Yvette’s Wednesday report was just as pointless as the rest of them. Nothing of interest had happened that week, and she was beginning to think the object hadn’t even fallen on this planet. It had probably taken over Mars or something. Maybe the moon.
“Well,” Mr. Wills said, “We still have a century of possible occurrences. The prediction had a large probability for error.”
“I know,” replied Yvette, “But I’m tired of this place, and using ten digits is so strange.”
“Still can’t get used to base-ten?” Mr. Wills asked. His voice was amazingly low, and that beard was a little strange. Yvette couldn’t help but notice that his disguise was out-of-date.
“No. Eight digits was so much easier.”
The man chuckled, towering over her. “If you think that way, we can always send another to take your place.”
“Wouldn’t those close to me find something wrong then? People have an amazing capacity for such detection.”
He rubbed his white-bearded chin thoughtfully. “I suppose so. Say, how are your friends?”
Yvette frowned. Mr. Wills shouldn’t have cared about her earth friends. They were just people here that had bothered to talk to her. Nothing of consequence. “They’re all quite fine. Theo was quiet at lunch, but I think he was feeling sick. Nothing on Noel or Doug, as usual since I don’t have lunch or many classes with them. Lillian was being critical as always. I don’t know. Why is this of interest to you?”
“Any of them watch the Lyrids last night?” Mr. Wills asked.
“I doubt it. Noel is the only one who would care, and she probably would have mentioned them during zero-hour.”
“Ah. You know, I suspect part of why we’ve never heard of any happenings is because the device fell years ago, hidden with a meteor shower.”
Where was he going with this? “I don’t see the point, Mr. Wills.”
He cleared his throat. “Well, thousands of meteorites hit earth every day, how are we to know when that particular object falls?”
“Didn’t the simulation predict that?”
Yvette cocked her head. “But I still don’t see why we're discussing this. If the device had fallen years ago, this world would already be devastated. Not to mention you switched topics so easily.”
“Yes, but say it fell on an organic life-form. A cat, perhaps.”
“You didn't explain the topic-switch. And what does organicism have to do with the converter?”
Mr. Wills began gesticulating, a habit he showed when delving into theories. “The device works by connecting to our minds, correct? For us, this would happen without physical contact, and we’d carry the object around in a vacuum. But considering the electrical nervous systems of this planet’s organisms, an animal could take control of the device physically, and inhibit its side-effects.”
“Very true, but what are the chances of the device falling onto a living being? Two-thirds of this world is covered by water, and then there are uninhabited areas, farmlands, and buildings on land. Besides, the device could also work in the atmosphere.”
“We’ll just have to wait and see, won’t we?”
Yvette bit a fingernail. “No, I wish this hadn't been left to chance. Regardless of the annoyances of base-ten, this really is a lovely system.”
“Are you sure that’s why you’d hate for the device to overtake it?”
Mr. Wills had an air of superiority around him. He knew something, or could infer it.
Yvette grimaced as the next question was rattled off.
“You’re not concerned for your friends?”
“Not in the least,” she said.
Ever since he’d high-fived his fellow spiky-black-haired friend, Doug, that morning before chemistry, Theo had felt sick to his stomach. At lunch, Carrie and Lillian, both in their annoying ways, had smacked him around, messed with his hair, and otherwise made physical contact. It made him feel sicker.
Through fifth hour, Lillian’s thoughts on the stupidity of Romeo and Juliet had droned on in his brain. Carrie’s distaste for the conformist life pounded in his skull, and from Doug there were numbers and variables and constants bouncing around from Algebra 2.
He wished they’d shut up already.
The teacher called on him. “Theodore, would you mind reading Romeo’s lines for the next few pages?”
“No Ma’am,” he said. The teacher was Southern; she demanded respect. Theo glanced at Lillian. She looked so smug. The loser had gotten Benvolio’s lines, which were mostly protests against Romeo falling in love with Juliet. He started in, completely distracted by Lillian’s thoughts of teasing him about his past crushes.
When he finished, the teacher took the opportunity to remind the class that this was a play, not a scientific essay. They needed to act, and to understand the story.
“The only thing good about Shakespeare is his insults,” he heard Lillian think, “Like that one Noel told me about from As You Like It. What was it? Conceived of spleen? Why did she even read that anyway?”
Theo didn’t know Noel read Shakespeare.
Doug was wishing his math teacher would hurry up and tell them that night’s homework assignment.
Carrie was inwardly raging at some boys in her art class.
Such great background thoughts. There was no way Theo could concentrate with all that noise. He needed to scream, to take it all out on someone. Preferably Noel. His head started spinning. The back of his mind was a computer screen with his inbox pulled up. He hit ‘compose’ and cursed at her, the tension draining from his mind. When he was done, he sighed contentedly and nearly smirked hitting ‘send’.
It wasn’t until after school that he realized it might have been better to listen to Carrie’s complaints about men instead of blaming his lack of concentration on Noel. Because there it was, a neat, cheeky lecture from Noel about watching one’s language and using common courtesy.
“You could have at least thanked me for remembering,” she wrote.
That was it. Theo decided Noel was a mind-reader.