Mr. Williams and his children arrived at the arboretum to take a nature tour on a bright summer day. Mr. Williams had been planning this trip to show his children Kevin and Kathy that the outdoors could be just as fun as their devices and screens indoors. Kevin and Kathy begrudgingly agreed to join their dad, mainly because he took their phones. A nature guide approached them with a smile.
“Hi, I’m Dan. I’ll be your tour guide this fine day.”
They began walking down a path through the forest. Mr. Williams tried to make some small talk.
“So Dan, what brought you down this career path?”
“Well, I actually just returned from the Middle East. I served there for almost the past decade, and thought a peaceful workplace would be a good fit for me.”
“Well, peaceful is definitely what you got.”
Mr. Williams laughed for no reason. Kevin and Kathy groaned, bored out of their minds. Then Dan started to describe some of the vegetation around them.
“These little guys here are a type of shrub. They need very little water because…”
Dan trailed off and zoned out speechless. After a few seconds Mr. Williams asked if he was ok. Dan snapped back into focus.
“Yes, I’m so sorry. I just saw these everywhere in the Middle East and it brings back some memories.”
Kevin and Kathy gave each other a worried look. Mr. Williams just wanted to hear more about the plants. Dan led them further into the forest, describing the trees and animals that lived there. Suddenly a stick cracked in a tree above them.
“FRAG OUT!” Dan yelled, and dropped to the ground.
The Williams followed suit, terrified. Once Dan realized what was going on, he got back up and apologized.
“You know, I’ve been feeling a little sick lately. I’m just going to run to the bathroom real quick. I’ll be right back.”
Dan ran to the port-a-potty on the side of the trail. Kevin and Kathy huddled up with their dad.
“Dad, we have to get out of here now,” they begged.
Mr. Williams was set on his goal. “Quitting already? Come on guys, there’s just as much fun in nature as there is in our house.”
Kevin and Kathy explained their terror and the potential danger to their dad, but he wasn’t hearing it. Suddenly, Dan came out of the port-a-potty. He seemed different.
“This way, let’s move,” he said.
Instead of vegetation, Dan was describing the movements the infantry would make. He was in full military mode. Mr. Williams was loving it, thinking it was part of the tour. Kevin and Kathy tried to whisper to their dad that they should run, but Dan heard them.
“Deserters?” he said. “Are you spies for the enemy?”
Mr. Williams helped hold Kevin and Kathy down on Dan’s orders. The kids were infuriated with their dad, but he assured them they’d appreciate it some day. Dan was preparing to get some answers out of Kevin and Kathy by any means necessary. Suddenly, someone came running down the path.
“Dan, thank God! I looked everywhere for you.”
The man looked at the Williams and apologized if his brother did anything to bother them. Dan had taken his tour guide uniform and walked off when he brought him into work today. His brother thought it’d be a peaceful day for Dan to aid his recovery. Dan was dragged away by his brother. Mr. Williams gave his kids their phones back and they walked back to the car.