At football practice, Jerry finds himself struggling. As he attempts to execute plays, his teammates tackle him to the ground angrily. Jerry can never see who it is who’s attacking him, as they always come from behind, but knows that someone is trying to wipe him out on purpose.
A new kind of assault begins against Jerry at this football practice. Though he is confused as to why it’s happening, he realizes that he is being singled out and punished intentionally.
That afternoon, when Jerry gets home from school, the phone is ringing. Jerry answers it, but there is only silence on the other end. When Jerry says “Hello” again there is a soft, menacing chuckle, and then a dial tone. That night, at eleven, the phone rings again—Jerry figures it is his father, calling from the late shift at the pharmacy. When Jerry answers the phone, though, there is silence and chuckling again.
The next phase of the Vigils’ attack against Jerry is psychological violent rather than physical; the disturbing phone call with a lewd, terrible chuckle at the other end serves to rattle Jerry and make him feel unsafe and watched even in his own home.
The next morning, Jerry gets to school to find that his locker has been vandalized—someone has smeared his poster with ink or paint, obliterating the question “Do I dare disturb the universe?” More than that, Jerry can see that his new gym sneakers have been slashed. Jerry realizes that the attacks on the field, the phone calls, and the vandalism are all deliberate and orchestrated. He feels nervous and ashamed.
That night, Jerry is awoken in the middle of the night by the phone ringing. His father has answered the phone, and urges Jerry to go back to sleep. Jerry knows that his father does not know that the phone calls are targeting him, and does not tell him the truth; he gets back into bed and falls into a strange, dreamless sleep.
The assault extends to Jerry’s father, who does not realize what is going on. Now that others are involved, Jerry realizes that the Vigils will stop at nothing to demoralize him and conscript him into their service and traditions.
In art class, Brother Andrew tells Jerry that he has not received an important project for a large percentage of the class grade. Jerry insists he already turned his project in, but Brother Andrew tells Jerry that the project was not on his desk. When Jerry is adamant that he already completed the assignment, the Brother agrees to look through his stack again, and to check the teacher’s lounge—but if he doesn’t find it, Brother Andrew warns, Jerry will fail the class.
The assault is no longer on Jerry’s physical or psychological well-being, but on his very ability to succeed at school. The Vigils have demonstrated their intent to leave no corner of Jerry’s life untouched by their campaign.
Jerry, back at his locker, considers the damage inside. He ponders the question “Do I dare disturb the universe?” once more, and decides that he does dare. He feels that he understands the poster in a new way, and deeply identifies with the lone man on the expansive beach.
Rather than being demoralized or cowed by any of this torture, Jerry is instead renewed in his determination to continue being a “disturbance” at Trinity, even if it means standing alone against waves of assault.