Geometry class again. Topolsky the replacement has sketched a triangle on the board and is saying, So we know that the sum of angles A,B and C is 360 degrees.
Bullshit, Liz mutters.
Miss Parker? Topolsky chirps.
180, Liz says.
It’s a triangle, Liz says cooly. The sum of the angles would be 180 degrees.
Nervous laughter from the class. Do they sense what i think i do?
Right, right, of course, Topolsky says pleasantly. Equals 180 degrees.
And a shiver passes thru me.
Later. In the empty hall outside Liz says, I went to see Michael yesterday.
I blink and say, What?
So that’s why Michael’s so wound up about getting that photo.
She was asking questions about him and i just thought he oughta know.
Liz, you cant just show up at Michael’s and get him riled up like that. He doesnt consider before he acts. He just acts. You dont know him.
But that’s not all, Max. I bumped into Topolsky in the hall and she dropped a bunch of students’ personal records. Including Michael’s.
Uh, ok, ok, i say, starting to lose it. But she’d pulled other students’ records?
Well, yeah but the point is she pulled Michael’s.
How many others were there?
IDK. Maybe ten.
That’s a lot.
It might have been five. I’m not sure how many.
This is why you went to Michael’s?
I’m sorry. I thought Michael was in danger and i’d better tell him.
In danger of what?
I have no idea. But if there’s a spy among us dont you think we should do something?
Spy? I say, raising an eyebrow.
No, Max. That sort of thing does exist, doesnt it? There are like, special units of the government that are alien hunters.
Men in black, i say, fighting the hysteria that is crawling from my stomach into my groin. Area 51. X Files. The truth is out there.
Dont dismiss me like that, she says angrily.
So you think Topolsky is an alien hunter?
When you say it like that it sounds so stupid.
Liz, i…we thank you for looking out for us. But we have to go on with life like it was before all this started. If they really know anything why havent they already done something? It’s a mindfuck. A war of nerves. They’re trying to get one of us to panic and by god that is not going to happen if i have anything to do with it. We have to be very careful. All of us. That means you too.
Slouching around the school. I feel like i’m freezing even though the thermometer says 85 degrees. When i see what i see i stop dead. Sheriff Valenti shaking hands with Topolsky. It sets off screaming horrors in my head. Panic. Misery. Futilty. Why Michael? Everything is shaping up like a witch hunt and IDK if we could survive one. At the very least Liz is right that Topolsky is not at all what she seems. And WTF is a substitute teacher doing with a bunch of student records?