Chapter 2 – Chemistry
“I’m scared of the dark,” a familiar, female voice said, trying to sound frightened but obviously over-acting.
“Don’t worry, I’ll protect you,” the near-by confident, male voice answered her reassuringly.
Suddenly, the florescent lights of the science lab flickered back on to flood the room with bright light ending the darkness that had lasted for the past 3 minutes.
“AH!” Clover shrieked as she jumped out of the arms of Seymour Swett, the captain of the chess team. She recognized him though as Pizza Face, the nick-name given to him which referred to his oily and acne riddled complexion.
Clover ran across the room and sat back down in her seat next to Sam. She breathed in and out deeply reeling from the sudden fright.
“Well, that didn’t last very long now did it?” Mr. Roberts asked, not speaking to any of his students in particular. “How odd, it usually takes longer to fix these things.”
“Clover must have called and asked out every guy at the power station,” Sam muttered somewhat audibly.
“What did you say Sam?” Clover asked, clenching her teeth.
Sam was trying to think of something else snotty to say to her when she heard the door creek open. Her eyes moved over to watch a certain girl with long, raven black hair and a designer, violet dress designed to augment her eyes as she made her appearance into the class room.
“Amanda, you do know you’re tardy to class again?” Mr. Roberts asked her.
“I’m sorry Mr. Rob, but I forgot to bring my lantern to school today. I must have left it BACK IN THE CAVE!” Mandy screamed at him, her acidic voice reaching a pitch that was a few decibels away from breaking glass.
“Point taken,” the middle aged man replied, emasculated. He knew when to choose his battles especially with Mandy.
Mandy took her seat in the third row back. Her eyes wandered over to Sam and Clover in the row above her. She saw the nasty look the red-head gave when she looked over at Clover. “What? Are you mad at me about something?” Clover asked Sam defensively.
“Hmmm.” A number of thoughts started pouring into Mandy’s head.
“Ok, since everyone is now present and we have once again been granted the gift of light from the forces above, you may now choose a partner and begin on the lab assignment I assigned you on Thursday. We have one at the end of every week, you know what to do.” Mr. Roberts then opened his newspaper and began reading an article on the dilemma of lowering teacher salaries.
At that moment, Sam once again heard that naturally whiney and nasally voice, but much more calm now, from behind her right ear, “Sammy you want to be my partner?”
Sam turned around to look up at Mandy and opened her mouth, “I…”
“No of course she doesn’t!” Clover spat off, irritated. “Have you been sniffing that disgusting nail polish of yours? Sam is going to be my partner.”
“Says who? Its not my fault all that yellow hair dye has seeped into your brain, and now you’re so stupid you have to make poor Sam here do all your work for you.”
“AS IF! Like you don’t want to do the same thing, Mandy!” Clover barked back at her. “Why…”
“OH, so you admit it now?” Sam asked Clover sharply while the vein on her forehead pounded.
“Well… I was going to do some of it,” Clover nervously tried to answer innocently.
Sam turned back to the dark haired girl. “Mandy, you know what? I will be your partner.”
Mandy grinned joyously. “Oh, Sammy, you so made the right choice.”
“Sam, if you work with Mandy, I swear I’m not talking to you for the rest of the day.”
“It’s a deal,” Sam snarled at the infuriated blonde.
“Come on, Sammy, let’s go to that empty corner in the back of the room as far away from certain fashion-inept morons as we can.”
“Ok,” Sam pleasantly agreed. As they walked away, Mandy turned her head around and stuck her tongue out at Clover as she continued to fume.
“Great, now who’s left smart enough to be my partner?” Clover asked self-piteously as she scanned around the room. She then spotted a very handsome, dark-haired boy sitting in the front row. “Forget if you’re smart, you’ll do just fine,” she said to him as hearts filled her eyes. The boy smiled widely in response. It was his lucky day.
Mandy and Sam made it over to the wide closet built into the wall at one side of the lab. It contained about 30 sterile, white lab coats all suspended from metal hangers. Mandy removed one from a hanger while she complained, “God I hate these dingy lab coats. They’re so ugly! This white would never match with anything. Why do we have to wear them?” she asked Sam.
“They’re for your safety Mandy. If a substance like an acid was spilled on you, you could get really hurt.”
“Well, since you put it that way, I guess I don’t mind so much.” She then tried putting on the coat, but started struggling with it. “Sammy, could you help me put this on, I can’t reach that far back,”
“Sure,” Sam said as she opened the back of the coat and helped Mandy slide her slender right arm into it, and then helped her do the same with her left.
Sam then got her own lab coat off a hanger. Before she got a chance put it on though, Mandy grabbed it out of her hands. “Here, I’ll help you.”
“No, I can do it myself.”
“No, you helped me, now I want to help you.”
“Well, ok.” Mandy held the coat open while she helped Sam slip her own arms into the white sleeves. “Thank you, Mandy.” The two girls buttoned up their coats, took two pairs of safety goggles from a box on the ground, and then walked down to the empty lab table in the back corner Mandy had suggested earlier.
Sam pulled out the beakers they would need for the experiment from a compartment under the table and started setting them up on top, but stopped when curiosity go the better of her. “Mandy can I ask why you wanted to be my partner in the first place? I mean, don’t you hate me?”
“No, I don’t hate you, Sammy. I just wish you weren’t friends with Clover,” she explained, her disgust for the girl emphasized by the tone of her voice. “I don’t believe how you put up with her. Why don’t you just dump the blonde bimbo already?”
“Clover is not a blonde bimbo,” she said with anger which was the automatic reaction to anyone talking badly of her best friend.
”Really?” Mandy quirked an eye-brow. “I saw what she did to you before class, and you’re just ok with that?”
“Well… sometimes she does things that make me angry… but we always work it out in the end. I think she means well…. most of the time. I’ve been best friends with her since I was 6. Clover may not be perfect, but we do get along most of the time. I could never stop being her friend. She’s like a sister to me.”
“Ok. But even if she is your friend, why do you let her boss you around all the time?”
“Clover does not boss me around,” Sam said, also annoyed at the suggestion.
“She was telling you who to be lab partners with.”
“Well, maybe she was then, but she doesn’t do that most of the time.”
“Ok, so let’s say if you wanted to be friends with me. I mean if you really wanted to. Would Clover tell you what to do then?”
Sam thought for a few seconds. “I don’t really know. I never thought about that before,” she lied. The true answer was instantly obvious even in Sam’s mind.
“Well, I don’t see how that’s fair, Sam, Clover telling you who and who not to be friends with. I mean even if me and Clover don’t like each other, why should you and me be enemies?”
“What do you mean, Mandy?” Sam couldn’t quite tell where she was going with this.
“Well, don’t you think the world be a better place if less people hated each other?”
“Yes… you’re right about that. One thing I do really wish was that there was less hate in the world.” In fact that was one of her deepest desires. During her time as an international spy she had encountered so much violence and mayhem spawned by hate and prejudice, much of it over petty issues and meaningless differences. There were times when she had begun to wonder if it would ever come to an end.
“So why should we hate each other for no reason?”
“I guess… we shouldn’t.”
“So, does that mean you’ll be my friend?”
“Well, maybe if you weren’t so mean to Clover and Alex all the time.”
“I don’t care about Alex. She doesn’t bug me so much, but I don’t think I’ll ever be able to get along with Clover. But maybe I could just try harder to ignore her… a lot harder. Would you be my friend then?”
“Well, that does sound nice,” Sam said, becoming swayed, “but are you sure you could just change like that?”
“For you I’d be willing to try.”
“Well, if that’s the case and you really mean it, then yes I would like to be your friend.” Sam couldn’t help but smile at her.
“Yay! Oh, do you really mean it, Sam?” She asked anticipatively as she suddenly grabbed Sam’s right hand and held it between both of hers.
“If what you said is true, then yes I do.”
“Oh, I’m so glad! I know you’re going to love being my friend.” Sam at the moment noticed a discernable change in the tone of Mandy’s voice.
“Sure thing, Mandy.” Sam continued to smile back it her. She then glanced down at Mandy’s hands which still hadn’t been removed.
“We can go shopping, get mani-pedies, see movies, eat out, and do a lot of other things together.”
“That sounds great,” Sam said, starting to get nervous for some reason she didn’t quite understand yet.
“Well have so much fun together and become such good friends, it’ll be like we aren’t even friends at all. We’ll get so close to each other, it’ll be like we’re even more than friends. How does that sound, Sammykins?” Mandy asked, her expression becoming increasingly more devilish.
“I don’t know what you’re talking about,” Sam said, the sheepish nervousness becoming overt in her voice as she tried to avert eye contact with the girl.
“Awwwww, come on, Sam. Yeah you do.”
“Are you sure you don’t know?”
“Yeah,” Sam barely let out.
Mandy then took Sam’s hand which she was still gripping and flipped it over so her palm was facing up, open. She then slid her right thumb up through Sam’s fingers, over her palm, and to where she stopped it on her wrist and pressed down.
“What are you doing?” Sam asked, surprised.
“Shhhhhh, not so loud. I’m just going to listen to your pulse, Sammy,” she said softly.
“To see if you’re telling the truth, but mostly because I want to.”
Sam’s eyes darted around the room paranoid that someone could see what was happening.
“Don’t worry. No ones paying attention to us. Everyone else is working too hard on the lab, and Mr. Roberts is slacking off reading the newspaper like he always does. Just look at me, Sammykins.” Sam did as she was told and her green eyes made contact with Mandy’s deep, violet orbs.
Mandy then took her other hand and wrapped it around the fingers of Sam’s over-turned hand. She took her well manicured left thumb and started moving it in small, circular motions over the soft, sensitive skin of Sam’s inner palm while she kept her other thumb firmly planted on her wrist.
“My, Sam, your pulse is so fast, and you’re looking pretty flushed. What could be wrong with you?” she asked as she continued to stare into her with a sly grin.
“I don’t know,” she let out between heavy breaths.
“Still don’t know huh?"
Sam just managed to shake her head a little bit to answer her.
“Well, I don’t know if you know this, but I have noticed how you act around me sometimes. And you may think I don’t notice, but I do see those looks you give me.”
What she said was true. Something about Mandy often distracted her attention at odd moments. She also sometimes surprised herself by how concerned she became whenever Mandy’s life was put in danger when her spy missions interacted with her regular life. She hadn’t even admitted this to herself until now let alone anyone else.
She didn’t know exactly what it was about Mandy, but ignoring her often bratty and mean-spirited nature which often grated her nerves, there was just something different about her that set her apart from all the other girls she knew. She couldn’t quite put her finger on it, but there was something there. This was especially true when it came to her eyes. She often noticed something down in those deep, purple eyes, something that she liked. Looking into them now, they were once again having a hypnotizing effect on her. She couldn’t take her own eyes off of them now even if she tried.
Mandy continued, “I just wanted to let you know how much I appreciate it, and I also want you to know that I feel the exact, same way about you, Sam.” Mandy noticed that those words caused Sam’s pulse to quicken even more under the touch of her thumb, and she watched as her cheeks lit up even further to reach a shade that now rivaled the red of her hair.
“I can’t stand seeing someone as cute, smart, and beautiful as you go to waste. So I was thinking maybe tonight we could go out together. I know some places where we could go and have a lot of fun. It would just be you and me and no one else. No one has to know about it. Not Clover, not Alex, not anyone. What do you say?”
“I’m not sure, Mandy,” she told her truthfully. She had felt an uncontrollable urge to answer yes, but her mind was also suddenly swamped by a number of other conflicting emotions, thoughts, and concerns. Sam was used to being able to logically deduce decisions almost instantly, but now she had no idea what she wanted to do let alone what she should do.
“It’s ok,” Mandy told her reassuringly. “You don’t have to decide right now. Just take some time and think about it. If you decide yes, give me a call sometime before eight. Just make the decision for yourself, ok, Sam?”
Sam just nodded again.
“Well, good,” Mandy said cheerfully as she released her hands from her palm and wrist. “Now let’s get this crappy lab over with. I hate this stupid class.”
At that instant, the door to the lab suddenly swung open, and a male student almost leaped inside to shout, “Something horrible has happened!”
“What?” Mr. Roberts asked. “What has happened?”
“David is 11 minutes late to classic lit!” The room filled with the sounds of shocked gasps from the students.
“Call the police! Call the FBI! Call the National Guard! Call WOOH… Call somebody!” Clover shouted from the front of the room.
“What the hell’s the big deal? So what David skipped a class?” Mandy asked Sam. “I’m getting real sick of everyone around here acting like he’s Jesus.”
“You don’t understand, Mandy. David has never been absent or tardy to a class since the day he started here. It just isn’t like him,” she explained, concerned.
Finally, after the shock of David’s sudden disappearance dissipated in the class room, Sam and Mandy began working on the lab assignment. Sam still felt a bit awkward because of what had happened between them earlier, but she was surprised by how well they worked together.
She could tell Mandy didn’t know much about chemistry. However, she could also tell she was trying hard to understand the assignment and help where she could, something she couldn’t help but appreciate. There was no sign of Mandy’s incessant whining which she had observed from her so many times before. In fact, she felt like Mandy was actually learning from her, and playing the teacher was a role she had always enjoyed. She didn’t feel the same way when Clover usually partnered with her. In fact, she didn’t feel quite the same way working on any school assignment before.
Soon the assignment was finished and they handed in the lab report. The jarring sound of the bell then rang throughout the halls of the school. Caught off guard, Sam glanced up at the clock. She was surprised that it was indeed the end of class. It had seemed a lot shorter than that.
Mandy then stepped in front of her to look into her eyes again. “Bye, Sammy. I didn’t know stupid, old chemistry could be so much fun. Thank you so much for being my partner,” she said to her. “And you be careful just in case there really is a murderer on the loose,” she said jokingly, referring to the rumor about David’s fate that had been circulating around the class room. She then whispered, “Hope to see you later,” before she gave her a quick wink with her right eye.
“Bye, Mandy,” Sam said shyly as Mandy gave her a big wave as she walked away.
On her way, Mandy passed Clover who was trying very hard to burn a hole through her with her eyes. She stopped and turned to look at her with a quick quip about make-up in mind, but instead bit down on her tongue and started walking again until she was out the door and out of sight.
“So what, is she like your best friend now?” Clover asked Sam contemptuously when she walked by.
“I thought you said you weren’t talking to me?”
“Hmph! Why would I want to talk to a traitor anyways?”
Regardless of their current disdain for each other, they left the room together and started walking down the hall way side by side. When they turned a corner they were greeted by a very worried looking Alex. “Girls, did you hear about what happened to David?”
“Yeah, he missed classic lit. Word got around fast,” Sam said.
“I also heard no one’s heard from him since,” Alex said.
”I’m so worried about him. I just hope he’s ok.”
“Me too,” Clover and Sam both answered simultaneously as they both looked down. Realizing they had mimicked each other, they then turned their heads to growl at each other like a couple of hungry pit bulls fighting over a bone.
“What’s wrong with you two? You aren’t mad at each other again are you?”
“You know why, Alex. But maybe you should ask Clover to see if she has anything to say about it.”
“Ask me?” Clover squeaked. “I don’t even know what your problem is.”
“Yeah, you wouldn’t, would you?” Sam asked accusingly.
“Maybe a three letter word that begins with PMS,” Clover mumbled.
“What did you say?”
“Girls, girls, please calm down. You shouldn’t be fighting right now. What’s important is that David is missing. We need to find him. He may be in danger and need our help. Maybe we should skip next period to investigate the school for clues.”
“You’re right, Alex. Good, idea,” Sam said.
“Yeah, good idea, Alex. You and me can investigate the north wing of school while Sam investigates the south wing by herself.”
Sam grabbed Alex’s left arm, “No, how about me and Alex investigate the south wing while you investigate the north wing by yourself!”
Clover grabbed Alex’s other arm, “Alex is investigating with me!”
“Over my dead body!” The two girls started jerking Alex back and forth.
“ENOUGH YOU TWO!” Alex screamed at them. “You’ll both shut up and investigate with me at the same time, and you’ll like it too! THAT’S FINAL!” After huffing for a moment, Alex calmed down. Clover and Sam both blinked speechless. It was rare that the cute, amicable girl had an outburst like that.
“Ok, the first place we’ll investigate is this trash can,” Alex said as she walked towards the aluminum cylinder next to the wall. She then lifted its dome shaped lid off and peered inside at the papers, chewed gum, and empty water bottles with in. When she lifted her head up from inspecting the trash, she commented, “You know for a second there, I thought maybe it would suck us into one of the WOOHP tunnels again, AHHHHHHHHH!” She screamed when a vortex of air suddenly spun out of the trash can and sucked Alex, Clover, and Sam down into the small, metal container.
To Be Continued