“You can’t be serious!” the guy in gym shorts gasped.
“Do I look like I’m kidding?” Phoebe retorted.
The guy in gym shorts responded, “Kinda! Sometimes you’re really sarcastic and it’s hard to tell if you’re joking or not.” Phoebe nodded in acknowledgement of the truth in that assessment.
The older lady remarked, “I agree we gotta do something to help the kids, but if we get killed going into a haunted house, how much good are we gonna be for our students?”
“How much good are we gonna be if they all die and we have no one to teach?” Phoebe shot back. She was really good at overcoming their objections! If she hadn’t been dedicated to education, I would have recommended that she go into sales!
“I don’t think all of the children would get killed,” the short man stated.
Phoebe countered with, “You don’t know that! We have no idea what’s going on, so until we know what’s happening, we have to assume that they’re all in danger!” The short man couldn’t argue with that logic.
The girly girl probed, “Couldn’t we just give this information to the police and remind them to do their jobs?” She thought about the sentence she just uttered and reversed course, “Oh, that’s never gonna happen! Forget that thought! I guess we have no choice! We’ll have to do it!”
“We can always give whatever we find to the detectives on the missing persons cases,” I suggested knowing full well that this wasn’t going to occur! I knew once they saw the abandoned house, we’d find something there that would prove my point, but I hoped that a rational line of thinking might persuade them more than me continuing my vampire explanations. I didn’t blame them for their disbelief, I certainly wouldn’t have believed it either if I didn’t see it for myself, so I crossed my fingers that we would witness something there that would get them to change their minds! “I’ll give you my address so we can meet there after school.” The bell rang, so I amended my statement, “… Once class is over.”
“I’ll liaise you all later!” Phoebe let them know. I couldn’t express just how much it meant to me to have her come to my side! Literally! We all had to rush to our classrooms before we were too late, so I didn’t have time to discuss it. The students stared at me peculiarly for huffing and puffing into the room after they had already taken their seats, but oh well! I was in too good of a mood to let that phase me! I was glad that they had tests to work on because it was a little hard to concentrate while Phoebe’s forgiveness and quick wit took over all of my attention! Not to mention the prospect of spending time with an attractive woman outside the workplace! Okay, we’d be going somewhere dangerous, but still, I couldn’t help but savor in this victory!
I already had my address written down six times before the final bell rang! I know that there were only five other teachers participating in this excursion, but I miscounted it. Besides, it doesn’t hurt to have an extra one just in case! I used some of Ms. Bronagh’s apple-themed stationary, but I figured if she knew the circumstances that we faced, she’d forgive me for that! I started musing on what kind of symbol I’d use for myself if I were to purchase a custom notepad when Phoebe popped into the room! “Hey there! Oh sorry, did I scare you?”
I asked her, “Would it be believable if I said no?”
She answered with a grin, “No! Are you sure you can handle exploring a haunted house?”
“No, but I’m gonna do it anyways!” I kidded as I handed her one of the papers with my contact information on it. I never pictured myself giving out my phone number to a pretty woman on such corny paper! But this wasn’t that kind of scenario… Right? Before I could work that one out, she led me out of the classroom.
“For the last time, magic stones didn’t cause the civil war!” the older lady exasperatedly expressed to a student.
The student disagreed, “Not magic, infinity! By collecting all of them, a force so powerful that-.”
She cut him off, “That was a flippin’ movie! Do you really think I would talk about a stupid superhero battle in a U.S. History class?”
“It’s possible! It did happen in New York City…” the student protested.
“That was a work of fiction!” the older lady barked. “We’re covering American life in the eighteen hundreds, if you haven’t noticed! What could you possibly have been thinking about this whole time that wouldn’t make you realize this?” She paused and added, “Never mind, don’t answer that! You failed the test, okay? Go home and take the weekend to study so you don’t fail the next one!”
The student left in a huff, and as the older lady rubbed her temples, I joked, “So, I’m guessing he’s your A student?”
The older lady sniffed disapprovingly at that. “Yeah, right!” I handed her one of the papers, and she informed me, “I’ll text you my number. You know, just in case you save everyone and wanna tell us not to come before we’ve gone down there…”
“Yeah, right!” I repeated her words. She didn’t seem pleased, but I could tell my quip didn’t offend her at least! I received her message and saw that her name was Ellie Wayan, so I inquired, “Is that a Missus or Miss Wayan?”
“Was that a line?” Ellie sounded mad, but it was obvious that she was kidding. “I’m not one to get fooled by a pretty face!”
She gazed directly at Phoebe, who blushed and tried to play it cool, “Yeah, me either! Let’s go get Fletcher!”
When Phoebe and I walked into the gymnasium, we saw Fletcher rolling up some foam mats while a girls’ basketball team impatiently waited for him to finish. He moved slowly, apparently not able to move faster if he wanted to, so one girl complained, “You’re cutting into our practice time!”
“You know, you could help and make it go quicker!” Fletcher pointed out with irritation.
“I… That looks like so much work!” the girl whined.
Fletcher gritted his teeth at her response, and then Phoebe and I volunteered to assist him. I noticed quite a bit of damp spots, so I conversed, “Man, you really had these kids working up a sweat!”
As we finished up with the mats, Fletcher leaned against the bleachers and breathily told me, “Hopefully that’s all it is!” Phoebe and I made grossed out faces, and after we wiped our hands onto our clothes, I handed him one of the papers. “Thanks! Looking forward to it!” He did not convey any tone of truth to that! As we left, we heard him get hit in the head with a ball, and he grumbled, “Really? You made the team with an aim like that?” He didn’t appear to have gotten hurt, so Phoebe and I shrugged at each other and exited the building.
Even though we were in the math corridor, I still expected the Barbie doll to be a cheerleading coach or some kind of motivational speaker, so it surprised me to walk into an algebra class! At first, I thought perhaps she just borrowed the room, but then I saw her name on the whiteboard (Ms. Ziven) matched the grading she did on the schoolwork in front of her! She mumbled to herself, “Is that a three or an eight? Oh well, either way, it’s wrong!” She glanced up and saw the puzzled expression on my face, so she queried, “What?”
“Oh, I just wasn’t expecting to see you teaching this subject,” I relayed to her, and based on her reaction, I knew I had phrased that completely wrong!
“Oh, just because I’m feminine, I can’t also be smart?” she raged. I felt appalled that she had interpreted my words in that way! Math tended to be a cold and calculating topic, and with her bubbly and sweet personality, it just threw me off to see this as something she’d enjoy! Before I got the opportunity to explain any of that to her, she stood up and railed me, “Just because I dress and act in a certain way doesn’t mean I’m not intelligent too! Or do you just think women don’t belong in the STEM field?”
Now I felt mortified! I certainly had no misogynistic tendencies that would lead me into thinking like that! I also had no idea what STEM stood for, but I didn’t prioritize that inquiry at the moment- I wanted to make it perfectly clear that I did not have the viewpoint that she accused me of! “Oh, no, no, no! I-.”
She then cited from memory, “The fundamental theorem of calculus states that one can connect differentiating a function with integrating a function. The first part says that one of the antiderivatives, or indefinite integral, like F may be derived as the result of the integral of F with a valuable bound of integration, implying that the antiderivatives for continuous functions do exist…” My brain went all fuzzy! I had no clue what she was talking about, so I could only assume that what she laid out just now was correct. “Shall I go on?”
“No! Please! I believe you!” I didn’t know how long this theorem was, but my head couldn’t stand another second of that! I handed her my contact information, and since I needed her fury to ebb so she would help with the vampire issue, I buttered her up a bit, “I’m so glad someone with your pedigree of knowledge is willing to help a jerk like me, who only went up to Geometry and barely got a C!” She seemed pleased with my obsequiousness and accepted the paper I handed her.
“See you later, Ginger!” Phoebe regarded her. I considered cracking some humor about her name being Ginger while she did not have any red hair, but I deemed that it wasn’t a good time to say that, so I bit my tongue and followed Phoebe out of the room.
The short man had a huge classroom with science posters all over the walls and small aquariums with little snakes on top of his shelves. I wasn’t a big fan of snakes, which I didn’t find as scary as blood but still kind of got freaked out by it, so as he finished up on his computer, I looked around the room for something else to focus on. I spotted a bust of a handsome gentleman, so I wondered, “Is that Billy Squier?”
Still glued to his screen, the short man filled me in, “It’s supposed to be Isaac Newton, but apparently Roxy thought he wasn’t attractive, so she made him look like Timothy Chalamet.”
I bemused myself with that notion as he turned off his device, and as he wrapped things up, I handed him my contact information and thanked him, “I really appreciate your assistance with this, Mister…”
“Thales ,but call me Aleck.” He frowned at my paper, and then he disclosed to me, “Listen, I’m willing to investigate what happened to those kids, but I’m not on board with the whole vampire thing! Bloodsuckers exist in nature, but there’s nothing that would chemically alter another being just from collecting this sustenance! Like, fleas don’t turn dogs into insects, right? And it’s physically impossible for a person to morph into another creature whether it’s a bat or wolf or whatever. I’m not sure what you saw out there, but I do know there has to be another…” As Aleck locked up his classroom door, Damon strolled by! He gave us all chills, and it made Aleck pause in his steps! Once Damon had gone out of earshot, Aleck exclaimed, “That dude’s a vampire!”
“See?” I responded with a feeling of vindication.
Aleck shook his head and then reported to me, “I just gotta stop by my house for a minute, and I’ll be right there.”
I agreed to those terms as the three of us headed to the back of the school where the staff parked. It felt a little strange to have company in this area since I was usually the first teacher to leave! Aleck walked to his beat-up car that was outdated by at least twenty years, and he gawked at my luxury vehicle that I approached, “That’s your car? I thoguth the superintendent was visiting us or something!”
I gave him a sheepish shrug and inwardly debated whether or not I should consider downgrading to blend in more. Phoebe drove by me in her cute little sedan, and she taunted me, “Looks like I’m gonna beat you there!”
My competitive edge instantly kicked in! “Oh no you’re not!”
I did some pretty reckless maneuvers in an effort to gain an advantage over the time she had over me, which, in hindsight, was pretty dumb! If I had gotten into a car accident just trying to win this race, then I wouldn’t’ have been able to help Damon’s potential victims! It turned out that I had done all that for no reason because she had to make a quick detour before coming to my house! Oh well! I refilled my cat’s food, and it surprised me that she hadn’t come to eat it right away, so I called out to her, “Jett! Jett! Jett!”
A helicopter just happened to pass over the neighborhood at the same instance that I had spoken, so the guy next door corrected me, “No, that’s a chopper!”
I wanted to say something sardonic back to him, but Ellie arrived and parked by my house. Ginger came next, and then Phoebe pulled up right after her. Oh, how I wished that Phoebe had come before the rest so I could have some alone time with her! I pondered why I had thought that, but an answer never surfaced as the remaining guests showed up. It almost appeared as though I were having a party, but with the grim expressions on everyone’s faces, it was apparent we weren’t in a festive mood! My neighbor seemed perplexed, but I ignored him. After everybody got themselves situated, I suddenly grew nervous just imagining what we might find across the street! I tried to convey confidence as I addressed the group though, “So, you guys ready for this?” I didn’t come across as very brave, but luckily, no one faulted me for it since they were equally as terrified! “Well, let’s do this!”
I prepared myself to walk over, and everyone but Aleck was about to do the same. Aleck, however, piped up, “I have an idea!”