Chapter Six: Anything Could Happen
Valerie Frizzle was now officially a superwoman. She had, against all odds, managed to successfully get up, get dressed, put her makeup on and drive to school despite still feeling like she'd had a little too much wine at Max's house, where the two of them had gone after dinner at Mare Scuro.
"Good morning, class," she said to the eight students assembled before her, trying her to best to sound confident and not, in any possible way, sleep-deprived. Liz seemed to sense something, though, as the lizard's grip on her shoulders seemed a little tighter than usual.
"Good morning, Ms. Frizzle," they chorused, making her feel a little better. There was something immensely satisfying about being respected— maybe even liked— by a group of nine-year-olds.
"Today," she said, loosely gripping the edge of her desk, "we're going to learn about the Ancient Egyptians."
"Does this mean we'll go to Egypt?" D.A. whispered to Tim, her desk mate, while Phoebe, who sat at the desk across the aisle from her, turned her head and frowned.
"I don't know," Tim said, shrugging. "Anything could happen. It's the Magic School Bus, remember?"
The front doors of Walkerville Elementary closed silently as the Doctor slipped inside, only to pause at the sight of a well-dressed, dark-skinned woman sitting at Ms. Winters' desk.
"Oh, hello. You're new," he said, before taking out his psychic paper. "James McCrimmon, Walkerville School Division. And you are…?"
"Mrs. March," Tim's mother said, rising to shake his hand. "But you can call me Amy. You were the one that fixed Louise's schedule, right?"
The Doctor shrugged. "We all make mistakes sometimes. I'm only human, after all."
"Yes, about that… Mr. McCrimmon?"
"Oh, please call me James."
"Mr. McCrimmon… James… can I have a word? Alone?"
"I don't see why not," the Doctor said, looking about. "Where?"
"Oh, right here would suffice."
"I was just wondering," she said, "about Ms. Frizzle."
"Well, you're on the Board of Directors, so you must have been there when her hiring was approved. I just wanted to ask if you noticed anything, well, peculiar about her."
"About who? Ms. Frizzle?" The Doctor shook his head. "Nah, she's brilliant! One of our best teachers, actually. Great with the kids."
Amy smiled. "I was just wondering… never mind. I'm sure you're a busy man. I'll just get back to my work."
"Nice to meet you, Amy," the Doctor called as he continued down the main corridor of Walkerville Elementary. "Don't work too hard, now."
"Yes, sir," she said, frowning as she spoke. If everyone on the Board of Directors was of similar opinions as Mr. McCrimmon, trying to find any fault with Ms. Frizzle— provided such fault existed— would be harder than expected.
"You see, class, thanks to the Ancient Egyptians we have all sorts of inventions that we use today. Modern-day paper was, in Ancient Egypt, made of palm leaves and called papyrus. And let's not forget about the pyramids at Giza."
Liz leapt off her shoulders and pulled a map of Egypt down, pointing at Giza with her tail.
Tim raised his hand. "Isn't there a theory that aliens built the pyramids?"
"Yes, Tim, there is. But of course, such theories have never been proven, which means that the mystery of the pyramids is currently –"
She inhaled. There was a face at the door, and judging by his scruffy brown hair and pale face, it was the Doctor.
"Class," she said, "would you excuse me for a moment? I have something to take care of."
"What," Ms. Frizzle said, once she'd stepped out into the hallway and moved away from the door (she didn't want her students hearing this), "are you doing here?"
"I told you I might be dropping by," the Doctor said. "Listen, you wouldn't believe what I just had to go through. That secretary, Amy Marsh, actually asked me if I noticed anything peculiar when I hired you. Is that strange or what?"
"No, not really," she said, "considering her track record. And it's March, not Marsh."
"You say potato," he said, shrugging. Ms. Frizzle bit her lip.
"Anyway, can you make this quick? I'm in the middle of teaching a class, you know."
"Oh! A class! I love classes!" Before Ms. Frizzle could stop him, the Doctor pushed the classroom door open and smiled at the assembled students.
"Hello there, I'm James McCrimmon, Walkerville School Division. And what are you learning today?"
His gaze landed on the map of Giza. "Ancient Egypt, you say. Not terribly interesting, in my opinion. You might as well be learning about Mars."
"By the way, Ms. Frizzle and I are just having a friendly chat," he said, and took out the psychic paper. "See my badge? Good? She'll be right back in a moment."
The door closed shut again as D.A. and Tim looked at each other, eyes wide.
"That's the same man we saw at the Smiths'!" D.A. hissed, leaning closer to Tim. Phoebe noticed the looks on their faces and leant over across the aisle.
"You saw it too?" she murmured.
"Saw what?" D.A. whispered, turning around to face Phoebe.
"You know when that man was waving around that piece of paper, saying it was his badge?"
"Well, I didn't see his badge. I didn't see anything."
Phoebe leant even closer and lowered her voice. "The paper was… blank."
The mystery deepens…
Please let me know what you think of this chapter (and all the others) by reviewing. It would be greatly appreciated – the positive reviews I had for Chapter 1 encouraged me to continue writing the story, so please tell me what you think.