"Andrea Maria Chapmen! Wake up! If you miss the bus, I'm not going to drive you to school!"
Andrea pulled her mind from her story back to reality. She'd actually been up for two hours, writing a story that came to her in a dream. With a sigh she stood up and closed her battered blue notebook, using her pen as a book mark.
She went to her closet and sifted through her vast collection of oversized hoodies and baggy jeans. Seeing as it was the first day of school, she finally settled on a hoodie with a giant four leaf-clover on it and a pair of butterfly bedazzled jeans; the only pair of jeans that actually fit her. When she threw them on she realized they didn't match and that she really didn't care if they did or not.
In the bathroom, Andrea brushed her long, incredibly straight black hair into a ponytail. She ran her fingers through it, thankful that it was so easy to manage yet wishing it had more curl to it, like her mother’s hair. Shrugging, she pulled her hood up and lacing her worn black converses, she went downstairs.
Her mother was sitting at the dining table, typing furiously on her laptop. "Morning Andy. Sleep well?" she asked, not taking her eyes off the screen.
Claire Chapmen was a workaholic; a habit worsened by the fact that she was the city’s head prosecutor. Every morning Andy woke up to her in a black power suit with her long, curly, blonde hair pulled into a tight bun. More often than not the cloudy grey eyes Andrea had inherited were focused on her laptop.
"Fine, Mom. I had the most wonderful dream last night." Andrea said as she started making her breakfast.
Claire stopped typing and closed her laptop, giving her daughter her full attention. Andrea had an erratic imagination that never ceased to entertain the entire family, even Claire herself.
"I'm listening." Claire said.
"I'm not going to tell you about it. I'm making it into a story. You know I don't like people to know about my stories before I finish them. Some people have no respect for dibs." Andy said from the kitchen.
"Dibs isn't a legal copyright." her mother said.
"It is to me." Andrea replied. She emerged from the kitchen carrying a humble breakfast of tea and a bagel. "Where's Carlos?" she asked.
"You know you're brother's studying for his SATs. He left earlier with Dad."
"He should be careful." Andrea warned.
Claire raised a sculpted blonde eyebrow. "And why's that?" she asked.
"The Greys -aliens from another galaxy- like to take people in the early hours of the day." Andy replied.
“You do realize that was just from a movie, don’t you?” Claire asked shaking her head.
“That’s what the government wants us to think. I’m telling you Mom, the people you work for are laced with conspiracy.” Andrea said.
“Sure.” Claire said absently.
"You know he's still asleep." Claire answered patiently."He's only six years old."
"He shouldn't sleep too much. The Greys could get him too."
Claire ignored her, looked at her watch and handed Andrea twenty dollars.
"I wasn't able to make you lunch. You'll have to buy some from school" Claire said.
"We're in a new town. I can't eat their food. What if it's poisoned? The Avarians have a special gaseous poison that takes sixty years to kill a person. They put samples into our air supply. What if they give me a concentrated version of that in my chocolate milk or something?"
“The diabolical race of Storm Griffins you made up when you were five?” Claire asked arching a perfectly shaped eyebrow. ”I doubt.”
“I did not make it up. I hid their king during a mutiny against him. He owes me a favor, you know.” She said haughtily
Claire looked at her daughter for a long time and placed the bill in front of her. "You won't die." she insisted.
"But what if I do?" Andy asked.
"Then I'll go to your funeral. Now get going. You're late for school. Love you."
Webster High was an imposing building. Three stories high and completely made of brick from the Victorian era complete with gargoyles made it so. As Andrea entered she was hit by a wave of culture shock. Florescent lights, clean white tiles and shiny metal lockers were a strict contrast to the chipped brick exterior of the school.
Making sure her hood was down, she walked briskly through the bight hallway, trying not to be noticed but taking in her surroundings. She saw an African-American girl with obviously dyed purple hair yelling at a skinny blonde boy with turtle shell glasses. She hurried past and saw a dark haired boy in a worn black leather jacket trying to shove some poor kid into a locker. When he succeeded, he locked the door and gave it a kick for good measure.
"Well, at least the school's named after a writer." Andrea said to herself.
She finally made it to her locker and started unloading her books. After she had stuffed every textbook needed to propel her through high school, she took out what she really needed for school. Her glitter notebook and feather pen.
Andrea was just about to close a locker when someone collided with her and sent them both tumbling to the ground. Andy heard a smirk.
"Losers." someone said.
Andy looked up to see the blonde boy who was getting yelled at by the purple-haired girl from earlier on top of her. He had been knocked down by the black jacket guy who shoved a kid in a locker.
The blonde kid got up and adjusted his glasses. He gave a nervous laugh. "Ha! Good one Kevin. Just like old times." his voice sounded strange, kind of shaky.
The bully, Kevin, frowned and pushed some of his pitch black hair back. "There are no ‘old times’ geek. Remember that." he said as he left.
The blonde pushed up his large glasses and frowned at the retreating bully. He wiped his hands on his jeans and finally offered to help Andrea up.
"Sorry about that." he apologized as he heaved her up.
"No worries. It happens." Andy said as she retrieved her notebook and pen.
The boys shocking green eyes studied her with an intelligent glint from behind his thick glasses. "I've never seen you. You must be new." he said.
Andrea nodded. "We just moved in this summer."
"Well then." the boy said. He extended his hand for a shake. "I'm Alexander Lockwood But you can call me Alex."
Andrea took his hand with a smile and shook it briefly. "Andrea Chapmen. I prefer Andy but either works."
The bell rang shrilly, startling them both.
"Can you help me find my homeroom? I'm in Ms. Knowles class." Andrea asked.
Alex smiled. "What a coincidence! That's my class. Follow me. Knowles is really strict on timing."
When they entered the class, it was obvious they were late but the class was making so much noise because the teacher was also late that no one noticed. Ducking spitballs and other paper-based missiles they hurried to their seats. Andy sat next to the African-American girl with purple hair and Alex sat next to the bully, Kevin. There was an empty seat between Andy and Alex.
Alex pushed his bulky brown glasses up and smiled weakly. "Hey Kevin"
Kevin shot him a cold glare with his blue-green eyes. "Nerd." he spat.
Andy also tried to break the ice with her sitting partner. "Hi. My name's Andrea but call me Andy."
The girl looked at Andrea with curious brown eyes. "I'm Jada." she said with a ghetto twang. "You should really fix yourself up ‘cause you look like a guy. I know a girl who can do your hair up for you real good. Like mine." Jada said gesturing to her mauve locks.
"Exactly like yours?" Andrea asked cautiously.
"Of course not. Danica always gives everyone their own thing. Mine is dyeing my hair every week. You could use a new wardrobe too."
"I'll get back to you on that." Andrea said.
Suddenly the class fell silent as Ms. Knowles came in. She was a striking woman with icy blue eyes and pitch black shoulder length hair. She had an air of authority and confidence. She'd obviously dealt with tenth graders before.
"Good morning class." she said briskly as she stood in front of them. "There will be time for introductions later, we have the whole year for that. What you need to now is that I deal with time. If you waste time, you can’t get it back from me."
She scanned the class coolly. When she got no reaction she continued, "Now open your Math textbooks. Today we begin Calculus."
The entire class erupted in groans.
"Is this supposed to be a fruit cup?" Alex asked.
It was lunchtime and for the sake of comfort Alex, Andy and Jada were sitting at the same table. Alex had forced down everything rapidly but refused to eat his fruit cup, not believing it was actually fruit.
"I think so. I'm pretty sure the red balls are grapes." Andrea said.
"And those orange cubes must be peaches." Jada said. She took the cup from Alex and looked closer. "Then again, maybe apricots?"
"Okay, okay." Alex said taking the cup back. "We've got grapes and apricots or peaches but that doesn't explain the brown cubes."
"I don't know about y'all, but I'm thinking potatoes." Jada said.
Alex pushed up his glasses and looked at her. "Potatoes in a fruit cup?"
Jada crossed her arms defiantly. "You obviously have no idea how business happens." She said condescendingly.
"I have my own theory." Andrea said. "Get this. Processed apples."
Alex and Jada looked at her for a while. "It's possible." Alex agreed
"What does she know about school food? She hasn't eaten anything!" Jada said.
"I don't trust food my family didn't make. It could be poisoned." Andrea said.
"You're one strange girl.” Jada said staring at her suspiciously. “I like you." She concluded.
Suddenly their conversation was interrupted by a hand slamming down onto their table, startling them all.
"Losers." Kevin greeted.
Alex brushed some of his shaggy blonde hair out of his eyes. "Hey, Kevin!" he greeted cheerily.
"I'm hungry, nerd. What've you got?"
"Fruit cup." Alex offered.
"If that's what it really is." Jada said.
Kevin examined the fruit cup. "What are the brown things?" he asked.
"Processed apples." Andy said.
Kevin looked at her as if she was the strangest thing he’d ever seen.
"It's either that or potatoes." Jada said.
"I think I lost some brain cells in this conversation." Kevin said.
"Not that you had some to begin with." Alex muttered.
Kevin grabbed Alex by the front of his green T-shirt and hauled him out of his chair. "What did you say nerd?" he asked lowly.
"Hey!" Jada said also standing up. "That's my friend! Nobody threatens my friends."
"Is that a threat?"
Andrea, sensing a huge fight between them, panicked and did the first thing that came to her mind and threw the fruit cup blindly. It landed on Kevin and spilled syrup and barely identified fruit pieces all over him.
The cafeteria fell deathly silent and for a while no one moved. Then a kid in a black hoodie stood up and shouted, "FOOD FIGHT!"
That was all it took for the place to erupt into chaos. Teens were shouting, throwing various foods, fistfights broke out, some gamer nerds were running around shirtless and one kid fainted. In all the chaos, Andy grabbed a hyperventilating Alex and dragged him under the table.
"This is bad. This is bad." Alex chanted trying to regulate his breathing. He was wringing his hands nervously.
"This is so cool." Andrea said. “It’s just like the war between-“
"Silence!" a deep voice shouted.
Instantly the cafeteria fell silent and everyone turned to look at the entrance. Andy and Alex crawled out from under the table and looked. The principal stood in the doorway wearing a neat grey tux. There was a fierce scowl on his face as he surveyed the entire lunchroom with a cold gaze. A shiver went up Andy’s spine.
"You, you, you and you. To my office. Now!" he demanded pointing at the quartet that started the whole thing.
"This is bad." Alex repeated.
Then a chunk of spaghetti fell from the ceiling and landed on the principal's shoulder. His face turned red and he stormed out of the room.
"And it just got ten times worse." Jada said.