We spend Saturday practicing and planning. That’s a bit of a problem, because when Sunday actually rolls around, we realize we should have figured out something else.
“Where the fuck is Engineer Hill?” Sue asks.
I stop. “Oh, shit.”
“Are you serious right now?” Ball Buster, says, nearly exploding.
“I haven’t had a lot of time, okay?” I tug a bit on my amulet—the one Doc Schaefer gave me. I guess I’m hoping it brings me luck. “Between planning things out, and all the tae kwon do. Why’d we need to learn tae kwon do at the last minute, anyway?”
“Because they’ve never taught it here, so Jackhammer and his cronies won’t know it,” says Dolphin. “Unless one of them’s been to the same dojo as Sue.”
“Won’t matter if we can’t find them,” Ball Buster says.
“Chill, man.” I raise my hand. “Doc’s got that map in his little museum, right? It’s probably marked on there.”
When we get to the little house by the airstrip, the door’s locked. Ball Buster simply gives it a hard shove, splintering the door apart.
“Yiiiiiiii!” There’s a scrambling noise, and some stuff falls over with a metallic clang. “Who’s there? You can’t come in! Don’t come in!” It’s a female voice.
“Sounds like someone’s home,” Dolphin says, chuckling.
“Moron,” I hiss at Ball Buster. “Hello?” I call inside. “Sorry. Didn’t mean to … uh … barge in. We … uh …” I look at the others, who just shrug. “We’re looking for a map?”
“You’re … what?” A girl peeks from around the corner of a cabinet. She seems confused. “Don’t you have one? They should have … oh, you’re neffs!” she realizes, coming a little bit out from the cabinet. She’s wearing a brown parka, which is a kind I haven’t seen before. She’s not one of the campers.
“We just need to take a quick look at the island model he’s set up,” Ball Buster says.
“Um …” The girl looks back in the house, and we instantly see the problem: it looks like Ball Buster’s break-and-entry knocked the model onto the floor. It’s shattered into a thousand pieces.
“Well, shit,” says Sue.
“Wh-what did you guys need to find?” asks the girl.
“Why do you ask?” Ball Buster says, his voice heavy with suspicion.
“I could just take you there.”
“Really? Do you know where Engineer Hill is?” I ask.
“Of course!” She brightens. “It’s literally just over that hill there. Let me just grab my snowshoes.” The three of us exchange bewildered looks, while she fumbles with the backpack next to the door. “Hey! Is it true what they say about you guys being able to fly?”
The girl leads us far out on the island, asking questions all the way about what we can do, who we are, what we did before we came here, and other topics of interest. She’s small but not really young. Probably not much younger than we are. She helps out Doc with his museum and other odd jobs, but mainly she works for “Eddie.”
“Eddie?” I ask.
“You know. Eddie. On base. He gets stuff for people.”
“You saying he’s like a fence?” Sue asks.
Her eyes become guarded, like she shouldn’t have said that. “Anyway, he just lets me sleep in his garage. The people really looking after me are Doc and Sis.”
“Red Spruce,” she says. “Do you know her? She’s a guard at camp.”
I see the others tense up. “Yeah,” I say. “She’s your sister?”
“Not really. Same tribe, but that’s about it.”
Tribe. That clinches it. “Are you like an Eskimo or something?” I ask.
“Aleut,” the girl says. “Eskimo is offensive.”
Shit. “It is?” I ask, trying to seem as non-racist as possible.
“Apparently. Means ‘raw-meat-eater’ or something like that.”
Ball Buster rolls his eyes and mutters something.
Sue looks interested. “You guys eat meat raw? Like you don’t cook it or nothing?”
“Dude,” I say. He’s really not making things better.
“My uncle did, but only because he was disgusting. And he died of food poisoning, so I wouldn’t recommend it. Honestly, it’s no big deal, but I thought I’d mention it,” she says.
“May I say, as a Frenchman, I enjoy rare meat: steak tartare.” Dolphin smiles his most charming smile.
“Hey Square, need to talk to you,” Ball Buster calls.
“Your name’s Square?” Aleut Girl asks with a giggle.
“It’s this thing,” Sue explains. “See, when we get to camp …”
Ball Buster catches up with me as Sue and the others walk on. “I’ve figured it out,” he hisses in my ear. “It’s a trap.”
“She’s taking us way out on the island. No surveillance cameras. So when she yells to Wolfe that we molested her or some shit, we’ll have no proof that she’s lying.”
“We’ve talked about you needing a therapist, right?” I say. “Besides, we’re literally on our way to a fight right now.”
He glares. “Why would she volunteer—”
“Oh cool!” says Aleut Girl. “So ‘Square’ is like a spirit name?”
I look at her, my train of thought broken. “What?”
“A spirit name,” she says. “You know, like when the boys do their initiation rite, they go up into the mountains and reflect without food or water until they receive a vision and get their spirit name.” She looks at Bally. “So what’s yours?”
“Ball Buster,” he says, clearly taken off guard.
“What’s … ah… what’s your name?” I ask.
“Heather. Well, technically it’s White-Cloud-on-the-Ocean, but I like Heather better.”
“Well, don’t take this the wrong way, Heather, but you’re asking a lot of questions,” Bally says, his glare in full force.
“Well duh.” She grins. “You’re legendary giants walking out of myths and folk tales. Everybody’s fascinated by you guys.”
“Hates, you mean,” I say.
“Well …” she says, looking uncomfortable. “That’s … kinda like fascination.”
We get to the memorial, and there’s nobody there. Just a bare crater of firm-packed snow with a spiky sort of pyramid in the middle—the war memorial, I’m guessing. But no sign of Jackhammer and his boys.
“We never did set a time,” I say.
“Well, this is the place,” Ball Buster says, gesturing at the crater. “Takes a lot of work to pack all that snow down. Almost looks like they’ve been doing practice fights here.”
Sue snorts. “A man gotta have a hobby, I guess.”
“I knew a kid who liked to make model train wrecks at my school,” I say, tugging a little on my amulet. I haven’t thought about J’son in a while.
“The school!” Heather gives a little clap. “That’s what it was!”
“Sorry?” I ask.
She’s digging in her bag. “I’ve been trying this whole time to figure out why your face was so familiar,” she says. “I’ve got it now: there was an article in the newspaper from the mail packet they dropped. Here it is.” She brings out a dog-eared piece of paper. “But it had a picture of you on the front page, next to the other guy.” She grins triumphantly. “That’s where I knew you from.”
Sure enough, there’s me, right next to J’son’s picture. “Near-Tragedy at Andrea Dworkim Academy” the headline reads. Underneath my school photo is a caption: “Chad Gareth Dickson was injured during the shooting and died on his way to the hospital …”
“I read the whole article,” Heather says, as I’m scanning it. “It’s mostly about this one girl’s family. I guess they were the ones who got the newspaper going on it. They wanted ‘justice for their little girl’ or something like that.”
Can’t be! “Jess?” I say, looking up.
“Maybe? I mean, she was in a coma, but her family said they’d found bruises all over her wrist, which didn’t match … the other guy.”
And there I see it in the article. “It’s been disgusting how unhelpful the police have been,” said Bryan Miller. “All I want is for my daughter’s abuser to …”
“Your girlfriend or something, Square?” Ball Buster asks. His voice is unusually gentle.
“Something. I mean, yes, she was my girlfriend, but it was sort of …” I shake my head. “Sorry, I just …” I keep scanning the article. “They think I was one of the shooters?”
“Thought you said you stopped it,” Mouse says.
“Figures,” Ball Buster snorts. “White male kid is missing? Gotta be the shooter! Not … y’know … kidnapped or anything.”
“C’mon, man,” Sue says. “Everyone knows all shooters be spoiled rich white kids.”
“No they’re not,” Ball Buster says. “Just most students tend to be white kids. I could quote for you shooters from all sorts of demographics.”
“That sounds awesome, dude. On second thought, stick those demographics up your snow-white ass.”
“What about the girls?” Heather asks.
“Well … okay, there’s not any girls,” Ball Buster admits. “But it’s not a white thing is the point. Look, you should probably leave before the other neffs get here. I feel like they’re not going to appreciate an audience.”
Heather seems disappointed. “Oh … well, okay. You sure you can find your way back?”
“If we can’t, I’m sure Wolfe’ll come get us,” says Mouse. “We’ll be fine. But you don’t want to be caught here, believe me.”
Heather nods and leaves.
“She’s probably going to report us to Wolfe,” Ball Buster says as Heather’s snowshoe-ing form grows smaller against the white. “We should get our stories straight.”
“I’m thinking more what she said about that there Eddie,” Sue says. “He might be knowing about any smugglers up in this crib.”
Dolphin grins. “Forget that. I want to hear more about Square getting taken for a shooter!” He grabs the newspaper out of my hands.
I’d forgotten I still had it. “C’mon, man!” I make a move to grab it back. But I stop.
Dolphin’s face has gone bone white. Everyone’s staring. I look at the newspaper to see what he’s staring at:
French Industrialist Jailed
Parisian Billionaire Under Suspicion for Conspiracy. May Face Charges of Treason.