KINGSBURRY LOWER SCHOOL
BLOOMFIELD HILLS, WI
TUESDAY, OCTOBER 14th, 2008
Arthur sat in his seat and tapped on the tablet PC screen, writing in his answer to the word the voice in his headphones had asked him to spell. He sighed. So boring. Who didn't know how to spell 'extremely' at this point? Really, where did Kingsburry find these rich kids who didn't know anything?
In math, Arthur reminded himself, he wasn't so fast either, so it was a trade-off. Spelling and science were his thing. Reading and math, not so much.
The teacher waved her hand in front of the classroom, and said with a smiling face, "Okay, spelling lesson's over. If you didn't finish, you're welcome to go online tonight and type in the answers instead of write them. If you don't own a Tablet, that is. Please log out of your programs and get ready for Social Studies."
Social Studies. It was more like current events turned on their heads, Arthur reflected. His parents had told him what was really going on in the nation. He didn't need these CNN-addict teachers to feed him lies he knew weren't true…
He wished it wasn't time for Social Studies. He wished it was time for science. In science, he learned about planets and things he liked. And when he went home, he discussed it with his parents and they would explain to him how cool God was, to make evolution happen, and make science happen, and make planets go around in orbits like they did. In Social Studies, he was just confused as to who was right and who was wrong…
Once everyone had put their Tablet PC's back in the rack in the corner of the classroom, and put their headphones back in their desks to ensure that they weren't listening to their iPods secretly, the teacher began the lesson. Today's lesson was going to be about the Iraq war. Oh, joy, Arthur thought. Here we go again.
He doodled on his notebook through most of it, half-listening to what the teacher said. But his ears perked up when one particularly annoying statement caught his attention. "And so we should take away from this that war is not a good thing, ever, and that non-engagement is always better than engagement. Who can explain why we should immediately leave the war in Iraq?"
Arthur couldn't stand it anymore. He had overheard his dad tell his mother than this teacher was on the 'edge of too liberal, even for Kingsburry', whatever that meant, and that 'people are asking her to tone it down, and let the kids decide for themselves.' That surprised Arthur. From what he could gather, if people were going to tell her to let his peers decide for themselves instead of shove things down their throats, he was completely justified in what he was about to do. He raised his hand.
"Yes, Arthur? I didn't expect to hear from you in this discussion."
The other kids snickered. She said things like that in Social Studies. She knew who his father was, and what he stood for. But Arthur had been told to stand tall in situations like this. So he did. He stood from his desk. "Ms. Allison, may I please make a statement?"
"Of course. We encourage open thought in this classroom."
"I think that war is never a good thing. I think we all know that, 'cause people get hurt in war. But sometimes we have to go to war. Like way back in World War Two, Hitler was gonna try to conquer the whole world, and he killed six million people just 'cause he didn't like their religion. Our country was real important in that war. So sometimes it's necessary."
"Thank you, Arthur, but we're not talking about that important conflict, we're talking about this current one."
"I know, Ms. Allison. May I please continue?" Manners were of the utmost importance at Kingsburry.
"Yes, of course."
"I think that once we make a choice, even if it's a bad one, we have to try to make a good one in the end. It makes more sense to not just pull out, Ms. Allison. It makes more sense to make sure everyone's safe. The people in Iraq and our soldiers." He had heard this, of course, from his parents. But it made sense to him. He thought it would make sense to other kids, too.
"Arthur, the purpose of this discussion is not to force our beliefs on our fellow students."
Now Arthur was confused. Had he done that?
"Please sit down, and let the other kids decide for themselves."
Arthur sat, but he didn't like it. He hated Social Studies. This was all they ever talked about. The current President and how many mistakes he had made. How a new candidate needed to be younger, more in tune with current generations, and more democratic to balance out the 'party imbalance'.
But his dad had told him that even though the current President had made lots of mistakes, he had also done lots of good things that didn't get on the news. He told Arthur that it was important for him and his classmates to decide what presidential candidate they supported in the school's Kids Pick The President Election by doing their own research. That the school should just tell them what sites to go to, to get kids' political information. And that they should be learning more history, and less opinion. Arthur wasn't sure what was opinion and what was fact, at this point.
As one of his classmates recited what they had heard their own parents say, and was applauded for their equally opinionated view, Arthur rolled his eyes and went back to doodling. He was smart enough to know when there was a bias in the classroom. He just hadn't quite figured out the entire 'party politics' thing yet. He wasn't sure whether it was a party split or it was another kind of split. But it was clear there was a split.
Suddenly, he saw on his notebook page a picture of himself drawn before his eyes. He removed his pencil from the page and stared, wide-eyed, as the drawing became clearer and clearer. Finally, it was finished with a rope tied around his neck, and he found himself looking very dead on the page. He jumped back, and pushed the notebook off his desk.
"Excuse me? Arthur? What's going on over there?" Ms. Allison demanded.
Arthur gaped at his notebook, and pointed at it. "It just…it just…"
The kids giggled. "What's wrong with him?" "Is he gonna explode?" "Why's he turning that color?" "Ewww, he's gonna barf!" "Cool, look at it!"
Ms. Allison picked up the notebook and glanced at it. "These don't look like notes, Arthur. These look like drawings of Star Wars."
Arthur would normally have corrected her. It wasn't Star Wars. It was Star Trek, and the two things were eternally different. But Arthur could barely breathe.
"You look sick, Arthur. Why don't you go to the Infirmary? Come back when you're feeling better, and we'll discuss your note-taking skills." She placed the notebook back on his desk, and Arthur saw that the drawing was gone. There was no picture of him, in excellent detail, dead before his eyes.
He rose slowly, and walked out of the classroom as if in a daze. But he didn't go to the Infirmary. He went to his locker instead, where he pulled out his cell phone and turned it on. It was only for emergency use, and the bill was very expensive, so he had been told to keep it off unless it was a very important matter. But he couldn't think of anything more important. He called his mom.
"What's wrong, Arthur?" Melissa answered immediately. He could hear her grabbing the car keys and going to the front hall for Cory's shoes.
"Mom…it's here. It drew on my notebook, it's in my school, it's here—you have to get here!"
"Calm down," Melissa said firmly. "If you show it you're scared, that's how it can get to you. Remember—it can't hurt you if you believe. Okay? I'll be right down to get you and take you home. If I take too long for some reason, you can go ahead and download a Christian song on your cell phone. You have permission. Okay?"
Arthur nodded, and then realized his mother couldn't see him. "Okay," he said, shaking slightly.
"Stay by your locker if you feel safe there. Otherwise go to the Infirmary and wait for me there."
"Talk to Nurse Thompson. She's a Christian—she can help you."
"Okay," Arthur said.
"It can't read your mind, Arthur. It can't know you're scared unless you show it you're scared. You have to act brave, even if you don't feel brave. And pray to Jesus. He'll protect you."
"Okay. I'm praying now."
"Good job. I'll see you in a few minutes."
Arthur hung up the phone and turned his back to his locker, looking up and down the hallway. Its 1900's English architecture accented some of its pointy features and the dim lighting in the ceiling created shadows that scared Arthur. He knew It could be hidden in any of them. It hated the light, according to his parents. It loved the dark. And since Christians were a source of light, he had been taught, it could find him in the dark in a couple of seconds. So he had to keep nightlights on at night, and carry a flashlight in his pocket, just in case.
Last night, Arthur had done an Internet search, and then deleted his history. He wanted to know more about Agent Mulder. He had gotten a reading on him from his Discernment, the ability to distinguish Christians from non-Christians and spot demons in a group of non-possessed people, according to his mother. The reading had said that Mulder was not a Christian. But he got the sense that he was a good man. So he searched the Internet before he went to bed last night and found that Mulder believed in all sorts of things that Arthur did too. Aliens, and mutants, and cool things Arthur saw on the Internet. The Greenwoods didn't have cable, but Arthur saw things at his friends' houses too. And on Star Trek.
The reason why this came to mind now was because Arthur realized that Agent Mulder might be able to help. Agent Mulder could definitely help out. If only he had the Agent's business card…his dad had put it in his wallet. His wallet was across campus, in his back pocket probably in one of the Upper School classrooms. He couldn't get that far in such a short amount of time. But maybe his dad would be nice enough to read off the number to him…
He called his dad, still scanning up and down the hallway nervously. He really hoped he'd answer.
BIRMINGHAM POLICE STATION
TUESDAY, OCTOBER 14th, 2008
"So I'll go down to that church, talk to Mitchell, and then check out the crime scenes again," Mulder said.
Scully agreed with a nod. "If you find anything that looks like the harboring of a 130-or-so-year-old fugitive, call me."
Mulder smirked. "You're the first one I'll notify."
They had just discovered, courtesy of Giles and his team, that similar murders had occurred about a hundred years ago, with victims that practically matched the MO of the current victims, except they were widows. All had children, and hobbies. And one was a Kingsburry school teacher, in the days when the school was only one campus, and only for boys aged 14 through 18.
"I'll go over the autopsy results and let you know if I find anything the ME might have missed."
"Thanks," Mulder told her, as he headed toward the door. Just then, his phone rang. "Mulder," he answered.
"Agent Mulder, you met me yesterday, sorta, my name's Arthur Greenwood."
Mulder, surprised, turned to Scully as he answered, "Yes, what can I do for you, Arthur?"
"Agent Mulder, it's real important you get down to Kingsburry. I know you like ghosts and aliens and stuff, and well, I got proof for you. I read about you on Google, and…"
Arthur's voice cut off suddenly, and Mulder frowned. "Arthur?"
No one answered.
KINGSBURRY LOWER SCHOOL
BLOOMFIELD HILLS, WI
TUESDAY, OCTOBER 14th, 2008
"Arthur? You okay, buddy? Arthur, are you there?"
Arthur stared at the phone screen, which had got his attention by getting extremely hot. He had nearly dropped the phone, but that was all the demon wanted—it just wanted his attention. Now that it had it, it could show him what it wanted to. And on the screen, as if a music video were playing, was a video of Agent Mulder in his car. Suddenly, a black shape with red eyes moved in front of the car and Mulder swerved. He hit a car in the other lane…they were close to Kingsburry! Arthur saw the sign! Mulder's car tail-spun into the other lane and was smushed by a dozen other cars in the oncoming Woodward Avenue traffic. This was bad!
"Agent Mulder!" Arthur said, having seen enough. "Agent Mulder, please, don't come! Don't come, Agent Mulder, you can't come!"
"Arthur? You okay? What's going on?"
"You can't come. Don't get in your car, Agent Mulder, please."
"What's happening, Arthur? Calm down."
"It's gonna find you. It's gonna hurt you in your car. Just stay out of your car!"
Arthur hung up the phone, and put it in his pocket. What could he do? He had to save Agent Mulder from what was about to happen. What if he distracted the demon? But then the demon would come for him…but it couldn't come for him; he was a Christian, and he was protected. Agent Mulder wasn't protected.
He shut his locker and began to walk purposefully down the hallway, toward the Infirmary. If he was going to do this, he was going to need backup. And he had been taught that the only suitable backup for something like this was a fellow Christian.
BLOOMFIELD HILLS, WI
TUESDAY, OCTOBER 14th, 2008
"Arthur's a very intelligent boy, Mulder," Scully said, staring at her computer screen back at the station. "He's won multiple science fairs, and has been admitted to MENSA's junior division. His father and mother both said they were on their way down to the lower school, but they couldn't get a hold of him on his cell phone. Mulder, he's probably planning something, and that something is probably going to get him hurt."
"I understand," Mulder said into his phone, while speeding down Woodward Avenue towards Kingsburry Academy. "I also think his parents are at least partially reasonable people. We can probably convince them to calm him down before he starts a public panic."
Mulder's actions, going after Arthur, were not just out of concern for public relations. He was genuinely concerned about the child. This very intelligent and imaginative boy was convinced that it was his Christian duty to protect others from demons. That was what Scully had got from Mr. Greenwood after a few moments of conversation. The Greenwoods were both concerned that Arthur would do something unfortunate for both himself and for the other children in the school, but most of all, they were very worried about whatever Arthur had seen. If there was indeed a demon in the school, Mrs. Greenwood had said, it would take a Christian presence to get it out. And Arthur was just too young in his beliefs to remain unafraid.
Mulder knew where the kid got it from, now. He didn't buy into this crap about Christians being the only ones able to cast out demons, but after what he had seen, he couldn't discount a demon as the source of these murders. What chiefly concerned Mulder was that four civilians, a baby included, would get wrapped up in the demon's agenda because they were too naïve to see their own vulnerability.
Scully was spending a few moments compiling all the data she could on Arthur and his family, in case a hostage situation ensued and Mulder needed to negotiate. He didn't know what this brilliant boy would concoct.
"Mulder, please be careful in there. If we're dealing with what we've dealt with before, you know how it can rope you in. Just keep your head. I'll join you if you need me to, but I think you may need GPS directions to navigate this school, and you'll need the information I'm gathering now."
"Yeah, stay put, Scully. This doesn't have to get out of control. I'm just going to go in, calm the kid down, and get the family out of there before Kingsburry calls CNN."
Mulder was concentrated on changing lanes to the left, when suddenly a black shape swam before his vision. Orange eyes peered at him and a black arm went back as if to punch through the windshield. Mulder turned sharply, and was partially broadsided by the car behind him. The bump was enough to make the car fishtail over the grassy divider and into the oncoming traffic. Mulder tried to right the skid desperately, but the black shape clouded his vision. He had long since dropped the phone.
The oncoming traffic on the highway couldn't stop fast enough. Cars plowed into his, creating a partial pile-up, and propelling his car directly into a light post. Although Mulder lost track of what was happening back at the first impact, it was the light post that did it. As the airbag engaged, Mulder's world disappeared into a velvety black.
TO BE CONTINUED…