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From: “Allison Helton”
Subject: No Subject
Date: Thurs, 3 Sept 2009 22:28:43

Dear recipient,
I am writing to you because they said you are fearless and caring and are able to fix everything. I am not asking for anything in return. Someone just needs to know what’s been happening. You can probably figure out who I am, but just in case I am going to use code names. It will be easier this way.

I think something strange is happening in this town.

It all started this morning. I darted the laser beam all across the floor, as I normally do each morning. But, what’s weird is that my cat, Patches, didn’t move a muscle. This is when I knew something was wrong.
Sure enough, he became sick about an hour later. The weird part is, when I was scrubbing his smooth, white and black spotted fur, I noticed something. A section of his abdomen was shaved there were about five of what looked like needle marks.

I immediately searched our run-down, one-story house for my dad. Ever since my mom passed away when I was about three years old, Dad has been the first person I go to for help in an emergency, after I ask my sister. But, since my sister, Morgan, just moved back to her college to finish up her medical school yesterday, he was the best option.

Of course, he wasn’t home yet. He had practically lived at his office since my sister had gone off to college. My dad often reminds me of a penguin, not only because of his dark black hair and his slow wobble from years of not exercising but because of his penguin-like nature. In the wild, once the penguin mom has a baby, she leaves it with the dad. The dad then has to sit there for four months through brutal storms, without eating, just to keep their baby safe. Dad is like this, always trying to help us out whenever he can. For example, trying to help Morgan pay for college. But, what I don’t think he understands is that it leaves me feeling all alone and helpless in a house so dreary, the father penguin would rather stay outside.

So, with Dad not around, I decided to call up Morgan. As Dad always said, “when in a situation, Morgan will be the one to save you from deterioration.” Morgan always has the answers to everything. I feel like she is the exact opposite of me: tall, blonde, always brimming with excitement, super smart, and can talk to anyone. I wish I could be half as good as Morgan.

But, of course, Morgan didn’t answer her phone either. So, I was stuck with a sick cat, with weird needle marks, and had no idea what to do. I just tried to clean up the house and keep Patches on the tile in the kitchen.

Eventually, I heard the rumble of Dad’s car coming down the driveway and the squeal of the front door hinges. I sprinted into our cramped kitchen past the familiar, flickering, and fluorescent light.  As fast as I could, I informed him of the daily occurrences.

Dad replied with, “I bet Patches will be alright. He probably just has the flu or something… The needle marks are probably just from a bug.”

“But Dad,” I added, my voice shaking a little, “it looks like part of his stomach has been shaved!”

“I wouldn’t worry about it, honey. He probably just had it ripped off in the woods or something,” Dad muttered, his eyes scanning the old newspaper article on the counter.

Then, a few hours later, my best friend Olivia called, like she does every night, to tell me all of the amazing things she did today. After she was finished telling me about the beautiful purple and blue butterfly that landed directly on the very tip of her perfectly-sized nose and stayed there for the longest time and was licking her and tickling her, I gave her a short summary of my day.

“That’s like so weird! Apparently, my dog was like sick today too!” she roared. “I wonder if she has those marks! Wait a minute! I’ll go check! Where’d you say you found the marks? Oh, wait, nevermind I remember!”
“Okay…” I murmured, but she had already dropped the phone.

“Hi! I’m back! So, like, OH MY GOD, I TOTALLY FOUND THE SAME MARKS! But, they were on the left side of her stomach, not the right. It looked like it might have been shaved, but she like doesn’t have a lot of hair in that area. What do you think the marks might be? My brother said maybe she was just poked by something in the woods, but I don’t know, I think it is something else. So, like, what do you think?”

“I have no idea,” I blurted before she started talking again.

“We seriously have to find out what happened! Meet me in the high school lobby right after school and we will see if this is like happening to other animals! Bye, now!” And with that, she hung up.

It is getting late now, and I should probably go to sleep soon. I am really worried about Patches and the other animals around town. Although Olivia can be a pain sometimes, she always has a way of finding out information she wants to know.  I really hope we can find the answer.


From: “Allison Helton”
Subject: No Subject
Date: Fri, 4 Sept 2009 23:47:19

Dear recipient,

Olivia and I had the craziest day! I met up with her right after school, and she immediately said, “Come on! We’re going to the farm ‘cause they have the most animals.” She walked out the front doors of the school toward the farm.

“What?” I shouted, hesitantly chasing after her. “We can’t do that the farm is all the way across town and they don’t accept visitors! I’m pretty sure they have a fence around it so that nobody can get in and take their animals!” But Olivia didn’t care.

“So…” she questioned.

“So what if we get in trouble.”

“We won’t get in trouble because we won’t get caught. But, if we do like get caught, we can just tell them we didn’t know what was like back here. We’re like too young to get into serious trouble. Even if they do catch us they’ll just give us a warning. Come on! We have to find out if this is happening to other animals! I don’t know like anyone else in town who has a pet and will let me in their house to look at its belly!”

“Okay… fine, I guess. Just to protect the animals.” And with that, we proceeded to march all the way across town to the farm, with Olivia talking nonstop about her day at school.

“Hey look, there’s the farm...” I interrupted when we finally approached miles and miles of rows of breathtaking, verdant fields.

“Whoa…” Olivia proclaimed, taken back. “I never realized how big the farm was. Look over there, I think I see cows! Let’s go!” she exclaimed. She darted over to the six-foot high chain link fence designed to keep even the mightiest of animals out and began to climb. She bounded up the fence at warp speed like a squirrel who spotted an acorn. I slowly began to follow in her footsteps scanning the surrounding area for anyone who could possibly see us. I ascended the fence making sure each foot was safely tucked into a hole in the chain, being mindful of my right knee which I had hurt in track.

But, as soon as we entered the field of cows we could tell something was wrong.

The air burned with the smell of old sewer gas and decaying carcasses. I thought I was going to pass out or throw up from the scent alone, nevermind from the sight of the actual animals. The cows were definitely deathly ill, and I’ll let you imagine how that looked. Olivia, determined to find out what was happening, checked the cows’ filthy stomachs for needle marks. The whole time she squealed out in pain from the grotesque state of the cow and held her thick, black locks away from the cow. “EW EW EW!! I’m gonna throw up! I’m like actually going to vomit! She yelped, trying to stay as far away from the cow as possible, but still close enough to see marks.

“Do you see anything?” I managed to yell through the black sweatshirt I pulled over my nose and mouth.

“Uhhh… Oh! There they are... I totally see the same marks. Like 10 of them,” She gagged out, her green eyes watering.

“I see them on those cows too,” I alerted her, holding back the need to hurl.

“What are ya younguns doing on m’ property?” a deep voice bellowed. We immediately spun around, finding an old farmer on his large, green tractor. His face was crimson and his hands were shaking. “Y’all are the ones doing this to m’ animals?”

“RUNNNN!” Olivia yelled and sprinted for the fence to get out. I chased after her, but my knee gave out and sent me plummeting into a lagoon of mud.

I squealed out in agony, “Help! Olivia?” But Olivia was already gone, nowhere to be seen. I got up quickly and attempted to scale the fence, but the blinding pain in my knee sent me tumbling backward into the mud. I attempted to glance back at the farmer, however my muddy, orange hair didn’t want to cooperate and blocked my vision. I gathered up all my might and pulled myself over the fence, flopping onto the ground on the other side. Upset by my actions, my knee responded with enough pain to get my attention. It was swollen to the size of an elephant leg. Great. Just great.

When I finally reached my house after what seemed like hours of hobbling, to my surprise, there was Morgan rooted in the kitchen.

“Allison, what the heck happened to you?” Morgan crooned as she ran over to help. “Are you okay?” From head to toe, I was drenched in mud and my knee was unrecognizable.

“I fell down,” I admitted. “What are you doing home?”

“Oh, you just fell down,” she smiled, “I’ll fix you up.” She carried over a chair for me to sit on and delicately wiped the mud from my face and legs. “Wow,” she exclaimed, “you really did a number on your knee again. We’ll have to put you back on the treatment I gave you during summer track, when you hurt your knee hurdling. I think I still have some in my room. I’ll be right back.” She darted to her room and came back with a small syringe. “This stuff really works well. We discovered it this summer doing an experiment in college,” Morgan explained as she quickly injected the fluid into my knee. “This should heal you up in no time at all!”
“Morgan, why are you home?” I asked. She wasn’t supposed to be back home until my birthday weekend in October.

“I.. I forgot something.”

“Well, I’m glad you’re home,” I replied. And I really meant it.

I haven’t felt this happy since she had moved out. I hope she comes home more often this year.


From: “Allison Helton”
Subject: No Subject
Date: Mon, 7 Sept 2009 19:53:12

Dear recipient,

Today was interesting.

When I first arrived at school, Olivia sprinted up to me.

“I’ve been thinking about what happened the other day. We have to tell someone!” she piped.

“W- What? We can’t tell anyone… at least not yet! No one will believe us!” I reasoned. But she grabbed my wrist and tugged me over to some boys from our science class. She immediately told them the story.
“Good one,” they laughed, then proceeded to talk to each other again.

“Anyways, have you heard about the sports teams this weekend? The football players have gotten so strong and fast that no one playing against them has been able to score a single point. And, the soccer team has been having the same results!” Olivia pulled me over to some other people nearby and told them the story.

“Funny,” they chuckled. “By the way, congrats on getting second place in hurdles, Allison. The whole track team was on fire yesterday!”

“Thanks,” I replied. I could tell my face must have appeared as red as a cardinal.

After Olivia proceeded to get laughed out of school by a few other kids, I pulled her aside.

“Olivia, you can’t keep doing this!” I seethed.

“Doing what?”

“Telling everyone what happened. People already think we are weird. Stop giving them more reasons to think that.”

“W-well we need to do this! Someone needs to know!” she exclaimed. Her lips were pursed and her fists were clenched.

“Why? No one needs to know anything! We barely know anything! You always boss me around. I’m not doing it this time.”

Her voice started to shake, “Well, i-if you don’t want to be f-friends anymore, that’s f-fine by me.” She flipped her hair and stormed off.

Later that night I stopped by her house to say I was sorry. I wasn’t really that sorry, but she is pretty much my only friend and I don’t want to lose her. Unfortunately, she wasn’t home. Either that or she wouldn’t answer the door, but I’d like to think it was the first one.

When I arrived back home, Morgan was there again.

She said she was home to take care of my knee, even though I told her yesterday the medicine made it feel better and I even informed her the medicine worked so well, I achieved my best time yet.

I think she just came home because she misses me, which is good because I really miss her and I really need a friend right now.


From: “Allison Helton”
Subject: No Subject
Date: Wed, 9 Sept 2009 18:58:34

Dear recipient,

Today at school I saw the weirdest thing! Olivia has been ignoring me for the past day. But, today I found her hanging out with a big group of girls by the huge window in the library. All of the girls had a certain look to them: big cheeks, high eyebrows, turned-up noses. Even Olivia looked like that!

I tried to approach her. I wanted to ask her what was happening in the school or even what was happening with her. She always knows the scoop. I wanted to apologize but she just walked away.  It’s really hard to get through school without any friends.

On top of that, everyone was acting really weird today. People were sprinting through the hallways and starting fights with each other. In fact, I witnessed two girls from the group Olivia was in start scratching each other!
I hope your day went better than mine.


From: “Allison Helton”
Subject: No Subject
Date: Fri, 10 Sept 2009 9:32:57

Dear recipient,

Last night, I was feeling very alone. Have you ever felt that way? I played with Patches a lot, but there are only so many conversations you can have with your cat. So I went into Morgan’s room to, hopefully, talk to her about what happened between Olivia and me.

But, when I opened the door to the one elegant room in the house, it was a disaster.

There were papers flung everywhere and heaps of money all over the floor. I began inspecting the papers when I heard the swing of the front door. “Allison? Are you here?” Morgan yelled. She was home again? I decided to stay quiet. Then, I tiptoed my way into her closet and carefully slid the door shut behind me. “Come right this way,” Morgan directed. I could hear the faint whispers of people on the other side of the door. The door let out a cry as if it was a dog trying to alert its master of the incoming danger. Through the crack in the closet door, I could see four people enter the dark, perfume-scented room.  It was the captain of the football team, a person from the soccer team, Morgan and Olivia.

“So, what do you want?” Morgan questioned the soccer player.

“I want to be faster,” he murmured, avoiding eye contact with Morgan.

“Okay, I think I’ll give you cat cells for that. Sit right in this chair.” Morgan pulled a jar out from under her bed filled with thick, red liquid, labeled “cat.” She proceeded to inject his calves and thighs with multiple doses of the red goo. He handed her a wad of cash and left.

“I want bigger cheeks!” Olivia demanded.

“Okay I think cat cells will do the trick,” Morgan decided. She stuck the needle part of the syringe in the fire of the lighter and proceeded to suck up some more red goo. “Sit still,” Morgan sang as she injected two doses into each of Olivia’s cheekbones.

“Now what is it that you wanted?” Morgan recited to the captain of the football team.

“Uh.. well I sprained my knee and I want to get stronger.”

“Okay, that will be no problem. In fact, cow cells have been working really well with knee sprains,” Morgan smiled.

That’s when my mind started jumping like a tree frog.

Morgan coming home a lot….needle marks on the animals…. everybody winning in sports…. the girls looking weird…. Olivia not talking to me…. tons of money….treatment for knee sprains…. my knee sprain… and that was the last thing I remembered from that night.


From: “Allison Helton”
Subject: No Subject
Date: Fri, 10 Sept 2009 9:57:29

Dear recipient,

This morning I woke up in the hospital. A ray of sunlight was shining through the window onto my damp face, forcing me to feel the heat across as I groggily blinked a few times. I could hear the birds chirping along with the constant beeps from hospital machines. A slight, cool breeze from the open window swept the hair off my face. It must have been four o’clock because I could hear the muffled sounds of the four o’clock news in the distance. My father was sitting in the corner wearing his usual office attire. I sat up tall in the stiff hospital bed when the nurse darts into my peripheral vision. She mouthed what seemed to be the words “lay back down” and repositioned the IV in my hand. I glanced down at the rest of my body but cannot place where my leg was. My dad ascended from his chair and stood at the edge of my hospital bed, but my sister was nowhere to be found.

Apparently, Olivia and the captain of the football team heard a bang in the closet. When they opened up the doors, the found me unconscious. So, they drove me to the hospital. They must have told the doctors the whole story because I’m seeing so many people from school coming to be injected with the antidote. Apparently the animal injections had some pretty bad side effects, the main ones being muscle deterioration and strange behaviors. As for me, I guess the animal cells started being injected into my knee during the summer, too long a period of time for the antidote to help. So, my leg amputated to stop the deterioration from spreading.

Anyway, I want to thank you for being my role model. Believe me when I say this: I always thought of you as fearless and caring and able to fix everything. Now, I realize that maybe you were a little too fearless and caring and able to fix everything. So, someday, if you ever come back to this town, I’m going to remember that. But, anyways, I hope what you did paid off because it certainly didn’t pay off for me.


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