The Silverstone Academy

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Chapter 2

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Claire led Zoe to another set of the staircase opening up in the Locksley common room area. It was similar to the one at the entrance, but there were no pictures here. Instead, large windows adorned the stairwell and Zoe couldn’t help but peep down. She was quick to step away. Zoe hadn’t realised how high up they were.

They passed by the first floor, Claire informed it was for the Freshman. You moved up with every successive class. They entered the second floor, where walls were painted a deep emerald green, the colour of the Locksley house. A line of doors lined on either side of the hallway; the doors were a stark red with brass knockers on them. Music blasted from a room, and raucous laughter followed.

“Uh, they are all so typical. Never understood the allure of loud music,” Claire turned to Zoe and opened her palm, “give me your keys, we’ll find your room.”

Zoe fished out the brass key out of her pocket and handed it over to Claire.

“What room is…” Claire froze and brought the key closer to her eyes, “shit. This cannot be.”

“What is it?” Zoe asked.

“I need to call Markus for this.” Claire ignored Zoe and ran downstairs. “Stay right where you are.”

Zoe stood in the hallway, feeling stupider by the minute. What was wrong with the room she had received. Shaking her head, she started to walk down past the doors. Each dormitory door had two brass nameplates, showing who the rooms were assigned to. Zoe walked faster; Levy and Markus were appointed the same rooms, and so were Daphne and Claire. Zoe was jealous, she too wanted to be roomed with someone she was friends with.

Zoe finally reached the end of the hallway, where there was a window. Gulping, she peeped down only to take a step back. She turned to the door right beside it and sighed.

Of course.

The last room was hers, and it was only her nameplate that was nailed to the door. Zoe didn’t even have a roommate.

“Doesn’t this get sadder,”

Zoe turned around and found a lanky figure standing behind her; he was in his sweatpants, and his hands were in his pockets.

“I am sorry, what gets sadder?”

“Oh, just wait.”

Markus, Daphne, Claire and Levy came running down the hall. They had panic etched on their faces, and even Daphne looked worried.

“What are you doing here, Joseph?” Markus barked.

“Waiting for the show to unfold,”

Claire pushed forth and came in front; she stared at the door and muttered curses.

“There’s got to be some mistake; she doesn’t even have a roommate!”

“Because no one wanted this room,” Joseph shrugged.

“Why?” Zoe asked.

Claire blew a breath and looked at the ceiling before turning to her; the panic etched on her face had turned to pity, and Zoe felt a sense of foreboding. There was something that happened inside that room.

“Previous Semester, a girl from our grade was given this room.”

“But weren’t you guys on the floor below…”

“I know, but she had a leaking ceiling in her room, and so the warden provided her with this one; her roommate was living with Daphne.”

“Sarah happens to be my best friend, and it felt right for me to offer a spot in my room,” Daphne informed.

“So, the girl…” Claire started only to be cut off in the middle.

“Does the girl have a name?” Zoe asked.

“What was her name?” Claire turned to Markus, “you were the Prefect; you should know.”

Markus looked uncomfortable, and even Daphne pursed her lips. Levy looked deep in thought, trying to think of her name but shrugged his shoulders.

“Oh, for god’s sake,” Joseph muttered, “it was Carla.”

“Carla,” Claire clapped her hands and turned back to Zoe, “Carla was always alone and kept to herself.”

“Because no one wanted to be friends with her, she was the only scholarship student in the batch and was quite poor,” Joseph narrowed his eyes at Claire, “we are a mean bunch.”

“You guys didn’t talk to her because she was poor?” Zoe folded her arms against her chest and raised her brows. Was she going to get treated differently?

“Excuse me, stop trying to make us look like villains, Carla kept to herself. Last year, I asked her to help me out with something, and she refused. There have been times when she skipped classes, and Sarah covered for her. I think it was she who didn’t like us,” Daphne snapped her fingers in front of Joseph’s eyes and glared at him.

“Coming back to the topic,” Clair pulled Daphne against her, “Carla was found hanging in this very room.”

Zoe’s jaw dropped, and she felt lightheaded, her stomach squirmed, and her legs felt weak. She walked back against the wall and lent on it; Zoe had just dealt with her Mother’s death, and to find that she would be living in a dead person’s quarters made her feel nauseous.

“Are you okay?” It was Daphne who stepped forward.

“No, I don’t think I will be able to live here, not after what happened.”

Markus’ eyes softened, and he wrapped his arms around her.

“I can lodge in this room with you if you want.”

Surprised, Zoe looked up. Markus’ eyes held only compassion. He was so nice to her; the last thing she wanted was to burden him with another responsibility and also, how bad would it be, it was only a room after all.

“That’s not necessary. I think I can stay in this room on my own.”

“Zoe…”

“I am fearless, Markus. I think I can stay in this room on my own,”

Daphne bit her lip and nodded.

“We are only two rooms over,” Claire said, “if something happens, we will come over.”

“Thank you, can we open the room now?”

Claire came forward and put the key into the brass keyhole. She twisted, and a slight click sound came before she pushed the door open. A cloud of dust rained down upon them, and the group coughed wildly. Markus actually stepped out of the room.

“Have they not even cleaned the room?” Levy blasted, “this is unacceptable.”

“Markus, we need to call the warden,” Claire whispered, “I don’t think this room has been cleaned since Carla’s death.”

“How can you say that?”

Claire only pointed towards the police tapes.

“Shit,” Markus pulled the iPad out and sent a message to the warden.

Zoe ventured further into the room and saw a neat package of her uniforms lying on the bed alongside her suitcases and a large trunk filled with the two hundred books she owned. She smiled and placed her hand on the chest. Her mother had instilled in her the habit of reading. It was the perfect and most acceptable form of getting away from the maladies of life. Most of the books were handpicked by her Mother, and she cherished them.

Zoe turned to the other side of the room where Carla’s bed lay, it was neat, and she could imagine a mousy girl bent over and preparing her bed after waking up. She walked over that side and pressed her finger on the soft mattress. It sprang back up, and Zoe felt a dark cloud in her mind. She picked the pillows and the adorable pottery barn cushions, trying to understand Carla. She turned around and found her siblings and their friends talking amongst each other; only Joseph looked around the room. They would all probably frown at the pretty pottery barn sheets, she would do if her body was used to a thousand thread count Italian cotton sheets.

Picking up a cushion, Zoe observed a small leather journal tied together by a thread. Frowning, she picked it up and turned it around.

Carla

The name was embossed in gold, and Zoe gulped. This could be Carla’s journal, and if it was, then shouldn’t it have been in police custody?

“Zoe?”

Zoe hid the journal behind her back, pulling her t-shirt up and stuffing it in her jeans’ waistband before pulling the shirt back down.

“Yes,”

“The clean-up crew is arriving, you can come to our room for a while,” Claire offered.

“Thank you,”

Zoe followed them out of the dormitory and closed the door behind her; she could feel the leather journal in her waistband and prayed to not get caught with it. It was a piece of evidence, and she was playing a risky game by keeping it with her; there was a sick part of her that wanted to lap up whatever it is that Carla had written. She was ashamed of it, a young girl had taken her own life.

Claire pushed open their room, and the crowd huddled in, even Joseph.

“What are you coming in for?” Claire asked, “didn’t you just say that we were mean people.”

“And I stand by it, but I know you’ll discuss Carla, and she needs an advocate.”

“You are trying to manipulate my sister,” Claire folded her arms in front of her chest, “and as far as I know, you and Carla weren’t great friends either. Am I right, or am I right?”

Joseph bristled, and Claire smirked. Zoe rolled her eyes and observed the room. It had a feminine theme with lilac and lavender as the primary colour. The window between the two beds was covered with a sheer lace curtain, and candles burned, giving the room a gentle glow. On the other side were desks and a small couch on which Joseph, Markus and Levi now sat. They looked awkward seated on a tiny loveseat with magnolia prints all over.

“So, I guess I won’t have a roommate?” Zoe whispered, “unless Sarah comes.”

“Sarah is going to do this semester online. She’s still shattered about what happened with Carla,” Daphne sniffed, “Sarah feels that if she’d been with Carla, her death could’ve been avoided.”

“Regrets don’t help,” Joseph poked in, “Sarah said Carla was weird.”

Daphne ignored Joseph and plopped down on her plush bedding. Her long strawberry blonde hair gently grazed the satin sheets. Zoe walked over to the window and gently parted the curtains. She could see the thick walls of the Silverstone Academy, and beyond were the majestic Swiss Alps, the sun glistened upon the snow and reflected into Zoe’s eyes. She winced and turned her gaze down and only found a large lake resting right behind the Academy’s boundary. It was shrouded with trees, and there wasn’t a lot of it to see. Perhaps, her room’s window would offer a better view.

“That’s the Sticks Lake,” Levi said, “weird name, I know.”

“Why Sticks?”

“It must have been founded by a Mr Sticks,” Daphne muttered.

“I don’t think so,” Zoe snorted, “are we allowed to visit the lake?”

“No, it is right in the middle of a coniferous forest, and according to rumours, it is infested with wolves and other animals. All students are prohibited,” Markus was quick to answer. He was a stickler for rules and didn’t want Zoe breaking any.

“Don’t you guys get bored here? I mean, I would skip school all the time!” Zoe informed.

“You are trouble, aren’t you?” Levy teased.

“Sometimes,” Zoe smiled.

“We are Huntingtons, Zoe,” Daphne got up and walked over to her, “we stick to the rules and follow them. Dad wouldn’t like it if we venture out.”

“I am not asking anyone to venture out with me; however, does it not get mundane here?”

“Every Sunday we are allowed to visit a small village called Mountberg, you can only get there through an electricity run car or via hiking. They have the best cuisine and beautiful little stores that cater to all your needs,” Daphne said, “and they also deliver the latest fashion catalogues, I simply have to place an order, and it arrives in time for my next visit.”

“Do you have enough space in your closet?” Zoe asked.

“No, she does not but combined with mine, she gets by just fine!” Markus snarled, “I want your perfumes out of my closet, Daph. I stink of oud and jasmine all the time!”

Daphne only winked and pursed her lips when she turned her gaze to Zoe. Zoe didn’t understand Daphne’s hot and cold behaviour; at one point, she was defending, and on the other, she seemed to hate her.

There was a knock on the door, and a middle-aged woman peeped inside, a chin-length bob shaping her face and adorned in a smart pantsuit she entered.

“Ms Zoe Huntington,”

“That’s me,” Zoe stepped forward.

“I am Warden Rowan. I know this is your first day at Silverstone, and you deserved a better welcome. Honestly, I wasn’t aware that the school would allow Carla’s room to anyone. If you want, I can put in a request for a room change, you will have to move to another floor.”

Zoe panicked; she was surrounded by her siblings and two boys who could potentially be her friends. She wanted some familiarity at this point, and if that meant staying in Carla’s room, then so be it.

“Thank you, Warden Rowan. I am fine, my siblings have been a great help, and I would like to be close to them.”

“I understand,” Warden Rowan started to leave but turned around, “if you need any help, my number is already on the tablet that was provided to you.”

“Thank you.”

Warden Rowan left, and Zoe started to sit when the cleaning crew arrived. Her room had been cleaned, and she all but ran to her room; although Claire and Daphne’s room was heavenly, it wasn’t her own, and she wanted to create a homely place for herself. Somewhere to rest and be herself and escape the new life she had been thrown into.

Zoe entered her room, and it looked brand new. Everything had been stripped off and what lay was absolutely bare and basic. The mattresses were devoid of sheets and the window without a curtain. She was grateful for it, this was a brand new canvas, and she could be the artist to paint all over it.

“You need any help?” Levy asked. Daphne glared at him and folded her arms across her chest.

“No, thank you. I would actually like to spend some time alone and really decorate the room myself.”

“Got it!”

They left, but Joseph still hung around, he walked to Carla’s side of the room and ran his hands on her small desk, sighing to himself. Zoe’s patience was running thin, she wanted to be by herself, and Joseph wasn’t getting the memo.

“I may not have been her friend, but I saw her suffer,” Joseph said, “and I admit it is my fault.”

“Look, I am really not looking forward to this conversation. It’s my first day here, and I would really like it to myself.”

But Joseph didn’t listen to her, he ran over to her mattress and plopped down on it.

“I don’t think you understand. It is my fault that I wasn’t a friend to her, but there is a reason behind it.”

“What reason?” Zoe rolled her eyes.

“Carla was getting into some shady shit,”

“What sort of shady shit? Drugs, arms….”

“Supernatural,”

Zoe rolled her eyes; she walked to the door and opened it wider.

“Please leave, Joseph. I don’t have time for this; I have to unpack and get ready for classes starting on Monday.”

“I am not joking; I had to step away for my own safety.”

“Goodbye,”

Joseph walked out of the door, and Zoe closed it after him. She sighed and made her way to the bed, pulled Carla’s journal out of her jeans and gave it a good look before placing it on the bookshelf. She opened the trunk with books and pulled a few out. Opening them, Zoe brought her nose closer to the pages and took a big whiff.

A smile found itself on her lips, and she blinked the tears away; the books were old and withered. Every month, their local library would give away books at a throwaway price, and Zoe and her Mother would always pick some up.

“I miss you, Mom.”

The windows opened, banging loudly on the castle walls, and Zoe gasped. She ran towards the window and closed them. The sky grew dark as thick grey clouds rushed over the Silverstone Academy. The light in her room started to flicker before shutting off completely. There was a commotion outside in the hall, and Zoe walked out.

“We want electricity,” a raucous student yelled.

“I ask everyone to please step back inside your rooms,” Markus announced, “I am sure Warden Rowan is looking into the problem.”

Someone cut Markus’ announcement off by hooting loudly, mimicking a ghost. Everyone laughed, including Claire. Zoe shook her head and walked back inside her room. She switched on the torch on her phone and started to arrange the books on the shelves provided. With Carla absent, Zoe used her shelves too. Next, she opened her suitcases and placed her clothes in the closet. She didn’t need Carla’s space for that.

An hour later, the lights didn’t come, but she had finished arranging her clothes. Zoe had even put new sheets and throws on her bed. Carla’s bed looked empty, and Zoe sighed; she took a spare sheet out and made her dead roommate’s bed as well.

The only thing that was left was a curtain. She walked up to the window and tried to take measurements when her eye fell on a tiny figure carrying a lamp towards the lake.

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