Mind of Darkness

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Chapter Twenty: Emily

When I roll over, I find a piece of paper on my pillow.

I jump up like it’s a spider.

“It’s Saturday,” Violet mumbles from her bed.

I glance at the sun peeping through the windows. “Sorry.” Grabbing the note, I take it into the bathroom with me and close the door.

And then do breathing exercises.

And then I wash my face.

And then I move to read the note…

And then I curl up in a corner and squeeze my eyes shut.

And then I get sick of being a corner and put the note in front of my face.

Get. Out.

My mouth goes dry. Then I open the door long enough to grab my cell phone before going back inside and shutting the door. Hands shaking, I press Christopher’s name on my contact list.

He picks up first ring. “Emily?”

“I want to drop out. Now.”

~~~

Christopher and I sit side-by-side across from the principal in her office.

The principal, a pristine middle-aged woman, looks down at us from her massive desk. “How may I help you?”

“We’d like to drop out,” Christopher answers.

She blinks. “Excuse me? We have students all over Europe attempting to get in, and you want to drop out?”

Christopher nods, undeterred. “This isn’t the place for us.”

“Surely there’s a less drastic measure we could take,” Principal Sanders says. “No one has ever dropped out of the program before.”

“You don’t have to worry about returning our tuition,” I assure. “We’re here on full scholarship.”

The woman sighs and taps a pencil against her desk. “You don’t seem to understand. We’ve never had a drop out before; and having two in the same day- especially two as famous as yourselves- would cast a negative light on the program.”

“We can keep this low key,” Christopher says.

“You’re really that determined to leave?”

Christopher and I both nod.

She sighs. “Very well. We can’t keep you hear against your will.” She shoots us a dark look as if to say she can.

I shudder, feeling threatened, even if it wasn’t verbal.

A list of all the times I’ve been verbally threatened:

(1) Two ugly words: third grade;

(2) After Chase pulled that prank on me (actually, come to think of it, it might have been me threatening him…);

(3) Two uglier words: Junior high;

(4) That time I was mugged;

(5) In just about every conversation with the Masters;

(6) Same for Miss O’Neil;

(7) When Oto was teasing to tell Christopher about this one time about this one thing... (actually, I might have been doing the most threatening then, too);

(8) Now;

“Very well,” she says with a sigh. Then she reaches into her drawer and hands us two files of papers. “Here. Takes these and fill them out. Then bring them back to me sometime before four and consider yourself drop-outs.”

I nod. “Thank you.”

Christopher and I both stand up and he goes to the door to open it for me.

The moment we step into the clear, I take a deep breath of air that seems so much more refreshing out here. “I can’t believe we’re free.”

“We should have done this the moment you started feeling uncomfortable,” he says.

I frown, wondering why we didn’t.

Maybe because I didn’t want to. Still don’t. I rub my temples as a headache begins there.

“I was starting to think she was going to hold us hostage for a moment there,” Christopher adds, going to open the outer door for me.

“Yeah. Thought I might have to call the superhumans in.”

Christopher glances at me. “What?”

“You now- the Alabama superheroes, Ninja and Hunter. They gave me their phone numbers last summer for if I ever got into trouble again.”

His lisps twitch. “They obviously didn’t realize what they were getting themselves into.”

I glare at him. “They did; they gave it to me after rescuing me from criminals for a second time.”

“A second time? I don’t remember you telling me about that.”

“I didn’t?” I take my phone out of my pocket and study it as we step outside. Yep; the number is still there, like my security blanket. Right after my speed dial for 911.

“Something’s not right.”

I turn to Christopher as he glances around, tense and alert. “What is it?”

“I think we should run.”

My heart jumps, and my feet take off for me.

But there is no echo.

I glance back to see Christopher lying face-first on the ground.

No!

Turning back, I press my speed dial and yell into the my phone, “I’m at the Yin Program. I need help now!”

Before I can reach Christopher’s side, though, it’s like I hit an invisible wall, sending me backwards to the ground.

My phone flies out of my hand, and I wonder if I even called the right emergency contact.

Then I’m out for the count.

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