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The Dandy Monsters: Night of the Eripmav (Chapter Two)
The night went on uneventful. We all had dinner together as a family, eating stuff both Mom and Terry cooked up together. After a few hours of watching TV, we all went to our bedrooms and turned in for the night. Well, everyone else probably did, anyway. I stayed up just a little bit longer to catch up on my gaming. There were a lot of new quests that popped up since I last logged on, and I wanted to shave the number down a little. What can I say? I'm a nerd at heart.
When morning came, I got up, brushed my teeth, showered, and got dressed for school. Greg was already in the kitchen munching on some toast when I came in. He nodded and raised his toast in hello. I just nodded back, and helped myself to some cereal. Everything was quiet except for the crunching sounds our respective breakfasts made.
Terry drove us to school since he knew the way better than Mom did. It was a bit of a slow, but pleasant ride, with no rush or sense of urgency. During the ride, I could barely stand the butterflies flying around in my stomach. It's a new school after all, and I'm transferring in the middle of the term. Because of that, I wasn't paying much attention to outside as we drove by. All that would be outside were a bunch of normal houses, maybe some trees, and a nearby park. Nothing really interesting to note of.
Like any other school during the morning, the grassy courtyard was packed with kids my age being dropped off by their parents, meeting up with friends, and just hanging out before the start of classes. Most of them headed up the whitewash stairs toward the old-looking, but well kept, building. From what I heard from Terry, the building's supposed to be over half a century old.
"There are a lot of mysteries surrounding the place," Terry said during the drive. "Spooky tales have been passed down from generation to generation. Who knows? Maybe you'll meet someone from one of those spooky tales in person."
It didn't take a genius to know what Terry was implying. Behind his back, I just rolled my eyes. I didn't really believe in ghost stories, nor was I interested in them.
"Come on," Greg said as he got out of the car. He put on his sunglasses and stepped onto pavement. As soon as he did, someone called out to him.
A tall, ebony-skinned boy with short curled hair waved towards him. He and Greg met up and did a high five before a knuckle bump. The newcomer was a lot taller than Greg, and a whole lot fitter than him. From appearances alone, I thought that he was one of the school's jocks. Soon, I would find out how wrong I was.
"Morning, Greg!" he said with a smile.
Greg grinned back and with a small salute, greeted him: "Same to you, Boss."
Boss? That was a weird nickname, I thought.
"Good morning, Simon!" Terry through the car's open window.
"Hi, Mr. Fa," Simon answered back before turning back to Greg. "Hey, so about the case . . . "
Okay, my interest was piqued then.
"Case?" I said.
Simon looked startled, as if he only just noticed me. That really put a damper on my self-esteem. He glanced at Greg with uncertainty in his eyes, as if soundlessly asking him who I was. Greg seemed reluctant to, but he answered for him, anyway.
"Boss, this is Jay, my new brother," Greg said, gesturing towards me all lethargic-like.
"Oh, hey," Simon said. He extended a hand for a handshake. "I heard Mr. Fa was getting married again. Nice to meet you. The name's Simon."
"Jay," I said, taking his hand. Pain suddenly shot up my arm. The guy had the hand strength of Superman. On the outside, only the corner of my mouth twitched. I could feel it twitch over the pain of my hand as we continued to shake hands. Inside, on the other hand, I was going like "AAAAAAAAAAUUUUUGH!" "S-so what's this about a case?"
"Oh, Simon and Greg are part of the same detectives club," explained Terry. "The two of them are like Holmes and Watson, going around town, helping others."
Simon made a face, finally letting go of my hand. Oh, thank the stars!
"It's not a club," he said, indignantly putting his hands to his hips. "It's a legit agency."
"Right," Terry said with a laugh. "Sorry. Sorry."
That just made Simon scowl deeper.
Hearing about the detective club made me wonder if maybe the card that Greg let me keep was actually for their club. I didn't have time to ask, though, because the bell rang.
"Whoops!" went Simon, glancing at his watch. "Look at the time. We better head to class. First period's Mr. Lockhill. And you know how much of an ogre he can get if you're late."
He smiled as if he made some kind of joke. Greg just groaned and tilted his head up and slightly sideways. I could tell that he was rolling his eyes behind those dark lenses.
"It was nice meeting you, Jay," Simon said. "Catch you later?"
"Not making any promises," I replied. We shook hands again and he and Greg left.
Terry and I headed towards the admin office where we talked to an elderly, blond lady by the name of Mrs. Pembrooke who greeted Terry and me like we were old friends or something. Mrs. Pemrbrooke, as it turned out, was the principal of the school. And judging by the huge picture of her in the hallway outside, she's probably been the principal for a really, really, really long time.
After an exchange of words with her, Terry left to get to work, leaving me in the mercy of the school's principal. She gave me one of those cheerful, reassuring smiles that any teacher would give to a new student and gave the usual "This place is a great school, and I hope we get along" speech. And then she went on to talk about the history of the school, how it was founded over fifty years ago, matching what Terry already told me, and that it had a lot of amazing people walk through its halls when they were students, including the local mayor, a police chief, and even a retired senator. We toured the school, with Mrs. Pembrooke taking me to the library, showing me the way to the cafeteria, and then leading me to the gymnasium.
Over at the gymnasium, while we walked across the basketball court, I noticed a doll with straight mouse-brown hair sitting on the polished wood bleachers.
"Hey, looks like someone forgot something," I said.
"Oh?" Mrs. Pembrooke said, breaking from her tales of all the championships that were won in this gym. "Where?"
I pointed towards the doll, but when I looked back to where it was, it was gone. There was absolutely nothing at the bleachers except the bleachers themselves.
"Huh?" I went, bewildered. "It was just there!"
Mrs. Pembrooke shot me the kind of look a person would give when they thought you were crazy. I wanted to tell her that I was certain that there was a doll there, but I decided not to push. I've seen enough TV shows and movies to know what a bad move that would be.
After a bit more walk around the school to get me familiar with how the school was divided, we eventually made it to my first class of the day: History with Mr. Lockhill as my teacher. Weird coincidence, I know.
When I got inside the classroom, Greg was standing up, reciting facts from the textbook in his hand. He stopped when he saw me come in.
"Well, hello there, Principal Pembrooke," went the short round man with the bushy gray mustache who, I take it, is Mr. Lockhill. "And who do we have here?"
"A new student, Mr. Lockhill," said the principal. "Class, I would like you all to meet Jay, who will be a part of our ever-growing family. I expect each and every one of you to make sure that he feels welcome and that his time at this school will be one to remember for lifetimes."
Seriously, I had never felt more self-conscious than I did standing in front of everyone being introduced like that by the principal. I seriously wanted to just bury myself somewhere.
After the principal left, Mr. Lockhill pointed toward a desk for me to sit. When I reached there, the tan girl with huge eyes and messy shoulder-length hair sitting at my left, whispered: "Psst! Hey! I'm April. April Gonzales."
I sort of grinned back, probably in a goofy way (There weren't any mirrors, so of course I wouldn't know for sure) and whispered back: "Jay Lin."
By some strange coincidence, me and April had matching schedules. Thanks to that, I was able to get to all of my classes without a hitch. Meeting her made me thought that maybe things weren't going to be so bad here. I didn't even mind that Greg ditched me, just disappearing out of the blue without even so much as a hello or good-bye.
I got to learn a lot from April, such as some secret shortcuts to some of their classes, which places outside were best left alone because of a hornets' nest, and about April's obsession with a video posted online of three bears dancing the Macarena.
When we went by her locker so she could get a book for the next class, I noticed a picture of three bears standing upright taped to the door. Surrounding that picture were squares of paper with notes scribbled all over.
"What's with the bears?" I asked (and would kind of regret asking).
"Those are the three bears from that online video that went viral a few years back," April explained.
"Oh, you mean the ones where they danced the Macarena?" went I. "That was hilarious!"
Exactly as I just said, there was an online video that went viral a few years back where what looked like a trio of realistic-looking bears danced the Macarena in the middle of a forest clearing. That video took the top seat in view counts for a whole month. I watched it and it was hilarious. Even Mom cracked a smile when she saw it.
"Yeah, those bears," April said, nodding. "People think that it's all just a bunch of guys using some kind of fancy costumes or computer programs to make it so realistic. But I think differently. There's no way those three were some guys in costumes. And there's no way that it's CGI or anything like that. A lot of pros online say that there were absolutely no sign of any doctoring on the video. Those were definitely real bears, definitely in a real forest, definitely actually captured on a normal camera. They're out there somewhere, real bears dancing the Macarena. And one day, I will find them."
"Right," I said, smiling and nodding. So she's a little crazy. No one's perfect.
Fearing that she would go on a full-blown tirade, I desperately tried to think of a way to steer the conversation elsewhere. I tried looking around for inspiration, and boy did I find one.
"Hey, what's up with the police?" I asked, nodding toward two officers and a plain-clothes detective as they walked out of the principal's office.
"You don't know?" Alice asked, looking at me as if I hit my head or something. "There's been a whole bunch of really bizarre disappearances lately. And all of the kids who disappeared were students of this school."
"What? Really?" I exclaimed, intrigued. What? Mysterious disappearances happening, and the new guy's school is connected in some way? Admit it. You're all hooked to the mystery too.
"Wait!" I said when a thought crossed my mind. "You talked about the people who disappeared in past tense."
"Well, they've been gone for a long time," Alice said. "There's been no ransom demand or anything like that. The police haven't been able to find any trace of the people who disappeared. And as far as anyone knew, there is absolutely nothing that any of the disappeared kids have in common. It would be nice if they're all still okay somewhere, but chances are . . ."
I could see where Alice was going with this, and it certainly wasn't a happy place.
"So, to make sure it doesn't happen again, school's closing down early, and there are more police roaming around the neighborhood than usual," Alice said. "The parking lots and drive-ways are probably going to be packed because so many parents don't want their kids to walk home by themselves."
"Yikes," I said. "I hope the cops manage to find the kidnapped kids and whoever's behind this, fast."
And I meant it. But if they did, then this whole story wouldn't have happened. And I wouldn't have found out about their existence.
- The Dandy Monsters: Night of the Eripmav (Chapter One)
This is a new series of stories I just thought of.
- The Dandy Monsters: Night of the Eripmav (Chapter Three)
Danger lurks in the shadows