I had a serious talk with little Ben Flatbush first thing next morning.
“What do you mean things aren’t what they seem? What things, Ben?”
It was before first period. We were in the hallway by the elevator.
“Look, Abe, I don’t know what’s going on. I just know I’ve seen teachers disappear down that little closet stairway.” He made a whole body move that started with his thumb to point to the janitor’s closet door right next to us. For some reason he had the idea that there was a stairway going below the school in there.
Ray was playing Metro Attack in the library, so I was alone in my investigation. I wasn’t sure I was too good at it. “Who have you actually seen disappear?”
Ben looked around making sure the coast was clear. Then he looked me square in the eye like he was going to tell me who wanted to kidnap the president. “Harrison.”
I didn’t tell the boy about what I discovered the day before! It was my investigation. I looked over at the art displayed on the wall wondering what I was going to do next. What do you say to that?
Pencil drawings. The drawings in the little black protective cases on the wall were pencil drawings. Really cool ones of robots and gears and mechanical stuff.
“If someone goes down a stairway, it doesn’t mean they disappear. I had Harrison yesterday. He hasn’t disappeared.”
Ben took off. When I got back to the library, Ray asked how it went.
“Pretty good. Ben thinks there is a staircase in the janitor closet.”
“Wonder where he got that idea,” Ray asked. He smiled ‘cause he knew that we had spread the rumor when we thought Harrison was a werewolf. Yeah, that actually happened. But that’s another story.
We walked out of the library and met Liz by the mechanical art. “Hey, look, he did have fangs,” I said.
“Ben thinks Harrison is a werewolf again?” Liz asked.
“No, but he does think he and the other alien abductees are going below the school to hang out.”
The bell rang for first period. “Maybe they are,” Liz said in a voice that didn’t even sound like her. Then, she took off running around the corner! Just like that.
I followed around the staircase into the long hallway between seventh and eighth grade, but she was gone. When I got back around the corner to Ray, he was gone too! I stood in the middle of the hallway like a dummy and the rest of school just streamed around me. I stood staring. Right at the wall.
The mechanical art pieces in the picture frames were gone. Sitting in a frame was another one of my Monster Deck 3 cards: A second class wizard – a protection card – with an invisibility spell. Either I was losing my mind or aliens were taking over… maybe both.