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ANB ( PG-13 )

Chapter 5

 
"Missing..."

 
Chapter Five

It was a late morning and already it was becoming rather balmy. It was in the middle of June, which means that the school was let out for the summer.  Robin Schneider was in the backyard, sitting on the swing but not moving at all.   The sweet little girl with blue eyes was gazing sadly at the Utonium house next door and thinking about her three best friends who were no longer there anymore.   She could not quite understand exactly what had happened to the Powerpuff Girls.  She knew only how terribly she missed them, and longed to see them once again.  If only she have a magic lamp, with which she would rub on it until the genie come out and grant her whatever she desire, she would wish her friends back home safe and sound.  Then they would be laughing and playing with her as though they have never been gone!

Robin sighed heavily and looked down, knowing it was only a wistful dream. Indeed things would never be the same without the Girls around...

"Robin! Robin!"

Startled, the girl looked this way and that way before she finally spotted the boy peering over the fence and waving frantically at her.  It was Mike Believe.

Surprised to see her friend all alone, she quickly ran over to him. "Mike? Are you supposed to be going around by yourself?" Robin asked anxiously, looking at him with concern. Mike's face was flushed and he was panting a little. Apparently he had run all the way to Robin's house that was about a couple of blocks down.  Robin wondered what it could be that sent him hurrying to see her just like that. "What's the matter?" 

Mike fidgeted, not looking very happy about something.  "Robin, have you heard the news?"
 
Robin blinked. "What news? What are you talking about?"

"Robin, you're not gonna believe this! Lemme tell you this..., he whispered into her ear, and as she listened to what he was saying Robin's blue eyes widened in astonishment.

"What? A fourth Powerpuff Girl?! But who...NO WAY!"  She shouted, staring at Mike in disbelief. "You've got to be kidding!"

"That's true! I saw her on TV news just a while ago!" Mike replied seriously.

"Really!"  Then Robin frowned.  "But they said she's the spoiled brat who does not care for anyone and loves only money. And they're letting her be the Powerpuff Girl? I wonder what Miss Keane would say about this?!"

"I can bet she's not gonna be very happy about it!"  Mike agreed.  "Robin, I want to go over to Miss Keane's house and tell her all about this, too. Wanna come with me?"

Robin perked up, but then she hesitated.  "Well, my parents are at work and I'm supposed to stay near my house where my babysitter can keep an eye on me, Suddenly she smiled.  "But right now she's probably talking to someone on the telephone.  Hold on just a second!"  Robin ran off into her house.  She returned after a minute or two, grinning from ear to ear. "Heh, my babysitter is still yakking away on the telephone, like she always do!" she said, "I'll go with you to visit Miss Keane, but if I hurry back home soon enough she'll never know I've been gone! Come on, let's go!"

"All right!"  Mike said, also grinning.  He waited as Robin climbed over the fence, then together the kids ran off down the sidewalk as fast as their legs could carry them.

Ms. Keane stepped down from the bus and headed for her house about a block away. But she was walking slowly, with her head down. Upon closer look at her face one could see that she was in a daze. 

Ever since she left the doctor's office ("Considering this is your first baby," the ever cheerful Dr. Horton had said, "Please take some of those brochures on prenatal care along with all questions and answers too. And I'll schedule you in for ultrasound in two weeks, so you can see your baby inside you. Isn't it grand?") She kept thinking about the giant red-faced alien who had towered menacing over her back in the spaceship.

What did he do to her?  Ms. Keane shivered, not wanting to imagine the unthinkable thing the alien could have done to her.  She had heard of women being abducted by the aliens and returned home pregnant with alien babies, but she reckoned it was all a pure fiction.  Now that she was actually abducted two months ago, she felt as though she was trapped in a nightmare far more terrifying than she could imagine.   Just thinking about the possibility of a tiny alien growing inside her was more than she could bear.  She longed to talk to someone, anyone who would know how to help her.  But at the same time, she was scared that if they find out they would babble it all over Townsville, thus putting her back in the spotlight she loathed so much.  So what can she do??? 

Suddenly a thought occurred to her and she stopped walking to consider it.  Yes...there was someone who could help her after all.  She could ask him and see what he could do for her. Okay, that settled it. Ms. Keane turned around and started walking briskly the other way. 

Toward the Utonium house.

Robin and Mike were halfway across a block when they noticed a familiar person
walking toward them. As they got closer they recognized right away who it was.

"Miss Keane!" the children shouted excitedly.

Ms. Keane looked up in surprise. "Robin Schneider and Mike Believe!" She exclaimed. The children ran up to their beloved teacher and threw their arms around her. She automatically hugged them back, but her voice sounded strained as she chided them gently. "I'm glad to see you, but you shouldn't be walking around by yourself without an adult to accompany you! This is not a very good neighborhood, you know."

"Yes, Miss Keane, Mike said meekly, but Robin noticed right away that there was something wrong with the teacher.

"Miss Keane, are you all right?"  The little girl asked her worriedly.

Ms. Keane sighed. "Well...sort of, I guess.  Don't worry about me, though. I'll be fine, but I just...need to talk to John about something."

The children looked curiously at her.  "Who's John?" Mike asked.

"Oh...I mean Professor Utonium," Ms. Keane chuckled weakly. "We are old friends, and we've known each other since elementary school!"

"Cool," Robin said, suitably impressed. "Are you going to see him right now?"

Ms. Keane nodded.  "Yes, that's why I'm heading over to his house." 

"Yay!"  Both the children reached out to take hold of her hands and walked happily side by side with their favorite teacher. 

After a while Robin piped up, "Miss Keane, Have you heard the morning news yet?"

The teacher glanced at the small girl, puzzled. "Uhno. In fact, I hardly watch TV anymore.  What's it all about?"

"Go ahead and tell her, Mike, Robin said to the little boy.

Seeing that he has their full attention Mike drew himself up importantly and announced, "Well, the TV news said that a couple of guys tried to rob a small store this morning but...get this!...the fourth Powerpuff appeared and stopped them! But she didn't put the robbers in jail; she just let them run away.  The storekeeper is not very happy about it at all!" 

Ms. Keane promptly halted in her tracks, looking at the him in astonishment. "Fourth Powerpuff Girl?!"  She exclaimed, "But I thought Professor Utonium refused to make new Powerpuff Girls. What made him change his mind...?"

The kids looked at each other, then Mike opened his mouth and started to say something. But Robin beat him to it. "Miss Keane, you're not going to believe it! Remember the rich girl with curly red hair who cares only about money and always said she wanted to be the Powerpuff Girl..."

"Princess Morbucks???"  Ms. Keane gasped, her eyes growing large. "And she's the fourth Powerpuff Girl now?!"

Both the children nodded vigorously.  "That's right, Miss Keane!" they said in unison.

Ms. Keane grimaced and resumed walking, shaking her head. "Oh, dear. Knowing her, I don't see how she can help Townsville if she thinks she can replace the Powerpuff Girls! This is not very good, not very good at all!"

Soon they reached the Utonium house. "Dear me! What a mess!"  Ms. Keane exclaimed, surveying the tattered newspapers and other rubbish that scattered across the overgrown lawn.  "One would think Professor Utonium doesn't live here anymore. But he's still at home, isn't he, Robin?"

"Yes, he does, and look, there's the car in the garage!"  Robin said, pointing.  Sure enough, they could see the white station wagon parked in the half-opened garage, and from the looks of almost flat tires it seems Professor hardly get to drive around often.

"All right," Ms. Keane knocked a few times on the door. A minute passed, then another. And another. They looked at each other.  Robin peered anxiously across the yard toward her own house, expecting to see her babysitter running around looking for her.  But much to her relief she saw nothing out of ordinary - so far.

"Maybe Professor's taking a nap?"  Mike suggested timidly after two more minutes has passed. 

"Let me try again, Ms. Keane said and knocked more firmly on the door. Come on, John, I need to talk to you...please!  But there was still no answer.

"Now where can he be?" The brunette teacher said exasperatedly as more time passed on.

Robin began to get worried. Ever since the disappearance of her three superpowered friends she rarely see Professor emerge from the house.  "I just hope nothing happened to Professor..., she murmured quietly, more to herself than to either the teacher or her classmate.  Suddenly the door swung open and they all gasped at the sight of a tall, thin and very unkempt figure looming over them. 

It was Professor Utonium, but he seemed a different man, what with the scraggly beard, uncombed hair with gray streaks in it, and his clothes looking rumpled and rather grubby, like he'd sleep in them for quite a while. "What do you want?" He said gruffly.

Suddenly overcome with shyness, Mike hid behind the teacher.  Robin pressed against her, staring wide-eyed at him.  Ms. Keane simply gaped at his haggard face and dark circles under his blue eyes filled with unspeakable sadness and grief.  Finally, she swallowed and asked somewhat timidly, John? I need to talk to you. It's extremely important, and I need your help. Will you let us come in, please?"

Professor blinked and frowned slightly. "Um...I guess you can all come in."  He stepped to one side and allowed the teacher and the kids to come into the living room that was obviously not been cleaned for weeks.  "But I doubt I can help you with anything, Sandy. It's just that...uh..."

Ms. Keane cringed. "I understand, John, She said softly, "I don't want to impose on you or anything. I...I just need someone to talk to. That's all. I hope you don't mind."

Professor sighed deeply, but he only said, "All right. Now that you're here, go ahead, Sandy, and I'll listen." 

The teacher glanced at the children who were still standing close to her. "Uh...I'd rather speak in private, John."

Professor raised one eyebrow but he merely nodded.  "Well, then, there is the lab. We can go down there, if you like."  He glanced at Robin and Mike. It seemed he grew even more melancholy, as if the very sight of small children brought back sad memories to him. He said rather gruffly, "The kids can make themselves home.  They may watch TV if they want."

"Sure!"  Ms. Keane turned to the children. "Behave yourselves now, okay?  We won't be long."

"'Kay, Miss Keane, The children said in unison. 

As soon as the adults went into the lab, Robin smiled and looked at Mike. "Sandy. I like her name, it sounds nice."

"Me, too!"  Mike said, also smiling.  Then, becoming aware of their surrounding, the children looked around rather uneasily. They had visited the Utonium house many times, but now it seemed so eerily quiet and strange without the giggling Powerpuff Girls around here anymore.  "This is so weird,"  Mike commented.

"Yeah, I know...and I miss them,"  Robin said sadly.

"So do I, The little boy said, looking somber. As Robin pushed the piles of papers, sympathy greeting cards and other odds and ends off the couch so she could sit on it, Mike walked over to the TV and turned it on. Theme from a Sailor Moon cartoon blared from it. "Wanna watch this?"  He asked Robin.

Robin shrugged. "Yeah. I like it. Let's watch it."

Mike took his seat next to her and, having nothing better to do, they settled down to watch the cartoons.

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