Tommy had no choice but to believe his eyes as he stared at the screen.
The email from Zhang read:
If Milton becomes president, I’ll kill myself. I can’t lose to that hack!
“Wow. Can you believe it? This is riveting stuff. Absolutely riveting!…” Zeke said.
“Yeah. I had no idea that Zhang and Milton were Republicans. This changes everything.”
“Something else is going on. Why would two obscure teachers from Middletown High run for president? It doesn’t make any sense!”
Tommy found himself agreeing with Zeke, which made him a little concerned. But since these were absurd circumstances, maybe his paranoia really wasn’t paranoia after all. Zeke was right. This wasn’t just a case of two obscure townsfolk randomly deciding to be president. Something deeper was happening that neither Tommy or Zeke could immediately comprehend. Which was fine, at least Tommy was distracted from the constantly looming specter of headless rabbits.
“You know, I’ll print out the email chain so that I can read it later,” Zeke said, as if to himself.
Tommy decided to go back to looking for the canopic jars. Zhang might be embroiled in a large, earth-shattering conspiracy, but passing biology class was still fairly high on his list of priorities.
“If you don’t pass biology class, you are doomed to repeat it!,” Tommy had remembered Zhang saying. He had addressed it to the whole class, but seemed to be directing it mainly at Tommy for some reason.
The two hours expired soon enough, and the students shuffled back into Zhang’s room like zombified cattle. Tommy was able to hold up one of the jars proudly.
“Where did you find it?” Zhang asked.
“One of the bathrooms on the first floor. I had a hunch!”
“Congratulations! Enjoy your D+”
Tommy would definitely enjoy his D. More importantly, he was happy to find a comrade in Zeke. Someone who might be a little off, who might think a little too vaguely, but at the end of the day understood that something about the world was off-kilter. Something wasn’t right.
After school, Tommy and Zeke decided to go to Zeke’s place and comb over the email chain as if it were the bible. They knew that an ultimate truth rested in those three pages of printed out emails. And Tommy didn’t feel like going home at the moment. Lamarr was okay, but the babysitter might still be there. He still felt a little awkward the other night after he left without saying anything. Mom & Dad would understand, though. They were good people.
Tommy spent the next couple of hours at Zeke’s. Partly because he was enthralled by the emails, but also because of the vibrant colors Zeke had chosen to decorate his room with. A bright orange carpet lit up the room, while a blinding yellow recliner sat in one corner invitingly. Tommy reclined peacefully in a blue beanbag in the opposite corner. The curtains were open and sunlight was streaming through the windows.
“So, which email stands out to you the most?” Tommy asked, petting his beanbag.
“Probably the one where Zhang had asked Ms. Barker if bringing uranium to class was a good idea,” Zeke responded. Tommy laughed a bit, even though he didn’t find it amusing. Uranium just wasn’t that funny.
Tommy’s phone rang. He picked it up quickly. He nodded a few times, his eyebrows coming together and separating as his expression kept changing.
“No. Apparently, someone kidnapped my little sister, Lamarr.”