Saturday, August 2, 2014

HaV Academy - Chapter 1

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Chapter 1

    Roxanne knew she should have told him sooner – at least given him a warning of some sort. But, no, she had had to lead him on as if nothing special were happening this summer, as if this weren’t the year everything was changing for her.
    For several minutes she stood before door, finger poised just in front of the doorbell, yet not quite able to bring herself to actually doing so. She had to tell him, she knew she did. She couldn’t just leave and he not know why.
    But she didn’t know how to tell him. She didn’t know how to tell him without telling him everything. And he couldn’t know everything. He wasn’t allowed to. No one who wasn’t steeped in the secrets from birth was allowed to know everything. Roxanne wasn’t even sure that she knew everything.
    So how was she going to be able to tell him? How was she going to explain why she had to leave?
    She pressed down on the doorbell before she could give herself any more time to think about it. If she kept thinking about it, she’d leave and he’d never know a thing about why. She wouldn’t be allowed to come back home for another two years – at the least. She’d probably be better able to explain it then … but …
    The thought was cut short by the door being opened, revealing the face that she was half-dreading to see.
    “Hey, Rox,” said William, “What’s up?”
    Roxanne drew in a deep breath. Part of her wanted to just blurt it all out to him, but the words didn’t form. Instead, her mouth formed itself into a half-smile. “I was about to go on a hike and was wondering if you would like to join me.”
    William raised an eyebrow at her as if he could see through her thin disguise. “A hike, eh?” She nodded. “Okay, sounds good. Just let me go get my boots. Would you like to step in?”
    She nodded distantly as she followed him into the living room. The sound of his TV pulled her out of her thoughts. The news was playing, relaying the events of the latest antics of Lavalight and Dr. Frost, the town’s resident hero and villain. Narrowing her eyes, she crossed over to the TV and flicked it off.
    “You really don’t like them, do you?”
    Roxanne turned to face William. “It’s not that I don’t like them, I just don’t like listening to them fight. Go get your shoes.”
     He started to answer, but didn’t, instead just went around the corner towards his room, leaving her alone.
     She sighed and sank down onto the couch. Compared to her, William lived such a normal life. Even though his father died before he was born, and his mother wasn’t completely there mentally, at least people were aware of what made him different, and were able to understand.
    Roxanne had to hide her non-normalness. No one could know. And hiding only made her feel all that more out of place.
    Part of her was glad she was leaving, glad that she would soon be among others just like her, among people who understood her, with whom she could converse freely.
    But she dreaded explaining things to William. She dreaded leaving her home.
    With a frown she noticed the crystal statuette that she had given William for his birthday several years before. A smiling cat. She didn’t feel like a smiling mood. Without hesitation, she stood, crossed over to the shelf where it was, took the statuette off of the shelf, and, with her little finger, pulled down the corners of its mouth. Satisfied, she replaced the figurine back onto the shelf. A corner of her mind wondered what William would think when he noticed it, but she didn’t worry about it.
    She’d probably be long gone by then.
    Just as she sat back down, William appeared in the doorway. “I’m ready,” he announced. “You?”
    “Yup.” Roxanne stood up almost too hastily. “Let’s go.” She was out the front door before he could leave the hall doorway.
    “You’re in a hurry today,” William observed as soon as he caught up with her.
    Her only response was a “Race ya!” Then she broke into a run. He could keep up or fall behind as he wished. She wanted to get to the mountain that overlooked the town of Viserville. She could always think better in the mountains.
    She heard his steps behind her, but she didn’t slow her steps. He was faster than her, after all, here on flat ground. Once they were in the mountains, he’d be at a loss to keep up with her, but here on flat ground, she had no advantage that would keep her ahead of him.
    All too soon they reached the mountain. Unwillingly she slowed her step. She had to talk to him, after all, despite how much she didn’t want to do so.
    “You know,” said he, as soon as he had caught his breath. “You always seem to be in an awfully big hurry to get up this mountain for someone who’s scared of Dr. Frost.” It was common knowledge that Dr. Frost’s lair was hidden somewhere in this mountain, though its exact location was not. The few who did know, had their reasons for not telling.
    “I’m not scared of Dr. Frost,” countered Roxanne, not in the mood for their long-running joke.
    “Most people who have been captured by a super villain twenty-seven times …”
    “I’ve been captured far more than twenty-seven times.”
    “The fact still remains, most people who have been captured as many times as you have would be afraid of the super villain.”
     “Actually, you’d be surprised. Most people who have been captured as much as I have aren’t most people. They were never scared in the first place, and each subsequent capture only serves to make them less afraid.”
     “Is that so?”
    “Yes. Take it from someone who knows.”
    “You sure act like you’re scared …”
    “That’s for the crowds and TV. He’s got to keep up his image, you know.”
     “So what’s up?” he asked, after a period of time where neither spoke. “What’s making you act so strange today?” When, after a pause, she didn’t offer an explanation, he continued. “Come to think of it, you’ve been acting strange for the past month. What’s up?” He turned around to walk backwards so that he could look her in the eye as he folded his arms across his chest.
     His intense stare caused her to stop short, however, and turn her eyes away. For several seconds, she struggled, and then she at last opened her mouth and spoke. “Riley and I are going to boarding school tomorrow.”
    The incredulous tone of his voice gave her the courage to once more meet his eye for a brief moment, before she looked down at her feet.
    “We’ve been summoned,” she explained, as she resumed her walk, stepping around him to get ahead. “We have to go.”
    “Boarding school? What boarding school? Where?”
    She shook her head. “I can’t tell you. You’re not … you can only know that it’s a boarding school.”
    He had made no attempt to resume progress, so she turned back around to look at him. She shook her head again. “It’s a mandatory school. Our parents went, our grandparents went, our great-grandparents went. But you can only know about it if you’re one of the ones who’s allowed to go … and then you have to go.”
    “An exclusive school?”
    “An exclusive mandatory school,” she corrected. She drew in another deep breath. “I wish I didn’t have to go. I wish I could stay here … but I have to go … they’ll … do things if I don’t …”
    “Do what things?”
     She shook her head. “You can’t know. But … they could kill me.”
    “Kill you? Why? How?”
     She turned back around, unable to meet his gaze anymore. “You can’t know. They can though … and knowing …me … it would probably kill me for them to do it.” After a minute or two where neither spoke, she continued. “So I have to go. Much as I would like to stay, I have to go.”
     “When will you be back?”
     “In four years,” she replied. “Training takes four years.”
     “No, for a visit.”
     “We're not allowed to have civilian contact during training. We don’t get visits, don’t even get to correspond with anyone who never went to the school.”
     “That’s cruel.”
     “They want us untainted during that time … and they don’t want us giving away secrets. So we’re not allowed to talk to anyone who isn’t … one of us.”
      “So I won’t get to see you for four years?”
     “And I won’t be the same when I get back. I’ll be trained. I’ll visit for a week, but then I must leave again …”
      “Back to the school?”
     “No.” She drew in a deep sigh. “To my assignment.”
     “Your assignment?”
     “They rule our lives, Will. Our home, our greatest enemy, our best friend … and we can’t rebel.”
     “Because they can.” Her mouth formed into a hard line. “We daren’t refuse them. They know that.”
     “Why not?”
     “Because … they can take something away from us, and that something … well, it’s different for all of us. For me, it would probably kill me. Even if it didn’t … I wouldn’t be the same, William. I wouldn’t even look the same.”
     With those words she turned on her heel and broke into a run. She’d probably gone and told him too much, but she didn’t care. He knew where she was going, somewhat, and why, in part. That was the important part …
     She could hear him running behind her. She feel the vibrations his feet made in the rocky mountain. She could hear him calling her name. She paid him no mind, just kept running. She didn’t want to say good-bye. She knew she ought, but she didn’t want to. She wanted things to stay the same, but she knew they couldn’t. Things would never be the same. Never again.
     When she was beyond his range, where she knew he could no longer see her, she dove into the nearest rock wall. Search as he would, he’d not see her for another four years.
    A solitary tear slipped out of her eye as she made her way through the labyrinth of tunnels that she had made in the mountain. She’d not see him for another four years either. And she’d be changed. For good or evil, she’d be changed.
      She’d no longer be simply Roxanne Jade Dially. She’d be a hero … or a villain.
      And she didn’t know which one she dreaded more.


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