Elroy is scared of most things, especially going on a school camping trip. But that's not counting the ZOMBIES!
The following story contains references and descriptions of zombies, as well as situations that may scare some young readers. Adult readers may wish to review the story prior to reading it to their child, if they know them to be sensitive to this kind of violence.
I wasn’t always like this. Like what, you ask? I guess, so… brave. It was this crazy thing that happened, that changed everything for me.
I’m a little different now. Let me tell you about it.
But I’ll have to start from the beginning.
I used to be scared of a lot of things. If there was a scary movie on TV, I’d cover my eyes and ask Mum to change the channel. If it was Halloween, I used to pretend that I’d hurt my leg so I wouldn’t have to walk around the neighbourhood and dress up with all the other kids. The sight of seeing all those crazy dress-up outfits as the sun went down and the sky grew dark… it gave me the heebie jeebies. It’s not that I thought they were real monsters. It’s more that sometimes my mind played tricks on me, and I thought, what if there were monsters out that night, and I just thought they were some dressed-up kids? What would happen then?
Sometimes it felt like I just couldn’t stop thinking. I was scared of putting the bins out at night, and bad diseases, and sometimes in bed I was even scared of the shadow my cupboard made against the wall. I knew there was probably nothing there, or nothing in real life that should make me feel like that. But my heart would beat fast and I would imagine things. I just couldn’t help it.
Mum and Dad knew all about it, but they were pretty good to me. They thought they could make me feel better by saying ‘Don’t worry Elroy, your imagination is worse than real life ever is!’ I knew it was, but it didn’t help. Anyway, Mum and Dad knew how I felt, and didn’t push me into doing anything I didn’t want to do.
But one day, that all changed.
It changed when my school sent me home with a note that our class was going away on a school camping trip.
I wasn’t ecstatic about it. I guess because I was going to be sleeping outside, in the dark, in tents. Plus, it was in the bush. Here’s something I haven’t told you yet: I live in Australia. Have you ever been to Australia? It has a reputation for being kind of one of the scariest places in the world.
There are all sorts of things in the bush in Australia. All sorts of things that can kill you. Spiders, for one thing. Snakes, for another. I even heard of kangaroos and possums breaking into people’s beds in the evening looking for food. That was one thing I didn’t want to imagine – waking up to see a big whiskery face staring at me in the middle of the night, with no one to hear me scream. Or worse still, everyone in my school class. No thanks.
So I said to my Mum and Dad that I didn’t want to go camping; I’d rather stay at home and clean my room.
It was telling them I’d clean my room that did it. I think I went too far than was healthy for any kid. Dad looked concerned and put the note down, then sat on the edge of my bed.
“Sometimes the scariest things aren’t so bad once you’re doing them,” said Dad. “Your imagination can conjure up all sorts of things that are far worse than the reality.”
“Nah,” I said. “I’m alright, thanks.”
But Mum and Dad didn’t take my response as I’d hoped. They exchanged glances with each other, and then Dad looked back at my face, examining it, as though he could see something else in it than what I’d said. I felt my face go red, and then I looked away. After a big pause he finally said,
“I think it’s better if you go.”
“But Dad..!” I said. I was shocked. They’d never forced me to do anything I didn’t want to before.
“It will be good for you,” Mum said from the doorway. “We don’t want you to live your life being scared of things. You’ll be supervised. Camping is fun. You’ll make lots of friends.”
“I’m not scared of anything,” I replied. But I could hear my voice trembling. I was just so shocked that they would force me. “I just think it would be boring,” I added.
But as Mum and Dad looked at me their eyes grew soft, and even before Dad had reached out to bring me into a hug, I just knew that nothing I could say then would make them change their mind. Great, I thought, as he pulled me into his armpit. I’d made them sorry for me. There was no getting out of it now.
On the day of the camping trip, it was kind of grey and heavy. I could feel my backpack cutting into my shoulder blades. I kissed my little twin brothers on the tops of their head before I left. For some stupid reason, I felt like I might never see them again. Mum would have said I was being dramatic. But I couldn’t help it. The wet look of the rooftops that morning; the sharp smell of asphalt on the road; the call of a passing crow… it all felt ominous.
But my brothers didn’t notice a thing. They’re only three years old. Too young to be scared. They grinned and waved at me, then one of them picked up the cat by its neck and made it wave to me too. Poor Goldie. She yowled but she was used to their rough kind of love, and I thought, at least I’m not a cat stuck with my two little brothers. Maybe Mum and Dad were wrong. Maybe reality was worse than our imaginations. I straightened my back and left them then, ready to take on my fate like an adult would do.
But my bravado faded quickly once our bus had pulled away from the school. On the bus I didn’t feel very good, so I didn’t talk much to my friend Jake, but only let him laugh and make jokes with the other kids on the bus. Alone with my worries, I pressed my head to the window and felt the vehicle rattle over every pothole in the road. I could still see the heavy clouds piling one on top of the other in the corners of the sky.
The camping ground was on the edge of a national park. All that nature should have been relaxing. But everything here now looked dark and foreign. When we pulled into the camping ground, Jake turned around and offered me a raisin from the packet his parents had packed in his lunchbox.
“No thanks,” I said, trying to smile.
“More for me,” he shrugged, and hit me on the arm, smiling. Jake was small and his dark eyes twinkled. He didn’t understand being scared of things, because he was always so happy.
I gazed around me as we stepped off the bus, and tried to see the area with normal eyes, like Jake would. When I looked at the camping ground like that, I could almost convince myself that it was all perfectly ordinary. I could see there was a big barbeque area where everyone could eat together. Next to it was some toilet cubicles. Investigating, I saw there were tall lockers lining the walls, with some showers at the end. Coming back out again, all I could see was a line of trees rising gently over a smooth hill, and a river we could swim in. Everything was very quiet. All the birds must have been sleeping or flown elsewhere.
I set up my tent next to Jake’s, and started to put my sleeping things out. The day remained heavy; I felt kind of sweaty. It was as though the whole place was holding its breath for something. Even the kids in my class, usually boisterous, were murmuring and quiet as they set everything up. After we were finished, I smelled sausages, and saw that the teachers had made up a lunch for us. We ate them with bread and ketchup, hot and delicious. It settled me a bit, and I started to feel a bit better.
Then the teachers told us that we could spend the afternoon swimming, or going for a bushwalk. Most of the kids wanted to go swimming, so I went on the bushwalk instead. The murky brown water of the river hid all sorts of creatures I didn’t want to think about. Besides, I secretly wanted to see what animals were living in this area, so I could identify them when they made sounds in the night.
Mr Masters, the music teacher, was pretty happy to be on a bushwalk. He hummed as he pointed out the different kinds of eucalyptus trees; the genus of rocks. He wore sandals I’d never seen him in before, with socks pulled up to his knees, and a broad, floppy hat. He smelled of sunscreen, like he’d rolled in a whole pool of it.
“For the snakes,” he winked when he saw me looking at his socks, as if snakes would balk at the sight of a bit of material.
There were only a few other kids with us. Two boys I didn’t know very well. They were pretty quiet. Jake was also there. He loved Mr Masters. He asked so many questions, and Mr Masters was so delighted to have such a curious student, that he answered them all.
“What kind of rock is that?” Jake kept saying. “Is this plant poisonous? What do you do if you get stung by a hornet?”
Jake talked so much, and Mr Masters responded so enthusiastically, that I realized with a sinking feeling after only a few moments, that between the two of them they’d scared all the animals away. Apart from the rocks and plants, we didn’t see a thing. In fact, the clouds came over heavier, and there was a moment that I looked at the sky and wondered if we were going to get caught in a downpour.
Mr Masters must have thought so too. He’d been looking at his mobile phone to see which paths to take, but suddenly he looked up at the sky, and stopped short. He made a few taps on his phone. Then he frowned.
Finally he said,
“My phone’s not working.”
He tapped his screen.
“No reception,” he confirmed. He sniffed the air, then returned to his phone. “I know the way back, but I can’t check if the rain is coming.”
He could have just looked at the sky, I thought. Rain was a certainty. The sky was pitch black now. The wind had completely died down. It was dead quiet.
Suddenly, I heard a low moan from somewhere far away. All the hairs stood up on the back of my neck. It was the weirdest sound. Even Jake looked surprised, and for once said nothing. Mr Masters stopped looking at his telephone then, and looked instead up at the sky. All of us stopped and listened.
All was quiet. Not even a cicada chirped. And then, just when we thought it was all over, it happened again. But there were more moans, this time. It was like a call, then a chorus.
“Must be the kids doing some activity back at the camping ground,” said Mr Masters.
“They’ve all got a bellyache from lunch,” Jake said. The other boys with us laughed. But I didn’t laugh. The sausage from lunch sat heavy in my belly. I could taste it in the back of my teeth.
“Well, let’s go back anyway,” he said briskly. “We’ve been gone for more than an hour.”
When I look back upon it now, I know that something in me wanted to say no. It was something different to the usual fears I felt. But – and I don’t know if this has ever happened to you – I was a bit scared to say anything. At that moment I said to myself:
Toughen up, Elroy. Now’s your chance to show how brave you are. Or how normal you are, anyway.
And so I obediently followed Mr Masters, Jake and the two other boys, lagging only a little behind.
But as we drew closer to the camp we began to hear all sorts of other sounds too. There were moans, but also cracking sounds, like things being broken, and quite a few of the kids were screaming.
“Aren’t they having a great time?” Mr Masters smiled at us.
Then, suddenly there was a great splashing sound, like a hundred people running headlong into the river at once. Mr Masters’ brow, which until now had been quite wrinkled with confusion, became all smooth when that happened. He made an ah! sound, as though he’d finally worked it all out.
“They’re doing water activities,” he said triumphantly.
They were the strangest water activities I’d ever heard, though. I felt my feet dragging behind me, but still I walked, ever slower, ever more reluctantly, back towards the camp.
Jake, on the other hand, was worried about missing out on anything exciting. He began to walk ahead of us, more and more quickly. He strode off before even Mr Masters. Then, when the clearing came into sight, he began running towards it, his spindly legs flying as he ran. I saw him turn the corner and disappear around it.
Then it seemed that he made a shouting sound, but I couldn’t make out his words. I thought he sounded panicked. As scared as I was, I couldn’t help myself. I felt my friend was in trouble. I began running too, in the direction of the barbeque area. But I stopped and slowed just before I turned the corner.
What I saw at our camping ground was enough to make the blood drain from my face. It was terrible. It was horrific. It was the kids of my class, blank-faced, drooling, assembled around the barbeque area. At least, they looked like the kids in my class. But their faces were blue, and spit hung down from their cheeks slackly. Their arms were loose by their sides. When they saw me, it was as though they all saw me in unison. Then they made that horrible moaning sound our little group had heard from afar, and began shuffling towards me.
My heart stopped in my throat. They had turned into zombies. All of them were zombies. And as they advanced towards me, I realized that I was slap bang in the middle of my own personal school zombie apocalypse.
I didn’t have time to think. I couldn’t see where Jake had gone, but there was a gang of zombie kids shuffling up against a big eucalyptus tree and I guessed he must be at the top of it. Glancing around, I saw a tree not far away that had a branch I just might jump onto. I calculated my distance, then ran towards it.
The zombies all changed direction and listed towards me. But I was faster. I reached the tree, lifted my two hands, grabbed the lowest branch and swung myself onto it. Not feeling high enough, I managed to clamber another two branches, before the boughs became too thin and I could go no higher. There I hovered, clutching the tree, my palms sweaty and the day still weirdly quiet.
Here they came now, groaning and shuffling, about fifteen of them. Their clothes were sopping wet from swimming in the river, and dripped on the dry earth as they shuffled towards my tree. When they got to the tree they reached up but couldn’t get past the first branch.
Seeing them up close, my heart was beating so hard that I thought I might faint and fall off the tree, landing on top of the lot of them. I noticed that their skin was falling off in patches, and they were salivating – actually salivating – I suppose to get a good bite into my leg. I tried uselessly to get further up the tree but the bark was too smooth; I could get no higher.
But neither could they. They clambered around the base of the tree. Then one of them realized that they could stand on the cupped hands of the other, to give each other a boost up. That was when I really started to get worried.
I looked around in a panic for something that could help me. Nothing but a thin twig of a branch by my head. I snapped it off and brandished it like a metre ruler. The zombies didn’t react to my weapon; I don’t think they were all too bright. But when the first struggled onto the shoulders of the second, I poked the zombie’s chest with it and it sank into the soft, decaying flesh like modeling clay. He made a weird sound, and fell off the other zombie’s shoulders. Victory one for me. I kept my instrument firm in my hand and commenced poking the flesh of all the zombies that ventured too close to the lowest branch.
All this time I’d barely thought about Mr Masters, but I suddenly heard a high scream. I saw him flat on his back by the toilet cubicle, pinned down by about six kids, who all seemed to be chewing him. Oh no. Poor Mr Masters. At first I felt sorry, but my feelings turned to panic when after a few minutes the zombies all fell back, and Mr Masters shook himself and stood up again. It was his shuffling gait that made me realise the terrible, horrible truth. He was now a zombie himself.
The more horrible truth was that he was twice the height of the other kids in my class, and would have no trouble reaching the first branch that I’d swung up upon.
As if hearing my thoughts, his now-dull eyes rotated towards me, and he spotted me up the tree. Slowly, slowly, he began shuffling towards me, while my pulse thudded panicked in my ears. What would I do when he got here? What could just one boy do against an attack of zombies?
His sandals dragged in the dust. Like a fly caught in a window, I panicked and tried to scrabble higher up the tree, but it was no good. I just couldn’t get further away.
Then I heard another scream and realized that Jake had seen me. He was still ok. He was still human. He hadn’t been turned into a zombie yet. But I could see now that a different teacher zombie was pulling on the branch he was sitting on, shaking it determinedly, like a monkey trying to shake down a coconut.
Eventually the inevitable happened. Jake lost his balance and fell from the tree. I saw him running at breakneck speed towards the toilet cubicles. I saw Mr Masters continue shuffling slowly towards me, just as I remembered what was in the toilet cubicles. The high locker cupboards. There were no branches on the locker cupboards. I could sit on top of one and just kick every zombie who approached me.
I wasn’t going to let Mr Masters reach me and put his horrible teeth around my leg. With a heroic leap, I sprang down from the tree, over the top of the kid zombie heads, and went pelting towards the toilets myself. My advantage was my human speed. The zombies moved very slowly, and that was my only saving grace.
The fear put quicksilver in my feet. I streaked towards the toilet block and made it inside with no immediate pursuers. Sure enough, Jake was at the top of one of the lockers; he’d climbed up the shoe shelves to get there.
I picked one a few metres away and leapt up onto it.
“Kick away the shelves!” he cried. I kicked them away. None of them were fixed to the wall. They made a horrible clatter in the still-dull silence of the afternoon. And there Jake and I sat, pale-faced, on top of our cupboards, breathing heavily while we waited for the zombies to come.
It didn’t take long. They started to amass at the entry to the toilets. Making their horrible groans and wet sounds, they pushed their way into the room. They smelled extraordinary. Like wet dog and old sausages. I felt my lunch rise in my throat.
In waves, they came upon our lockers and rattled them. But we were too high for them, and our furniture was fixed to the wall. Occasionally one creepy hand would come exploring up around my ankle, and I would give it a swift kick and then it was gone. This must have gone on for an hour. The human body is amazing in what it can do in great moments of stress. Wave after wave of zombies attacked Jake and I on the cupboards, and wave after wave we dodged them, kicking them away with our shoe when we could, every muscle straining with the effort of not being bitten. For I knew now what would happen if we got bitten.
Of course some of the zombie teachers shuffled into the room and tried their hand at us as well. They were taller than the kid zombies. But they could never get their mouths near us, and their putrefied flesh was lacking the strength to pull us down. So we just kept on like this for hour after hour, until I realized that the sun was going down.
Soon it would be night time. And how could we keep on like this? How could we keep fighting them off when evening fell, and we couldn’t see their advances in the dark? Besides, I was becoming so tired, so strained from the stress of trying to stay alive. Jake, too, looked like he felt the same. What would we do when the night fell?
I could feel my muscles trembling from the strain of holding myself back against the wall. From kicking out at the slobbering zombies who wanted to eat us. As the corners of the toilet cubicle darkened and spread across the room, I saw what I first though was a hallucination. My father, standing in the doorway of the toilet block.
“Dad!” I wanted to cry. But at first I genuinely thought he was a figment of my tired mind. What I wouldn’t give to have my Dad here now. To have him lift me from the top of this locker and carry me away from all these zombies, safe, home, with my Mum and little brothers and my safe, soft bed.
But the more I looked, the more I realized that it was my Dad in the corner. He had come to save me.
Then I noticed that he had begun to walk towards me. Only, he was shuffling. My Dad was a zombie too.
I couldn’t help it. Tears began streaming down my face. What would I do now that my Dad was a zombie?
But through my tears I noticed something odd. Dad’s movements, although slow and shuffling, were accompanied by a glance that was not as dull as the others. He swayed through the kid zombies, who, after hours of trying, were admittedly starting to get a little tired of pursuing two boys high atop the lockers. The kid zombies dropped back when he walked through the group, probably expecting that he might get us down after all. My Dad is taller than all of the teachers; he’s pretty sizeable. When he got to my locker, he made an authoritative BOO-AH ! sound that shocked the kid zombies, who stood in dumb silence for a few moments, before they slowly shuffled out of the room.
Zombie Dad looked up at me. Very slowly, he winked.
“Dad!” I said under my breath, almost crying with relief.
“Shh,” he said. “Just pretend to be a zombie. I’ve got a car waiting outside, with three others in it. We’ve all escaped like this. Follow my lead.”
“And Jake!” I whispered. “He’s my friend. He’s over there.”
Dad looked over at an exhausted and terrified Jake, then nodded. He pulled me down and placed me gently on the ground. Then he went and got Jake too. Jake looked stunned. It was not too hard to get him to walk like a zombie after all the things he’d been through.
We made a few short screams so they’d think Dad had gotten us. Then the three of us shuffled out of the door. By now, the other zombies seemed to have forgotten about us. Perhaps the effort of trying to eat us had tired them out. Some were sitting under trees playing chess, and some were floating on lilos on the river. They were talking inarticulately; to be fair, I saw some of their teeth and lips were falling apart, so it mustn’t have been easy to keep a conversation. I felt sorry for all the kids who, this morning, had been just like me. Just coming on a school camping trip. Now they were all zombies.
Dad had driven a little four-wheeled drive I didn’t recognize to come pick me up. There was Mrs Purdy, my English teacher, in the back. She looked sweaty; one piece of grey hair was stuck wetly to her face. Beside her were one or two kids I didn’t recognize. They all looked stunned.
Jake sat beside me on the passenger’s seat. I could hardly believe it when Dad started the engine and changed gears, and then we were slowly driving away from this hell-hole; this terror camp that had destroyed my whole class. The zombies barely looked at us as we pulled out of the camping area and merged back onto the highway, going faster, faster, as the night leaked onto the road’s edges.
“Is everyone ok at home?” I asked Dad. “How did you know what happened?”
But Dad just said in a low voice, “Everyone’s ok, Elroy,” and kept driving. Everyone else in the car was utterly silent.
Eventually, as we continued driving, I began to see that our problem had not just been confined to the camping ground. There were general scenes of destitution as we approached my school. Lots of trees and rubbish bins appeared to have been torn up from the ground. But before I could work out what this meant, I heard a strange sound in the back. My English teacher, Mrs Purdy, made a barking sound under her breath, almost exactly like a dog. She tried to disguise it as a cough, but we all knew what we’d heard. I looked at Dad and he looked so steadfastly at the road that I knew he’d heard it too. Very calmly, he slowed then stopped the car.
“Angela,” he said to Mrs Purdy. “I believe this is the best place to leave you.”
Mrs Purdy looked confused.
“No, I want to go home,” she said.
“Your home is not safe,” said my Dad gently. “It’s safe here. Look, there isn’t a zombie in sight.”
It was then that I saw it, from where I was watching her in the rear-vision mirror. A big, green bite on her forearm. She must have been bitten by a zombie before Dad picked her up, and for some reason the magic that turns a human victim into a fellow zombie had been slower to work on her than it had been with Mr Masters. But after all, I reminded myself, Mr Masters had six kids feeding on him. That was surely why it had been fast for him.
Zombies are not the brightest monsters in the bunch. Mrs Purdy still looked confused, but she allowed herself to take my Dad’s arm as he got out, came around and helped her out of the car. It was only when she was standing back on the side of the road that she seemed to realise, in some slow corner of her mind, that it was not all as it seemed. Perhaps some slow stirring was alerting her to the fact that she was letting a delicious car-load of humans disappear. Whatever it was, as Dad returned to the drivers’ seat and started to rev the engine, she began running, trippingly, after the car. Her red dress now appeared tattered; her skin had turned bluish.
“Don’t leave me!” she cried. “Come back!”
She still ran faster than a complete zombie, and Dad’s car wasn’t very fast in first gear. She caught up to the passenger’s door and tugged on it; Jake and I had forgotten to put on our seatbelts. He fell right out as she opened the door. Dad slammed his foot on the brakes. But Jake looked up and cried, with tears in his eyes,
“Just go, be safe!”
“No!” I cried for my friend. But it was too late. Mrs Purdy closed her eyes and took a big bite of Jake’s arm, just below the elbow. It was too late for him. I sobbed into my car seat as I felt Dad hesitate, realise the same conclusion as I had, and then think about the other occupants of our car. He reached over, slammed the passenger door, and put his foot to the floor.
We sped away then, away from my friend Jake, now a zombie, away from the highway, down the smaller lanes until finally we got to my school. There was no-one about. Dad dropped the other boys who had been with us safely in the library, and then it was just me and Dad, steering back towards our house.
I was still thinking about my poor friend Jake. Tears blurred my eyes as we drove on.
“What happened?” I said again. I just couldn’t understand it.
“I don’t know exactly,” said Dad. “A hundred zombies started coming through the town. I left Mum and your brothers back at the house. Don’t worry,” he said, seeing my face. “The doors and windows are safely locked.”
After a few moments more in which we drove in silence, he added,
“When you get home and we’re all together, we’ll think about what we do now. Where we should go.”
I saw as we drove that many of the power lines had been gnawed and brought down. Night had almost fallen, and everything was very dark. I could smell something unusual and old in the air.
When we turned into the village where we lived, I saw groups of people clustered under trees and my letter boxes. It was the people of the town. Every single one of them was a zombie. I was astonished to see that they seemed to be doing fine. Absent the hunger for human flesh – for there were certainly no humans around anymore – some of them had lit candles, and they were slowly talking with each other, even laughing amongst themselves, and playing ball games in the shadowy darkness. In the unlit windows, I could see the contours of some of them moving through their houses. We didn’t see a single other human. Just zombies. Our town had become a zombie town.
When we pulled into our driveway, Dad told us to walk slowly again, shufflingly, as a zombie would, just in case any of them got wind of us. We got to the front door, and Dad said softly at the keyhole,
“Matilda? Matilda, it’s me.”
And then there was a laughing sound from inside that I knew was the twins, and it wasn’t my Mum but my little brothers who opened the door. That should have been odd in itself. But then, seeing their sweet, joyful faces, I realized that they were not the little brothers I had known and loved. They, too, were turned into zombies.
Sweetly, they pulled on my hand and led me into the lounge room. Our cat Goldie was laying on the floor, and with a chortling laugh, they made me pet her. Her hair was falling off in chunks, and strewn across the carpet. They crooned over her; their little arms and legs were bluish, and they moved more slowly than before. But they were still my little brothers. I wanted to cry.
“Where’s Mummy?” Dad asked them in a strained voice. Coyly, they pointed into the bathroom. We followed their guidance and stumbled to the bathroom.
Mum was sitting in the bath, her eyes closed. There was a lot of steam in the room. She raised her eyes to us when she heard us enter; there were two little gnaw marks on her cheek. She was sweating like my English teacher Mrs Purdy had.
“Matilda?” my Dad said, his voice cracking.
“The cat escaped,” she said quietly. “When he came back, I thought he was alright. But he bit the twins…”
“And the twins bit you…”
Dad’s eyes filled with tears.
“It’s not so bad,” said Mum. “They seem very happy. And from what I can see, everyone else doesn’t seem too sad either.”
Dad and I looked out the window. I heard the twins giggle in the loungeroom, and Goldie yowl contentedly. On the street, our neighbours were dancing in the moonlight. In the pale light I could see their jagged zombie edges wobbling. Occasionally, bits of them fell off.
Dad looked at me. I looked at Dad. Then we agreed between ourselves, without having to say a word.
Each of us held out our arm to Mum. And peacefully she smiled, kissed our skin, then gently bit down on it.
1. What would you have done if you were in Elroy’s situation? Do you think it would be better to be the last human in a world of zombies, or surrounded by the family you love? What are the benefits and drawbacks of each?
1. Elroy admits that he’s scared of most things. Do you think this means that he is not courageous? Why or why not?
2. What events in the story can you identify where Elroy showed courage despite his fears?