Chapter Six


Chapter Six

Sunday passed by without any strange incidents. As I walked home from Lola's, I still worried, however, and could not figure things out any easier even with a clear head from sleeping until noon, a bowl of Apple Jacks, and four cups of coffee.

I spent most of the morning finishing homework that I had been given to do over the weekend. Most of it was math. After that was done, I played with Sammy in the backyard for a while. He was now a happy-go-lucky dog again and no longer troubled by what had frightened him the day before. Unlike him, I stayed a panicky, paranoid chicken and was still expecting an assault by one grotesque thing or another.

The raw and painless wound on my hand got no better, but also became no worse. Hooray...?

Dustin was at home almost all day, busy up in his room with the door closed, doing something. Perhaps he was working on some new gadget or experiment like the mad scientist that he often pretends to be, and planning to use me as a Guinea pig.

As I passed his room in the hallway, I half expected to hear insane laughter coming from the inside, and then the vile groaning of his own version of the Frankenstein monster. Usually, though, he stands in front of the mirror in his bathroom, slathering excessive amounts of hair gel onto his head in order to retain the usual spikiness.

Downstairs, I thought I would see mom and dad, sitting at the kitchen table or relaxing on the sun porch, as they usually do on Sundays, but they were not there. Heading into the kitchen, I discovered a Post-it note stuck on the fridge. In dad's telltale scrawl, it read,

'Went to Russel's house. Be back soon.'

Russel is dad's friend and coworker at the office where he worked. They also like to golf and play pool together. I've only met Russel twice, but he seems nice.

As I stood there, contemplating what to do next, I suddenly felt something touch my shoulder.

I gasped explosively and turned around to see Dustin, grinning maniacally, looming over me in an obvious attempt to intimidate me. Today he wore a black shirt with a white skull on the front. A worm was crawling through the skull's eye socket. A classic morbid image. He also wore hunter green corduroy pants, and black sneakers.

How's it goin', Weirdo?”

My heart was thumping almost as fast and hard as it had yesterday, and like any day, I was not in the mood for his little shenanigans. “What do you want?”

Your brain.” he said, green eyes gleaming impishly.

No, really.” I demanded. “What do you want?

Mom and dad were talking to Mr. Cooper on the phone last night. They say you had a bad dream. Did poor scared Wendy have a bad dream?”

So freaking what? Everyone does.”

You woke up crying about monsters, saying, 'don't eat me,' or something like that.”

Why does this even matter to you?”

Mom said maybe you need therapy. She said you may have problems with your head. I just wanted to tell you, so long, cause' you're going to the funny farm.” Cackling like a drunken hyena, he reached out and pinched my cheek. Hard.

Groaning, I tried to slap his hand away, but with surprising strength, he advanced, and pinned me against the refrigerator with both arms.

Stop! Stop it!” I commanded, squirming to get away. He had no reason to be doing this to me, but a bully needs no reason at all.

Hey, little sis.” he whispered, leaning closer until our faces were only inches apart. “What's it like to be a lunatic? Do you hear voices in your head? Maybe that is what is really telling you about all the aliens and zombies and giant slime monsters you say are coming after you.”

Listen, you stupid pathetic excuse for a brother,” I snarled in a voice thick with anger. “It is none of your business what I do, or what happens to me, because obviously you don't even care! Now get off me. Now.”

That infuriating crack-brained grin still not leaving his face, he eased off of me and took a step or two backwards. “You really need to calm down, Wendy Weird. There's nothing to be afraid of, except the Boogeyman. And the Demonic Santa Klaus, only he comes just once a year. But Christmas is coming up soon...have you been naughty, Wendy? He sees you when you're sleeping.”

Just shut up!” I roared, walking away from the fridge and storming into the living room.

He followed me.

This has happened countless times before. Mom and dad go out, Dustin torments me for as long as he wants, unless I leave the house or he gets bored and decides to leave me alone.

What is your problem?” I asked, pumping as much venom into my words as possible. I am a non-confrontational person. I don't like to argue or fight. But Dustin always takes advantage of this, as well as my constant fears of the strange things that happen in Oakville.

My problem is you.” he replied, continuing to follow me as I made my way across the room and toward the stairs. “All you ever do is act like a freak, always looking like there's some kind of creepy creature after you when there isn't. What is wrong with you where you want to believe in things that aren't real?

Looking him square in the eye, I said in a low tone. “How do you know they aren't real? What makes you the judge of what's real and what isn't?”

I'm not. I'm just pointing out the facts here. You act like a total nutball, sis. Sorry to say this. Every day almost you go off with your Looney Tune friend, acting like there's something after you or some crap like that, its just natural for anyone to think you're crazy. I'm worried about you, Wendy. I really am. For your sanity.”

That is total B.S and you know it, Dustin. The only thing you're worried about is yourself.”

Oh, come on.” he pleaded insincerely. “How could a big brother not worry about his little sister when she acts like this? Waking up in the middle of the night screaming about monsters? What are you, five?”

Finally, I'd had enough. I was sick and tired of Dustin's constant harassment. I was sick and tired of not being heard. “Alright. You want to see my imaginary monsters? You want to see what makes me so crazy? I'll show you. I'll take you there right now.”

He raised both eyebrows, for I had never offered something like this before. “What the heck are you babbling about now?”

Its in the subway, on Arrow Street.” I continued. “This thing, this insect thing. I woke up there, all alone in the dark, and it was there. I escaped, and Lola and I went in there to see if we could take a picture, and it was still there. Don't believe me? Of course you don't. But if you come with me, I'll show you.”

For an excruciatingly long moment, he was silent, considering this, and then, he broke out laughing hysterically. “You really are nuts! Do you really expect me to believe all that? And what subway are you talking about?”

The abandoned one!”

What were you doing in there?”

How should I know? I just work up, this backpack on my back, this scar on my hand, and this weird insect creature was chasing me in the dark! Where do you think this came from?”

I held up my right hand in a feeble effort to shock some sense into him.

Last night you told us it was a cat scratch. You said Archie did it.”

I only did that to avoid mom and dad thinking there's something wrong with me, and to maybe, just maybe get you to leave me be.”

So you lied?” he crossed his arms and cocked his head to one side, making a lop-sided smirk.

Yes, but-”

What makes me think you're telling the truth now?”

I then realized, as many times before, that it was hopeless to try and reason with Dustin. He was going to believe what he wanted, regardless of what anyone said. And he was going to do what he wanted, no matter how much I wanted him to be the brother he should have been all along.

The next day, I awakened at 7:00 and caught the bus to school while the sun was still peeking over the horizon but not quite out of its nocturnal hiding place. Lola, as always, shared a seat in the back with me, and everyone was so rowdy and distracted by one another, it was as if we were not even there.

It is merely a short bus drive to Oakville Junior High, but sometimes, on those days when my classmates and even others I don't know choose to harass and pick on me, it seems like an eternity. Luckily, Lola is almost always there and knows how to deal with those obnoxious people: by either ignoring them the whole time and encouraging me to do the same, or dishing out a heaping spoonful of perfectly seasoned scorn soufflé.

Though Oakville is a small town, I have explained previously that it has some big problems, only half of which having to do with weird occurrences. The schools are often poorly managed, or even understaffed, and kids sometimes run amok, especially against those who wish not to take part in conflict. I guess all schools can be that way, but when you're on the run from scary situations and bizarre things beyond understanding, it makes all of this ten times worse. When I said I'd rather be Wendy Weird all my life than to be sucked dry and left in the dark, I also meant both of these things can happen whether I'm in school, or in a strange, foreboding place.

As the bus finally hissed to a stop at the front yard of Oakville Junior High, and as everyone stampeded out of it like a horde of wild Herbivores on the run from carnivores, I sensed something about the school that I had never detected previously. It was on the edge of my understanding, and it was uncanny. Something about this place seemed wrong, unlike what it had always been.

Then, as quickly as it had come, the feeling faded, leaving no odd thoughts for me to dwell on, except for the ones that were already there.

In warmer seasons, the schoolyard is beautifully landscaped, filled with fruit trees, Dogwoods, and of course Oaks. The parking lots are located in the back, while the front is decorated with lush Bermuda grass and constantly managed green hedges and rosebushes. To the untrained eye, our little town is very quaint, usually gorgeous, but some things are not always as they seem.

From Sixth Graders to Eighth Graders, the school is swarming with students, some nice, many not. Before class most of them linger on the front lawn or in the hallways, talking, playing, scheming...or at least that's the first thing that comes to my paranoid mind. If two or three people are talking, and they repeatedly glance at me, I can only assume they are plotting against me, Wendy Weird, the crackpot. Perhaps I brought it on, with my constant talk of the weird and frightening things that are always happening, but I have no reason to believe that even if I had never mentioned these things, they would still leave me alone. They would probably find something else wrong with me that they can judge and make fun of.

Often I wonder what is really more scary; the supernatural monstrosities and odd happenings that haunt me, or my peers.

Even as I made my way through the loud, bustling hallways and to First Period science class, clutching my backpack as if it were a powerful Talisman or weapon that I could use to fight off any adversary, I was brooding over that question, and over so many other things. If only the others in this school could realize what really happens in our town. If only they could see what Lola and I see, and know what we know. How different they would be if they just knew the truth. All of it.

Of course, even when reality is staring them right in the face, some of them will never accept it, and will instead choose to retreat from it, to pretend they had never even heard it.

Nudging past several Seventh Grade boys who were standing in the middle of the hallway, taking turns shoving each other next to the lockers, I made my way to my own, which was on the bottom. I then crouched on my knees and turned the combination lock, putting in my three-digit code. When the locker popped open I gathered my science book and several other things. Then I closed it and began to stand up and go to First Period.

Suddenly I felt someone shove me from behind. Instead of falling to the floor, I managed to keep my balance, and take a look behind me to see who it was this time.

Hunter Wilkins, a tall, athletic boy with unkempt blond hair and brown eyes, who has the social skills of a Tasmanian Devil and the attitude to match, loomed over me, frowning. “Hey, Wendy Weird? I think you dropped something.”

In his hand, he clutched the black Nike bookbag, which I had dropped in the subway and not retrieved when Lola and I fled for the exit Saturday night.

That's not mine!” I shrieked a bit too loudly, and a few other people stopped what they were doing and focused on me.

Well, I thought it was.” Hunter said. “because there's this picture in it, of you and...what's that girl's name? The one you always hang out with?”

I didn't like this. Not at all. No matter what I wasn't going to take that book bag, even though the reason for this wasn't clear at the moment. “Well, I don't know about that.” I insisted. It isn't mine.”

Whatever.” he grumbled, dropping it on the floor near me and turning to walk away.

Several people were still staring at me. Some of them were grinning, others looked disappointed. “Nothing to see here!” I shouted over the many voices still talking at once.

I put in the combination to my locker and opened it again, stuffing the book bag inside and then slamming the door shut.

I headed to science class, flustered and confused.

Though there were still a few students who were late in arriving on time when the bell rang at 8:00, I was one of the last ones to sit down at my desk, which was in fourth row near the back of the classroom, near the supply closet where the teacher keeps miscellaneous items to use for the science experiments we often do instead of book work.

Our teacher, Mr. Jacklin, was not here. I was surprised to see a new name written neatly on the chalkboard at the front of the room.

Mr. Thomason.

It struck me as peculiar, and not only because Mr. Jacklin was never absent from class. He was a man who was serious and dedicated to being a teacher. This wasn't like him to hire a substitute on such short notice.

As I unzipped my backpack and pulled out my science book to set it on my desk, I felt something, probably a piece of paper, hit me in the back of the head. Turning around, I got a glimpse of Julie Kerdan, a tall girl with long black hair and dark Mediterranean eyes, passing a swift note to her friend Sheryl, a short, skinny brunette with greenish-brown eyes and a perpetual smirk on her face.

The whole time of this note-passing, they were staring at me. That scheming-against-the-weirdo-look.

Who threw that?” I asked no one in particular, speaking in almost a shout over the drone of constant chatter.

Turn around!” snapped Julie harshly, wrinkling her nose. “I don't want to look at your face.”

Go ahead and make me.” I fired back, not in the mood for her needless snobby disposition.

I'm going to tell the teacher when he comes in. You'll probably get detention, Wendy Weird.”

Ah, yes. Even in teenhood some of them just can't resist the old tattle-tale bit to brighten someone's day.

Just turn around and be quiet.” agreed Sheryl. “Or we will tell.”

As soon as one of you tells me who threw...whatever that was, at me.”

I'm surprised you could even feel it, what with your hard cantaloupe head!” Julie taunted, laughing.

Like wolves eager in the hunt or in the way of sharks in the throes of a feeding frenzy, some people simply must join in. “Hey, Wendy Weird.” said a red-headed boy in the seat next to me. “Seen any zombies lately?”

A few others laughed at this.

Seeing no point in participating in this fiendish game any longer, I turned around in my seat, and from the corner of my eye, looked at the radiant Autumn sunlight leaking in through the open window on the left side of the room, trying to find some peace.

It is so difficult to concentrate amidst the screams and jabbering of an entire classroom. All of them were so loud, I couldn't even hear my own thoughts. So many voices talking about things I could care less about, and all of them belonging to those who could care less about me.

In a sudden instant that I wasn't prepared for, the room suddenly became deathly silent.

People quit talking, ceased their obnoxious laughter, stopped shuffling their feet and moving their stuff. This sudden quiet was not calming and relieving as you might expect, but unnerving.

Click clack, click clack, click clack, went the man's shiny brown shoes as he quickly but methodically entered the room. One thing that surprised me above anything else was how tall he was. He seemed like a giant in comparison to many people I've seen before. Towering and lean, legs scissoring with nimble fluidness, his sudden appearance, as any teacher's, would call for instant silence, but his entrance was more than that. Yet I couldn't grasp what exactly that meant. With well-kept reddish brown hair, a pale, clean-shaven face, dark green eyes, and bold but gaunt features, he put off an aura of...importance? No, that isn't the right word. Maybe...a gentle but strong authority.

When he reached the front of the room, he turned around and faced the desks, eying all of us intensely. Then he smiled a toothy grin.

The disquieting feeling dropped at once.

I stole a glance at a couple of people sitting near me. They seemed to be transfixed by the grinning man, who was evidently Mr. Thomason. Our new teacher wore crisp brown pants and a long-sleeved white shirt. As I took a moment to study him, those green eyes fixed sharply on me.“Hello, class.” he said in an only slightly deep voice, raising a hand and waving at us. As I had expected, no one said anything in reply.

More insistently, he repeated, “Hello, class!”

A dreary murmur of unintelligible greetings was the only thing uttered by anyone in response.

My name is...” He looked behind him at the words written on the chalkboard, as if he needed to be reminded of his name. “...Mr. Thomason. I'm your new teacher.”

So Mr. Jacklin wasn't coming back after all. Surprise, surprise.

Though the guy seemed friendly, enthusiastic, perhaps even concerned about every student who walked in his classroom's education and well-being, there was something odd about him that could not be seen, but felt. I don't know if I was the only one who sensed this feeling, but it was acute enough to make me more than slightly nervous.

Julie, always trying to be the first to do everything, raised her hand, and without being called on, inquired, “what happened to our old teacher? Is he sick?”

Mr. Thomason's eyes were still focused on me for some reason, and that stare kind of reminded me of an eagle, watchful and intent. Almost reluctantly, they shifted to Julie, but that wide smile never left his face. “Your old teacher has....retired. He will not be coming here anymore. But don't fear, I will be your new teacher.” His speech was also odd and clipped. What stuck me as strange about this was that Mr. Jacklin was only 38, an age where people don't usually retire from work.

I am now going to call...role.” said Mr. Thomason, turning away from us to grab a manila envelope from the large clutter-free oak desk behind him. Taking a sheet of paper from the envelope, he then proceeded to call everyone's name to make sure we were all present. As he did, I had somehow immersed myself in a doodle in one of my notebooks, and was focused on scribbling away with a ballpoint pen when our new teacher called out my name.

Wendy? Wendy Cremwell?” Judging by his intonation, it seemed as if he enjoyed the task of pronouncing my name, which was also rather confusing. And when I didn't answer the first time, he said it louder. “Wendy Cremwell? Are you here, Wendy Cremwell?”

Snapping my attention away from my notebook, I looked up. “'m here.”

Excellent.” Mr. Thomason smiled thoughtfully, and continued to call role. As it turns out, everyone was present.

Setting down the paper, he clasped both of his hands together, his grin growing even wider. “Good. Very good. You are all here today. All of you here on the day I arrive. Good. Now we can begin.”

Minute by minute, the more this guy was beginning to creep me out.

Now, I must get to know all of you better in order to strengthen the student-teacher bond, for it is very weak. I want you to write a paper explaining all about yourself. No science today, just a paper. All about you. When you're done give it to me.”

There was a chorus of rustling and crinkling and shuffling as everyone began to get out supplies for this assignment. I already had what I needed, so I flipped to a new page in my notebook, grabbed my pen, and prepared to write....what?

I really wasn't sure what to write about, for most of my life is made up of what I've already told you, the bizarre things that occur, and there is not much left to talk about, not really.

So...” I thought. “I'll write about the stuff that's normal. My friendship with Lola, my jerk of a brother, my tendency to wander around in the woods with my dog in order to find peace and solitude and perhaps even answers.”

But come to think of it, none of that is very mundane either. I really couldn't find anything that one could say is truly normal. Of course, that is what others always say: I'm weird, not like everyone else, and never will be in my life. I then realized that I shouldn't be judging myself through the opinions and criticisms of others, which I had been doing for quite some time.

Its amazing all of this deep thinking was spawned by a simple writing assignment. Or I'm just a naturally a philosopher, a thinker, even though I try not to be that way.

I then wondered why our new teacher had asked us to do this anyhow. Most teachers in Oakville Junior High could care less about getting to know the students. For them, its a chore to even be here, and to associate with teenagers at all. I think some of them even dislike us. It isn't hard to imagine why, because sometimes I do too.

Mr Thomason was different, I understood this now, but how and why he was different was the answer that eluded me. His clipped way of speaking, his constant toothy grin, and his seemingly acute interest in all around him was different, for sure, but why in the world was it strange?

Only because it was different. This brought me to the conclusion that so many things in my life seemed wrong to me because they are different, and different, to me and to anyone, equals strange.

Dear Lord!” said my thoughts. “Just write the freaking paper!”

Just why was such a simple task of writing a few sentences about myself suddenly so difficult?

I suddenly was aware of being watched. Slowly, I looked up from my notebook, to see Mr. Thomason, sitting in the office chair at the oak desk, and those eagle-eyes were fixed on me.

Can I assist you?” he asked, absent-mindedly drumming his fingers on the desk and swiveling back and forth in his chair.

No.” I muttered, almost too softly. “I'm okay. Just thinking, that's all.”

Yes, thinking is good. Don't ever stop thinking.” he replied.

Smiling sheepishly, I looked down at my notebook again, for I felt as if he were trying to dissect me with his stare.

Even though I was trying to do an assignment, my mind began to tease me with images of what had been happening lately, which also caused me to peek down at my right hand. To my relief, the scar looked less swollen, less nasty. I hoped it wasn't infected and now this possibility seemed much more likely. I was also still haunted by the dream I'd had the other night, as well as the incidents in the subway and the prospect of more terrifying things to come.

If only other people had this much to worry about. They would see things in a whole different light...or darkness, depending on how optimistic they are. Nonetheless, a good attitude, as helpful as it may be, cannot banish darkness, cannot drive away monsters or exorcise demons, cannot make someone believe something they wish not to fathom. It can only make doing so easier and faster.

After letting my mind wander for a few more moments, I finally let my pen touch the paper, and this time words came out.

My name is Wendy Cremwell. I lead an unusual life. Some people think of me as weird or dorky but I try not to listen to them. I have a dog named Sammy and he's very sweet. I also have a great friend named Lola Cooper, and we hang out all the time. My brother picks on me a lot and plays all kinds of cruel pranks on me. Sometimes I wish he would just quit acting like a six year-old and grow up.

My mom and dad like to bake stuff, especially Cinnamon buns. They go to bake sales a lot too. If I eat their sweets every day, I'll probably have cardiac arrest by the time I'm sixteen. There's a beautiful place behind my neighborhood, in the woods, and I go there a lot, but I can't say where because its a secret. Not that I'm a very secretive person, mind you, I just don't want my brother or anyone like him finding out what little I can hide, and its not really much, trust me.

I try to be a good person. Its just kind of hard to believe it sometimes, considering the things that people can say about me. I like to watch the X- Files, even though they don't make new episodes anymore. Lola and I sometimes pretend that we're in the FBI like Mulder and Skully, and have to hunt down all sorts of spooky stuff and escape deadly conspiracies.

We can be really silly, but that's just the way we are.

Someday I want to be an author. Don't really know why. Maybe because there's some interesting stuff brewing in my head all the time and it'd be fun to make it into something that will entertain people.

I can get paranoid about things, especially when I'm all alone in the house and I hear a strange noise. If so I run as fast as I can to see what it is only to find out my cat knocked down a shampoo bottle in the bathroom or something. I guess that's just part of having a big imagination, I'm always thinking there's weird stuff happening.

Finally I set down my pen, satisfied, and hoping that Mr. Thomason would be too. I almost wanted to look up again, to see if he was still looking at me, but for some reason I didn't have the nerve to do so.

Instead, I looked toward the window. The sunlight was no longer shining through. It was probably going to rain. I also couldn't believe that it was still only 9:00 in the morning. The time was passing by so slowly, probably because I was eager to get out of class.

For a few minutes I surveyed what I had written on the paper. Maybe it sounded funny, like a sappy teeny-bopper journal about rejection and trying to fit in, but I didn't feel like going back over it to change anything. I almost regretted writing it in ink, because I didn't have any white-out in my backpack. Shrugging, I tore out the page I had used and set it on the end of my desk.

Suddenly, Mrs Thomason asked, “are you finished?”

Uh...yeah, I guess so.” I answered.

Quickly, almost dramatically, he stood up from his desk and briskly walked over to mine. Then he swiped the paper and took it back to the front of the room, where he sat down to read it.

See, this was one of those times where I just wanted to stand up, leave the room for a moment, and then return when the spell of weirdness was over. Unfortunately, it is NEVER over.

It took him only a few moments to read my paper, then he laid it down on a pile on his desk. “Thank you, Wendy. That was very intriguing. Very fascinating. Yes.”

As I had anticipated, a few kids snickered in front of and behind me. Several turned around in their seats to roll their eyes and smile mockingly. And Sheryl even had the nerve to say, “Oh, my. It looks like Wendy Weird has a new best buddy. Lucky her.”

Then Julie added. “yeah, and she needs all the friends she can get.”

My cheeks flushed red as everyone looked at me, and the whole class began to break out into uproarious laughter.

I felt so small. So alone.

All of them, their eyes full of self-presumed superiority, their cackling seemed endless, and I felt as if I would be hated and rejected forever.

Suddenly, with a fury that I couldn't have predicted, Mr. Thomason bolted up from his chair and faced the class, his face twisting into such an angry expression that I flinched with alarm. But then I realized that this was not directed at me, but at everyone else. “Enough!” he shouted, his hands curling up into such tight fists that I half expected to see blood dripping through the clenched fingers. “Enough.”

This new silence was not only unnerving, but it seemed as if the whole room was frozen. No one moved, no one spoke, and every single person was staring at our new teacher, their mouths agape, expressions tight with what appeared to be shock and horror.

I stole a glance at Julie and Sheryl behind me. Their eyes were as wide as saucers, and they were trembling.

This was not merely a surprised reaction to an angry man. It was something else, something I could not quite define. One thing I could realize, however, was that the room had turned colder. It seemed to have dropped drastically in temperature.

I was shivering.

Mr. Thomason's friendly smile was gone, and his eyes looked fierce now. He eyed everyone in the room except me with a glower that seemed fit not just to gain obedience but to freeze hearts.

In a low, calm tone reminiscent of a hypnotist luring someone into a deep trance, he said, “Look at you, you naughty children, preying on one of our own. It is a disgrace. Bad. You're very bad.”

To my surprise, the red-headed boy sitting next to me began to nod vigorously, and a few others did the same, and when I looked, so were Julie and Sheryl!

Just what was going on, I did not know, but it was definitely not normal. I also understood that I was not under this strange trance-like state that all of my classmates were, and that it was somehow all because of our new teacher.

You!” he demanded sharply, pointing at Julie and Sheryl with one long index finger. “Be good and apologize.”

We're sorry!” they both said in unison, and I felt as if my breath had been knocked out of me. My heart began to pound like crazy.

Yes.” the teacher continued. “And do not ever do that again. Or you will regret it very much.”

I didn't know whether to laugh, shout in joy, or get up and run. Mixed emotions commanded me to do all these things, but all I could do was sit there, my own mouth dropped open now. Here it was, two snobby girls in my class, along with everyone else who harassed me, being put in their place as if by magic or mind control by this weird teacher.

If it weren't for the fact that he was, indeed, a weird teacher, I would have been very happy that finally, someone besides Lola was taking up for me.

Now.” Mr. Thomason said, his familiar grin teasing at the corners of his mouth but managing not to come. “We will continue studies for the rest of our time, and you will NOT do that again. Do not prey on your own kind because you think you are better then another. Understand this?”

To my amazement, they all nodded again, and there were murmurs of agreement that I thought I'd never, ever hear.

Hallelujah! I kept wanting to shout, but the words, “prey on your own kind” held me back. What the heck did that mean?

Then, the room temperature warmed again, and everyone seemed to snap out of whatever daydream they seemed to be under, and Mr. Thomason's warm smile returned to his face.

The End

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