*Part one* of “The TSO.”
The key was retrieved not by climbing the rope but by shaking it. On its ring, the key spun its way toward us at a rapid rate. It took a lot less time than I had expected it to. We could still complete the mission!
When it was close enough, Savannah slipped the key off the line and clipped it onto her rope. Then we scurried back to the front door.
Savannah unlock the door and slo-o-o-o-wly pushed it open . . . She stuck her head inside, gasped, and silently slammed the door shut (is that even possible), eyes wide.
“What is it, Kingsley?” I asked, dreading what she would say next. “What did you see?”
“Horrible . . . Something horrible . . .”
I took Tracy’s phone (which I’d burgled from her for the TSO meeting) and pressed it into Savannah’s hand. “Take a picture.”
She nodded, and before she disappeared into the house, whispered, “I will.”
There was nothing to do but wait.
Twenty seconds later, Savannah motioned us into the house. Hidden in the front door’s shadow, we saw the horrible thing that Savannah had talked about. It truly was horrible, but I’m afraid that you can’t un-see things.
Caroline, wearing a sleeveless dress, daisies clutched in her hand, was dancing. And not to her usual classical music, but to pop.
I covered my eyes and almost blew our cover by gasping. Fortunately, it was a quiet gasp, and Caroline’s music was so loud she wouldn’t have been able to hear me even if I’d done a monster sneeze.
We slipped past Caroline and darted up the stairs to the room that I shared with Isabelle and MJ. Suspicious things were happening in there: MJ was pacing the room, flipping through a cookbook, and Ivy, leaning against a wall, was staring at her phone.
I scurried across the room and jumped onto my bed, which shielded me from Ivy and MJ. Savannah and Isabelle followed me. Safely in my bed, Savannah handed Tracy’s phone to Palmer. Now that Isabelle wasn’t in charge of the key, she needed something to do.
Isabelle peeked around the end of my bed and snapped a couple pictures of our sisters. She gave the phone back to Savannah and we poured over the photographs, pointing out everything suspicious.
While reading a cookbook seems extremely normal, it’s actually not. That morning, MJ had told us that she was going to bake macaroons. She knew the recipe by heart, so why was she looking at a cookbook?
I observed Ivy for awhile and saw that she hardly moved, and when she did, it was just a twitch of the thumb. We decided that she was being mind-controlled by aliens and they were speaking to her telepathically.
In Tracy’s room, the great tomboy herself was bouncing a basketball off the wall, over and over again. In wasn’t unusual for her to punch or throw things at her wall, but this was weird because the basketball hit one spot repeatedly: her Spiderman poster that read “I’m not saying I’m SPIDERMAN, I’m just saying no one has ever seen me and Spiderman in the same room together.”
“Tracy doesn’t play basketball,” I whispered as Isabelle photographed the fourteen-year-old.
On the top floor, Emily was lying on a pile of bedding, sobbing, and wearing MJ’s pajamas. I think you’ll agree that it was slightly strange.
Molly was sitting on her bed, staring at the wall. She didn’t move, just sat there.
Her dog, Boo, was barking at her: he wanted to go outside. But Molly was oblivious to the cries of Emily and Boo.
Having photographed all of our siblings, we escaped the house and shimmed along our ropes, heading back to our HQ. We still had time left; we could complete the mission!
Back at the TSO HQ, Isabelle and I sat down on either side of Savannah, and together, we typed up a Suspicious Activity Report.
Written and printed, Savannah read the finished Suspicious Activity Report to us.
“Suspicious Activity Report.
“Subject: Caroline Abbott. Seen dancing, wearing a sleeveless dress. Music she was dancing to was pop (her usual is classic) and she had stolen Tracy’s radio.
“Subject: Mary-Jane Valdez. Seen pacing in her room, reading a cookbook. She should not have been looking for a recipe because she told us that morning what she was going to bake.
“Subject: Ivy Ling. Seen staring at her iPhone. She hardly moved, so she was not playing a game, and she despises eBooks, so that was also out of the question. She may have been communicating telepathically with aliens that were controlling her mind.
“Subject: Tracy. Seen throwing a basketball at her wall. More precisely at a Spiderman poster on her wall. She does not play basketball and was unresponsive.
“Subject: Emily Bennett. Seen lying on a pile of bedding in pajamas that do not belong to her. She was crying loudly.
“Subject: Molly McIntire. Seen staring intently at wall. She didn’t show any signs that she heard Emily Bennett’s crying and the barking of her puppy, Boo, a Pomeranian.
“Report by TSO members Saige Copeland, Savannah Kingsley, and Isabelle Palmer.”
I retrieved the TSO Book of Secrets from its safe in the wall. We would put the Suspicious Activity Report in it.
Only when I was holding open the TSO book’s secret pocket and saw the report’s last line — “Report by TSO members Saige Copeland, Savannah Kingsley, and Isabelle Palmer” — did I realize that we really were members. Members! Members of the Tween Spy Organization!
I sprang up, grabbed Savannah and Isabelle’s arms, and danced around, shouting, “We’re members!” The voices of my fellow spies joined my own. “We’re members!”
We hopped around for a few more minutes, overly excited, before a thought struck me. “Guys . . . why were our sisters being weird?”
To be continued . . .