"The lead abductor jabbed the machete at each camper in an intimidating head count, then led us into the abyss, slashing at real and imagined forest undergrowth like a demonic safari guide.
Treetops blocked the moonlight so effectively upon entering the jungle that we had to hold the shoulder of the person in front of us to keep from straying out of line. Descending the hill, essentially blind, the terrain I had once traversed in a panic was now foreign territory under my feet. The procession halted at some point, I estimated, close to the spring. We then continued, veering into the trees, I sensed, where I had once glimpsed a genuine phantom hovering in the shadows. Of all the places to explore at Aerie, this would have been my very last choice. Still, I had no option but to follow. The concept of breaking free and trying to find my way back to camp alone never entered my mind.
We soon stumbled into a clearing, made visible by moonlight pouring in through a gap in the forest canopy. My eyes slowly adjusted, only to behold a dreadful sight.
It could only be the ruins of Aerie's original pool.
The large man-made oval contrasted appallingly with the dark earth surrounding its unearthly outline. Moonlight bounced off invisible water onto an ancient stone wall directly across from us, the reflections dancing a tragically slow waltz in time with the rhythm of serenading crickets. Dark stains and splotches of organic matter soiled the stone. It was as if we had traveled backward in time only to witness the decay of the future. In a state of pure awe, it occurred to me that this dismal scene had played out every night and day for the last 40 years."
"I stopped asking needless questions and focused entirely on Alison. Soft kissing quickly escalated into frantic, primal kissing. Our hands explored familiar places, and urgently sought new territory. I knew we had surpassed our physical benchmark set in the teepee when Alison breathed and moaned in ways I'd not heard before from any human being. I became aware at some fuzzy point that she was no longer guiding my exploration of her body, instead allowing, then demanding me to find my own way. With each moan I expected her to stop me, to stop us, as we went further. She didn't stop us.
I stopped us.
In the midst of mauling each other, the small statue distracted me just enough to divert my full attention from Alison. Ninety-nine percent of me wanted to lose my virginity on that bench with the girl I knew I loved, if she was willing. The remaining one percent contained a potent antidote to my rampaging lust. For one, although it undeniably felt right, it did not feel like the right place. The candles, the reflecting pool, the virtuous statue – all created an aura that reminded me of pictures I'd seen of European cathedrals. Despite my absence of religious faith, I had a nagging sense of behaving...unholy...in the eyes of the mother and child."