Wil’s current school had been remodeled a few years ago, and someone along the chain of command had decided that large, chunky furnishings in the primary colors would make a good decorating idea. As such, the public areas like the common and lunch rooms had tables and chairs painted brightly in red, yellow, or blue.
Also, some large, odd accents that may have resembled the idea of modern art were periodically attached to the walls in ways that were meant to be artistic and interesting. These were painted in the primary color scheme as well. The wall shapes reminded Wil of plastic preschool utensils that had been garbled in a disposal accidentally; or of a young scribbler’s interpretation, in crayon, of swooping birds.
Wil crept carefully under a yellow swanlike wall spoon, listening; ruminating on the décor. The hallway was nearly empty.
She was no novice to top secret missions like this one, though she admitted being a little rusty after so many months assigned to a desk job. If only her partner hadn’t moved at the last second on their last case! -Well, regrets wouldn’t help now, and she was finally able to prove herself again.
Wil wouldn’t give “N” the chance to censure anything. She’d slip in completely undetected, finish the job, and file her report before anyone even knew she’d left for her mission.
There was a general hum of sound Wil was attuned to, punctuated by louder exclamations at times. As Wil drew closer to the front of the school, this noise resolved into collective conversations with occasional bursts of laughter or shouts. Wil paused and bit her lip. How would she get past a crowd that size, unnoticed?
A brave beam of sunlight pushed past the dissipating fog and overcast sky outside to lay across the floor of the hallway in front of Wil. Her eyes were drawn to it. She could take the door to outside, since no one would be out there in this chilly weather. Indeed, the doors were all locked this time of year, even to the small outdoor yard with tables by the lunch area. No one would want to eat in the cold.
Wil checked for any prying eyes, then headed right to the door. Wrapping her scarf more snugly, she pushed the door open into freezing air. In an unusual gesture of forethought, she sought a small rock and lodged it in the bottom of the door. This was a trick she’d used back in the Gold Onyx Mission. The latch wouldn’t connect fully, but the rock made the door look fully closed. Wil hoped that enemy sentries would be inattentive, at least till her return.
She folded her arms tightly around her books and herself and traveled quickly around the back of the building where there would be fewer people. It was cold. Wil wasn’t certain what sort of surveillance was in place; so she ducked under windows, hurried past doors, and kept her face shrouded in her purple hood.
In this fashion, she reached the wall that turned to fence the outdoor lunch court. Her stopping point faced north, and somehow also exposed Wil to a chill wind. Shivering, she tried to look spy-like as she peered around the corner into the yard.
Red, yellow, and blue tables and benches sat empty and frozen. Small snowdrifts were gathered in the shaded wall alcoves and at the bases of the tables. Wil’s scarf flapped a bit in the wind, but it wasn’t the only thing doing so.
As she looked closer, Wil could see a discarded brick from the wall sitting on one of the red tables. And there, pinned by the brick, flapped a blue-lined paper with a torn, serrated edge.