Keeper Chance and the Conundrum of Chaos

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October  8

Keeper Chance and the Conundrum of Chaos
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Keeper Chance

THE man known as Chaos had entered Peachmont High School through a back door. It hadn’t required a key or a crowbar. All that was needed was a chain of mildly catastrophic events causing the lock to fail and rendering the security system inoperable.

His footsteps echoed throughout the halls, and his boots squeaked on the tile floors. “Why do empty schools always feel like a haunted, abandoned mental institution?” Chaos whispered to himself. The idea was probably left over from the irreparable psychological damage done around four decades ago, when he suffered through the horrors of high school.

Chaos’s penlight flickered across painted concrete brick walls, illuminating flyers for chess club and theater tryouts. He found his destination, language arts room 347, at the end of the hall. Chaos opened the door, went straight to the teacher’s desk, and started rifling through the drawers, searching for papers belonging to the fifth-period class. He opened the period five folder and thumbed through it until he found Keeper Chance’s story. It had an 80 percent grade, and written in red pencil was Great effort!

Chaos read the story and rolled his eyes. “Puh-leaze!” He was hardly the literary type, but he knew a slapdash job when he saw one. The paper was solid C material, and this teacher’s comment was completely insulting to Keeper’s lack of effort.

Chaos put the paper back inside the folder and left room 347 in search of precalculus, room 102. He had already hacked into the school’s systems and seen Keeper Chance’s schedule, report cards, and individual grades for assignments and tests. For that matter, he had been following Keeper’s educational career for quite some time, but there had been a particular comment on a recent report card, from this year’s math teacher, that interested Chaos. Keeper seems to rush through and finish early but doesn’t take the time to double-check his work.

Chaos was confident that Keeper didn’t need to double-check his work to know he had a solid 75 percent on a test. Based on Chaos’s observations, Keeper Chance could have finished a math test early, without double-checking, and received an A+ if he wanted.

Chaos found room 102. It wasn’t an internal room, so he turned off his penlight before he entered, not wanting to be seen through the windows. The moon was bright enough that he wouldn’t need the extra light.

Chaos followed the same motions as he had in room 347. He found the test, looked it over for corrections, folded it, and placed it in the messenger bag he wore across his chest. He couldn’t help but smile as he put the desk back in order, then left the math room in search of the nurse’s office.

Yes, indeed, Chaos had a good feeling about Keeper Chance. Not that he’d ever actually met Keeper. “Soon enough,” Chaos said to himself as he headed to the front of the school. “Soon enough.”

The nurse’s room was just past the main office. One door in and one door out.

Chaos searched through his bag and removed a screwdriver, along with a new door handle. It looked the same as the one currently on the door, but it had a lock that operated through an app.

He set to work removing the handle from the nurse’s door and replacing it with his own. He was halfway through tightening the new handle into place when headlights from a car flashed through the windows behind him. Chaos immediately flattened himself on the floor and waited. It was hard to say if it was school security or the police. Was it a routine drive-by, or had someone come to investigate the broken alarm situation?

The water fountain twenty feet away began to groan. Sparks shot from the wall where it was mounted, and water spouted out of the fountain’s bubbler, spilling over the side and causing a pool to form on the floor.

“Get it together, Chaos,” he whispered to himself. “You control chaos. It doesn’t control you.” Chaos closed his eyes and focused on his breathing.

The headlights disappeared. The sound of car tires faded into the distance. Chaos picked himself up, dusted off his coat, and pushed his half cape back behind his shoulders. The smell of smoke from the sparks began to fade, but there was no hope for the water fountain. There would be a major mess to clean up in the morning.

Chaos finished his handiwork on the nurse’s door, placed his tools back in his bag, and tested the handle.

“Excellent. Phase one complete.” Chaos looked at his watch. It was getting late, but that was no reason to not exit through the cafeteria in hopes of finding a post-midnight snack. He didn’t have to start watching the Chance house on Willow Street for another few hours. He wanted to be sure Keeper made it to the last day of school before spring break.

If you’ve ever lost a sock in the dryer, it might have been the work of the Evil Villains International League, E.V.I.L. And if your feet smell so bad, they keep you from making friends, you might be invited to join your local chapter–– like Keeper Chance was.

Keeper Chance grew up in the care of his nagging grandmother and his life was the poster child for unremarkable.  But things become far more remarkable, and fast, when Keeper and another recruit face E.V.I.L.’s initiation test—and disasters begin to snowball.

Keeper quickly learns that nothing is easy, and nothing is ever as it seems. As he races against the clock to save his new friends, the stakes are high—not only for the survival of villainy, but for whether Keeper will discover his true nature. It turns out that everyone needs a hero, even a family of misfits who call themselves villains.

Alex Evanovich
Alex Evanovich, photo by Daniel Turbert
Photo by Daniel Turbert

Alex Evanovich lives in North Carolina with her family.  Her favorite Hobbit is Samwise Gamgee.  The sorting hat says she’s a Ravenclaw.  Her favorite Darth Maul is the one from Clone Wars with giant robot legs. And she’s never rolled a nat 20.

Coming Soon

For school and library visits, contact Roberta Stout at Simon & Schuster,
[email protected]

For all other event and publicity inquiries, contact Morgan Maple at Simon & Schuster,  [email protected]

For rights inquires, contact Celeste Fine at Park & Fine Literary and Media, [email protected]