If you ask me my honest opinions on Alex, I’d assert without any doubt or hesitation that he is an idiot. There’s no sugarcoating it. Sure, he’s a good leader, and sure, he can talk to a crowd, but when it comes to making the plans, he has no idea what he’s doing. Gene would be so much better of a leader than that buffoon, I’m sure of it. If Alex would give him the chance. But no, Alex just can’t choke down his pride. Is it because his mouth isn’t big enough? No. Trust me, his mouth is plenty big.
The way he smirked at Gene made me want to take his ego and shove it down his gullet. Maybe with a pill or two of potassium cyanide.
After the strange boy points out the Cosmo Prison to us all, Alex tells us all to disband. Another stupid move by our great leader.
The only person Alex ever listens to is Nidhi Yadav. As just demonstrated, as soon as Nidhi expressed agreement with Gene, Alex suddenly thinks it’s the greatest idea ever. That might’ve been fine by me if it weren’t for his decision to believe the strange boy with his implausible explanations. Besides, how did he know we could trust him? For all we know, that kid could be a werewolf in disguise.
Genius, I tell you. Genius.
“Alex for President, my boot,” I say sarcastically to Gene as we walk down the alleys, looking for shops to loot. “I’d feel better with Mickey Mouse.”
I’m about to escalate to a full-scale Sophia rant when something catches my eye. It’s a large, heavy key, an antique design, clunky and impragmatic. I kneel down on the concrete to examine it.
It’s slightly rusted and very old, its metal having lost its golden luster. However, I sense some kind of foreign energy emanating from it. Not daring to touch it, I call Gene over.
“Gene, come over here! I think I may have found the key that weirdo was talking about,” I inform him as he jogs over.
His eyes go wide with wonder as he stares at it, all anger at Alex forgotten. “You’re right, Sophia,” he says breathlessly, “I think we found it.”
Then, before I can warn him, he extends his hand and picks it up. I gasp and shriek, “Wait, Gene! It could be dangerous!” I’m too late. Gene takes the key -- and disappears.
I scramble to my feet and look around, yelling, “Gene! Where’d you go?”
To my surprise and relief, Gene’s voice responds right behind me. I turn to find him leaning against a wall, a feverish look on his face. “What do you mean? I’m right here,” he says weakly.
I stare at him. “What happened to you?”
He frowns. “That’s a good question. I picked it up to look at it, but my vision started to get really fuzzy and I felt really sick. I don’t know if it was just me, but it got really heavy and fluctuated between boiling hot and freezing cold temperature. I dropped it. It’s right over there.” He points at the enigmatic key, which is resting near his feet.
“Wait, but how come I didn’t see any of that happen?” I ask, puzzled. “I just saw you pick it up, then you disappeared and reappeared behind me. I didn’t see you walk over, or even stand up.”
“I don’t know.” Gene furrows his brow, the way he does whenever he’s confused. I find it kind of cute.
Back to the topic.
“We’ll figure that out later. Right now, we need to find a way to pick it up without getting hurt.” I say.
“I have an idea,” Gene says. He ducks into a shop nearby that sells clothes and returns with a baseball cap. “Here, scoop it up with the peak and let it fall into the hat.”
As I do as he says, I find myself marveling at his intelligence. I shake my head, clearing my thoughts. Focus, Sophia.
Holding the baseball cap containing the key, I contemplate what to do. Should I give it to Alex? No, he’ll just take the credit himself. So who else is there?
Only one more option. The stranger who appeared out of nowhere.
I don’t like the idea, but it seems to be the only choice we have. “We need to give this to the weirdo,” I tell Gene decisively.
At my command, Gene and I sprint down to the town square, where Alex had held the meeting earlier. I expected Alex and Weirdo to be there, and sure enough, they’re standing in one corner in a huddle, whispering cryptically.
I run up to them and clear my throat. “Hey,” I address Weirdo, “can you take a look at this? I think it might be the key you were talking about earlier.” I hold out the baseball cap.
Weirdo peers into it, looking at the key, and says, “Yeah, that’s the one.” He looks back at us, smiling, but not with satisfaction. A greedy look has taken over his eyes. Just a second -- then it vanishes, and his face returns to a mask of concern. “I see you’ve found out about its abilities.”
I nod in agreement. “The hard way.”
He gingerly plucks the key from the cap and examines it. His eyes have again taken on that strange lust and he lets out a soft whoop.
“Thanks, Sophia,” he says.
Wait, how’d he know my name?
I don’t have time to figure him out, though, because when I blink again, he’s gone.
Like he’d never existed.