Choose Your Own Adventure: The Mendigans
by Tony Noland
Don't start reading here! Go back to the beginning of this story, and Choose Your Own Adventure!
Option 2) Sneak off to the music store to find more secret messages.
Together, Michael and Latoya walked toward the school door. Before they could reach it, the principal, Mr. Shirmer, stepped in front of them.
"Michael? Your classroom is that way."
"Uh, yeah, I just, um..."
"He left his books outside!" Latoya said. "He needs to get them."
Mr. Shirmer frowned. "Then what are those?" he said, pointing at Michael's backpack.
"Those are... my regular books. I need to go get my... other books. My library books. Which I left outside!"
The frown deepened on Mr. Shirmer's face. He clearly did not believe them. However, to the children's relief, neither did he start to sprout tentacles anywhere. He stood giving them a look that would have terrified them yesterday; after what they'd been through on the bus, it was as good as an indulgent smile. After a moment, he stepped aside and let them leave, warning them to be back inside before the first bell rang in ten minutes.
"Wow!" said Michael. "I thought we were done for!"
"Me too! I wonder why Mr. Shirmer wasn't kidnapped and replaced by an alien. I would have sworn they'd have taken over all the positions of power and authority." As they walked across the parking lot toward the far gate, they did not see Ms. Abermulcher, the principal's secretary, leaning out of the window, watching them. In a flash, her wrinkles smoothed out as she took on the form of a Mendigan, tentacles wriggling in the sunshine.
As one, Michael and Latoya turned back toward the school, a mental pressure on their brains calling, calling, calling them to return to their classroom.
"Run!" Latoya screamed. She pulled at Michael's arm and he snapped out of the trance, stumbling with her to run away from the school.
Twenty minutes later, breathless and sweating, they came to a halt outside the music store.
"It must... get weaker... with distance..." Michael gasped. "We need... to keep... alert..."
Latoya nodded, gulping air as quickly as she could. She pushed open the glass door and went inside, Michael close behind.
"Who is that?" a shaky voice called from the back room.
"Uh, it's us. I mean, we're customers." said Michael.
"What do you want? Never mind, go away! We're closed!"
"But the sign on the door says 'OPEN', and the door was unlocked." said Latoya.
"So? We're closed! Go away!"
Latoya and Michael looked at each other in confusion. "But we need to listen to some music! We need to do it right away!"
"How do I know you're who you say you are?"
"You mean," said Michael, "that we're customers?"
"No, that you're... that you're..."
"Human?" guessed Latoya.
The curtain in the doorway flew back, revealing a skinny, bearded man. He looked frightened as he ran to the door, locking it and turning the sign to 'CLOSED'. "You've seen them?" he whispered. The children nodded. "Oh, thank goodness! I mean, it's not good that there are aliens all over the place, but that someone else sees them too! I was afraid I was going crazy."
"How many have you seen?" asked Michael.
The man looked from side to side, then said, "Dozens, hundreds even. Half the cars on the street are being driven by them. The police, the firemen, even the newspaper delivery guy - they're all aliens. They all have those horrible tentacles behind their ears, yuck!" He shuddered.
"We only saw a couple." said Michael. "Our bus driver, Mr. Bernstein, and the school secretary, Ms. Abermulcher. But they looked normal at first, then kind of... changed."
"That's strange!" the man said. "They are just aliens to me."
Latoya snapped her fingers. "The music! It must be the fact that you listen to so much music here in the store!"
"What does that have to do with it?" the man asked.
Quickly, Michael and Latoya explained their theory about music played backwards, and how it gave some protection from the mind control of the aliens.
"... and so we came here to see if there are other messages from whoever is trying to help us!" Latoya finished.
"Hmmm," said the man, "that could be. People have been hiding messages in music for a long time. In fact, there's one piece of classical music by Bach that is *supposed* to be played both backwards and forwards. I just got in a new recording of it. When I tried playing it backwards, I could have sworn I heard some kind of words, like some driving directions. Of course, when I played the new Taylor Swift album backwards, it talked about somebody's secret plan. Which one do you want to listen to first?"
What will you do?
Option 1) Listen to Bach to get directions.
Option 2) Listen to Taylor Swift to learn about the secret plan.
Feel free to comment on this or any other post.
Posted Tuesday, April 06, 2010