For Part II, click here!
Veronica’s blood boiled with anticipation, the void she felt in her heart was filled in with raw purpose. After speaking to Kell she returned home with an excited smile on her face. Wendy was worried when she saw her barge through that door, but remembered how eager and strange she was at that age too. Classes were normal as usual the day after. The message inbox on her phone was filled with direct orders from Kell, who had put heavy responsibility on Veronica’s shoulders.
There was this unintended strict coaching method behind Kell’s messaging. These messages were overwhelming but punctual in their execution, it was enough for Veronica not to feel burdened with overbearing responsibility. Code words were used to describe the OU football team and their correlation to the Foxes. The offensive linemen were regarded as Fence Rippers, running backs were Grass Passengers, and the quarterback was the Foul Taker…to name a few examples. No word of mouth or information was known as to where these players disbanded once practice was over.
The hurdle unfortunately for Veronica was Henry, who is trying to get into the team. Veronica knew that Henry would be a jar of awkward tension if unsealed, especially for someone aiming to be the next big quarterback for the team.
The only place Veronica could see herself being concealed from the team was behind the rickety, mildly rusted, and stench covered bleachers. She couldn’t fit underneath the front seats so she had to carefully peak her head behind the steel constructs to see what the players were doing. She also had to be wary of security if she was stationary for too long. Knowing what she signed up for, also accepting that she was not that sneaky, Veronica took out her phone to write notes.
During her frantic typing she was then approached by someone, it was Evan. Veronica gave a slight yelp as she turns around to confront Evan; a manatee with a ‘Big Seaweed Gulp’ in one flipper and a laptop in the other. Veronica angrily whispers, “Evan, what are you doing here? How did you see me?”
Evan with his expanded manatee lungs says, “Anyone can see you a mile away, and I know how much you hate these bleachers since they’re covered with soda stains and hot dog grease. So what are ‘you’ doing here?” Elevating his vocals as he said, “You.”
Veronica gave a pitiful look at Evan, “Well this sucks, I can’t back out of this lie filled corner now.”
“Please tell me what’s going on.”
“I will, but let’s talk about this somewhere more privately.” Both agree to go to the library as they find the most discreet location to talk. This location was in a corner of the library near the history section, which usually had no one there.
Veronica sits close to Evan as his big moist body plops down in a chair with his tail flipper sticking out. She then regaled Evan on everything that had happened yesterday. She went over who Kell was, his hideout, and this ‘afterschool cold war special’ with the Foxes. If there was anyone Veronica knew she could trust with this information, it was Evan.
Evan covers his mouth with both of his flippers and assertively whispers, “This is insane Veronica, you’re working for a crazy cult leader!”
“But hear me out, he’s not some delusional man who sits in a tent all day and does nothing. He is lost, he has no hope or understanding of what it means to live in a world outside his tent. Maybe there’s a chance that uncovering what the Foxes are planning could bring hope to his life!”
Evan chews the seaweed from his tall plastic drink as he says, “I don’t believe that this man has honest intentions. However the last kind of person I want to be is a terrible friend. If you need my help, I’m in.”
A wide smile grew on Veronica’s face as a comforting warmth uplifted her mood. “Really? You would do that for me Evan?”
“You unfortunately have me as a best friend, which is both a blessing and a curse.” Evan extends his flipper out to Veronica as a kind gesture.
Veronica then grabs his flipper and says, “You’re wrong, because you are the best blessing I could ask for.” She shakes his flipper, motivated by Evan’s kind words.
“I would love more than anything to make Cassie feel jealous about this moment. But seriously, I think she should be left out of this group discussion.”
“She gossip’s like crazy, and if there’s one thing she can’t do it’s stopping herself from knowing about a saucy story.”
“I don’t know if I would describe a feud between cultists as saucy. However Cassie would find a way to make it sound ‘saucy.'”
“We also cannot tell Henry.”
“Yeah, I mean he’s an honest guy, but he also cannot keep a secret either.”
“No, I mean we absolutely cannot tell him!”
The sternness in Veronica’s voice causes Evan to raise his curiosity. “Do you seriously believe he may be involved with this Fox cult?”
“Evan, thinking about this is making me feel really nervous. I don’t know what I would do if he was with the Foxes.”
“There’s only one way to find out, come with me.” Evan thrusts himself out of his seat with his drink and rolls on to the carpet.
Surprised, Veronica raises her hands in disbelief as she says, “We just got here though!”
“Trust me, you’re going to want to see this.”
“I don’t know what ‘this’ is referring to, but okay,” she says as she childishly gets out of her seat. Evan escorts Veronica over to a computer lab in a separate building on the farthest side of the campus. They made their way toward the facility with haste. Evan was quite swift despite being a manatee wearing a shirt, tie, and glasses. Veronica was almost out of breath but was captivated by Evan’s speedy ground flopping.
They finally made it to the computer lab and were able to enter inside without trouble. The room had no staff supervision, which made Veronica question how Evan could just waltz in. “Are you sure it’s okay to be in here?” She says while turning on the lights.
Evan briefly ignores Veronica’s question. He sits his big Manatee-self down at the first seat in the last row of computer desks. Veronica, being mildly worried, stares at Evan to get an answer out of him. Noticing the intense stare, he says, “Sorry, I was busy trying to remember my ‘favorite’ computer.” He says while winking at Veronica.
“I’m lost, what are you doing?”
Evan whispers, “I’m hacking the surveillance cameras around the campus.” His flippers clack against the keyboard as he begins hacking. To Veronica all she could see was a lot of loud flapping and numbers brightly appearing on the monitor. Suffice to say, Veronica was greatly confused about what was happening.
Veronica aggressively whispers back, “Of all the places to do it, why here? And shouldn’t there be someone watching this room?”
“The instructor for this class gave me permission to use it whenever I want. It was his way of saying ‘thanks’ for helping his son out of a cryptocurrency scheme. Trust me when I say you do not want to know the details.”
“Okay, but that doesn’t mean you can just ‘hack it up’ in here!”
“You stole that one from Cassie, didn’t you?”
“No, but I wish she was here so she would slap you out of doing this.” After feeling uneasy, Veronica takes a deep breath. “But thank you anyway.”
“I accept your thanks, but sometimes you got to do the dirty work to get results.”
“Spoken like the shadiest nerd I ever knew.” Within a minute, Evan was able to access the campus cameras and display their feeds through multiple pop-in windows.
He minimized all four windows to fit the screen and to see what was happening. The feed in the top left showed two professors, one having a thick grey beard and the other wearing red suspenders, fondly talking to each other in a hallway. In the feed at the top right was a woman with long amber-colored hair renting a book about Ancient Egypt from the library. The bottom left feed was a scraggly man with a yellow beanie sitting on a bench with his Chocolate Labrador in front of the campus. It was worth noting that the Labrador was so cute that Veronica couldn’t take her eyes off the dog for 18 seconds.
Lastly was a camera feed of the football team leaving the locker room, surprisingly seeming somber for a bunch of stereotypical jocks. Veronica points at the bottom right video feed and asks, “There! Can you see where they’re going?” “Do I look like an amateur at this?” Evan then changes the other video feeds to follow the players. Coincidentally revealing that this hall had an usual amount of security cameras. It did not take long for them to rejoin at a poorly disguised hideout, which was just a classroom with a door painted black. This classroom was used for art courses, specifically for water brush and oil painting.
Evan and Veronica look at each other with giddiness, “Looks like we found their hideout!” As the door to the classroom opens, a hooded figure appears as he pushes the handle. This hooded cloak had fox shaped insignias sewn on to the dark orange fabric. Although it was initially difficult to decipher who was underneath the hood, the two of them were able to piece the clues together as to who it was. Beneath the top of the hood were long slivers of blonde hair and a sturdy jawline.
Recognizing all of these physical traits, Veronica says in turmoil, “Henry.”
Evan jams his manatee nose into the screen as he says, “No way, he’s actually working with the Foxes!”