CHAPTER THREE

Fern met Buster behind the old building. Everything was boarded up. Neither wanted to go inside. There was no one else around. They knew this was good enough. They sat down on a loading dock. Fern showed Buster her notebook.

"I started noticing girls acting weird a few months ago. These were popular girls, so I knew something was up. Why would someone like Muffy hang out in the library? I mean, she typically checks out those romance books, but non-fiction books? And she doesn't check them out? Yeah, there was something up with that. So I took note of it and other girls. Buster, I think something really serious is going on with everyone," Fern said. She sounded scared.

Buster wasn't. He laughed, "So you think there's some sort of STI outbreak or something? I know the coaches keep warning about it, but I guess the guys would act up too," he guessed. She nodded, "Exactly, and I haven't noticed any strange behavior from guys. They seem to be looking at the girls more, but that's normal teen behavior in my book."

Buster shook his head, "What they're doing isn't normal. I laughed before because that's what I hoped it was. I wish it was as simple as The Clap going around, but…I overheard some people, and that's why I wanted to see what you were working on. Fern, I think they're playing some kind of game with the girls."

Buster told his story. He was in the locker room. He'd spilled his gym bag. Arthur left without him. A lot of the class was still there. They were on the next row of lockers. Buster couldn't see them and they couldn't see Buster. But Buster heard everything, something about Alex winning a game. They gave him something. Buster decided to start watching. He lined up behind an open locker. He spied on them through the ventilation slats.

There were fifteen guys. A disheveled binder was between them. Buster noticed the lists. There were names and tallies. Some tallies even had names attached, girls' names. Buster kept listening. They didn't say much. They didn't have to. Buster was a good detective. He knew something was wrong. They were hurting girls. He just didn't know how.

Until he met up with Fern. Buster was fidgety, "Look, if they're getting the whole school pregnant one girl at a time, we're in trouble. They've already hit up so many girls, and if they're all pregnant, this could be huge!" he exclaimed. Fern suggested they ask Brain for help. She knew he was good at statistics. Buster shook his head, "Who do you think is the mastermind?"

Fern gasped, "He's calculating everything? But how?" she asked. Buster shrugged, "I don't know. But he's using science, and he must be why they're so successful in getting girls pregnant. Either way, I have all the names. We should talk to someone at school," Buster said. Fern shook her head. They needed to go to the police.

Buster was reluctant. What if the police didn't believe them? He knew her logic was the best. It was getting late. They decided to go the next afternoon. The two parted ways. Both left worried.

The police were concerned. Molly left a rambling letter. She tied it to the top of the pedestrian bridge. The detectives read it over and over. It was in a plastic evidence bag. The bag was passed around to everyone. What did it mean? How was she not the only one? Were there more people dead?

The medical examiner gave clues. She was pregnant. The detectives picked through her metaphors. They wondered about the circumstances. How did she get pregnant? Was it by her boyfriend? They had to speak to him. He was distraught. He and Molly's mother were inconsolable. The police had to know everything. They went to the MacDonald house. The figured out Molly was raped. That meant a lot to them. But who did it?

The police decided to go to Lakewood High. Principal Marcus met them there. The police told him the news. They told them her circumstances. They asked about documents concerning Molly. He already had them ready. Then the detectives asked about others. Principal Marcus got defensive. He beat around the bush. He tried to get them to leave. The detectives refused. Molly killed herself. Teens didn't just jump off a bridge. If there were others, they had to know.

Principal Marcus claimed to not have access. The detectives had to believe him. They would be back the next morning. They would question students. They would pick through files-

The line about questioning students got to Principal Marcus. He quickly got the files. He asked them not to come back. They couldn't question the students. They'd have to get permission from parents. They couldn't just waltz in either. The superintendent would have to approve. So many rules, the detectives thought. They exchanged glances.

The detectives left. But they knew the rules. They could question students on pertinent cases. They could come into the school without permission. And since Principal Marcus was so paranoid, they'd be there the next day. They'd question everyone.

Muffy had to own up to her problems. Millicent came into her room. She was concerned about her daughter. Muffy let Millicent put her hands on her shoulders. She looked up to her mom. She looked so stern. But Muffy knew she loved her.

"Mom, I have something to tell you," Muffy whispered. Millicent nodded, "I know you do. Honey, we've known for so long. Why didn't you just tell us instead of worrying yourself to death about this? Just tell me what happened."

Muffy sniffled. She was crying. She wiped away a tear, "I…I can't tell you what happened. I don't know. Someone asked me to smell some flowers, and the next thing I remember, I'm back here in bed. Bailey said he found me at the school napping outside. I know I wasn't at school. I was walking to Maria's house."

"Oh, Muffy!" Millicent sobbed. "Someone raped my baby! Someone hurt you!" she cried.

"I don't want this kid. I tried to get rid of it. I couldn't go through with it. The abortion clinic needed a signature. I heard about a guy, so I went there. But I couldn't do it. I don't want this kid but I don't want to hurt myself either."

"You made the right choice. We'll make this right, sweetie. I need to know something very important from you," she said. Muffy nodded. Millicent questioned her, "If I were to take you to the police, would you tell them everything you can about your situation?"

Muffy nodded. She stood up. She moved to the bed. She bent down and slid a container out. She opened it and pulled out a plastic bag. Inside were the clothes she'd word than day-shoes, shirt, panties, everything. Millicent nodded. That was important. In fact, all of this was important. It was late. The sun had already set. But they went to the Elwood City Police Station. They went to tell the world about their problem.