Alice Through the Prism
Part IV- EDDY
Wombat Goes Missing
Wombat Abducted by Aliens
Alice re-read the two headlines she’d written, and groaned. The second headline was ridiculous, of course, but the first headline didn’t seem to convey what had happened at the football game. She wasn’t even sure she wanted to make the missing wombat the center of her article, though it was all the students seemed interested in.
So Long, Wombat
Alice smiled; this was much better. So Long, Wombat could refer to both the missing wombat, and the Wombats’ defeat on the football field. She could focus on the game in the article, and add a short paragraph at the end of the article about the missing wombat. The picture she’d taken of the empty wombat cage should be enough of a teaser to get the curious kids reading.
But what had happened to the wombat, Alice wondered. Everyone she’d interviewed swore that the wombat had been abducted by aliens, but Alice hadn’t seen any aliens, and she had conducted enough interviews over the past couple of years to realize that eyewitnesses embellished their stories. All Alice had seen, and she was willing to bet this was all anyone had seen, was a bright light in the sky. Had it been some strange atmospheric phenomenon, like ball lightning? Had pranksters shone a spotlight on a thin layer of clouds? Had the strange, alien music been played over the stadium’s PA system?
More importantly, Alice thought, was why weird things wouldn’t stop happening at this school. Alice had lived in another city during her sophomore year, and there hadn’t been a single Alien abduction. The most mysterious thing that had occurred back then had been a bomb threat that had, it turns out, been called in by a prankster.
When Alice had begun writing, she’d been plagued by petty gossip and speculation. She’d been drawn in by it all, until following an ugly rumor about a teacher-student affair had taught her a valuable lesson- don’t dig too deeply. The world was really as boring as it seemed, 99% of the time.
But life at her new school didn’t seem boring, even on the surface. She was less and less able to avoid weird rumors. Weirdness was shoved in her face every day.
“Students,” Mr Bertram called from the front of the classroom. “Gather around- I have some things to tell you.”
Alice stood up and joined the small crowd around Mr. Bertram’s desk, squeezing in-between Greg Parker and Lauryn Selwig.
“I have just a couple of announcements. First, I wanted to let you know that last week’s Prism was excellent. The principal thinks this might be the best school paper we’ve had in years. Good job.
“Next, I want to warn you that there’s a group of pranksters in the school that are causing a lot of trouble. If you have any leads to their identities, come see me at once.”
“Are you talking about the Aliens, or are you talking about EDDY,” Chelsea Jensen asked.
“Both,” Mr Bertram replied.
“Who is Eddie?” Alice asked.
“I was just getting to that,” Mr Bertram said. “People have been getting e-mails that say ‘Hi, I’m EDDY,’ in the subject line, and we don’t know who is sending them. If you get an e-mail like this, delete it right away. Don’t open any attachments. Use common sense.”
Lauryn laughed. “We’re in high school. Sense isn’t common, here.”
She looked around with a smirk, as though expecting someone to praise her cleverness.
“Anyway,” Mr. Bertram continued, “we don’t know if the same people are behind these pranks, but it seems likely that they are. Just let me know if you hear anything.”
“Hey Alice, are you ready for your next piece of evidence?”
Later that afternoon, Alice turned around to see Lucy racing down the hall to meet her. “You don’t have class, do you?”
“I have English class,” Alice said. “I only have a couple of minutes until it starts.”
“You already have an A in the class,” Lucy said. “Just ditch.”
“I can’t just- wait, how do you know I have an A?”
“I’ve been spying on your school records.” Lucy paused, obviously trying to keep her face straight, but her lips kept twitching until she laughed. “I’m just kidding. You just seem like the straight A type.”
“Well, I’m not going to ditch class.”
“Ok, that’s fine. Just sit by a window facing the gym, if you can. At 2:30, you will see something really cool.”
“No, really- don’t do anything that will get you in trouble.”
But Lucy was already gone, having merged into the crowd of students moving back down the other side of the hall.
When Alice made it to her English class, she was dismayed to see that the only desk left was one on the end of the front row, right by the window. Alice didn’t want to see Lucy’s display, whatever it would be. She didn’t want to be party to Lucy’s madness.
The English teacher stumbled into the classroom late, her arms full of loose papers, and ordered the class to read quietly to themselves.
Alice had already done the assigned reading, so she decided to review the material, and perhaps read ahead if she had time. She tried to keep her eyes on her book, but she kept glancing out of the window, toward the gym.
Alice took a notebook out of her bag and turned to a fresh page. Perhaps taking notes would keep her mind occupied.
Alice’s watch seemed to tick louder and louder.
Alice gave up and looked out the window. The sun shone brightly on an empty field that stood between the school and the gym, and glared off of the gym itself, which stood like a ziggurat nearly three stories high. There were no students on the lawn. Even the trees, which grew in a cluster near the school building, barely stirred.
A small, dark-haired girl ran across the field and toward the gym. She moved at an impressive speed, with a stride that seemed too long for her small stature, but her upper body were relaxed, as though she merely walked.
She reached the gym and started to climb the wall. High and higher she climbed, all the way to the top, despite the lack of any visible footholds on the side of the building.
Lucy reached the top of the building and climbed onto the roof. She stood, perched on the edge, and raised her arms in a gymnastics pose.
Alice’s breath seemed to catch in her throat. That was it, wasn’t it? Please let that be the whole show.
Alice jumped out of her own seat and screamed as Lucy’s tiny body plummeted toward the earth. Time seemed to slow down.
Lucy flipped over once, twice, and three times, holding her legs tight to her chest like a high diver. Then she landed on the hard-packed earth, on two feet, as a cloud of dust billowed around her.
Lucy turned to the window, bowed, waved, and ran back across the field.
“Alice, what is the meaning of this?”
Alice turned back to the classroom, and saw her teacher striding toward her with a stern expression. Everyone in the class was staring at her.
“Well, Alice? I’m waiting.”
Alice opened her mouth to reply, but all that came out was a strangled nrrrrrg sound. She couldn’t very well say, ‘I saw Lucy jump off the roof, but don’t worry- she’s fine.’ No one else in the class seemed to have seen Lucy jump. All eyes were on her.
“I- I’m sorry,” Alice said. “I guess I drifted off. I had a bad dream.”
The teacher sighed. “This isn’t like you, Alice. You’re usually so attentive.”
“I’m sorry, Ms. Austen,” Alice repeated. “I’ve been having trouble getting to sleep, lately. It won’t happen again.”
“You must be stressed,” Ms. Austen said. “I’ll give you a flyer for a yoga class I’d thought about trying. It looks like you need it as much as I do.”
The class laughed, and Alice sat back down.
That night, Alice flopped down on her bed- a comfortable, but tiny brass daybed that she’d long outgrown- and closed her eyes in thought.
Lucy must have faked the stunt, Alice thought, even though she had no idea how it could have been faked. Faking the stunt would have taken a lot of planning, money, and ingenuity. The real question was how likely it was that Lucy had the resources to fake her stunt, versus how likely it was that she could jump off of tall buildings.
Alice honestly didn’t know.
Perhaps Alice should have gone to Brendan’s house to study, after school. He didn’t like Lucy, but his advice was usually good, and it was always helpful to have an outside perspective.
Alice switched on her laptop to send Brenden an IM.
Damn. Brendan wasn’t on.
However, before Alice could log off, a chat window popped up.
Hello the message read. My Name is Eddy.