Who Are You?
Alice read Eddy’s words, and then hit her head against the wall.
Had she really expected a reasonable reply from a mysterious prankster, who was apparently trying to hack the school computers? Of course she had, because she was an idiot.
Oddly enough, Eddy had seemed like a reasonable person during their short conversations, until now.
Hey, it’s Eddy. Have you found anything out, yet?
Tell me your theory, first
Ok. I think that the Wombat’s mascot was abducted by aliens.
When Alice was done hitting her head against the wall, she rubbed her head and groaned. Even if Eddy was just as weird as everyone else at school, he’d been right about one thing. She needed to show people that reality could be interesting, and to do that, she needed to find out the truth.
Alice typed her reply. I don’t agree at all. It’s far more likely that the wombat was abducted by pranksters.
Are you sure?There have been many signs of of alien activity at Burrow High School, such as crop circles, students with unusual abilities, UFO sightings, and now a possible abduction. The evidence is fairly weak on its own, but so much evidence together makes the alien hypothesis much more likely.
Alice bit her lip. How could she explain what she knew about the world, on a gut level?
Eddy, high school kids are caught pulling pranks every day, but there’s never been a single confirmed case of alien contact.
Good point, Eddy replied. I’ll have to update my probabilities based on that. Still, I estimate a high probability of alien activity.
Alice sighed. You must be using some strange definition of the word “probability,” or maybe a strange definition of the word “alien.”
Maybe I am. An alien doesn’t have to be extraterrestrial. Anything outside normal human experience can be alien.
Well, whatever is happening, it’s not normal, Alice conceded.
For a long time, Eddy did not reply. It was getting rather late, Alice thought, and she wondered if Eddy had decided to go to bed. Alice lay down, propped her computer up on a pillow in front of her, and wrapped a quilt around her shoulders.
Alice, I don’t have much experience with people. When is it appropriate to ask a personal question?
I don’t know. When you feel comfortable with someone, it’s okay to ask. Just let the other person know that they don’t have to answer.
Thank you. Alice, are you afraid of things that aren’t normal? You don’t have to answer.
Alice stared at the screen.
I’m not afraid; I’m just lazy. Unusual things are complicated. I want a simple life.
I was told that life isn’t simple.
Alice laughed out loud. No, it isn’t, but I’m going to make it simpler. That’s why I’m trying to find the truth, now.
On Sunday morning, Alice sat alone on a weather-warped bench at the park. She had been up very late talking to Eddy, and now she felt the results. Her eyelids drooped, her head throbbed, but, somehow, she didn’t mind. It was a beautiful morning.
The sun rose a little higher as she sat, glistening off of the dew-sprinkled grass. The birds in the air around her swelled their song in response. Something in the cool wind that swept Alice’s cheeks seemed clean and new.
A tall, dark-haired girl approached Alice from across the park, and Alice’s content smile faded. Alice had dragged herself from her comfortable bed on a Sunday morning because Lucy had texted her twenty times, demanding that they meet, and now Lucy was late. The girl who approached looked similar enough to Lucy to be related, and Alice guessed that Lucy had sent the girl to give Alice a message.
“Hello,” the girl said, stopping in front of Alice’s bench. “Sorry I took so long.”
Alice regarded the girl in front of her. She was tall and thin, with short, dark hair. Her dark eyes, her nose, her mouth, and even the dimple in her chin were identical to Lucy’s.
“Can you give Lucy a message for me?” Alice said.
The girl laughed. “Silly- it’s me!”
“I don’t think it’s appropriate for her to- wait… what?”
Alice squinted her tired eyes and looked at the girl more closely.
“It’s me- Lucy,” the girl said in Lucy’s voice. “Don’t you recognize me? I know I’m a little taller, but-”
“You aren’t Lucy’s sister?”
Lucy frowned. “I don’t have a sister- not that I know of. You probably don’t recognize me because I just got an upgrade. I haven’t had any upgrades since junior high, and I was tired of being so short, so I told them to make me as tall as possible.”
Alice stood. Sure enough, Lucy was almost a head taller than her, now. Despite the change, Lucy’s voice and mannerisms were exactly the same. Alice walked slowly around Lucy, examining her from every angle.
“So-” Lucy said awkwardly.
“Who are ‘they?’” Alice asked. “You said that they had given you an upgrade.”
“Just some friends.”
Alice came back around and looked up at Lucy questioningly.
“I came to the park to give you more proof,” Lucy continued. “I could go run an obstacle course on the playground equipment, or – hey, I just remembered- my eyes can glow, now.”
Lucy blinked, and her brown eyes flashed bright blue, lighting up like LEDs.
Alice tried and failed to be shocked. Perhaps she’d used up all of her surprise when she’d seen Lucy jump from the Gym roof, or maybe she was just too tired to be shocked.
“Ok, your eyes glow,” Alice said. “Can I ask you some questions, now?”
“Of course you can! Should we set up an interview, or what?”
“We can do it now. This won’t take long.” Lucy fished her phone from her pocket and hit record, not wanting to miss a single clue.
“First question: did you have anything to do with the wombat incident?”
“No,” Lucy said.
“Do you know who was involved?”
Lucy paused. “I know who was involved, but I can’t tell you. I don’t think you’re ready to know.”
Alice sighed. “Ok, next question: are you this maddening on purpose?”
Lucy just smiled.
None of my evidence is helpful, Alice admitted to Eddy, later. The wig and tape that I found at the stadium are too suspicious, the burn marks on the grass weren’t present when the wombat was captured, and even though Lucy claims to know who was involved, she won’t tell me anything more.
Still, it is evidence, even if it’s weak evidence.
Eddy, I think I’m going to lose my mind if I don’t find some real answers, soon.
I’ll help you, if you want. I don’t have much more evidence about the alien abduction, but I’ll try to find more.
You’re a mystery too, Eddy. If you want to help, tell me who you are.
Alice didn’t really expect this to work, but she bit her lip in anticipation as she waited for the reply.
I don’t understand. You know who I am. I’m Eddy.
Is Eddy your real name?
There are several Edwards in school. What is your last name?
I don’t have a last name.
Alice wanted to hurl her computer across the room.
Can you tell me anything? Is Eddy short for Edward or Edwina or… something else?
It’s just Eddy.
Are you a boy or a girl, then.
Does that matter?
Alice sighed. No, not really. A lot of people are looking for you, though. You’re going to be in big trouble, when you’re caught. Just- stop trying to hack the school computers.
I’m not trying to hack the school computers. I live there.
Alice groaned and pinched the bridge of her nose. Her headache was returning.
Just then there was a soft knock on her door.
“Hey, peanut. You’ve been in your room all day. Are you ok?”
“Yeah, I’m fine.”
Alice’s Dad came into the room and smiled sheepishly at her. “You were on your computer all night, and now you’re on again? Do you have too much homework, or are you chatting with someone?”
Alice shrugged. “I’ve been chatting with someone. Why?”
“Ooooh,” Alice’s dad said in a singsong voice. “Well, don’t let me disturb you.”
“It’s not like that.”
But Alice’s Dad just winked.
“Ugh, Dad!” Alice threw a pillow at her Dad’s head, but he just dodged it and left the room, laughing.
“Invite them over for dinner, sometime,” he called as he left.
Alice looked back at the computer, and for one one moment of madness she actually considered inviting Eddy. Then she shut her laptop and resolved not to look at it again.