Wednesday, February 21, 2007

Feb Story - 5

[NOTE: This is part of a progressive story. The first entry is here. Check the blog label Feb07Story for all entries]

     The Commander watched from his desk in the dead center of the room as Blake Percival limped into third period a few minutes after the tardy bell rang. He tried to make out the whispered conversation with Mrs. Taylor as he showed her the note and then made his way to his chair to begin working on the daily quiz. The Commander noted Blake's flushed cheeks as he sat just ahead in the row beside him.

     Blake took out a blank sheet of paper and began writing what he could recall about American colonization from the previous class. As he wrote, his mind wandered. He had spent the past hour rummaging once again around the Johnson home to no avail. He was afraid he had hit a dead end and would need to look for additional help, a thought that brought great despair. He always preferred to work alone. Relying on others not only brought the possibility of failure and disappointment, but it also meant that he could be putting his friends in the path of risks that they might otherwise avoid.

     Still, it had been a week and Blake still wasn't any closer to a resolution than he had been on day one. Daniel Call had been brought in as a temporary replacement for Mr. Johnson, but the administration hadn’t made any formal announcement about the substitute. In fact, there had been no announcement of any kind regarding the Johnson family. Rumors were flying around the school. None of the students felt any particular loss for the Vice-principal, but they were missing the Johnson children, Arnold and Meg.

     Blake stared blankly ahead, walking through the Johnson house again in his mind. He had been able to get inside easily through a downstairs window that he knew to always be unlocked. He knew the police weren't looking at the house any more, but he still made sure to be very careful coming and leaving as well as being sure to cover all trace of his passing while in the house. He had rummaged through closets, under beds and had finally found a hidden safe in the master bedroom. Cracking open the safe had been a simple matter but lead nowhere since the safe itself was entirely empty except for some small pieces of jewelry, a few scraps of paper and the title for the family van. Blake made a copy of the car title but left it there to avoid any suspicion. He also made copies of the notes on the scrap paper, but didn’t see any significance to them.

     He shook his head slowly and sighed. The answer had to be there somewhere. There was something he was overlooking, but he couldn't find it. It was definitely time to call a meeting of friends. Blake looked back to his quiz and scribbled a few more details as Mrs. Taylor prepared to begin the daily lecture.

     Behind him, the Commander's eyes bored into the back of his head. The Commander wondered at Blake's actions. He knew that Blake had skipped second period and now watched as he came to third period tardy. This wasn't the sort of behavior one would expect from the academic star. The fact that it began right after the Johnson's disappeared made the Commander a bit suspicious. This was certainly more than a coincidence. He intended to make Blake Percival the subject of his personal undivided attention.

     The Commander rifled through his bag for a moment and then pulled out a small pen. Pulling out the inner workings, he pressed a button and then put the pen back together. With a flick of his wrist, he lightly tossed it into the open pocket of Blake's backpack. With a small smile, he finished up his quiz, knowing that he could now find Blake anywhere in the school and nearby neighborhoods, provided his backpack was with him.

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