Mr. Bates was standing at the far end of the hallway when CJ Hastings turned the corner, running at full speed.
“You can slow down and walk right now, buster, or I’ll send you back to your room and you can walk it all over again!” he bellowed down the hall.
CJ stopped, took, deep breath and walked even though his pulse seemed to thunder in his ears. He twitched as he wrestled with his feet. They got in each other’s way and he tripped, almost falling. When he reached the end of the hall, Mr. Bates said, “So, we’re going to another meet Saturday. I take it you’re no longer grounded?”
Disoriented, CJ nodded and said, “Uh…I can be there.”
“Good! I have a new method we can use to help you read the questions, so I’m excited…”
Mom came out of the office and said, “Thanks, Mr. Bates. I’ll take him from here.” She grabbed CJ’s arm and with long strides, rushed them out of the school.
“Mom? What happened?” CJ asked, trying to shake off Mom’s grip.
She didn’t let go as she said, “Not yet. We’re still on the security cameras and I’m sure someone can hear us.”
CJ gave her a funny look as they headed to the car parked in the VISITOR row. Mom unlocked it with the electronic key, starting it as well. When they were in, CJ said, “What happened?”
Mom put the car in reverse and floored it out of the parking lot as she said, “Mai Li is gone again – but this time she left a message.”
CJ sat back in the car seat and stared through the windshield. What was she doing? Where was she going? Who was she with? He asked, “Where’s the message?”
“On the computer at home.” She handed him her PDA and added, “I downloaded it to MicApple. Watch it.”
He nodded and brought up the video function and hit play. The tiny speaker played a thin version of Mai Li’s voice as her face appeared. He squinted. She looked mad. Her voice matched. She said, “I’ve hit a brick wall here. I’ve been on line with that so-called doctor Chaz-what’s-his-name and he refuses to turn my own records to me! Like he could possibly know more about me than I can know! He’s the retard, little brother – not you! I’m obviously the best person to do research on myself.” She paused, took a deep breath, closed her eyes and continued, he voice more calm. “So, my plan – in general, Mom, so don’t send someone after me, I’m the super-hyper-major-genius-babe, here, thank you very much! – is to get out of here and get the information I need by whatever means.” Her lips thinned and her eyes squinted.
CJ recognized the look. When she’d had brain damage, it was the look she put on her face when she was picking up a piece of cereal to put in her mouth; a look of intense concentration. She said, “I intend to bring this to everyone. Not just the rich.” She snorted. “Maybe I can start a plague of intelligence!” Pause. “See you guys later. Don’t come after me.” The image winked out.
CJ looked at Mom and said, “What are we going to do?”
She shook her head. “She’s a super genius…”
“Like The Brain,” CJ said. “She’s gonna take over the world. With brains – to give everyone else brains.” He paused. “She gave me brains. I think we should leave her alone.”
Mom didn’t say anything as she drove, but CJ saw that she sucked in her lower lip and bit it. It meant she was having second thoughts about something she’d done.