Classes were canceled in favor of grilling everyone about who wasn’t in the gym. I figured whoever it was had slipped out, but at least I was off the hook. Fanny and I could be each other’s alibis.
What if it wasn’t a student? That thought hit me for the first time as I gratefully escaped the building, retrieving my phone then heading home.
Who else could it be? A janitor? I knew it wasn’t true that janitors tended not to be very smart. People took what jobs they could get.
A teacher? That would be a twist. Think like a trickster. If the motivation was disruption, whoever it was had achieved that in spades. Which meant student.
What if it wasn’t. What if it was genuinely somebody who thought this kind of thing was funny. Or if it was some kind of weird statement about teacher pay? I shook my head.
Think like a trickster, and that was when I removed myself from the stream of people leaving the building. Fanny, playing with her phone. Could a cell phone activate a sprinkler system?
Or would the person have had to be outside the gym? I knew I’d get tossed out by security if I was seen. I focused my concentration on not being noticed, not being seen as significant, and slipped through the halls like a ghost. If I was really lucky, maybe I’d see the trickster.
And pulled out my, amazingly not water-damaged, phone. The only thing that could set off a typical sprinkler was heat. Pulling the alarm might also do it, but the alarm itself hadn’t gone off. So I was looking for an altered or damaged part of the fire suppression system.
And I found it. “Gotcha,” I murmured. They’d probably found it too, but it was tucked away in a corner. I wished I had the fyrhund. In fact, I actually tried to call the thing, but it was probably off chasing a fire frisbee somewhere. Or something. Okay. So. Anonymous tip off it was. I ducked back outside and headed to a pay phone so I could make that kind of call without it being traced. The cops could handle this. They might not even need this nudge in the right direction, but I did it anyway. It was the right thing to do.
Then, and only then, did I head home. I had a sense, though, that I was being followed. Whoever the tail was, I couldn’t see them in the people moving through the streets, but they were definitely present. No. That was them. Or wait. That was one of Freya’s people, on the street corner, watching me. They were not, however, following me. They’d been mostly good, had stuck by our truce. This was somebody else.
This was possibly the bomber. As careful as I’d been, I might not have been careful enough to ensure they didn’t see me checking out their work. Confrontation. I ducked into an alley, turned around, and waited.
It wasn’t a student. It wasn’t a teacher. It was an older man, grey haired.
“Gotcha,” I said out loud.
He pulled a gun.
“Oh, come on. You don’t want to hurt anyone. I know you don’t.”
He hesitated, the barrel shaking and then lowering. “Not hurt. Just make a point.”
“What kind of a point.”
“That our schools aren’t safe. That…that more kids are going to get hurt or killed.”
I let out a breath. “It’s too late. I already called in your handiwork. Unless you were wearing gloves.”
“Doesn’t matter. If they arrest me, it will just give me my day in court. You have to admit. They’re not safe.”
I rolled my eyes. “Nothing is perfectly safe.” Then I saw the light in his. “I know something happened. Something happened to somebody you care about. But stupid pranks aren’t the answer.”
“They’ll make them think.”
“No. They’ll make them make our lives miserable without actually doing anything. Leave it.”
“Or you’ll call the cops.”
I nodded. “Exactly.”