Harding Middle School Confidential
Short story series
By Te’Kia Miller
Prelude Series, Part 1
Hopefully this time would be different, he thought. Julius Meadow rode bus number 47, his mind roaming free as he gazed out the window. Torrential rain distorted the view but he knew where the bus was making its last stop. Pulling into the semi-circle Julius could make out the palatial structure as Harding Middle School. It was a white stone palace to him, two towers on the end of the main building with flags waving on the steeples, a flagpole waved the school’s flag gallantly in the front, large windows, and black roofing on all the structures. Julius was told this wasn’t a prep school. The problem was that everything about its appearance said prep school.
The bus driver opened the door and Julius blew a sigh. Moving as many times as he had, one would think he’d be used to being the new kid by now. Truthfully Julius never got used to being the new kid. Though he was proud to have a dad in the armed forces, he hated not really having any anchored friends. Never stayed anywhere long enough to make any. So he got used to being somewhat of a loner. For some reason it seemed to show to other kids. Walking down the bus isle and stepping out into the rain, Julius figured he’d run into the same situation here.
It was always the same. Local kids could read who was new, who would make easy targets, and who should be left alone. Julius was never one to be roped off in the last category. Something always happened making him center attention. Maybe this time would be different. Maybe this time he could stay here and not be in anyone sights and if not, then maybe he could finally find true friends.
Julius trekked through the rain with the hordes of wet children making their way into the building. Up the stone stairs, through the cherry oak double doors and into a large hallway. Its ceiling lined with white LED lights filling the halls, sneakers singing in a chorus of screeches against granite floors, voices echoing off the walls. Lockers lined the walls with open classroom doors between each grouping of lockers.
Further down the hall was a flight of stairs on the left and a flight on the right leading up to the second floor, creating a cove which housed a trophy case. On both sides of the trophy case was another set of double doors.
Walking to his locker, Julius wondered where those doors lead to. Unfortunately, his thought as well as the journey to his locker was interrupted. Passing a second classroom door Julius noticed a kid across the way was book checked no sooner had she taken the books from the locker and closed it. Julius found it strange because the kid wasn’t a typical nerd. She didn’t look like one either. She was pretty, wore glasses, had long onyx wavy hair and green-olive eyes. The book-checker, however, looked her role. Tall, brunette, brown eyed, pretty girl. Or mean girl in his mind. The girl started picking up her books as the barrage of insults began.
This was it. He hadn’t been here five minutes and already he was going to be the center of attention. What could he do? He wasn’t going to let this girl get picked on. He let go of a sigh and hustled over to the situation.
“Let me help you.” Julius immediately began picking up loose papers.
Then he felt a hand on his shoulder pick him up from floor. “Don’t help her.”
“She’s a dork with four eyes.”
“Really? I only see two.”
“You got a smart mouth new kid.”
Julius ignored the comment. “The glasses help her to see better.”
“She’s still a dork.”
“I see. You must be her friend to know so much about her.”
“Ew! I would never hang out with her.”
“But you can book check her in a heartbeat though?”
“I didn’t book check her. She bumped into me with that gross hair.”
“Your attitude is what’s gross.”
“Did I stutter?” The girl started to say something but Julius cut her short, “You heard me. So instead of trying to pick on her how about you keep that trap in your face shut and leave her alone.”
The girl looked at Glasses, gave her a nasty look and turning on her heel walked away. Julius turned to the girl as she gave a sigh of relief. She smiled and he smiled back.
“Thanks for helping me with my books and with Genevieve.”
“No problem. I don’t like to see kids pick on other kids. It’s stupid.”
“I agree.” The warning bell rang. “We better get going before the tardy bell rings.”
Just like that she was off to her class. Julius walked back over to his locker, opened it and emptied his book bag of books he’d need along with his schedule. Then he placed the book bag in the locker and headed to his first class, History.
Seconds before the tardy bell rang he’d found his History class. The students were talking with each other, a few had already taken their seats and were preparing for class. A group of boys huddled in the corner in the back near the window were talking. They stopped when they saw Julius entering the room. One in particular gave him a look before the bell rang.
Instantly all the students hustled to a desk. The teacher came in seconds later, a black satchel in hand. He was short, a bit on the chunky side, and short silver hair. He swung the satchel onto the desk and called the class to attention.
“Good morning class. I’m Mr. Holmes. Welcome to History class. More specifically we’ll be learning about American History. Today will be light but tomorrow, not so much. Let’s begin with a seating chart. It’ll help me remember who you are.”
The seating chart took twenty minutes. Julius was sure it would help Mr. Holmes remember their names and faces. It would also help for roll call. Seating charts always made that kind of thing easier. After everyone was seated in their permanent desk, Mr. Holmes went on to pass out the year’s syllabus. Everything from class assignments to homework assignments and projects were listed with their due dates.
“Okay, now, let’s get to know each other. Each one of you will go around the room and introduce yourself. Give us your first and last name, where you’re from originally, your favorite thing to do and the thing you hate most. I’ll begin first.”
In his head Julius went over the information. It was automatic. He liked to be prepared, especially since he didn’t want to get too personal. He didn’t know any of these people yet and he was not one to get warmed up to strangers very quickly. He was careful that way. Twelve students later and it was his turn.
“My name is Julius Meadow. I’m originally from Battle Creek, Michigan. My favorite thing to do is” he paused. Write poetry came to mind but that was too personal. He went for another past time, “listen to jazz.”
“Any musician in particular,” asked Mr. Holmes.
“Mostly smooth jazz but a little Coltrane and Davis thrown in”
“Pretty sophisticated tastes for a seventh grader. I’m impressed.”
“My dad turned me on to it”
“And the thing you hate most?”
“The thing I hate most is chocolate mint anything.”
“Thank you Julius.”
Julius nodded and his turn was over. Twelve more students went. After the last student’s turn Mr. Holmes allowed them to chat until the end of the period. The bell rang and the students were dismissed with instructions to prepare for tomorrow’s class, reading the first several pages of chapter one.
As he was walking down the hall to his next class, the boy who gave him a look from earlier brushed passed him, knocking his books to the floor. With him were two other boys that were laughing.
“Looks like Julie dropped his books.”
“My name is Julius. Not Julie.” He continued picking up his books and papers.
“I don’t care what your name is. I only care about whether you know who I am.”
“And that would be?” Julius stood up, defiant to face the trio.
“My name is Clayton Stokes. This is Holland Maise and Dane Keaton.”
“So now I know who you are.”
“You know what kid, that mouth of yours is going to get you into a lot of trouble.” Clayton started moving in on Julius when the boys were interrupted. A tall woman wearing a navy pencil skirt, matching jacket wearing thick rimmed glasses and flaming red hair walked up to them.
“Is there a problem gentlemen?”
“No Principal Coldwater,” Clayton shrank.
“Actually, Principal Coldwater, I saw the whole thing.” A boy walked up to them. He was athletic, had Everest green eyes and black silky hair. “I saw everything.”
“Marcus Andrews back with us I see. It’s your last year isn’t it?”
“Tell me what happened.”
“Clay here book checked this new kid.”
“Is that right? Clayton to my office now. You too Mr. Andrews. I’ve been meaning to speak to you.”
Harding Middle School Confidential
Prelude Series, Part 2
Principal Coldwater led the way to her office. The two boys entered the spacious outer office and took a seat on the wooden bench beside the door. Before the principal could give them any instruction she rushed off to another matter involving a fight in the hall of the second floor. Without saying a word Marcus and Clayton looked at their surroundings. There was the secretary’s desk as she worked in silence. She gave the occasional glance over the top her desk then would go back to work.
On the one side of the secretary was the Guidance Counselor’s office and beside that was the Assistant Principal’s office. On the other side of the large outer office was a door leading to the Department of Hall Monitors. It was better known as DOHM. Marcus had heard about them when he first came here. They were a group of kids chosen to patrol the halls, enforce safety and uphold regulations. The problem was that ever since he came here for sixth grade, they’d done a subpar job. Too many student infractions and too few members on the DOHM.
Next to the DOHM was another door labeled Student Internal Affairs, or SIA. It was supposed to be an investigative unit into the DOHM once leaks of corruption got out. Marcus remembered because he was asked last year by the principal to head up the organization but he declined. He was in the middle of taking the school to its first national spelling bee in three years. They won the championship that year. He was the school’s first seventh grader to lead them to and win the championship. His best year ever. Or so he thought.
The smile that lined his face vanished when Principal Coldwater entered the outer office. With her were four more students. Marcus figured they were the ones fighting up on the second floor. She pointed for them to sit and the straggly bunch plopped down on the bench beside Clayton. Giving Clayton the eye she snapped her fingers at him and pointed to a door two doors down from the Guidance Counselor. The Principal’s Office. Clayton hung his head and made the slow walk to the office.
Five minutes rolled by and Clayton exited the Principal’s office. In his hand was a yellow slip. Marcus recognized it. He’d never gotten one but other kids had. It was a warning. His next infraction would give him a red slip to detention. Marcus’ gaze followed Clayton until he left the outer office. Again his attention was called.
“Marcus Andrews, in my office please.”
Marcus rose from the bench and walked with calm to the office. Principal Coldwater closed the door behind him as he took a seat in a leather chair. All over her walls were plaques, awards and recognition for this and that. A book case to his right housed a couple dozen books, mostly on the justice system. Maybe she’d been a lawyer in a past life, he thought as she wheeled around her desk and took a seat.
“You’re not in any trouble if that’s what you’re thinking.”
“I wasn’t. But I am curious to know why I’m here.”
“Well that’s easy. I’ve been in close contact with the school district’s superintendent and the school board. I’ve put before them a plan I think shows promise given the right kind of people operating it.”
“What is that?”
“I’ve proposed a new student disciplinary system and they are willing to give it a try. Harding Middle School will be the first school to implement it. If all goes well, then they will give the green light district wide.”
“That sounds great, I think.”
“Oh it is great news. I want you to lead it.”
“Now before you say no hear me out. It’s called the Harding Enforcement Squad Program. You will be the captain of it and you get to pick your own squad members. You can choose up to four members.”
“Why only four?”
“Because I want it be contained and that’s all it’ll take. You will investigate special infractions, help the DOHM maintain order, promote safety and enforce the new rules and regulations the program will cause.”
“What new rules?”
“This disciplinary system is set up much like the judicial system. I’ve already spoken with the guidance counselor, the secretary, assistant principal, SIA and the DOHM. They all know what their roles will be under this new system.”
“But Principal Coldwater, are we sure this is going to get us the results the school district is looking for? I know student infractions are at an all-time high but-”
“All the more reason we need this system. So, what do you say?”
“Because you’re a stellar student who does what is right. I’ve been watching you for some time Marcus Andrews. You’re a stand up kid with a bright future and much promise. You stand up for what is right and don’t back down from your beliefs. I admire that in young individuals. They become shining examples of virtue.”
“Thank you Principal Coldwater. May I have time to think about it?”
“I’m afraid there’s only a short window of opportunity. The school is hosting an ice cream social for the student body at the end of next week and we still haven’t caught The Jack of Pranks.”
“Oh yes I remember him. He did that prank in the school’s gym with toilet tissue my sixth grade year and pulled another prank with school bus tires that same year.”
“So you see my concern.”
“In that case, is there anyone you have in mind for the squad?”
“I thought you might ask so I took the liberty and gathered several student files I think you’ll find interesting. You don’t have to choose anyone from this group but I thought I’d give you some help.”
“Thanks. I’ll get started on this after school.”
“You don’t know how much this will mean. It’s a giant leap from what we’re used to and it will take some getting used to. Nevertheless, I’m confident it will work and I truly believe you’re the right person to lead this program.”
Marcus could say nothing. He only nodded with a smile before getting up to leave, files in hand. This was a great honor. To be an eighth grader and have the admiration of someone with such prestige as Principal Coldwater. It meant a lot. His parents always taught him that people are always watching you whether you know it or not. Hard work always pays off and so does doing the right thing. Now he was beginning to see that. This would certainly be his best year of middle school.
Harding Middle School Confidential
Prelude Series, Part 3
Principal Coldwater swiveled her chair towards the window behind her and leaned back as the door closed behind Mr. Andrews. She couldn’t help but feel the overwhelming feeling of satisfaction it was so sublime. Her plans were starting to exit the hanger and would soon be on the runway to lift off. Of course her colleagues wouldn’t agree to this drastic of a program but she was never one to shy away from pushing the envelope. A disciplinary system modeled after the justice system was exactly what Harding Middle School needed. What better way to teach children the consequences of their actions?
She swiveled the chair from the window and pressed the red button on her desk phone. “Maria, please send in the department heads and come along as well. We have to discuss the next phase of the HES program.”
“Will do Ms. Coldwater.”
Within a few minutes the assistant principal, guidance counselor, secretary, and the heads of the SIA and DOHM were all present. Principal Coldwater waited for them to take a seat where they could. A few sat on the long lounge chaise by the door and a couple in the client chairs. She looked at each of them before reaching into her desk drawer and took out a stack of papers.
“I’ve managed to get a fine student on board with the HES program. He’s going to look the files I gave him over and get back to me. I want each of you to take a copy of the new disciplinary system and pass the stack.”
“Who is the kid,” asked Assistant Principal Scott Duddle. He took a copy and passed the rest.
“Marcus Andrews. I’ve been watching him since sixth grade. He’s a stellar student and capable of leading this program.”
“I don’t know if we should go about disciplining are students in this manner,” said Maria. “I understand the theory behind it, but I think this is overdoing it. There has to be another way.”
“Oh I’ve heard all the arguments against this idea so believe me when I say I understand the reservations. However, I think we owe it to our students to try and protect them by any means. This system will give the school more power to exact disciplinary measures and above all give the students a more active role in how their peers are punished.”
“Yes, I see here it says that a student brought up on charges will be given a trial by a jury of their peers with the Principal as acting judge. The assistant principal is the prosecutor’s office?”
“Exactly. There is also an outline of what is a felony and a misdemeanor and possible combinations of sentences depending on the charge or charges.”
Mr. Duddle laughed. “This is going to start madness in this school.”
“I doubt that very much considering the madness is already an issue. I’m tired of the art kid factions starting war with the band kids or vice versa. I’m tired of bully factions picking on the nerds and the popular kids harassing the book worms. These factions have got to end. It’s like they’re fighting for control of the school and new factions form every year. I will not have it anymore. You wait and see. This program will work out for the best, I’m sure.”
“Well I guess we don’t have a choice, although, I find it hard to believe that the school’s superintendent is up for this.”
“It took some convincing, but they are on board. They’re giving it one year, so this is make or break for me- I mean- us. Now, does everyone have a packet?”
“Yes,” they chimed. There was silence.
“Good. I will expect everyone to have it studied so when the time comes we can make this transition as smooth as possible. With all these offenders running around here we don’t want to miss a step. That is all for now. I will let you know when we have our team together. I’ll place an announcement in the Harding Confidential Times.”
There was a moment of stillness before anyone moved. The secretary, Maria Rodriguez, was the first to break movement. She was still unsure about this plan as was the rest of them. What could they do? It was out of their hands and Principal Coldwater was gun-ho about this program. As they each passed through the door their reservations slowly slipped away, resting in the back of their minds as they returned to business as usual.
As far as Janet Coldwater was concerned, she didn’t care about their fears that this program would fail. The DOHM had failed and so had the SIA. If they were going to curtail the disturbances that plagued her school something drastic had to be done. What irked her more was that it wasn’t just her school. Student infractions were out of control district wide. This was the only idea she could come up with, even if she hadn’t ran it passed the school board-yet.
Harding Middle School Confidential
Prelude Series, Part 4
Throughout the day Julius was able to easily maneuver the halls of Harding Middle School. No reason why it shouldn’t have been. He’d been up here a day earlier with his parents to route the best path to all his classes. Now he was sitting in his last class, Reading and Language Arts. Like all the others Mrs. Redding gave them an easy first day and in the matter of seconds the bell rang.
“Alright class. Have a good day. We start the real work tomorrow.”
“Bye, Mrs. Redding,” chirped a few of the students.
Julius packed up his books, slid from his assigned desk and made his way out into the hall. The hall was instantly packed with hundreds of students shuffling to their lockers, all eager to get home. Julius was just as eager as well. Except for the little issue this morning, he’d managed to stay out of attention.
Packing his books into his book bag a group of kids were huddled, laughing at a lanky kid getting pushed around. The bigger kid was saying something as the lanky one was getting up again. Another push and Julius became upset. What kind of school was this? This was the third time today. A better question was what in the world is wrong with these kids?
Julius wanted to do something but he decided to wait. Everyone was heading outside now and still the bigger kid was verbally scouring the defenseless. Julius slammed his locker shut and followed them outside. Inside his head he was giving himself a talk about how to approach the situation. There weren’t any adults around in the school and by the time he went to get one, the ordeal would be over. Action had to be taken now and there was a way he could do it without instigating it further. They were out by the buses lined in the semicircle. This was his chance. Julius hustled over to the nearest bus.
“Excuse me, I need help like right now. There’s a kid being pushed around and I need your help to stop it.”
“Sure thing kid.”
The bus driver hurried from his seat and followed Julius to the site of the continued onslaught. This time the lanky kid’s book bag was snatched from his shoulders, fell to the ground. The force of the book bag being snatched caused the kid to lose his balance.
“Hey, hey! Leave that kid alone,” Julius shouted. The bus driver close behind him.
“I’m going to report you kids if you don’t stop,” the bus driver said.
“Scatter,” one onlooker said.
The big, pushy kid was the first to make a break for it. Then the onlookers broke wide, running for their buses. Sitting alone was the lanky kid who was fixing something on his ear. Helping the kid up Julius got a closer inspection of what was in the kid’s ear. It was a hearing aid.
“You okay kid?” Julius picked up his book bag.
“Yeah, thanks.” He took the backpack from Julius. “Thank you too sir.”
“No thanks needed. I can take you to your bus if you want?”
“Thanks, but I should be okay. Chuck doesn’t ride the same bus as me. Mine is further up the line.”
“Okay. Be careful then,” Julius waved. He turned to the bus driver. “Thanks.”
“No problem. You did the right thing. This school needs more kids like you.”
Julius turned to see that same kid from earlier in the day. His name was Andrews but the first name eluded him. “You’re that kid from this morning.”
“Yes. Marcus Andrews is the name.”
“Do you got a minute?”
“Well the bus is getting ready to leave in a few minutes.”
“It won’t take long, I just have a question for you.”
“What is it?”
“I’m been given a huge job at the school and I need a team of students to help me do it. The job is to help stop students from breaking the school rules and protect the rest of the student body. If what I’ve seen from you today is any clue, I’d say you would fit.”
“So you want me to be part of this project?”
“Yes. You will be one of four, but yes. Together we’ll bring kids like that big kid down. You seem to really know how to handle yourself and I could use someone like that on my team.”
Julius passed Marcus a side glance. Was this kid serious? The idea as almost laughable. Almost. If Julius didn’t like the idea so much he probably would have laughed. It would be nice to be able to do something about these kids who think they had the right to mistreat other kids. He supposed the Principal would figure a way to deal with them and all they had to do was bring the unruly down.
“Alright, I’m in.”
“Cool. Meet me tomorrow morning by the flagpole.”
“You said I was one of four. What about the others?”
“I’ve already asked them and they’ve said yes. They’ll be at the flagpole as well.”
“Alright. See you then Marcus.”
Harding Middle School Confidential
Prelude Series, Part 5
The morning came sooner than Julius would have liked. For some reason it always felt like that during the school year. Seemed like time just flew by. Now here he was, waiting at the flagpole for Marcus Andrews and the others he mentioned yesterday. Buses were still pulling up into the circular drop-off so there was still time before school started.
A few moments later Marcus showed up. With him were three other students. Two were girls and the other was a boy. The boy was short, brown hair, brown freckles and azure eyes. One of the girls was tall, long fire-red hair, and emerald green eyes. The other girl was slightly shorter than the former and she had an afro of curly dark brown hair and amber eyes.
“Good. You’re here,” Marcus said walking up to him.
“I said I would be here.”
“Glad to see you’re one of your word. I like that.”
“These must be the kids you were talking about.”
“Yup. Julius meet Mimi Hicks. She’s a new student here but I know her from my neighborhood. Don’t be fooled by the green eyes either, they say soft but she’s tougher than she looks.”
“Nice to meet you Julius.”
“Same here Mimi.”
“This newbie is Miles Wilcox. He’s a sixth grader here and has a great profile.”
“Hi Julius. Forgive me if I get a bit talkative. Not sure why, just always been that way ever since I can remember. I like making new friends, especially-”
“Miles,” Marcus interrupted, “not the time.”
“Right. Go ahead, continue.”
“Thank you. Anyway, this is Serenity Gale. You’ll love her attitude and I do mean attitude.”
“Gotta have one if you plan on surviving here,” Serenity commented holding her hand out.
“I agree.” Julian shook her hand then looked at Marcus. “Okay, now what?”
“Now we go to the Principal and let her know that we’re all on board. At that point we should get our first assignment. We’ll need to move quickly though, so let’s meet up at the Principal’s office at recess and we’ll go from there.”
“Sounds good to me.”
The band broke rank and disappeared into the crowds of kids filing into the school. Seconds of crossing over the threshold and the bell rang. Kids rushed to put their things away, grabbed their books and head to class. Julius followed suit, grabbing is materials and headed for his first class of the day. In the back of his mind was the meeting with the Principal at recess. It made him wonder what kind of school was this. Sure he’d seen a few disruptions on his first day but was it really that bad to the point of student law enforcement?
Walking into his first class the bell rang. He took his seat as did the others and the teacher began the lesson. From then on time seemed to pass by slow and each class lasted forever. However, the morning was not without its interesting points. One student was sent to the principal’s office for spitting spit wads at a boy in class. In his second class, a student was teased for reading the dictionary. The third class didn’t bode well either. Someone had placed glue on the teacher’s seat and someone sabotaged the desk drawers. In that same class two students began arguing over the cult like band culture. It almost ended in a fight.
When the bell rang for lunch, Julius imagined the thing he might see. The one thing he hoped wouldn’t happen was a food fight. Although, with the way things were going at this rate, he knew better than give a benefit of a doubt.
In the cafeteria teachers patrolled the room. Students were lined against the wall waiting to get their food from the lunch ladies. It was a perfectly normal lunch room. Enormous, huge globe lighting hanging from the ceiling, rows of long white tables where students were beginning to sit down. If everything was so normal then why was he on edge? An occasional glance around the room and his eyes hit every potential for a food fight. The group of band kids congregating beside the large windows looking out to the playground and court yard. The outcasts lurking in the corners. The jocks horsing around in the center of the lunchroom. Popular girls gossiping together and every other group he could point out mingled and separated.
Julius grabbed his tray and went through the line. There was no incident much to his relief. Paying for his food he turned and exited the double doors and into the cafeteria. His eyes immediately hit Marcus Andrews who was waving him over. Julius nodded at him and made his way over to the seat Marcus was saving. The others were sitting with him as well, fully invested in their meals.
“I’m surprised these kids can actually eat together,” Julius commented taking his seat.
“Yeah, well, don’t hold your breath,” Marcus warned. “Things can turn real fast.”
“Still getting use to that.”
“Eat up. We don’t have much time left before lunch is over.”
Julius nodded and began eating. Besides having to meet with the principal, he didn’t want to be here longer than needed. Like Andrews said, things could turn south at any moment. He didn’t want to be in the middle of a food fight. Especially since he was wearing a new TMNT shirt today. Ten minutes flat, the cheeseburger and half the fries were gone. The chocolate milk he took with him.
They exited the lunchroom and headed for the principal’s office. On their way there the halls were eerily quiet. The only thing that could be heard was the distant sound of music coming from the band room. As they came to the stairs that greeted everyone every morning Julius saw a kid on the second floor. Leaning on the banister, her dark brown eyes locked with his as she watched them trek the hall. In her hand looked to be a hall pass. She gave a smirk and then turned away. That’s when he noticed she was wearing a brown leather tasseled jacket with a Thunderbird design on the back.
Turning his attention back to the group, Julius couldn’t help but think about the mysterious girl. The long and dark silk hair and the eagle’s feather that dangled from it. The dark brown eyes that puzzled him and that brown tasseled leather jacket with that Thunderbird on the back. Maybe Marcus would know who she was but he’d have to ask later. Right now they were at the principal’s door. Mrs. Rodriguez welcomed the students with warmth and a smile as she always did. Instructing them to have a seat she buzzed Principal Coldwater.
“I believe the members of the HES are here.”
“Perfect, send them in right away.”
“You heard her. I wish you all well,” she smiled.
Marcus was the first up from his seat. He blew a huge sigh, straightened up a little bit and walked for the principal’s office. Julius and the others fell in line behind him. It was then he realized that this was new for each of them too, even for Marcus. It was new to the school. Julius decided that whatever would happen as a result of this- thing- he would try to be there for his new teammates.
They walked through the door and there she was. Principal Coldwater standing at the window, hands crossed behind her. She pivoted around and smiled at each of them, nodding in satisfaction. Motioning for them to take a seat, three sat on the couch against the wall and two in the client chairs in front the desk. She too had a seat, still smiling.
“This is who you’ve chosen Mr. Andrews?”
“It is. The files you gave me were a big help.”
“I see there is one who wasn’t in the file. What is your name young man,” she asked looking at Julius.
“I am Julius Meadow from Battle Creek , Michigan.”
“And are you new to this school?”
“Yes ma’am. I’ve just transferred to this school for military purposes.”
“So you’re a product of parents or a parent in the military, yes?”
“Excellent. I like that.” She looked back Marcus. “Well done Mr. Andrews. I’m impressed already.”
“Let’s get on with this shall we? I’m sure you’re all wondering about this program. It is new and it is intended to bring order to this school. If it is successful, the program will be issued district wide.”
“What if it fails,” asked Miles.
“Then we lose control of this school to the many factions infesting us. Your job will be to succeed where the DOHM and SIA have failed. It seems they can use your help.”
“How?” asked Miles.
“You will investigate special cases, maintain order in the school, protect students from individuals who engage in delinquent and dangerous behavior, promote safety and enforce the new rules under this new system. This is your agenda at all times.”
“Is there a way for us to know what these cases are?”
“Indeed.” Principal Coldwater pulled some papers out of her drawer and handed them to Marcus. He took a sheet and passed the rest to everyone else. “This tells you what types of cases will be brought to disciplinary action by student court. Anyone taking part in any of these misdemeanors or ‘felonies’ are to be brought before the student court.”
“And what’s the name of this new program,” Serenity asked.
“The program is called The Harding Enforcement Squad Program. HESP is the short of that. You are the Harding Enforcement Squad, HES for short. Now, I have one question for you.”
“What’s that,” asked Julius.
“Are you ready?”
Marcus looked at each one of them. They looked back at him, nodding their heads for the green light. He turned back to the principal. “Yes, the Harding Enforcement Squad is ready.”
Harding Middle School Confidential
Prelude Series, Part 6
Principal Coldwater smiled, glee erupting inside. It was true many wouldn’t agree with her method or this new program. However, she was sure if given the chance to show it works, she could change minds. Changed minds meant changed hearts and that lead to action. She was a woman of action. If others had failed, she prided herself that she could and would succeed. Now she had the vehicle to do it and she would drive it all the way to her grand finale.
“I’m glad you’re all on board,” she said. She pressed a button on her desk phone.
The next thing they saw was the wall with plaques flipping over. On the other side was nothing. It was plain. Another press of the button and a digital image of a folder appeared. Reaching into another drawer of the desk, Principal Coldwater pulled out a small remote and clicked it. The folder opened, information running down the wall rapidly. Each time she clicked the remote certain information highlighted and was enlarged.
“What is this,” Marcus asked.
“This, Mr. Andrew, is the team’s first case. We have an ice cream social coming up soon and I suspect we’ll have a visit from the school’s major prankster, The Jack of Pranks. The case is a little cliché but I don’t really know what school doesn’t have a prank or two. We, however, have always had a prank done by some prankster on our major events.”
“Do we have any suspects,” Serenity asked.
A photo of a boy showed up with blonde disheveled hair, a nasty look on his face and a bruise under the right eye. He looked tough enough to Julius. “The name the prankster is always leaving is The Jack of Pranks. This kid’s name is Lawrence Delner. The DOHM caught him last year pulling a prank in the boys bathroom for which he served his suspension.”
“Is this Jack of Pranks the same as Delner,” asked Julius.
“Not sure. That’s what you’ll need to find out.”
“And you think he’ll make an appearance at the Pep Rally,” Mimi questioned.
“It’s a high probability. If he’s not the guy he certainly knows who is.”
“And how are we to catch him? Or any of these delinquent students,” asked Marcus.
Principal Coldwater walked over to her desk, pressed a button and said, “Send in Mr. Wexler.”
They all looked towards the door as a short kid wearing a blue plaid shirt with black jeans, a pencil in his ear and spiked brown hair walked in. He walked with an air of confidence which made him seemed taller. He stopped at the side of the desk.
“I thought we were only a team of five.”
“You are. This is Mr. Wexler. He’s going to outfit the team with everything you need.”
Handing Wexler the remote, Principal Coldwater took her seat and let the boy have the floor. “Thank you Principal Coldwater.” He clicked the remote and an image popped up of a long object with vents at the bottom. “The hover board called Synergy 6. It’s my little creation that I’ve been working on for Mechanics and Engineering class. After developing the prototype for class I decided to evolve the design and make some changes to the output. I think you’ll enjoy riding them.”
“What about safety riding them,” Miles asked.
“They’re about as safe as riding a bike. Next are the handcuffs,” he replied as the image changed. “Another design of mine made from plastic toy handcuffs, I again had to make modifications for your purposes. Anyone who yanks them will automatically engage a full proof lock I’ve installed. Think of the Chinese Finger trap, only for wrists with no way to unlock them except for using the key.”
“Let me guess,” Mimi interrupted, “Another project for M&E class?”
“Yes indeed. Lastly are the ABC Gummers.” The image popped up. “This one didn’t go over big with the teacher but my Engineering Club loved the idea. Designed after the air shooters, these shoot ABC gum.”
“Okay, first off, that is nasty. Secondly, where are we going to get a constant supply of ABC gum,” asked Serenity.
“I have my suppliers. You won’t run out of gum. Plus I’m working on other designs.”
“This will be everything you need to capture the delinquents,” Principal Coldwater interjected. “Now, you have your case, a possible suspect and your tools. Time to get to work. Follow Mr. Wexler to the old janitor’s closet where you’ll find your equipment.”
“You’ve really prepared for this new system, haven’t you,” asked Marcus.
“I had to be. Everything had to be in place for a smooth transition. That meant all the necessary people had to be in place for when you said yes.”
“But what if we didn’t?”
“Then I would have found someone else who would,” she smiled sweetly.
The smile almost made Marcus feel uneasy. It certainly did Julius. Waving Wexler off, he left first. The other trailed behind him out into the outer office and finally out into the hall. While Julius had his doubts about this new idea, he did find it exciting to be working with the cool gadgets Wexler was giving them. On their way to the old janitor’s closet, something was still bothering him.
The mysterious girl with the Thunderbird vest. Who was she and why was she eyeing him? Or maybe she was eying the whole group. Either way the question still popped up in his mind as to who she was. Still deep in his thoughts he bumped into a stationary Serenity.
“Yo, watch out Julius,” she said with a slight snap.
“Oh my bad.”
“We’re here,” Wexler said. He took a key out of his pocket. Sticking it in the lock of the handle he turned the knob and the door creaked open. “Ta-da. Your very own tools with some snappy outfits, compliments of the Fashion Design Club.”
“Oh yes, now that’s what I’m talking about,” chimed Mimi. She was the first into the surprisingly spacious closet.
The outfits were helmets with a visor and a black felt vest with the letters HES on the back in big bold red letters. There was a belt with a place to hold the Gummers. Each of them were impressed as they inspected each element. Part unsure and part excited, they suited up.
“Now,” Wexler began, “The helmets are wireless and hooked up to the schools secure network. You’ll be able to communicate with me and Principal Coldwater at anytime and we can do the same. They work on frequency like a walkie-talkie so we have a private line with each person you speak with. To communicate with each other you’ll be on the same frequency. To reach me, you have to switch to another frequency and so on. You’ll also be able to receive updated objectives on the helmets. All information will be visible on the visors, including the faces of who you’re talking to.”
“We’ll use frequency one,” Marcus said.
“Okay so everyone set that frequency on your helmet. What frequency you use has to be the same as the person you want to talk to. Make sense?”
“Yeah, we get it.”
“Good. Now, I gotta go. I need to set up my space and your command post. I’ll see you around.”
Wexler handed the key to Marcus. Saluting the team, he turned on the heel and left. This was it. They were officially the HES, Harding Enforcement Squad. That title carried something with it. None knew exactly what that was but they suspected it would come with both welcome and rejection. Either way, they had a job to do now and they couldn’t fail it.
“Alright team, let’s go. We have a lead so let’s find out where we can find Grand Master King of Pranks and find out what he knows.”
“But where do we even start,” Mimi asked.
“We’ll start with the bullies first. Julius and Mimi check the playground during recess. Serenity and Mimi take the detention center. I’ll check the study hall, library and stairwells.”
“Are you sure about going off by yourself like that,” Miles asked. “Shouldn’t we stick together?”
Marcus thought about it for a minute. Going off by himself to confront a bully could be a problem, dressed the way he was. It might actually provoke the bully instead of intimidate. “You have a point. We’ll take the detention center, study hall and the library. Then we’ll meet back here at the janitor’s closet and share what we’ve found. We’ll go from there.”
“I like that plan better.”
The rest nodded in agreement before very one split off in the direction of their targets. Julius and Mimi went opposite of the rest of the group, heading for the playground. There were still two more lunch periods. Two more chances to find their lead in the case. Walking the halls this time wasn’t as eerie for Julius. This time he felt like they were given a pass. In a way they had.
They’d passed by several teachers, each one looking at them then turning to their business. Not a single teacher gave them a hard time about not having a hall pass or hassled them. Although they did get weird looks from them. Probably because of the helmets. It was like the uniform they wore was their pass. Maybe the Principal had made sure the teachers were aware of the new program and the uniforms.
“This is so cool,” Serenity said.
“It’s weird don’t you think,” asked Julius.
“A little. The weird looks make it weirder though.”
“I hear that.”
“Once the ball gets rolling I think things will settle in.”
“Yeah.” There was silence between them before Julius spoke again. “What do you know about a girl wearing a vest with a Thunderbird image on it?”
Serenity stopped abruptly. “Where did you see her?”
“On our way to the Principal’s office. Do you know her?”
“No,” Serenity started walking again. “But I know who you’re talking about. Her name is Nima Skyler. Girl with long pretty black silky hair with an eagle’s feather in it, right?”
“Yeah, that’s her.”
“Nima Sklyer. She’s part of a faction that formed a year before I got here in sixth grade last year.”
“So it was formed two years ago?”
“Yeah. Her older brother started it. They’re known as the Thunderbird Faction. I don’t know about other members of the faction but I think Nima and her brother are Native American.”
“Why are you bothered by the faction?”
“Why did you stop the way you did?”
“Because. The Thunderbird Faction has been adding to the problems of the school. At least that’s what I hear. I’ve never seen them act out like these other factions fighting for control of the school.”
“So you don’t think they’ll be a problem for us.”
“I certainly hope not.”