I stayed in bed for a long time. After all, I had to make my parents think I was still asleep while they prepared for the hustle and bustle of their jobs. Unlike their kids, they had no summer vacation. But as soon as they left, I was out of bed, getting myself ready to go out and meet Ixi, Zeke, and Mark.
Ixi was sitting on a tree stump in front of my house, staring at something across the street, when I came outside. I mean really, intently staring. She didn’t even budge when I came up behind her. When I saw her face, I realized she wasn’t blinking.
“Ixi, what are you looking at?”
“That thing.” She didn’t move.
“That.” She pointed. “The red thing.”
I looked. “You mean the fire hydrant?”
“It hydrates fire? That makes no sense.”
“It makes sense. See, it holds water, and if a house lights on fire, then people come to open it so the water sprays at the fire and puts it out.”
“Well, why is it shaped like that?”
I paused, thinking. I didn’t actually know. “I’m not sure. I guess it just looked good or something.”
“It’s weird. It’s not going to spray water at us, is it?”
“No, it’s not. It can’t open itself.”
“What if someone opens it at us?”
“I don’t know if that’s even possible. The lid’s on real tight.”
“Whatever. It makes me nervous.”
I thought for a second. “… Wait a minute.”
“You’ve seen one of those before.”
She finally looked up at me. “I have? When was this?”
“Yesterday. Mark was leaning on it. Then he asked you who Zia was.”
“That’s so odd. I remember now… he WAS leaning on one of those things. I guess it just seemed normal at the time.” She shook her head. “Whatever. I don’t understand. Let’s just start with the training already, okay?”
I nodded hesitantly. “All right. Training. Gotcha.” Even as she spoke, I couldn’t get that one scene out of my head. Mark. Leaning on the fire hydrant. Why did he do that? He doesn’t normally lean on anything. Usually, he likes to keep his posture straight. And why didn’t Ixi notice it then? What was different?