If you haven’t read the parts before this one, the series will be listed at the end of this post if you’d like to start from the beginning.
After a few glances over his shoulder, Timber pulled back into the flow of traffic. We’d agreed that since we couldn’t find King, I should finally be taken to urgent care.
Well, they’d agreed. I wasn’t so ready for the white rooms of the hospital.
James was still out there with the S.B.U. gang, giving in to all their stupidity, probably vandalizing a bunch of other cars.
I leaned my head back. Something nagged at the back of my mind, but I pushed it aside. No one said anything, partially due to our failure, and partially because Jade had managed to get the kitten to fall asleep and no one wanted to wake the little demon. Would James go to prison for this? How many cars would King strike before they ran out of paint? What if they decided more than one Glitter Boy should exist and painted a person?
I’d never thought James would do something like that, but now I wasn’t so sure. If he’d bent this far, who knew what he’d do next? He’d already crossed a line I had deemed sacred.
I closed my eyes, the energy of the chase departing, leaving my limbs heavy. Whatever happened, I’d no doubt hear about it in the morning. I finally let the nagging side of my mind take over.
Wait, why what? I rolled my eyes beneath my eyelids. And there I go, talking to myself again.
Why on earth would King target Timber?
I shrugged. “He’s a psychopath. He doesn’t need a reason,” I said.
But that’s not quite right. I’m confusing psychopath with serial killer.
Matt glanced at me with an Okkkkkaaaayyy look in his eyes.
But really, what on earth would cause King to provoke a Karate Kid? Granted, he wasn’t the smartest guy at Bridgewald, but still.
“Timber?” I ventured.
“Hmm?” He said it in a way that made me think he wasn’t really listening. I pressed on anyway.
“Why would King want to bother you? Like, paint your car? You don’t even know him.”
Timber shrugged. “No idea. Perhaps he sees me as some sort of enemy. Or it could just be a random act of vandalism.”
I shook my head. It couldn’t have been random, not unless King had a death wish.
I had enemies, but normal people, especially tall, muscular, karate kids like Timber, didn’t. Groups of people had rivals, but….
I stared at the back of Timber’s head, the silver panther pendant I’d noticed earlier coming to mind.
Timber pulled the car into the hospital parking lot, and headed toward urgent care. It was almost time to go.
“Timber, wait! Don’t drop me off.” I sat up straight. “When we saw them up at the light, was King in the turning lane?”
Timber glanced back at me. “Not that I remember.”
I fistpumped and would have yelled in victory of I wasn’t afraid of waking the kitten.
Everyone stared at me.
I smiled. “I know exactly where King went.“So…” Matt started. No one volunteered to finish his sentence.
We waited inside the glitterified van, staring through the glass doors into the halls of Westend High School. James’ black Mustang sat in the parking space in front of us.
Rare moments existed when I was right, and even scarcer were the occasions where I hated being right.
This was one of them.
No one spoke. Dramatic thoughts about our eminent encounter with King likely flitted through their heads, along with–
“We have to take the kitten with us,” Jade said. Never mind, then. Jade was thinking about the kitten.
“What is it with you and that cat?” Matt shot back.
“Are any of you concerned about the vandals we’re about to confront?” I asked. I was only halfway to believing James was in Westend, damaging the place as part of some stupid basketball rivalry.
Jade’s face was vacant. Apparently, she was not worried. Lucky. “The kitten will get lonely,” she replied.
I raised my eyebrows. She didn’t attempt another defense.
“No time to argue.” Timber popped open the door. Ever since I’d told him my theory about King’s location, he’d completely blocked the world out, focusing on his goal. It was scary. As it stood, I sorta hoped we wouldn’t find King, for the bully’s own sake.
But, we needed justice. Right? We’d come too far to stop now. My churning stomach said otherwise. Perhaps we weren’t the right people to stop King.
“Just leave it in the car!” Matt said.
“No!” Jade replied.
Timber was already halfway to the door. I tripped out of the van, then passed James’ car, nerves prickling. Jade and Matt scrambled out of the van soon after, slamming the sliding door, announcing our presence with a bang.
Timber tried the main entrance. The door didn’t budge.
I stepped beside him. “It’s locked.” I glanced back at James’ car. They were here. But how did they get in?
“Thanks for the observation.” Timber walked around the building. I had no choice but to follow. We tried about six doors until we found a back entrance that gave. Timber heaved it open.
“Wait, won’t they have alarms? And cameras?” I asked.
“If King and the rest made it in, the alarms are off. I don’t think Westend has cameras yet.” Timber glanced into the hall.
You…you don’t think? I didn’t know how Jade and Matt felt, but I certainly didn’t want this night documented on film.
Timber strode into the school, tall and confident. I followed with a sigh. We were officially breaking and entering. Fan-flipping-wonderful.
Jade gave a tiny yelp and stuck her thumb in her mouth. The kitten was awake and biting, dangling from her grasp, moments from escape.
I scooped up the wriggling mass, holding it close. “Why didn’t you bring my jacket?”
“I forgot it!” She hissed. Timber shot a warning glare over his shoulder. I adjusted my grip on the kitten, holding it close so it clawed at my clothes, not hands.
Jade reached out to take it back. I shook my head. No way I was letting this thing loose. She crossed her arms, pouting.
We crept through the halls. I’d never been in a school at night, alone. To make it better, I was with a bunch of strangers I’d met today, who had, in fact, almost tried to kill me.
The traces of life left behind by the school’s daily occupants–a cracked classroom door here, a scuff there–was enough to make me wonder if ghosts indeed existed. A meager amount of moonlight bled through the windows, lightening the darkness by a few shades.
Timber paused. “We’ll find King faster if we split up,” he whispered.
I nodded. Cool. I’d be safe with Timber while–
“Jade will go with you. Matt is with me. We’ll take the different wings and check the rooms, focusing on the gyms and locker rooms. Jade has my number if you find them.”
Oh. I deflated, nodding. Timber and Matt split to the left. I’d never been to Westend, so I guessed and went the opposite direction.
Jade must have realized I had no idea what I was doing, for she took the lead, navigating through the halls with ease.
The kitten gave a little mew. Snap. I shushed it, wondering what King would think if he heard a kitten mew in the middle of a high school. If I was him, I’d think I’d finally gone insane.
Stop talking to yourself, Sam.
We continued, searching rooms as we went. After the first few I was starting to question myself. Was King really here?
The scuff of footsteps, outside the rhythm of our own, froze me.
Jade kept walking, about to turn a corner. I grabbed her arm and hauled her back. She wrenched her arm away, scowling. I nodded to the corner. We peered around the edge.
Dylan stood in front a set of gym doors, his face the perfect visage of a anxious, millennial storm cloud.
I glanced at Jade. She mouthed something to me, but her lips moved too fast. What was she saying about Gwen? Wasn’t she Spider-Man’s girlfriend? No, that was Mary Jane. Why were we having a discussion about Spider-Man when we’d found Dylan?
Jade slid out her phone, and I looked around the corner again. Dylan was scanning his corridor, combing each end with his darting eyes. I stepped back. Even if Dylan was as skinny and weak as I was, I still didn’t want to be seen.
Jade’s phone flashed as she clicked it on.
King, Levi, and James had to be behind that door. We couldn’t wait for Timber. This was why we were here.
I pressed myself against the wall. Dylan was a scaredy cat. If he had an imagination like mine, it wouldn’t take much to run him off. I cuffed my hands around my mouth and worked my voice into the lowest whisper I could manage. “Dylan. Dyyyyllllaaannn!” I smirked.
“Who’s there?” Dylan asked, sounding annoyed, not scared. Dang it.
“The ghost of Wessssstennnnnd…” I moaned.
Dylan huffed. “There is none.”
“There is too!” I squeaked. I cleared my throat. “There is one, frail mortal. And I am here for….for revenge! For that…thing you did!” I said. Jade shook her head, probably pitying me.
The tip of Dylan’s shadow crept into our hallway. “Come out, whoever you are,” he said without hesitation.
Snap. Oh snap. This wasn’t working. I backed away, taking Jade with me. “Uh…don’t cross the corneerrrrr,” I said.
Dylan’s footfalls didn’t cease. Brilliant.
The kitten squirmed with renewed zeal. I tightened my grip. Stay still, you little– The fuzzy bit my thumb. I muffled a yelp and jerked my hand away.
Dylan’s shadow hit the far wall. He was almost upon us.
The kitten hissed, like water as it touched a burning stove. The shadow paused.
The little demon squirmed, then with one last effort, dug its claws into my wrist and broke free. It hit the floor at an awkward angle but was up in a flash, shooting past the corner.
A yell shattered the silence into itsy bitsy pieces, followed by a thud that could only be Dylan hitting the floor.
Slap slap slap slap.
I looked around the corner, just in time to catch a glimpse of Dylan’s plaid-covered back as he fled. Alrighty, that worked.
The kitten continued its mad dash for freedom. Jade launched after it with a shriek.
“Jade, wait!” I hissed. She ignored me, already half-way down the hall. A few seconds more and the fading footfalls of both Jade and Dylan were my only company. Great.
I eased into the open, staring at the gym doors. I should wait for Timber.
But this needed to end.
I set my shoulders, forced a bit of confidence in my stride, and entered the gym.
Thanks for reading this never ending story! If you liked part six, want to guess what happens next, or just want to yell at me for not finishing this story already, comment below. See you next week!
-Gabrielle Pollack (A.K.A. The Great Rising Puzzlement)
P.S. If you haven’t read the other parts of this Sam story, here they are: