“Ten-million one-thousand forty-two,” Aiden said.
“Huh?” Morgan was obviously as confused as Teri was.
“You didn’t do it, you’re supposed to go back and say the number before I do.”
“Oh, well obviously I didn’t know that until just now.”
“So why don’t you just go back now?” Max asked.
“I’m so confused,” Teri said. “Okay, let’s try this again. Aiden, think of a number, but don’t say it.”
Aiden nodded to show he was ready.
“You’re not allowed to change it. Actually, why don’t you write it down on a piece of paper,” Teri said.
Aiden ripped a corner off some unfortunate worksheet from the mess that was his backpack. He scribbled away, glancing up twice a second to make sure Teri wasn’t looking. She turned her back and covered her eyes. The seconds dragged on.
“Are you done yet?” she asked.
“Oh yeah. I’ve been done.”
Teri made sure she rolled her eyes before she removed her hand.
“Okay, so what’s the number?” Morgan asked.
Morgan and Aiden kept talking, but Teri was concentrating again. The world slipped out of focus. It was harder this time. Exhaustion rose up like a wave when time slowed down. When the clock started to reverse, that wave threatened to drown her.
Teri’s hand reached up to cover her eyes again. It was like someone else was doing it since her body was just retracing its steps and she didn’t have to tell her hand what to do. She waited a couple seconds before relaxing her brain and letting time resume its normal flow. She was back right in the middle of the long pause.
“Hey, no peeking,” Morgan said as she took her hands off her eyes.
Teri saw a car driving by along the road. Sitting in the driver’s seat was Dr. Fiedler.
“Drive,” she said to Aiden. “That’s Fiedler. No one was paying attention last time. Oh, and it’s forty-two.”
“That’s just uncanny,” Aiden said as he started the engine.
They peeled out of the lot and took off after Fiedler.
“Not so fast,” Max said. “And turn your lights on.”
“I don’t want him to see us,” Aiden said.
“If he sees a car with no lights, he’ll get suspicious. If we don’t get too close, he won’t notice us.”
Teri, Morgan, and Aiden looked at the sophomore.
“I’m not a stalker or anything,” Max said. “I just watch a spy show.”
“You watch a lot of TV,” Morgan said.
“It’s cool,” Morgan said. “I just didn’t think I’d ever be in a position to use tips from a spy TV show.”
They were quiet for a few minutes. Dr. Fiedler kept on the main road, leading them farther and farther away from town. Finally, he turned off. Aiden hung back until the doctor’s car was almost out of sight before following. After another couple minutes, the doctor turned off onto a dirt road. Overgrown trees loomed out into the roadway in the growing darkness. It looked like a mouth ready to swallow them. Aiden turned off the lights and then the car. Teri shivered.