Replacements – Scene 6

Chambers

I avoided Ray for the rest of the day while I tried to sort things out in my brain. Somehow it had to be wrong, all this evidence stacking up against Ray. He couldn’t be one of the aliens. Couldn’t. Plus, I wasn’t even sure that I was sure that I was sure that the alien thing was real anyway. Just because Ben said it didn’t make it real. Just because my Monster Deck 3 cards kept showing up everywhere with little clues about what happened next didn’t mean anything. Just because the teachers even seemed to be in on it didn’t mean anything.

Naw. It was all in my mind, right?

Well, I tried to be busy (a lot) so that I didn’t have to accuse anyone of being something they weren’t (you know, like accusing Ray of being an alien).

So two things were about to happen to me that I was in no way prepared for.

First, another teacher disappeared. And then, the office pretty much said that they were aliens and that they’d taken over… and I better join them or else!

Here’s how it rolled.

Ray and I just got out of language arts with Mr. Harrison and were walking down to PE.

“Look, Abe, I know you’ve been kinda avoiding me or something. What’s up?”

We’d just dropped my stuff off at my locker and there were only 4 billion people in the cram-packed hallway. Now I was going to have to square up with Ray. “What do you mean, man?” Man? Like I don’t even use that word! I was too nervous to talk.

“Yeah, I can tell when things aren’t right. You clam up. And that’s not how you are with me.”

“Yeah, I guess something’s been eating me.” We made it through the locker section and got to the stairs. It is a miracle more people aren’t trampled to death with this many people all trying to go the same way at the same time in hallways designed for half this number of kids. Ray waited me out. “You didn’t take my Monster Deck 3 as a joke, did you, Ray?”

“Of course not.”

“You mean, you haven’t been working with Fry and Ben to make this little scheme look like aliens were invading and my cards all pointed to what was happening?” I rattled it all off and got it out in the open and whew! I felt better!

“Abe…really?”

“You mean, you’re not an alien?”

“Really? That’s it? You thought I would take your deck because I was part of the alien takeover?”

“Well, you had a look yesterday with Reyes. It looked like you two were communicating in some private code.”

Ray was always patient with me. Maybe because I got us into so many scrapes that he had to be. I’m not sure. But he could sure put up with my stuff.

“I’m not communicating with anyone. I’m trying to figure this out just like you. But if you don’t trust me…”

“Look, a card fell out of your binder yesterday in Social Studies. I picked it up and didn’t tell you. It was a crow!” I spat the words out.

“A spy spell!” Ray said.

“Exactly. See why I was worried?”

“You were just putting the pieces together.” Ray smiled. It felt better to have him back on my side. If aliens are going to take over your school you want Ray on your side, not theirs.

We turned the corner at the bottom of the stairs and were walking by the janitor’s room. The door was open. I looked in as we walked by, but couldn’t stop because we were in the river of flowing students.

That’s when I saw it! Mr. Borland, the dean, was in there and went into the inside ‘closet’ door; I was positive it was a secret passageway. Just like Ben said.

“Ray, c’mon!” I said as I crossed the flow of students over to the door. I stepped in the janitor’s room like I owned the place.

I motioned for quiet with my finger to my lips as we stepped around a mop and bucket to get to the inside ‘closet’ door. My eyes met Ray’s as my hand went to the doorknob. He nodded like it was mission go. My heart was thumping, but I knew we had to get to the bottom of this.

When I pulled the door open… there was nothing but supplies in there. It was a closet with shelves of cleaning stuff. You almost couldn’t step into it much less make your way to some hidden staircase below the school leading to secret chambers.

Ray curled his hand to tell me to get out of there and we were back in the flow of students heading through the entryway of the school when he said, “You mean you saw someone in there… for real?”

“As sure as I’m here. It was Mr. Borland.”

Ray detoured us right into the office, so I think he not only was on my side again, he fully believed that I saw Mr. Borland disappear. He was going to see if Mr. Borland was in there. In the office.

“Excuse me, Mrs. Green, is Mr. Borland here?” Ray asked. The temperature seemed 10 degrees hotter in the office even though one wall was only windows to the hallway. It was like a hothouse or something.

“He’s out in the building right now. Did you need him for something, Raymond?”

They had cover up answers for everything! ‘He’s out in the building.’ Ha! He was out making plans for the complete takeover.

Ray turned to look at me with eyes as large as he could make them.

Then I saw something that chilled me to the bone: a Monster Deck was sitting on the counter.

“Abe, someone told me you were missing a deck of cards. Is this the deck?” Mrs. Green asked as she pointed to it.

I could tell it wasn’t a full deck before I touched it. That was clue number one that it was mine. Clue two was that it was indeed a Monster Deck 3. Clue three I didn’t like at all, and from the look on Ray’s face I could tell that he didn’t either. The top card was a morphed Hyena monster. Those were destructive creatures when working together! Like the office and Mr. Harrison and Mr. Borland and Mr. Reyes were doing! They were working together to take us all and turn us into their alien robots.

Mrs. Green, the office lady, interrupted my crazed thinking with a laugh. “Why, Abe, you look like that animal on there is going to jump out and bite you!”

I grabbed the cards. “It’s my deck, Mrs. Green. Can we go to PE? We’re going to be late.”

When we pulled open the door, she said, “Do you want Mr. Borland to find you?”

That was the last thing we wanted! We got to the safety of the locker room with all the other kids as fast as we could!

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