Chapter Five: Pranks Gone Wrong

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The access to Roberta Hughes was exactly as promised: a fence with an unlocked gate, beyond which stood a small hut. Outdoor lamps washed it in a very, very welcoming glow that went bzzzt-bzzzt every few seconds. There was no movement around it, and the only remotely suspicious shapes turned out to be enormous bags of birdseed.

"Come on," Laina hissed. Since the Strange Incident With The Crows, she had become something akin to a drill sergeant: hellbent on proving she was fine and pushing everyone twice as hard, twice as fast.

Freddie—and Divya too—were panting by the time they'd reached the gate.

Laina scooted through first, while everyone else crept behind a bit more slowly. Freddie and Divya brought up the rear, their corn syrup jugs glugging and glooping with each step. And for the first time since abandoning the cars, Freddie's sixth sense reared back enough for her BFF awareness to slice in.

"Hey," she whispered, "where do you get that sweatshirt?"

Divya smiled slyly, and the frown that had folded across her brow since the Strange Incident With The Crows briefly smoothed away. "Laina lent it to me."

Freddie's grin stretched almost to her ears. "Eeeee," she squealed softly. "You two have moved very quickly, haven't you?"

The smile faded. "I...don't know." Now it was back to the frown. "I'm not sure she...you know. Likes girls. She did date that guy from Grayson High last year."

"Maybe she likes girls and boys."

"I hope so," Divya said, and the look on her face—the earnest hope...It made Freddie's heart tighten.

She only wanted the absolute best life for her Threadsister forever and ever.

The gate squeaked slightly as Freddie nudged it a bit wider to slip through last, and a split second later, she stepped onto the grounds of Roberta Hughes Preparatory School. The elite boarding school for families with too much money.

Freddie had seen it before—she'd come to a few soccer matches. And there was always at least one football game here every season. But she'd never seen beyond their fancy field, and she'd certainly never been in the spooky woods outside.

Freddie had also never trespassed before, much less done so while wearing a Hamburgalar mask, and to her absolute shock, it was exhilarating. The panic of the woods melted away in a surge of adrenaline that made Freddie reconsider everything she had ever known.

All these years, she'd thought she'd wanted to be Sheriff—to use these instincts she'd gotten from her dad and follow...Well, not in his footsteps, since she didn't know enough about him for that. But in Sheriff Bowman's footsteps for sure.

Except right now, the allure of crime was so strong. Freddie was definitely going to have to reconsider her ten year plan when she got home tonight.

With Laina at the lead, the prank squad tiptoed over maple and oak-lined paths (where nary an acorn or fallen leaf dared to disrupt the view), and past benches with plaques in classic Rich People style.

"The RH cross country team runs here," Luis whispered, pointing to trails that snaked into darkness. "But," he added with a toothy grin, "they're mostly flat. Which is why they always lose, and I always win."

"And always will, baby," Cat offered with a boyfriend-indulging smile.

A few more bends in the path and a new light filtered their way. Everyone slowed. Then, at Laina's silent swat-team motion toward the trees, they all ducked off the paths.

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