BatFold v. The Court of Origami Owls
Sunday, May 9, 1993, 12:00 A.M.
Security Footage from Palmer’s Convenience Store
[The Following was recovered from a police report from back then, it was a collection of scenes and journal entries.]
Austin Nolan, age 17, stands inside of the Palmer’s Convenience Store. He’s seen wandering around, looking at everything from chips, to slushies, to anything else. He’s going around in a circle: First to the checkout, stands for a few seconds, moves to look out the window, and then he looks at food. Eventually he checks out with a Crunch bar.
Austin leaves, and standing outside is a group of ten people, varying in age, height, and gender. They stand with masks over their faces of Jason Voorhees, Michael Myers, Bugs Bunny, and a Batman mask, all dressed in black clothing, and they’re hiding a bit from him. They begin to follow Austin, keeping a distance of ten feet from him. Austin does not get onto his bicycle, he misses it entirely.
[The Security Footage was caught at passing by security cameras, from Walmart, McDonalds, and Dozier’s Crafts]
Austin starts off walking at a brisk pace, he occasionally looks back behind him to see the group following him. He passes the Walmart. A truck pulls in front of him and honks. Austin jumps and looks behind him, seeing the group still keep a distance away, they just stand still. When the driver sees them, he drives away, a bit slower than usual.
Austin looks behind him, and breaks into a mad sprint.
He passes the McDonalds. The masked individuals follow him as Austin’s speed increases. They, too, pick up the pace.
The security footage of him in front of Dozier’s Crafts shows him as he stops to breathe. He’s huffing and puffing as the group stands behind him. Austin turns around and exclaims something, the security footage couldn’t pick it up. Out from the shadows, another group of twenty people, ranging in age from children, adults, and teenagers walk out and stand with masks on.
Austin is startled, and runs through them, pushing a child over. He runs to his home, as seen from this journal entry:
“I do not know who they are,” he scribbles, “They’ve been standing outside for hours now, just staring at me. I can’t go to sleep. I can’t leave my room. I don’t know who they are. That’s what terrifies me the most. I think I know what group they belong to, the Sharpiefire group from school, but it doesn’t make sense. Why are there adults and children too? What is going on?
“They want me to quit. They want me to stop. That’s what they want. I don’t know if I can do it. I don’t know how to stop being Bat-fold.”
BatFold v. The Court of Origami Owls
By SF Peyton
By Alan Wade
It is Summer in California, and that means nothing.
I could remove all calendars from my home, anything to tell the time, and if I was to ask a fellow Californian in this town what the season was, they could say point blank it was winter and I’d believe them. If it was in March and they said it was fall, I’d say with a smile that yes, I guess it’s a bit more nippy, chilly, or crisper in the air. Maybe the leaves on the palm trees are a bit more orange.
After the whole fiasco in Washington DC, CJ left for Iocana to finish out his freshman year, and I am left here…
Alone. In my small house. Without any friends, because I messed up.
Back at Barbera Middle, I never had to deal with the concept of being alone in my house. Every weekend, my family would take me somewhere different. They’d take me to restaurants I’ve never been to before, we’d go to movie theaters in Hollywood on a day trip. I was a baby, but there’s a picture somewhere of me being held by Adam Sandler. I think it was after the premiere of “50 First Dates.” He’s smiling a goofy smile, pointing at baby me.
If I wasn’t out with my family, I had a huge mansion where kids would just show up to play videogames or eat.
I realize now that they weren’t my true friends. They didn’t care about me. They didn’t know me, nor did they want to know me. They used me to play, to shoot some hoops or try out the newest piece of tech.
I have no one.
I’m alone for the first time in about a semester. Eight months flew by. In June it’ll be the one year anniversary of my family falling apart, and I’m sitting in my new house, the walls have lost that new color. The portraits hang on the walls that are almost too small for them.
I think it’s finally hit me that I’m now at my lowest. CJ doesn’t reach out. Maybe this is what it feels like to push everyone away.
Maybe I see the error in my own ways.
Sometimes I’ll flip through channels and my face and likeness will appear, promoting paper from a crafts store. I was so broke, I had to do that, and I clench my fists in anger because I want to beat that TV to a mash of miniature parts of the screen.
Yet there he sits on my mantle. The mask that rests on my finger. Batfold.
For a moment, it felt like that scene from Spider-Man. You know the one, the mask talks to Norman Osborne. I’m not going mad, I don’t think. I just can’t believe how lonely it is.
Madalyn? Madalyn is somewhere. Somewhere, I’m sure. I don’t know where. We go on dates sometimes, but I never let her come to my house anymore. I haven’t had anyone over in so long, I forgot how that feels. Let’s see, the last time was in December. Cooper has asked to come over but I always say no, suddenly he’s decided to try and reconnect, maybe to join a non-existent team.
Emily is out doing her own stuff too. She’s taken on a student government position, doing BatGirligami stuff on the side. Heck, I don’t hear from my cousin, and she’s starting at Kane next year. I’d expect her to call me and ask me “Hey, Alan! Do you have any tips for me when it comes to Kane?” To which I’d say, “Don’t end up at Novick, I guess.”
Novick? I don’t even know what’s going on over there.
There’s the occasional kid returning from there a better person. Then we have some that just mess up again and get sent back. It’s not good, but it’s a necessary evil.
Danny will sit in the living room on the other seat. He watches TV, flipping from the news to sports. I’ve learned to get the mail everyday after school. It’s not fun, nor is it rewarding. The colleges have already begun to spam me.
And they’re specific too.
“Batfold? Hope we reached the right Crease Cave!” One college writes in this letter, “Haha, I’m Joanne, your admissions counselor for Nodel University.”
Or how about “We hope we didn’t break your back on this one!” With a huge care package, full of cookies and stuff to try and swoon me over. It was the same deal today, except for one envelope that was covered in purple question marks.
Inside was a simple message:
“Alan Wade, what is it today?
Will you sit around and just mope away?
Or will you figure out just who this is
The one who in the sunny last month of May
Decided to make you his Prey?”
Ugh. Origami Riddlers.
See, I don’t even care anymore. I can’t stand this, I can’t stare at pages like this and try to figure out the reasoning and solve these lame GeoCache puzzles. Oh, what else do I need to do? Do I need to go recover his one hundred or three hundred trophies to lock him up? I like the simple crimes these kids commit, the ones to get me out to face it. Face that music and take down whoever is doing this. The Condiment Kirigamis who just go out and squirt ketchup on the back of a teacher. It’s easy for me with a Batfold puppet to go “Stop it!” And, badabing, badaboom, he’s in detention. Only the Worst of the Worst are sent to Novick, as I’ve come to learn.
While I sat here, all disgruntled and disheveled and upset over useless Snail-Mail like this, I heard a knock on my door. Perfect, all I need is a visitor to tell me how bad my house looks or smells.
By Alan Wade
“Hey man, can I come in here and just have a cry session?” He asked. The chunky physique and the neckbeard told me who it was: Vincent Vanderlin.
Vincent used to be the Presence. Nowadays when I see him in school, he is dressed in a loose green v-neck and khaki shorts with lines on them. His hair is turning into a mane. Between Novick and today, the Source, AKA Drake Rogers, stopped being his friend. Actually, I think I remember witnessing the fallout. We’ve never been close. He was at my parties, he convinced me that my parents were killed. The usual stuff.
I hold a resentment towards him because of that. I’ve found closure with Walter, who didn’t want to be involved. And heck, I talked with Batholomew a couple weeks back and he apologized too. This guy is just no good.
We sat in my basement, my pool table still has the painted “JP” on it from the first, and last, Justice Pleats Meeting.
I sat back and stared at him. When he looked at me, he suddenly started sobbing.
“Am I a bad friend, Alan?” He asked between sobs.
Yes. Yes you are. And you’re also just plain terrible in general. You’re a lying sack of potatoes, bent on making me mashed. “No, of course not.” I said, bored with the conversation before it even began.
“I’m so alone, dude. I’m so very, very alone.”
“Now, why is that?” I asked, knowing the answer.
“I miss my buddies. I miss the team I used to have. I just don’t understand why they’d all abandon me.” He placed his face into his hands and let out a weep.
They didn’t abandon you. I thought, You pushed them away. You let them all go, you made them hate you.
“… I don’t know, man. They sound like some punks anyways.” I lied.
“Yet you worked with Walter!” This struck a nerve.
“That doesn’t mean I won’t work with him. He’s a good guy.”
“You guess what?” Now I was ready to kick him out. The conversation barely began, but I was done with it.
“I just guess that- after all I had done for you – you’d-” he started to get sniffly again, “You’d ask me to help.”
Okay, Alan, don’t get mad, don’t get upset, “Why do you say that?”
“I’m the Presence, man. I’m the Presence, and I could’ve given you so many tidbits. Like this one,” His crying stopped. He’s such a faker, an actor, this was all a play. I couldn’t help but lean in, “Someone is after you, Alan…”
His voice was sly, it was menacing.
“Is it that Origami Riddler?”
“No, it’s much worse. It’s so, so so much worse.”
Ominousness was in the air on that hot day in May. I was silent, staring at him. A fly buzzed over Vinnie’s head.
Oh, he stunk. I forgot to mention it. It was this wretched stench of Doritos and Mountain Dew Stew. It filled the nostrils like rot and decay.
“How much worse, Vincent?”
“All I’ll say is that they’re ruling from a shadowed perch.”
Vincent got up to leave, and I grabbed his arm.
“What? What is it? Who is it?”
“Listen, I can’t give it to you. This is what you get for refusing to get the Presence’s help.” He walked up the steps, and I followed him.
Quickly, he opened the front door. I was home alone as Danny was out and about.
His car was parked on the curb. Neil, his brother, had the window down. He was sweating bullets.
“Brother, why’d you leave me in a hot car?” He asked, his voice sly and malicious, “Are you trying to kill the great Foldifer?”
“Shut up. Shut up. Please, shut up.” Vinnie said as he entered the driver’s side, starting the car and speeding off.
I stood there, my hands in my pockets. I went through my head, trying to think of what this could possibly mean. Vincent may have lied before, he may have hidden necessary information from me, but this… this doesn’t seem false.
Or maybe it is. I don’t know, it sounds like a tomorrow thing for me.
By Alan Wade
Am I lazy? Am I just lost?
I find myself loathing my time at Kane. I don’t do anything. Seriously, my hero duties consist of being a hall monitor sometimes and sitting around. There’s no work to be done, no cases to solve. I’m just being told to do these things to do these things.
Let’s discuss some other “Tomorrow Things:”
Richy has not stopped on this violent tirade, despite me knowing who he is. I know he’s hurting, but I can’t fix it, and if I’m honest, I don’t care as much as I thought.
The Justice Pleats has failed, it’s completely gone. I don’t know where the Legion of Plume is, I think they’re defunct as well. Figuring that out is a tomorrow thing. I walk from classroom to classroom without much of a care. One of the classes I’m in is AP Government with some other students that won’t even bat an eye at me.
For example, Theresa Carter. You know what she’s been doing as of late? She’s been off, doing her own stuff with her own team, fighting her own brand of “Supernatural” crime. I was at the prom. I saw what went down, I saw the whole fire on the campus.
I’m looking around and I realize that everyone really does just know that I exist, but they don’t care. Like, I’m alive but I’m dead. I don’t need a mask or anything, I’m here, in the moment, sitting at a table across from someone who won’t even look me in the eye after what I did.
This is, without a doubt, painful.
But, it’s also a tomorrow thing. I’ll deal with it tomorrow, whenever “tomorrow” is.
David Thompson has asked countless times to let him join me as my new OriRobin, but I’m starting to realize I like being off alone. CJ has reached out to me – finally – but we’re still divided. He was like “Hey, Alan, thanks for the gift.” And that was that, pretty much. I don’t need partners.
A partner in crime-fighting is another “tomorrow thing.”
Madalyn and I are falling apart. She doesn’t see it, but I do. After the whole Justice Pleats thing and the Red Hoodie debacle, I’ve been trying to distance myself from her. I just… don’t think she needs me. I’m unwanted, I think. I don’t think many people need me at all, in fact. They’ll come to me, asking for help, but they don’t need me. Maybe Madalyn is another one of those users, another person that doesn’t need me, but needs my services as a boyfriend, some protector. But I don’t think I’m that, not after the past six months. I just hope our date tomorrow rekindles a fire that has been snuffed out by my hand. Literally, that’s a tomorrow thing, haha.
Next, there’s this whole thing with Vincent. I don’t care much about it, and I don’t really want to look into it. But… maybe… just maybe it could reignite that desire to solve stuff again. All I need is to just start. I’m going to go grab my backpack and…
I just remembered I need to get groceries. Sadly, this is a ‘today’ thing.
Anyways, I opened my locker to another note. It was a “Thinking of you” card that, when opened up, had “Thinking thinking, thoughts and quandaries, what do you use when you do laundry?” I sighed, detergent, Tide pods, I thought, The usual. I opened the trashcan and tossed the note away. This Origami Riddler is no threat, he’s nothing that could hurt me or scare me. It’s just a minor nuisance. I made my way out to get into Danny’s car and we rode out to head to Devin’s Highly-Priced Grocer. Our trips are in silence, now.
By Alan Wade
We pull up and I hop out without saying anything. Danny comes in a bit later, looking sad as I check my phone for the list, swipe it into the cart, and continue moving. First, I start with buying fruits and vegetables. I like to keep this somewhat-healthy diet with good proteins as well, so I moved to get some steaks and chicken. I don’t want to be looked at, I just kind of want to do this and get home as soon as possible. I look around, as though I feel like everyone is staring at me. What did I do wrong? Why am I being watched?
I heard a laugh, and my eyes shot in that direction. What’s so funny? Is it me? What did I do? Is it the way that I’m walking? Is it my hair? I start to breath faster.
I move into a different aisle, snatching up some Mac and Cheese. Suddenly I feel a sensation on the bottom of my back, creeping up. I turn around to see someone standing quite a distance away. He – at least, I think it’s a he – had his hoodie up, and he held his hands in his pockets. I’ve seen my fair share of movies to know where this is going, so I picked up my pace. I looked behind me as he grabbed some Marvel Character shaped Mac n’ Cheese. I sighed a sigh of relief as I turned into the next aisle – the cookies and sweets.
There he was. Or, someone else in a hoodie. He just stood there, in the middle of the lane. The Oreos were behind him, so I’d have to awkwardly pass by him, embarrassing myself. Why was I embarrassed? What did I do to make me feel this way?
I inched forward as he just refused to budge. I started to wonder if I was just imagining him, if this was just a mirage, like when you close your eyes while showering and you see Darth Maul. He moved to the right, and as I looked, I could’ve sworn he had a mask on, like a paper plate mask. He turned and grabbed some Chips Ahoy, and not the chewy kind. This guy was a mad man.
I turned another aisle and saw Danny.
“Do you have everything, Alan?”
“Yeah, sure. Let’s just go.” We had an assembly line – I handed the groceries, he’d scan. I only used the self check-out line as now it meant I didn’t have to risk looking a person in the eye.
We walked out, and there stood the guy, standing near our car. As we walked up, he turned around and walked away.
Danny got into the driver’s side, and when I opened the door to my side, there it sat:
An Origami Owl.
“What’s that?” Danny asked me. I picked it up before I sat down.
“Nothing, it’s a… uh… one of the puppets I made.” I lied. I examined it, flipping it around, looking it up, down, left, right. It was exquisitely designed. And then I flipped it over.
“Enjoy the Macaroni, Wade. One week remains before the reveal.”
I crumpled the paper up. I don’t care for these dumb theatrics, if there’s someone wanting me to fail, then just come out and fight me, y’know?
“That was really well done, Alan.” Danny mentioned. I was silent, so we were back on this trend. He says something, I ignore it, good ole teenager routine.
Tomorrow was my date, and so that’s all that was on my mind. I’d bike over, as in a couple of weeks it would be my birthday, so I could start getting my learner’s permit.
It will be at Dave and Busters.
Date and Busters
By Alan Wade
“Honey, you haven’t even touched the mozzarella sticks.” I said. Madalyn was just pecking. This is how it always was as of late, and I started to get worried.
She wore a black outfit, her hair frizzed up in this semi-afro design, and she was frowning.
“Sweetheart, seriously, what’s up?” I asked. The loud music of Party Rockers blared over the speakers, perfect ‘serious conversation talk.’
“Alan… Jessica Zinnia got sent to Novick… again.”
“Well, that’s just wild.” I said, “Maybe she’s just been an awful student?”
“No, it seems more like people just want her in there. Like, they hold a grudge against her. She’s not an awful person at all, so I can’t really understand that.”
I was silent for a bit. I don’t like Jessica Zinnia, at all. She’s big on the environment, I’ll give her that, but besides that she doesn’t do much else, “We gotta finish that appetizer before it gets cold.”
“You didn’t even ask if I wanted these.” She crossed her arms and sat back, “Alan, what happened to that guy I started dating seven months ago? The one that cared about not just me, but the school, and everyone else there?”
“Maybe Jessica Zinnia is just-”
“-You told me yourself that not every kid in Novick deserved to be there, there’s the bad, and there’s the minor screw-ups, like me. Do you think I should be sent to your old mansion for snatching up some scissors or yoinking a watch off of some rich kid that could get another one?”
“Jessica Zinnia’s one crime is being a girl that’s a bit too passionate for the environment.” She said before eating a mozzarella stick, “But man, if that makes some of these students stop from emitting carbon emissions then dang, maybe that’s for the best.”
This is how it went, we’d have fights, and they’d be terrible.
“Can I ask you something?” I asked.
She was getting heated, because of my avoidance of what she was talking about, “Go on…” She said through gritted teeth.
“Why’d you take up a Catwoman puppet anyways? I mean, if you don’t want to be seen as a ‘bad guy’ you should’ve taken up a puppet of someone more heroic.”
“Like who? Who is it that everyone ships Batman with? Kathy Kane?”
“That’s his cousin and she’s-”
“Agh!” She slammed her fists on the table, drawing attention to us. I didn’t want attention, so I buried my face into my hands.
“See, you’re doing it again! What’s going on?”
I didn’t think, I just spoke, “I’m just drained.”
“This. Our relationship, Justice Pleats, CJ, all of it. I have nothing, can’t you see that? This is our first date in months.”
“We play minecraft and see each other in the halls.”
“Those aren’t dates, Madalyn. They’re moments in the wind. A brief ‘hey’ in a hallway. You’re dating Alan Wade, for pity’s sake. I’m popular, I’m known.”
She laughed at this statement, “You’re in over your head, man. You get one puppet and think you’re high and mighty. I don’t care about your popularity, I cared about you. And, you’re not even popular, I’d argue. Not anymore. You know, word gets around fast, especially after Richy had spread the Justice Pleats stuff around, and Theresa even corroborated that,” She then stifled a sob, “I… I can’t do this. I got to go. I really thought we had something more, but this hurts, Wade. Come back when you’re feeling something more than apathy.”
And, with that, she was gone, and people were staring at me.
At first, I didn’t know how to react. I’ve read the books, I’ve seen the movies. You’d expect a break up to be slow, as though everything happens at the pace of 80 heartbeats per minute, maybe in a movie theater lobby. The heartstruck man in love with this woman gets his heart broken in two, and he vows to never love again.
I call the waiter over and I pay it off. I decided that I can’t go and play any games here, I simply don’t want to.
I know how to react now. This was no emotional thing for me. I’m feeling… totally indifferent. I’ve felt alone, and this just settles it.
I’m truly alone.
The Run Home
By Alan Wade
Hands in my pockets, I started making my lonesome walk home. I left my bike on the rack, having completely forgotten about it. The sun has started to set, and the lights of cars have already started to turn on. I keep my head down, not wanting to look at anyone as I’m left with my own thoughts. Jutefruce has never really felt scary. Especially in May, around graduation season, hues of blues, yellows, and reds erupt from homes as signs are put up with “Congratulations to the class of 2019 grad that lives here!” It’s as though each neighborhood is a christmas tree of congratulations.
I walk down the street and stop at the crosswalk. Wait. Wait. Wait.
I feel like my life is like I’m at a crosswalk. It’s as though I try and follow the rules to get to the other side, I wait, wait, wait, wait, and then the walk sign is on for all crossings. On the other side is a happy life, I’m a good origami hero with friends and stuff, and then I swing in and hit myself with a car while I’m walking across the street. So, not just am I trying to cross the street, but I also hurt myself in the process.
“Walk sign is on for all crossings.” The Crosswalk announced. I crossed the street, and when I turned left, there they stood. Two kids, both in gray hoodies, stood still and stared with their heads down.
I started to inch forward past them, but they turned to me, and started to follow. I looked back, as they kept their distance. I didn’t like this, whatever it was.
My heartrate started to pick up, and I felt pressure in my head. I looked behind and picked up the pace, and they did too. I passed by Theresa’s house, and I turned into her yard, running through the grass and going into the woods.
While running, I looked behind to see the two… no, three… four. Four people, all in gray hoodies, standing there, staring at me. They no longer followed.
Finally, I had made it back to my house and I slammed the door. Danny looked confused, but I shrugged and told him not to worry.
Fine. I don’t know who they are, but I will figure them out. So help me.
By Alan Wade
I begin my research by collecting all of my evidence in one place. These Journals have been helpful to me, so I have a lot of these first-hand accounts just, all here. So far, all I know is that they:
- Use Origami Owls, be it with masks, or with actual, little paper things.
- Wear gray hoodies and skulk around.
- They vary in height – do they also vary in age?
- Vincent seems to know about them… maybe I can examine further?
- Something happens in three days… well, now it’s one, as tomorrow will be Monday.
I sat back at the pool table and pondered the evidence. For the first time in a long time I was truly on the case, solving a mystery all on my own. No OriRobin, no Justice Pleats. It was just me, and this. And you know what? I don’t need a crease-family. I don’t need anyone. I can just do this, all by myself.
But this hit a dead end.
Ok, sure, we have kids with owls and stuff. But it’s not like we’re going to find them taking that stuff out. Furthermore, students vary in height, weight, and stature. Like, I could name plenty of kids that are “tall.” If I wanted a “thorough” investigation, I’d have to go all over this huge town and find every kid that has a gray hoodie and an owl puppet, which would also be insane. Firstly, it’s hot or warm year-round here. Hoodies are not in fashion in May, so that looks conspicuous enough. But if it’s conspicuousness that they want, it’s conspicuousness they have.
I have a gray hoodie too. It would take a mad-man to be suspicious of literally everyone.
Then there’s the Owl moniker. If you sit down and find an omnibus of Batman stories, chances are the “Court of Owls” would probably pop up. I… don’t particularly care for it. It’s one of the better Batman stories out there, but I hate having to pick up like, a Nightwing or “We are Robin” story to get the full picture.
But, number six – They’re probably based off of the Court.
So, what we’re seeing here is probably a wide group of kids, probably just some trolls or something, wanting to ruin my day. I doubt that it’s anything big. But, do I want this to be a tomorrow thing? I mean, right after my breakup with Madalyn, this happened. It almost feels personal.
It can’t be a tomorrow thing. The Batfold should no longer deal with tomorrow things.
Then it hit me:
If the Court, in Batman lore, has been around for “ages,” maybe there’s something similar at Kane? And, you know, maybe there’s someone that knew about it. My father.
Journal Entries from My Father
By Alan Wade (With Transcriptions from my Dad’s Journal)
Dad always told me that it was a smart idea to journalize. That’s what I’m doing now. He used to type his journals out on typewriters and primitive computers, printing them out, hole punching them, and putting them in binders. This whole thing with this secret group has had me intrigued about these journals. I’ve refused to look into these because while I know they were written before I was born, it’s hard to just hear my mom or dad’s words.
Mom’s maiden name was Lizzy Alan, that’s how I got my first name. They used to tell me the story of how they met, but I had to turn through many pages of dad’s journal to find the true, first hand account. It was Mom and Dad’s freshman year at Kane.
October 31, 1989
Today at Mario D’Lunes’ Halloween Party, my eyes locked onto the most beautiful girl I’ve ever laid eyes on: Lizzy Alan. With hair as brown as Winona Ryder, and eyes as dark as the moonlight, she was truly, honestly, the love of my life. I know that’s weird but it’s kind of like that scene in “Say Anything,” with the Boombox over my head. I was dressed as a Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle, she was Judy Jetson.
I brought my soup, and the general consensus was that it’s really good, but it needs more salt. I try, I swear, I try. That’s all I want, is to make something good. I cook, and that’s the best thing that I’ve ever managed to do.
… Except for this.
I walked up to Lizzy and held out my hand, “Judy Jetson, Truly, it’s an honor to meet you.”
She smiled, “Oh my… Why, I never expected Donatello to give out soup and then come and chat with me, a lady of the future.”
“I just couldn’t stop staring from a distance, you’re just,” I awkwardly gave two thumbs up, “Totally Radical, dude!” She let out a giggle, and we continued to talk after that. I think it’s safe to say that I’m smitten.
Ugh, gross. I’m tired of love.
I read through more pages, falling deep into my father’s life. Everyday it seemed like he was in another new struggle. I saw the doubts, how my grandparents didn’t believe in his ability to start a soup company.
I flipped through each journal, swallowing the pages like a deranged fool.
Until I came across… this:
May 6, 1993
Marshall has been talking a lot lately about Austin Nolan. He constantly brings up these things like ‘I’m going to get ‘im,’ and he’s been making me and Lizzy really uncomfortable. I don’t know what to do. Sampson’s also mentioned something called the Sharpiefire group, which I think is something involving Deacon Blackfire? Anyways, the company is really getting off the ground! We’re making Jutefruce our base of operations.
Marshall. Sampson. Marshall Sampson. Emily’s dad. Yikes… I think I have a lead, and I don’t know what’s going to happen now. Furthermore, Austin Nolan is a teacher at Kane now, and one who, when I’ve done my background research, appears to have been the Bat-fold from 1989. I’m pretty suspicious.
Reading these journal entries have made me feel closer to my family. I… I wish they were here. I wish they could sit down and just talk to me. It goes to show that that hole never heals, no matter how much you try to fill it.
The Batfold Crumples in a Week
By Alan Wade
Sprawled in six different places throughout the school was this message: “The Batfold Crumples in a Week.” With this graffiti was also some batman logos being torn in two, and also loads of origami owls at the scene.
“Alan, did you see this stuff?” Emily asked me as I made my way to Math, “Those messages, they’re threatening you. Do you need help?”
“No, Emily.” I told her, “You just stick with being the head of your little squad of hall monitors. If you see anymore, let me know.” I didn’t want to include her in my suspicions of Principal Sampson.
But… if he was doing this, then…
I sat in Math class as my breathing started to pick up and become caught on it’s own pace. A principal being after me is insane, absolutely bonkers. It simply doesn’t make sense.
You know, I have had friends tell me that this whole Origami thing has become a craze throughout the country, starting with these kids over in Virginia. But the Origami puppetry stuff has existed since the nineties, and even before then. It’s only sparked up now in recent memory. The rumor has it that these kids in Virginia had a whole Origami Rebellion with Star Wars puppets, and even their principal helped out. I can’t help but wonder now if Principal Sampson is either with me… or against me.
Overall, the last I had heard from him was when I opened Novick up. He told me that with that comes a lot of challenges – he questioned the worthiness of having a place like that around. I’m breathing faster now. Panic is starting to set in.
I struggled to breathe now. It was as though someone had curb-stomped my throat.
“Mr. Wade, are you okay?”
I don’t know who would do this. I don’t know why this is happening. Now it’s even more out there, now it’s known that someone is after me. Now I’m scared.
“Mr. Wade, please leave the room, go get a drink of water, and come back. Please.”
It’s as though I’m on rails as I stand up from my desk, walking out of Math class. I take a right turn and I pass the water fountain as I slowly, closer and closer, inch to Principal Sampson’s door. Sprawled beside him is that message: The Batfold Crumples in a Week.” I shake my head and I swing the door open.
“Mr. Alan, how are you, sugarbooger?” Sampson’s secretary asks. I ignore her as I walk to the door, “Uh- Principal Sampson is in a meeting, what do you need?”
I swing the door open nonetheless, seeing him talk to, of all people, Richy Wickinni and his mom. Richy’s face is streaming with tears, and it’s as though they don’t see me.
“You’re saying that- that he’s going to that school now? All because of a few fights in the hallway?” Richy’s mom asks.
“Not just a few fights, Miss Wickinni. It’s like he’s on some… revenge path. I don’t know.”
I closed the door and I sat back down. Could Richy be behind all of this? The Red Hoodie, vandalizing property. Maybe he’s the Novick Knight, bent on destroying me at all costs. But that wouldn’t make any sense, as where’s the connection with the Court? Richy walks out with his mom holding him, tears streaming down his face. He pauses in front of me and holds out my hand, “Alan, I’m…” He’s crying hard now, “I’m sorry. I wish I could help you with all of this.”
He left and I sat there, shocked. It’s a rare occasion to make “amends” with someone I had a falling out with. I haven’t talked to Chris or even Theresa for months. I haven’t done anything, I refuse to reach out. Maybe it’s because I’m stubborn. I don’t know.
Doctor Sampson, since he had earned his PhD, walked out, fluffed his coat, and said “Alan, I’ll see you now.”
Like that, my anxiety spiked up again, and I could feel the anger coming on. Anger and anxiety is not good, at all. I noticed that as soon I sat down, it clouds my judgment.
“Have you seen the murals lately?” I asked as I sat down.
“Yes, the ‘Batfold will Crumple in a Week.’” He told me. Doctor Sampson, overall, looked friendly. He had a gut, would always slouch back, and it seemed like his sports coat was a size too small. But, he was approachable. At least, it seemed.
Except for now.
“Do you realize this is threatening a student?”
Marshall’s eyebrows furrowed and he shook his head, “No, no I don’t quite see it like that.”
I paused, thinking my response. Then, he continued, “Alan, you know what you started here, right? Well, really I could put the blame on those kids over at Lampert for ‘starting’ it with their Folders of Tomorrow group, but you know what you started here, with that whole Batfold thing in June? You created an idea. A trend, and I think these vandals are saying that the trend is going to die. It’s going to go by the wayside and fall apart – crumple, if you will.”
“I… I don’t feel like it’s about the idea of Batfold. Every kid here has a puppet, basically. Some may not use them anymore, but it’s a trend a fringe group of students can’t stop.”
“Well, what do you even have in mind, Mr. Wade? Are you going to… say, open a new school and syfon students from here to have fun with your puppetcraft?” He said this with so much strained anger in his voice that I was taken back.
“No, I’m not going to do that. I just want to figure out who’s doing this. Say, tell me about the Sharpiefire group.” His eyebrows furrowed and his face became red, so I continued, “Because I was reading my dad’s journals and he talked about that, and something about Austin Nolan. I think the group was based off of Deacon Blackfire, and you seemed to have been a leader of it, or at least a member. I don’t know, it feels like they were harassing Austin Nolan, the Batfold from back then, to make him stop being… well… himself. And it worked, I mean, Mr. Nolan isn’t fighting crime as a vigilante now.”
“Son, you need to start watching what you say.”
“Why? Because you were Deacon Sharpiefire, maybe?” He nodded his head.
“Well, I was a member, but that was because he was this menace. I can’t stand kids who try to take matters into their own hands unless they were a hall monitor selected by me.”
“How would your daughter feel if I told her that?” See, that’s what happens when you let anxiety and anger get to you. You say dumb crap like that.
“It’s not her business to know a very minor part of my life.”
“She’s the Batgirligami, man. She’d be so upset to learn you were a bad guy, kind of. Listen, sir, I’m just trying to investigate. Don’t hate on me for wanting to learn who did this. Maybe you are associated with the Court of Owls group that’s been stalking me around.”
For some reason, he looked dumbfounded by this. He coughed before saying, “Well, you see, the security cameras showed a kid, the same kid, some student here, spraying this stuff all over the walls.”
“Well, show me the footage.”
“I can’t do that, you’re not the police.”
“Have the police been contacted?”
“Well, of course. They said it’s not worth looking into.”
“What do you mean?!” I exclaimed, “Literally it’s an active crime scene.”
“Well, it’s just vandalism, and we’re cleaning them off. It would be a different case if someone had poisoned the lunch.”
I grimaced. This wasn’t sitting right with me at all.
“Well, Mr. Wade, don’t you have a class to be at?” He started to type something on his computer, “Math with Mr. Angus. I’ll give him a call and let him know we were having a chat. Get on your way.”
I stood up and headed out. My anger wore off and I realized that this… is suspicious. It’s a question to add to my list. I can’t be afraid.
Another day flew by, and I opened my locker. An origami owl fell down.
I picked it up, and on the back bore a message: “The Origami Talons will have your head, Alan Wade.”
I could go to the police. I should go to the police. Panic ensues in my mind, like little Alan Wades jumping and running and screaming. What does this mean? How does this make sense? Origami Talons? This feels more than just a troll – this is a threat to my life, the life of the heir to a company, no less.
I walked home today, and I could’ve sworn I saw a few kids sitting up in a tree, watching me. I no longer feel safe in my own city.
Questions and… ‘Answers?’
By Alan Wade
Two days have passed, if you count Monday. I have bombed a test as all of my focus has been on this. I look at the additional owl to my set, along with two more, each with a message. The first one read “Just you wait…” and the second one said “Who… who… watches Alan Wade? We do!” I’m starting to feel a sense of dread overall, like a sense of worry. Reading The Court of Owls series for some assistance does me no good, as I only get more and more worried. Everyday I come home and try to research, but it’s always dead ends.
Like now, I’m sitting and staring. There’s a pressure in my head that just doesn’t seem to want to escape. I close my eyes and I remember:
I’m standing at the funeral, stiff as a board. On a hot, California day, there’s no rain or clouds in the sky. It’s not like the movies, yknow, seeing your parents both be buried.
It’s solemn, everyone is silent. And I had this feeling, this pressure in the front of my cranium as I watched their caskets close and their bodies lowered down into the dirt. I felt it when I’m at that little mourning session thing, where everyone shows up to give their respects. ‘Alan, we’re with the company, know that we have your back.’ ‘Alan, your mom and dad were such great people.’
I felt it the day after they passed away. It’s not like they’re dead and the next day it’s a funeral. It takes a couple of days for everything to go through, where they’re gonna be buried, what funeral home it will be, etcetera, etcetera. So, while Danny leaves to go work this all out, bringing CJ as he thinks I need my alone time, I sit home and browse through page upon page of Amazon listings for whatever. Suddenly, I find a cool new tech piece that I want, and, being the needy spoiled brat I am, I run down the hall to my parent’s offices to ask for it. Then, when I barged in, I froze.
They’re not there, and they never will be. The pressure comes back all the same.
I hate this feeling. It’s the feeling that you’re no longer a child, you’re into some big-kid type of stuff, and it’s dreadful. I pick up the paper owl. It’s like I’m feeling pressure because I feel the end coming for me. I don’t know, I could just be an exaggerator, a person that’s getting freaked out over nothing, but this feels like my life and wellbeing is at stake.
I take out Batfold and stare at it. Why couldn’t this just speak to me? Make me feel courage like it used to before? I close my eyes and I sigh. I hear the rasp of three knocks on my window and I turn and look, seeing another one of those hoodie-wearing punks, peeping in.
Oh, that is it. I get up and I run outside through the screen door. I’ve been doing all of my work in my basement, and I knew something like this could happen. He started to break into a sprint as well, but I was able to catch up on him. I grabbed his hood and pulled it back, making him fall to the ground. I stood over him.
“Who is it that you’re working for?” I asked him. He didn’t respond. I stared. Dyed, long red hair. This wasn’t a he, it was a she. I removed the mask, revealing none other than…
“Aw, great. You have to be kidding me.” I grumbled.
“It goes full circle, eh?” She sassily asked me, “First person to have a battle with, and now she watches you.”
Jessica was Poison Foldy, and had essentially relegated herself to a B-tier status as this villain that just cares exclusively about the environment.
“I was hired by the court to watch you. I don’t like it, I don’t know much about it, they’re all in the shadows. I’m not even allowed into the secret meeting spot.”
“There’s a… secret meeting spot?”
“Yeah, I don’t know where it is.”
“So are you even a part of the –”
“Court of Origami Owls. It’s not an original name, I know. But no, I’m not.”
This just wasn’t adding up, but I had finally secured a lead. “Do you know about the other members?”
“No, I received an anonymous text, met some random person in a mask that gave me my task, and so I’ve been doing this. I heard about you and Madalyn, I mean, I’m her best friend, but I’m also sworn to always watch and listen.”
“I bet you lost your position in that group.”
“Probably.” She seemed indifferent, “Can you let me go now? This looks weird.”
I shook my head and helped her up, “Well, listen, thank you for your help.”
“It’s not much help at all. You still have Three days, Wade. Tell JC I miss him and to answer my calls, if you live to tell the tale.” And, like that, she ran off.
I yelled, “He’s dating a different girl… and we’re not friends anymore!”
I sighed and walked back to my house, sitting down to focus.
Three days remain.
By Alan Wade
Two days left. It’s almost crippling, waiting like this. That’s really all I can do, and I accept that. Not even the members of the court know who the other members are, it’s all too maddening. It is Thursday, and my grades are slipping in the last three weeks of class, all because of this dreadful predicament. I’m writing this right now to just say that it’s like I’m back on my routine.
I opened my mailbox today to another large set of college packages, and then I got something new: another Riddler letter. I’m tired of the Origami Riddles, but I figured my ignorance of these would let him stop.
He had just this to say:
Dear Alan Wade,
I’m watching from a distance, but I still hear. I know what is going on, and I just wish to extend my truest sentiments. I worry about you, but I took up this role as a bad guy simply because I wanted to be noticed and fought. I realize now that it’s been futile, and I should put my efforts elsewhere. I will say, though, that you’ve been a hero, a massive help, no matter how much it gets you down. I truly think you can do this, you can take down a Court of Origami Owls in lickety split.
So, riddle me this,
If life gives you lemons, and you are a bat, Do you make lemonade, or wear a straw hat?
That’s a weird riddle, I know. I struggle with rhyming, I’m not one for poetry. The point I’m trying to make is that the powers above have given you a lemon, and you have two choices: Squish that lemon with all of your might into lemonade, or wear a straw hat, because you are a scarecrow, standing out in a field, bound to be destroyed by owls.
I wish you the best of luck,
-The Origami Riddler.
I have felt alone for a long, long time. I don’t know who this guy is, but it means so much to me to have his support. It gave me sanctity, a feeling of calmness before the storm, as I am feeling a bit at peace with whatever happens.
I look at these owls now and I’m not sure how I should feel, so I try to feel indifferent, like how I felt when Madalyn dumped me. Here’s hoping that gets me through all of… this.
By Alan Wade
One day remains, as I think this is referring to a school schedule, and not a full seven day week.
I keep that note inside of my pocket too, along with Batfold. I’m sitting in Math class again, thinking about this whole debacle. Why does it feel so scary, stepping into the unknown? What is there to be scared about? “It’s a leap of faith” and all of that crap, I guess. But this leap of faith feels a lot more dangerous, especially because of the notes I keep receiving. They’re worrying, like I’m on a hitlist or something. I walk these halls and feel like everyone is staring at me, as the days are ticking down. They know something that I don’t.
I walked down the halls as I passed by Theresa. She briefly looked up, started to say something, and then walked away. More and more students were in gray hoodies, and as I walked towards my locker, they turned and all stared. Then, when I started to open my locker, they dispersed.
Out fell a letter. I quickly picked it up and ran to the bathroom. Sitting in the stall, I opened the letter:
YOU are cordially invited to attend the monthly Court of Origami Owls meeting for your judgment. If you don’t arrive, you will be harassed and watched more and more.
Act accordingly, and meet us at the Smith Warehouse at 6 PM tonight.
BRING NO ONE except your Batfold.
The Batfold crumples tomorrow.
Great. Oh, great. A warehouse.
The end arrives.
The Batfold Crumples Tonight
By Alan Wade
“Alan, are you sure this is safe?” Danny asked as we sat outside, “This looks seedy as all get out.”
“I don’t know if it’s safe, but I think it’s something I have to go and do.”
“You’re the son of two successful business owners. I don’t think this should -”
“Listen. If I’m not at the McDonalds after two hours, call the police.”
He sighed, “Okay.”
I gave him a hug in the car, “I love you, Danny.” It felt like it was going to be the last time I’d ever get to say that, when it’s the first time I’ve ever done it. Danny stifled a bit, and then I got out. Danny drove off.
I swung open the door to the warehouse. Someone had constructed it to have a corridor that I had to walk through. At the end of the corridor was a door, and the more and more I inched closer to it, the more I felt fear. This was it, Wade. You’re going to solve this mystery. You’re going to do it.
I stood at the door, and I took a deep breath, swinging it open.
Suddenly, I’m bombarded by bright lights, like I’m being flashbanged in a video game. There’s ringing in my ears, and when I come to my senses, I’m standing in the middle of a room, surrounded by many, many, many people with Owl masks, bandanas, whatever. They all stand in hoodies, and I realize that this warehouse is cold, really cold.
I start to heavily breathe again. This wasn’t just some fringe group of bullies. This was something city wide.
“The Court originally began as a group of students at Kane.” Someone in the large crowd said, it was a woman’s voice.
It jumped to another person, a man with a deep, gravely voice, “We were, at first, based on Deacon Sharpiefire’s group from DC comics. Our main goal was to destroy parts of this city that we saw as dangerous.”
“And when we were all… Uh…” A little girl was stammering over her lines, “Grown up, our descendants took their place in the group. In 2011, we had become the Court of Origami Owls.”
“We stare from quite the high perch, overlooking this city of ours.” A sophisticated man, sounding like my English Teacher, said.
“Three Schools, that’s how it should be.” A British Woman sighed.
“No Batman puppetry. That’s how it should be.” Some kid with a Voice Crack announced.
“Two parents dead, a child lost and blind.” That voice sounded too familiar. Like, the head of my family’s company.
“Ruins a school, ruins our plans.”
“We had to put a stop to him.”
They started to inch closer to me, and I looked around, breathing faster and faster.
A lady steps out, dressed in therapist garb. She’s has on a large paper mache mask. She kneels in front of me, as I realize now that I’ve fallen down, “We’ve been watching you, Alan Wade. General Anxiety Disorder, Post Traumatic Stress. It’s all there.”
She backs away into the crowd. This feels so unnatural.
“When loneliness overtakes you, what else is there to have? You make friends, yet you lose them. You make enemies, yet they fall out of touch with you. It’s always. Been. Your. Fault.” I didn’t know who was speaking it. It was as though the voice was coming out in a monotone voice.
“Stop.” I say.
“Always your fault.” They started to chant as they shuffled and inched closer to me. A child, no older than nine, stepped out in front of me.
“We ask that you drop this silly game.” He told me, tears were forming in my eyes, “Drop the puppet, Alan. You’re as pointless as him.” Kids can be brutal, but this one must’ve memorized what to say, “And get rid of Novick, the school you created. Leave Kane, and become someone normal. That is what we demand.”
He backed away into the shadows. I started to break down.
“Drop it all.” They now started to chant. Chanting can really get to you, I guess, because this was shattering my psyche.
“Will you all just shut the %$&@ up?!” I shouted. They stammered back, “For months I’ve been playing a charade, living a life without care with some dumb puppet on my finger, and then I started to care, and it made life worse somehow. Here I am, inside of a room surrounded by whatever YOU things are called, feeling more afraid than I was when I lost my two parents. And everywhere I look, I feel them, I feel a shadow of what I should be, and I’m like a kid again. I’m afraid of my own shadow, and I want to hide, I want to flee. I have had no one, nothing, and it’s all been my fault. All I ask is you don’t make me close that school and drop this puppet, I do it myself, my own way.”
“Good. Good.” Someone said, “Sounds excellent, you may leave.”
I stood up, wiping the snot off of my face, “Quick question, will you guys leave me alone now?”
“Sure, we don’t see why not.” The booming voice of the “leader” exclaims, “But know that we’re always –”
“Watching from the shadows and %*&$, I get it.”
I reached for the door to the hallway.
“Alan Wade,” The leader said. He was someone in the crowd, and I didn’t know who. I turned around, “Maybe in a world without puppets, Mr. Wade, you would’ve been seen as a philanthropist, or even to a few, a hero.”
My face contorted into a grimace, and when I left the place I slammed the door.
I took out the Batfold Puppet and tore it in half, and I walked in the heavy rain to the McDonalds down the street.
“How’d it go, Alan?” Danny said as I stepped in.
“Shut down Novick, that’s over. And, furthermore, I’m dropping out of Kane. Let’s…” I cried a bit as he just stared at me. Crap. I’ll never get to apologize, I’ll never get to atone for all I had done wrong, “Let’s just go home.”
Danny looked down, and then he looked back up at me.
“Okay.” He said, then we drove through the drive through. He bought me a quarter pounder. We then drove home.
“You know, there’s that one camp. It could be a fun thing to do this summer.”
“And you know, after that, your parents had a house up over in Madison, New York. I heard it looks amazing during this time of year.” I then began to realize that me and Danny were now plotting out the next year. And, for a moment, I felt some sense of excitement. It’ll be a new chapter in my life.
Watching Awards from Afar
By Alan Wade
I’m sitting in the very back of the awards ceremony. Every year, the three schools come together to send away the seniors, give out awards to them, and also hand out awards to other people.
As a sophomore going into Junior year, they usually reference us. Each Principal will give a speech for each class, so, being the class of 2021, We’re given the second speech.
The first one is the usual, “you’re going into a transitional period as you step forth into the next four years” and crap like that. Then, we get to us.
“Sophomores, sophomores. My, my. What a wild year it has been.” Principal Sampson starts, “For the sophomores at Kane, it seems like an origami trend has swept them up. Same goes for the students at Lampert and Donner. Donner… not so much. But, I assume it’ll be different next year. Who knows? Maybe this trend will last all the way through your senior year? We have had some other changes, such as the opening of the new Novick school. With Alan Wade, we’ve decided to shut that experiment down. Now, students will just be placed in detention from henceforth. Speaking of, we apologize for the chaos of the past year. It will be different.”
There it was – the final nail in the coffin. It will be different.
Ok. Well, I won’t be there to see the differences come out.
Goodbye, Kane. Smell you later, Jutefruce.