THE NEXT DAY I WAKE EARLIER THAN NORMAL, crawl out of bed, and walk out of my room to find Henri sitting at the table scanning the papers with his laptop
open. The sun is still hidden, and the house is dark, the only light coming from his computer screen.
"Nah, nothing really."
I turn on the kitchen light. Bernie Kosar paws at the front door. I open it and he shoots out into the yard and patrols as he does every morning, head
up, trotting around the perimeter looking for anything suspicious. He sniffs at random places. Once satisfied that everything is as it should be, he bolts into
the woods and disappears.
Two issues of They Walk Among Us are lying atop the kitchen table, the original and a photocopy that Henri has made to keep for himself. A
magnifying glass lies between them.
"Anything unique on the original?"
"So, now what?" I ask.
"Well, I have had some luck. I cross-referenced some of the other articles in the issue and got a few hits, one of which led me to a man's personal
website. I sent him an email."
I stare at Henri.
"Don't worry," he says. "They can't track emails. At least not the way I send them."
"How do you send them?"
"I reroute them through various servers in cities across the world, so that the original location is lost along the way."
Bernie Kosar scratches at the door and I let him in. The clock on the microwave reads 5:59. I have two hours before I have to be at school.
"Do you really think we want to go digging around in all this?" I ask. "I mean, what if it's all a trap? What if they are simply trying to root us out of
Henri nods. "You know, if the article had mentioned anything about us, that might have given me pause. But it didn't. It was about their invading
Earth, much the same way they did Lorien. There is so much about it that we don't understand. You were right a few weeks ago when you said we were
defeated so easily. We were. It doesn't make sense. The entire situation with the disappearance of the Elders also doesn't make sense. Even getting you
and the other children off of Lorien, which I have never questioned, seems odd. And while you've seen what happened--and I've had the same visions, too-
-something is still missing from the equation. If we one day make it back, I think it's imperative to understand what happened in order to prevent it from
happening again. You know the saying: he who doesn't understand history is doomed to repeat it. And when it's repeated, the stakes are doubled."
"Okay," I say. "But according to what you said Saturday night, the chance of us going back seems slimmer every day. So, with that, do you think it's
Henri shrugs. "There are still five others out there. Perhaps they've received their Legacies. Perhaps yours are merely delayed. I think it's best to
plan for all possibilities."
"Well, what are you planning to do?"
"Just make a phone call. I'm curious to hear what this person knows. I wonder what caused him to not follow up. One of two possibilities: either he
found no other information and lost interest in the story, or somebody got to him after the publication."
I sigh. "Well, be careful," I say.
I pull on a pair of sweatpants and a sweatshirt over two T-shirts, tie my tennis shoes and stand and stretch. I toss into my backpack the clothes I plan to
wear to school, along with a towel, a bar of soap and a small bottle of shampoo so I can shower when I get there. I'll now be running to school each
morning. Henri ostensibly believes the additional exercise will help in my training, but the real reason is that he hopes it will help my body's transition and
pull my Legacies from their slumber, if that is indeed what they are doing.
I look down at Bernie Kosar. "Ready for a run, boy? Huh? Want to go for a run?"
His tail wags and he turns in circles.
"See you after school."
"Have a good run," says Henri. "Be careful on the road."
We walk out the door and cold, brisk air meets us. Bernie Kosar barks excitedly a few times. I start at a slight jog, down the drive, out onto the
gravel road, the dog trotting beside me as I thought he would. It takes a quarter mile to warm up.
"Ready to step it up a notch, boy?"
He pays me no attention, just keeps trotting along with his tongue dangling, looking happy as can be.
"All right then, here we go."
I kick it into high gear, moving into a run, and then into a dead sprint shortly after, going as fast as I can. I leave Bernie Kosar in the dust. I look
behind me and he is running as fast as he can, yet I am pulling ahead of him. The wind through my hair, the trees passing in a blur. It all feels great. Then
Bernie Kosar bolts into the woods and disappears from sight. I'm not sure if I should stop and wait for him. Then I turn around and Bernie Kosar jumps out
of the woods ten feet in front of me.
I look down at him and he looks up at me, tongue to the side, a sense of glee in his eyes.
"You're an odd dog, you know that?"
After five minutes the school comes into view. I sprint the remaining half mile, exerting myself, running as hard as I can because it is so early that
there is no one out and about to see me. Then I stand with my fingers interlocked behind my head, catching my breath. Bernie Kosar arrives thirty
seconds later and sits watching me. I kneel down and pet him.
"Good job, buddy. I think we have a new morning ritual."
I pull my bag from over my shoulders, unzip it, and remove a package with a few strips of bacon and I give them to him. He scarfs them down.
"Okay, boy, I'm heading in. Go on home. Henri's waiting."
"Okay, boy, I'm heading in. Go on home. Henri's waiting."
He watches me for a second, and then goes off trotting towards home. His comprehension completely amazes me. Then I turn and walk into the
building and head for the shower.
I am the second person to enter astronomy. Sam is the first, already sitting in his normal seat at the back of the class.
"Whoa," I say. "No glasses. What gives?"
He shrugs. "I thought about what you said. It's probably stupid for me to wear them."
I sit beside him and smile. It's hard to imagine I'll ever get used to his eyes looking so beady. I give him back the issue of They Walk Among Us .
He tucks it into his bag. I hold up my fingers like a gun and nudge him.
"Bang!" I say.
He starts laughing. Then I do, too. Neither of us can stop. Every time one of us is close the other starts laughing and it begins all over again.
People stare at us when they enter. Then comes Sarah. She walks in by herself, saunters up to us with a look of confusion and sits in the seat beside me.
"What are you guys laughing at?"
"I'm not really sure," I say, and then laugh a little more.
Mark is the last person to walk in. He sits in his usual seat, but instead of Sarah sitting beside him today there's another girl. I think she's a senior.
Sarah reaches beneath the table and grabs hold of my hand.
"There is something I need to talk to you about," she says.
"I know it's last-minute, but my parents want to have you and your dad over for Thanksgiving dinner tomorrow."
"Wow. That would be awesome. I have to ask, but I know we don't have plans, so I assume the answer is yes."
She smiles. "Great."
"Since it's just the two of us, we don't usually even do Thanksgiving."
"Well, we really go all out. And my brothers will both be home from college. They want to meet you."
"How do they know about me?"
"How do you think?"
The teacher walks in and Sarah winks, then we both start taking notes.
Henri is waiting for me as usual, Bernie Kosar propped up on the passenger seat with his tail wagging, thumping the side of the door the second he sees
me. I slide in.
"Athens," says Henri.
"That's where the issues of They Walk Among Us are being written, and printed. It's where they are being mailed."
"How did you find that out?"
"I have my ways."
I look at him.
"Okay, okay. It took three emails and five phone calls, but now I have the number." He looks over at me. "That is to say, it wasn't all that hard to find
with a little effort."
I nod. I know what he is telling me. The Mogadorians would have found it just as easily as he did. Which means, of course, that the scale now tips
in favor of Henri's second possibility--that somebody got to the publisher before the story further developed.
"How far away is Athens?"
"Two hours by car."
"Are you going?"
"I hope not. I'm going to call first."
When we get home Henri immediately picks up the phone and sits at the kitchen table. I sit down across from him and listen.
"Yes, I'm calling to inquire about an article in last month's issue of They Walk Among Us."
A deep voice responds on the other end. I can't hear what is said.
Henri smiles. "Yes," he says, then pauses.
"No, I'm not a subscriber. But a friend of mine is."
Another pause. "No, thank you."
He nods his head.
"Well, I'm curious about the article written on the Mogadorians. There was never a follow-up in this month's issue as expected."
I lean in and strain to hear, my body tense and rigid. When the reply comes the voice sounds shaken, disturbed. Then the phone goes dead.
Henri pulls the phone away from his ear, looks at it, then brings it back in.
"Hello?" he says again.
Then he closes the phone and sets it on the table. He looks at me.
"He said, 'Don't call here again.' Then he hung up on me."