Brandy's shriek, an hour before the dance was due to start, could be heard from one end of the camp to the other. Casey and Laura and their girls were closest, because they had elected to go for a walk down to the beach to look for what the day's storm had washed up. A few of the little girls outdistanced them as they ran for the staff cabin, and Casey had an awful vision of Brandy finally erupting in a berserker rage, picking up a little girl and flinging her across the clearing without realizing it. And then later claiming the child attacked her and she was only defending herself.
The girls stopped on the steps of the staff cabin as if they had run into an invisible wall. Their faces twisted in shock and disgust, they backed down the steps and pressed their hands over their mouths and noses. Casey caught up with them in that moment, and it was like sticking her head into the isolation tent when her little brother had lung problems. They had needed to make the air around him damp and thick.
The fumes that spilled out of the door of the staff cabin, however, didn't smell anything like the isolation tent full of medicine sprays. Casey's first thought was that someone got lazy, flushed a tampon, and the ancient plumbing in the cabin had finally rebelled.
"What in the world happened?" Mrs. Gilbert demanded, bustling across the open square to join them. She stopped, swallowed hard, then pushed away her disgust with visible effort as she pulled a handkerchief from her pocket. She slapped it over her mouth and nose and climbed the steps into the cabin.
Casey followed her, though she didn't have anything to filter the stench.Brandy stood in the doorway of the bathroom, frozen, an almost pitiable expression of horror and nausea on her face. Casey didn't want to know what those dark smears were on her face and clothes, but it looked like seaweed festooning her hair and shoulders. Little plops of dark water continued to drip from her fingers and the ends of her hair. A dark puddle with clumps of darker matter spread out across the floor. A big red plastic trash barrel lay on its side, blocking the door of the bathroom. It was a good guess the dirty water -- and whatever it contained -- had been stored in it.