Chapter 10 – Lindsay
Nick told us everything. He told us about the strange man and the gross sweat and how it felt like jell-o at first but then it just took over and grew. He talked for a long time and there was no buzzing. It was probably the longest Nick Tanner had ever gone without lying. Cal just stood there and nodded a million times and kept saying “uh-huh” like he understood.
But I was staring at Cal. I mean, what the heck? Were we not even going to talk about what just happened? Cal used a frickin’ heat ray to unfreeze Nick! And they were just going along like it was another day at school.
I cleared my throat when Nick had finished describing the creepy guy. “Um, guys?” I said. “Could we, like, discuss this stuff? This is crazy, right?”
They both just stared at me. Cal shrugged. “Yeah, it’s crazy.”
Nick nodded. “But it’s happening. So we need to get over it and figure out our next move.”
Cal’s eyes gleamed while he worked out plans in his head. Cal asked questions about the guy and Nick answered.
What was the guy doing in the office? He wanted to know which students were on the field trip.
Did it sound like he knew someone might have powers? Nick didn’t know.
What did the secretary tell him? That she wouldn’t reveal the names of the kids.
That made Cal nod, like he was satisfied. Nick got a look on his face, like he was uncomfortable.
“Oh yeah, there’s one more thing,” he said. “It didn’t seem to matter at the time, but it might be a problem…”
“What is it?” I demanded.
“The guy said that someone had left something and he was trying to return it,” Nick said.
Cal looked like he was going to be sick. My mind raced as I thought about if I might have dropped something while we were in the observatory. Was something missing? A book with my name in it? A pencil with bite marks and my DNA? Was there any way the guy could identify me?
Nick rushed on, the words tripping all over themselves as they raced out of his mouth. “He was probably making it up. He needed to get the names from the secretary. He was probably lying.”
“No,” Cal said. “I left something there. That’s why I went back up to the top of the tower that day.”
Chapter 11 – Nick
“What the hell did you leave up there?” I said.
Cal turned red and started stammering all over the place. “I, um, well, it’s – I had forgotten about it, until you just said that…”
Lindsay had a frantic look in her eyes. “Spit it out, Cal!”
“I left my jacket,” Cal said. “My chess club jacket.”
I groaned. I’d seen him wearing it. It was like a varsity letter jacket, but it had a huge chess piece image on the back. What a dork!
“Does it have your name on it?” Lindsay asked. She chewed on a fingernail.
“Well…” Cal muttered. “Kind of.”
“What do you mean ‘kind of’? Either it has your name on it or it doesn’t.” I spat at him.
“It doesn’t have my name,” Cal said.
Lindsay let out a breath of relief.
“But it says Captain,” he said. “And I’m the only Captain.”
There was silence. Cal was twitching and rolling his eyes around in his skull in that weird way he’s been lately when he’s solving his math equations. Lindsay was chomping on her nails nervously.
“Okay, okay,” I said, trying to smooth out the situation. “So he knows that some nerd left their nerdy jacket behind. But that doesn’t mean anything. It doesn’t mean that the owner of the jacket has powers. It doesn’t mean that he’ll ever know who owns the jacket, even!”
“Unless the jacket has powers,” Lindsay whispered. Her eyes grew wide. “What if the jacket has powers, like if you put it on you turn invisible or something?”
“Like the Invisibility Cloak in Harry Potter?” Cal said.
“Dorks!” I shouted at them. They were out of control. “This isn’t a fantasy movie with dragons and wizards! This is high school. We’ll just lay low until this whole thing blows over.”
They nodded. I stared at Cal. “And you,” I said. “Don’t do anything with the chess club for awhile. Okay?”
“Okay,” he said.
I shook my head. Of all the people to get super powers with, I get these geeks.
Chapter 12 – Cal
As soon as I woke up the next morning, my mind flashed to the school day ahead, and I jumped out of bed.
“Oh no, oh no” I repeated, hopping around the room and pulling my clothes on as fast as I could.
I ran out the door without breakfast and ran as hard as I could to the school. I needed to get there before anyone else.
I was an hour early, but I knew an entrance that was unlocked for the kids like me that liked to get to school early to study in the library. I slipped in and walked through the empty halls, peeking into each classroom. Today was the day the school newspaper came out. I was looking for the stacks of pages. I needed to trash them, or burn them. I needed to destroy them in some way.
I couldn’t find them anywhere. I wandered up to the office. The secretary was there, putting her lunch in the small mini-refrigerator by her desk.
“Well, look who’s here,” she said, smiling. “You’re Mr. Popularity today!” She held up a copy of the newspaper, and there, right on the front page, was a huge picture of me, wearing my chess captain’s jacket and smiling my lopsided grin into the camera. My name appeared under the picture, in case the whole article wasn’t identifying enough. The front page story of our newspaper was how the chess team had made it to the finals of the state championships. This is what happens when your high school football team stinks.
“Hey, yeah, look,” I said. I felt sick to my stomach.
She grabbed a few copies. “You’ll need extras!” She handed me a stack of about five papers.
“Hey,” I said. “Um, could I have some more copies?”
“Sure, hon. How many do you want?”
I gulped. “Um… all of them?”
The secretary laughed and gave me about five more. “You can get more from your friends if you need them,” she said, still laughing.
I met Nick and Lindsay in the foyer of the commons area before the first bell.
“This is the plan,” I said. “We need to split up, and get every single copy of the paper. Take your friends copies, steal them from your homeroom teacher before the start of class. I don’t care how you do it, but it needs to get done.”
I could tell Nick was pissed but he kept his cool.
“Do you think this can work?” Lindsay asked. “I mean, can you, like … see that this works?”
I did some calculations and swallowed hard. “It’ll work,” I chirped, as cheerfully as I could manage.
Lindsay flinched, and then gave me a dirty look.
“Sorry,” I said. “What I mean is, there’s a chance this might work.”
Lindsay waited but didn’t flinch, then smiled at me. “Okay. Let’s steal those newspapers.”