Ryan fought his way through the crowd and booked it through the gym doors. As he sprinted down the hallway, he was surprised to see Angie running in the same direction.
“Wait, where are you going?”
Angie didn’t wait. “What about you?” she retorted. “Who runs towards the screaming?” There were more screams heard further down the hall, and both started running towards the sound. They turned the corner and found tables overturned, papers flying, and a classmate Ryan recognized as Jake Smithington whimpering under a table. Ryan and Angie hoisted it off of him. Jake cowered, his hands over his face.
“You’re okay now. What happened?” Ryan asked him.
“Don’t hurt me!” Jake whimpered.
“Don’t worry, Jake; he’s not gonna hurt you.” Angie started using an accent. “He just vants to drink your tomato juice.”
Ryan scowled at her in disgust. “Jake, tell me what you saw.”
Jake lowered his hand and whispered, “Ghosts. And demons. Terrible demons from Hell!”
Angie patted his shoulder. “Jake, what did they look like?”
“That’s not really helpful, dear.”
“Terrible, bloody, and flaming!”
“That’s a little more helpful.” Angie nodded thoughtfully.
Ryan prompted, “Did they see you? What did they do to you?”
Jake shuddered. “They threw the table at me. Then they laughed. It was terrible laughter.”
Ryan noticed a streak of slime on the floor. It was faintly green. Green slime meant it was a Class 4 or even 5 ghoul. “Which way did they go?”
Jake pointed to the left corridor.
“Yep, that’s the way to the weight room. Okay. Angie, you stay here with Jake, I’ll--” to his dismay, Angie had already charged around the corner. “Angie, get back here!” He had to run to catch up with her.
“What’s your plan?” Angie threw over her shoulder.
“Not to have you come along! What do you think you’re doing??”
“I’m going to fight the ghosts or whatever!” Angie panted. “Can’t have ghosts flying around and throwing tables.”
“Do you even know how to fight them?”
“Without a ghostbuster backpack? No.”
“Then go back! Bridget and I can fight them off.”
“You don’t have those backpacks either. I’ll be your diversion.”
The door to the weight room was open. Angie slid to a stop just inside the doorway. The lights were off, but moonlight from the windows lit up stretched rectangles along the floor. At first it was perfectly quiet-- then a blue mat flew right at her head. Angie ducked. Before the mat could hit the floor, it turned around mid-air and flew back at her again. Ryan zipped forward using his speed and kicked it away. There was a crash in the walk-in closet off to the side.
“Bridget?” Ryan called out.
“Ryan, help!” Bridget sounded muffled and frantic. He rushed over to see her tangled up in the volleyball net, whirling about and trying to stop weights and dumbbells from hitting her. As a witch, she had the power of telekinesis, and she was quite good at it, but this was a bit much, even for her.
They were flying at her from all directions. Ryan had to look really hard before he could see who was throwing them. He dodged a 20 lb weight and saw that there were three of them: three ghastly, greenish, grinning ghouls. Two in the closet and one out. They were the same dome shape as most cartoon ghosts, with gaps for eyes and mouths, and their tails fluttered like sheets and oozed with slime along the walls and floor.
“Hey!” He called out sharply, and they laughed. It was indeed terrible laughter. They swooped towards him, their new prey, throwing more blunt instruments at his head. Being a vampire, he easily dodged all of them and started untangling Bridget from the net. They didn’t like that. It was no fun. Their eyes and mouths turned red, and they started closing in on the two junior agents caught in the net, barbells held at the ready.
Then Angie threw the blue mat at them. They were lined up so nicely that it hit all three at once. It bounced off their gooey forms and flopped onto the floor. They turned around with wide new grins, formed half from anger, and half from delight that someone was finally playing their game again. With shrieking whoops, they flew towards her.
Ryan almost had Bridget free. He knew he shouldn’t leave Angie out there by herself, but... it was better to save her with Bridget’s help than alone, right? Angie was calling out taunts anyway. She was fine. And he had warned her. There was a loud thump: Angie had been knocked onto her back.
“Stupid girl!” he muttered, frantically throwing the net off of Bridget. The heavy steel pole had fallen on her shin. It looked red and bent where it should have been straight. Probably broken.
“I don’t think I can stand,” Bridget apologized. “Ryan, watch it!”
Ryan stumbled forward as a big yoga ball hit the back of his head. He growled, threw it back, and dragged Bridget out of the closet. From there she stopped a few flying objects and even threw some back at the ghouls. Ryan grabbed a barbell and zipped toward the ghouls with a good baseball swing. Angie even popped back up and charged at them bare-handed. Between the three of them, they had the ghouls cornered and tied up with jump ropes before the SWAT team got there.
Things seemed normal on Monday. Bridget was still in the hospital with her leg broken in two places, though she said she’d be back for duty in a few days. The school was quiet. Angie was the same, dozing off in front of Ryan. Her hair was strapped like usual into a messy, brown bun, and it bobbed up and down as she nodded off.
“Angie!” Mr. Barnes snapped.
“Sorry, sorry!” Angie said, shaking herself awake. She stared determinedly at the writing on the whiteboard until her eyes watered, only to start nodding off again once they closed. The class giggled until Mr. Barnes noticed again.
“Angie! Get up here and solve this problem!”
“Yes, sir!” Angie bolted up and saluted. Then she stared at the (fairly simple) Algebra problem on the board in blank horror, the orange marker in her hand hovering uncertainly. After a minute, she scrawled the number 42.
Mr. Barnes sighed. “Why is the answer 42, Angie?”
“It’s always 42. That’s the answer to everything.”
Those who got the reference laughed. Mr. Barnes got it (he liked “The Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy” himself, but please, now was not the time), and he forced himself not to laugh.
“I’m sorry, I don’t get this at all,” Angie apologized.
“Then sleep less and study more!”
“Sorry, Mr. Barnes.” She really did seem sorry. The weird part was that she was awake for the whole rest of first period.
Ryan spoke up as class was getting out, “I don’t know how you’re still in school,” and then winced. He had intended to be friendly, but it came out kind of rude.
Angie just shrugged and pulled her backpack out from under her desk.“Dude, I am failing Algebra. I try to stay awake, but there’s just no point to it!”
“It’s not like you use it in real life, anyway!” She put her textbook back in her bag and pulled out a bagel.
Ryan stood up. “That’s it. Jamba Juice: tonight; 6:00.
“What for?” Her mouth was full.
“I owe you one for keeping quiet, and another for helping with the ghouls. So I’m gonna tutor you.”
“Oh, please... you really don’t owe me any favors...”
Ryan went off to his next class. “Six o’clock, Angie.”
“Grrrr.” Angie glared at his back and bit into her bagel savagely.