Susan L Markloff
Torn Out Pages | Part IV
Teens Breaking The Rules
Grant, Ryan, Aeryn, and Nancy all followed the security guard as they made their way back to Mr. Mosser’s homeroom. More than once the boys looked back the way they’d come. The security guard threw them a stern look and said, “Don’t think I’m not seeing that.”
Sharing a look, the boys returned his hard stare. “C’mon. If it was one of your friends, wouldn’t you want to help too?” Ryan grumbled.
The security guard gave an apathetic shrug. “I’m not seventeen.”
“Eighteen,” Grant corrected with a cross expression. “See? I’m an adult. So that means—”
“Means nothing kid. You’re all students and Mr. Alderfer has given express instructions that only Jennifer Monroe is an exception today.”
Aeryn and Nancy looked to the boys as the former said, “He has a point. And Tyron seemed really angry about you two meddling so much.”
Crossing his arms and sulking, Grant said, “Yeah, well…that doesn’t mean we have to listen to him.”
“We should listen to him,” Aeryn said with a pointed stare. “He’s only trying to keep everyone safe—you two dingbats included.”
A sly grin crossed Ryan’s face. “You just think he’s hot.”
Slapping him hard across the arm, Aeryn flamed red and nearly screamed, “No I don’t!”
Nancy fidgeted with her fingers and bit back a smile. “I think Krelien’s kinda cute.”
“Krelien is cute,” Aeryn quickly agreed in a hush.
Ryan pointed to the girls victoriously. “Aha! So it’s true! You’re only listening to them ‘cause they’re hot!”
Her warm smile falling, Aeryn glared at the boys. “I don’t think Jen would appreciate you talking about her Zaheri like that.”
“Oh please, like no one’s talking about them. The whole school won’t shut up about them.” Ryan flung his hand toward Nancy. “She’s crushing hardcore!”
Nancy’s eyes went wide, and she stuttered out, “I…I mean it’s…you! Just!”
“Ryan!” Aeryn admonished and smacked him again.
Wearing a cheeky grin, Ryan poked Nancy’s reddening cheeks. “Aww, you’re blushing.”
“Shut up!” Nancy shied back and worked to slap his hand away. “You’re mean!”
Playing with his hair, Ryan continued to wear his smirking smile as he said, “It’s the hair, right? You’re into pretty boys.”
As his friends continued talking, Grant sidled up to the security guard and said, “Look, I really care about this girl, okay? I just want to make sure—”
“Again, I don’t care,” the security guard said with a roll of his eyes. “You’re going back to your classroom and that’s that. Stop trying to think you’re special.”
Grant glared and opened his mouth to shoot some angry comment when a cracking explosion sounded and the building shook. Everyone staggered to remain upright; Aeryn clutched Grant’s arm as Ryan grabbed Nancy and kept her stabilized. A panicked expression filled Grant’s face and he looked back down the hall as he whispered in a thinly veiled horror, “Jen.” He roughly shoved Aeryn toward the security guard and took off.
Barely a second behind him, both Ryan and Nancy followed. “Guys!” Aeryn called in worry and frustration, “Jen’s not gonna like you running into danger!”
The security guard deflated and groaned, “And neither will Mr. Alderfer.” He looked to Aeryn. “I need to get you to safety.”
“You really think your friend wants you next to her right now?”
Wearing a forlorn look, Aeryn frowned at the now empty hall. She sucked in a breath and then sighed heavily. “No, she wouldn’t.” Despite the fear behind her eyes, she steeled herself. “Is there anything I can do to help?”
The radio on the security guard’s waist clicked as Mr. Alderfer’s voice cracked over, “I’m headed to first floor main. We may need to evacuate soon. All security and staff get into position to facilitate.”
“Roger that Mr. Alderfer,” the security guard said into his radio. He paused and rolled his eyes. “And just so you know, you’ve got some troublemakers headed your way.”
A pregnant pause filled the air, and Aeryn could just imagine Mr. Alderfer’s face scrunching in annoyance as he gritted his teeth. Bitingly, the response came, “Connolly, Bender, and the other Monroe, right?”
There was a static-y crackle from the radio, and Aeryn wondered if Mr. Alderfer had angrily tapped the radio against his forehead. “Knight’s still with you, isn’t she?”
The security guard gave Aeryn a knowing smile. “Yessir.”
“Tell her she’s my favorite.”
Aeryn straightened a bit and smiled.
With a sigh, Mr. Alderfer responded, “Alright, I’ll deal with those three when I see them.” He muttered some other comment that didn’t make it over the airwaves.
Gently pushing Aeryn forward, the security guard said, “You want to help? We’re headed to the far exit in case evacuation is called, and then you’re running.”
“I’m not leaving Jen,” Aeryn said with a hard glare.
Begrudgingly, the security guard groaned, “Fine. But you’re going on record saying that you disobeyed me.”