It happened today. It came through the news reports. Of course it came through the news reports: school shootings always do.
Blossomville High. One student, one gun, one bullet. Marie Stephens went to her locker during lunch and stuck a gun into her mouth and pulled the trigger.
How do we know this is the work of a Boojum and not just some messed up kid that lost at the game of life? (Well, for one thing, we're here - this is where Mister Boots sent us - so there must be something here and this was the only thing that happened.) But there's something else, too. Witnesses to Marie's last day, to her Act of Despair, said that they tried to talk to her, but couldn't.
Nobody talked to her as she went to her locker and took out the gun. Nobody said a word. Except one student (unnamed by the newspaper) who, in fact, heard two words: do it.
This is the work of the Jubjub - otherwise known to others as the Choir. We confirmed this with an interview with Marie's mother:
Mrs. Stephens: I didn't mean to say it. I didn't mean to say it. I didn't. I didn't mean to say it.
Baker: Say what?
Mrs. Stephens: I said it, but I didn't mean it. I wanted to tell her to have a nice day.
Baker: Mrs. Stephens?
Mrs. Stephens: Have a nice day. That's all I wanted to say.
Baker: What did you hear?
Mrs. Stephens: I told her. I told her but I didn't mean it. I told her I never loved her. I didn't mean to say it. I only wanted to say have a nice day. Have a nice day, Marie. Have a nice day.
So that's what we were here for.
Back in our motel, I looked at Frank pleadingly. "What?" he asked.
"Why were we here before it happened?" I asked. "Why send us here before?"
"I don't know," he said. "You can ask him yourself."
"What if we can stop it?"
"We can't." Frank packed carefully, each article of clothing folded and stacked.
"What if we can? What if that's why he's sending us here before they happen?"
"We can't. You know that." He stopped packing. "I'm sorry," he said in a whisper. "What's the next city?"
I looked at the book. "Hope Township, New Jersey," I said. There was something else written next to the city name, as well. I thought it was a joke, though Mister Boots probably never tells jokes.
It read: The Land of Make-Believe.
-- Carol Baker