Me and Damien threw rocks at Linden Mortuary’s dumpster before school started. We were pretty bored, especially since we had no UFO sightings for a while. The UFO hunters club had to seek entertainment where we could find it.
“Jimmy, look.” Damien pointed toward the school grounds.
There were about a hundred students all looking at their phones, marching in unison toward the same spot next to one of the portable classrooms, then breaking into a run toward the back of the school, still holding their phones in front of them.
“Mind control,” I said.
“Exactly.” Damien dropped a rock. “Someone’s using the smartphones to control everyone. Who do you think it might be? Russians? Extraterrestrials? Freemasons?”
“I don’t know,” I said. “Let’s get the others.”
Al and Harry usually came together through the Spencer Street alleyway, so we ran that way and met them about halfway down.
“There were people like that on Main Street, too,” said Al.
“That’s right,” said Harry. “We saw Mr. Graham run into a light pole. He and Benny were looking at their phones at the time.”
“They all right?” asked Damien.
“Yeah, they were barely moving.”
“C’mon.” I trotted towards school “Let’s see where they’re headed.”
We followed the entranced students, now joined by a teacher or two, into Jasmine Park on the other side of the school. They almost seemed to be in a coordinated dance, lurching every which way as if struggling with unseen demons.
“Hey, Rich!” Al’s pal Richard passed by, and Al grabbed him by the arm.
“Watch it, buddy,” said Rich. “If I don’t get to the battle now, I’ll miss out on a ton of points.”
“What battle?” asked Howard.
“Don’t you know anything? It’s the new ‘Battles of Safera’ game, and there’s a major battle happening right now.” He pulled his arm free and charged ahead, staring at his Android.
“It’s a game,” said Al.
“Yep,” said Damien. “That’s how they’re controlling them. With a game app.”
“Yeah,” I said. “Russians or any advanced species would have no trouble getting their apps published. Like shooting fish in a barrel.”
“They’re going to be sitting ducks,” said Al. “All gathered in one place where the Russians can zap them with something from their satellites, or extraterrestrials can scoop them up all at once.”
“Yeah,” said Damien. “Or the Japanese could tie them up in some permanent trance, controlling them for the rest of their lives.”
“We’ve got to shock them out of it,” I said.
Damien cursed. “Yeah, but with what?”
“It has to be something that they would respond to automatically,” said Howard. “Something that puts them in action.”
“The school bell!” I ran toward the side entrance. There was still twenty minutes before the first bell. Would that be to late? If I was a Russian or a space alien or the Japanese or some uberhacker, I’d have accounted for that, so I had to set it off early before whatever was going to happen happened. The well-being of all the people in that park depended on it.
I stormed through the glass doors into the office. The security guard—we called him Uncle Ben—tried to stop me, but I twirled by him like an Alabama halfback, and ran into the swinging gate. Something stopped it, so I bounced and hit the floor.
“What are you doing, Mr. Dickerson?” Vice Principal Harper had her danger voice on.
I picked myself off the floor and climbed over the gate. “It’s a matter of life and death! It’s a matter of national security! For the sake of our nation!” I dove for the Ziggurat tone system and hit the button to sound the bell, then fell to the floor. The sound of the school bell was music to my ears.
“Jimmy Dickerson, you are a menace!” Mrs. Harper grabbed me by the ear and sat me in one of the chairs in front of the desk. I cringed about the trouble I was in as she dialed my mother, but the gratification of seeing students enter the building in hoards filled me with relief. I had to chuckle. They were so intent on the games, they didn’t even look at their clocks.
I sat and waited for my consequences, wondering if they would suspend me, and wondering if anyone, other than my few compadres would ever know the sacrifice I made for the sake of others.
Is it possible this was just a simple game? Was this some conspiracy among the Japanese to take over our minds? Or was it something else far more sinister? I really can’t say. Later that evening, in my notebook under ‘Case 14,’ I marked it “unsolved.”