5:31am, part 8

Zhang ushered everyone out of the classroom and slammed the door. “You have two hour to find the jars. After that, there will be no benefit to your grade!” he said, his muffled voice barely making it through the thick wood.

“Well, do you think we should tackle this together?” Zeke said to Tommy. Zeke had always been one of those “vaguely a friend” types to him. Tommy liked the guy well enough, but didn’t have much in common with him.

“Let’s do it. Maybe we should start with the other biology lab first. I could see Zhang thinking that’s clever.”

“Just because you thought of it, doesn’t mean it’s not clever,” Zeke said. Tommy couldn’t help but like Zeke sometimes. He truly was a kind person.

“Right. To Ms. Barker’s lab, then.”

The hallways were eerily empty. There weren’t even a few “I had to go pee” types roaming the halls. Most of the school was out for the annual field trip day. Tommy wasn’t even mildly jealous. Middletown High School seemed so alien without the usual throngs of students and teachers milling about. Everything seemed pretty surreal right now. Like the school was a completely different landscape.

Zeke got closer to Tommy. A little to close for his liking.

“I wonder what Zhang told the principal to get out of field trip day. Harrington doesn’t like it when a teacher decides to remain at the school,” Zeke said.

“Yeah, that’s a good one. I don’t really know. Hey look, it’s Ms. Barker’s room. All the lights are off. Let’s go inside.”

Zeke was testing many of the doors as they walked down the halls. Most of them seemed to be unlocked on good faith since 98% of the school had gone out to experience life. Here the rest of them were, trapped in purgatory, looking for jars with crap inside them.

“I’ve always wanted to go through Ms. Barker’s room without her in it,” Zeke said.

“To snoop through her stuff, you mean.”

“I don’t judge other people when I rifle through their things. I just let myself succumb to the experience.”

“Fair enough.”

Zeke was the first to enter the room. He looked around it in satisfaction. Most of the space was dark expect for the areas next to the windows, but the blinds had been drawn.

“I’ll check the lab area,” Tommy said. “You can rifle through Ms. Barker’s things.”

There was no argument from Zeke. He had been waiting for this day. Once Zeke had reached Ms. Barker’s desk, his penchant for making noise became readily apparent. Tommy didn’t mind though, even the noise helped distract him from the headless rabbit from earlier this morning, and the one from last night. This scavenger hunt helped too.

Tommy started rooting around under the lab tables. But there were just generic lab supplies there: beakers, tubes, random plastic anatomical parts.

“Hey. Think I found something. Not one of the jars though,” Zeke called out. Tommy’s heart sank. Oh well. He was content with his F.

“What is it?” Tommy said, looking over Zeke’s stooped shoulders. “…Damn. I can’t even. What does this even mean?”

“It means that Zhang and Milton are planning to run in the caucuses. One of them could be president.”


5:31am, part 9

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