The whispers of those around me were mocking. They only seemed to grow louder and louder, the sound drowning in my ears.
“Ugh, it’s the freak again. Wish she would leave already.”
“Isn’t she sick or something? She looks awful.”
“Sick? No way. Don’t you know what kind of freak she is?”
“Apparently she can change her appearance, like her face and gender and stuff. How freaky is that?”
There were laughs. I didn’t want to hear anymore from them. I already knew how much of a freak I was. It wasn’t my fault for having this curse thrown at me since birth.
Today was a new day, a new year. This year my goal was to complete highschool and get my certificate at the end. If I’m able to make friends, then that’s great, but I doubt it from their attitude at the beginning of the day.
At my locker for the year, I put everything in order before pulling out some books. Slamming it shut, I made my way through the hallway with my head down and doing what I could to ignore those around me.
There was a different teacher for my English class this year compared to last year. I thought his name was Mr Lee. Shuffling in, I did what I always did with new faces. I stuck my hand out to the teacher with a polite smile on my face.
“It’s nice to meet you Mr Lee. I hope this year goes well.”
My polite as ever, and unorthodox, way of introducing myself startled him. Soon enough, he gave me a polite, yet confused, smile back and shook my hand.
“I hope you do your best this year,” he said and let go.
He returned to assorting his files and I sat down at a seat at the back. Class started quickly after that.
My next class was Maths. The teacher gave a brief introduction to a new student before suggesting that they take a seat. Unfortunately, our next piece of work was straight from the textbook, and was filled with surds, an annoyingly useless thing to learn about. I shifted my books around, then scanned through the pages until I found my starting point. I almost jumped in my seat when I saw the message on my paper made in dirt. In neat print, it read:
‘Meet me by the trees at lunch.’
I glanced around but no one seemed to be watching me. How pointless, I thought as I brushed away the dirt without a spare thought. But it did make me wonder who had thought to put dirt in my book, and how they had put it there so nicely without any glue or tape.
Shrugging, I went to work.
When it was finally lunch, I made my way over to the canteen, hoping to get past the crowd that always appeared, bought an ice tea and a bag of snakes, then went towards the oval and it’s treeline. Despite the odd request to meet with me, I was curious as to how someone could do leave a message in dirt in my book. I casually munched on a yellow snake as I looked around for flying footballs or soccerballs, then crossed the oval in no hurry. At the treeline, I glanced around for anyone nearby who looked familiar, but only saw football players racing around. Sighing, I sat down on a root which had risen above the ground and made a decent seat. I dangled my legs off of each side of the root, the tips of my toes just brushing against the grassy floor. Then I placed the bag of snakes in front of me on the root while I took a few mouthfuls of my ice tea.
I spent my time waiting by watching the match in front of me. Both teams were pretty bad, only able to score a couple of goals each, but it was odd to see them so excited about it. I pulled out a green snake and chewed on it, its body hanging limply from between my lips.
When there was a crunch of leaves behind me, I turned my head to stare at the newcomer.
“How lame,” I muttered and turned back to the match.
“What’s lame?” The person asked with a slight accent. Maybe French?
I swallowed the last of the green snake. “In books and movies, the new student always goes to school to retrieve another student for whatever reason. That’s why it’s lame.”
I heard a faint chuckle. “I guess that makes sense. Either way, I apologize for being late when you were the one called out. I was kept back by other students.”
I shrugged. “Whatever. Not my problem,” I told him as I picked up a red snake this time. The sweetness was nice although a part of me would regret it later if I ate them all.
“I wasn’t sure if you knew already, but I am Joseph Green.”
He appeared in front of me, blocking my sight of the game. I hid back a frown, and instead held a hand out for him to shake with my usual polite smile. “Brigit Moss.”
He glanced at my hand but didn’t shake it. He then looked back up and met my eyes. “I probably shouldn’t since I know what will happen.”
I rolled my eyes then quickly swung my hand out and touched his cheek. There was a familiar feeling like a tingle down my spine, then I smirked at him as my hand dropped from his face. His vibrant green eyes were wide, but then narrowed in thought.
“I just do it for insurance purposes. I hope you don’t mind,” I said and finished off another snake.
“I do mind, actually, but it isn’t much of a big deal.”
I drank some more ice tea, then let out a sigh as I tightened the cap on the bottle again.
“What is it you want then? Is it to make fun of the weird student? If it is, I’m just going to say that it’s gotten boring.”
He shook his head, brown hair flying into his eyes which he just brushed away. “That isn’t why I came. I actually wanted you to come with me to the PSB.”
“PSB? Sounds stupid.”
“The PSB is also called the Protection of Supernatural Beings. It’s an organization meant to protect those who have powers that normal humans wouldn’t understand.”
My eyes cut sharply over to him. “Now I know that you’re fucking with me. Or trying to.”
“I wouldn’t do that to you.”
I snorted. “Sure. Then prove that this organization exists. And don’t try to show me a badge.”
Joseph scratched the back of his head, looked around, then closed his eyes for the briefest of moments. When he opened his eyes, they were different. His green eyes were more inhuman and almost seemed to glow. He put one hand on top of the other, both palms facing down, and slowly, grass and dirt began to rise from the ground. It created a pillar that stopped when it touched his hands. He blinked, then hit the top with a hand and it disappeared into the ground again. His eyes lost the strange glow, then he stumbled and fell against the tree. Joseph slid until he was now sitting on the ground in a position that looked uncomfortable. I watched him, then sat back against the trunk and ate another snake. At least that somehow proves things about the PSB. And it explained the dirt in my book. I glanced at Joseph again, making sure he was at least still breathing. He was. Either way, it was his fault that he collapsed. It had nothing to do with me.
Out of curiousity, I waited for Joseph to wake up. When he did, school was finished and I had my bag with me, another bag of snakes in my hand. The sky was only just turning orange when he slowly sat up, rubbing his neck and head.
“Where...” He began then looked up at where I still sat, legs again dangling from each side of the root.
“Didn’t expect you to sleep for so long.”
He got to his feet, a hand on the tree keeping him steady. “And everytime I’ve passed out, I’ve woken up in a bed, not in the same place I collapsed.”
I shrugged. “It was your own fault you collapsed. Figured you should learn some things about the world.”
He rubbed his forehead then straightened up again. “Anyway, does that prove that I’m not lying?”
“To some degree.”
“And would it mean that you’ll come with me to the PSB?”
“Sure, why not.”
He looked a little startled. “Your not going to make a big fuss about leaving your family? Or leaving your home?”
I gave him a bored look. “I don’t really care. I’ll just go and pack my bags, then we can go.”
I hopped off from the root and made for the exit. I turned back to Joseph as I walked off but he shook his head then raced after me.
“You should probably take all your belongings away since I assume you only came for me.”
“I’ll deal with that. You can go ahead and pack.”
I rolled my eyes, but parted from him to make my way to the house.
It was a fair hike, seeing as how there was a distinct lack of buses going by. By the time I was stepping onto the driveway, the sun had already set and sweat dripped from my skin like water. I was never the athletic type, but I always seemed to have extra energy when something motivated me. I figured it was my curiousity about the PSB that somehow let me get here without collapsing. A deeper thought of mine told me it was finally time to leave the house. I agreed.
I trudged inside, kicking off my shoes and tossing my blazer onto a nearby chair. Loosening my tie, I went straight to the spare room, opening the wardrobe and pulling out the travelling bags and suitcases. Not knowing which to use, I dragged them all to my room, layed them on the floor and started pulling all of my clothes from my drawers and wardrobe into the bags. I left a white button up shirt and a pair of jeans on the bed to change into afterwards. It didn’t take too long, but I finally had everything I needed packed and I was ready to leave. Now that I thought about it, I never organised a meet up time or place, but I figured that if Joseph knew about my power, then knowing where I lived was simple enough.
I brought my bags to the front door, then grabbed a backpack and stuffed it with a few favourite books then raided the kitchen. I grabbed all the snacks I laid my eyes on and stuffed them into my bag. Next, I searched through the house and found my parents secret stash of money. I pulled out a few hundred dollars and shoved it into my purse then put the small box back into its place. Lastly, I picked up some paper and a pen to leave a note for my parents:
‘Thanks for letting me stay, but I’ll be off now. Also, I borrowed some food and money. Hope you don’t mind.’
I signed it off, left my house keys on the bench with the note and took my bags outside. Outside, mosquitos were flying around, the creatures never straying too close to me for whatever reason. I sighed and sat on the ground as I waited for some sign that Joseph would show up. Surprisingly though, a car pulled up ten minutes later and Joseph himself stepped out from the front passenger seat. I got to my feet as he opened the boot. I dumped my bags into the back then slammed it shut, making sure I had the backpack on me still. When I stepped to the left of the car, the door was already held open by a man dressed in formal clothing, white gloves and polished shoes.
“Please take a seat miss,” the chauffeur said with a polite tilt to his head and an outstretched hand.
I ignored his helping hand and stepped in, instantly taking a liking to comfortable leather seats. I pulled the seatbelt on and buckled it in, then the door was closed behind me. On the other side, Joseph got into the seat behind the driver and did his seatbelt. Finally the driver got in and we were off down the street.
I rested my elbow on the window ledge and watched the dark scenery fly by. I quickly found it boring. I glanced over to Joseph and he was sitting up properly like he had been raised by a noble family.
“How long of a drive are we talking here?” I asked.
“About three or four hours,” came Joseph’s reply.
“Anything to do to pass the time?”
Joseph leaned forward and pulled out a small table that unfurled from the seat in front of him. Then he reached into his pocket and pulled out a small bag that I soon learned was filled with dirt. For some time he just played with the dirt, making the clump into different shapes and adjusting how hard or soft it was.
“Pass your hands,” he said as he lowered the clump onto the table.
With a raised eyebrow, I held them out with palms up. His hands hovered above mine, his eyes flashed that same colour from before, then he moved his hands back to his dirt pile.
“I just removed the dirt from your hands, so they’ll feel cleaner now as well.”
I wearily touched my hand with an index finger but I didn’t really see much change.
“What’s for dinner then? I’m starving,” I asked.
“We’ll stop somewhere along the way. Unfortunately, it’s one of those times where we’ll have to eat junk food.”
“Fine by me, just don’t ask me to pay,” I said and leaned back into the seat.
I looked around my area and saw different switches and buttons that had a faint light to them. Experimentally, I pressed one and relaxed as the seat began to warm up. Pressing another button, the sunroof opened and gave us a view of the sky without the cold air blowing in. Another button turned on a TV in front of me, some reality show being the first thing to show. I pressed the buttons more, playing around with the channels and volume. Another button pressed and a small hatch opened, inside a large set of over-the-ear headphones. I looked around the screen and found the audio jack, plugged in the headphones and was surrounded by private listening.
Two hours into the drive, I knew which button was which and I had already isolated myself from Joseph and the driver. One switch lifted a portable glass wall between us and darkened the glass for privacy. Another switch had me connected to a streaming service which was currently playing back to back episodes of a show which had peaked my interest. I also learnt that there were two buttons on the headphones which connected me to either Joseph or the driver, or pressing both let me reach the two of them.
True to Joseph’s word, we did stop to get food along the way, but the driver insisted that we stay inside the car while he went to get it. I agreed with that, then moved the glass wall to speak with Joseph.
“Any reason why he didn’t first ask what we wanted?”
“He has clairvoyance to a point. He tends to get images of things within our minds and hearts.”
“I guess that makes sense.”
Within minutes, the man arrived with a bag for each of us and a drink too. I peeked inside my bag and was happy with my order. Large chips, plenty of chicken nuggets and a burger with the lot. It made me drool just with the smell. Then the driver passed me a large cola and a chocolate ice cream, and I decided he was a great man. I eagerly dug in while I continued watching my show.
It was nine o’clock when we pulled up in front of a large building that seemingly stretched forever but only stayed as a single story building. I couldn’t see anything else around us, only this one building lit by bright, white lights.
I stepped from the car, grabbing my bags, then followed Joseph through a large door. We passed a few doorways but no one was around. We stopped at one spot where it seemed like a drop off zone and Joseph told me to leave my bags and that they would be taken to my room. I left the bags there, but decided to keep my backpack with me. He then led me through more hallways, each painted white and red with matching tiles underneath our feet.
We stopped at a large wooden door, Joseph knocked then a female voice called us in.
Inside was a large table that could seat twelve people easily. Underfoot were wooden floorboards with a rug under the table. The walls were white with the exception of one being lilac, and a few whiteboards were stuck onto one wall and looked as if it had been hastily cleaned.
The woman who had called us in was sitting at the head of the table with a stack of papers on the table around her. She looked troubled, but looked up at us with a warm smile and took her glasses off as she got to her feet.
“I’m so glad you could make it here. Please, take a seat,” she said gestured to a seat.
I went up to her with a polite smile and a hand outstretched to her. “It’s nice to meet you. I’m Brigit Moss.”
The woman instantly shook my hand with the same smile. “Great to meet you too Brigit. I am Tara Crost, currently the CEO in training for the PSB. That’s a story for another day. Take a seat, both of you.”
Tara sat in the same chair as before and organised the papers into neat piles and put them to the side. Joseph took the seat to her left so I took the seat on the right. I relaxed in my seat with my backpack at my feet. Glancing around again, I now spotted a photo of an old man with a shock of white hair and a grey beard. He looked similar to Tara with the same eyes, but perhaps I was wrong.
“So, Brigit, I’m sure your curious about a few things, so I hope Joseph explained most to you when you met.”
I glanced at Joseph, who had a poker face on, then looked at Tara. “No, he didn’t actually. He just played with some dirt then passed out for most of the day,” I said.
Tara frowned slightly, gave Joseph a look as well, then turned back to me with an apologetic smile. “I apologize about that Brigit. Let me explain, and feel free to ask questions.”
I nodded for her to continue and she began.
“Nearly a century ago, my grandfather created the PSB, not only to help with his own powers, but to let others join so that they can learn about the heritage of their power and how to use and control it.”
Tara nodded. “Our heritage is important. This is where the story becomes strange. Our ancestors came from another place that we call the Otherworld. I don’t know too much, but it is a land divided by seven countries and ruled by a king chosen from among the different countries. Our ancestors fled the Otherworld for some reason or another, and began living among humans peacefully. As the generations passed, our blood has become more diluted, and now we’re here with only a small percentage of the power our ancestors had. Of course, they were all from different countries, so each of us has a power that is different to another.”
“That explains more than what dirt boy said earlier,” I said and gave Joseph a look.
“Anyway, it’s now very late and it’s going to be an early morning for all of us. I’ll get Joseph to show you to your room. But during your night I would like for you to think about joining us. We can always provide you with a hot meal and a bed, along with anything else, but our main focus is teaching you about your power, so please take this into consideration.”
“I’ll think about it, thanks.”
I got up and followed Joseph out of the room.
“Dirt boy?” He asked as he led me down another hallway.
I shrugged. “It’s what you are.”
Joseph sighed then led me down one last hallway, then stopped in front of a door. It had a name plate already with my name on it. Joseph took out a key, unlocked the door and let me inside before passing it to me.
“This is your room to do as you please. We just hope you don’t destroy anything. Breakfast is at nine, so someone will come by at eight and show you the way. Your bags are already inside, so get plenty of sleep. It’s going to be a long day. ”
With that he left and went back down the hall.
The room was stark white, but luckily the bed looked comfortable enough. I changed into my pyjamas and went to sleep as soon as my head hit the pillow.