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Steve was halfway through cleaning the Kansas Squirrel Academy when his wife called.
“Steve! Steve!” Geraldine screamed in excitement. “Our Mexican peso sold for 2.58 million dollars!”
“Really?” Steve inquired.
“Yes! Come home immediately!”
“Well, I’m kinda busy right now. I should be home in about 2 hours.” Steve said as he closed his cell phone, stuck his phone back into his pocket, and picked his mop up again.
Steve got back home late, as usual. The house was silent. Steve dropped into bed and was out like a light within two minutes.
So much had happened to Steve in the past few days. Just two days ago, he had been a germaphobic janitor with no life. He had taken a bet from a pupil at Kansas Squirrel Academy that would net him a genuine Mexican peso, which was legendary in squirrel lore. Of course, the task that he had to accomplish was not an easy one. He had to make it to Washington D.C. in one day, starting from his home in Kansas. Somehow, he managed to win the bet with a combination of hitchhiking, sneaking on planes, and dodging a gang of immature boys with slingshots.
Steve woke up at exactly 7:06 in the morning. He crawled out of bed and met his family at the dining table for breakfast. He had some interesting news waiting for him in the form of his twin sons’ screaming voices.
“Dad! Dad!” Larry and Jerry hollered in unison. “Kansas Squirrel Academy is going to get shut down!”
“What?” Steve said incredulously.
“The Academy’s going to get shut down!”
“That can’t be,” Steve said. “Geraldine, what’s the meaning of this?”
Geraldine didn’t say a thing. She simply plucked that day’s newspaper off the kitchen counter and handed it to Steve. Steve read it out loud.
“Kansas Squirrel Academy will be closed in two days due to an incident that occurred yesterday.” Steve started, his eyes growing wider with each word he read. “A bomb was found sometime around midnight, placed in the office of Bill Wilson, the Academy’s principal. It is not know if this was an assassination attempt or an attempt to blow up the school. Luckily, Mr. Wilson discovered the bomb, and immediately called the Rodent Bomb Squad of Kansas in, who managed to evacuate everyone out of the building, despite the fact that there was no one inside beside Mr. Wilson. Kansas Squirrel Academy was deemed unsafe and will be closed until further notice.”
Steve set the newspaper down, practically in shock. He couldn’t say anything at all.
“It’s okay, Dad,” the twins tried to assure him. “You’ll find another job somewhere else.”
“No, I won’t!” Steve exploded. “I’m gonna get to the bottom of this, even if it takes me a lifetime! I will not let the Academy close!”
“Dad, Dad,” Larry nervously said, clutching the newspaper in his hands. The article goes on to say that the evil guys who left the bomb there left a note. The note said that they would strike again today at 9:05, and that no one could stop them.”
“Well, I will!” Steve said. “I’m going to the Academy to figure out what’s going on!”
With that Steve marched out of the dining room and out the door, leaving his speechless wife and kids behind him.
“Hello, Steve!” Mr. Wilson greeted Steve like an old friend at the scene despite the fact that Mr. Wilson was merely Steve’s employer.
“Do you have any details on the crime?” Steve implored the Academy’s principal.
“Certainly,” Mr. Wilson replied. “At midnight last night, I was searching for my pet grasshopper, when I came across a pipe bomb in the janitor’s closet. I dashed to the phone and dialed 911. The police and the bomb squad came over and went over the situation. You probably know the rest of the story from there. They evacuated the building and deactivated the bomb. It was set to go off at about 4:09 later that morning.”
“Interesting. But I didn’t know you had a pet grasshopper.”
“Well, there are a lot of things you don’t know about me,” Mr. Wilson said with a mysterious glint in his eyes.
“Is it okay if I investigate?” Steve asked.
“Certainly. Go right ahead.” Mr. Wilson lifted the yellow caution tape, allowing Steve to pass.
Steve started with the closet in which the bomb was found. Using his old, reliable pair of tweezers, he picked everything that looked suspicious. Two minutes in, and he was rewarded. There was a piece of cloth mostly hidden in the back corner. He examined the cloth, but could not find any clues on it. Nevertheless, he stuck it in his pocket, and continued his search. As it turned out, Steve would find nothing else interesting for the next three hours he combed the office clean. Disappointed, he went back home.
“How’d it go?” Geraldine asked as Steve walked through the door.
“Not well,” Steve said, obviously in a bad mood. “All I could find was a useless piece of cloth.”
“Well, you never know,” Geraldine was trying to stay optimistic. “Maybe it’ll turn out to be really important.”
“Sure,” Steve muttered sarcastically. “And I’ll turn out to be the greatest poet ever to walk the face of the Earth.”
The next morning, Steve was back at the job. He was cleaning outside Mr. Wilson’s voice resounding from inside the room.
“It is almost complete. In two days, it will all be over and we will be rich.”
“Good work,” spoke another voice that Steve couldn’t recognize. “When the boss hears about it, he’ll be ecstatic. Now shut you’re trap before someone hears us.”
“Good idea,” Mr. Wilson said and the room fell silent.
Steve couldn’t comprehend what he had just heard. Maybe Geraldine would have an idea.
Steve came home a little earlier than usual. Geraldine was still awake.
“Hey, Geraldine,” Steve greeted his wife as he walked into the house.
“I need to tell you something.”
Steve recounted all he heard earlier that day. Geraldine was amazed.
“Do you know what this means?” Geraldine said excitedly.
“Not really,” said Steve, feeling that he had missed something somewhere.
“Listen. Remember that newspaper we read this morning. It said that the terrorists that planted the other bomb were going to attack again. In two days! Mr. Wilson must be part of this somehow!”
“Oh…” Steve said as things started to click in his brain.
“You’ve got to stop Mr. Wilson!” Geraldine pleaded.
Steve regarded his wife, biting his life. Finally he said, “Okay. I’ll leave tonight.”
Steve ate a hearty meal, packed in a plastic bag an apple, a good supply of petrified egg yolks, a can of pepper spray, and a rubber duck.
“See you, Geraldine!” Steve hollered, and stepped outside.
There was a torrential downpour outside. Steve could barely see a thing. It was cold and dark as well.
As Steve was crossing Branwell Street, a real, human-sized car roared out of seemingly nowhere towards Steve. Steve turned and froze as the headlights glared in his eyes. The car sped closer and closer. It was too late to get out of the way. Steve shut his eyes.
In a split second, the car zoomed off and out of sight. Everything was silent.
To be continued…