Secluded Intown Treehouse. Three amazing treehouse rooms connected to each other by rope-bridges. All of the rooms are decorated with antique items gathered from the flea markets. A truly beautiful place to stay! Located in Atlanta, Georgia.
-An alternate view of Episode 8 if Max had gone to get his bear himself
“Little Maxwell?” Pikeman smiled as his two lackeys drug the small boy into their tent.
“Give it up! I want it back and I want it fucking now!” Max yelled, grunting as he was thrown to the ground.
Pikeman walked over to the desk in the far corner of his tent, holding up the mentioned item by the scruff of it torn neck, stuffing falling to the floor.
“Oh this? This is just trash, what could you possibly want with this.”
Max ran for it, jumping to snatch his poor bear from the acne covered freak, but was kicked away mid air. Max slid back on his bottom, wincing in pain as he gripped his stomach.
He wheezed, trying to gain back the air knocked from his lungs. Pikeman approached the younger boy, waving the stuffed animal in front of Max’s face.
“You want this back don’t you?” Max reached up in vain, Pikeman holding it inches from his reach.
Panic started to course through his body as the thought of not getting his bear back.
“Give it back!” He whimpered, arm stretching and quickly retracting to cover his aching chest that protested every movement.
Pikeman squatted so he was eye level with the curled up boy.
“You’ll get it back, but you’ll have to be a good boy, Max.” Pikeman’s mouth stretched into a wicked grin, Snake and Petrol shared the same smile, but Max didn’t care.
He had to get his friend back.
Pikeman lowered the bear closer to Max but still kept it from his reach.
“Can you be a good boy for us, Max?”
Uncertainty shown through his eyes, but the sad state of his bear made his heart drop.
Pikeman could see the boy’s uneasy state and gently grab the bear’s head, tugging lightly at the loose stitching. The head hung sadly on it’s last few threads and Max cried out, jumping up for the bear only to be grabbed by the front of his hoodie.
“Can you be a good boy, Max?”
Max nodded pitifully, tears, that he refused to indulge in, welling up in his eyes as he stared at his stuffed animal.
“I’ll be good, please.” Max whispered, he casted his eyes to the floor.
“You will get your toy back once you prove it.”
The Wood Scouts shared a laugh, as the boy’s face fell even more, and they knew that this would be very eventful.
“How the fuck am I supposed to get through that?” Max yelled, as he clenched tightly to the sash around his chest. He wanted his hoodie back.
“It’s a simple ropes course, Maxwell. I’m sure you can handle.”
Max turned to protest but saw the bear in Pikeman’s hand.
“Especially with the raised stakes.” The teen added, and Max gulped facing the course again.
He fell, and fell, and fell. Over and over again, and the more he fell the more Pikeman got frustrated.
It had been the fifth time Max had gotten stuck in the rope bridge and fell flat on his back. His body was covered in bruises and his muscles ached.
As he stared up at the ropes hanging above him, he thought of how easily Nikki would climb, not thinking, just trusting where her hands fell. She never second guessed whether or not her feet would slips through the hole of the net, she just climbed.
Pikeman coughed loudly into his fist, Max stood up to face him in time to see him tug harshly on the arm of his bear. The seam split, stuffing falling to the ground as the teddy’s arm was easily ripped off.
Max yelped as if he was physically pained by the bear, but knew there was only one way to get him away from the torturous teen.
Max ran to the start of the ropes course, speeding through the sections he had become familiar with and stopped at the rope bridge. He’d just have to crawl across.
‘Just like Nikki, don’t think. Do. Fearless like Nikki’ Max thought.
He sped across the bridge, let his hands pull him and not second guessing where his feet fell.
Before he knew it, he sat huffing in front of Pikeman at the finish, fighting to catch his breath.
Max rose to his feet and stared up at the soft toy, then glancing at Pikeman, his eyes silently begging. Pikeman stared at him hard, eyeing him up and down, and hummed as he came to a conclusion.
“You went through a little ropes course, so what? Do you think that’s enough to be rewarded? I don’t think so. You still have more to prove.”
Max frowned, frustration from his constant failing and from the denial of his favorite toy made tears well up, but he refused to let them shed.
He stomped his foot, “How is that any fucking fair you asshole?”
“I suggest you apologize.” Snake spoke up and Max looked to him, the fire revived in his eyes.
“Fuck you and fuck him! Just give me the bear back assholes! It’s not your’s so give it to me!”
“Stop throwing a tantrum!” Pikeman commanded, and Max was one second away from showing the boy what a tantrum really was. But he settled on giving him the finger before he thought of moving on to such drastic measures.
Pikeman rolled his eyes at the bratty behavior, and turned away from him. He stalked off, Max yelling obscenities behind him.
“Petrol!” Pikeman barked, the boy quickly stood at attention, and Max immediately shut his mouth (earning a dark chuckle from Snake) suddenly afraid of what Pikeman would have the other boy do.
“Make him run the course 10 more times. Then we’ll see if he’s ready to apologize.” He didn’t even turn around to speak to him, and Max’s eye went wide as Petrol lead him back to the beginning of the ropes course.
Max was littered with bruises and scratches. Some poorly bandaged by himself with his tattered sash and others were left out to the open after Max had been sent to his tent without food for ruining his uniform. He was gifted a bandage after he slammed his face into a rock wall and Pikeman had so generously gifted him the bright pink bandage that laid across the bridge of his nose. The other scouts laughed at him for the color of the bandage.
“Are you ready to be a good boy, Maxwell?” Max jumped, wrapping his arms around himself, and looked up at the older teen, his large blue doe eyes staring at him uncertainly.
Pikeman squatted down to his height and leaned in close.
“You’ve been training to be an excellent camper, and you were promised a reward when you proved you were a good boy. You’ve made us very proud in the short time you’ve been here, and we were easily able to overcome all that bad behavior. The reward will come if you can do this.”
Max wrapped his arms around tighter and looked at the other two scouts for approval. They grinned at him, giving the small boy a thumbs up as encouragement. Max still looked like a frightened and wounded animal despite the encouraging looks, he could tell in some way this would fall back on him and he’d end up punished once more.
His legs began to shake as he thought of the task before him, but turned back to Pikeman, knowing how much he hated when Max didn’t keep eye contact.
Pikeman stood and offered his hand out to Max who gently took it, he nervously chewed on his thumb as the walked toward the door.
“Posture, Max.” Pikeman reminded without looking to the boy. Max stood up straight, but didn’t stop chewing on his thumb, something that had come to replace holding his teddy bear, who was currently stationed in his troop leader’s tent.
Pikeman took a catalogue that was carried under his arm and passed it too Max.
Before Pikeman could remind Max the plan, which consisted of following the rules of intense eye contact and always smile, (and if push came to shove, stick your foot in the door and demand they buy the popcorn) the door opened to reveal a rather pretty young woman.
She seemed pleased to greet the children, and this eased the anxiety that gripped at Max’s chest.
Max looked to Pikeman who tilted his head to the lady at the door, and Max passed her the catalogue.
‘Bull shit it like Neil. Fight through it like he does, be strong like Neil.’’
“M-my name is M-M-Max and I’m with the W-Wood Scouts, M-ma’am.”
She laughed and bent down to his height, and reached out to gently squeeze his cheek.
Max resisted the urge to flinch, and gave the woman a weak smile, her hand were very warm.
“Well aren’t you just the cutest scout there ever was! How’d you get all them bruises, honey?”
Max looked down and began to shuffle his feet, his thumb had returned to his mouth, and Pikeman began to panic and was going to interject.
“I went on a ropes course.” Max told honestly, like Pikeman had taught him. They spent a whole day on telling the truth after Max had lied about sneaking through the older teen’s tent searching for his reward.
Max never lied again.
“Oh yeah? What else did you do?” Her heart absolutely melted at the nervous scout, he was clearly upset by having to talk to a stranger and he was just the most sweetest thing she had ever laid her eyes on. She’d have tell everyone at work about the cute scout that visited her.
“I went rock climbing, and swimming, we did archery once, and we went hiking one day.” Max racked his brain, trying to think of what else they had done in the month Max had been stuck with the scouts.
‘Tortured, I was definitely tortured. And beat publicly and humiliated, and they broke me over a stupid teddy bear that they haven’t let me touch or see inweeks.’ Max fought down the voice that had suddenly broke through in his head.
“Oh, how exciting!” She stood up straight after petting Max’s wild curls. (Which Pikeman had tried to tame, and almost shaved off, but that was one fight Max won.)
“You’re selling popcorn? That’s neat. Have you been down this whole street?” She asked, flipping through the pages of the catalogue, finding some eye catching flavors.
Max furrowed his brows as he thought and found himself chewing at his nail.
He looked up at her from under the loose curls that fell on his forehead. Pikeman always said to keep eye contact.
“N-no ma’am. You’re my first customer.” He flinched when she gasped, he wondered if he had said something wrong and if Pikeman would be upset. What if he was sent to bed without dinner again? Or made to do chores, or have to sleep outside in his sleeping bag again?
What if Pikeman struck him again?
The right side of his face tingled at the thought.
He hadn’t called any of the Wood Scouts a name after that incident, even when he really wanted to. Even Snake had felt bad for him.
“Well, how about I make myself a memorable first customer! I’ll buy three big bags of this caramel corn!”
Max smiled up at her, eyes wide as he thought of how proud Pikeman would be.
Max turned to look at him, hoping to see some sense of happiness behind the stern yellow eyes, but his smile quickly fell when he met Pikeman’s gaze.
Pikeman was studying him up and down, trying to solve an equation very much invisible to Max.
The lady offered Max the catalogue as she went off to fetch her check book.
Max clutched the paper to his chest tightly, and began to shake under Pikeman’s intense gaze. Max’s eyes darted around as if someone was going to jump out of nowhere, but he stayed put because his leader hadn’t told him it was time to leave yet.
The lady returned to the door and offered Max the check, which he accepted with a quick nod.
“Thank you for the popcorn dear! Have a good time at camp okay?” She gently shut the door, and Max turned to stand in front of Pikeman who wordlessly offered his hand.
Max kept his eyes downcast as they trudged back to the bushes where Petrol and Snake had hidden themselves.
Pikeman had a tight grip on Max’s hand, and the smaller boy couldn’t help but whimper in pain as the tight grip continued to grow.
The acne ridden teen didn’t offer an apology, only loosened his grip upon hearing the noise Max had made.
The others stood at attention once Pikeman and Max rounded the corner into the thick brush.
“How’d it go?” Snake asked, taking the papers from Max’s hand. He gasped letting Petrol stare at the check.
Petrol gave him a thumbs up, and Snake patted his shoulder. Max felt his chest swell with hope at his reward.
“This is amazing! This is more than we’d sell in a month.”
Max tilted his head in confusion,”But it’s only three ba-”
“Don’t talk back, Maxwell.” Pikeman chided, eyes staring at nothing as he lost himself back in thought.
Max stood up straight and kept his eyes downcast, when did he come so used to this routine? The routine of hiding himself.
“Let’s go back to headquarters, I think we need to rethink our entire plan.”
“You’re crazy!” Snake gasped, staring at the paper in front of them.
Max wasn’t allowed to sit at the table with the high ranking scouts, so he sat next to Pikeman’s chair, picking at grass that had tried to sprout under the Meeting Tent.
“I would have said the same thing myself; however, Maxwell proved me wrong.”
Max looked up when he heard his name mentioned, and was met with a cold hand brushing back- no, petting his hair, as if Max was his pet. Pikeman seemed proud of him, and a Max began to feel his own pride flow inside him.
“So your lap dog has finally done something right?” Another troop leader laughed, and Pikeman scoffed at the name. Max frowned, keeping the snide comments he would have loved to make to himself.
“Maxwell will you please stand on the chair.” Pikeman stood up and pushed the chair back to give Max room to climb on.
Max could feel the whole room’s eyes settle on him and he chewed on his thumb, fighting the red color that overcame his cheeks, and was trying his best not to slouch. They always teased when Pikeman corrected him on something as simple as slouching.
“Max is small and very thin. He’s shy,” He gestured to the blush that settled on his cheeks, and easily wrapped his thumb and middle finger so they touched around Max’s upper arm.
“He fidgets nervously and is the youngest of the Sleepy Peak troop. He screams weak, and gentle.” The other’s leaned forward, clearly interested in what Pikeman was trying to prove.
“He’s adorable. And that’s what sells.” A few uneasy glances are passed around the room, Pikeman coughed to bring them back.
“Think about it, colorful cookie names, vibrant boxes with cutesy animal designs, and most of all shy and dainty Flower Scouts to sell them. The Flower Scouts sell because they play to the people, they don’t need to intimidate because they’ve already manipulated them into buying just by batting their eyes and being cute. “
“It’s even in the name! When you think of flowers, you think of pleasant plants and sweet smells? Now what do you think when you hear the word ‘Woods.”
“You’re onto something, Edward.” Another troop leader agreed.
“I think it’s time to reconstruct are popcorn selling plan, and our looks, but for now I think it’s time to take care of some business.”
Pikeman gently lifted Max off the chair, as the scouts began to discuss the new plan, and set him on the ground.
“It’s time for your reward, Max.” Pikeman’s face had gone gentle, and Max willingly took his hand.
Snake and Petrol followed the duo back to Pikeman’s tent where Max was instructed to sit on the cot and wait.
Max kicked his legs, his whole body buzzing with excitement upon getting the chance to see Mr. Honey nuts. His heart raced as he thought of the many night he would hold his friend close, and how all anxieties would creep away from Max when his friend was with him.
He couldn’t help the creeping smile that had somehow found its way onto his face. His adorable plush friend he hadn’t seen since the ropes course on his first day. He had made it, he had been a good boy and he would finally get back his bear. What he had fought for since day one.
Max saw Pikeman’s feet come into view from where he was staring at the ground.
“Maxwell, you may look up now.”
Max whipped his head up, his wide grin and sparkling eyes falling as he saw his bear.
It was mostly deflated, most of the stuffing had fallen out, and the bear has several missing limbs, it only had its right arm and its left leg was hanging by a single thread.
The bear was missing both eyes and it’s head was void of stuffing.
Pikeman held out the pieces, growing more frustrated by the second.
“Go on Maxwell, take you reward.” He urged, confused on why the boy looked so sad after he had just gifted him back the prized toy that made him join the Wood Scouts.
Max took it and as soon as he touched it the head fell off and rolled away.
“Yes, Maxwell you’ve earned this. You’ve proven to the other troops that the Sleepy Peak district is one of high standard, and that we can turn anyone into an honorable scout. It’s certainly shown and will reflect on my reputation.” He bragged, Max knew that the earlier pride he saw was not meant for him.
No one was expecting the weak sob that fled the boy.
‘David wouldn’t cry, fight it, be strong like David.’ Max tried to convince himself but he could feel the burning tears begin to well up.
“He’s ruined!” Max cried, a familiar fight rising in his chest. He threw the body at Pikeman.
Tears blurred his vision and he didn’t fight against them this time, sobs wracked his tiny frame.
The sobs turned into screams as Max released almost a month’s worth of emotions that had been pent up inside of him. The frustration, the anger, the sad nights, and the fear rang through his screams.
He slammed his fists on the cot, his screams only increasing in volume as his tears fell faster and more frequently.
“M-My Bear!” Max wailed, curling in on himself, his mind raced with the picture of holding his ruined comfort item.
“M-Maxwell, please, stop this.” Pikeman stared at his friends for help, having never experienced Max having a crying fit, Snake and Petrol looked as equally afraid.
Snake went into action shoving the pieces of the torn bear into his leader’s hands, and Pikeman in turn held them out to Max.
“W- We can fix this Max. We’ll fix this dont worry! We can sew can’t we!” Pikeman knew for a fact he couldn’t and he turned to his friends who shrugged in response.
Max continued to wail, smacking the ruined pieces of his teddy out of Pikeman’s hands.
Guilt flooded the Wood Scouts, and Pikeman moved to comfort the boy.
He’d pat his head and tell him he was proud! That had always made Max happy in the past.
But he only cared for it because it meant he inching closer to get his bear, Oh..
Pikeman stared at the remains of Mr. Honey Nuts.
Or maybe not.
The flap to Pikeman’s tent opened and he whipped around quickly to shoo the stray scout, who was clearly enticed to peak by the screaming, off but froze when he met eyes with a familiar tall man.
A small scout tried pushing the older man back, “He just came stomping through here and all his campers are raising a riot all over camp!”
David stood tall, eyes dark, bags layered under his eyes from sleepless night that had been haunting him for almost a month.
“I heard from a good friend at the bar that a curly black haired boy sold her Wood Scout’s Popcorn. Said he was tan skinned, with the widest blue eyes. Said he was covered in bruises.” David chuckled darkly.
Where’s my camper at?” He spat, and as if on cue Max let out a loud cry behind Pikeman, too lost in his crying fit to notice his camp counselor who came to rescue him.
Cries from the outside surrounded the tent, some about a girl who was climbing and wreaking havoc, and about how their phones and other electronics had been hacked. More filled as the other yellow shirt wearing campers flooded in.
Pikeman shrunk as David stalked closer.
Nikki and Neil hurried for Max to get into the middle of their bed.
Bed was a loose term, it was actually their three cots pushed together since the two campers couldn’t bare anymore separation from their friend.
Max rolled his eyes but got under the covers letting his two friends get comfortable on either side of him.
Neil dug under the bed and passed the patchwork bear to Max, as was routine for them, as it had been for the past week.
The yellow and brown fabric that covered the bear didn’t even show signs of ripping as Max gripped it tight, and his friend were gentle as the cuddled close to their friend, not wanting to press against any wounds.
David peeked in a few minutes after lights out had officially been put in place, scratching at his bare neck sheepishly when Max smiled at him as was routine for them now.
Before David could even get in his own good nights, Max’s friends had been anticipating David’s arrival.
“Good night!” Nikki screamed with her eyes still closed.
Max fought back his urge to flinch, and smiled at his friend’s antics.
“Yeah, night, David.” Neil yawned.
Max felt Neil’s back press against his own.
“Night ass hat.” Max said, faux annoyance in his voice.