"Witness protection. I'm not the dealer or the kingpin. Just the designer."
"What will it take to get you to stop crying?"
"It must be like learning to swim after being dropped in the ocean."
"What if I don't know who I want to be?"
The New Girl
Chapter 7 - The Unruly Girls
Caitlin set out lunch on the dorm room's table. She looked at each of her roommates, Autumn, Skye, and the new girl, Laura. "Go on, eat."
Autumn gave the sandwiches a wary eye. "What's the catch?"
"No catch." Caitlin sat down and picked up an egg salad sandwich. "I know what we're doing next."
Skye grabbed a roast beef on rye. "About time." She took a large bite from her sandwich.
"What are we doing to Verity this time?" Autumn picked through the sandwich pile, settling on a ham and Swiss. "Replacing her hair dye with hair remover?"
"Nothing that juvenile. No, what we're doing is helping." Caitlin grinned.
Skye swallowed her mouthful. "Helping? Helping Verity?"
Caitlin set down her sandwich. "Yes, helping." The redhead used air quotes for emphasis. "I found out that Verity is trying to make one of her classmates look bad. All we need to do is make sure that all the problems trace back to Verity." Caitlin noticed Laura still sitting with nothing on her plate. "Not hungry, Laura?"
"I'm not sure, Caitlin." Laura shrugged. "I've already gotten someone else there angry with me. Besides, why me?"
"Why you, Laura?" Caitlin beamed. "You play an important role in this."
"I'm not spying again."
"I don't need you to spy. I need you to create something big and messy."
"Like what, an explosion?"
Autumn held up her hands to stop both Caitlin and Laura. "I see where this is going. Let me explain. Laura, this is all part of the tit-for-tat war. You missed the tat two weeks ago."
Caitlin grumbled. "Headmistress Stone had me corralling the Jennifers for a week to get them in to see the doctor."
"She wasn't easy on me or Skye, either." Autumn returned her attention to Laura. "That was the tat. Now comes the tit."
Skye rolled her eyes. "Not the image I needed, Autumn." She reached for another sandwich.
"Anyway, Caitlin's now getting back at Verity. That's all."
Laura nodded. "So, petty vengeance."
"If you want to call it that, then yes." Caitlin leaned in. "I need your help, Laura."
"For an explosion." Laura passed over a tuna salad sandwich for a roast beef on a kaiser. "How big a blast did you want?"
"Not that kind of explosion." Caitlin sat back. "Not yet, at least. Just something that creates a big bang and has smoke and creates a panic."
"Do you want some sort of drug in the smoke to create the panic?"
Caitlin thought for a moment. "No, that's too much panic. Think girls squealing because of spiders, not the zombie apocalypse. If I wanted a zombie apocalypse, I'd talk to the goth twin next door."
"What is it you want, then?" Laura grabbed a piece of paper and a pen. "No earth-shattering kaboom still leaves a lot of options open."
"Something that creates a mess, has a big bang, won't injure anyone, and can be made ready for this evening."
Laura looked up from her paper. "I'll need the supplies this afternoon and it'll still be close."
"I know. Vamsi should be coming over soon."
"There's also the delivery system."
"The what?" Autumn licked her fingers. "In English, please."
Laura smiled. "How you're going to set all this off. Are we looking at fuses? Contact ignition? Timer?"
Caitlin smiled. "I was thinking of just throwing whatever you come up with into whatever Verity has planned."
"Can Vamsi get gas grenades fast enough for me to prep them?"
A knock came from the door. Caitlin got up to answer it. "Ask her yourself." She opened the door to usher Vamsi in. "We were just talking about you. Please, have a sandwich. Wouldn't want them to go to waste."
Vamsi entered further into the dorm room. She eyed the pile of sandwiches. "Anything there not made of beef?"
Skye turned the plate around. "Still some egg salad, some tuna, hey, look, more ham and cheese." The tall girl took one of the ham and Swiss for herself.
"Tuna works." Vamsi grabbed a sandwich, then sat down in Caitlin's chair. "Figured out what you need yet, Caitlin?"
"Almost. Laura has a few questions for you."
Vamsi regarded the new girl. "Embracing being one of the Unruly now?"
Laura shrugged. "I'm here, right? If I'm going to be taken by madness, I'm going to throw myself right into it."
Vamsi pulled out a small notepad and a pencil. "Give me your list."
"First, how soon can you get empty gas grenades?"
"Gas grenades?" Vamsi looked over to Caitlin. "I'm good, but not that good. That's police and military, and normally they come pre-filled. Pepper spray, yes. Grenades, those will cost you and will take at least a month."
Caitlin's brows furrowed. "A month is too long. Laura?"
Laura tapped her pencil on the table. "I don't know, Caitlin." She snapped her fingers. "Wait, yes, I do know." The new girl gave her roommates a broad smile. "Mentos and Diet Coke." Laura began laughing.
"Guys, you broke her. Not even twnety-four hours. Must be a record." Vamsi began to stand up.
"None of you have ever dropped Mentos into a Diet Coke before?"
Autumn joined Laura in laughing. "You mean where people have gotten the spray up three stories? Yes!" The Asian girl shifted in her chair to face Caitlin. "When you drop a tube of Mentos into a bottle of Diet Coke, there's a reaction that forces a foamy spray up and out of the bottle."
Caitlin leaned against the wall. "How far is the spray?"
"Mythbusters did a take on it and got the spray well over thirty feet, maybe forty-five feet."
"What's that in metric?"
Laura quickly did the math on her piece of paper. "Thirteen or fourteen metres."
"Vamsi, I will need Mentos and Diet Coke."
Vamsi returned to her seat. "And all of this is on your account, Caitlin?"
"Of course. Laura, how much will we need."
"Four tubes of Mentos, five two-litre bottles of Diet Coke--"
"Wait," Autumn interrupted. "Five?"
Laura nodded. "I like Diet Coke. Oh, Vamsi, can you get real coffee and a coffee maker, too?"
Vamsi paused in her writing. "Multi-cup or single-cup?"
"Single-cup, like what you can get at Tim Horton's?"
Caitlin to a step forward. "Um, Laura--"
"Done," Vamsi said. "I can get you a selection of coffees. Any preferences?"
"Can you add cappuccino to the selection?"
"Laura . . .."
"Easily." Vamsi added the cappuccino to her list. She looked over at Caitlin. "They're making single serve teas now, too. How many should I put you down for?"
Autumn covered her mouth to stifle her laughter. Caitlin ignored her roommate, then sighed. "Fine, Laura, you get the coffee maker, too, provided I get tea. Vamsi, add two dozen tea to your list."
"Already there." Vamsi looked back at Laura. "Anything else?"
"Something water soluable, to put the Mentos in. It's not a fuse, but it should be enough to let us throw the bottles before they explode. Other than that, I think that's it."
Vamsi put away her pen and notepad. "Excellent. Shouldn't take long for the Diet Coke and Mentos. I'll have the coffee maker tomorrow." She grabbed a second tuna sandwich. "Pleasure doing business with you."
Caitlin led her band of merry maidens, herself marching along the sidewalk in downtown Oshawa. The others followed at their own pace and stride. Laura peered into the stores they passed, She noticed that people would cross the street as her group approached. She also noticed the odd stares she received, even with the red blouse and off-white skirt she wore to try to match her roommates' uniforms. The other girls gave no indication of being fazed by the attention the locals were providing. Laura, though, felt the weight of not only their gazes but of the bottle of Diet Coke she carried in a plain white plastic bag.
The plan Caitlin had laid out earlier seemed easy enough. The hardest part would be just getting to the venue, a Legion Hall where Verity's classmate was doing . . . something Caitlin never explained to Laura or the other girls. Caitlin warned the group to be on their best behaviour, especially around any police they might encounter. Girls with Diet Coke aren't necessarily trying to start trouble. Girls with Diet Coke and Mentos might just get taken to the station for further questioning. Laura resisted the urge to pat the Mentos in her skirt pocket. No need to draw attention to herself.
Caitlin turned off the main road on to a side street a few blocks away from her goal. She let her roommates go ahead of her, lagging to check for anyone who may be following, either out of curiosity or concern. There were times for an audience; now wasn't the time. Satisfied that there wasn't anyone trailing the group, Caitlin caught up with the others. "One more block, then turn left. That will get us to the back door." The redhead walked beside Laura. "How are you feeling?"
Laura shrugged. "Nervous."
"And it's past my twenty-four hours."
"No one gets left behind on a mission, Laura. No one." Caitlin slapped the new girl's back. "You'll do well. The Headmistress wouldn't put you with us if you couldn't cope."
Laura flashed a wan smile. "Thanks."
Caitlin ignored the sarcasm in the new girl's tone. "That's the spirit." The redhead hurried to retake the lead, keeping half a step ahead of Skye.
After a few more minutes of walking, the Legion Hall came into sight. Caitlin held up a hand to bring the group to a halt. She knelt down on the sidewalk. The other girls crouched down to hear her. "From here, no talking. Be as quiet as you can. Verity's classmate has the third floor tonight. We'll wait until we see Verity go in, then we'll follow. Our objective is the fourth floor. Don't use the elevator. We'll each take a corner. I'll take the north east. Skye, you go to the north west. Autumn, south west. Laura, south east."
Autumn held up a hand. "Which way's south?"
Caitlin let her head drop. She raised her eyes up to look at Autumn. "This side, towards the front."
"Why couldn't you just say that?"
Caitlin lifted her head again. "Laura, you have this side, towards the back. Now, tell us how to use your idea."
Laura set down her bag. "It's simple, sort of. Make sure that the Mentos are in the container. When Caitlin says so, put the container into the Diet Coke, then put the cap back on as tight as you can. If it's too loose, the spray will force the cap off instead of breaking the bottle. Don't put in the Mentos too early. The Diet Coke will eat away the baggies faster than water would."
"And don't hang around after you set up the combo," Caitlin added. "We want Verity's people to get splashed, not us." She glanced over her shoulder. "By the building." The red-haired girl got to her feet and strode quickly into the shadow of the nearby building. She brushed the dirt off her knees as her roommates joined her. "Verity."
Across the street, four girls, all dressed in identical forest green blazers and plaid skirts, crept towards the Legion Hall's back door. The tiny one, Mackenzie, moved her glasses to the top of her head, then examined the lock. As Mackenzie set to picking the lock, Laura murmured, "That little . . .." Her voice trailed off when Caitlin put a hand on her shoulder. The tiny St Dymphna student held the door open for her comrades before taking one last look around. Mackenzie slipped inside, closing the door behind her.
"Give them a moment. It'll take them a few minutes to get set up themselves." Caitlin checked the time on her watch. "The other group should be arriving soon. We'll use them as the distraction. Skye, go back a block and keep an eye out for them."
Skye dashed down the street, covering the distance easily with her long strides. Autumn peered around the corner. "And if they don't come? Caitlin, this could be a trap."
"I know." Caitlin gave Autumn a lop-sided grin. "I've done my homework. We're waiting on Carly. There's no love lost between her and Verity. The only way they'd team up is to deal with a bigger threat."
Autumn glared at Caitlin. "And what do they call you?"
"Verity calls me that. We've never done anything major to Carly that wasn't collateral to something done to Verity. And that collateral? Carly blamed Verity more than me." Caitlin chuckled at the memory. "To tell the truth, the problem right now between Verity and Carly is Caroline's fault, but Verity just can't see it. The girl's ego is amazing."
"I can't imagine," Laura said.
"I just don't know how anyone around her stands it." Caitlin looked at the time again.
Skye ran back. "Carly and her friends are coming," she reported.
"Good." Caitlin peeked around the corner. "Once they're out of sight in front of the Hall, we move. No talking once we leave here." The red-haired girl waited. Down the block, another group of St. Dymphna girls appeared, all six wearing the school's forest green blazer. The talked amongst each other, taking their time to get across the street. Caitlin rolled her hand, willing them to get moving before her patience exhausted itself. After a few more minutes, the St. Dymhpna students were across and disappearing past the front corner of the Legion Hall. "Go!"
Caitlin led the dash to the Legion Hall's back door, but Skye reached it first. Autumn brushed the door handle with the back of her hand. "No traps." Skye jiggled the handle, testing to see if it was locked. The door opened easily. The tall girl held the door open, letting her roommates through first. Skye followed, easing the door shut behind her.
Autumn and Laura split away from Caitlin to take a back staircase up. They paused at each floor, listening for others who may be near them. At the third floor, they heard a few girls laughing at a joke neither Laura nor Autumn heard. The fourth floor, though, was clear for them. They burst out of the stairwell. Autumn ran on tiptoes towards the front of the building. Laura crept down the hall to find a door that would let her get to the back. The first door the new girl found opened to a empty, unlit room. Laura left the lights off as she picked her way to the windows.
An old vent allowed light from the floor below to seep up. Laura tried to remember the floor plans Autumn had somehow acquired. The old ventilation system had been removed in a modernization plan during the energy crisis of the Seventies. The Legion never had the budget to cover the holes that remained, so the old vents were covered by the old grates and ignored. Laura set down her bag. The main question left was whether the holes for the old ducts were large enough for the bottles of Diet Coke to fit.
Laura held her breath as she removed the grate. Caitlin and her minions may be used to being sneaky, but it wasn't second nature for Laura. Even with being the drug designer in Scarborough, she never had to sneak around. Other people did that, not her. With a last tug, the grate came loose. Laura set the grate down to the side. A shadow appeared on the floor below. Laura pressed up against the wall, waiting. A girl's voice came from below, warbling a song, hitting more notes than missing. Laura let herself start breathing again. She waited for the shadow to move off.
The voice from below trailed away when a second shadow appeared. The two girls below babbled rapidly. Laura ignored the conversation. Instead, since the two girls seemed to be more interested in talking with each other than paying attention to their surroundings, Laura got the Diet Coke out of its plastic bag. She eyed the hole, comparing it to the width of the bottle. To be sure, Laura tried to fit the bottom of the bottle into the old duct hole. The fit was tight, with just millimetres of space left between the sides of the hole and the bottle. Still enough to shove the bottle through, Laura reasoned. She put aside the Diet Coke, then checked her watch. Caitlin had synchronized everyone's watch to her own, and told the group to drop the armed bottles no later than quarter past. Laura still had ten minutes, but more people joined the two girls below.
Laura pushed away the hesitation building in her mind. It was far too late to back out. Caitlin had her involved from the planning stages. Besides, Laura had to decide who she wanted to be. Did she want to be the timid girl who couldn't find her way around? Or did she want to be the one to take action? Action was winning the war, but action wasn''t the part of her having second thoughts.
Another shadow appeared on the floor below. Laura peered over the edge of the hole. She spied the arm of a green blazer. Adjusting her point of view, Laura found the hand at the end of the arm gripping a blue and silver canister. The words were obscured by the tiny hand. Laura laid down flat on the floor, still trying to get a bettler look. She recognized the short hair of the tiny girl below her. Mackenzie. Doubt crawled back into Laura's thoughts. The memories of the girl's disapproving gaze half-hidden by her metal-rimmed glasses slowed Laura. The new girl shook her head as she forced herself to remember Mackenzie picking the lock to the Legion Hall.
Laura prepped the Mentos, placing them one by one into the water soluable baggie. She tried to keep them in a row to make it easier to put in the bottle of Diet Coke. Another time check showed that she still had another five minutes. A glance below told Laura that she might not have that sort of time. Mackenzie was in a good position from what Laura could tell, and she was finishing setting up the canister. Laura opened the bottle of Diet Coke bit by bit, allowing the built up pressure to disperse without causing the soft drink to erupt. She added the Mentos then sealed the cap back on. Bubbles in the diet cola agitated. Laura positioned the bottle, waiting.
The soft drink began to foam. Laura dropped the bottle. She rolled away when she heard the Diet Coke thud on the floor below. There was a pause of silence before the bang. Mackenzie shrieked. Laura got to her feat and ran to the staircase. A cry of surprise came from below. Whether it was from Mackenzie or someone else, Laura couldn't tell. Autumn tore towards the stairwell. Laura fell in behind her, trying to keep up with the Asian girl.
Both girls burst out of the Hall's back door, running full tilt away from the chaos they wrought. The stopped around the corner, huffing and puffing. Autumn held up her hand. "High five!"
Laura slapped Autumn's hand. "Where's Caitlin and Skye?"
"They're coming." Autumn fought to catch her breath. "I hate running."
Laura looked around the corner at the back door. "What happens if they get caught."
"They won't be."
"What if they do?"
"Depends who catches them." Autumn knelt down beside Laura. "If it's Verity, then she's going to lord it over them and use it as blackmail. She'd probably tell Carly that she caught us Unrulies in a plot to disrupt whatever they're doing. Caitlin will be miserable for a week, then she'll come up with her latest vengeance plot. Meanwhile, we'll have to deal with Verity advising Carly on what to do to us."
Laura flashed a forced smile. "And if it's the police?"
"Caitlin and Skye get brought back to the Academy directly to the Headmistress. After that, no one knows. No one's ever returned the same after meeting the Headmistress that way."
"Oh." Laura gulped.
"But Caitlin never gets caught. Verity will know who it was. but Carly won't." Autumn pointed to the front of the Hall. Six girls, now soaked, stormed down the street. "There. That's Carly and her girls."
The Legion Hall's back door opened. Caitlin and Skye ran out, sprinting to get across the street to join Laura and Autumn. "Let's go, ladies," Caitlin said. "Verity's a little upset."
"Caitlin nailed her and Carly," Skye added. "The fireworks were impressive."
"Come along, ladies." Caitlin left at a quick march down the street. The other girls rushed to catch up. The redhead darted left, away from the main road. Laura glanced behind her.
From the Legion Hall, an angry shout broke the tranquility. "Caitlin!"
Caitlin chuckled without slowing her pace. "Ah, good. I was hoping Verity would figure out who was behind this." She turned around, walking backwards now. "Good work, all of you."
Back at the dorm room, Laura fell into her bed. Her heart still beat heavily. "That was different."
Caitlin sat at the foot of Laura's bed. "Couldn't have done it without you." She patted the new girl's leg. "That was truly inspired."
"No, thank you."
Autumn grabbed a text book from her shelf. "Who did you hit, Laura?"
"Mackenzie. She wasn't expecting it." Laura sat back up. "I never saw her face, though."
Caitlin stood up. "For the best. Autumn?"
Autumn sat down at the room's table. "Not sure if I hit any of Verity's crew. Pretty sure I got Kayla, though. I was hoping to nail Caroline."
"I got her, Autumn." Skye opened the fridge to get a Gatorade. "She then triggered her own booby trap."
"I wish I saw that."
Caitlin held up a camera. "Ask me nicely." The redhead sat down at the table. "I was going to send a copy next week to Verity, but she seemed to have figured it out. I might give a copy to Carly, though."
Laura swung her feet to the floor. "Can I ask why?"
"Why?" Caitlin blinked. "Why what?"
"Why we're picking on Verity?"
"Because she is the best at what passes for scheming over at St. Dymphna's."
Skye set down her bottle. "Cait, that's not what Laura means."
Caitlin regarded the new girl. "What do you mean?"
"Why the fight in the first place?" Laura got up. "I know that there's bad blood between the two schools, but why are you and Verity fighting?"
"Oh, that." Caitlin waved, dismissing the question. "It keeps us sharp, her and I both. If I didn't exist, she'd have to create me. Besides," the redhead's eyes narrowed, "she vexes me. She vexes me and I shall have her."
Laura backed away from the red-haired girl. "Forget I asked."
Autumn set out her papers and text book. "It's a mystery of life, Laura."
Skye approached Laura, wrapping an arm around the new girl. "What do you think, Laura? Are you an Unruly Girl?"
Laura returned the hug. "Yeah." She nodded. "Yeah, I think I am."