Once Unda and Alasdair had gotten a motel room, they put a do-not-disturb sign on the knob outside of the room and placed their miscellaneous things on the full-sized bed.
“So I take the bed, you take the floor?” Unda said. “I am a chosen one after all.”
He chuckled. “Whatever, we won’t be staying here for long anyway.”
“Why not?” She said. “Earth is a pleasant place. They have interesting modes of transportation, large and pretty villages, fascinating technology, and no evil queens.”
“That we know of…” He placed the rest of the cash he had created in his pocket. “The longer we stay here, the worse Elementi will get. The world’s future is up to us.”
“What is the next step?” She asked reluctantly.
“School,” he told her.
“High school,” he closed his eyes. “It shows the three at some high school right now.”
“All three in the same place?”
“When you think of it, it makes sense. Destiny does funny things in our favor at times.”
“You’re saying it was destiny? After all this time, it’s finally trying to help us?”
He nodded. “It’s just how the world works.”
“Do you think we could sneak into this school as students?”
“Well, I’m 32 years old so…”
“You look young enough. Don’t wizards age slower than humans anyway?”
“Very well,” he crossed his arms. “I could pass as a senior I suppose.”
“They have grade levels on Earth. You would be a junior and the rest should be as well based on their ages. I’ll perform a spell to make the school have record of us and I’ll change our clothes so we fit in because I hear high schoolers can be pretty judgmental.”
Once Alasdair completed the spell and changed their clothes to school-spirited red and blue colors, they left for the high school in a taxi they got the motel owner to call up for them.
“These clothes are so strange,” Unda fooling with her red sleeve’s seam and scratching her jeans. “Oh! It makes your nails blue!”
“Stop itching. We need to act normal,” he told her.
The taxi driver eyed them in his rearview mirror. “Y’all okay back there?”
“We are fine,” they said simultaneously. Unda peered out the window at the beautiful hill country.
Eventually, they arrived at the high school.
“Thank you so much, kind sir!” Alasdair exclaimed, hopping out the car with Unda.
“That’ll be $56.”
He handed the rest of the money to the driver. The guy raised his brows at the couple Ben Franklins mixed in. “Hey, uh, okay, thanks man.”
They walked away quickly, looking around the high school with interest. The hallways were long and wide, the tiles school colors. They were astounded by the building’s size, as it is was just as big as a large village in Elementi, if not larger. People were milling about, pushing through people who were standing in the middle of the hallways, talking to their friends.
“How the hell are we supposed to find them in this mess? Do we have names?”
“I’m afraid not,” Alasdair answered, “But I do believe that if I am in close range of them, I will feel their presence.”
The two were pushed around by big jocks that had passed them by. Unda looked over at them and curled up her fists.
“Hey, calm down,” Alasdair put a hand on her forearm.
Unda sighed. “Can you sense them?”
“No. Come on, we need to go to the front office.”
~ ~ ~
Aly walked to her first class with her two closest friends, Cory and Madison. They were a strange group as all three were very different: Cory sang lead and played bass in a rock and roll band, Aly worked at an animal clinic every other day and also played the viola in orchestra and wished to become a professional eventually, Madison worked at a gardening store under her foster mother and loved to paint.
But that's just how they were. Very different people that had found each other as the best of friends starting in middle school when they all had a strange obsession with Linkin Park. They had other friends of course but they shared everything with each other. Well, save for a few particular details.
"Ugh AP US history is going to be the death of me," Madison said, combing back her wavy red hair.
"You'll be fine," Aly assured her. "People always say junior year is the hardest. We just have to get through this and then it's smooth sailing."
Cory laughed. "I'm just surprised y'all got me to take this class."
"AP classes will look good for when we apply to college! Plus we get bump points," Madison explained. "I just hope we don't have another pop quiz..."
The late bell rang. "Okay, okay, settle down. And come up to the front to get your pop quiz," the teacher said.
~ ~ ~
Meanwhile, Unda and Alasdair went to the front office and got their schedules for the day.
"Pre-Cal, U.S. History? What are these things?"
"That we have to go to?"
"No, it's just a front so that people think we are students."
Tony walked in the front office with an application to become the junior class's representative in the student council.
Alasdair gasped, feeling that one was near. "Unda! He's one of them." He gestured at Tony.
Unda looked over her shoulder. "Should we tell him -"
"That he's one of the chosen four and it's his duty to save a world he's never even heard of? Of course not, don't be silly."
She rolled her eyes. "What do we do then?"
"Make friends with him." He walked over to Tony and poked him.
He turned around, confused. "Hi."
"Hello, um, could you help us find our classes? We are new here and don't know our way around the school."
"Uh..." Tony looked at his watch. The late bell would ring in 5 minutes. "Well, I can spare a tardy," he said, then nodding his head, "Follow me."
"Thank you," Unda smiled.
Tony led them out into the entrance of the school. "Okay, so let's take it last class to first so I can show you your entire schedule for today. Who first?"
"Ladies always," Alasdair said.
"Oh, okay, let's turn around then," Tony swiveled around and started walking the other direction. The others followed.
"So what are y'all's names?"
"I'm Unda and this is -"
"Alasdair. Pleased to make your acquaintance," he shook his hand. "And yours?"
"Tony. Where are you from?"
"We've moved around a lot. Originally, we are from the UK."
"I thought so. You kind of have English accents, I wasn't sure which part of England though. Where exactly did you live?"
"Um..." Alasdair exchanged a nervous glance with Unda.
"South," Unda answered quickly.
"Enough about us. Tell us about you," Alasdair said.
"I was born in Italy. Moved here when I was 6. Um, I am on the soccer team. My dad is a doctor. I mean, there's not much to tell really."
"Do you have any hobbies?"
"Okay, don't laugh, but I do like to garden. I work at this gardening shop where we sell plants and gardening equipment."
"Gardening? What got you interested in that?"
"I used to garden with my mom as a child. As I grew older, my dad told me I wasn't allowed to partake in that because it was a 'waste of my time'. But anyway, that store is kind of my outlet."
“So Unda, your 4th period is actually right down this way in A hall. Chemistry is really easy. You won’t have any trouble. It’s A223. There’s stairs right down the hall.”
She nodded, pretending to care.
“Okay, right down this way to B hall is your 4th period class, Alasdair. Room B104, first floor. It’s Spanish 1 which shouldn’t be too bad. Your teacher is really good.”
What’s Spanish? Unda and Alasdair thought to themselves.
The late bell rang. “Okay, let’s pick up the pace. Over to F hall.”
“You know, you remind me of myself,” Unda said.
“Really? How so?”
“You seem very confident and level-headed. And you also have this air about you that you are hiding something,” she added.
He paused in his footsteps. “What are you talking about?” He turned around.
Unda laughed. “I’m just joking around.”
Tony narrowed his eyes but continued to lead them to F hall.
“Funny how green your eyes are.”
“Well, since you really enjoy gardening. It’s kind of funny how that works.”
“I guess. But green eyes aren’t that uncommon.”
“Maybe not on Ear-“
Alasdair slapped a hand over Unda’s mouth.
“What was that?”
“Nothing. This is my next class?”
“Up these stairs on the third floor. It’s US History which is pretty easy as long as you take good notes and pay attention in class.”
“Your third period is actually up there too Alasdair. Looks like you will have a class together! Awesome. Okay, second period for Unda is E hall which is right this way.”
Tony showed them to the rest of their classes and then brought them to their first periods. Alasdair thanked him and walked into his first and last high school class ever - AP Physics. Less than half of it made sense to him and none of it interested him. He yawned several times before class was over. The bell rang and everyone bustled out to their next classes, save for a few stragglers stuffing their belongings into their backpacks. Alasdair got up slowly after everyone had so quickly left, and met with Unda outside of her class.
“Sense anything else yet?”
“You’ll be the first to know.”
~ ~ ~
When lunch time came around, Unda and Alasdair had just gone through over an hour of US history which they knew absolutely nothing about.
“What does US stand for? Or is it just us history?”
“I have no idea. I suppose it is an abbreviation of some kind.”
“Earth is strange.”
“Indeed,” Alasdair looked over at the lunch line and saw people getting food. “I guess that’s where we get lunch.”
Alasdair felt funny as they got in line. He looked around, trying to spot who he felt was there. He couldn’t pinpoint anyone. Then he saw a girl with red hair and something about her felt so familiar, yet, for whatever reason, he knew she wasn’t one of the four. Simultaneously, he knew she was important but couldn’t explain why.
Aly talked to her friend Madison, joking around about Mrs. Parrett and her weird and completely coincidental obsession with birds, as they waited in line to get food.
“Looks like some kids still have school spirit even after our football team totally bombed this season,” Aly nodded over at Alasdair and Unda, noting their clothes.
Madison giggled. “Well good. Someone has to stay strong in times like this,” she joked. She looked more closely at them. “You know, he’s pretty cute.”
Aly looked at the guy. “I guess so. If you go for that scruffy look…” She stared for longer, noticing his blue green eyes. Then she felt what he was feeling: anxious, hopeful, fearful. These emotions flooded her to the point where she became dizzy. Madison steadied her. “Whoa, you okay? You aren’t seriously about to swoon are you?”
Aly blinked a few times, “Oh, yeah, I’m fine, sorry. I just - I thought I recognized him.” She raised a brow, wondering what had just happened.
After they had gotten their lunches, Aly walked to sit with Unda and Alasdair. Madison followed along.
“Hi, I’m Aly and this is my friend Madison. Mind if we sit with y’all?”
Alasdair’s eyes widened. Another one of the four! “Yes, please do!”
“Thanks,” Madison sat beside Alasdair and Aly beside Unda.
“So what are your names?”
“I’m Unda and this is Alasdair. We are from the UK. Just started school here this morning,” she was starting to get the hang of lying. At least most of what she was saying was true.
Aly eyed the wizard cautiously. “What brings you to the Americas?”
“Oh, you know - “
“Our parents,” Alasdair said quickly. “They wanted to live here so we moved.”
“Cool! Do you like what you’ve seen so far?” Madison asked.
Unda nodded mid-bite. “It is amazing here! So much better than El…” She swallowed. “Um, the UK.”
“Yes, the hills are a fantastic site. Have you two lived here long?” Alasdair asked.
Aly nodded. “10 years. I moved when I was starting first grade.”
“I’ve lived here my whole life,” Madison answered.
Tony came over, seeing that Alasdair and Unda were getting acquainted with others. “Hey! I see you are making some new friends.” He sat to Alasdair’s right. He looked over and saw Madison. “Oh! Didn’t see you there,” he smiled.
“I assume you know each other,” Alasdair commented.
“Yeah. He works with me and my mom in our garden shop. He’s really got a green thumb,” she smiled back at him.
“By the way, this is my friend A-“ Madison started.
“Aly, right! Yeah, we know each other from - uh - we had a class together right?” Tony said.
Aly looked at Tony with wild eyes, recognizing him but not remembering having a class with him. Yet somehow…she felt like she knew him, and for some reason she knew his name was Tony, not just because Madison had talked about him so much before, but because she just knew.
“Um, yeah, I think so,” Aly tilted her head.
Madison eyed Aly and Tony staring into each other’s eyes, mistaking it as love at first sight or something crazy like that. The bell rang, breaking the trance and making Alasdair and Unda jump.
Aly looked down at the table, in a daze. Tony did the same. Madison stood up and sighed heavily. Alasdair looked around at everyone getting up. “It’s like these bells dictate our lives. It’s like herding goats.”
Madison chuckled. “I’ve never thought of it that way but it’s kind of true.”
Unda yawned. “School is tiring. Can we go back to the…our house Alasdair?”
“And skip class?” Alasdair crossed his arms.
“Why not? She moaned.
“You know why.”
Aly rubbed her forehead and got out of her seat. “Man, I am feeling super out of it.”
Tony agreed. They started walking out of the cafeteria together.
Madison crossed her arms and followed behind. What was their deal?
The two others straggled behind. “We need to find the last person.”
“I know. Hopefully we will by the end of today.”
They split apart to their separate classes.