Vacation Gone Wrong – Part 2

Brady Draghetti, Staff Writer

Chapter 5

Ben was working in his house. He had a lot of important things to take care of, as always. His phone was sitting on next to him on a table. He had the volume up and the ringer on. Ben worked for a while, and his phone sat there the whole time. It did not ring. 

 

 

“Typical. There’s no service out here,” Steve said, walking back inside the crashed RV and trailer in the middle of the woods. They were stuck at a large wildlife refuge. “Not that much food left,” Alex was looking in the fridge. 

“NOOO! We’ll never survive out here!” Steve cried. Dan was freaked out, too. Alex said, “Now, we can be just like the people from a long time ago, who had to survive using the resources around them.” Steve didn’t want Alex to try and put her old-fashioned twist on this, though. As Alex was unloading the things they’d packed from Dan’s trailer and the camper’s storage unit, Steve dug through the items and pulled out a pistol he’d brought. 

“I’ll go hunting for food,” he announced. 

“Uh-uh,” Alex said when she saw the gun. Then she took it from him and threw it at a tree, causing it to break. 

“Why did you do that?” Steve exclaimed. 

“You guys don’t embrace history enough,” she replied, “so we are going to treat this like the old times.” 

“But what about your convention? Aren’t you really eager to go?” 

“Yes, but this is an area that looks just like the world used to. Before civilization, before cars, before those peanut-butter-filled pretzels.” 

Steve did not like where this was headed. Dan had been checking on his house, and the inside was okay. He still had all his things. The inside of the camper was still liveable for Steve and Alex. The only thing damaged was the engine, and no one could hear the highway from here. 

Alex had brought a weapon of her own on the trip. Of course, it was a 14th century sword. “I’m going hunting for resources,” she announced, “who’s in?” Steve was still mad at her for destroying his gun, so he said he and Spooky were going to find their own ways to survive. Rufus was loyal to his owner, so he also stayed with Steve. Dan went with Alex, because he was hungry and she was smart. 

After they left Steve said to the dog and statue, “we are the real hardcore survivalists, right guys? Just a few dudes and the wilderness, but not for long. Our first order of business is to walk around and see if we can get phone service.” 

Steve walked all over the small clearing where the camper had crashed, and into the woods a little ways. No signal. Steve threw his phone on the ground and went back to the camper with Rufus and Spooky. “We need a new plan.” 

 

Alex and Dan walked through the woods, away from where the camper was, in search of animals. “Should we gather materials to build a shelter?” Dan asked. 

“That’s what the camper and your house are for,” Alex replied in annoyance. She then stopped and saw a wild deer. “Shhh,” she said under her breath, and threw her sword when the deer stood still. The sword struck the animal. And Alex and Dan went over to it. 

Steve was eating some of the snacks he’d brought with Rufus when Alex and Dan returned to the camper. “Who wants dinner?” She said, and Steve stared at the raw meat she carried. 

“What the heck is that?” 

“It’s deer, I’m going to make a fire and cook it.”
Steve was about to tell her the camper had an oven, but then he remembered that it needed to be plugged into an outlet for everything to work, and those were only at campgrounds. 

Steve, Alex, Dan, Spooky, and Rufus spent the evening outside the camper, cooking and eating the deer meat. “So, how do you feel about missing the gold-miner’s convention?” Steve asked Alex. 

“What do you mean?” She said. 

“It doesn’t look like we’re going to make it to Miami,” Steve said. 

“I’m not upset about missing my convention, because tomorrow I’ll get to live it. I will see if there are rocks I can mine here in the forest.” Alex was enthusiastic. 

Everyone went to bed after that. Alex was happy to be able to show her friends what life was like without all these modern things. She tried to get Steve to come with her the next morning. But Steve had his own plan for the day. 

“Suit yourself,” Alex told him and walked into the woods with Dan. Steve turned to his faithful allies, Spooky and Rufus. He said they were going to work together on getting the camper fixed, then they could leave the woods. But Steve had never fixed an engine before, and he didn’t know where to start when he looked at it. But he figured he might as well try. “You guys are really helping me,” he said rudely to Rufus and Spooky who were just sitting and eating snacks. 

As Alex and Dan were walking through the woods, Dan was getting worried because they’d gone farther than yesterday and had lost sight of the camper. “Are you sure you know where we are going?” he asked. 

“Yes, theres a little cave with mining materials over there,” Alex replied and pointed to some shiny rocks, glistening in the reflection of the sunlight. Alex began to mine at the stone with her pickaxe, when Dan saw something moving fast through the woods. It was an unfamiliar animal, and was small enough to move through the bushes. It was headed their way. 

The animal looked like it was mostly orange as it snaked through the bushes, and Dan was worried it could be a fox. He alerted Alex as the animal got closer. Alex turned around as it burst through the bushes and came face-to-face with them. 

It was an orange tabby cat, very skinny with no collar. Alex was an expert on animals, and she could tell the cat was a female, which was rare for that breed. “Are you lost?” She started talking to the animal in a cute way. Dan was afraid, because the cat seemed to be aggressive. 

“Careful, Alex,” he warned. 

“It’s ok. I have a fish,” Alex replied, “cats will do anything for it.” 

The cat growled at them. Alex took out her fish and slowly placed it in front of the cat’s face. The cat may have had a previous owner, because it knew exactly what the fish was and started eating it. Then she started rubbing against Alex. Dan was very surprised at what had just happened. The cat followed Alex. Dan went to search for food sources while Alex played with her new pet. 

“Should we head back to the camper?” Dan asked, and Alex replied, “okay. It’s that way. Or… was it that way?” 

“We’re not lost are we?” Dan asked nervously. 

“No, we’ll find our way back,” Alex replied calmly. 

But Dan was afraid because it would be dark soon. 

“Come on,” Alex started walking in the opposite direction they had come, but not realizing it. Dan and the cat followed her. As they walked, Alex tried to take their minds off the conflict by thinking of a name for her cat. Dan was too distracted by the fact that they were lost, so Alex eventually came up with “Luna” for a name. 

After walking a little farther, they came upon another entity moving about the bushes. Alex readyed her spear in case it was an animal. But then came the sound of footsteps, and it turned out to be another human being! A man emerged from the tangle of weeds and bushes, dressed  head-to-toe in light blue armor. 

“Hello there,” he said to Alex and Dan in surprise. 

Alex was too shocked to speak. 

“We’re lost, can you help us?” Dan asked. 

“Sure I can,” the man replied. “I’ve been out here six months I know my way around these woods.” 

“Six months?” Alex asked in awe. 

“I was flying in my Dad’s cessna 407 plane alone in a storm and I crash landed in this area,” he said. “No one knows where I am, or they probably would have come for me by now.” 

Before he could say more, it began to rain. 

Dan, Alex, and Luna were not happy about that, because they didn’t have shelter. 

“Oh geez,” the armored man said, “why don’t you come to my place to wait out the storm? Its just around the corner.” 

“Sure,” they said and followed him. Luna stayed close to Alex’s side. Alex could make out a funny-shaped cabin made out of what looked like airplane parts and debris. 

They entered it and it was dry inside. There was a bed made out of smooth dirt with a sleeping bag on it, four rocks for sitting on, and a little custom made basket for food. It was created by weaving sticks and fishing line. 

Once they were settled inside, The man reached out his hand. 

“I’m Jack, by the way.” 

He shook hands with Alex and Dan and they said their names. Alex looked at his big bucket of food and the sleeping bag. Jack caught her eye, and he told her about the things that survived the plane wreck. 

Dan checked out the packages of frozen food in the basket. They almost looked as if Jack had brought them out on purpose, like he’d planned to get stranded. 

“Can I have something to eat? I’m really hungry,” Dan said. 

“Sure help yourself,” Jack replied, “and I’ll get the cooking fire going.” Jack actually had matches from the plane, and he lit a fire inside the cabin. Luna was afraid of it, and hid behind the rock Alex was sitting on. The fire blazed inside the shelter as the rain pattered the roof hard. 

Jack began cooking the frozen steak. “So, are you guys from around here?” 

“No,” Alex replied, “We were actually on a road trip when our camper crashed into the woods thanks to someones driving,” she looked right at Dan angrily, who turned red. 

Then Alex talked about how she didn’t mind being stuck in the woods, because it gave her and her friends a chance to escape the modern world. Jack felt the same way. “If/when I get rescued,” he said, 

“I don’t think I’ll ever be able to function in society the same as before.”

The cold wind and heavy rainfall slammed the roof and sides of the camper. The heat was not working, and Steve sat at the dining table with a blanket wrapped around himself and Rufus. “I’ll get us a snack,” Steve said and got up from his seat. He and his dog were shivering, and he figured eating would take his mind off it. 

When Steve opened the door to the cabinet under the sink where he kept his snacks, he saw something he’d never seen before. It was in the back of the cabinet, an oddly shaped black object. He pulled it out and couldn’t believe what he’d found. 

“Guys look!” Steve exclaimed to Spooky and Rufus, “a wifi router! Thank you, Ben!” Steve went to get the router set up. Once it was ready, he would be able to call for help and get himself and his friends out of the woods. But then he realized he needed to find Alex. “suit up guys,” he said to Spooky and Rufus as the rain stopped. 

Chapter 6 

“So,” Alex said to Jack, “Check out what I found.” She opened her bag and pulled out a crystal she’d found when mining rocks with Dan. 

Jack seemed amazed by it. “Where did you find it,” he asked. 

“In those big rocks where you found us,” Alex replied. 

“Were there more?” Jack asked. 

“I don’t know,” Alex said, “I got distracted by the rain. Did you see anymore Dan?” 

Dan shook his head. 

“Did the rain stop?” he then asked. 

“Oh yeah, it did,” Alex got up. “We should probably find our back to our friend Steve, but thank you for the hospitality Jack.” 

“No problem,” Jack said, “and if you ever need help with something else, you know where to find me.” 

“Thank you,” Alex said as she, Dan, and Luna left the cabin to find their way back to the camper. 

 

Steve carried Spooky and was headed out to find Alex. Rufus jogged ahead. “If I were Alex, where would I be?” Steve said to himself. After a little while of walking, he could see a clearing in the trees ahead. A river. Steve said, “is that the Pearl River?” 

One section of the river was extremely shallow, and the water flowed fast over the rocks. Steve looked beyond the rocks and saw something moving through the trees on the other side of the river. It was a car. “A road!” Steve exclaimed. “We’re saved, we just need to get the figure out how to get the camper working and get it across the river.” 

Just then there was a noise in the bushes. Steve, Spooky, and Rufus hid behind a rock. A person dressed in blue armor appeared, and walked over to a large stone by the river. “Who the heck is that?” Steve watched from the hiding place as Jack used a secret lever that caused the rock wall to split in half, revealing a small cave space inside with a large mech robot. The mech was 10 feet tall, and carried swords in both of its hands. There was a place just below the head where a person could get inside and drive it. 

Jack started speaking to the mech like it was alive. “The time for befriending Alex and Dan is over,” he said, “they know where that treasure is, and I need to keep them away from it.” He then climbed inside the mech and started it up. “I didn’t land a plane out here for nothing,” he said as he made the mech walk away. 

“Did you guys hear that?” Steve turned to Spooky and Rufus. “We have to find Alex and warn her.” Steve grabbed Spooky and ran off, Rufus followed right behind him. 

 

“What do you think Steve has been up to?” Dan asked Alex as they walked through the woods. 

Alex said, “probably just regular old Steve stuff. And by that, I mean being stupid about survival techniques.” 

Dan just hoped his friend was okay. But then, there was a huge crashing noise in the brush, like someone running through it. Alex got ready to fight, when Steve appeared face-to-face with Alex. They screamed at first, because it surprised both of them. 

“Where have you guys been,” Steve panted. 

“We were caught in a rainstorm,” Alex said, “a nice man named Jack gave us shelter in his little cabin he built. He’s really into the old-timey lifestyle, just like me.” 

“Yeah, well, that nice man Jack is going to kill you!” Steve yelled. 

“What are you talking about?” Alex exclaimed. 

“Alex, I saw him. Spooky and Rufus and I were down by the river when he came and got into this giant robot thing. It’s after the treasure you guys want, and he said something about crashing a plane in the woods just so he could find it!” 

“What? He said he crash-landed by mistake. You’re not making any sense, Steve. He would not do that.” 

“You just have to trust me, please. I heard him.” 

Suddenly, there was a growl and a hiss, Rufus and Luna had met each other. “Ahh! That cat’s attacking my dog!” Steve cried. 

“Calm down,” Alex said annoyedly, “Her name is Luna and I found her.” 

“Why would you keep a wild cat?” Steve asked in disbelief. 

But then the group had bigger problems to worry about. “Why do I hear a mech in the woods?” Dan asked. Jack was headed their way. 

“That’s him! That’s the guy Jack!” Steve shouted at Alex. 

“No it isn’t,” she scoffed. But when a mech appeared out of the bushes, with 5-foot-long swords in its hands, all Alex could manage to say was “run!” 

“Get back here!” Jack shouted through the megaphone on the mech. “These woods are my territory!” He began to chase them. Steve picked up Spooky and Alex picked up Luna. The gang continued to run, ducking through bushes and branches, nearly bumping into the trees. 

Jack’s mech stayed right on their tail. Dan tried to hide behind a tree, but the mech’s strong arms tore it straight from the ground. Dan started running again. As Steve continued forward, he could make out the camper and Dan’s house through the trees. “Come on guys, we’re almost there!” 

Alex was glad to have made it back to the camper, but not so glad that Jack had made the mech start slashing it’s swords at the group as they ran, narrowly missing them but getting closer with each blow. Jack shouted at them again, “Stop running! This place belongs to me!” 

Alex tripped over a root and fell, sprawling over onto her back. Luna flew from her arms and continued to run toward the camper with the others. Jack stopped the mech and raised it’s sword to hit Alex, who rolled out of the way as the blade slammed the ground. She then got up and began to run again, toppling a large, dead tree in the path of Jack’s mech. Jack didn’t have time to stop, and the mech slammed into the dead tree which was now diagonal to block it’s path. The mech flew backwards and landed a few yards away. It lay there motionless. 

Alex joined her friends in the camper and locked the door. “Wow, you were right Steve,” she said in disbelief. Steve was never right. 

“I know it’s not the twist you were expecting,” he replied, “but it looks like he isn’t following us anymore. So let’s go to bed. It’s getting dark out.” 

“Why would he attack us like that?” Alex was upset. 

“Wasn’t there a big rock near the place we ran into each other?” Steve asked. 

“Of course,” Alex cried, “he was trying to steal the treasure!” 

“Yes! That’s what I’ve been trying to say here, the whole reason he’s attacking us is because he wants the stuff to himself.” 

“I can’t believe that,” said Alex. 

“And he can have all that treasure to himself because we are getting out of here,” Steve announced and walked over to the kitchen, where he’d set up the wifi router that Ben had left. z
“Is that a wifi router?” Alex exclaimed in disbelief. 

“We can call the authorities for help now,” Steve said excitedly and took out his phone. 

Alex ran toward him. “No!” She cried. 

“What do you mean?” Steve exclaimed, “we are getting out of these woods and will be able to go to Miami, isn’t that what you wanted?” 

“I missed the convention and I’m not upset about it,” Alex said as she tried to grab Steve’s phone from him. 

Steve held the phone up high in his hand. Alex tried to grab it, but accidentally bumped it out of Steve’s hands and it landed in the front of the camper, nearly hitting Dan in the face. Steve lunged for the phone, and Alex grabbed the wifi router. 

“You just want to get out of the woods so you can get to Miami and enjoy your vacation,” Alex yelled, “Because all you care about is yourself and the conveniences of the stupid modern world!” And with that, Alex threw the wifi router out the kitchen window. It smashed through the glass, and broke in half when it hit the ground. 

“Why would you do that?!” Steve shouted. 

“I don’t want to be rescued! Period!” Alex yelled back. 

“Well I do.” Steve turned around and stormed out of the camper. 

Chapter 7 

It was dark outside. Steve didn’t know what time it was because his phone had broken when it dropped on the floor. He sat in front of the camper, looking at the parts of the engine, wondering how he could possibly fix them. Steve was on his own with getting out of the woods. 

Dan had went into his house and gone to bed. Spooky was still in the camper. Steve didn’t even want his statue friend with him anymore. Rufus tried to come outside, but Steve wouldn’t let him. Steve just sat for a while, waiting. Waiting to see if maybe help would somehow come. 

Eventually, Steve got up and put his ear to the door of the camper. It was quiet inside. He decided to go to bed. When Steve walked into the camper, Alex was asleep. Rufus lay in his spot on the floor, and Spooky was right at the table where Steve left him. Steve went to get into his bed and found Luna on it, sprawled out so there was no room for him. Steve knew that cat would be a pain the moment he met it. And he was hungry. 

Fearing he could wake Alex by moving Luna, Steve decided to go to Dan’s house for the night. He opened Dan’s door quietly and found Dan asleep on the bottom bunk of the two bunk beds in his house. Steve tried to step over his and Alex’s luggage on the floor without waking Dan, and he was able to climb into the top bunk. It was a tight squeeze for Steve between the bed and the ceiling, but he managed to make himself comfortable. 

Steve only slept for a half hour when a big noise in the woods woke everyone up. Steve fell from the bunk bed and startled Dan awake when he hit the floor. “What are you doing in here?” Dan exclaimed. But they had bigger problems. 

Jack had come back. “Come out,” he yelled through his mech. “I know you’re hoarding the treasure in there!” 

“Is he out of his mind,” Steve asked wearily. 

Alex had come out of the camper when Steve and Dan stepped outside his house. 

“Are you crazy,” Alex said, “What makes you think we’d be hoarding that stuff?” 

Jack began to attack, charging toward them in his mech. 

“Steve, I’m sorry! Here, there’s weapons in this,” Alex shouted and threw the giant suitcase from the camper at Steve. 

He caught it and looked inside. Jack came in for a blow and Steve moved out of the way. Steve pulled out a sword from the bag, and Alex had a sword, too. Dan couldn’t find a weapon, and he just ran around frantically. Jack attempted to strike again. 

The mech’s swords came right for Steve and Alex. They held up their swords and and tried to block the attack, but the mech was stronger than them. Dan grabbed Steve and Alex’s other luggage from his house and started throwing it at the mech. Rufus leaped at the mech’s right leg and started biting it, but Jack easily shook him off. 

Rufus went flying into Dan, knocking him backwards. Jack picked up one of the large suitcases with the mech and threw it at Alex, hitting her and causing her to land on the ground. Then Jack had the mech grab Steve in its large hand and pin him against the side of the camper. 

“I don’t think we’ve officially met,” Jack said menacingly, “I’m the guardian of these treasures, and I’ve been out here years trying to find them. I didn’t land a plane out here just so some others could steal it.” 

“I thought you said you crashed your plane,” Dan said. 

“I was lying you numskull,” Jack replied. 

Jack raised his mech sword to stab Steve. “You have five seconds to tell me where it is,” he shouted. 

“I don’t know-” but then Steve remembered the taser he always kept in his pocket, the one Alex didn’t know about. He pulled it out and kicked the fingers of the mech, and it dropped him. Then he shot it with the taser and it electrocuted the mech with Jack inside. 

The mech fell forward toward the hood of the camper, where Alex, Dan, Rufus, and Luna jumped out of the way as the sparking mech’s hand touched the engine of the camper. The entire vehicle sparked with electricity, and the engine roared to life. 

The shock had caused the mech to transfer its battery power to the engine of the camper and start it up. The mech fell forward again, this time landing on the place where Jack sat inside. It’s batteries were dead. 

“Is he okay?” Dan asked. 

“I don’t think that guy was ever okay,” Alex said. 

“Guys! The electricity from this taser caused the mechs battery power to transfer to the camper’s engine!” Steve said excitedly. 

“I never thought I’d say this, Steve, but I’m glad you had a modern weapon on you,” Alex said with a smile. 

“I understand if you don’t want to leave,” Steve said, “even though we technically can now.” 

“I’m sorry Steve, you are right. We shouldn’t live in the woods.” 

“Then let’s get out of here,” he exclaimed. 

“How? We still don’t know how to get to any roads.” 

Then Steve remembered the road he’d seen on the other side of the river, and the spot where the water was very shallow. “I know where there’s a road, on the other side of the Pearl River. I saw it. There’s a really shallow spot where we might just be able to drive the camper over the rocks and get to the other side. Come on!” Steve hopped into the driver’s seat. He figured everyone would say his idea was stupid. But they were willing to try anything, so they all climbed on board. Even Alex. 

Steve drove the camper down the hill, and kept the headlights off as to not draw attention. But when they reached the river, it was really hard to see where they were going in the dark, and it was starting to rain again. So they had to put the headlights on and were able to find the shallow spot in the stream. 

Steve put his foot on the accelerator. They edged out slowly, Dan’s trailer still staying attached to the camper as it bounced along the rocks. For a minute, it looked like they were going to make it all the way across. 

But once they reached the middle of the river, there was an awful screeching sound and the camper ground to a halt. “What happened?” Alex asked. 

“I don’t know,” Steve said, “I’ve never heard that noise before.” 

They were stuck on a giant rock, and something got knocked loose from the bottom of the camper. None of them knew what it was, but it looked like it was pretty important. 

By now the rain was coming down hard, and the river wasn’t so shallow anymore. The camper’s sewage tank was underwater, and it didn’t take long for the system to back up. The toilet overflowed into the living area and made a big mess, and the group scrambled to keep off the floor. But the camper was filling with water, so they had to get out. “We need to abandon the camper,” Alex cried. Steve opened the door, but the river was moving so fast that it wasn’t safe to leave. 

Alex pulled herself onto the roof of the camper first, then helped the others to safety. She was kind of annoyed when Steve tossed Spooky up there before helping himself. Once everyone was on the roof, the camper started to turn, pointing downstream. The river was now overflowing, and the camper lifted free from the rock it was stuck on. Five seconds later, the group was drifting downstream. 

The camper was headed for a large tree that had fallen across the river, and it was going fast enough that everyone would be hurt if it hit the tree. Then Steve noticed the seat cushions from the kitchen table had floated outside through the side door. Steve jumped into the water first, and everyone else followed his lead. They all grabbed their own cushion, Dan holding Spooky and Rufus doing the dog paddle. 

The only one who didn’t jump was Luna, because cats hate water. She had climbed back down into the camper and was sitting in the drivers seat. Everyone was freaking out, because the camper was about to hit the fallen tree. 

But at the last second, Luna pulled the steering wheel hard to the left, and the camper started to turn. Dan’s house also turned with the camper, and it slowed down enough that it hit the tree sideways and didn’t even make a dent. 

Steve, Alex, Dan, Spooky, and Rufus floated up to the camper, still holding onto the seat cushions. The tree and camper were blocking the river, the they didn’t float anywhere. Luna stayed inside the cab and Alex tried to reach for her. 

Dan noticed headlights on the road, which was on the Mississippi side of the river. “Ah, the road! It talks!” he shouted. Alex knew what that meant. She and Steve started shouting and waving from in the river, trying to get the driver’s attention. 

The vehicle stopped and the driver got out as the group climbed out of the river. Luna was still inside the camper. “Y’all need some help?” the driver asked and pointed to his 24-hour-service tow truck. Everyone couldn’t believe he’d been there at just the right time. 

The tow truck driver hitched up his winch to the front of the camper, and then got into his vehicle and pulled the camper with Dan’s house out of the river. Once he’d pulled the camper onto the road and unhooked it from his tow truck, Alex asked him to check on the camper to make sure it was okay after something got knocked off it in the river. 

The driver took a look and said, “It’s just your exhaust pipe. You’ll be fine for the trip home but make sure you get a new one ASAP.” 

Alex thanked him and asked for directions to the interstate. The driver told her how to get there, then Alex pulled Luna out of the drivers seat and got ready to go. The camper’s engine still worked, and Steve went on his phone after they drove off and found an RV campground right by the highway to stay at for the night. The rain had also stopped. 

Chapter 8 

Alex, Steve, and Dan arrived home two days later, and Ben asked them, “how was Miami? I called you and you didn’t answer.” 

“It’s a long story,” Alex said. 

On the trip back to the village, Steve and Alex had made some agreements. Steve wouldn’t annoy her to death with all his modern stuff, but Alex would also try to embrace the modern culture every now and then, and accept that this is what life is like now. Steve said he would calm down and give the 1300s a try, and he went mining in the desert with Alex the next day. Their pets Rufus and Luna also came along. 

Steve admitted that if he leared one thing from this trip, it’s that things don’t go the way you plan and you need to adjust sometimes. Even though they didn’t get to go to Miami, Steve convinced Alex to make some stops in cool cities that were on their way home. They visited San Antonio, New Orleans, and Albuquerque. 

Dan has been trying to figure out how to make his house roll on his own, because he has always liked to spend his time on weird things. Meanwhile, Steve had only one question for Alex. “Where are we going for a trip next year?” 

And she replied, “I don’t know yet. But where ever it is, we’re flying.” 

 

THE END