Chapter 3: Introducing the Phoenix Siblings
Idlewild is like many schools; it teaches kids to study, work hard, and become the best.
However, when your courses involve magic, hunting demons, and saving the world, then it isn't a normal school. It requires every boy, girl, monster, and otherwise to train ourselves for the inevitable.
And while monsters are free to stay wherever they like, hunters began their training from the age of ten to eighteen. From shooting ranges to ancient spellbooks, the kids were taught by their strict teachers so they can make the world a better place.
For their school uniforms, the children wore a white long-sleeved, buttoned-up shirt, a dark blue vest with black letters IW sewed on their chests, long khaki pants, gray ankle socks, and dark brown shoes.
But whenever classes are over, the teenagers change into their street clothes and head over to the break room where they drank fizzy soda from vending machines, watch TV, play Street Fighter, and exchange cassette tapes.
Johnny Phoenix, on the other hand, is pacing around his dorm room, smoking his cigarette for the fifth time. Dark brown locks of hair flounced above his eyes, but he angrily pushed them away.
His close friend and former lover Brooke King has been gone for almost three weeks. And he worries about her like a mother searching for her child.
Ever since her best friend Mia was murdered in a drive-by shooting, Brooke stopped eating, avoided people, and took her anger out on training dummies. But not in a healthy way.
Previously, Brooke told Johnny that she will be visiting her ailing grandmother in New York. Yet sadly, she doesn't know when she would return. So Brooke provided the boy her study notes and contact information, then told him to look after his little sister Nessa.
Initially, Johnny had supported Brooke's decision to go to New York all by herself. She is a bright, determined, and resourceful girl who knew how to carry a gun and concoct poison from deadly plants.
However, after thirty-two missed calls, there is still no word from Brooke. She hasn't even responded to the messages he had sent from his pager.
"Damn, where is she?" Johnny moans. He sits on his gray, disheveled bed. Sitting across from him is yesterday's newspaper.
It documented gruesome fragments about a dead boy named Charlie Newman. The police had found him rotting in a dumpster behind a burning diner somewhere in Hollyoaks, New York.
By the time the body was sent to the morgue, his face is unrecognizable: black and blue bruises distorted his forehead, eyes, long nose, and mouth. His teeth are removed with a pair of pliers. Blood and alcohol spilled all over his clothes. Some sources say that he was shot four times in the stomach, crotch, and arms, then had his throat slit by something sharp.
Looking at the injuries the boy has suffered, Johnny remembered Charlie from one of his house parties. He thought the boy was cool to be around until Johnny caught Charlie in Nessa's bedroom trying to coax his sister to take drugs with him.
Shutting the newspaper, the sixteen-year-old boy rolled his eyes. Everyone in the boarding school had reacted to the tragic news with indifference. They were aware of the crimes Charlie had committed in the past; hence, his death meant no concern to them.
"Fucking moron," he grunts. "Charlie should have stayed away from the Maroni's when he had the chance."
Crumbling the newspaper with his hands, Johnny tossed the ball on the hardwood floor and expressed a tired sigh. Sex Pistols, Teen Idles, Bad Brains, Nirvana, and Soundgarden band posters coat the bluish-gray walls. Dirty clothes scoured the floor. If Brooke were here, she would have berated him for keeping his room messy.
Textbooks, sports trophies, pens, and paper covered the wooden desk. His cassette tapes - varying from Screaming Trees to Alice in Chains sat on top of his dresser drawer.
A soccer ball rolled near his combat boots so he gently kicked it in the closet. It tumbled under his band tees, shirts, flannels, a variety of jeans, sweaters, and heavy jackets. Sitting in the corner of the closet were two guns, a katana, and boxes of ammo.
Rubbing his worn eyes, Johnny decides to call her again when Nessa banged on his door.
"Johnny!" she cried. "I need to talk to you!"
Her older brother expressed a groan. "Nessa, if you don't lower your voice, you're going to break every goddamn window in this school!"
She ignored him. "Open the door, or I'll tell Mom and Dad that you have bikini magazines under your bed!"
This startling revelation terrifies the brooding teenager. Their parents promised Johnny that he will get Stevie Vaughan's autographed guitar if he does well in school.
Throwing on a black Sonic Youth T-shirt and a pair of acid-washed jeans, Johnny wanders over to the door and allows his sister inside.
She wears a leather brown jacket, a dark choker, a red buttoned-up crop top, denim jeans, and Doc Martens. Last summer, Nessa cut her hair close to her ears and dyed it bright pink.
Meanwhile, Johnny's hair grew longer. Too long that Nessa would always wonder if he's going through a Chris Cornell phase. Tying his hair with a thick black hairband, Johnny growled, "the hell do you want, Nessa?"
Nessa wrinkled her nose at the intense odor.
"Holy shit, who died in here?" she asked, not answering his question.
"Shut up." Johnny scowled. "Shouldn't you be getting ready for your date with Dove?"
Dove Applewhite is Nessa's girlfriend. Despite their passionate love for each other, Dove is a lesbian, while Nessa is an openly bisexual girl who is willing to beat anyone who opposes it.
Crossing her arms, Nessa rebukes her older brother's retort.
"I was getting ready for my date with Dove," she snarled. "Until Professor January told me that we need to take care of a monster at some fancy bistro."
Nessa opens her brown jacket to uncover two, loaded handguns tucked into her small waistband. Her knives and belongings are stashed away in her small, black backpack.
"So are you ready or not?" she asks Johnny impatiently. "Where's your gun? Where is your sword?"
"They are in the closet."
"Can you get them?" Nessa implored. "Saving rich people is the last thing on my mind, but Professor January strongly insists that we must go."
When they were children, Nessa and Johnny have been trained in swords, guns, knives, and martial arts by their parents. They were showered with love and attention until their parents enrolled them in Idlewild Boarding School.
At first, the Phoenix siblings were homesick; but when they met Brooke and the other kids, the siblings treated Idlewild as if it was their second home.
Sighing loudly, Johnny teleports himself to his drawer. He tirelessly searches for his socks when Johnny meets them face to face with a white bundle sat in between the stack of clothes.
He throws on his long, gray socks and black boots, procures his katana, Glock, and small boxes of ammo then tosses them in his black backpack.
"Johnny!" Nessa cried out, banging on the door with her knuckles. "Are you coming or are you moping as usual?"
"Shut up, doofus!" a stern Johnny adorns his backpack and storms towards the door. "I am ready to go!"
Johnny casually unlocks the door again and staggers outside of his room.
The halls were bathed in warm light. Dark gravel dusted the wooden floors, while the walls are dipped in soft blue — a somewhat masculine color.
But behind every door were boisterous, quiet, arrogant, witty, and thoughtful boys. They listened to music, studied textbooks, and called their girlfriends, wrote drafts, drew on their sketchbooks, and planned their futures.
While the boys focused on themselves, Nessa leaned against the walls, disinterested. She watches Johnny adjust the shoulder straps before leaving the boy's dorm halls.
* * * *
Johnny borrowed this old Jeep from an old friend. It reeked of French fries; the seats were uncomfortable, and the car is almost out of gas; hence, before their expedition, Johnny cruises over to a local gas station and replenishes the slightly empty tank.
Now the siblings have two diverse parents: a Portuguese mother and a father born in the United Kingdom. However, bigots, these days don't target people due to their ethnicity - they punish those who are blessed with metaphysical powers.
Due to the growing fear of the supernatural, the government issued passports to mutants, so will have access to things like health care, car insurance, stores, and establishments. If not, then they will be forced to spend two life sentences in prison.
"Johnny, do you think there is such a thing as a Yeti?" Nessa asked. She was sitting on the front passenger seat, paging her girlfriend.
Her older brother stretched one of his thin eyebrows. "I don't know much about Yetis, but have you read the newspaper today?"
His little sister lowers her pager. "You mean the one where a singing stray cat wins a Tony Award?"
"Wait, what?" Johnny slows the car in front of the stoplights to look at his thirteen-year-old sister. "Some homeless animal won a Tony Award?"
"Yeah," Nessa chuckled. "along with Barbara Streisand."
"There are singing cats in New York?"
"Apparently." As she trains her intense eyes at her older brother, an unconcerned Nessa adds: "Look, Broadway is obsessed with that shit, you know? I don't question their logic."
Indignant red stoplights turned bright green, convincing Johnny to accelerate forward. He continued driving west until Nessa spotted a fancy bistro with the corner of her right eye.
"Hey, drive over there," she instructs him. "I think this is the bistro Professor January mentioned."
Johnny bobs his head silently as he carefully swerves the silver Jeep off of the highway. As soon as he encounters the bump, the twin katanas flopped onto the back seat and rolled on the floor.
The noise alerted Johnny, who tightened his lips together. He can picture the fresh scars marking his used swords. Meanwhile, Nessa tosses her pager into the glove compartment box and toys with Johnny's lustrous hair.
"Everything is going to be okay, Johnny," she reassures him.
Johnny gently slaps Nessa by the hand, then grips his rough hands on the steering wheel.
"You seem distracted," Nessa observed. "Are you thinking about Brooke?"
Nessa sighed, "I miss her too. She is like a big sister to me, you know? Brooke would always sneak me chocolate chip cookies during class and tell me stories about the constellations when I can't sleep."
Her older brother Johnny bowed his head in agreement. He and Brooke had dated during their freshmen. She is patient, caring, and gentle to everyone — including the rebellious Nessa.
It surprised Johnny that Nessa wanted him to date her. Normally, she finds Johnny's taste in women irritating. The girls he dates were shallow, pretty, air-headed, and callous. In Nessa's eyes, they were all pathetic except Brooke.
Now Brooke and Johnny were respectful to each other. However, their relationship didn't feel like the type you would find in romance novels. While Johnny desired to become the top of his class, Brooke yearned for love and excitement. She tried to get a kick out of having sex with Johnny, but the one thing Brooke enjoyed about it was that the boy wore a condom.
The rest was just an awkward mess.
"I wish Brooke was here," Nessa mumbled.
"Me too." Johnny gets out of the car, collects his weaponry from the back seat, and walks into the beautiful eatery. "But anyhow, let's focus on the monster at hand. So what are we dealing with?"
Nessa stares at the glowing building — full of warm lights and classical music. Prosperous people roamed along the halls, exchanging champagne and gentle small talk.
"Assholes," she scowled. "They have all the money in the world, and yet none of them want to spare a bill for a couple of freaks like us. I hate them."
Johnny sighed. He knew there was no way to hide the truth from Nessa. She would always put the pieces together than any detective in California.
"I hate them, too," he agreed. Johnny rubs his hand on her shoulder, then adds: "But we have our orders from the Headmaster. The—"
Screams severed Johnny's words as an enormous serpent-like burst out the pasty white, abundant bistro. Its thick belly glides across the sandy brown floor, while its pink, fork-like tongue bristled in the lukewarm breeze.
Vicious yellow eyes analyzed horrified victims as they attempt to escape from the sinister serpent. But since its slimy body is preventing them from evading, the helpless victims have no choice but to allow the yellow eyes to transform them into immobilized statues.
Hence, while the snake's scaly back is turned, the siblings retreat behind the Jeep. Nessa crouched. She cocks her guns and whispers to Johnny, "what the hell is that thing?"
"It's a Basilisk." Johnny hissed, crouching close to the tires.
"It's like Medusa, but in a snake body. Jesus, we talked over this during AP Greek Myths class! How the fuck do you not that?"
"Not everyone has a photographic memory, asshole!"
"Whatever."Johnny released his sword and twirled it with his hand. "Just close your eyes and be careful, got it?"
Nessa circled her eyes, then hoists her large handguns. "Aye aye, smart-ass. Now let's get wild!"