Lillian was sick of Carrie’s talk of her dumb body temperature, and that creepy Mrs. Johns who somehow explained it all.
They were messing with Noel and her trombone when Carrie started up again.
“And supposedly, I touched the cold spot, and it drew heat away from me, so now I’m really cold.”
“Oh sure,” Lillian said, “Like you can actually be alive with a body temperature of forty-eight degrees.”
Lillian popped out the mouthpiece from Noel’s trombone and tossed it up and down. “Hey Noel, tell this freak of nature that she’d be dead if she was actually forty-eight degrees.”
The long-haired girl snapped her attention from the mouthpiece she was trying to steal back, and thought for a second before grabbing Carrie’s wrist. She looked away sheepishly.
“What is it?” both girls asked, though not at all simultaneously.
Noel laughed weakly and shot sidelong glances at Yvette, who was too busy tuning the bass. “Uh, well, sorry to disappoint, Carrie, but we’d feel the difference if you really had a temperature of forty-eight. You feel absolutely normal.”
Lillian tossed her head. “What did I tell you?”
“Can I have my mouthpiece back?” Noel asked, ignoring the argument she’d settled.
“Fine, here,” Lillian said. She tossed it at Noel, missing by a mile.
Noel reached for it, but the metal flew towards Dieter, who for once, was not fiddling with a rubix cube. He leaned over awkwardly in his chair, trying to reach for the mouthpiece while keeping his own instrument upright at the same time. He snatched it and pulled himself back onto the chair before offering the piece to Noel.
“Oh, thanks,” she said, inserting the mouthpiece in her trombone.
“Your hands are really cold.”
Lillian arrived on scene to listen to the rest of the conversation.
“I said your hands are cold,” Dieter repeated.
“Yeah,” he said, rubbing his hand along his arm.
“Are you sure?” Noel placed a finger on her chin.
“Carrie! Come here!” Noel called.
Oh no, Lillian thought, She’s come up with something.
The blonde abandoned her attempt to help Yvette tune and waltzed over. “You needed me?”
Noel grabbed Carrie’s wrist and shoved it in Dieter’s face. “Is Carrie cold?”
Reluctantly, he grabbed Carrie’s hand. “Yup. She’s pretty cold.”
“Thanks,” Noel said. She let go of Carrie and flicked her eyes between Lillian and the blonde suspiciously.
Crap, Lillian groaned to herself, She’s gonna agree with Carrie.
“My mouthpiece wasn’t at all warm, even after Lillian was squeezing it. I have a feeling all three of us are in this supposed state of cold.”
“You’re crazy,” Lillian snorted. Where and how does she connect this crap in her brain?
“I’m not. Go home, get a thermometer and check. Wait, Theo’s just confirmed it.”
“Theo?” Lillian asked. What was this talk about that jerkwad?
Noel blinked a few times and looked around the room. She inhaled deeply before continuing. “Yes, Theo. Uh, well, how do I explain this?”
She looked at Carrie, but only got a shrug in response. “I can’t explain it any better than you, Noel.”
Noel grimaced. “Well, he’s managed to develop some sort of extrasensory ability that allows him to read our thoughts and keep tabs on, uh, certain functions.”
Lillian didn’t buy it. “He’s an esper?”
“Not exactly,” Noel responded, dragging out her reply, “But, it’s more like a sort of virus that he’s infected us with upon physical contact. Only, not a virus but a, uh…” She paused and tilted her head, waiting for a response from god or something. “An on-site hacking device?”
“So you’re basically saying Theo’s hacked into us?”
“So how come he only talks to you with this telepathy?”
“That’s a good question,” said Carrie. She joined Lillian in intently staring at Noel.
“I-I-I don’t know,” Noel stuttered, “Theo won’t tell me why.”
Lillian smirked, with Carrie following suit.
Their poor victim glanced back and forth uneasily. “What?”
“Oh, nothing,” Lillian teased. This was going to be fun, especially if Noel was right.
At lunch, Theo was calculating a way to cheat on the Romeo and Juliet pop quiz he’d learned about from Noel’s mind.
Hey, Noel, he thought, What’s up?
Go away, she replied. Theo could imagine her saying that with her ugly irked face. I’m taking a quiz.
Yeah, yeah, I know. So, do you mind if I ask you about it during fifth hour?
I do mind, though I know there isn’t much stopping it. As soon as you ask, I think. Why do you have to be so invasive of my privacy?
Excuses, she thought disdainfully. I wish you’d learn to control your impulses. It was bad enough in middle school; now you’re even worse!
Theo thought some nasty curse words at her, just to get her mad. It always worked.
Language, Theo! And really! I’m trying to concentrate!
He chuckled to himself before accidentally reading one of Lillian’s thoughts. His mood soured. That loser. Ever since second hour she’d been thinking about ways to make fun of Theo. And they all happened to also include Noel.
“What’s so funny?” Dieter asked him, having heard the laugh. He was flicking away at his rubix cube instead of eating.
Lillian leaned across the table, an evil grin on her face. “I bet you’re laughing at yourself for thinking of ways Noel could reject you.”
Carrie caught on and assumed an identical smile. “Oh poor, poor, Theo. He’s in love with a clueless fool like Noel.”
“Shut up!” Theo said. He’d meant to yell, but it came out as a stage-whisper.
“Oh no, Theo’s mad that we’re making fun of his unrequited love. Too bad Noel always reads Benvolio, huh Romeo?”
He snapped. Theo reached past Dieter to hit Carrie. But at the moment, Dieter lifted up his solved rubik's cube in triumph. He hit Theo’s arm.
Dang it, Theo thought, drawing back, physical contact with a new person.
A new row of computers lit up along the top of his mind. Dieter’s thought feed, his statistics, they all typed themselves out in green typewriter print against black computer screens. Theo had hoped he’d never ‘bug’ another person, but he was doing it again, sending his molecular hacking squad into someone else’s body.
Theo coughed and apologized to Dieter before Carrie snatched away the rubik's cube to mix it up.
“Funny,” Dieter muttered, just loud enough for Lillian and Carrie to register, “Carrie doesn’t feel cold anymore.”