STAWP | Chapter 29

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"Class, this is Saffron Thompson." The teacher introduces me. He has a tie on and everything, which is way more dressed up than I'm used to from teachers at OPS.

"Sofie," I correct him, hoping he doesn't make me write my name on the board and introduce myself the way some teachers do.

"Oh, Sofie, alright." He makes a note on his attendance sheet. "I'm Mr. Hanks. Like Tom Hanks." He grins and the class groans. "What's your favorite Tom Hanks movie, Sofie?"

I stare blankly at Mr. Hanks and he starts listing movies. At least I'm guessing they're movies, since I've never heard of any of them. "Is it A League of Their Own? Sleepless in Seattle? Forrest Gump? Philadelphia? Cast Away? Come on, don't be shy." He keeps going with more titles.

We have a TV with cable at home, but Dad's the only one allowed to watch it. When he's out of the house, I'm too paranoid that he'll come home and catch me holding his precious remote to bother. Plus, I prefer to read books or comics instead.

I've seen a couple of movies at school, but most of what I know comes from my best friends. I don't remember either of them ever mentioning Tom Hanks though. Anna loves Disney and recaps everything for me, while Jen talks about rom coms and horror flicks. Sometimes, their TVs run in the background when we're doing homework, but it's usually sitcoms and I rarely pay attention.

Mr. Hanks stares at me expectantly. I guess when Zara warned me that the math teacher's a little weird, she wasn't kidding. I look to my classmates for help, but they're all staring at me expectantly. I know I have to say something, so I pick a random title. "Sleepy Philadelphia?"

The class bursts out laughing and Mr. Hanks shakes his head. "Very funny, Sofie," he tells me with a long drawn-out sigh. "Why don't you go take a seat?"

I'm not really sure what's wrong with the movie I picked—maybe it's super lame— and do what the teacher says. The only empty seat is between Logan and Zara. That's probably what POW meant about them keeping an eye on me, but it's not like I really mind sitting with them. I'm more worried that POW ordered them not to let me leave their sight and Zara plans to follow me to the bathroom and everything.

If that doesn't make things difficult enough, there's the guard POW has watching me. I wouldn't have even noticed him if I hadn't been obsessing with Logan. On the walk in from the school parking lot, I kept sneaking glances at him. He looked super cute in his shower-curtain coloured t-shirt, and I kept getting flashbacks of last night. Then I snuck another peek over my shoulder and spotted suspicious-looking guy sitting in a car across the street. He had sunglasses on and a baseball cap tilted down to hide his face, thought it was obvious he was watching us—me.

Having a guard around is definitely going to make running away a lot harder. It may not be just the one guy out front, either. What if I sneak out back, and there are more lying in wait? For all I know, POW has every side of the school being watched and different parts of town. If that's the case, I'm going to need a plan, or a seriously good disguise. Maybe I can sneak into the drama room at lunch and grab a wig and a different outfit.

I take my seat, pull out one of my new binders and open my pencil case. It feels really weird to take notes when I'm going to start over at a new school anyway, but I don't want anyone getting suspicious.

Logan and Zara both look at me a few times expectantly and then stare at each other, as if carrying on a silent conversation. They do this for a while, making me really uncomfortable. I notice that other kids from the pack keep glancing at me as well, and even a few of the humans. Like I'm a guinea pig or a science experiment or something.

On my first day at OPS the wolf kids used to stare at me like that too. I only started school in grade four, so I was the new kid and the only rogue, which made me really stand out. I don't know what everyone's problem is here though. All the pack kids saw me at breakfast, and they weren't staring at me then. Were they only being polite because POW and Luna were around?

I try to ignore everyone as best I can and focus on the class, but Mr. Hanks is talking about probability and statistics, which we already covered at OPS. At least half of the class is watching me instead of paying attention, but if Mr. Hanks notices, he doesn't say anything.

"To demonstrate how statistics works, we're going to play a game." He claps his hands together like a little kid. "It's called," he pauses and imitates a drum roll for effect, "Rock Paper Scissors Lizard Spock."

There are a few giggles and a lot of groans, mostly from the humans—none of the wolf kids are paying any attention—but Mr. Hanks isn't discouraged.

"Give it a chance, guys. You're going to love it!" He draws a pentagon on the board and explains the rules. "The first part is like regular rock paper scissors. You know... Rock! Paper! Scissors!" He makes each shape with his right hand. "Then, scissors cut paper, paper covers rock... you with me so far?" Some of the human kids nod. "Good. After that, just add in Lizard and Spock. Rock crushes lizard, lizard poisons Spock...," Mr. Hanks lists them off quickly, and I get totally lost. "Paper disproves Spock, Spock vaporizes rock, and as it always has, rock crushes scissors," he finishes with a flourish.

Everyone looks as confused as I am—we never covered any of this at OPS—and a few of the human kids ask Mr. Hanks to repeat the rules. The teacher grins and passes out a handout. When I get my copy I see that the rules are all written out and there's even a diagram of the hand gestures.

"Okay everyone, I want you to get into groups of four," Mr. Hanks tells us and everyone starts pairing up. Chatter breaks out, followed by the clatter of chairs and the squeaks of desks being pushed together.

"Are you mad at us?" Zara asks me, bringing her chair closer.

"Mad?" I look at her in surprise. "Why?"

"You were ignoring us. I thought..." she trails off.

"What?" I ask, totally confused. "When?"

Zara and I were talking when we came into class and we only split up so I could go to the teacher and show him my schedule.

"Sofie, I..." Zara begins, but Logan interrupts her.

"You can hear us, right?" He gives me a weird look.

I look back and forth between the two of them, trying to figure out what's going on. It takes me a few seconds, but then it just clicks. Without POW and Luna or any of the other adult wolves around, they've decided to play a prank on me. It looks like they got the other wolves in on it, too. Instead of paying attention to their groups, they're all sneaking glances at me, as if I'm the entertainment.

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