by Suzanne Hauser and C Howard Diaz
“Hurry up,” Jason called to Richard. “We’re going to be late for breakfast.
“I am hurrying,” Richard grunted. “I just have to put some extra sunscreen on my nose.”
Jason heard a knock at the hotel room door and opened it to find Heather and Jonny waiting outside.
“What’s taking you guys so long? You were supposed to meet us at the elevator five minutes ago,” Jonny complained.
“It’s Richard. ‘His mother sent about three zillion tons of sunscreen for him to wear. He says he can’t go outside without it.”
Richard emerged from the bathroom with blue Zinka spread across his nose and cheeks. Jonny burst out laughing. “You look like Rudolph the blue nosed reindeer!”
“Go ahead and laugh, but if I’m not careful, I could get skin
cancer and die! My mom says that with my red hair and freckles I need to be extra careful like her, especially here in Florida where the sun is stronger than at home in Arkansas.”
“You should be careful,” Heather said. “But don’t worry too much about dying. When we first moved to California I got really
burned. My mom did some research and found out that people don’t get cancer from too much sunburn. The only real skin cancer is called malignant melanoma. And no one is really sure what causes it, but you -usually get it on parts that never see the sun like between your toes or under your arms.”
“I remember reading about that,” Jonny added. “The UV or ultraviolet rays that cause sunburn are the same ones were going to learn about this week here at Camp K-Bee and bow they affect the eartb’s ozone layer.”
“Come on you guys, we’re already late. They’re probably going to leave for the space center before we get down there,” Jason reminded.
The foursome took the elevator from the third floor down to the lobby. Camp K-Bee had reserved the ballroom for the orientation breakfast and already it was filled with kids from all over the world. Jason recognized some of the kids and counselors from his last K-Bee camp but there were some new faces as well. They found their name plates and sat down.
A tall bird-like man with grey hair and a necktie with a red airplane design, stood up to speak. “I’m Colonel Matheson. I’ve been invited to join you on your exploration of our eartb’s atmosphere. have just returned from Antarctica, or the South Pole as some people like to call it, with detailed photographs and measurements to help you understand the role ozone plays in our atmosphere.”
“ Will we get to go the South Pole?” Jonny asked.
“Well not exactly,” the Colonel answered. Jonny’s face dropped.
“But we will visit the solarium were we can simulate exactly what I saw while I was there. We can even turn the air conditioning on high so we feet the cold air, ” he added with a smile. “So, before -we get started, are there any questions?”
Just then, the largest, baldest man Jason had ever seen, outside the movies, stepped into the room. He was wearing a black button-up shirt with a black tie and black stacks. He had his arms folded on his chest. Behind him walked a small boy about Jason’s age wearing a white work shirt and Levis.
Colonel Matheson stopped his speech and welcomed the boy.
“Welcome master Koriathen. I’m so glad you made it.”
At first, Jason thought he was being sarcastic because they had
arrived so late, but he realized that the Colonel was sincerely happy the boy had joined them.
“Everyone, I would like to introduce Koriathen Minsin-ki. Kory has just arrived from Moscow. His companion is Mr. Mustanaya.”
Richard turned to Jason and whispered, “Mr.Moose is more like it. Jason agreed and they both laughed.
After breakfast, the children broke into groups and walked
toward the buses that would take them to the Space Center.
Jonny said, “Hey did you guys see that Russian kid? I wonder why he needs a bodyguard.”
“Why do you think it’s his bodyguard?” Heather asked.
“Dub, how many people do you know that are that large and mean looking that aren’t bodyguards? And didn’t you notice how he always walks beside Kory, always looking around and keeping him away from the other kids?”
“I bet he’s a spy,” Richard said.
“Or the son of a spy,” Jonny added.
“Come on. Don’t be dumb. Russia is our friend now. There’s no
more Communists. Why would they be spies?” Jason asked.
“Didn’t you see how beady that kid’s eyes were behind his thick glasses? He’s not here to learn about K-Bee stuff.” Richard lowered his voice to a whisper. “He’s here to steal secret stuff.”
They all stopped and watched Kory board the bus with Moose right behind him. Moose looked all around before bending his head to fit in the doorway.