Something cool and soft washes over my face. Turning to my side and opening my eyes, I look around the room and realise it’s the breeze coming through my opened window. I sit up straight on my bed and rub my eyes, trying to wash away my sleep. Getting on my feet, I glance at my watch on the table, and that’s when realisation hit me like a train out of control. I rush to the closet and quickly get changed before running into the washroom.
How in the world did I sleep that much on a school’s night? How is it even 6:30 in the morning? I pace down the stairs and into the kitchen, grabbing my sandwich and my backpack from the couch before stumbling out of my house, shutting the door behind me. The wind hits my skin the moment I step out, giving me goose bumps as I head towards Jo’s home. Getting to wake her up every day became my morning routine. I remember how she unintentionally skipped school once just because I forgot to pass by and wake her up.
Reaching the doorstep, I click on their door bell. It rings a few times before the door opens, revealing her mother.
“Hey, Zoey. How’re you doing?” she greets motioning me to get inside.
“Doing great, Mrs. Smith. Where is Jo? Is she upstairs?” I ask as I walk into the house.
“Yeah, still sleeping as usual.”
“Exactly what I expected. Anyways, I’ll go wake her up. Thank you.”
“No worries.” She replies as she shakes her head and walks into the kitchen.
Shrugging, I climb up the stairs to her room. Stepping inside her messy room, I push aside her scattered books, clothes and accessories, and make a way to her bed. Taking hold of her hands, I drag her away from the mattress. I lose my grip and she drops to the floor with a loud thump. Her eyes snap open before leaning on her palms and then gives me the most angry glare she probably could muster.
“What?” I ask, trying to play innocent.
“I told you hundred times before to find another way to wake me up! And don’t ask me ‘what’ again, you know what I mean, exactly what I mean.” She mutters out gritting her teeth.
“Calm down, Jo. You don’t wake up except this way, you know this already. Now, go get dressed, we’re running late for school.”
“Why? What time is it?”
Giving another quick glance at my watch, “6:58.” I reply, crossing my arms.
“Oh! Wait downstairs, I’ll be there in five minutes.” She says before standing up and pushing me out.
After hearing the door closing with a loud thud, I stroll down to the living room. I take a seat on the couch and lean comfortably on the pillows behind my back. Waiting for her, I take a bite of my sandwich and stare particularly at nothing to pass the time.
Soon after, she shows up clutching her backpack with her. Judging by my watch, I realise she took ten minutes, exactly.
“What took you so long? I had been waiting for ten minutes, not five.”
Rolling her eyes, “I’m not late. Come on, let’s go.” She says before walking out, making me follow her.
On our feet, we stride to our school, taking fast steps to feel warm.
“Where are the guys?” I ask, breaking the silence.
“Waiting for us at the school gate, just like everyday?” she replies matter-of-factly.
“Okay, okay, I forgot.”
“Shut it for now.”
We arrive at the gate and find them waiting for us. Without saying a word, we enter the school building and head to our classes. Glancing around the hallway, I sense something strange. Why would all the classrooms be empty? I don’t think it possible for everyone to skip school.
Fred, the teacher’s pet as we call him, rushes towards us before slowing to a stop. “You late buddies! Come down, Ms. Zendaya has called us for a gathering.” He says as he turns around and walks away.
“Okay, we’ll be right there.” Peters shouts, despite that he had already left.
“Last time wasn’t good.” Jo complains before taking a step forward.
Our principal, Ms. Zendaya, never calls us until there is an upcoming disaster. The last time which had been three years ago, the Xoliners were launching an attack on us. I wonder what’s next, but I have a feeling it won’t be good.
Sneaking into Edward’s mind, I can easily sense the fear in his fast thoughts, the same one running down my spine. Jo is excited, and Peter, as usual, doesn’t even care.
“Stop it, Zoey! That’s not nice, let me think freely.” Says he, all of a sudden.
A rush of guilt sweeps through me and I look away from his gaze. “I’m sorry, I didn’t mean to hack your privacy. I won’t do it again.” I apologise, almost in a murmur.
“It’s okay.” He says softly.
We keep walking down the stairs and through the hallway until we’re stepping into the gathering in the hall. Quickly, we settle down in the empty seats in the front row. Ms. Zendaya locks her eyes with mine before slowly looking away.
“Now, that you all are here, be prepared for what you hear. You all know you’ve never been gathered for an ordinary speech or annunciation. The reason this time is quite different and risky. London, the city of England of Great Britain of planet Earth, is under a threat by the Xoliners. We got some news from a certain source in Xolina that they are planning to launch an attack on Earth starting from London. We have decided to send the strongest and the most powerful of you to the planet, to protect it from the attack; and this is why we had always ranked your powers and abilities, which is, with no doubt, preparing you for something like this.” She stops talking and clicks on the screen behind her, displaying our ranks. I’m on the top of it and Edward, Peter and Jo are below me. We glance at each other. Jo smiles, but Edward seems to be on the verge of exploding out of dread. She continues, “We’ll send the first four and their families to London, to prevent the Xoliners from achieving their goals. Zoey Anderson, Edward Roberts, Peter Hathaway and Josephine Smith, get on the stage please.” Hesitating for a moment, I choose to move first.
Realising that she had been piercing her gaze into me since long, I decide to know what she’s been thinking of.
I don’t like her, but do I have any other choice? Peace has to be ensured, no matter what, and I can’t let the highest rank stay. Let me get this done as fast as possible.
I don’t really know what to feel about this. It won’t make a difference in what I am supposed to do anyway, so I just shrug it off. Flashing out a smile at her, I step on the stage with my friends following behind.
“Now, listen carefully to the following rules.
Rule No.1: No human should know about your real identity.
Rule No.2: No human should know you have extraordinary abilities.
Rule No.3: No human should know about the attack of the Xoliners. Am I clear?”
We nod at her in assurance.
“Well then, you will be sent with your parents as ordinary creatures, or as you can say, you have to act you are humans. We believe in you and hope you succeed in your mission. Best of luck.”
“Thank you.” We say in unison.
“You have 48 hours to pack your things and get ready. You are dismissed for now.” She says curtly before walking away and gesturing for everybody in the hall to leave.
“Isn’t it cool?” Jo utters in excitement.
“No, it isn’t. I’m freaking out already!” Edward snaps at her.
“Well, at least your power is flying, but for me it’s water control.”
“What do you mean?” I ask.
“I mean, how in the world will I save a planet by controlling water? Does that even make sense? Guess what, it doesn’t.”
“You can, Peter. If that’s the case, then what do you think I can do with reading minds? I don’t like doing that either.”
“Come on, guys! It’ll be all right if we stay united.” Jo says in an attempt to encourage us.
“You’re right,” I say, “for the first time.”
She rolls her eyes and we head towards our classes, not wanting to miss anything important.
The bell of the last period rings indicating the end of the school day. I may say, this is one of my favourite moments in the boring life of mine. The moment I finally get back home and rest, the moment I always wait for, to read, sketch or just have sometime for myself to reduce any tensions and stress. I need this today, especially. For the troubling news of being sent as a secret agent to save another planet had already caused a lot of tension, and as I’ve always been fearing change, I don’t feel like I can do it. No, I don’t think I can.
I walk out of the school before everyone else does. Not even waiting for my friends, I dial up my mom’s number, disliking the idea of going back by the bus, not to mention its usual late arrival.
“Is everything okay with you, sweetie?”
“Yeah. Well it’s not, but it isn’t that bad either. Mom, can you come and pick me up, please?”
“Yeah, sure! But you’ve to tell me what’s wrong, all right, Zoey?”
“Yeah, no doubt I will but not now, I just want to reach back home quickly to rest. I will tell you at the right time. I’m sorry.”
“O Darling! It’s okay, I understand. I’ll be there in a few minutes, just let me get the keys to my car.”
“Thank you, Mom. I’m waiting.”
“Yeah, take care...”
I turn off the call. Standing on the sidewalk, I keep my eyes fixed on the road, waiting for the little floating car of mom’s to appear out of nowhere. A while later, I hear the sound of the engine coming closer. I take a cautious step back while it stops right in front of me.
Our eyes meet, making my mouth curve into a smile. “Hey,” I say, greeting her.
“Get inside, it’s so cold out there.” She says, motioning me to ride in. I hop into the car and shut the door beside me, keeping my eyes outside the window and burying my thoughts inside me.
Out of curiosity, I decide to know what my mother thinks about it, so I sneak into her mind.
What could’ve happened? She isn’t the type to behave this way. I can’t wait to know what’s wrong, but I shouldn’t stress her more than she already seems to be.
I cut off the connection and lay back in my seat. As I’m still refusing to let her know about it now, silence rules over us at the moment.
We finally reach home and I can’t help feeling delighted about that happening so fast. Mom drops me off and goes back to work.
Being at last alone, which is clearly what I wanted to happen, I make my way to the front door, slip inside and shut the door behind me.
The first thought that crossed my mind when I entered, was to leave everything and take a shower. So, I shuffle through my closet and get my towels and pyjamas ready, before switching off my phone and hopping into the bathroom.
The moment I step out, a feeling of relaxation and lightness fills me, and I decide to tell my parents as soon as they come back. I switch on my phone and find 23 missed calls and 12 text messages. Only 2 missed calls are from Edward while all the rest are, as usual, from Jo. I call Edward back to see if everything is going fine with him.
“Zoey! We’ve been calling you since you left, but you replied to none of us. Are you okay?”
“Oh yes, I am. My phone was just off. That’s it. Why? Did anything happen?”
“Jo had something to tell you but you disappeared after the bell rang so... We were just worried, you know?”
“Oh Guys! You don’t have to worry, I am all safe. Do you have any idea about what Jo wanted to tell me?”
“No, but she must’ve texted you, didn’t she?”
“She did, but I still didn’t check it. Never mind, I’ll talk to her. By the way, thanks for your care. I appreciate it.”
“Don’t mention it, you are one of my best friends, that’s my duty and you’ve always done more than that for us and for - me. I should be thanking you.”
“Edward, you don’t know how glad I am after hearing this. Thanks again.”
“No worries. Good bye for now, I’ve to go. See you tomorrow.”
“Okay, see you.”
I head towards the kitchen, pour some milk in the boiler and grab the coffee jar on the kitchen stool. Switching the stove on and taking a cup from the cupboard, I make a call for Jo to know what’s wrong.
“Zoey! Where have you been?”
“At home? I was just tired. That is all. Edward told me that you wanted to tell me something. What was that?” I ask as I put two spoons of coffee in my cup before pouring some milk in it.
“Well, yes, I want to tell you something quite important. So, listen carefully. You all have always asked me what my power is as I never spoke of it nor was it ever displayed on the ranks board. I decided, now, to let you know about it and I wanted you to be the first one as you’re the closest to me. So yeah, are you ready?”
“Of course I am. Go ahead, I am too excited!” I say in a cheerful tone. After stirring through my cup, I throw the spoon in the sink and pay more attention.
“Okay. My super power is SPEED!” She yells, making me quickly push the phone off my ears.
Pulling it back to my ear, “You must be kidding for you’re the laziest person I’ve ever come through in my life. Come on and tell me the truth.” I reply.
“I am not kidding. I’ve always acted being lazy so you don’t know about it before I tell you, and it worked! What do you think of it?”
“Wow! Amazing, I think it’s amazing. It is fun, isn’t it?”
“It surely is. Now that I’ve told you, I must go and inform others. Bye and take care.”
“Yeah, you should. Bye, same to you.”
Knowing about her power was one of my wishes since I met her, but now that she has told me first, I must say she trusts me the most and that’s enough to make my day.
Walking into my room, I fetch myself a book I’ve never read before, although I bought it three years ago. Its title is “The Unwanted Happiness”. I find the title intriguing, so I sit on the couch and start reading the book while sipping my coffee. As I go through it, I come to its main idea, and that is how a girl of 17 years old lives in a place where complete peace and harmony exist, where there isn’t any social issues like poverty, bullying, injustice or even anyone breaking the rules. That place seems unrealistic to me as such places never exist and the character, Angelina, feels the same as I do about it. She is relating how she can’t feel the taste of happiness anymore for this unrealistic exaggeration of harmony, love and happiness seems boring and distasteful as long as it’s continuous. I have the same opinion of hers, I mean, without the bitterness of depression we won’t be able to taste the sweetness of real happiness. I keep on reading as I find out the character thinks like me. The only reason why I love reading is because it’s the only way to learn about the stories of others, even if they are fictional, without sneaking into their thoughts and hacking their privacy, and this ultimately makes me feel better.
A soft knock on the door cuts me off and I stop reading. That must be my parents. Placing both the book and the cup on the table by my side, I get on my feet and walk down stairs. Reaching for the door, I twist its knob and pull it open. I stand speechless the moment I realise who it is. I mean, I don’t get the fact why Ms. Zendaya is at my doorstep in the middle of the night. “Won’t you let me in?” She asks, snapping me out of my haze.
I smile sheepishly and let her in, closing the door behind her.
“You must’ve been asking why am I here. I know you wouldn’t as you can know it yourself, but allow me to inform you without your sneaking into my mind.”
“Oh... Yeah, sure.”
“Thank you. It’s unfortunate to inform you that the time for your little trip is changed.”
“What do you mean by changed?”
“It’s after 2 hours by now instead of 36. Don’t be angry, It’s an emergency, so indeed it’s out of my hand.”
“What? Why? You can’t do this, I didn’t even meet my parents after school! I am not going. That’s it.”
She looks at me sympathetically and comes closer, pulling me into a hug. There must be something wrong, but when I am just about to read her mind and know about it, she interrupts me and starts talking again, “Zoey, listen to me. I got a call from a police officer and he told me that your parents, Mr. and Mrs. Anderson’s car crashed in an accident, and your parents died. I am quite sorry for your loss. I came here to inform you about this. That’s why I didn’t want you to read my thoughts.” She finishes before pulling away.
I can’t believe what I just heard, but she is saying the truth, I can see it from her expression and she can’t lie to me for I will know it, but how is it possible? I couldn’t even say a final good bye. Suddenly, I feel something heavy lying on my chest making it harder to breathe. My eyes get out of focus and everything around starts fading until what’s left for my vision is an unfamiliar blackness.
I open my eyes in a squint, adjusting to the surroundings. Ms. Zendaya, Peter, Edward and Jo, are all circled around me. An irritating hint of confusion creeps over me. I try to get up and straighten up, but Edward pushes me back, “Just rest for a while, you already lost your consciousness.” He says – no, he demands.
“I did?” is all I could mutter out.
“Yeah!” Jo yells way louder than necessary, my eardrum almost blasted.
Ms. Zendaya leans in closer, “I’ve packed your things, all of them. Don’t worry about it. I am fetching some clothes for you to get ready.” She says before heading out.
Just then, realisation hits me, and tears well up in my eyes at the thought of my parents’ death. Jo hugs me, and in her warmth, I burst out crying. She squeezes but says nothing, and I’m grateful for that. Her hug is all I need right now.
Ms. Zendaya comes back with a pair of black jeans and a white shirt, placing them on the bed, and we both pull away.
“Here we go, your favourite type is here. Listen, don’t cry, your parents would be proud of you when you save a planet, won’t they?”
I just nod in reply to her.
“Good, now get ready to make them proud.” She says before hugging me and following the others out of the room. Shutting the door behind, they leave me alone to change.
I change in a few minutes but don’t tell them I did. It’s so quiet and relieving here that staying alone for a while seems to be a good decision. I sit back on the bed and place my face between my hands. From the way Ms. Zendaya treated me today, I realised her heart isn’t as harsh as I thought it is and this is the only time, my thoughts get to be wrong.
Grief has filled my entire soul, but I decide to stay strong for the sake of my parents and the innocent lives on Earth.
A knock on the door brings me back to reality, and I stand up straight.
“Come in.” I say.
The door opens, revealing a smiling Edward. “I am sorry for your loss, Zoey. I know how you feel for my father also died in a car crash.” He says, coming closer until he’s facing me directly.
“Oh. I am sorry for letting you recall such a memory.”
“It’s okay, I just never forgot it. Anyways, I came in to call you, the gate is opened for our journey.”
“Okay, let’s not waste time.”
“Keep up your strength, Zoey, you’re indeed strong.”
I give him a smile and step out with him. I find Ms. Zendaya waiting for us outside, and without saying a word, leads us to the gate.
It’s a huge rounded blue stargate that contains a material looking like a thin layer of electronic jelly, just that it’s not touchable, rather it’s repulsive.
“I’ll go first.” I say.
Ms. Zendaya pulls me in another hug before saying, “Best of luck, darling.”
I smile, take my luggage and pass through it. All of a sudden, my body gets pulled with a great force and I don’t even feel the time lapsed.
Then after sometime, I land in an apartment. I look forward to check where am I, and from the looks of it, I realise I arrived on Earth, more specifically in London. I hear noises so I turn back just to see my friends. Great, at least we landed in the same apartment.
“Ms. Zendaya said that we just have to live normally and save the situation if we felt there is a need to do so.” Peter informs loud enough for all of us to hear.
“Good. I am finding my bedroom, I’ve to sleep.” I say.
“Your room’s door has your name on it.” Peter shouts as I walk away.
I go up the stairs and search for my room. I stop when I find a door at the end of the floor with my name written with bold letters on it.
So, I enter and without even changing my clothes, I throw myself on the bed and cry myself to sleep.