Book 1: Beckham Institute for Prodigies
Chapter 5: A Reason to Stay
Suzan woke up to the sounds of Bonnie Rupp singing. It was a weird sensation, as if every cell in her body awoke and was ready to start the day. She grabbed her clothes and looked on at the crowded student center, trying to see the bathroom.
All freshman students slept in the student center for the first week–boys in the upstairs lounge and the girls in the downstairs commons. It was a way for the students to get to know each other and find roommates before they were given room assignments.
Suzan didn’t appreciate this at all. She was hoping to get some time to herself, but it was virtually impossible. Even in the bathroom stall, Suzan could barely breath and that was partially because one of the girls smelled like digested tacos; no, it wasn’t just the bathroom.
The rest of the previous day was uneventful. She, Sadie, and Tabatha went back to finish their tests while Whitney explored the campus. That evening only the three met for dinner. That was ok with Suzan because she didn’t particularly like Whitney, but she had to admit the way she saved that girl yesterday was impressive and inspiring.
However she felt about the spook, Suzan didn’t want to think about her now. All she wanted was a shower before Bonnie took them to breakfast. She got off her cot and headed to the lavatory.
Once the girls had finished getting ready, they met the boys in the cafeteria for breakfast. But as they marched in their lines towards the cafeteria, Suzan could feel a lot of anger outside of their group.
She wasn’t sure where it was coming from until she looked at some of the windows and saw some students staring in. They looked angry. She pointed it out to Sadie, but she just laughed. “What are they doing staring at us like that? They look like a bunch of idiots.”
“The student center,” said Emma, who seemed to be walking close to them, “is the most popular spot to hang out for students. To them you are intruders.”
“Oh hi,” said Suzan.
“Hello,” she said and then she sped up to the front of the line where Bonnie was.
“Awkward,” said Sadie rolling her eyes.
They walked into the cafeteria and went to the buffet lines to see what was for breakfast. Suzan was happy that her favorite was there: waffles. She grabbed two with butter and syrup and poured herself a glass of milk.
After, she went to find a seat and saw Whitney sitting alone at the end of a table. Suzan tried desperately to avoid her, but then a powerful force pulled her towards the spook.
“Come on Suzan,” said Tabatha, pulling on Suzan’s left arm, “Whitney’s sitting over there.”
Tabatha dragged Suzan as she struggled to free herself from Tabatha’s grasp. However, Tabatha was much too strong for Suzan and she ended up staring at the spook, red faced, pathetically trying to mask her discomfort. Whitney wasn’t fooled at all as she looked up to see the mingled panic and false happiness on Suzan’s face.
“Good morning to you too,” said Whitney expressionless as usual.
“We almost didn’t see you,” said Tabatha smiling, “You might have had to eat all alone.”
“Yeah,” said Whitney, “That sure would suck.”
Tabatha giggled. “You’re funny!” she said as she pulled out the chair next to Whitney and sat down.
Suzan sat across from Whitney, trying to avoid eye contact. She still didn’t know what to think of her at all. She was rough, but she seemed to have some sense of justice after the incident yesterday. She didn’t think that anyone like that could be all bad.
‘yes I am…’ came a thought from Whitney.
“Eep!” exclaimed Suzan.
“Hey ladies,” said Sadie, “What’s up? WTF Tabatha! What the heck is that?” They all looked at Tabatha to see her enjoying what looked like an ice crème, waffle sandwich.
She had six waffles with ice crème in between and chocolate syrup, strawberries, and whipped crème on top.
Her hands looked really sticky as she tried to handle it over to her mouth, where she was taking dainty bites and getting ice crème and chocolate all over her face.
“It’s my breakfast, Sadie,” she said, her usual dopey smile.
Suzan, astonished, said, “How can you eat all of that? Won’t you get sick?”
“Nah,” said Tabatha her mouth full of waffle, “I eat breakfast like this every day.”
“And you never gain a pound?” asked Sadie.
“Nope,” said Tabatha as she closed her eyes and enjoyed what looked like the best breakfast ever. Every girl in that room glared at her.
“So,” said Suzan, trying to forgive Tabatha’s awesome metabolism, “Sadie, how do you think you did on the test?”
“Horribly,” said Sadie, “You?”
“I’m not sure,” said Suzan, “I was great at the reading and writing part, but math is not my best subject. I’m hoping I got a B.”
“Come on Suzan,” said Sadie, “You’ve always been better at written tests than me. I bet you did better than you think. As for me, I know I got a D. I just hope I can make it up in the physical.”
“You can’t ‘make it up’ on the physical exam, dumbass,” said Whitney as she ate her cereal, “The written is 1000 points and the physical is 1000 points. Even if you completely ace the physical, which you won’t, you can only expect an E ranking.”
“Well spooky,” said Sadie, trying to keep her anger from exploding, “Since you know so much, why don’t you tell us what we can expect from this physical test?”
“Figure it out yourself,” she said.
“Why are you even here!” said Sadie.
“You guys sat next to me!” said Whitney.
Suzan, not wanting to get involved in an argument, turned to Tabatha. She had nearly finished her entire sandwich, while Suzan had barely touched her waffles. She cut off a piece, chewed, swallowed, and turned back to Tabatha. “So Tabatha, how do you think you did on the written?” Suzan asked.
“I don’t know,” said Tabatha as she pulled a hair out of her mouth and continued to chew. Talking with her mouthful, “I just guessed on most of them. It was really hard. But there were a couple that I think I did ok on.”
Tabatha swallowed and lowered her voice, “Just between you and me though: I’m not really all that good at tests.”
Suzan shook her head. Caught between disgust and empathy, she smiled and said, “Well there is still the physical. How good are you at athletics? I think that if the rest of this week is the physical, it must be pretty arduous.”
Tabatha’s face became real serious. “Oh I hope not,” she said, “I’m not ready for sex.”
The whole room turned and looked at Tabatha as she downed her glass of milk.
“Never mind…” said Suzan, “I know for a fact I won’t do well. I’m not very strong or athletic at all.”
Whitney nodded her head as she sipped tea from her mug.
“What’s that supposed to mean?” said Sadie as she chomped on her bacon.
“It means I agree with her,” said Whitney, “I can tell she can’t do much of anything. Her brain isn’t developed enough nor is she physically capable. And you, you’re a dumbass with a big mouth.” She stared at Sadie.
“Shut up!” said Sadie, “You’d be surprised what Suzan can do! Right Suzu?”
“Uh,” said Suzan blushing. She was angry with Whitney now. She wasn’t stupid, and that’s what it sounded like Whitney said. And there was that one time she saved everyone from a possible building collapse… supposedly. It was clear now that Whitney was just a jerk.
Suzan found her earlier conflict resolved, but she still couldn’t completely object to Whitney either. “Well I’ll definitely do my best,” she said, a new sense of purpose bubbled inside her as she was prepared to prove Whitney wrong.
“Good morning, ladies and gentlemen,” said Clyde. He was standing behind the podium again. Drew, Emma, and Bonnie stood next to him and, as Suzan observed, each found their own way to pass the time during this announcement.
Drew looked at his watch every now and then and when he wasn’t doing that, his hands found a comfy spot in his pockets. Emma looked like she was listening to music, her head nodding, but she had no head phones on. And Bonnie stood as erect as a large, round girl could, by far the most professional of the three.
“As you may know,” continued Clyde, “Today we are continuing the testing with the physical exams. There are five parts to it: senses, muscle memory, speed, endurance, and strength. The final part of the entrance exam is the most important–a team building exercise of capture the flag.
You will work with your future roommates to find the flag and bring it back to your room which will be given to you at the start of the fifth test. In that test, anything goes. There will be guards and teachers on standby in case things get messy.”
‘What!’ thought Suzan.
‘Told you, you wouldn’t be ready,’ said Whitney in Suzan’s head.
‘Get out of here!’ thought Suzan.
“Great,” said Sadie, “Team work.” She said looking at Whitney. The two glared at each other.
Senses will gage how well your six senses work. Muscle memory will gage your ability to mimic others; an attribute most prodigies have. Speed will find how fast you are. Endurance will gage how much you can take.”
‘I don’t like the sound of that,’ thought Suzan, ‘What kind of school is this?’
“Lastly, strength will determine your muscle power. All of these tests are essential for the school to see your true abilities and place you in the appropriate level. I wish all of you the best of luck. Please enjoy the rest of your breakfast; we will be starting shortly,” he finished only for Bonnie to take the podium.
“Good morning,” she said, “I hope ya’ll had a refreshing night’s sleep because this week will be a doosy.” she giggled as the tables of students stared politely back at her.
“Ahem,” she said, “You’ll be excited to know that your results from the written test are here.” She picked up an envelope from a box at the foot of the podium.
“Emma, Drew, and I will be over there,” she said pointing at a lone table near the door, “Ready to pass them back to you. We have them organized by last name; Drew will have A through H, Emma will have I through P, and I will have Q through Z.
Once you’re finished, come see us and then exit through the doors and wait for us to collect you for the next exams. Don’t worry; they’re sealed in envelopes so no one can see em unless you let em. No need to rush. Just finish up breakfast and come on over when you are ready.”
Nearly everyone stood up and rushed to the front table. Drew and Bonnie ran to get there first, but Emma took her time to look over the student’s breakfast choices. Sadie, Suzan, and Whitney, among the mob, rushed to the table only to be the last in line.
It didn’t take long, however, and soon Suzan was face to face with those beautiful, ice blue eyes again.
“Oh hi,” said Drew, “I was wondering if this was you,” He pulled out the test, “Suzan Halden.”
“You remembered my name?” said Suzan blushing.
“Yeah,” he said smiling, “You didn’t think I’d forget you, did you?”
“Ah,” said Emma looking over, “She’s the scrawny one with the glasses.”
Suzan glared at her.
“Now, sis,” said Drew, “Can’t you ever say anything nice?”
“The truth isn’t always nice,” she said looking at Suzan.
“Thanks,” said Suzan still glaring.
“Sadie, right,” said Drew.
“Yup,” she said, “That’s me.” She took her envelope and joined Suzan at the side. They waited for Tabatha, who had finished her large breakfast and was now standing behind Whitney.
“Hittle, Whitney,” Whitney said.
Drew smiled as he gave Whitney her envelope. “Have a good one,” he said.
“I’m Tabatha Blessing!” said Tabatha a little too loudly. Emma giggled.
“Oh,” said Drew, who looked a little startled, “Yes, of course. The last one. Here you are. Have a good day.”
The four girls walked out of the cafeteria and into the crowd of students in the hall. Suzan once again could feel a large amount of malice emanating from outside the building.
‘Surely the higher students are used to this,’ she thought. Sadie stopped and leaned against a nearby wall and said, “Let’s see what we got.”
The four circled up and opened their envelopes.
“Wow!” said Tabatha, “I did better than I thought!”
“What did you get?” said Sadie looking disappointed.
“I got a 600,” she said smiling, “I’ll be honest, I’m not that smart. I was expecting a 400 or something.”
Suzan frowned, “I got a 600 too.”
Whitney snickered. “Really Suzan?” said Tabatha, “It’s like we’re twins!”
Suzan gave a nervous smile while Whitney laughed harder. “What did you get spooky?” said Sadie getting angry.
“Oh” said Whitney still smiling, “I got a 950. What did you get, dumbass?”
“I got… 550,” said Sadie hanging her head.
Whitney fell on the floor laughing. Suzan felt horrible. She knew that Sadie really tried. It was just written tests always made her nervous.
Sadie kicked Whitney hard in the ribs. Whitney gasped.
“It’s so funny, isn’t spooky?” said Sadie, “You really think that you’re better than us don’t you? Well guess what, I’m going to do way better than you on the physical, so just shut up!”
Whitney quickly got up and held her bruised rib. “You? In your dreams I’ve competed with norms with way more talent than you. And by the way, as soon as this test is over, I’m getting you back.”
“Bring it on, spookzilla! I’m not afraid of you. I’m going to kick your ass!” said Sadie.
Whitney went in to punch her when Bonnie bounced in between them and Whitney’s fist was swallowed by Bonnie’s fat, which seemed, from Suzan’s vantage point, able to hold Whitney’s hand inside. Whitney struggled but she could not free her hand.
“Easy now,” she said, “Is this any way friends should behave? Why don’t y’all cool off for a minute.”
Bonnie’s fat released Whitney’s arm. It seemed that Bonnie had control of her body’s flexibility the same as Emma did, but the technique was completely different. Though they were similar, Suzan began to see the differences.
Like a flash, it became visible to her eye. It was almost like her telempathy. She could feel it, but she didn’t quite understand it. This encouraged her. She may have gotten a poor score on this test, but she could tell that she was going to improve if she continued to probe this new ability.
“These… are not my friends,” said Whitney walking away, “I have no friends.”
Tabatha flinched, while Sadie glared after her. Suzan could tell she was glad Whitney was leaving. Suzan, though she didn’t like Whitney much, wasn’t sure how she felt. There was something there that she could not name yet. It was strange…
“Alright, ladies and gentlemen,” said Clyde as he tried to regain the attention of all the on-lookers, “I can tell by the looks on your shining faces that many of you did well. But I want the rest of you to remember that this is just a placement test. Other than that, it doesn’t have any value. So buck up and get excited for the today’s test.
“Now for the next three days, you will be pushed to your limits. Remember that there is no shame in giving up in the middle, but you won’t get the score you deserve, so I hope you all keep that in mind during these next few days. We’ll take a break for lunch at 1:00 and then end our day at 6:00. Is everyone ready? Alright let’s get started! Gentlemen with Drew and myself and ladies with Bonnie and Emma. Good luck everyone!”
Clyde took the boys down the student center hall, while the girls stayed behind waiting for instructions from Bonnie.
“Alright gals,” she said smiling wide, “The boys are takin their strength physical today. We’ll be doing our senses. Y’all come with me and we’ll meet with our modrater. He’s one of the head scientists here at BIP and the lead authority on prodigy development.”
Suzan noticed that Emma’s energy flared up. She looked angry. Bonnie and Emma led the way down the hall opposite the boys. They walked to a staircase and proceeded down a couple of flights, out a door, and onto a catwalk.
Below was a large area filled with monitors, cubicles and thousands of computers. As they moved down the catwalk, they came to a dark hallway with many doors with name tags on them and at the end of the hall was a final door labeled Dr. Leroy Ferris.
‘Knock knock,’ tapped Bonnie’s pudgy fist on the door. The door creaked open and Dr. Ferris stood behind it. He didn’t look very excited to see them.
“Hello ladies,” he said, “My name is Doctor Ferris, I will be evaluating your senses today. This is my assistant Mr. Kim.” He pointed to a little man with glasses, his face wandered in the crowd.
“So,” said Sadie, “These are the guys who have been watching us. What do you get off of them Suzu?”
“The doctor is hiding something. He’s surprisingly good at it for a norm. But the little guy is anxious to see a particular one of us. I don’t know who.”
“Interesting… creepy, but interesting,” said Sadie.
“So in order to do our test, we will use this machine over here,” said Dr. Ferris, pointing to the machine behind him, “First will be sight. Don’t be alarmed; it’s basically a regular eye exam, but with a maximum distance of 25 miles. If you can see up to 21 miles you get full credit. Any questions? Good. All the other senses will be tested relatively the same way.”
“Sir?” said the small girl, “how can you make such a test in a lab this size? Granted it is large, but certainly not 25 miles. How is this test even feasible?”
“My aren’t you observant,” he said, slightly patronizing, “This machine simulates great distances in order to measure your various sensory systems without the aid of a special field.”
“Sounds promising,” she said.
“It is more than promising,” said Dr. Ferris, irritated, “This machine can simulate various conditions or temperature, texture, the light spectrum… In short this machine can and will gage all sensory responses from the test subject. We have been doing this for years; I think we know what we are doing.”
“Of course you do,” she said smiling.
The girls giggled. Even Bonnie cracked a smile and Emma gave a hearty laugh. In the silence that came afterwards, a red faced Dr. Ferris said, “Who wants to go first?”
“I’ll do it,” said Sadie. She walked over to Dr. Ferris and the machine. It was a rather interesting machine, Suzan thought. A spherical chamber that hovered a foot off the ground. Beneath it was, perhaps, the source of its floatability. A circular apparatus that could easily balance the large, metal ball if it were unable to push it up in the air.
Dr. Ferris went to a control panel on the side of the machine, pressed a sequence of buttons and then a door popped out of the side of the sphere. Suzan and Tabatha watched as Sadie gave them a grin and disappeared inside the chamber.
“Each test takes about 3 minutes. So to allot time for all the senses, the test is roughly 15 minutes long per person. Luckily we have 12 machines, so can I get 11 more volunteers?”
“I thought you said there were 12?” said Tabatha.
Dr. Ferris looked dazed for a minute, “Yes, well, moving on…”
11 more girls took their places in the machines, including Whitney. While Suzan and Tabatha waited for their turn, Suzan pulled out a piece of paper from her pocket and figured out how long it would take for all the girls to go through. She counted 163 girls in the room, not including Emma or Bonnie. 12 were in the machines now and the test took about 15 minutes each. 163 girls divided by 12 machines equals 13.583 repeating trips through the machines.
For the sake of saving time, Suzan just rounded to 14. So 14 trips multiplied by 15 minutes each equals 210 minutes and 210 minutes divided by 60 minutes equals 3 hours and 30 minutes. So the tests started at 9:00 am and that meant that they would be done at 12:30, in time for lunch.
Tabatha could tell that Suzan was deep in thought, so she decided to go to her happy place. Inside her mind, she saw a green field where she and a miniature Tabatha played. And then the little Tabatha pulled out a paint brush and began to paint weird symbols on the ground and so Tabatha also began to mimic these symbols on the ground beside her miniature.
Afterwards they settled down on a pink and white checkered blanket for some tea with Mr. Giraffe and Miss Zebra and then the four began to fly in the sky with the fish and the rocks… Yes, Tabatha had flying rock friends and they were just as important to her as any giraffe or zebra.
Suzan woke from her reverie to see Tabatha drooling next to her with an expression of ecstasy on her face.
‘I wish I was there,’ she thought. And then Sadie came out of the machine and walked back to where they were sitting.
“Come on, Suzu,” said Sadie, “It’s your turn.” She took Suzan by the hand and over to the machine she had just left.
“How was it?” Suzan asked.
“Honestly,” said Sadie, “It’s exhausting. Has it really only been fifteen minutes?” Sadie looked at her watch. “I feel like I’ve been in there for at least an hour. Well your turn Suzu. Make me proud!”
It was then that Suzan felt a very peculiar aura emanating from behind the machine. It was the doctor’s assistant.
“Oh hi,” he said blushing, “I’m just getting this machine set up; no need to be alarmed! Um, but I will need to take your glasses before you go inside.”
Sadie’s smirk widened more than usual to a particularly alarming shape as Suzan took off her glasses and handed them to Mr. Kim. ‘Sadie’s being weird again,’ she thought, ‘Still, that type of emotion is newish…’
“You’re eyes are really pretty,” he said.
“Thanks,” she said. She still felt weird. ‘Is this guy… No… or maybe…’ Suzan could tell he was nervous and excited at the same time and that was typically a very bad combination for most young men.
She hurried into the machine in hopes of forgetting him, but instead, being in a very dark and tight place, there was nothing to reoccupy her mind. ‘I hope this test starts already,’ she thought.
Then the inside lit up with a blinding, white light and soon it changed into a long stretch of road and at the end of the road was a sign with letters. It resembled the same eye test that an optometrist used only, as Suzan could tell from a space at the side, it was three miles away.
“Please read the first line,” said the machine.
‘I can’t even see the first line,’ thought Suzan, ‘I must have really gotten jipped in the eye department.’
“Please read the first line,” said the machine again.
“I’m sorry,” said Suzan, “I cannot read it.”
The machine brought the image to two miles, “Please read the first line.”
“I still can’t read it.”
The machine brought the image to one mile, “Please read the first line.”
“Listen,” said Suzan, “I get it. My eyes aren’t great. I wear glasses. Can we just move on to hearing or something else.”
The machine brought the image to ½ a mile, “Please read the first line.”
Suzan sighed, “I”
“K-Y-O-U… Damn it! Missed a letter!”
“Error! Please read line one again…”
Suzan’s test actually took a lot longer than was expected and set the girls back a half hour. But they still made it to lunch ok.
In the cafeteria, Suzan, Sadie, and Tabatha sat together again at the same long table they had that morning. They still hadn’t seen or heard from Whitney, but at the moment they were preoccupied by the test they had just finished.
“I can’t believe how badly I bombed that test,” said Suzan.
“It’s ok, Suzan,” said Tabatha, “I bomb tests all the time.”
“You’re really not helping,” said Sadie, “Just remember Suzu, the full physical isn’t over yet.”
“This is all because I wear glasses,” said Suzan, “Why am I the only prodigy that wears glasses?”
“Calm down,” said Sadie, “Look, this test isn‘t even real. Well, you know. It isn‘t worth anything. Don‘t sweat it. It will be over in no time and we can get down to the real stuff.”
“Real stuff?” said Suzan.
“Of course,” said Sadie, “I mean boys of course. So many here I just can’t take it! We didn’t have many like this back at the orphanage.”
“Wow, really Sadie?” said Suzan, “What about you Tabatha?”
“Oh me,” said Tabatha sheepishly, “I don’t know. I guess I don’t think about boys much.”
“Of course you don’t,” said Sadie, “But I bet they think about you, huh?” Sadie nudged her with her elbow trying to make Suzan laugh.
“You really think so,” said Tabatha blushing, “I know it may sound weird, but I miss Whitney.”
“I can’t see why,” said Sadie, her face hardening, “Honestly if I don’t see her again, I’ll be fine with it.”
“But she’s our friend,” said Tabatha.
Suzan and Sadie were silent. It was really hard for Suzan to like Whitney. Sure she saved them from those guards. Sure she was brave and talented, but she was a major… Suzan tried not to think about it. But she knew that Whitney brought something out of her that gave her strength and maybe that was reason enough to explore the possibility.
“I’d honestly rather be slapped by a fish than be her friend,” said Sadie. As soon as she said that a large fish flew at her face.
As the tests went on, Suzan did poorly on all of them. It wasn’t just her senses that were lacking, she realized she had little coordination, strength, or speed. It was nearing the end of the week and she was so far looking at a whole bunch of zeros.
She couldn’t believe it herself. It was ridiculous. Or maybe the expectations were ridiculous. For strength, she had to be able to at least bench 500 lbs. in order to get credit; she could barely do 35 lbs. In speed, she had to run a mile in less than a minute; it took her five minutes. In endurance, she had to run for three hours straight; she couldn‘t handle one hour.
“Are you sure you are not a norm?” asked Emma during the endurance test.
Suzan glared at her. By far the most humiliating test was the muscle memory test they had taken on Tuesday after the senses test. They had to watch a performer do a trick and mimic it. Juggling was one of the many feats Suzan had to perform and she just couldn’t seem to get any of it.
Sadie and Tabatha tried to help, but it was no use. They were just better at those things than she was. The whole freshmen class was better than she was!
It was now Thursday and the girls had just got out of the endurance test and were sitting down at a table in the cafeteria for dinner.
“Come on, Suzu,” said Sadie, “You’re not the worst.”
“Oh yeah?” said Suzan, “Who else got all zeros? How is that even possible?”
“You got me,” she said, “If only we could tap into that power you used at Silverstone.”
“What’s that?” said Tabatha as she took a bite out of a delicious-looking triple cheeseburger.
“Suzu, somehow saved my life,” said Sadie a little embarrassed, “It was amazing… I mean it would have been amazing to have actually seen it.”
“What do you mean?” said Tabatha, “You didn’t see it?”
“Well… No… but Professor Schumacher did. He was amazed. That counts, right?”
Tabatha nodded her head.
“No. It doesn’t,” said Suzan, she was getting irritated at the mention of that incident at the orphanage. It was a constant reminder that something happened but she didn’t know remember or even know what it was. Was it even her? What was the point in having that great power if she couldn’t turn it on when she wanted?
“Hey, come on Suzu,” said Sadie smiling, “We just have one more test and then we can enjoy normal student life.”
“There isn’t anything normal about any of us. I can’t stand this anymore. I’m a prodigy but I’m the weakest, most insignificant one. I… can’t believe this.”
Suzan stood up and walked away from the table.
“Suzan, wait,” called Tabatha and Sadie but she wouldn’t. Suzan was sick of BIP. It wasn’t her. It wasn’t her at all. Everyone here was so amazing. And she was… nothing. She was nothing. She couldn’t shoot fire from her hands; she couldn’t walk on walls; and she definitely couldn’t eat a lot of greasy food and not gain a pound. That still pissed her off the most.
Why was she born a prodigy. She was practically normal. Her father could have kept her. She could have went to a normal school. She could have had a normal life without any of these ridiculous people. And then she remembered what Professor Schumacher said:
“You can opt out of BIP, it’s just that norm teachers wouldn’t know what to do with you.”
That was what she should do. She was going to quit BIP and go to a normal school. No one would know the difference. No one at all.
She walked out of the student center and headed straight to Dean Croft’s office. The dean had to be there; it was her bedroom after all. Either way, Suzan figured she would just sit and wait outside the door until the dean came back.
It was dark that evening, but there was a full moon out and Suzan could at least see where she was going. A chill ran through her body; she could feel autumn just around the corner. She could also feel the auras of others nearby.
She didn’t think anything of it because she always felt people around her. It gave her a little encouragement. It was something that Sadie had trouble doing. Suzan could even judge distance–it was never exact, but the closer the stronger the feeling.
Strangely though, the further she moved from the student center, she could feel three auras closing in on her very fast. She began to run. The office building wasn’t far away. She could make it… no, she couldn’t. The three were nearly upon her. In fact one was standing in front of the building. She could finally see him. Was he a guard? No, he looked like a student.
“Hello, freshman,” he said. He was tall and skinny; his hair was long and a golden yellow that seemed to glow.
‘How did I miss this guy,’ Suzan thought as she stared at his hair.
“Simon,” said a female voice from behind her, “I’m behind her. And Alan is on the roof top.”
At that moment, Suzan could pin point the other two. She turned around to see no one.
“You won’t see Misty,” said the yellow haired Simon, “She’s invisible. So… You’re a freshman, right? I can tell because of your eyes. They don’t look like much. Like shallow pools. You haven’t seen much at all.”
Suzan turned back to face him. He didn’t seem harmful.
“At the same time, you’ve seen a lot. A long scar seems to hide behind those eyes. Like some cruel joke that lingers and you don’t want others to know about. I can see everything with my eyes.”
“Why are you following me?” said Suzan as she tried to maintain her composure.
“We just want to see what you got,” said the female voice called Misty behind her.
“What can you do?” said Simon, “Are you worth going to this school or are you just a weak F level prodigy?”
“F’s don’t belong here,” said Misty, “They bring us all down and make us look bad.”
“Well,” started Suzan, “That’s why I’m going to see the dean. I don’t belong here. I’m worthless.”
“Oh?” said Simon, “Let’s find out. Alan, begin.”
Suzan heard it. It was a whistling noise that was coming fast. She focused her mind; where was it coming from? Her body moved on its own and she stepped to the right. Thud. Whatever it was planted itself into the ground hard. Suzan couldn’t see what or where it landed.
“Worthless?” said Rick, “That took some skill.”
Suzan blushed. It was nice to not be worthless after all.
Once again she felt two more objects flying towards her. Step left, step back. Both miss and make the same noise as they penetrated the dirt.
“Impressive,” said Simon, “What about if I do this?”
He moved so fast that Suzan barely saw it before it happened. Though he was ten feet in front of her, he moved in an instant right in front of her face and sent her flying in the air with an uppercut to the chin.
Suzan cried out as the fist connected and she rose several feet, falling back onto the ground, where the invisible girl jumped on her chest and started hammering her face with her fists. Suzan tried to push the girl off but she was pinned and completely overpowered. With a mixture of hot tears and blood flowing out of her body now, Suzan imagined if she didn’t get this girl off of her, she would probably be unconscious soon.
And then the beating stopped, and she felt the invisible girl being pulled off of her by two new presences. Sadie and Tabatha were by her side now. Tabatha knelt down and tried to mop up Suzan’s face with her skirt, while Sadie stood between them and Simon.
“What do you want, jack-ass?” she said, her fists trembling.
“Why did you stop this?” said Simon calmly, “We only want to know what class you’re in.”
“You’ll find out later. After the testing is over,” said Sadie.
“Oh,” said Simon pouting, “But I want to know now. Well it will be just as fun with two extras here. Misty, Alan, let’s have fun.”
Tabatha was grabbed by her hair and dragged by the invisible girl while Simon and Sadie circled one another. Suzan lay on the ground. She was in shock; she couldn’t move, but she could feel that there were more objects flying towards her. She fought against her body and mind. She knew she had to move; the objects were whistling towards her.
She could feel them. Closer. Closer. She struggled. ‘Move body!’ she thought to herself. ‘They’re almost here!’ She rolled out of the way, just as three more objects planted into the ground. She could move. Well, she could roll and that was a start.
Tabatha struggled as she felt the wrists of a purple girl behind her. She dug her fingernails into the girl’s hand and heard a shriek of violence escaped from the assailant’s mouth as she released Tabatha.
Tabatha turned around to see what looked like a purple shade of a person, no defining qualities except for a black symbol on her chest. Tabatha had never faced an invisible person before, but the symbols were nothing new to her. She saw them on everybody and she would draw them in her notebook. She didn’t know what they meant, but she knew it had something to do with their powers.
Misty regained her composure and kicked out at Tabatha, but she dodged it easily. Misty then tried to punch her. Tabatha dodged again.
“You can’t see me! You can‘t see me!” shouted Misty as she tried to hit Tabatha again.
“Of course I can,” said Tabatha smiling, “You’re right there.”
“Ugh,” grunted Misty as she continued to attack. Tabatha of course continued to dodge.
“Hey, Tabby,” shouted Sadie as she and Simon continued to circle each other, “You could try hitting her, I mean since you can see her.”
“You gave me a nickname,” said Tabatha smiling really big, “Tabby, I like it ever-so-much.” Tabatha continued to dodge.
Sadie groaned. “Your friend,” said Simon, “She can see Misty? Can you see her?”
“Don’t worry about that,” said Sadie, “Worry about my foot getting stuck up your ass!”
Sadie kicked, but Simon sped up and got behind her and shoved her down.
Sadie fell face first. “Why so nice?” said Sadie, “I saw what you did to my sister.”
She got back up and sped up to grab Simon, but he was faster.
“I guess I’ll have to teach you a little about the higher class at BIP,” he said as he nailed Sadie in the face with a kick. Sadie flew back 30 feet, skidding across the ground.
“Holy shit!” said Sadie as she wiped some blood from her lip and popped her right shoulder back into place. “This is getting fun!”
Sadie ignited her arms and sent a blast of flames towards Simon. Terrified, Simon dodged and ducked to avoid getting burned.
“So, you’re a pyromancer,” he said, “Well… Then there’s no need to be alarmed.”
“You have plenty of reason to be alarmed,” said Sadie as she sprung forth with her fiery fist. Simon sped again behind her and put her in an arm lock. “What are you going to do now?”
“Duh, dumbass!” Sadie once again ignited her arms and tried to reach her flame out as far as she could. She wanted to set Simon on fire, she was so angry. Unfortunately Simon only burned his hands.
“Hot! Hot!” said Simon, ‘How the hell did I forget?’ Simon looked at his hands. The first layer of skin was pealing and he could see the next layer, red, and immerging underneath.
‘All I have to do is absorb the moon’s rays,’ he thought, ‘then I can heal up and take these three down.’
‘Really?’ came a voice from inside his head, ‘that is interesting. Let’s see if that’s all there is to it.’
“Who’s there?” shouted Simon, his face full of panic.
‘it’s just me,’ said the voice, ‘you’re conscience.’
“Get out of my head!” shouted Simon.
Sadie stopped. She wasn’t sure what was going on. She moved closer, her arms alight, waiting for the best time to strike. ‘strike him now while he’s distracted,’ said one side of her brain. ‘Set him on fire! Kill him!’ said another. ‘You don’t want to kill him,’ said yet another. Sadie remained calm. She wanted to collect herself before anything else happened.
“Look out!” cried Suzan, “Sadie, three objects are flying towards you!”
Suzan was now able to crawl on her hands and knees. She was making her way towards Sadie, who seemed to be halted.
Sadie turned and saw Suzan on the ground, crawling. She ran towards her and heard the thuds of three flying objects hit the ground. She knelt down to help her up.
“Are you ok Suzu?” Sadie asked.
“Yeah,” said Suzan, “It’s Whitney. She’s inside his head.”
“She’s what!” said Sadie, furiously, “Damn it, Whitney! I can take care of this punk myself!”
Determined, she walked straight towards Simon. Suzan gathered her strength, pushed herself up and ran after her. “No Sadie, stop! Don’t hurt him. We can escape now.”
“What about Tabatha?” said Sadie. They both turned over to where Tabatha and Misty had been fighting. They saw Tabatha and it appeared that she was sitting on something.
“Hi guys! Misty fell asleep. She was fun though,” said Tabatha, her signature smile lighting her face. Sadie felt humbled by this, but immediately snapped out of her reverie as Suzan pushed her out of the way of six more flying objects that hit the ground around them.
“Thanks,” said Sadie. She then thought out to Whitney, ‘Hey spooks. Thanks for invading shiny boy’s head.’
‘Whatever dumbass,’ said Whitney, ‘I’m looking for that sniper kid, Alan right now. When I’m done in here, I’ll let him go. You can finish him off.’
Suzan, who was also listening, ‘No! We can just escape and go to the Dean’s office.’
‘These kids need to be taught a lesson,’ thought Whitney, ‘Sadie’s a dumbass but she knows that. One more thing, dumbass, burn his hair off. The moon gives him his power. It’s why he’s faster and stronger than you.’
‘Don’t call me a dumbass, spooks,’ said Sadie, ‘and thanks.’
‘No problem. You wouldn’t have found him anyways.’
‘Damn you, spooks!’ thought Sadie.
“What I miss?” said Tabatha.
“Not much,” said Simon, “I’m now going to kick all your asses!”
“Get ready, ladies,” said Sadie and she sped away.
“So,” said Simon, “You’re captain has left you. What do you think is going to happen now?”
Tabatha stood between Suzan and Simon. “You’re not going to touch my friends,” she said, her smile disappearing. Strangely, Suzan could feel the rage emanating from Tabatha’s body.
“You better start hitting back,” said Simon.
He punched at Tabatha. She dodged by planting one hand on the ground and kicking Simon in the face with both feet. Surprised, Simon stepped back and rubbed his cheek; he felt a bruise forming. The entire fight with Misty, Tabatha had not laid a finger on her, but now her whole demeanor changed.
Suzan felt that she wanted to hurt Simon really bad, but she wasn’t sure why. Misty was the one who beat the snot out of her.
“Interesting…” said Simon, “Out for blood, I see?”
“I’m not going to let you hurt my friends,” said Tabatha.
“So you say,” said Simon, “Let’s find out.”
He sped up and appeared behind Suzan and was about to punch her in the spine, when Tabatha back flipped over onto Suzan’s shoulders, sprung up into the air and kicked Simon in the back of the head. In doing this, Suzan was pushed down to a kneeling position so when the impact of the kick sent Simon flying forward, he tripped over Suzan and planted his face in the ground.
Suzan sat stunned. This girl… this ridiculously nice girl may have caused some real damage to this jerk’s head! It was actually really awesome! But where did Sadie go?
“Don’t worry Suzan,” said Tabatha, noticing her bewilderment, “Sadie is watching for the perfect moment.”
Simon pushed himself up and felt the back of his head. Now he had a large lump on his head, but what really made him angry was the blood issuing from his nose.
“You bitch!” he shouted. He faced the two. Suzan stood behind Tabatha, who stood her ground.
“Suzan I may need your help,” she said.
“Sure,” said Suzan, “I’ll do what I can.”
Suzan wasn’t sure what she could do, but she really felt like she needed to prove herself now.
“We need to keep him restrained somehow,” said Tabatha.
Suzan again was surprised. Was this the same clueless Tabatha she knew? “If you can get behind him and grab his legs, I think I can get his hands.”
“Ok,” said Tabatha, “It’s worth a shot. Let’s do it. Sadie will be striking soon.”
“How do you know?” asked Suzan.
“I seem to be able to pick up her location. She’s getting excited,” said Tabatha.
“Really?” said Suzan, “Biscuits! Here he comes.”
Simon charged at them. Once upon them, Tabatha jumped out of the way and behind as Suzan began to rapidly walk backwards to increase the distance. Then
Tabatha dove and grabbed his legs. Simon tripped as Suzan finally dove onto his hands. Wrapping her fingers around his wrists and balling her body together, she could now feel Sadie on her way from where she was hiding.
Simon could feel this too and he was struggling to free his legs and arms. He couldn’t even stand himself up; these two girls were determined to keep him from moving. Where was Alan? He should have nailed these girls with something by now and then he remembered the voice in his head.
The voice or whatever-it-was was searching for information and left his mind once it learned Alan’s locations. Was there a fourth person involved here? Where was he or she? Was Alan ok? These were the questions on his mind until he finally saw it.
Sadie came running down a building, completely engulfed in flames. She ran towards the three faster than Suzan had ever seen her run before. By expelling fire through her hands as she run, Sadie was able to practically fly.
Simon struggled against Suzan and Tabatha; he twisted and contorted until finally Tabatha lost her grip, and as she did, Simon kicked her in the face until he could stand. Lifting Suzan up, as she clung to his arms as tightly as she could, he swung her around like a doll until she was unable to hold on any longer. Once she lost her grasp, she flew high and landed in a tree.
Worried, Sadie’s flames lowered significantly and her speed fell drastically as she reached Simon. She wanted to check on Suzan right away, but she had to finish this up first. She put as much fire energy into her right palm as possible and was going to strike with all her might right through Simon’s skull.
She cocked her palm back and increased her speed and so did Simon. He ran right at her, fist cocked, and once they intersected, he blocked her right hand away and slammed her head with his own fist.
Sadie collapsed. Tabatha, who was only a few feet away, crawled towards them, tears welling up in her eyes. She couldn’t stand up; she shook, her right eye bruised and swelling up.
“Weren’t you going to stop me from hurting your friends?” He laughed as he walked over to her. “Get up, bitch! I’m going to take you back to my room for some fun. Some lights out fun.”
He grabbed her by the neck and lifted her up, “So beautiful. Except for your face.” he caressed her swollen eye. “Don’t worry I have a paper bag you can use.” He laughed and dragged Tabatha away from the scene, until he saw a bright light coming from the trees.
It was so bright, all Simon could see was white. Then it started to fade as he felt Tabatha’s weight leave his hand. Instantly several feet in front of him he saw Suzan holding Tabatha in her arms; both were completely healed.
“What do you think you are doing, Simon Braff?” said Suzan.
‘How does she know my name?’ thought Simon. He shook. Suzan knelt down and placed Tabatha on the ground–she was unconscious. Suzan patted her head and stood back up to face Simon. Her eyes glowed white and instantly she was right in front of him.
He laughed and said, “You can’t beat me. I’m going to break you like I did your sister over there.” He pointed to Sadie.
“No you won’t, Simon Braff,” she said. There was no expression on her face.
“I’ve had enough of this.” He was going to punch her when he saw she was gone. He turned around and around but couldn’t find her. All he saw was Sadie and Tabatha lying on the ground.
“Who are you looking for?” asked Suzan behind him.
He turned startled. “Hold still you bitch!”
Once again she was gone before he could hit her.
“Where are you!” he shouted, “Stop hiding and fight me!”
Suzan appeared before him instantly again and elbowed him in the chest. He rose ten feet into the air and as he fell she jumped up underneath him and kicked him back down to belly flop into the earth. He pushed himself up; his nose gushing out more blood.
She was next to him again and she kicked him all the way to the trees where she had landed prior. Simon found himself skidding and rolling until he hit a tree where on impact his spine wrapped around it like a shoe string. Blood now was issuing from his mouth and ears
He looked up. There she was standing on the lowest tree branch.
“Had enough?” said Suzan
Simon felt his torso. He had at least six broken ribs. He surrendered with a cough of blood.
Suzan found herself outside the dean’s office with both Tabatha and Sadie under arms. Sadie was naked and Suzan wasn’t sure why nor did she understand why she, Tabatha and Sadie were not marked or bloody at all. She remembered her own face had taken a beating… Where were her glasses?
Whitney was standing next to her. “Here,” she said as she handed Suzan’s glasses back, “I don’t think you really need them anymore… Well, at least you can’t use them anymore.”
Suzan looked down at her shattered lenses. “You’re right,” she said softly, “I guess I can’t use those anymore… I can see! Without glasses! Holy fudge brownies! What happened, Whitney?”
“You seriously don’t know?” she said her face still as expressionless as the first day they met.
“No,” said Suzan, “I have no idea. I remember I wanted to come here and talk to the dean. I remember the fight with those three older students. But I don’t remember much after hitting that tree. Did you see the whole thing? Where were you anyway?”
“I was tying up that ass-wipe Alan,” said Whitney a little irritated, “I also cleaned up your mess. That guy needed to be taken to the infirmary, badly.” I just got here actually. I don’t know how long you’ve been here.”
“Well I guess I’ll knock,” said Suzan as she looked at her watch.
“Yeah,” said Whitney. She thought about the moment when she arrived on the scene. She had seen everything from start to finish and for once in her life, she shivered with anticipation.