JESSE AND LESLIE
LIES AND SPIES IN LARK CREEK

Disclaimer: Bridge to Terabithia is owned by Walt Disney Pictures, Walden Media, and Katherine Paterson. Doubting Thomas aka Lies and Spies is owned by Kosmic Film Entertainment. I own only my original characters.

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Chapter 2
"He's a Liar"

May 28th, 2008

Later on that day, during lunch, Jesse watched how Christa was eating and chatting with Scott, Gary and Madison. He grew more and more jealous every time he saw Christa laughing with them, especially with Scott. Leslie, who was sitting at the same table with him as usual, glanced at the bullies' table too and then at Jesse. She tried so much to come up with a way of getting Jesse out of this thing.

But her wishes were short-lived. As soon as Christa left the cafeteria with Scott and the others, Jesse stood up to leave as well. Leslie knew she had to follow him in case there would be a fight or something. They followed Scott's group from a suitable distance so they wouldn't be noticed. Soon they exited the building and saw Christa sitting with their bullies at a wooden table on the yard. Jesse started to make his way to them but Leslie restrained him.

"What do you think you're doing?" she asked.

"You know about the dance on Friday, right? I'm gonna go there with her", he said and nodded at Christa.

"Jess, everyone knows Scott is taking her to the dance. So please, don't embarrass yourself anymore."

Jesse didn't care about her warning and walked over to Christa and the others. Leslie sighed and followed him. As they stopped near the table, everyone gave looked at them with a disgusted face, except Christa. "Christa, I think it's about time you explained 'you and Scott' to me", said Jesse.

Christa cleared her throat. "Well, when I first came to this school, Scott was the first person I met. I hadn't met you and Leslie yet back then even though I moved to your neighborhood. Anyway, truth be told, when Scott's not being so daft, there's actually something quite charming about him."

Jesse cast a surprised look at Scott. "In any event, Scott was assigned to be my lab partner", Christa continued.

"And she was assigned to be my girl", said Scott.

"Scott, you're being 'daft' again", said Leslie, imitating Christa's British accent.

"Anyway, now Mr. Young, our science teacher, wants us to dissect an animal and I tried to tell him that I don't wanna be a part of it, but I guess I had no choice."

"All Young wants is one weird bird", Madison interrupted. "You've seen all that creepy stuff he keeps in those jars, right?"

"Yeah. Young is definitely a major psycho", Gary said and nodded.

Then Jesse came up with something. "Obviously you guys don't know."

"Don't know what?" Madison asked.

"Never mind. I've said too much as it is. Come on, Leslie, let's go." Jesse and Leslie started to walk away.

"What don't we know, Aarons?!" Scott yelled.

Jesse and Leslie stopped. Jesse turned back at the table and said: "Actually Young is not even a science teacher."

Leslie let out a deep sigh. "Here we go again."

They walked to the table again and Jesse put his hands on its edge. "As you all know, my uncle has some major White House sides", he said and everyone gave him an odd look. "He told me the details, okay? You see, the chemistry lab is actually a government-funded workstation where Young is an undercover advocate. You wanna hear more?"

Scott thought for a moment, until he answered sighing: "Go on."

"Young is constructing a chemical weapon: a new kind of flamethrower. It's very sensitive and so deadly that its flames burn you until you're nothing but bones."

Gary startled. "Did you say nothing…?"

"But bones", Jesse finished. "Yeah, I did."

Scott snickered. "He's so full of it. We all know he's never told the truth before. Why are we supposed to believe him now?"

"Hey, would I lie about something like this? I know where Young keeps it."

"Well, take us to the lab. Show us."

"Now, that's kind of impossible as the lab is usually locked and without the right…"

Then Scott stood up and took something from his jeans' pocket. "Key?"

Jesse's jaw dropped. In Scott's hand was indeed the key to the chemistry lab. He wondered how Scott could've gotten his hands on it. Even Leslie and Christa were confused. Scott seemed to guess their question from their faces and said: "I have my ways. Now let's go, Aarons." He threw the key to Jesse and they all headed inside. The walk to the lab gave Jesse some time to think of a strategy.

A few moments later they were gathered around the chemistry lab door and Jesse opened it with the key. He took a quick peek inside and then threw the key back to Scott. "Well, Hoager, are you joining me?"

"No. I mean, I would but… If you scare people out of here, you need a real man to keep them protected", said Scott and put his arm around Christa.

"Christa, sorry you don't have a 'real man'", Jesse said. "Please accept Scott Hoager as the next best thing." Scott started to get angry and took a couple of steps toward him. Jesse raised his hands. "Okay, I'm going in. But if anything happens to me, please tell the newspapers that I lived one eighth of a full life."

He turned to look at Leslie who shook her head. "You are so disturbed", she said with a tiny smile. Jesse smiled back and entered the lab, closing the door behind him.

He walked around the lab, trying to find anything that could be useful to him for his trick. If he wanted to prove to the bullies that there was a flamethrower, he needed something to show it through. He sure was glad that the windows' blinds were closed so Scott and the others couldn't see anything from the hallway.

At the end of the room he saw a human skeleton, and thought: "This might be helpful." He carried it to the other end, against the chalkboard. He also found a matchbox and a bottle of ethanol. "Perfect", he thought.

He carefully detached the skeleton's left arm, laid it on a table and then poured ethanol all over the hand and the table. After taking a good look that there was enough of the liquid, he dropped the hand on the floor, grabbed the matchbox, took out a match and struck it. He touched the hand with it and instantly the whole arm, the table and the floor were in flames.

Meanwhile Christa was getting restless. "I hope he's okay."

"What?" Scott said. "Do you like him or something?"

Leslie glanced at them. Christa answered sarcastically: "Yeah, Scott. I like him. He's so suitable for, like: 'Gosh, he's hot! I'm gonna have to smother him with kisses.'" Scott grinned back at her.

"Well, if he's not out in 30 seconds, he's dead meat", said Gary.

"You have some serious issues, don't you?" Leslie asked.

After waiting for a moment, Jesse grabbed a foam extinguisher and used it to put out the flames, but only on the arm and floor. He left the table in flames. The sound of the extinguisher could be heard faintly in the hallway. Christa became even more worried.

"He's so fried", Scott said. He walked to the door and took the key from his pocket.

But just as he put the key into the lock, Jesse's voice was heard. "Help! Help!" he screamed.

"Scott, get him out of there!" Christa said. "He's my neighbor! Help him!"

Scott was frightened. "I'm not going in there!"

Suddenly the blinds opened and the hand of a human skeleton was smacked on the window. Everybody screamed. They saw that the hand was smoking, as if it had been burned, and a table behind the hand actually was burning. Everyone was totally petrified, except Leslie. As she looked at the hand, she sensed that something seemed wrong.

What they didn't know was that Jesse had hidden himself below the window, and he was moving the skeleton's arm.

"Oh, my God!" Christa screamed. "Jesse's been burned by the flamethrower!"

Leslie looked at her and said mockingly: "Oh, I thought he was your 'neighbor'." Christa didn't care about her comment.

When the smoke created by the fire started to come through the gaps of the door, Scott didn't waste any time. He hit the nearest fire alarm, and as soon as the ringing sound came to life, he ran away with Christa, Gary and Madison. Leslie stayed put. She knew she had to get Jesse out of the lab.

When Jesse heard the alarm ringing, he came to a halt. "Oh-oh" was the only thing he could say. Of course, Leslie heard it. She was both happy and a little mad that it was just a prank.

Then she noticed something. The key was still in the lock. "Scott must've left it!"

Meanwhile in the teachers' room, Ms. Edmunds took the mike to alert the students. "All right, boys and girls, this is not a drill. I repeat: This is not a drill. We must evacuate the building immediately. No running, single file. And, if you see flames, walk a little faster, but don't panic!"

But, of course, none of the children understood the meaning of "don't panic". They started to run through the hallways, screaming all the time. Mr. Bailey and the other janitors, which the school didn't have so many of, were at different parts of the school, trying to keep the students calm and leading them to the main entrance.

Ms. Edmunds entered Principal Turner's office. She was surprised to see the man just calmly packing some papers in his briefcase. "Steven, this is not a scheduled drill. I suggest we get out of the building!"

"This had better not be another student shenanigan because I'm not in the mood!"

She was surprised again by his response. "You make it sound like you wished it was a real fire with real flames!"

"Look, Julia, I am not going to tolerate another prank. Especially from Jess."

She sighed in sadness at his last remark. She wished so much that this fire wasn't Jesse's doing. Turner closed his briefcase and said: "Okay, let's go." The two left his office and started to walk to the main entrance as fast as they could.

Meanwhile, Leslie opened the door with the key and entered the chemistry lab. She wasn't surprised to see her best friend lying on the ground with the burned skeleton's hand. She grabbed the foam extinguisher and put out the flames on the table and some other parts of the room. "You are in so much trouble, Jess", she said to him in the middle of her actions. Jesse just stared at the floor.

Ms. Edmunds and Turner heard the sound of the foam extinguisher and hurried to the chemistry lab. They were shocked by the sight, especially Leslie holding the extinguisher. Julia gasped and said: "Oh, my God! Leslie, is everything..?" She and Turner turned to look down at Jesse who sighed and leaned on his elbow, holding his head with his hand. Slowly they turned back at Leslie. "He didn't…" Julia said hopefully and shook her head. Leslie nodded slowly with a sad look on her face. Turner turned at Jesse again, crossed his arms and gave him a death glare.

About a half hour later, Jesse was sitting on a bench outside the principal's office. The atmosphere was totally different now. It was quiet yet tense. The hallways were no longer full of the fire alarm ringing. Jesse felt a bit scared. Getting seen by Principal Turner had not been a part of his plan. At that moment he didn't even want to find out what kind of punishment he would get. Leslie had already told Turner the whole story, and she was sent home with no punishment. "Just my luck again", Jesse muttered silently.

Terrence Smith stepped out of the teachers' room. When he noticed Jesse he walked up to the boy. "Looks like they nailed you on this one, huh?"

"I plan on admitting nothing."

"Yeah…" he said skeptically. "Well, you're clothes are quite wet and you smell like alcohol so that kind of ties you to the scene there."

"Circumstantial", he tried to answer calmly, but he knew that Smith probably knew the whole story.

"You know what, Jesse? You seem like an okay kid", said Smith and sat down next to him. "Hey, if you still wanna get away with it, I'll help you. I'll trade shirts with you."

"No, it's OK."

"I'm serious. It's no trouble at all. I'll do this for you."

"No, please. Thanks anyway."

"All right." Smith paused for a moment. "Well, I know Julia Edmunds is in there", he said while nodding to the principal's office. "That must suck."

"What do you mean?"

"I heard she's your favorite teacher. Am I right?" After Jesse nodded, Smith continued: "And there she is discussing what they should do with you." Jesse sighed and nodded again. "So, um… What's your family like?"

"Well, you wouldn't want to know."

"Why not? Come on, tell me."

"Well, you see, both of my parents are pretty harsh, and on top of that I've got four sisters, and just about all of them are a pain in the butt. I've got an uncle too, but I don't see him very often." Then he came with a new made-up story. "Right now, he's touring with Keith Emerson."

"The Keith Emerson? From Emerson, Lake and Palmer?"

"Yup. So, these are pretty much all the reasons why I don't tell a lot of people about my family."

"That your uncle is Keith Emerson's agent? Man, I would tell the world!"

In the principal's office, Turner was sitting behind his desk, while Ms. Edmunds sat on the other side. While writing some papers, Turner chanted: "What to do, what to do, what to do…"

"We could forget the whole thing", said Edmunds.

"Forget the whole thing?"

"It was just a suggestion."

"Listen, Julia, not only did that boy's shenanigans consume a lot of my time and energy, but they're now endangering the entire student body."

"Well, with all due respect, besides today, what has he done? Maybe a couple of small incidents."

Just as she said that, Mr. Bailey dropped a rather big file filled with papers on the desk. "The Aarons file", he said with a grumpy voice.

Julia understood what he meant. The file supposedly contained information about Jesse's every prank so far. She looked at the size of the file. "All of this?" she asked bewildered. Both Turner and Bailey nodded. "Well, he sometimes tells exaggerated stories. So what?"

"Let me ask you a question, Julia", Turner said. "When is a story an exaggeration of the truth, and when is it a plain, bold-faced lie?"

"To be honest, I don't know", she said after thinking for a minute.

"Well, I do. Two months ago Jess told a group of students that a snake, a boa constrictor to be exact, had escaped from a nearby zoo, and found a new home in the school's toilets. The children were so frightened that they refrained from using the toilets for a week. Now what do you call that?"

"Well, I…"

"I'll tell you what it is! It's a lie. The boy tells lies. He's a liar. A. Li-ar."

Julia got a bit angry and quickly stood up. "Fine, Steven. If you want me to call his parents and tell them that he has to leave, then I'll do it. Fine! You win!"

"Julia…" Turner thought very hard about what he should decide. "Jess can stay." At this she let out a long sigh of relief. "But if Jess wants to attend the dance on Friday and meet our special guest, let's see if we can find a way to start to have him discover the truths in life."

Julia nodded. "That sounds fair."

"Right now he's on probation. Next occurrence will result in immediate termination."

"I'll call his parents." Then she dialed the Aarons' phone number on her cellphone. She felt so sad every time she had to do this. She knew that deep inside Jesse was a good kid. He had to be.

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Author's notes:

Mr. Young, the science teacher, is named after Christopher Young, who composed the music for Sleepwalking, another movie with AnnaSophia Robb.

As most of you may know, Mr. Bailey, the janitor, appeared in the BTT movie.

Neither the book nor the movie mentions a first name for Principal Turner. I named him Steven after a friend of mine, who's also a BTT fan.

As for Keith Emerson, I just had to mention him, you know. ELP is one of my favorite bands, and I also like some of Emerson's movie soundtracks, particularly Inferno (1980).