By Phoebe North
If the teachers at Waxbury saw the way the mold crept in from the windows and up the walls of our classrooms, coating their world maps and the cases of dusty taxidermy, they failed to tell us. We counted black squares as the tendrils crept from ceiling panel to ceiling panel, spreading.
The effects of the mold on the boys were obvious, immediate and clear. At first, we liked how it changed them—the new muscles, the biceps and triceps and quads that were wrapped with veins as wide as our thumbs. We liked how they were hardened. Until one night when we awoke to Mikey Alspaugh raging in the teacher’s parking lot, waging battle against the plastic garbage bins.
“Do something,” I whispered to Pete, as I clutched my coat around my pajamas, trying to keep out the cold. He didn’t speak, only grunted, then jogged off toward the boys’ dorm. When he returned, I saw that he’d stretched his wrestling uniform over his shoulders and his thick, stone thighs. He dove in at Mikey, ready for his fight, too.
It took eight of us to pull him off. On the walk back to my dorm, as he stamped down the path at my side, I pressed my fingertips to his broiling skin.
“What are you, suicidal?” I forced a laugh. But he ignored me.
My greatest fear was this: one night I’d wake to my bookshelves ringing against the cinder walls like a glass bell. Cindy and I would stagger to the window, press our faces to the pane, fog it with our breath, and watch as the ship buried beneath the lacrosse field would begin to lift itself from the soil, shedding roots and stones and worms, and, thrusting up toward the starless sky, would finally take off.