Can the bonds of FRIENDSHIP overcome all odds?
Breaking
The Code
CHAPTER
2
First Impressions
“Uh, Dylan...?” Travis began, worriedly.
Dylan cracked his knuckles. “I’ll handle this,” he mumbled. “Just stay out of the way.” Travis nodded and took a step back.
The girl approached them, skipping lightly. Travis gagged quietly in the background.
“Hi!” she exclaimed when she finally reached them. “I’m Bethany!” She stuck out her hand towards the boys.
Dylan didn’t extend his hand. Instead, he simply stared at Bethany, eyebrow raised. “Who do you think you are?” he demanded.
Bethany let her hand drop. “Excuse me?”
Travis snickered while Dylan continued. “What makes you think that you have the right to speak to us?”
Bethany frowned and crossed her arms. “Look, I don’t know who are nor do I really care. But you two are my classmates, as I am yours. And that means we need to respect each other.”
Dylan outright laughed. “Respect? What on earth have you done to earn our respect?”
“I was trying to be nice,” she sighed. “But I can see now that being nice is pointless. You’re heartless.”
Dylan grinned. “And proud to be so!”
“Bethany? What’s going on here?” Mrs. Benson placed her hand on Bethany’s shoulder. “Are these two boys giving you trouble?” she asked, shooting Dylan and Travis an accusatory glance.
Bethany didn’t answer right away. She simply stared at Dylan. She stared so long and so hard that he began to feel uncomfortable. After about a minute or two, she turned to Mrs. Benson and smiled. “No ma’am. We were just getting acquainted.”
Mrs. Benson gave a quizzical glance. “Well, alright. You be sure to let me know if they do anything to you.” She pointed at the boys. “Be good, you two.” Then she walked back over to the rest of the class.
“Sure thing, Mrs. Benson!” Bethany exclaimed cheerfully. The she turned back to Dylan, her face stoic.
“Get lost,” he growled, shooing with his hands.
Bethany rolled her eyes dramatically and walked away, her long ponytail bouncing with each step. It reminded Travis of a fish out of water. He imagined a flopping fish in place of her bouncing ponytail and laughed.
“What’s so funny?” Dylan asked.
“Oh, nothing,” Travis responded, feeling it would require too much effort to explain Bethany’s fish hair. “You handled that well.”
Dylan grinned and cracked his knuckles again. “Piece of cake. She won’t be bothering us again,” he stated confidently.
Suddenly, the giant mob of students on the sidewalk began to head back towards the school.
“Well, Travis my man, it looks like the fire drill is over,” Dylan deducted. He met his best friend’s gaze. “Are we still on for after school?”
Travis took a step into the street. “Course! And don’t forget to bring your skateboard this time!”
Dylan laughed. “I won’t! I promise!”
The boys reached the school building. “See you after school!” they said in unison.
And then they parted ways and went to class.
Tick. Tick. Tick.
Travis glaced at the clock above the door.
The minute hand jerked clockwise slowly.
Fifth hour always went by the slowest, Travis thought to himself.
Mr. Hall, the fifth hour science teacher, asked a question. Bethany’s hand shot up in the air. It reminded Travis of a rocket.
“The oxygen level would be critical, due to the drastic decline in the tree count,” she answered confidently.
Travis exhaled loudly. He had hoped he would have no classes with her, but all sixth graders had science the same hour.
He looked at the empty seat in front of him. Dylan usually sat there, but he had left school early for an appointment.
Travis peeled open his notebook and began doodling. He drew a small box. Around the box were several people. Each person was holding a small jar. In each jar was a small amount of something that person was afraid of. Travis drew himself. In his jar he drew a miniature version of Mr. Hall, to symbolize the one thing he despised the most: science. On the next page, Travis drew each person dumping their jar into the box, which had become a bubbling cauldron. Travis drew himself dumping his own jar. The miniature Mr. Hall was clinging to the opening, terrified. The steam from the cauldron below drifted into Mr. Hall’s face, and he coughed profusely.
Travis’s pencil flew over the paper gracefully, until something grabbed the end of it.
Travis looked up to find Mr. Hall looking over his shoulder, examining his drawing.
Travis let out a slow breath. This was the third time this month he had been caught doodling, and the third time always meant a call home.
Mr. Hall quietly stood over Travis, his hands locked behind his back, his old eyes drifting back and forth over the drawing. He eyes landed on the miniature version of himself clinging to the top of the open jar and he sighed deeply.
Travis sat there stiffly, facing forward. He watched as Mr. Hall closed his notebook and set it in the crook of his elbow. He walked back up to the front of the room and placed the notebook on his desk.
The class was full of little giggles and snickers. Bethany shot Travis a victory glance as she stuck her pencil behind her ear.
Mr. Hall quieted the class and went back to teaching, as if nothing had happened.
Travis let out a sigh of relief. He was thrilled that Mr. Hall didn’t scold him, like he had the two times prior.
Man, did he have a story to tell Dylan tonight.

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Chapter 3

Another Odd Discovery

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