Chapter three's a bit shorter; enjoy it anyhow!


Jumping down from the table on which he and Martina stood, S.Q. glanced apprehensively at the wide double doors, as though expecting Mr. Curtain to come rocketing through them, terrorizing every student in his path. The students closest to S.Q. had heard the news; it spread quickly through the lunchroom.

A few Messengers raised their hands. "Is there anything we can do?" one asked.

Martina seized her opportunity. "Yes! Keep everyone in here—no leaving, do you understand—and keep the doors closed and bolted. S.Q. and I will have to leave." She, too, hopped down onto the tiled floor and strode between the tables toward the exit, S.Q. hot on her heels. They sped down the hallway, and once outside, Martina went left and S.Q. went right. Alone at last, he spoke into his walkie-talkie. "Jackson, where's Mr. Curtain? Over."

With a loud ksssshhhhh, Jackson's voice came through. "S.Q., we're near the boulder. Hurry, we're afraid he might fall in one of his own traps. Over."

S.Q. shivered at the thought of Mr. Curtain plummeting to his death, his wheelchair acting as a perfect anchor. "Rodger that."

"Stop trying to sound cool, S.Q. Over and out."

S.Q. smiled. "Good buddy," he finished. "Over and out."

"Shut up, S.Q." said Jackson, and went quiet.

Shoving the walkie-talkie into his trouser pocket, S.Q. dashed across the stone courtyard, and up the path toward the boulder, dunes and fatal drape-weed traps. He heard people before he saw them, as there was a loud and unpleasant mixture of war cries and angry bellows. Sprinting over, he tripped on Jillson's foot ("Watch it, you dunce!") and had to cling to a tree trunk to regain his balance. A large slew of Helpers looked on with thinly veiled panic, and stood huddled in a close bunch, unspeaking and pale. The guards on the bridge were having a terrible day. One had already spilled his hot morning coffee, another had mistaken her shock watch for her real watch—therefore electrocuting herself—and yet another had had to leap into the water surrounding the island to avoid being flattened as Mr. Curtain zipped tipsily along.

Now, alternately burned, electrified, and sopping, the bridge guards were compelled to chase after Mr. Curtain, making up a few new swear words as they went. Among them, Jackson was hustling along, brandishing a frightening silver tranquilizing needle and looking positively deranged. "Come back, sir, come back!" he shouted.

Jillson coughed, but S.Q. detected a note of amusement. "Enjoy the show," she chuckled, slid into a cross-legged position, and sat back to enjoy the ridiculous spectacle. The guard who had shocked herself (her hair was currently standing thirteen inches above her scalp) dashed around a large pine tree, so very close to blocking her boss's path. Then she went down.

Down, down, down into a one of those blasted drape-weed traps.

S.Q. staggered forward, heart pounding. Was the bridge guard alive? She hadn't even screamed! He and the other Executives sprinted to the narrow hole and looked down. Rolling up in his battered wheel chair, Mr. Curtain stared down at her, annoyed. "Snakes and dogs, Linda" he muttered, almost lazily, "what on earth are you doing in a hole?"

"I fell," she groaned, rubbing her hip.

"Well I'll be a monkey's uncle," said Mr. Curtain, before slumping forward into a sound sleep. Jackson stumbled up, clutching his stomach and panting. He looked at the tranquilizer needle for a moment, glared at it, and tossed it into a nearby shrub.

"It's not like we need anymore," he said the onlookers at large. "Alright, everyone, help me lift him up. We'll have to carry him back to his office."

There was a general groan of dissatisfaction. S.Q., for one, didn't feel a single regret. He cheerfully put his back into it, and did his best to haul the sleeping Mr. Curtain back into an elevator and into his austere office. He felt odd as he stared at the man whose reflective glasses had become askew and whose hair was tremendously mussed. As though he shouldn't leave, as though someone should be there when Mr. Curtain woke up.

Shouldn't they?

He crinkled his brows and rubbed his closed eyes with the flat of his palms, a dead exhaustion seeping into his bones. He found himself wondering how long it had been since he'd had a good long nap.

"What are you doing?"

S.Q. looked up, startled, and saw Martina glaring suspiciously from the doorway. "We still have to pin the culprit, S.Q.! Stop zoning out, would you?"

He waved her off. "Go on ahead. Better early than never—no, better never than late…oh dear." He sighed heavily.

"Better late than never?" Martina rolled her eyes with an air of utmost superiority. She turned to leave, muttering something that sounded to S.Q. very much like, "Some executive."

But he didn't bother stopping her. He was spectacularly tired. And very suddenly, the unforgiving stone floor looked quite comfortable, so he sank down upon it. "If you can hear me, Mr. Curtain, sir," he murmured, "I didn't spike your juice. I'd swear it on my life."

With those final words, his lids fell shut and he slipped into half-conscious dreams, ready to wake the moment Mr. Curtain stirred.


Hugs to those of you understand the importance of reviews!

-Spark Writer-