The foursome turned to look at the rock. Jenna opened her mouth to ask what exactly Tony had seen, but she couldn’t speak. No one could. They just stared at the small chunk of rock in horror. Finally, Katie Donovan broke the silence with a shriek.
“Plymouth Rock is bleeding!”
Panic broke out among the students. Screams covered the area. Several of the kids ran away from the shrine, some even into the street. The only thing that brought order back to the scene was the booming voice of Dr. Hammon.
“Everyone calm down!”
Slowly the mania subsided. Carver whispered something to Hammon and pulled out his cell phone. Anand began pulling a few of the foursomes into larger groups.
“The buses will be here in five minutes,” Carver announced. “Please try to remain calm, and we’ll return to the school before anything else happens.”
He gave Tony a strange look as he finished his last comment, but Tony barely noticed. He was transfixed on the old stone and the trickle of blood that poured out of it just below its famous date. A pool of blood had already gathered beneath it, mixing with the sloshing waters of the harbor that slipped through a grate at the bottom of the display.
Hammon grabbed Tony’s arm. The boy met the teacher’s gaze. There was something both threatening and encouraging in the Englishman’s eyes.
“Come on. I think you’ve done enough.”
Tony sputtered, “You can’t possibly think I did this!”
Every one of his classmates heard the outburst and immediately stared at the two. Tony realized that all he had done was draw more attention and speculation to himself.
Hammon bent low to Tony’s ear. “I’m not silly enough to think you can make rocks bleed. But I’m also not oblivious enough to miss your conversation with three strangers away from school chaperones.”
Tony blushed, but quickly whispered, “You think they did something?”
“I don’t know what this is, but whatever it is, it’s not good.”
Once the buses arrived, the students loaded quietly and slunk into their seats. Jubie sat next to Tony but never said a word the entire ride home. No one did. The school day was almost at an end when they returned. All the familiar whispers and glares surrounded Tony as he stepped off the bus and crossed the lawn. Everyone kept a safe distance around him, as if he was struck with some dangerously contagious disease.
“Mr. Marino,” Hammon called before he got too far, “a word, please.”
Tony grudgingly plodded back to the teacher standing near the Gabriel statue.
“I don’t suppose you can think of anything those strangers said to you in Plymouth that may have stood out as remarkable or odd?”
Tony thought for a moment, then shook his head. “Nothing really.”
Hammon frowned. “Anything could help, even if you don’t think it sounds important.”
Again Tony admitted nothing. From the corner of his eye, he saw Mrs. Brown pull into the parking circle. He just wanted to go home.
“This has the mark of something bigger — something sinister. If no one stands up against it, we could all be in for something truly horrible.”
Tony shivered. If Hammon was trying to scare him, it was working, but if he thought making Tony scared would make him talk, he was mistaken.
After a full minute of silent staring, Hammon finally seemed satisfied and wished Tony a good evening. Tony almost ran to the car and hopped into the front seat.
“Another rough day?” Mrs. Brown asked, noticing the pain on Tony’s face.
“I don’t want to talk about it.”
“Did something happen on your field trip?” she pressed. She never let anything go.
“They just made us leave early,” Tony half lied. “They wouldn’t tell us why.”
She didn’t grill him with any other questions. He tried to sort out the strange occurrences of the day on the way home. Nothing made sense. None of it seemed like it ever could.
Once home, Tony was the first one out of the car and in the house. He could hear talking coming from the living room, which meant Mr. Brown was home from work early and was probably watching his constant stream of boring news.
“Hey, Champ, is that you?”
Tony poked his head into the living room and answered, “I have a lot of homework.”
Mr. Brown ignored his comment. “Didn’t your class go to Plymouth Rock today?”
“Did you see any of this?”
He pointed at the television. Tony could see aerial images of Plymouth Harbor. Flashing lights covered the area. Dozens of police officers held back a crowd of hundreds that pressed against barriers around the Plymouth Rock shrine. News crews filled the ground and helicopters filled the air. But in all the madness, one thing caught Tony’s attention more than anything else, and made his blood run cold. A massive dark stain was seeping into the harbor from the portico. Words like “plague” and “curse” crawled across the bottom of the screen. Tony could feel the same eerie feeling of unconsciousness climbing up his body like it had earlier in the day.
“It’s crazy,” Mr. Brown commented. “The whole harbor’s turning to blood.”
Click Follow to receive emails when this author adds content on Bublish