. Then I thought how sweet it is was and what a cute couple you made. And it all made sense, how close you both always were even before we got here."
"Ergh! Please Katie." James laughed and Tom smiled grateful that he was no longer so angry.
"I'm the one who should feel ill judging from what that little brat told Henry you were doing."
Tom blushed and James winked at her.
She grabbed James by the hand and dragged him to the shade from the overhanging trees at the back of the beach. Tom dutifully followed. "Come, sit here with me and tell me all about it." It was not a request, but not a demand either. She smiled at James expectantly.
"There's nothing to tell." James said.
To say there was nothing to tell, James and Tom spent ten minutes telling her how they got together when they met at their orienteering day and everything that happened since. When they finished James and Tom kissed each other.
"Arh. How sweet." Katie joked and watched as their lips met, mouths opened and their tongues entwined.
They were not about to hide themselves away like some naughty children so James and Tom walked back to the camp with Katie.
Henry and his clique hadn't yet returned and those that remained there gathered round the two lovers to give them their support. Very few agreed with Henry, but what Henry lacked in support he made up for in volume.
They felt a lot better and began to relax. Henry was nowhere to be seen for the rest of the day but he showed up just as dusk fell and the sun blazed a red hue across the ocean.
Henry stood at the head of his clique as they emerged from the darkened space between the trees. Arms folded, he glared at James and Tom. Without warning someone at the back shouted, "Let's get those fuckers" and James saw a gang of boys running towards him, some brandishing short thick branches. James noticed the fresh cut end some of which looked as if they had been sharpened.
As Tom and James stood up to confront the gang, a stick was thrown and connected with James' thigh. As he feared, it had been sharpened but was thrown without enough force to break the skin, instead it grazed him, leaving scratches which quickly filled with a sheen of blood, and fell to the floor.
Another stick was thrown at Tom but missed him entirely. Both boys looked at each and James sensed the fear in Tom's eyes. "Oh, fuck" he whispered and grabbed Tom by the arm. They ran off along the beach as fast as they could.
The camp erupted in pandemonium; the gang behind Henry went wild, some chasing after James and Tom the remainder being held behind by the girls and the few boys who rejected Henry. Minor scuffles broke out and the camp being wrecked.
Finally the production crew emerged and tried to control the situation. Cameras and cables were strewn on the sand as the people put themselves in the middle of the action. The deafening noises died down and the two groups were separated, girls were crying and boys tried to stem bleeding noses and nursed injured limbs.
On the tree line remained Henry, arms folded with a satisfied grin on his face.
First aiders were called and a roll call was made. Seven boys were missing; two of them were James and Tom.
Henry was led away, alone, to the production camp. The walking wounded followed but were kept separate from him.
Two young cameramen volunteered to look for the others.
James was tiring but Tom could have easily have ran for many more minutes. They sheltered underneath the largest tree and caught their breath. Quiet, they listened out for signs of their pursuers.
In the distance they could hear them, running through the undergrowth yelling to each other. One with sharp eyes noticed James and their pursuit gained momentum.
James and Tom dashed away but in his haste Tom stumbled and bumped into a nearby tree. The bark scraped his arm as he slid down the rough surface to the ground. He didn't have time to react to the pain as James pulled him up and they began running again. James felt a sharp pain between his shoulders as another stick was thrown at him.
The distraction made him lose his footing as it was his turn to stumble but he managed to stay on his feet. Tom slowed down and waited as James caught him up, they were determined not to be separated but with each delay the five boys grew closer and what was now evolving into some kind of war cry, grew louder.
One boy sensing an opportunity sprinted from the crowd and rugby tackled James to the ground. Tom leapt on him, trying to pull him off. The boy elbowed Tom in the guts between punching James in the face. Between them James and Tom threw the boy aside and now ran like their life depended on it.
The other four boys had now caught up with them. James and Tom weaved and darted between the trees and inevitably they were separated.
Two boys chased after Tom while the other three went for James and both found alluding them getting more difficult as the trees grew more dense and the undergrowth thicker.
James felt the next few moments go very slowly and his consciously seemed to leave his body and hover above him.
He sensed the touch of hands trying to grasp his arms and felt the cold sharp scratches of their long nails dragged across his skin, failing to hold on to him. Sticks were thrown at his feet in an attempted to trip him. One lodged between his ankles and James tumbled to his knees, the heavy thud reverberating through his body. His momentum pulled him forward and he rolled forward. His eyes were suddenly blinded by the setting sun as the trees suddenly vanished and for a moment he felt weightless.
James felt his stomach lurch up his chest and acid was forced into his throat. His hair waved in the breeze as his body plunged down a cliff. The same cliff that sheltered him and Tom earlier that day and led down to the sand bay cut off on both sides by the ocean.
He lay semi-conscious at the base of the cliff and he was surprised he felt no pain. He felt sleepy and the sudden urge to fall asleep enveloped his mind. He had no inclination to get up, he just wanted to sleep.
The fall could have been worse but for the gently slope of the cliff. After the immediate drop of several feet the cliff broke his fall and he effectively rolled and bounced his way to the bottom.
At the top of the cliff the three boys looked down, mouths open, looking at the still figure of James.
Their lack of movement was noticed by the other two boys, who had now caught Tom and were restraining him and taunting him, threatening to fuck him and telling him to go down on their cocks, while Tom struggled and spat obscenities at them.
But the taunting stopped and they let Tom go to join their three friends. Sensing something was wrong; Tom followed them and looked down.
He wailed and attempted to climb down to join James but they stopped him and one boy volunteered to run back to camp to get help.
"You've got to help me down there." Tom screamed at them. "He needs help, he's not moving."
They searched for anything they could use as a rope but nothing was found. Tom told them that one of them would have to lower him down and after some mild protestations the tallest boy agreed and lay on his belly with his arms over the cliff edge. Tom shuffled over and dangled himself over the edge. The two boys then grabbed each others arms and Tom slowly let himself down until they held each other by the wrists. Looking down, Tom could see his feet were still some distance from the steep slope.
"Lower me further." Tom looked at the boy who did his best to shuffle forwards and bend his torso over the edge.
Feeling uncertain he yelled at someone behind him to hold onto his legs so he felt more confident in letting Tom further down.
"Let go." Tom told him and he fell the few feet onto the cliff face.
Bending his knees, he leant forward to prevent himself from falling backwards. His knees hit the loose earth and his fingers clawed at it to slow his quickening slide down to James. He didn't care that the skin on the balls of his feet, knees and hands were being lacerated by the small stones and remnants of tree roots and he felt no pain.
At the base off the cliff Tom knelt beside James. He could see his gentle breathing and looked into his half closed eyes.
"Are you alright? Where does it hurt?" Tom said as he picked up James' hand and squeezed it to let him know he was not alone. James' arm was limp and his hand didn't squeeze back.
"Get help, quick!" Tom screamed up to the top of the cliff and then watched as James' eyes closed fully.
Thank you for reading
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