The Willow Society

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Chapter 13

Chapter 13

Taylor came back to with Winston and Tate kneeling over him and the usual hum of other students surrounding him. He blinked rapidly a few times and swallowed back the horrid taste in his mouth. Both Winston and Tate had halos around them, fuzzy borders of their bodies shifting until they merged with the originals.

“What happened?“ Taylor asked.

“Dude, you totally looked like you were gonna ralph, then like you were holding it back... and BAM! your eyes rolled back and, BOOM! you hit the floor. T, it was bananas!“ Winston said.

Tate elbowed the grinning teen out the way, “Are you alright Mr. Zachary?“ The fat teacher gently lifted Taylor up, a surprising strength in both his hands. Up close the man was even more scabrous looking than Taylor had thought, aside from large plaque deposits on his teeth his ears had some kind of mass exodus of skin flakes. Yet the man wasn't disgusting, not really; just odd, grungy. When Taylor nodded, smacking his lips against the awful taste in his mouth, Tate gave a wispy smile.

“Mr. Fillmore, will you help Mr. Zachary to the nurse, please?“ Tate asked. Winston nodded and they were off. Taylor looked back and saw Agent Alexander leaning against the door frame of Tate's classroom her icy eyes attempting to bore into him. Taylor looked away.

The hallways were empty and quiet. Winston nudged Taylor and said, “So. Old Boy. You sure you're alright?“ Taylor nodded, wiping his mouth with the back of his hand. It tasted like he had chewed up of those East Village rats and swallowed it. The boys had only walked a short ways when Winston said something which stopped Taylor dead. “Excited about Izzy's little party on Thursday?“

“Wait. You're going?“ Taylor asked, a memory of a photograph he had seen when surfing the Willow Prep site and Facebook page weeks before came back to him. It was a picture of four teenagers, one of whom he 1w remembered was Winston.

“But of course.“ Winston said, but added nothing more. He still smiled, Taylor couldn't decide if that was irritating or not. And there was something else in Winston's expression, like he was part of a joke only he and Taylor were in on, one he found extremely funny. But Taylor was just confused.

He tried to deflect, “Where is the nurse's office?“ Winston just smiled bigger. “Don't try to deflect, old man. I've seen you looking at her. You are gonna go right?“ Why does Winston sound so excited?

Taylor nodded. “Yeah... I guess I will. Urgh. I need some water.“ They stopped at a water fountain, Taylor took a sip, “Yeah I'll definitely be there, but, um, could we maybe meet up before hand, show up at the same time?“

Winston shook his head no. “Heh. No can do, old boy. I have... things... to do before. I might even be late. Don't sweat it man, really. You'll do fine.“ They had reached the nurse's office.

Taylor nodded and went in. Winston barreled off down the hallway.

“Well, Mr. Zachary. What's the problem?“ Nurse Call asked after she had Taylor seated on a paper covered bench. Taylor shrugged, “I guess I just ate something funny this morning, I dunno. I feel fine now.“

Nurse Call tsked.

“Pity about your mom.“ Nurse Call said, and Taylor sat up straight. He hadn't realized his mother and Nurse Call knew each other. Seeing his expression she sighed, “I have no idea what it was about, still it's a pity, she was such a nice lady.“

She's not dead.

“Well,“ she said after taking his vitals, “nothing odd here. So, if you feel fine then go on back to class. But if you start to feel sick again, come see me, will you please?“ Taylor ran out of the office.

It hurt to be reminded of his mother's firing. After his Friday night adventure he had managed to be scarce most of the weekend, absorbed in his computer or reading, anything but spending a lot of time around his mom. Her masked sadness was just too demanding. The guilt was too much. Her sigh as she changed channels on the television, turned the set off and picked up a book, read two pages, sighed and put it down. She had been0 like that all weekend, floating from one thing to the next, nothing holding her attention. Everything seemed sad, it was more than Taylor wanted bear. But all that had been put aside by his fear of being caught. That trumped everything.

When he made it back to Tate's classroom Winston was not there. The other students were busy but Tate hadn't given any assignment. Tate himself was nowhere to be seen. His office door was closed though, so Taylor assumed the agents were still there. As soon as he turned his machine on the office door opened and Winston came out, followed by Tate. Taylor saw the agents still in there. Winston smiled, wider than usual, he also looked oddly satisfied, almost glowing.

“What?“ Taylor asked after Winston had sat down and sighed -happily for the fourth time.

“Man, T. She's so.... amazing.“ Winston said.

“Yeah you said that already.“ Taylor said.

Winston shrugged. “What did they ask you about?“ Taylor asked.

“Crap mostly. Had I been accessing government servers, blah blah blah. Stuff like that. Asked me if I knew anything about satellite transmission protocols and password crackers.“ Winston shrugged again. “Nothing major. They're just sniffing, I think. They don't really know what they are looking for. If they did they wouldn't come in like this.“ The twinkle was in Winston's eyes again as he said this.

“What do you mean?”

“It's elementary, old boy. When the NSA knows they take. When they don't know – they interview.”

Taylor gulped.

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