2. The Girl
"What was that all about?" Sam walked up to Joe with an angry looking Fred who was rubbing his chest where he had been kicked. They looked at Joe like he knew what was going on, even though he had no idea what had just happened.
"I don't know." Joe's eyes continued to look where the girl had stood moments before as if she would reappear. He kind of hoped that she would. He felt the need to apologize about their encounter. He definitely didn't know her, but she had been so certain that he did. Out of all the weird experiences he had had in his life, that was definitely one of the weirdest.
The crowd around them seemed oblivious to what had occurred. They continued to shop and barter like normal.
"Friend of yours?" Fred frowned and kept rubbing his chest. It was obvious his pride was hurting more than his chest from getting beaten up by a girl. There was a dirty shoe print on the center of his shirt.
Joe shook his head, still thinking about what had just happened. The girl didn't reappear after several minutes, and Joe finally looked away from the noisy horde of people and at his friends instead. "I've never seen her before in my life."
"She seemed to know who you were though," Sam noted. He angled his head in curiosity. "Did she say who she was? Or how she found The Book?"
"Just that her name was Sydney." Joe looked down at the blue book she had given him and clutched it tighter to his chest. How could she know so much about him if he had never seen her before? Why did she have The Book with her? What had she meant about last night being a mistake? Joe couldn't stop the questions from flooding his mind. The girl gave him a weird feeling, but he couldn't figure out what it was. "Something is telling me that that wasn't the last we'll see of her though, and I don't know if she's someone we should trust."
He thought about her appearance, specifically her outfit. She had been wearing black skinny jeans and a blue v-neck t-shirt, similar to what people in the present wore. Could she have been another time traveler? It made sense. How many other time travelers were out there? He knew they existed, but actually meeting one threw him off. Especially since they claimed to know him.
"At least we got The Book back," Fred shrugged. "Now all we have to do is wait around for night to fall and we can watch the Boston Tea Party. And then I can prove Sam wrong."
"We can't stay here!" Sam exclaimed. "What if she comes back and decides to take The Book again? She knocked you on the ground with one kick. Do you know what she could probably do to me?"
"You just want to leave because you know you're wrong about the Boston Tea Party." Fred crossed his arms and put on a smug grin. "We're not going anywhere until we find out what really happened."
Sam groaned and his head fell back. "We can find out what really happened at the library. There are plenty of first-hand accounts of what went on that night."
At the mention of going to a library, Fred scrunched his face up with disgust. "No way. We're already here, so let's just stay and see what happens in person." He looked to Joe for help, hoping he would side with him and not Sam.
"I hate to say it Fred, but Sam's got a valid point," Joe responded, making Fred pout. "We don't know who that girl was and if she comes back, there's no way we can take her on. She could be really dangerous. She didn't exactly leave in a good mood, so I don't think she'll be so kind to us next time."
"You saw the way she stormed off," Fred argued, mad that Joe didn't want to stay. "I doubt she's returning any time soon. And she just caught me off-guard is all. I can take her on no problem if she comes back." Fred puffed out his chest and stuck his chin up, as if he could prove how strong he was just by striking a pose.
Sam rolled his eyes obviously not believing in Fred's bravado. "Sure you can. As much as I would love to see you proven wrong, I'd much rather be safe back at home in the present."
"Why can't we ever warp for fun for once?" Fred pouted. "I bet other time travelers do it all the time."
"Other time travelers probably know what they're doing more than we do," Sam countered. "How many times have we had a successful warp?"
Joe ignored his friends' customary bickering. He opened The Book and skimmed to the transporter page while Fred grumbled under his breath. Joe made a mental note to make this up to him later by buying him a slice of pizza. Remembering what Jodie had taught him about how to use the transporter page, he typed in their destination and prayed that they would warp back home to his room safely.
Joe let out an audible sigh of relief as his bedroom reappeared before his eyes. Maybe he was finally getting the hang of The Book. The thought of that made him happy, but he knew he was a long way from mastering it. He saw the light flick on as the green mist faded away.
Anna jumped and smiled as the boys landed back in Joe's room. "You're back! How did it go? Did you see the Boston Tea Party? How did it feel to know I was right?" She crossed her arms triumphantly, as if proving her brother wrong was the greatest thing she had ever done.
"No." Fred crossed his arms, upset over their leaving before witnessing the Boston Tea Party. "Some friend of Joe's showed up and ruined the whole thing."
"Friend?" Anna tilted her head and stared at her brother, incapable of hiding the elation in her voice. She clasped her hands together. "Like another time traveler?"
Joe sighed and pinched the bridge of his nose. "I told you, I've never seen her before. She must have had me confused with someone else." He shook his head. "I don't know if she's another time traveler or not, but she did have The Book with her and she wasn't exactly wearing clothes from that time period."
"And she knocked Fred to the ground," Sam teased, unable to hold back his snickers.
"She caught me by surprise!" Fred defended himself with an indignant huff. "It wasn't a fair fight."
"So it was a girl?" Anna sat on Joe's bed and leaned forward, curious to know more. A mischievous glint in her eye revealed that she had hidden ideas about the trio's mysterious friend. "What was she like? Was she nice?"
"I wouldn't call her nice. She attacked me for no reason." Fred touched the spot on his chest where he had been kicked. It was still sore. "Well, I did try to steal The Book from her, but still!"
"Why do you care so much?" Joe eyed Anna with suspicion. He knew when his sister had hidden intentions.
"I'm just curious. Another time traveler would be cool, especially a girl," Anna said with a shrug. "Why did she have The Book?"
"She told me that it just appeared in her hands." Joe rubbed the back of his neck. He found that hard to believe. The Book never did that for him, and he was its rightful owner. Still, they had no reason to distrust her, but they also didn't have any reasons to trust her.
"What if she's one of those time agents?" Fred spoke, his eyes lighting up with excitement. "She's obviously a fighter. She could have been there on a secret mission or something. Now I really wish we could have stayed."
"What if she's working for Mad Jack?" Sam wrung his hands nervously. He had a very different opinion of the girl than Fred did. His eyes flicked back and forth in fear. "It wouldn't be the first time he hired someone to try to kill us. Maybe she only gave you The Book back as a way to gain your trust so she can corner us later and finish us off."
"I don't think so..." Joe thought for a moment. Could she be working for Mad Jack? He didn't get that feeling from her. She seemed to know who Joe was, and she was genuinely hurt when he said he didn't recognize her. Could it all have been an act? A way to gain his trust and make him feel sorry for her?
"What does she look like? Maybe she goes to school with you and you just didn't remember her." Anna watched her brother with an unreadable expression on her face.
Joe closed his eyes and pictured the girl. Joe remembered that she had said her name was Sydney. "Um... dark blonde hair, kind of tan, around the same height as us," Joe paused. What else? The image of her staring at him with her sky blue and neon green eyes flashed behind his eyelids. He opened his eyes with a start. "And she had these really bright blue eyes with these odd bright green rings on the outer edge of her iris. I'm almost positive she doesn't go to school with us. I would remember those eyes."
"Oh?" Anna gave him an inquisitive look with just a hint of a smile to it. "She sounds cute."
Joe opened his mouth to say that the girl was in fact cute, but quickly thought better of it and frowned at Anna instead. He didn't know what, but she was definitely up to something. "What are you getting at?"
"Nothing," Anna rapidly responded, the smile never leaving her face. "So you guys are going to try to find her again, right? She sounds interesting."
"We probably won't have to. If she is working for Mad Jack, she'll come to us." Sam's body shivered at the thought of what she might do to them if she found them again. "Is there a time traveler protection program? If not, can we start one?"
"We'll be fine. We've handled everything Mad Jack has thrown at us before without any problems. Besides, I still say she's a time agent or maybe even a spy." Fred grinned. "I bet she'll come back and need our help taking out an evil time dictator or something cool like that. You think we'd get top-secret spy training? Or official spy code names? I call dibs on Blue Freakinator!"
"Sounds perfect." Joe's words heavy with sarcasm. He rolled his eyes. "But I think that's pretty doubtful. Regardless, I think we should all keep our eyes open for her. In case she is dangerous, we need to be careful around her. If anyone sees her, we'll text each other before doing anything. Agree?"
The others nodded in understanding. "What if you haven't met her yet?" Anna theorized. "Like you're going to meet her soon and the girl you saw in Boston was a future version of her. That could explain why she recognized you right away, but you didn't recognize her at all. For all we know, you could meet her tomorrow."
"Maybe." Anna had a valid point, and it wasn't a bad theory. Joe wanted to know what the girl's deal was. Fred and Sam's theories about her being a time agent or working for Mad Jack just didn't seem right to him. The girl knew him from somewhere and seemed to think they were friends, good friends at that. But Joe was certain he had never seen her before, unless he developed amnesia at some point, but that seemed highly unlikely. Whatever the case, he was determined to find out the truth behind the mysterious girl. No matter what.