“Yeah. That was in one of their last reports.” Vaughn said. “The one where they finally caught him. So what does ‘spirit of chaos’ mean exactly? Chaos powers? I can cause chaos without powers. Just ask my mom.”
“I don’t know,” Jaclyn said. “Grandpa told me he could make things happen, like just about anything happen, but the more it violated reality, the harder it was.”
“OK,” I said,”so what does he want?”
“That was in one of the early reports,” Haley said. ”The one where they first faced him. It seems like he… feeds off of kids rebelling? In the report, they found him leading some kind of secret poetry club at the high school. That’s a lame excuse of a rebellion even for the 1950’s. I almost hope he was sneaking them beer.”
“Right, I read the part about the secret poetry club, but missed where they found out what he wanted.”
“Hey,” Vaughn looked up from the pile of folders on the table. “That’s got to be how he got free. It’s James Dean… ‘Rebel Without a Cause’, right?”
He paused, thought for a moment. “Well, crap. I chose that movie.”
“One movie?” I shook my head. “I don’t know how magic works, but I think he’d need more than that.”
“No,” Vaughn said, his voice getting louder, “he’s had more than that. Think about it. Everyone’s been hiding this from their parents except Cassie and Daniel, and I’m sure they haven’t been telling them everything. My mom knows because she figured it out, but I’ve been hiding a lot. So think little bits of rebellion all year—fighting against the Mayor, the National Guard, plus hiding the Power Impregnator when you knew Isaac Lim wanted it, and all the adults we fought… That’s got to count.”
“So you’re figuring tonight pushed him over the edge?”
“Yeah,” Vaughn said, “unless he broke out earlier.”
My stomach sank. “I don’t even want to think about that. The last time I know he was here was when Haley and I went to the prom, but that’s not exactly an act of rebellion.”
Haley said. “No, that’s normal, but when I think about everything we did… They should have stored him in an old people’s home.”
“Yeah well,” Jaclyn said, “for the last thirty years HQ’s basically been an old people’s home. I think they mostly used it to watch sports on Monday nights. A bunch of old guys drinking beer and watching football isn’t the kind of rebellion he needs.”
“Grandpa and I were here a lot,” I said.
“Yeah,” Vaughn said, “but the closest you got to rebelling was probably handing your grandpa the wrong wrench.”
“That wouldn’t have been rebellion. That would have been a mistake.”
Vaughn shrugged. “The point stands.”
I decided to ignore the point. “Alright, so if we want to catch him, we need to find a bunch of kids rebelling against society or something? Where are we going to find that in Grand Lake?”
“No kidding,” Vaughn said. “The guy’d be better off in Ann Arbor. They protest anything there. Rachel told me once that she’d seen someone in the middle of campus protesting that there wasn’t anybody protesting anything. Hey, you know what he should do if he wants to eat? Go to the Middle East.”
“I’m pretty sure I read that he was U.S. only somehow.”
At the same time, Jaclyn said, “he can’t. He’s just a spirit right? Grandpa said he needs a person to possess. We’d notice if one of us just up and left.”
That sounded wrong to me, but I couldn’t say why. I’d read that he didn’t always need a body somewhere. I checked my monitor to find the spot.
At the same time, Haley shuffled through the papers before stopping halfway down the pile, and said, “No… One of the reports said that he could move around without a person for a little while. He needs to find someone who’s,“ she checked the page, “cool, uh… anti-establishment, and under thirty.” She looked up from the paper. “That’s what it says.”
Jaclyn stared at the paper in Haley’s hands. “I guess we’d better go home. One way or another, he could be anywhere in the city by now. From what my grandfather told me on the phone, we’d see something different if one of us took the ring, and everyone looked normal when they left. So no one had him. Plus, he might have escaped tonight, but he might have disappeared months ago. Let’s work on this tomorrow.”
* * *
I’d expected to sleep in the next morning, but I didn’t get to. My cellphone and my League phone started ringing. When they stopped, the landline phone in the hall started.
I opened my eyes. My alarm clock showed 7:23 am.
From the hall, my mom said, “Nick, someone named Kayla’s on the phone. Do you know her?”
I got out of bed, stumbled to the door, and opened it. “Yes. She’s a friend of Cassie’s.”
Mom handed me the phone.
“Nick,” Kayla said, “I’m sorry to call this early, but is it possible to send LSD through air vents? Because everyone on News 10 sounds really weird this morning.”