Red Crisis: Chapter Four
If someone were to tell me I’m really dumb right now for trying this, I’d agree with them, Lisa thought. Because, in all honesty, it is dumb.
The girls were sitting at the table, eating dinner with the rest of Cecelia’s family. Aurora, Cecilia’s sister, was talking about her trip down to the beach with some friends. Lisa and Cecilia listened quietly, every once in a while glancing at each other, as if to confirm they were actually going to do what they’d planned that afternoon.
“You girls are quiet tonight,” Mr. Crane remarked.
Lisa snapped her head up from her train of thought and gave a small smile. “Tired, that’s all. We had a long day today.”
“Oh, tell us about it,” Mrs. Crane encouraged.
“Well,” Cecilia began, “Lisa and I went riding after school and did some jumping practice. Lisa’s getting the hang of it real well!”
Lisa blushed. “Well, not really well, but pretty good for a back-country cowgirl.”
“Honest, she did a great job. Then we did some roping practice. That was fun!”
“Believe me,” Lisa said with a laugh, “I’m a much better roper than I am a jumper. It comes much more naturally to me!”
“Sounds like a fun day for both of you.” Mrs. Crane glanced at Cecilia. “Are you two going to watch a movie tonight?”
Cecilia shook her head. “No, I think we’re going to go to bed early.”
“Go to bed early?” Aurora exclaimed. “You two have been talking nonstop every night!”
This brought several laughs from the table.
After they’d done the dishes and played with Cecilia’s dog, Jake, the two girls bade everyone goodnight and went to the bedroom.
It was then that the plan went from being an idea to an action.
“Did you lock the door?” Cecilia asked for the hundredth time as they changed into their “adventure” outfits.
“Of course I did!” Lisa retorted. “I don’t think it would be a good idea if someone walked in while we’re changing, do you?”
Cecilia gave a nervous giggle and slipped on her blouse. “There, how do I look?”
Lisa studied the outfit as Cecilia twirled around to show it off. “Great. You look just like a jillaroo!”
“Jillaroo?” She echoed. “What’s that?”
“An Australian cowgirl.”
Cecelia did look like a jillaroo. She sported a light brown Australian hat, with one side sticking up. Her short sleeved blouse was dark green, matching her khaki shorts. Her boots were a dark brown color and laced up to her ankles. She’d pulled her hair back into a ponytail and her blue eyes looked especially mischievous. Her belt matched her hat. She was ready for adventure.
“My turn, what do you think of my outfit?”
Cecilia ooohed and ahhhed as Lisa did a twirl. “It’s so you!” She clapped her hands. “And so- so western cowgirl!”
Lisa had put on a blue shirt and a wheat head collar tie. Her hat was a dark chocolate brown color with a light brown headband and a golden kangaroo pinned to the side. Her split skirt was a dark blue and her belt brown. If only Mom could see what a good job I did making this outfit!
Her Mom wouldn’t approve if she knew what Cecilia and her were going to do next, though.
The girls climbed into bed and waited.
And waited some more.
At about eleven o’clock the last family member had gone to bed. “You ready for this?” Cecilia whispered.
Lisa nodded and shuddered. Here goes nothing.
If they were right, then they’d have a good excuse for sneaking out of the house at near midnight. If they were wrong… they were going to be in big trouble.
On light feet they tiptoed to the window, opened it and slid out. Lisa nearly yelped when she caught her skirt on the windowsill and fell into a scrub bush, but Cecilia put a hand to her mouth to keep her quiet.
It was dark out on the road. The sky was moonless, the streetlights dim. Everywhere they looked, the girls saw shadows.
“This is really creepy,” Lisa murmured. “Maybe… maybe we should go back.”
“This was your idea!” Cecilia chided. “Besides, if Mr. Dover really is a bad guy, the police should know. And we have to have proof!”
As scary as the mission they were on right now was, it would be ten times more frightening if they did turn out to be right. Lisa kept trying to convince herself that it was all a silly conclusion, that they’d find nothing. But then an odd, creeping feeling would come over her and she wouldn’t be so sure. Stop scaring yourself, Lisa! Just get to the school and end this.
It was a long walk to the schoolhouse without a bus ride. Lisa and Cecilia had to keep ducking behind bushes and buildings whenever a car chanced by. The last thing they needed to happen was someone ask them what they were doing out so late.
Two blocks left. One block left. The closer the schoolhouse was, the more Lisa began to sweat. She opened and closed her hands, dragged her feet. Anything to keep away from the schoolhouse. I can’t believe I thought this up, I’m terrified!
But Cecelia was right. There was no turning back now. How were they going to explain this to Cecilia’s parents if they came back home and told them they’d chickened out from their dangerous mission? She’d rather be wrong than a coward.
Cecilia’s voice stopped Lisa dead in her tracks. The dark red schoolhouse loomed in the night, the stars glistening in the background.
“Well, let’s look for a window to see if one’s opened.”
They split up and checked all the windows. Lisa went three-fourths of the way around before she spotted Cecilia waving her over.
“None of the ones I saw were unlocked,” she whispered to Cecelia. “Guess It’s not going to work after all.”
“That’s okay, I found one that was opened.”
Great. So much for that excuse.
Together the girls shoved the window open and stared into the classroom that Mr. Gerald had been teaching in hours before. The chairs were stacked on the desk and the formulas on the wall stared back at them.
“Well, let’s do this. You first.”
“No way!” Lisa shook her head. “You go in first!”
“I’ll go if you do it.”
“You do it, and then I will.”
In the end they drew straws and Lisa’s was the shortest. Cecelia hoisted her through the window and Lisa fell flat on her face in the classroom.
“Oww,” she sputtered. “Dang it, Cecelia. What are you trying to do, give me a face lift?”
Lisa rolled her eyes at Cecilia’s giggles, then leaned out the window and grabbed her hands. “Ready?”
Cecelia nodded and Lisa helped hoist her through the window. The minute she was in the room, Cecelia turned around and closed the window, locking it tight.
Lisa cocked her head a little and raised an eyebrow. “What did you do that for?”
“In case someone comes around. They’d be suspicious if they saw the window open.”
“Oh, smart.” Lisa nodded. “Okay, let’s go.”
The floorboards creaked in accusation of their deeds, the hallways glared down at them. Every misstep or sound sent them into each other’s arms.
After the third such incident, and with a good three hundred yards to go, Cecelia had had enough of the suspense. “Let’s just get this thing over with and find out if Mr. Dover is really a Mr. Diatchenko. The suspense is killing me!”
Lisa agreed. She’d had quite enough of this creeping around.
Hand in hand, “just in case,” as Cecelia put it, they marched down the hall and towards Mr. Dover’s classroom. Lisa opened the door and they tiptoed to the desk, their previous confidence forgotten in the moment of trial.
Cecelia reached for the desk drawer-- and stopped. “Maybe you should do it,” she suggested. “After all, this was your idea.”
Lisa considered arguing, but decided against it. “Okay.” Taking a deep breath, she grabbed the handle and yanked the drawer open.
There was a metallic click! Lisa glanced at Cecelia. “Stop creeping me out, this is scary enough.”
“Very funny, now you’re trying to scare me,” Cecelia accused.
Lisa stared at her. “What!” she exclaimed. “You’re the one making weird noises!”
“Are you sure about that?”
Lisa’s heart stopped. Cecelia’s eyes nearly popped out of her head. They turned around and looked dead on into the sights of a very unfriendly looking pistol.
“Now what do you suppose I’m going to have to do to keep you silent?”