Monday, February 26th, 2029
I lie in my bed, motionless, it is Monday morning and my first real day of school. Friday was technically my first day of school, but all I did was see the principal, Mr. Herondale. He gave me my basic schedule and told me to visit the guidance counselor come Monday morning. I crawl out of bed and get dressed. I have a hard time deciding between jeans and leggings. I look between the two choices and decide to just go with leggings, there is much less effort involved and I could use all of that saved up in the morning.
I look over and see my various canvasses and notebooks strewn about the room, past works that I’ve either lost the drive to finish or didn’t care to in the first place. My eyes catch the piece with the wrecked city on it, my most recent drawing. My thoughts fall onto John. A lot has happened in the past few days. I need to distract my mind. I look towards the clock and it’s only five in the morning. It’s too late to go back to sleep, but too early to do anything of note. It is still somewhat dark out, so I go and grab my sketchbook.
I flip through it and I see the unfinished sketch of John that he’d shown me yesterday. The thing is…I don’t remember drawing this…at least, fully. I remember the vague time period of when I did it. I stare at it intently and then I can see where the other strokes would come in to finish the sketch.
I reach over to my side and grab my pen. I continue the stroke on his jaw and finish it through. I add some detail to his eyes and they look like they’re staring at me through the paper. The shade of gray of my pen almost perfectly matches his eyes. I continue working until I turn to my side and see that it is about six-thirty. I set my sketchbook aside and I open my door quietly. I walk through the hall slowly, trying to judge if my mother is awake or not. She is.
I see her in her chair working on her laptop finishing up a report for work. “So, are you feeling okay for me to be heading out?” I walk over to her, putting my arm on her shoulder. She jumps a little bit, but then puts her hand on mine.
“Well, good morning to you too.”
I laugh and look down. Her bright blonde hair bounces off of her shoulders and I can see slight streaks of gray throughout it. No doubt it must be due to the endless stress work brings her. She looks so helpless in that chair of hers, even if I know she’s the exact opposite.
“I’ll be fine, dear. You’ve reached your peak with my homeschooling, so it’s time that you go out into the world and learn all you can,” she says.
“Are you absolutely sure? If you need me you know you can call me,” I say.
“Sarah, this surely isn’t you trying to talk me out of letting you go?”
“I…no, of course not! I’m just saying…”
She peeks up above the monitor and looks me right in the eyes. “Or are your nerves just at work here? Are you excited to see your friend again?” She winks.
I knew I should have just kept that to myself.
“Uh, yeah. He should be able to help me find my way around the school.”
“That’s good. Are you sure you’re going to be okay on the drive there?” she asks.
“Yeah, I think I’ll be fine. I think the real question is if you will be okay here without me,” I say.
She wheels herself out beside me. “Now, if I know one thing, it’s that you are a smart young woman. I will be fine while you go out and get some proper schooling. Homeschooling only takes you so far and I want to see you succeed in life, darling.”
I look at my mother softly and I go to give her a hug. She accepts the hug and pats me on the back. “Make sure you eat a good breakfast. You don’t need to be fainting on your first day,” she says.
I nod my head. “Yeah, I was planning on doing that now, actually.” I stroll past her wheelchair and walk into the kitchen. I open up one of the cupboards and snag a box of cereal. I look at the back of the box for a moment and laugh, remembering my first conversation with John. Silly boy. “What kind of cereal are you eating?”
Next I grab a bowl and some milk from the fridge and begin pouring the cereal into the bowl.
Really? Well, I guess I lead him straight into that joke, huh? I don’t know why I’d said I’d seen it on a cereal box, really. I could’ve just passed that off as a genuine conversation. I guess I let him get me nervous...wait, why would I be nervous? Should I be nervous? Is it normal to make a cereal joke when you first meet a guy? Okay, calm down. Freaking out over it isn’t going to help at all. Just focus on your food first, guy second. Okay, food first-
That’s when I notice that I’ve made a mountain in my bowl out of the cereal. I look at it from top to bottom with sheer amazement.
“Well...I’m definitely not eating all of that,” I say.
“What was that dear?” My mother asks.
“N-Nothing!” I call back.
I begin scooping up a part of the cereal mountain back into the box. Thankfully it makes it in without falling to the floor. I scoop up the rest of the cereal into the box and quickly eat my bowl before anything else happens. The next minute I’m grabbing my bag and kissing my mother as I head out the door.
The wind is bracing, but it doesn’t take long for it to settle down. Mother Nature has decided to grant mercy at letting up on all the snow recently and we actually have a clear day, cold, but clear. I take out my car keys and unlock the doors to my small Prius. I’d always seen it as a decent fit for me. It’s a small car and I’m a small person, I know this car’s pain. I take a peek at the directions to the school I had copied a few days ago and commit it to memory. After buckling in I start the car and begin my journey to my first real day of school.
It isn’t long until I am turning down Aviation Avenue and I see a large building made of brown stone bricks. It is more wide than tall, but its size is still nothing to laugh at. The sign in front of the building reads, “Queensbury High School”.
I drive up to the student parking lot and find an open spot. After stepping out of the car I walk up the sidewalk and look up at the grandeur of the building. I walk up to the door and press the button to the small keypad. Some basic prompts pop up and I did into my tote bag for my identification card. It’s about as basic as you can get for an identification card, it has my name and a picture of me, which I despise by the way. I hold it up to the screen. The screen scans the card and a ring of approval sounds. The doors slide open and I walk inside.
The walls are as solid white marble and the floors almost match it to a “T”. It seems more like a mental asylum and not a school. The hallway branches off to both the left and right. I take a guess and head left. I’m looking around for the guidance office and John. I pass by some of the other students, some who give me the occasional glance or whistle.
I tune them out and continue down the hallway. I notice that the door at the end of the hallway has “Guidance Office” printed on a plaque. I make my way towards the door and open it up. The guidance office is decorated much like a living room of some sort. I guess it’s to put the students at ease when they walk in or something similar. I find it a bit creepy. It kind of reinforces that mental asylum feel. There are two doorways off to my left, one for each guidance counselor I’m assuming. I walk past the couches and chairs to the receptionist.
Her one desk among the other furniture is so out-of-place, but I find it best to not mention it. The receptionist is typing away at her computer, completely oblivious to my existence.
“Um, excuse me?”
My voice seems to fade in this smallish room of false comfort. The incessant clicking of the keypad continues.
I knock on the desk.
The clicking stops abruptly. The receptionist’s eyes shift over to me. They are a golden-yellow, but show their age.
“Why doesn’t this girl just get a clue?” The woman’s remnant thoughts linger.
There’s one important detail I haven’t gone over in much detail. The thing is…John told me how he heard this voice in the dream, how he believes it may be about the end of the world. I thought it might not have been just circumstance that we met. I don’t know how I feel about that. I’ve had this…I don’t know, sense in me for the longest time. Sometimes I could hear people when they think. It’s sort of like their runaway thoughts, I can intercept them like a radio. It’s all very confusing and I’ve never told anybody about it. It’s never been anything too monumental, anyway.
The first time I’d ever done it was when I was five years old. I’d heard my mom thinking about my dad. Something about the kind of person he’d become. I remember her calling him a monster. That was the biggest event to happen, because since then I’d begun seeing this terrifying monster in my dreams. Not exactly monster-like, but not really human, It was kind of a little bit of both mixed together. The monster would whisper to me quietly, but I never remember what he says.
I didn’t tell John, but only because it scares me and the fact that I hadn’t heard any of his thoughts. I haven’t had those dreams in a while, either, but these recent ones where the city I used to live in being destroyed has instilled a whole new fear into me.
I’d used to live in Denver, Colorado. The whole reason we moved was because I kept begging my mom for us to leave, because I kept having these nightmares about the entire city being destroyed.
At first my mother was hesitant to leave. She said that if anything, the city had already been in ruins once and the chance of that happening again was unlikely.
Back before Oliver Avery reunited America, Denver had been one of the worst looking cities. People say that a bomb had hit the place and by the looks of it from the pictures that I saw, it sure looked like some had hit. It isn’t like that now, the debris had been cleaned up and the buildings rebuilt. It is now the shining example of American preservation and determination.
I was still deathly afraid of it all coming back down again. I stayed in my room, barely ate and cried almost all of the time. These dreams were like no other. Finally, my mother caved and we moved out to New York, nearly as far as we can go from Denver as we can get. Although, I do remember her saying that it was a nice relief to finally get the motivation to leave.
“Yes, what do you want?” The receptionist’s voice drips me back into reality.
I stare at her for a few moments and nearly forgot why I’d come in the first place. “Uh-yeah, I was told to come here by Mr. Herondale and-”
The receptionist holds her hand up and goes to her PA and switches it to “Private”.
“Yes, Giselle? That new kid is here, should I send her in?”
There is a slight sound from the PA, too quiet for me to hear.
She turns the PA off and looks back at me. “Go on in, she’s waiting for you.” She turns back to the computer, her face glued to the screen. The clicking resumes. I look towards the two doors, confusion settles in my mind. “The one on the left,” The receptionist sighs. “God, why do these kids insist on being so difficult?” Her thoughts nearly scream.
I cock my head and see her shake her head. She opens a small pill bottle on her desk and takes a few pills. I tear my head away and walk through the door. Inside is a small, almost cramped office. It’s filled to the brim with memorabilia of Oliver Avery My mouth is almost as low as the floor when I walk in.
It is almost like a shrine, except for the desk sitting in the middle of the room. Behind that desk, is a young frail woman, she looks not a day over thirty. Her red hair looks a bit frizzled and curls around her head like a boa constrictor. “Hello Sarah, I’m Mrs. Janet,” she says calmly, her hands firmly knit together.
“Hello, I was told by Mr. Herondale to come stop by today,” I say.
“Oh, yes! Do please sit down!” She waves her hand around and then points to the chair in front of the desk. “I wish Thaddy would stop redirecting these children over to me,” her thoughts let slip. Thaddy? I don’t even want to begin to think about her calling him that.
I sit down and get myself comfortable, but it’s a much harder task to accomplish than it sounds. It’s a plenty uncomfortable of a chair, but I don’t dare say so.
“So, first day in a brand new school, how is it?” She asks, a chipper smile is plastered on her face, it’s somewhat unsettling.
She smiles a little bit more and then looks around to one of her pictures of the good president.
This has officially gone from unsettling to pure creepy.
“That’s good. Now, do you have any questions about your schedule?” she asks, letting the question hang.
“Only one. It says that Ms. Trine’s English class is in room 238B, where is that located?” I ask.
“Ah, Ms. Trine’s room. She’s going to be up the stairs to your right when you leave here. It is then just as simple as taking a right when you reach the top of the stairs and then it’ll be on your right when you go down the hall,” she replies.
“Okay, thank you!” I reply.
A lot of right turns and yet nothing about this woman feels right.
I stand up in the chair and go to shake her hand. “Oh, before I forget, do you want me assign you a buddy guide to help you around the school?”
“Oh, no, that’s alright. I have a friend who can do that just fine,” I say. She eyeballs me for a minute and then her smile returns in full force.
“Well, alright, then! You may head off to class then. Feel free to come stop by and chat anytime you want!” She says, unmoving. “Don’t need me, please.”
“Right, okay then!” I say, with a smile.
In my mind I’m nearly shaking out of fear for this woman. She surely…is something else. I stand up out of the chair and turn towards the door.
“Oh and Sarah?” Mrs. Janet asks.
“Have a nice day.”
Her smile reaches to almost eerie levels of weird. I smile back nervously and make my way out of the door.
I let the door close behind me and close my eyes. I take a deep breath and I just stand there for a moment. That is, until I hear the keyboard clacking a few feet away from me. I’d completely forgotten about the receptionist. I make sort of an awkward smile at her, but she tunes me out completely. I walk out of the guidance office completely red in the face.
Smooth, Sarah. Real smooth.