“…Oscar you have got to be kidding. I don’t know anything about teaching.” Steve argued. “This sounds more like a mission for Jaime.”
“Jaime’s on a mission…one that needs a female touch. You’re smart enough and here are your credentials, your last teaching job, and so on.” Oscar handed him the packet.
Steve took the packet from him. “When do I start?”
“Monday morning. You’ll be substituting for a Mrs. Larson. She’s the fifth grad teacher.” Oscar informed him. “We’re pretty certain they are working out the archives building that is adjacent to the school. The only problem is there is no entrance from the outside, So it must be inside….
“You know Oscar, I haven’t accepted the position yet.” Steve still argued not wanting to really go through with it.
“Oh yes you have…they called you this morning. We’ve been trying for months to get in there. I was going to send Jaime but they haven’t needed a sub until now. We put your name in and they called just about an hour ago. One of our agents who was manning the phone number we submitted accepted for you.” Oscar explained. “You meet with Mr. Grim. He’s the principal. He’ll take you to your class room.”
“Thanks a lot pal” Steve spat. “Imagine me in a room full of fifth graders.” Steve muttered more to himself than anyone else.
“At least you have the weekend to prepare.” Oscar smiled.
“I have an idea you take the mission.” Steve grinned back letting Oscar know all was going to be fine.
“You’ll see Steve it won’t be that bad.” Oscar pointed out.
“I hope you’re right about that.” Steve mumbled as he left Oscar’s office.
“Oh by the way” Oscar stopped him before he got through the door. “The principal said you were to be there by 8:00 in the morning.”
“Uhhhggg” Steve growled. He slammed the door behind him though Oscar noted that Steve really didn’t mean it as the glass remained intact.
Steve started down the hall and toward the elevator. He was just getting ready to push the button when Rudy came up. “I heard about your latest mission. Think you’re up to it?”
“I’m not sure. I’ll keep you informed.” Steve laughed. “I’ll see you later.
Rudy watched as Steve stepped onto the elevator and the doors closed.
Bright and early Monday morning Steve arrived at the school. He was greeted by Mr. Grim. “You must be Mr. Anderson?”
“I’m Herb Grim. I’m the principal. I’m so glad you were able to start today. I’ve been going nuts trying to find someone. I’ll show you around and then to your class room.”
“That would be just fine.” Steve agreed.
“First the teacher’s lounge, most of our teachers either brown bag it or bring there food from the lunch room. That’s our next stop.”
Steve followed Herb down the hall toward the lunch room. As they drew close Steve could hear the sound of children coming from the direction they were walking.
“There are kids here already?” Steve questioned perplexed.
“Yes it’s our Before/after school program. We call it MAK”
“MAK?” Steve questioned.
“Yes” the principal replied “Medford Avenue Kids.”
“Sounds pretty fun” Steve replied. “They sound like they are having a good time.”
“Yeah” the principal nodded. “They do great things with the kids…” Herb gave him a strange look. “You’ve never worked in a school where they offer such a program?”
Steve shook his head. “I guess not.” They continued to walk down the hall. “What else do they do?”
“I guess they are pretty laid back in the morning. Some of the kids have been here since six this morning. After school, they have more activities for them. They go outside and sometimes if the kids have money a staff member will walk them across the street to that little store with their parents consent of course.”
“Of course” Steve agreed. “Sounds like they have a lot of fun” Steve grinned.
“They do. Anyway this is the lunch room.”
Steve stepped in. There were many children. Some were playing board games, some were doing art projects and still others were reading or finishing up their last minute homework.
“This is where lunch is served and….I would recommend bringing your own lunch.” Herb cautioned.
“Hasn’t changed since my day” Steve laughed. “You do know this is my first teaching gig so to speak.” Steve reminded.
“Yes but we were anxious to get someone. Mrs. Larson had her baby earlier than expected.” Herb finished. “Now I’ll show you to your classroom.”
“That would be great.” Steve followed him up the stairs and down another hallway.
“Here you are.” Herb opened the door. “You have 28 students. I believe 16 boys and seven girls. You have one boy…Donald…he’s special needs. He has a mild form of autism, but he has an aide who is with him.”
“Anything else I need to know?” Steve asked.
“Not that I can think of. Well I better go for now. I’ll be in my office. Oh here I’ll write the extension for you.” Herb grabbed a scrap paper and wrote 1200. “Just call if you need anything, anything at all.”
“How about, a high pitched blood curdling scream?” Steve smiled.
“That has happened.” Herb laughed as he left the room.
Steve looked through a few papers on the desk trying to figure out what the teacher wanted the kids to do while she was gone. He hadn’t gotten very far when a young boy entered the room.
“You…you…you’re not Mrs. Lar…Lar…Larson.”
“No I’m not. I’m Mr. Anderson. I’m filling in for Mrs. Larson. What’s your name?”
“My…my…my name is Donald.” The boy replied.
“Well why don’t you take your seat and we’ll wait for the rest of the kids to come in.”
“I…I…I have to feed…feed…feed Jasper.” Donald headed for the back of the room.
“Who’s Jasper?” Steve asked following him. “Steve stared into the small cage and saw a gerbil.
“He’s…he’s…he’s our class…class…class pet.” Donald got out the food and fed him.
Donald finished and the rest of the kids started coming in. Steve stood at the door and watched as they took their seat.
“Well now that everyone is here….” Steve was interrupted when a tall thin woman entered the room.
“I’m sorry I’m late.” She walked over to Steve. “I’m Connie Phelps. I work with Donald. You must be Mr. Anderson.”
“Yes I am. I was just going to introduce myself.”
Connie took her seat next to Donald and Steve again addressed the class. “Good morning. I’m Mr. Anderson. I’m going to be here for a while. I hope to get to know all of you by the end of the week.”
The kids squirmed in their seats at the site of someone new standing in the front of the room. Why don’t we go around and introduce each other.”
After the introductions were made, Steve fumbled around trying to decide what to do next. A boy in the back of the room tapped his friend on the shoulder. “Hey Jake this cat is no teacher.” He whispered.
“Your nuts Bob” Jake sneered. “Now be quiet I want to see what he wants us to do next.”
Bob sat back and eyed Steve as he passed out work sheets for the children. “Mrs. Larson says she wants you to work on these for the first hour.” Steve was relieved that that’s all he had to do for now. He had planned on staying late and looking around anyway. He thought he would try to really look over all that Mrs. Larson had left.
A few minutes before lunch Connie and Donald left the room slightly before the rest of the children.
“Ok gang.” Steve turned to the kids, a group of boys including Jake and Bobby were giggling in the back of the room. “I guess you can go on to lunch.”
Bobby turned to Jake. “I’m telling you he is no teacher. I don’t know there is something weird about this guy.”
The class got up and headed for the door. Jake and Bobby held back for just a moment.
“Are you two coming?” Steve asked.
“Yes Mr. Anderson.” Jake replied. “We’re coming.” They walked up behind Steve. “I’m glad you’re our teacher.” Jake smiled.
“Me too” Bobby replied. He gave Steve a slap on the back. “You’re pretty nifty.”
The two boys giggled and took their place in line.
After delivering the kids to the lunch room Steve headed out of the building and across the street where he was to meet Oscar to fill him in on anything unusual he may have noted that morning.
“I don’t really have anything right now Oscar.” Steve said as they sat in the small café
“I didn’t think you would.” Oscar smiled. “I just figured you’d like a break for a few minutes.
“I do appreciate that.” They talked about nothing in particular while they ate. On the way out Steve stood in front of Oscar who started laughing
“Ok if that’s what you want.” He gave Steve a small kick on the back end.
“Now what was that for?” Steve complained.
“Well.” Oscar pulled the ‘kick me hard’ sign off of Steve back. “Your sign told me to.” Oscar burst out laughing. “Awe the life of a substitute teacher.”
”Yea more dangerous than an OSI agent” Steve held the sign. “I think I know who did this.”
Within a couple of days Steve had learned all the kids names and they were getting along quite well. Jake and Bobby stopped putting ‘kick me ‘signs on Steve’s back.
On Thursday Jake and Bobby sat in the lunch room eating. “Did you ever notice Mr. Anderson leaves everyday a lunch?” Bobby spoke to Jake.
“So, I would too if I could. This food is horrible.” Jake replied.
“No there is something more. I’m telling you…”
“I know I know he’s not a teacher.” Jake finished.
“There is something weird about him. I can’t put my finger on it…tomorrow if he leaves at lunch. I’m following him.”
“How are you going to do that?” Jake questioned. “We can’t just walk out of here anytime we want.”
“I’ll think of something. I just know there is something strange about Mr. Anderson…If Anderson is even his name.”
“Why would he change it?” Jake wondered.
“How should I know? That’s something I’ll have to find out about tomorrow.” Bobby finished eating and the two got up from their table and dumped their trays in the trash.
“What if he doesn’t go out tomorrow?” Jake asked. as the two joined their friends on the playground.
“I’ll worry about that tomorrow. Come on let’s go play.”
While the kids ate Steve once again met with Oscar. “You mean you haven’t discovered anything yet.” Oscar was hoping the mission would be over. Steve would hand over the information and he’d have his agent back.
“I’m telling you Oscar none of the staff are talking. Maybe we’re in the wrong area.”
“Or they could suspect you’re a plant…be careful huh?”
“I always am.” Steve glanced at his watch. “I’ll see you tomorrow then. I need to get back. Recess is just about over.”
“I hope you have more for us tomorrow.” Oscar patted him on the back. “I can’t stress how vital those documents are. They are worth a fortune…it they were to fall into the wrong hands…”
“I understand.” Steve assured his friend. “I’ll see you back here tomorrow.”
The two them left the café. Oscar headed for his car while Steve headed back across the street.
“So that’s where he goes.” Bobby nudged Jake. “Come here a second.”
The two boys watched as Steve left the café and headed back into the building.
“Wonder why he goes there.” Bobby muttered to himself. “I wonder if he goes there every day.”
“I don’t know. Come on recess is almost over we better get ready to go inside.
Steve no more and sat down when the kids came back into the room. “Ok gang let’s settle down and get back down to business. I hope you had fun outside.” Steve again fumbled through some papers and came across what the teacher wanted them to do next. “I think we’ll work a little on Geography. Why don’t you take out your map books and we’ll…”
After the kids went home Steve decided it was time to get down to business. He poked around the school looking for the entrance into the annex building. It took him about an hour but he finally found that the only entrance from the school was through the cafeteria
Steve walked down the hallway he intended to go into the annex building and see it there was anything going on. But as he neared the lunch room once again the sound of children laughing and playing startled him.
He entered the lunch room. “Hi Mr. Anderson” several voices called out. Two of the girls from his class walked over to him
“What are you doing here?” Rachel asked.
“I heard kids in the building. I thought I better check it out.” Steve looked for the door that led to the annex building. ‘It must be through one of those doors’ he thought to himself.
“We’re in MAK.” Rachel told him
“Oh yea Mr. Grim told me about that my first day. How late are you here?” Steve asked.
“My mom picks me up at five.” Rachel went on. “But some are here till six.”
“Six?” Steve questioned.
“That’s the time MAK closes.” Rachel continued to be a bounty of information.
“Well thank you. I’ll remember that. If I hear kids here after six I’ll check it out.”
“Come on Rachel. Let’s go see if Miss Kim will play a card game with us before your mom comes.” Hand in hand the two girls skipped across the lunch room.
Embarrassed Steve gathered up his personal items and left the building fearing he would never gain access to the annex building.
Friday was a warm day for spring. The children in Steve’s class gathered in the classroom. They had become quite used to their new teacher by now. Bobby and Jake sat in their seats. Donald sat right behind Bobby hanging on his every word.
“Have you decided how you’re going to get out of here to follow him?” Jake asked.
“Bobby nodded. I’ll just follow him out the front door. No one will see me. Grab my lunch out of my locker I’ll eat when I get back here..” Bobby whispered back.
“I still say you are Looney Tune City, but… I’ll get your lunch. I’ll save you a place…if anyone asks I’ll say you’re in the bathroom or something.” Jake leaned closer to his friend.
“Thanks for helping. I still say there is something weird about him.” Bobby continued to whisper.
“Suit yourself. I say there is something weird about you…” Jake chuckled.
“Is there anything you two would like to share with the rest of the class?” Steve gave Bobby and Jake a stern look.
“No Mr. Anderson.” Jake replied. “We’re just talking about last night’s math homework. I didn’t understand one of the problems…Bob helped me out.”
“Speaking of math why don’t you hand your homework in. I’ll look it over during the lunch hour and hopefully I can get them back to you before the end of the day.”
Grumbling the class handed forward their math homework.
Sitting behind Jake, Donald had heard their entire conversation now he too was wondering about this person who was not Mrs. Larson.
At lunch Steve dismissed the kids. Everyone left including Donald who had once again left early with Connie. Steve stood and left the room. He didn’t see Bobby standing next to the drinking fountain. As Steve walked down the hall Bobby was right behind him.
Bob followed at a safe distance. When Steve entered the café across the street Bobby wondered if he should follow. Instead he peaked in through the glass.
“Nothing yet Oscar” Steve greeted his friend. “I’m just going to grab something and take it back to the room. I figured I’d better just start bringing my own lunch. That way I can stay in the school at lunch. I’ll give you a call if there any new developments.”
“I suppose that would be a good idea.” Oscar agreed. “You haven’t found out anything?”
Steve shook his head. “Well one thing. The only entrance into the annex building in the school is through the lunchroom. I’m going to have to find a new way in.”
What about when class is out. I mean..”
I can’t the after school program is there till six. I found that much out.”
“Ok” Oscar muttered. “Let me know if anything comes up.
“I will. I figured it was best to stay in the school. Maybe some of the other staff talk in the lounge or something. I’ll just keep my ears open.”
“That sounds good. Besides if you leave everyday it may raise a few eyebrows.” Oscar concluded.
“That’s what I thought. I’ll call you tonight if I find out anything.”
When Bobby saw Steve headed for the door he ran back across the street and back into the school. No one noticed he had gone. He took his place next to Jake and quickly ate the lunch he had brought with him.
Steve arrived back at the school and had his lunch in the teacher’s lounge. No one mentioned anything about the Annex building.
That afternoon Steve stood in front of the kids. “Ok guys. Mrs. Larson left a quiz for you to take. I figured now was as good a time as any.” He started handing out the test papers.
He set the first paper down on one of the desks in the front row when all of the kids started putting their things away and grabbing library books out of their desks.
“What’s going on?” Steve asked.
“Its…its…its… library day.” Donald tried to explain.
“Library day?” Steve questioned.
Connie walked over to him. “Yes. Every Friday at 2:00 the kids go to the library. The librarian has activates for them. Then they get to check out books. Plus it gives you a break.”
“Well I could sure use one of those.” He turned to the kids. “Let’s go to the library gang.” Steve led the way down the stairs and toward the library. “Now pick out some good books.”
Steve left the children in the care of the librarian and decided to scope out the lunch room. He walked through the now empty cafeteria, he headed for the door he thought just might go into the annex building. He walked over to the door and turned the handle. It was locked.
“Can I help you?” a voice came from behind him.
Startled Steve jumped. “No I’m just looking around. I just started here this week. I’m filling in for Mrs. Larson. I thought I’d just see where everything is.”
“I know what you mean.” The custodian replied. “The cooks lock everything up. I can let you through if you want. This just goes into the kitchen.” The custodian continued to explain.
“That won’t be necessary. Thanks anyway.” Steve turned and headed back out of the lunchroom.”
“Just let me know if you need anything…anything at all.” The custodian called after him.
“I will. And thanks again.” Steve wandered the halls wondering if there was any other way. ‘If that door goes into the kitchen…’ Steve thought he walked out of the building. The Annex building had no outside entrance but he saw where the two buildings came together. ‘The door has to be in the kitchen. I have to get in there somehow. Maybe I’ll wait till everyone goes home. I might be able to find something out then.’
In the library the kids were busy picking out their books. Bobby sat for a long time at one of the tables looking through one of the books he intended to check out. He had two Hardy boy’s mysteries and a book about space travel. He got up from the table and checked the books out. Then went back to his seat he opened the Hardy boy’s and began reading chapter one.
The rest of the kids continued looking for their books. Donald walked over to Bobby.
“What…what…what did you get?” he asked.
“Not much.” Bobby was interested in his mystery.
“That…that…that looks like a cool book” Donald picked up the book on space travel started looking through it. “Hey look!” He cried out. “There’s Mr. Anderson.”
“Where?” Bobby grabbed the book away from Donald. “You’re right…but in here his name is not Anderson. It’s Austin. Col. Steve Austin.” Bobby thought for a moment “Hey Jake come here look at this.”
The three boys sat looking at the picture.
“What does it mean?” Jake asked.
“I don’t know…but I told you he was no teacher. Now we have to find out why he’s teaching our class” Bobby smiled.
Jake snapped the book shut so no other kids would be in on their discovery….
The three boys sat looking at the closed book.
“I wonder what he’s up too.” Jake whispered.
“Yea…yea…yea me too.” Donald interrupted.
Jake and Bobby looked at one another. “”He’s going to blab to everyone.” Bobby complained.
“No he won’t”. Jake smiled. He turned to Donald. “Listen Donald, you can’t say anything to anybody.” He sneered.
“Huh?” Donald replied.
“Come on Donald. Jake balled his hand into a fist. It’s important that you don’t say anything. Do you understand?” Bobby threatened.
Donald nodded. “I…I…I guess so.”
“Let’s just keep it our secret. Sort of like a secret club.” Bobby offered.
“You, you, you have a club?” Donald asked.
Bobby and Jake nodded.
“And, and, and you want me in it?” Donald beamed.
The other two boys nodded. “That’s right. You’re in.” Jake smiled.
“I, I, I’ve never been in a club before.” Donald grinned from ear to ear.
“Is everything alright?” Connie asked as she approached the boys.
Again Donald nodded “Every…every…everything is ok.”
“Well Mr. Anderson will be here in just a moment do you have the books you want Donald?”
“I…I…I do.” He showed her the books he had in his hand.
“Are they checked out?” Connie asked.
“Not…not…not yet” Donald told her
“Well let’s go do that then.” Donald followed her to circulation desk and handed the librarian his books.
“C, C, C, Connie?”
“What is it?” Connie was very patient with him.
“Jake and, and, and Bobby asked me to join their club.” Donald smiled up at her.
“Oh they did?’ Connie raised a suspicious eye brow at Bobby and Jake.
“It’s not a big deal.” Jake tried to explain.
“It is to Donald.” Connie explained sternly.
“Don’t worry Miss Connie. Donald is an ok kind of guy.” Bobby added.
“Al right then, come on Donald we’ll get your books checked out. You boys better hurry too. Mr. Anderson will be here any minute.”
Jake and Bobby grabbed their books. Jake headed for the check out desk and Bobby joined the other kids who had checked out their books and stood waiting at the door for Steve to come get them.
When they arrived back in class Steve glanced at the clock. “I guess you have time for the quiz. It’s not very long.” The class groaned with disappointment.
While the children took the quiz Steve finished grading the math homework the kids had handed in earlier in the day. They both finished at the same time.
“Well gang. I guess that’s it for the week. You have a good weekend and I’ll see you Monday morning.”
The children gathered up their belongings and filed out the door.
When the last child left Oscar entered “aren’t you taking a risk being here?” Steve asked.
“No more than you. I just wondered how the afternoon went. Have you been able to gain access into the annex building?”
Steve shook his head. I’m afraid not. I thought I would hang around till the after school program ends…maybe I’ll find out something then.”
“Good idea. I’ll be in my office till late.” Oscar turned to leave an almost collided with Donald on the way out.
“I’m sorry.” Oscar replied.
Donald looked from Oscar to Steve and then back again. “Are…are…are you his dad?” Donald pointed to Steve.
Oscar glanced at Steve who shrugged.
“No I’m not I’m just a friend.” Oscar replied.
“Oh..ok I…I…I forgot my library book. Can…can…can I get it?”
“Sure Donald. Go ahead.” Steve pointed to his desk. “Are your parents waiting for you?”
“No, I, I, I go to MAC today” he grabbed his book and left the room.
“How late do you think you’ll be here?” Oscar asked after Donald had left.
“The program closes at six. I suppose sometime after that. I just want to see if I can get into that annex building.”
“I’ll be waiting for your call.” Oscar left the class room and headed home.
Steve glanced out his window that overlooked the playground. He could see several children playing on the equipment. ‘I wonder if that’s the after school kids’ He thought.
He left the room and headed down to the cafeteria. As he drew close he didn’t hear any kids. He looked around and saw one of the MAC teachers sitting by the door leading outside.
Steve slipped past her and ducked into the cafeteria unnoticed. He walked across the floor toward the door that led into the kitchen.
Out on the playground Jake and Bobby approached one of the adult leaders “Miss Linda, can we go get a drink?” Jake asked.
Linda nodded and as the boys raced toward the building Linda informed the teacher sitting by the door that the two boys were coming in.
At the same time Donald approached another teacher asking if he could go into the bathroom. He followed Jake and Bobby into the building.
As they approached the cafeteria door Jake glanced inside. He and Bobby watched as Steve walked through the open door of the kitchen.
“What do you suppose Mr. Austin is up to now?” Jake whispered.
Bobby shrugged “Come on let’s find out. The two followed Steve while Donald followed Jake and Bobby through the door that led into the kitchen….
Just as the boys were ready to walk through the door into the kitchen Miss Linda came into the cafeteria “Boys” She called “you need to be outside.”
The three were startled and turned quickly and headed back across the cafeteria leaving Steve unaware they had even seen him. He was busy working the lock trying to get it open.
When he finally managed he was in the archives building. ‘Now’ he thought to himself. ‘Let’s see what we have in here that’s so valuable.’
Steve spent a couple of hours looking but found nothing that was even remotely related to the OSI, NSB or even the KGB for that matter. As he passed through the kitchen he could hear voices. Most were adults. But a couple of children’s voices interrupted ever so often
As he drew closer to the kitchen door he glanced down at his watch. ‘5:55’ he thought. ‘The last of the kids should be going home…then I can get out of here with no one seeing me.’
A few minutes later the last parent showed up and the cafeteria was soon empty. Steve slipped out unnoticed, then he left the building and headed for the OSI to meet with Oscar and tell him he had discovered nothing.
“I’m afraid I may be chasing shadows.” Steve muttered as he and Oscar sat talking.
“You didn’t find anything?” Oscar asked.
Steve shook his head. “I only found out that back in 1935 a janitor and teacher were both suspended for having a romance in the broom closet. Real juicy stuff” Steve smirked.
“Not what I was looking for.” Oscar scowled.
“Hey don’t go heavy on me. It’s not my fault there is nothing there.” Steve snapped back.
“I’m sorry Steve. I just know that they are using this school to filter top secret information to other countries. I’m sure they store it all in the archives building.”
“That could very well be. I just haven’t found it yet. Give me this next week. Since the weather is so nice the kids have been spending more time outside. They go out as soon as they get there. I may have more time on Monday.”
I hope so.” Oscar sighed. “If we lose anymore information I don’t know what we’ll do.”
“I’ll handle it Oscar, don’t worry about it. At least now I know where to go and how to get in. The rest will be easy.”
“Steve you need to do more than just retrieve the documents…you need to disband the organization.” Oscar reminded.
“I will. I’ll see you Monday after school. By the way I don’t think it’s such a good idea for you to show up at the school. I mean if anyone is watching and sees the two of us together…”
“I get what you’re saying. I’ll let you come to me.”
Monday morning came and Steve found himself back behind the teacher’s desk as his group of fifth graders gathered in front of him.
‘At least their teacher left step by step what they were supposed to do.’ Steve thought as he stared out at the eager faces ready to learn.
“Ok guys let’s start by handing in our math homework.” Steve started.
At noon Donald sat in between his new friends Jake and Bobby who wanted to keep a special watch on their special friend.
“I wonder what he was doing last night.” Jake began as he played with his mashed potatoes.
“Beats me” Bobby replied. “I mean why would a teacher stay after school to go into the kitchen?”
“May, may, maybe he wants the cooks recipe for something.” Donald suggested.
“I hardly think so. And besides we know he’s not really a teacher anyway.
“I, I, I got it.” Donald interrupted again. “Maybe he’s a spy.”
Jake and Bobby burst out laughing. “Yea he’s here to find out why are food tastes so bad…” Jake snorted.
“Wait a minute.” Bobby snapped his fingers. “Maybe ole Don here isn’t to far off. He could be a health inspector. I mean that would explain why he wants to get into the kitchen all the time.”
Jake nodded. “You might have a point.” He agreed. “I mean that makes just about as much sense as anything else.” The three boys sat silently as they finished their lunch.
“I think it needs further looking into though.” Jake spoke as the carried their trays to the garbage to dump them.
As they stood on line together to go outside Bobby leaned over to Jake and Donald. “Come on. Let’s go back up to the room. Maybe we can find out more about Mr. Anderson…I mean Austin.
The three crept down the hall and back up to their class room. Steve sat at the teacher’s desk grading their math homework.
After a while when nothing seemed to be happening Bobby turned to the other two ‘come on let’s go play while we still have some recess left.”
Jake and Bobby turned to leave, Donald watched for a few seconds more. He watched as Steve glanced up at the clock.
“Dam’ he cursed. “Recess is just about over. I wanted to finish this before the kids got back. He gave a quick glance then using his eye to quickly look at the paper and decipher which problems were correct and which were wrong…with lightening speed he began checking the remainder of the papers.
Donald stared in amazement till Jake and Bobby came back and grabbed from the doorway. “Donald come on.” Bobby griped.
“But…but…but you didn’t see…” Donald tried to explain the manner in which Steve was grading the papers.
“Yea right” Bobby smirked. “Come on we need to catch up to the rest of the group before the bell rings.”
“I…I….I’m telling you the truth.” Donald objected.
“Yeah and my grandfather is the President.” Bobby continued to laugh.
“I…I…I’m not lying.” Donald cried. He ran away from Bobby and Jake.
“We better go get him.” Jake started to go after Donald.
“What if he blabs?” Jake was still ready to go after Donald.
“And who’s going to believe him?” Bobby smiled “especially if he tells that story first.”
“I guess you’re right.” Jake agreed. “Come on we better get outside before the bell rings so we can walk in with everybody else.
After leaving Jake and Bobby, Donald wandered around the halls for several minutes before Mr. Grim approached him. “Donald shouldn’t you be in class?”
Donald was still crying. “No… no…nobody believes me.” He sobbed.
Mr. Grim took Donald by the shoulder. “Come on with me. We’ll clean you up then you can tell me why you are crying. Is it because Ms Connie isn’t here today?”
Donald shook his head. “No… no… no Mr. Grim It… it…it’s just I thought Jake and Bobby were my friends…and now…now…now…”
“They won’t believe you. Believe what?” Mr. Grim prodded.
“I… I…I can’t tell.” Donald tried to explain.
“You can tell me.” By now Herb Grim had led Donald to his office. “I better call Mr. Anderson and tell him you’re with me.”
Herb sat down behind his desk and dialed up to Steve’s class room. “Mr. Anderson?”
“Yes.” Steve replied. “I’m glad you called. I seem to be minus one student.”
“Donald Rich?” Herb replied.
“That’s the one….is he with you?”
“Donald was a little upset. I found him wandering the halls. He tends to do that when Connie isn’t here. I’ll just keep him with me a few minutes then I’ll send him up.”
“Thanks. I was getting worried.” Steve responded.
“I’ll see you in a bit Mr. Anderson.” Herb hung up the phone and turned to Donald “Now why don’t you tell me what has you so upset.”
“Well…well…well first of all he’s not Mr. Anderson.” Donald began.
“He’s not? Well then who is he?” Herb seemed curious Was this just Donald’s imagination or had his organization been discovered.
“His…his…his real name is Austin…Steve Austin.” Donald blurted out forgetting his pact with his friends. “We…we…we think he’s a health inspector or something. But then…” Donald told Herb the strange way in which Steve had graded papers.
“You know what Donald. I believe you.” Herb took the boy by the hand. “Come on. I’ll take you back up to class.”
“I…I…I can go myself.” Donald replied.
“I’ll let Mr. Anderson know you’re coming. Oh and Donald don’t let on that you know his name is Austin…ok.”
“Oh…oh…ok Mr. Grim.” Donald headed out of the office.
As soon as he did Herb Grim picked up the phone and called his friends at KGB Headquarters inside the Soviet Embassy.
“I have some rather interesting news involving one of our substitute teachers” he began.
“What might that be?” The annoyed man on the other end replied.
“I just found out his name isn’t Anderson. One of my students just informed me that its Austin. Isn’t there an agent with the OSI named Austin?”
“I believe you’re right.” He was less annoyed now. “I’m sure he is after the same thing we are.”
“What do you want me to do?” Herb asked.
“I guess you’re going to have to kill him.” The agent at the KGB stated matter of factly.
“That may not be that simple…” Herb went on to explain the way Donald had told him he was correcting papers. “I was skeptical at first but now I’m not so sure. I know that our country has failed at creating a cyborg. Maybe the Americans have accomplished that. From what young Donald told me…”
“Yes…yes I quite agree.” The agent replied. “I think I have a better idea. You say you are almost ready to wrap this mission up.”
“There are a few more things I have to get out of the archives building I can be done tonight.” Herb sneered.
“Very good I’m sure our friend Austin will attempt tonight. In the mean time I’ll get in contact with our people in Russia. They can decide if they want Austin or not. In the mean time…wait for him to try and get into the archives building tonight. Then lock him in the freezer. Our people have told us that is the only way to neutralize a person with bionic capabilities.
“Then what?” Herb asked wondering they would do after that.
“Then our people will come and either destroy him or take him to Russia for further study.” The agent replied.
“My part sounds easy.” Herb smiled. “I’ll see you tonight then?”
“Someone will be there.” The agent assured.
Herb hung up the phone and dialed again.
Outside his office Donald who had come back to ask Mr. Grim a question had overheard the entire conversation. The young boy was more confused than ever. He knew if he went to Jake and Bobby they would only laugh at him again. He had to some how convince them to join him after school that night.
The rest of the day went slow for Donald. He missed his special teacher. Everything seemed to go smoother for him when she was around. Finally the bell rang to end the day. Donald, Bobby and Jake headed down to the cafeteria for MAK.
Up in the class room Steve watched the playground hoping the after school kids would be going out soon.
Finally they all headed outside and Steve headed down to the cafeteria.
Out on the playground a nervous Donald tried to convince the Jake and Bobby to go back into the building with him.
It didn’t take much convincing considering what the boys had seen the day before. They all approached a staff member with a different reason to go inside.
As they entered the school they again saw Steve heading through the kitchen door. Again they all followed. They stood frozen as Mr. Grim approached their teacher.
“Now what’s he doing here.” Bobby whispered.
“Good evening Col. Austin.” Herb started.
“I’m sorry?” Steve replied.
“I know who you are. We at the KGB have our ways. I also know you after the same thing we are.”
“And what might that be?” Steve asked.
“You’re never going to find out. We also know you are bionic.” Herb shot him a look
Just outside the kitchen the three boys stared at one another.
“Is that a fact? That’s strange cause I have no idea what you’re talking about.”
“Well maybe this will remind you.” Herb picked up a steel pipe and before Steve knew what was happening Herb smashed him in the head. Steve fell to the floor unconscious.
The boys stared in terror as the principal dragged Steve over to the freezer and undid the combination lock. He pulled Steve inside and slammed the door locking it behind him.
Then he headed for the door that led to the archives building to complete his assignment.
“Where did you get this report?” Oscar barked at Russ.
“It just came in.” Russ wheezed from running all the way to Oscar’s office.
“So the principal is not who he seems. I better get over to the school and warn Steve.” Oscar jumped from his seat.
“I’ll drive.” Russ offered.
They arrived outside the school just as Herb Grim was locking the door to the freezer.
Russ and Oscar raced up to Steve’s classroom. “He’s not here!” Oscar shouted. “Let’s get to the kitchen. Steve says that’s where the entrance to the archives building is!”
They flew down the stairs and worked their way to the kitchen. They stopped when they saw the three boys standing in the doorway of the kitchen.
Oscar recognized Donald as the boy who had come into Steve’s room to retrieve his book. “Do you know where Mr. Anderson is?” He asked the boy.
“He’s in there.” The three pointed to the freezer door.
“We’ve got to get him out or there!” Oscar cried staring at the combination lock. “Russ, go get a janitor to see if he can get the door open!” Oscar continued to shout.
Without saying a word Donald walked over to the freezer and after a few quick turns released the lock.
The door flew open and Oscar ran into get Steve. “Steve!” He called.
Steve was just starting to come around from the bump that had rendered him unconscious.
“Just take it easy.” Oscar cautioned. “You were knocked unconscious and thrown into a freezer. Can you move anything at all?”
Steve tried balling his hand into a fist but wasn’t able too. He slowly shook his head.
“Come on I’ll help you get out of here so you can warm up.” Oscar supported Steve as the two walked out of the freezer.
By the time they were out Russ arrived with the janitor. “It’s ok.” Oscar called as to not draw to much attention to the situation. “We got it.” He turned to the three boys “Though I don’t know how we got it.” He looked up at Donald “How did you know the combination?” He sounded a bit suspicious.
“I think I can explain.” Jake started. “You see first of all Donald has this weird thing about numbers.
“Yeah even though he’s stinko at math He remembers numbers very well. He’s probably helped one of the MAK Staff with snack once. Even though you don’t think he’s paying attention…he is.” Bobby interrupted.
Oscar walked over to Donald. “Well son you saved my friend here. I don’t know if he could have stayed in there any longer.”
“There…there…there’s more coming.” Donald tried to explain.
“What was that?” Russ asked.
Donald told them the entire conversation he had heard while standing outside the principal’s office. “I…I…I didn’t mean to make trouble. I didn’t know Mr. Grim was a bad man.”
Of course you didn’t” Oscar assured. He turned to Jake. “Are there other kids around?” He asked.
Jake and Bobby both nodded. “Yeah we’re all outside though.”
“Russ we have to get them to a safe place. If the Soviets show up I don’t want any of these kids to be hurt.”
“I’ll go get one of our teachers.” Jake offered.
“That’s fine. Go with him Russ. Help explain what’s going on.” He quickly turned his attention back to Steve. “Feeling warmer pal?”
“Steve nodded. I just want to make sure the kids are out of harms way.” He stated.
“We’re taking care of that right now.” Oscar explained.
Again Steve nodded. “I’m feeling much better. You said I was locked in the freezer…how did I get out?”
“One of your students knew the combination.” Oscar continued.
Russ arrived back in the cafeteria. “They’re moving the kids to a secure location in the building.” He grabbed Bobby and Donald “You need to come with me. I’ll see to it that you’re safe.”
“Russ.” Oscar called after him. “I’d rather you stay with the kids. I’m sure Steve is going to be just fine.”
“I will. You be careful yourself.” Russ cautioned.
“I will.” He turned back to Steve. “Are you already?”
Steve nodded. “Yeah I think we can finish this up right here. Donald said they were sending some one…no doubt to get me. Get a back up team in place. If I had to deal with just the principal…”
“I understand.” Oscar called a team together and they waited outside the building for Steve to make his move.
After everyone left Steve closed the freezer door and locked it. Then he found a cupboard to hide in a waited for his enemy to arrive.
It was well past six and the children had all gone home when three men entered the kitchen joined by Herb Grim the principal who laid a folder on the counter.
“Where is he Herb?” One of the men asked.
“I put him on ice like you instructed. He’s in here.” He pointed to the freezer.
Herb went over to the freezer door and opened it. They were all shocked to see no one there. They all stepped inside for a better look.
“Lose something?” Steve sneered from behind. He couldn’t resist. He quickly slammed the door shut then bent the handle so they couldn’t get out.
Steve walked over to the counter where he picked up the folder Herb had just laid down. He looked it over then went into the archives building. He decided this time to scan the room with his eye. “So that’s it.” He muttered to himself.
He walked over to the wall and moved the large bookcase that blocked a hidden door. “This is where they have been working.”
They had a regular office set up with phones and everything else. Steve walked over to a filing cabinet and was about to break into it when he heard a voice behind him.
“What did you find?”
Startled Steve turned around. “Oscar.” Relief poured out of him. “You scared me to death.”
“Well that makes us even.” Oscar smiled. “When you didn’t come back out I got worried. I saw the freezer door. I take it our friends are cooling off?”
Steve nodded. “I was just about to open this filing cabinet.” Steve gave a tug and the drawers opened.
“What do you have in there?” Oscar tried peering over Steve’s shoulder.
“It looks like all of our stolen files.” Steve presumed.
After looking through some of the files they agreed that they were the missing files. Not only files from the OSI but from the FBI, CIA, NSB and every major government agency.
“I wonder how much of this actually got out?” Oscar wondered
“I don’t know. But I think we better check on our friends. We’ll hand them over to the task force then you Russ and I can figure out what’s what.” Steve suggested.
“I’ll stay here.” Oscar offered. “I’d leave you but someone has to open that freezer door and I’m afraid you’re the one. Send Russ in. We’ll start going through all of this.”
“I’ll do that. But if you hear anything you run for cover.” Steve cautioned.
“I’ll do just that.” Oscar assured.
Before he headed down to where Oscar’s task force has assembled. Steve fixed the lock on the freezer door. “I’m sure they won’t get out before I get back.” He thought to himself.
He arrived outside where Oscar’s task force stood waiting. “Russ do you know how to get into that archives building?”
“Good I left Oscar there going over some files. Just call to him. He’ll let you know where’s he is.
Russ headed into the building and Steve led everyone else back into to the kitchen. “They’re all in there.” He pointed to the freezer door. “I’ll stay for a second while you escort them out just in case there is trouble”
They opened the door the three men stood shivering. “I think it will be a while before they thaw. Turn them over to the NSB.”
Steve left the rest up to the task force and joined Russ and Oscar. They spent most of the night in the little room in the archives building going over files.
By the end of the week Oscar, Russ and Steve sat in Oscar’s office. “Well we did it. The ring is gone. They won’t be using the school anyway….”
“I’m sure they’ll find another way.” Steve finished.
“I suppose you’re right.” Oscar sighed.
Steve stood to leave. “Well I’ll catch you guys later.”
“Where are you going?” Oscar wondered.
“I want to pay my friend a little visit…thank him for knowing the combination to that lock. It’s Saturday he should be at home.”
“I’ll see you this later then.” Oscar gave him a wave.
Steve had looked up Donald’s address before leaving the school, he drove to the address and parked at the curb.
He got out of the car and walked up the steps crossed the porch and rang the bell.
A tall thin woman answered the door. “Yes can I help you?”
“I’m looking for Donald Rich. Does he live here?
The woman nodded.
“I’d like to see him. I was his substitute teacher. I have something I need to tell him Mrs. Rich.”
“Oh dear” the woman laughed. “I’m not Donald’s mother. Come on in.”
Confused Steve stepped inside.
“I’m sorry I’m Donald’s foster mother. Donald is staying with me till they can find him a suitable home. It’s not easy placing special children like Donald. I’ll go get him.”
She disappeared and reappeared a few moment’s later with Donald
“Hi there Donald” Steve spoke. I never did thank for helping me out the other night.” Steve smiled at him.
“Th…th…that’s ok Mr. Anderson…I mean Mr. Austin.” Donald smiled.
Steve turned to the woman who had answered the door. “You say Donald is living with you till they find him a home?”
The woman nodded. “Except I don’t know how much longer Donald will be here.” She tried to explain.
“What do you mean?” Steve asked.
“I can only have children through the age ten. Donald will turn 11 next week. His case worker is working on finding a new foster home for him.”
“Really?” Steve questioned. “Well give me the name of his case worker, cause I think we just found one.”
“You want Donald as a foster child?” She questioned.
Steve shook his head. “I was thinking of making it a little more permanent than that.” He smiled.
The woman thought for a moment till it sunk in she gasped “Are you saying you want to actually adopt Donald?” The woman asked.
“That’s exactly what I’m saying. I’ll see you soon.” Steve turned and left the house and went straight to his lawyer’s office.