Waking up after sleeping all night had always been a problem to me. I get to feel pinned to the mattress, with all of my bones aching and my head spinning like a typhoon, not to mention the inability to breathe. Well, I’m in the exact situation right now.
I get into a sitting position before my brain gets a sudden blood rush, and I fall back on the bed. Trying again, I ignore all the uneasiness inside me and stroll out of my room and down the stairs. I spot the kitchen on my right and step into it, hoping Ms. Zendaya included instant coffee jars in the kitchen requirements. I search in all the cupboards and smile when I find three full coffee jars. Grabbing one and opening it, the smell slides through my nose, refreshing me up. Quickly, I make me a decent cup of coffee before putting on my coat and heading to the roof of the apartment.
I have no clue where my friends are. Still sleeping, I guess, but that’s fine. Finally, an opportunity to have some time alone is right there, especially in the welcoming cool breeze and the incomparable smell of coffee. Feeling comfortable, I sit down cross-legged and explore the city of London while sipping my coffee. It looks so different from Polina but that doesn’t mean it hasn’t a beauty of its own. Its buildings are covered in snow as white as pure ivory. Purity, I’ll call it the city of purity, and I hope I don’t get disappointed, for as what I’ve experienced so far, my first impressions usually aren’t true. My eyes roll over the nearby streets, searching for someone, anyone, to read his mind to satisfy my curiosity of figuring out how these creatures called humans think. I wonder how they live their life. Is it similar or different to ours? I can’t tell, but I guess the similarities are far more than the differences, and that’s a good sign. I spot a tall tower with a huge clock hung on top of it, and I recognise it as the Clock Tower, the one I read about while learning about the places on Earth. It looks both old and marvellous.
I hear footsteps behind me, and I turn around just to see Edward’s smiling face coming closer until he’s right next to me.
“How good it feels to always have right guesses.”
“So you knew I was here?”
“Definitely.” He replies with a light smirk.
“How?” I ask again.
“Well, as far as I know, a tensed Zoey will sleep all night, wake up exhausted and makes coffee. Then, she’ll drink it in the open air. If you weren’t here, I would’ve doubted it’s really you.” He explains with a shrug.
I smile before turning my gaze back at the city.
“So, what are you looking at?” he asks.
“Nothing in particular, just wanted to see how the city looks like.” I reply taking another sip of my coffee.
“Is it beautiful? If yes, then I’ll take you on a helicopter trip without a helicopter.”
I snicker at that before saying, “I’d love to.”
“But Ms. Zendaya ruins our life with her rules even in her absence.” He grumbles, taking a seat next to me.
“I can’t argue on that,” I say, “by the way, where is Jo and Peter?”
“Jo must be sleeping, and Peter is out there grabbing some food for our breakfast. It’s cold here, let’s get inside.”
Before I even heard it, he’s already gotten back on his feet. I grumble in my mind before standing up with my cup still in my hand. Who in their right mind would leave such a peaceful place for a stupid warm room?
I follow Edward down the stairs, listening to them creak beneath my feet with every step I take. All of a sudden, I spot a little box glowing blue in the dark corner by the foot of the stair case. I slow down my pace, put the cup on the floor and walk closer to it, examining the thing. There’s something about the way it looks familiar to me. Where could I have seen it before?
“What have you got there?” Edward asks from behind. And then it hits me, so hard I stepped back in reflex.
“What is it? What’s the matter?” he asks again in concern.
I turn around facing him with wide eyes and my hands clenched into fists to stop the rush of panic into me. I take a breath before letting it out.
“The box,” I pause breathing in more.
“Yes? What about it?”
“It’s the threatening box, Edward! The one Xoliners send to threaten mankind.” I explain glancing back at it.
“What do you mean? Humans aren’t supposed to know about the attack, are they?”
“We aren’t humans, Edward. I think it’s meant for us instead. They must have found out about our mission.”
“Well, that makes sense.” He says, his voice suddenly alert before adding, “Open it! What are you waiting for?”
“It’s locked, and only our abilities can unlock it, united. Get Peter and take it down. I’ll go get Jo.”
“All right, I’ll do it.”
“Great.” I say as I run through the corridor to her room. Reaching her door, I push it open and get inside. Through her glassy eyes, she stares at me questioningly, and I notice the tears flowing on her cheeks and how red her nose had become. All the panic and nervousness that I had previously, got replaced by sorrow for her. I don’t need to ask her what the matter is, I can know it myself. And so, I sneak into her thoughts.
From the scattered words and phrases, I could only get how she misses Polina and her parents. I remember they told us that they would send us with our families. But they unfortunately didn’t. I miss Polina, too. It’s my native land, and nothing compares to it, but we’re here for a reason, and no matter what, we aren’t going back before fulfilling it. I come closer to her and pull her into a hug. Her sobs grow louder, reminding me of the time I broke down because of my parents’ death. I squeeze her tighter to calm her down before whispering into her ear, “Come on, the faster we get it done, the sooner we get back to Polina. And regarding this, I’ve something to show you.”
“What is it?” she asks before pulling back and wiping her tears with the hem of her shirt.
Without another word, I take her hand in a firm grip and lead her downstairs into the dining room. I find Edward staring at the box with his hands crossed over his chest while Peter is sitting on the couch wearing a puzzled expression.
“What the hell is that thing doing here?” Jo exclaims, breaking the silence.
“Stop cursing, Jo. You know I hate it.” I mutter.
“Oh, I’m sorry.”
“I found it when I was following Edward down the stairs and stepped forward to check what it is. It looked familiar in an annoying way, and then I recognised it as the threatening box. It’s supposed to be for humans, but humans shouldn’t know about anything at the moment which changes the reason behind the matter.” I address to all of them.
“So, are you saying it’s for us? That they know about our mission?” Peter provides.
Nodding, “Definitely,” I say, “and we need to open it. Now.”
“How?” Jo asks, narrowing her eyes.
“By uniting our powers.” Edward answers, leaving the two of them in silence while they take it all in.
I take a breath, “So, are you ready to take the first step to save this planet?” I ask them.
“I am.” Edward says, straightening up and coming closer. Jo and Peter nod in support of Edward.
“Good that.” I say before adding, “Let’s get started.”
At the same time, we sit down cross-legged circling the box. We hold each other’s hands tightly and activate our powers, watching how the box rises up in the air and gets circled by the spirals of light coming out from us. Suddenly, the box splits into two and the voice message is released.
“Little weak Poliners, you think you can actually defeat us?” the voice says before turning into a sarcastic laughter. “You’re totally wrong. Back off from your mission or else, you’ve got to lose a great deal of precious lives. Oh, and don’t you think hiding in that small ball in space would help you in any way.” After hearing a loud and fierce laughter, the box drops to the ground and closes with a click.
I recognise the voice as that of a leader in Xolina.
“The voice; it’s of Marcilus Haunton.” I inform them.
“Marcilus who?” Jo asks.
“Marcilus Haunton, their most powerful leader.” I repeat.
“So what do we do now?” Peter questions.
“Join high school.” Jo answers before dropping to the couch.
“Jo, are you serious? How would that help?” Edward asks raising an eyebrow.
“Ms. Zendaya told us to act like we’re humans, remember? So apparently, we should do what a 17 year old human would do, and that is to join high school.” She explains.
“That makes sense. I’m on with it. Let’s just forget that message for now, and figure out the solution at the right time. Ti-”
“But what did he mean by losing many precious lives?” Peter asks, cutting me off.
“For now, we can assume he meant our families and friends back there in Polina, but he can do nothing to them or harm them in any way. Remember the wall that our leaders built around Polina after the attack? It’s fencing us from them, and anyone who tries breaking in will be killed instantaneously by a severe electric exposure. The threat was merely supposed to scare us, nothing more, at least not that I think of.” I conclude before leaning back on the wall.
“But,” Peter starts, “the moment we trigger danger, we fight.”
We all nod in support, and shuffle through the breakfast Peter had fetched.
With a help of a map provided to us by Ms. Zendaya, we could find three high schools in our area. We picked the nearest one, and now we’re riding in a bus to head for it.
“To Campbell High School, please.” I inform the driver before taking a seat next to Jo.
“Are you new in the city?” He asks through the mirror.
“Yes, we are. Why are you asking?” I reply in a curt tone.
He snickers before saying, “That proves you’re new here. Never mind it, it’s just because you don’t look familiar to me whilst everybody in the city does.”
Without another word, I nod to him and lay back in my seat, looking through my window. People here are inquisitive; they have to question everything around, unlike Polina where people don’t dig their noses in others’ affairs. I don’t like it, but it doesn’t annoy me either, so I just let it slip.
A little boy standing on the sidewalk waves for the bus to stop, but his image keeps on going further and further. I glance at the driver who clearly must’ve seen him but ignored him deliberately, for he shook his head after looking at the mirror on his side. Rage fills me and I get on my feet. Heading towards him, I notice how my palms balled into fists. I spread them out and lean to talk to him.
“Stop this bus. Now.” I threaten.
He narrows his eyes at me. “Bu-” he starts before I cut him off.
“Do it before I apply the brakes myself, and you know what might happen next.”
He hesitates, but quickly nods before halting the bus into a stop.
“Good.” I say as I open the door from his controls.
“Don’t you dare leave before I come back.” I threaten him. Sensing his fear, I take it as a response and head out.
I don’t know what might my friends think about, but it doesn’t matter; I must get that child in the bus right now.
I run towards him, flashing a smile as the distance shortens. He looks up at me with his glassy eyes, and I lean down to wipe his tears.
I offer him a hand, and he accepts it.
“Where are you taking me?” he asks innocently.
“You want to ride in the bus, don’t you?” I ask him, and he nods in response.
“Well, little kid, I’m taking you there.”
He tugs on my shirt, and I sit down on my knees to hear what he wants. A sincere grin spreads on his face and he pulls me in a hug. Suddenly, I feel my soul has come back to place, and at this moment, I decided to go through this mission with all my will and save innocent people like him, even if a part of them resemble the driver.
Together, we walk back to the bus. I step back and let him in before I hop in behind him. Jo and the guys pierce their gazes into me, questioning for answers, but I just smile to them and turn back to the driver.
“Today’s lesson;” I start, “Don’t keep moving just because he’s poor. Do you get it?”
With a shameful glare, he nods. “Good that. Now take him to his destination, and it’s all on me.”
Without any other word, I turn and plop down next to Jo.
“I’m proud of you.” She whispers to me and holds my hand in a tight grip. I smile to her and turn my gaze to what lies out of the window.
“Campbell High School!” The driver announces. It didn’t take much time to get there, and during our ride, Edward kept on glancing and gaping his mouth, as if hesitating to utter something out.
I motion for them to go first, and they step in front of me. I follow them behind, and the moment Jo joins the guys outside, I pay the driver before walking out, too.
“I’ve always known you have a good heart.” Edward says with a smile.
So, that’s what he wanted to say. I think to myself before smiling back to him.
“That wasn’t a reaction because of the sympathy I felt, rather it was because the principles of equality among creatures were attacked. I had to fix it.”
He flashes yet another smile before Peter hits me on my shoulder. Turning to face him, I find him snickering. And so, I let out a chuckle, too. Peter hits us when he’s proud of us; that’s his all time principle.
Pushing the gate open, we enter the school. Being a newcomer is something I’ve tried my best to avoid, especially when it involves wandering about the school building like a homeless man in the city. But the first priority now, is to find the principal’s office to register ourselves in here.
“I’m fed up of walking around in circles!” Jo exclaims, startling the three of us. “Why don’t we ask some student and get it done?”
“Good point. Why hadn’t it occurred to me earlier?” I murmur mostly to myself.
Jo folds her arms over her chest in exasperation before stomping her foot and walking towards a passerby. She taps on her shoulder, and the girl turns around to face her.
“Yes?” The girl asks.
“Would you mind telling us where the principal’s office is?” Jo requests, pointing at us behind her, and the girl snaps her head to the side to have a look.
“Yeah, sure, I wouldn’t. Keep heading straight through this hallway and take the first turn to the right. It’s there.”
“Thanks.” Jo replies cheerfully, and the girl nods before walking away.
Her instructions are right; we followed them exactly, and now, we’re standing in front of the office. I give the door a soft knock and wait for a response.
“Come in!” He shouts from inside.
I twist the door knob and push it open.
“Hey. I’m Zoey Anderson.” I introduce myself.
“Nice to meet you, Zoey. I’m Mr. Frederick James. Have a seat.” He replies, shaking my hand and motioning me to sit across from him.
“Thank you.” I mutter before sitting on the chair beside me.
“Well, how can I help you?”
I clear my throat. “We’re here for an admission into your school.” I answer him, pointing at my friends behind me.
“You all are surely welcomed here, Ms. Fill up these forms and provide me with your last year certificate, please.”
Ms. Zendaya knew about this, and so, she faked our certificates by changing the name of our school to ‘Banbridge High School’. I nod, take them out of my handbag and place them on the desk. He holds them in his hand and gives me four empty forms which I quickly distribute to them before sitting back down.
I start to fill up the form while Mr. Frederick talks to me.
“So, you came from Ireland?” He asks.
I was on the verge of slipping with the word ′no’, but I remembered we must cover our identities, so I just nod. The form has just asked for our names, phone numbers and address. That, I’m quite grateful for.
“Where are your parents? I would like to meet them.”
His sudden question made me stop writing, and I can feel a huge burden on my chest. Did he have to ask this? Now? I open my mouth a little, but not a single syllable comes out as if I forgot how to speak in a blink of an eye. Jo must’ve noticed because she clears her throat and steps forward.
“They aren’t here anymore. They died in a car crash.” She replies.
His gaze turns back to me, “I’m sorry for your loss.” He says in a low soft tone.
“It’s okay.” I reply, forcing out a smile before signing on the paper. Getting on my feet, I collect the others’, too and hand them over to him.
“Thank you.” I say.
The four of us walk out of his office, and I pull the door shut behind us. Jo smiles before putting her hand around my shoulder.
“Let’s start from tomorrow. I’m not ready yet.”
“All right, Zoey, as you wish. I ain’t ready for that, too.” Peter replies back, and we take a turn through the corridors, heading towards the gate.
The sight of a boy staring at us with a smile catches my attention. You might think he’s welcoming, but he seems mischievous, especially with the note in his hand. Written in bold letters is a sentence that made my heart skip a beat; I know who you are. I turn away from him. That must be a Xoliner trying to threaten us. I decide not to tell any of my friends now, and try to get it off my head, although it seems it might stick in for long.
We reach the bus stop, glad there’s a bus already available. Hopping inside, I recognise the driver. He’s the same one from today’s incident. Deciding to ignore him, I make my way to the seats at the back.
“You there, Miss? I’d like to talk.” He calls, making me stop and turn around.
“Yes, you may.”
“I apologise for what happened today.”
“Well, your apology mustn’t be to me, but to the boy.”
“I know that for sure, but I can’t meet him again. In fact, I should thank you for your – guidance.”
“Pleasure.” I utter smiling.
I never knew my sudden reflex this morning would actually change something in him, teach him a lesson. This indeed proves one thing; a slight reaction may cause a great change. Perhaps, not the type I fear.
I make my way to my friends and sit down between Jo and Edward. I close my eyes, and the image of the boy keeps creeping through my brain. But, eventually it all goes away, and at some point, I fall asleep.
I wake up the moment my head hit the back of the seat in front of me. I glance out of the window to see where we are and find out we reached. I get up and leave the bus first, then wait for my friends. Peter finds his keys and opens the door for us. I go straight to my room, get my towel and clothes and go down stairs to the Bathroom. I like having a shower when I need to think about something no matter what. I know it sounds weird, but it works.
People on earth need protection for they aren’t that cruel as I thought of them, but helpless. I miss Polina but I am keeping up my mission to make me and my parents proud. I’ve to talk to that boy, I need to know what he wants from us and whether he’s from Xolina or not.
But first, I need to get over thinking about it at least for now. I get out of the Bathroom and go upstairs to my room.
I shut the door behind me, grab the book, “Unwanted Happiness” and start reading it to get over thinking about anything that had happened to me today. I need an escape from my world and reading provides it with a free ticket.
I keep reading and don’t feel the time passing but then I hear a knock at the door so I shout, “Come in!”
Peter opens the door. Looking at me, he smiles.
“Hey. What are you doing?”
“Reading.” I say.
“Reading since when?”
“Since we came back from school. I don’t know the exact time.”
“Zoey, as far as I know you, you don’t read for more than 8 hours unless you’re trying to run away from something. Are you okay?”
More than 8 hours? That never happened to me before! I just stare at him with a confused look then finally answer him with an excuse, “Yeah, I am. I just miss Polina. That is all.”
“Oh... I miss it too but we’ve got a mission to complete here.”
“I know.” I agree, my voice low in tone.
“Aren’t you hungry?”
“No, I’m not.”
“If you are, tell me and I’ll bring you the food up here.”
“Thank you, Peter, I’m really not. Just make me coffee, that will do.”
“Okay, sure. I’ll be back in five minutes.”
I nod to him and he leaves. I continue reading till he comes back.
I hear another knock at the door, so I know it’s him. He enters with the cup of coffee in his hand, comes over and gives it to me.
“Thank you.” I say with a sincere grin.
“Don’t mention it, buddy. Have a good time with your book.”
He hits me on my shoulder so I know he doesn’t mind my isolation from them today. He leaves and I keep on reading while sipping my coffee. That’s the peace of mind that I’ve always tried to have, isolated from people, in a company of my book and drinking my coffee.