Read an Excerpt
My Teacher Is an Alien
Missing—One Sixth-Grade Teacher
“Hey, Geekoid!” yelled Duncan Dougal as he snatched Peter Thompson’s book out of his hand. “Why do you read so much? Don’t you know how to watch TV?”
Poor Peter. I could see that he wanted to grab the book back from Duncan. But I also knew that if he tried, Duncan would cream him.
Sometimes I wonder if Duncan’s mother dropped him on his head when he was a baby. I mean, something must have made him decide to spend his life making other people miserable. Otherwise why would he spend so much of his time picking on a kid like Peter Thompson? Peter never bothers anyone. Heck, the only thing he really wants is to be left alone so he can read whatever book he has his nose stuck in at the moment.
That doesn’t seem like too much to ask to me. But Duncan takes Peter’s reading as a personal insult.
So here it was, the first day back from spring vacation—we hadn’t even gone into the school yet—and I could tell by the look on Duncan Dougal’s face that the spring fight season was about to begin.
I clutched my piccolo case to my chest and watched as Peter’s pale face began to turn red. Peter blushed at almost anything. He was tall and thin and wore thick glasses. And he was the smartest person I had ever met—grown-ups included.
The problem was, it was all book smarts. Peter had absolutely no idea how to deal with a creep like Duncan. Actually, neither did I. If I did, I would have stopped him. But the one time I had tried to come between Duncan and Peter, I ended up with a black eye myself.
Duncan claimed it was an accident, of course. “Susan just jumped right in front of my fist,” he said as if I was the one who had done something wrong. To tell you the truth, I think Duncan punched me on purpose. Most guys wouldn’t hit a girl. But Duncan doesn’t mind. It was his way of warning me to keep my nose out of his business.
As I watched Duncan squinting down at Peter, it occurred to me that sixth grade can be a dangerous place if you don’t watch out.
Stacy Benoit was standing a few feet away from Peter, pressed against the school wall and looking nervous. Stacy is this incredibly good kid, who never gets in trouble ever. She hates fights even more than I do.
She had just started edging her way toward me when Duncan ran his foot through a puddle and splashed dirty water all over Peter’s jeans.
“Cut it out, Duncan,” said Peter.
“Cut it out, Duncan,” mimicked Duncan in a whiny, singsong voice.
Anyone who knew Duncan could see he was gearing up for a fight. But it wasn’t necessarily going to be with Peter, since Peter usually just took whatever Duncan dished out. I figured Duncan was using him as a warm-up. So I was a little surprised when he tossed Peter’s book into the puddle.
Even Duncan should have known that was something you just don’t do to Peter.
“Oops!” he said maliciously. “I dropped it.”
I heard Stacy gasp as Peter launched himself off the wall and bashed his head into Duncan’s stomach. Within seconds the two of them were rolling around on the ground.
“I hate it when this happens,” said Stacy as the boys surrounded Peter and Duncan in a shouting, cheering circle.
The fight hadn’t gone on more than ten seconds when a tall blond man came pushing through the crowd. Without saying anything, he grabbed the two fighters and hauled them to their feet.
Wow! I thought when I saw him lift the two of them right off the ground. That guy is really strong.
“Stop!” he said. Then he gave them each a shake and set them back down on their feet.
“Peter started it,” said Duncan.
He’s such a creep he probably didn’t even know he was lying.
Peter wiped the back of his hand across his mouth. “I did not,” he said sullenly.
I could see that his hand was trembling.
“No more,” said the tall man, as if he really didn’t care who started it. “Do you understand?”
“Yes, sir,” mumbled Peter. I wanted to shake him. He made it sound as if the whole thing had been his fault.
“Do you understand?” said the tall man again, looking directly at Duncan.
“Sure,” said Duncan. “I got it.”
“Good,” said the tall man. Then he turned on his heel and marched back into the school.
Duncan made a face at the man’s back, then wandered off to find someone else to pick on.
“Who was that?” asked Peter as I handed him his soggy book.
“Who knows? I never saw him before. He’s probably a new sub. Come on—let’s go inside.”
Peter and I were usually the first ones into school—but not by much. Our whole class went in early. That’s because our teacher, Ms. Marie Schwartz, was so totally great. The thing I liked best about having her was that she was the only teacher in Kennituck Falls Elementary who always did a play with her class. I’ve always wanted to be an actress when I grow up. But until sixth grade, I had never had a chance to find out what it was like to be onstage. The play would be our last major project, and we had planned to start rehearsals right after spring vacation.
Unfortunately, when we got to our room, Ms. Schwartz was nowhere to be seen. The tall blond man was standing beside her desk, talking to a short, red-faced man who had almost no hair—our school principal, Dr. Bleekman.
Where was Ms. Schwartz?
Peter and I went to our desks. I wasn’t happy. I had a bad feeling about this whole thing.
“The sub is handsome,” whispered Stacy, who had come in behind us.
“I suppose so,” I said grudgingly. “Where do you suppose Ms. Schwartz is?”
Stacy shrugged. “Maybe she’s sick. Or maybe her plane didn’t make it back on time. That happened to my third grade teacher once.”
I nodded. That was OK. It was disappointing to come back to someone besides Ms. Schwartz, but I could cope with it for a day or two.
The other kids came into the room. Because Dr. Bleekman was there, everyone was super quiet. The bell rang, and we took our places.
“Good morning, class,” said Dr. Bleekman. “I want to introduce Mr. John Smith. Mr. Smith will be your teacher for the rest of the year.”
The rest of the year! I couldn’t believe my ears! What happened to Ms. Schwartz?
Without intending to, I asked the question out loud.