My goals for January were reworking and editing the first seven chapters that were already written and I succeeded. But once again I am on Chapter Eight, and, once again, I've stumbled across my old friend Writer's Block. I wish he would lose my number... I think my problem with chapter eight is the book report. I just don't like it. So I've decided to cut it. Well, most of it. There's only one little thing I need to keep that leads into Chapter Nine. And now I have a big empty space in my story.
What's going on in the story; There are four kids attending a boarding school in upstate New York and I have to have SOMETHING happen in the month between Christmas Vacation and Valentine's Day. I would absolutely love suggestions. Anything at all to help me spark my muse. I'll love you forever. ^_-
And I'll go ahead and post the first chapter. I've been meaning to post this up here for a while. ^_^
* * * * *
Allistar Academy #1: A Morbid Curiosity
Down the Long Corridor
“‘Come and walk with me,’ said the fly. ‘Walk and swim through the mists of the sky.’
“The look the boy wore grew dim, for in the misty mores of the swamp his sight was very poor. He glanced to and fro, above and below, then returned to the fly, whose lips were watering before his eyes.
“‘Time is growing short,’ the fly sneered, and for a strand of a second the boy felt his vision clear. Was it a fly or something else? He snickered to himself. This was a fly, no doubt, a fly and nothing more. An idiot fly, in fact, for offering him paradise to explore.
“‘I have come to a decision, friend fly,’ said the boy with newfound bravado. ‘And I choose to accompany you into the sky.’
“The fly laughed as the boy mounted his backside and away they went. But soon the boy noticed something awry. The boy noticed too late. And, by and by, the fly consumed him until he died.”
* * * * *
Louis Vaan Maurdrid Crowley scanned the looks on his classmates faces with bemused interest as he finished reading his writing assignment aloud. Some seemed shocked, but others wore identical expressions of confusion. What he was searching for in their faces he was unsure, but what he saw satisfied him. A petite, orange haired girl in the front looked positively stunned.
He smiled, an elusive smile that barely tinged the corners of his mouth. Now maybe the old bat would let him go the rest of the year without him reading her idiotic assignments aloud to the class. Write a short passage about a creature that can fly. Honestly. He took this moment of awkward silence to check his teacher’s reaction. Mrs. Sumerly was a long thin pole of a woman with a short mass of pale hair and a severe face. It looked thoroughly unamused.
“Well, thank you, Mr. Crowley, for that…erm…interesting tale. Though, I must say, it lacked development and direction, and you ended it arbitrarily. Please, take your seat.” Then, after a moment, “Now.”
Evan Sworde, the handsome blond who sat one seat before him, gave him a bright smile as he returned to his desk. “Get the reaction you were hoping for, Von?”
“Vaan.” Elongate the A.
Evan snickered to himself and turned his attention back to the front of the class where the next poor victim had been chosen to read their paper.
Von sighed, taking his seat. Evan was one of those odd people he couldn’t get a handle on. Even after a week of being cold, rude, and distant to him, Evan still continued to treat him as a friend. He didn’t understand it. His hostile demeanor had been enough to alienate every other of his classmates. Louis Vaan Maurdrid Crowley didn’t have any friends. He was completely, utterly, alone. And he liked it that way.
The bell rang, signaling the end of the period and of the school day. Von gathered his things and went to leave when he felt a tug at his arm. He looked disdainfully at the hand latching onto him. “What do you want, Evan?”
“Come with me, Von,” he said, his blue eyes bright with sincerity.
“No, thank you,” he replied coolly, prying his arm free.
“Why not?” he demanded, his English accent dripping into his words. “What is it you do in that room all by yourself? Ever since school started you haven’t left your room but for classes and meals. You can’t be spending every second of the day studying.”
“I…” He trailed off, unable to find the words.
“See, you don’t have a reason. So you have to come with me.”
“What kind of logic is that?”
“Mine.” Evan smiled again, pulling him out of the classroom. “We’re going to have fun.”
* * * * *
Allistar Academy was a private school, nestled in comfortable seclusion in a valley of the Adirondack Mountains. Having once been a small village, the majority of it had been bought sometime in the earliest part of the 20th century by a private owner and converted into a boarding school. It was a large school, housing students from sixth to twelfth grade, an exclusive school for the intellectually gifted. Or the obscenely rich.
It was now the second week into Von’s sixth grade year. Save trying to memorize his schedule which varied by the day, he had been finding it all he had hoped for, having been home-tutored all his life. Housed alone in his room, at the end of the hallway on the first floor of Dorm Omicron, he enjoyed his privacy very much. And in one week, he had succeeded in isolating everyone who thought to talk to him. Except Evan Sworde, that is.
Evan had arrived on the second day of school. Tall for his age, and handsome and blond, all eyes in their English class had instantly fallen upon him as he strode nonchalantly through the door, especially the ones belonging to girls.
“Sorry to interrupt,” he told Mrs. Sumarly, wearing a cherub expression fit for an angel and handed her a slip of paper, his voice rich with his English accent. “My name is Evan Sworde,” he introduced himself to the class. “I’ve come from Kent. As of today, I have transferred here. Please excuse me for interrupting your lesson.”
The two girls beside him had immediately started with their hushed whispers and giggles.
Mrs. Sumarly read over the note quickly. “It's fine. There’s an empty seat by Mr. Crowley. Von, raise you hand.”
Slung low in his seat he held his hand into the air. Evan’s smile flickered, his eyes laid intensely upon Von’s, and made his way to the back of the classroom. He smiled at Von as he sat down.
Their teacher quickly issued him a textbook and continued on with her lesson.
The new boy held his hand out towards him as the dismissal bell rang. “Evan Sworde,” he said.
Von stared at the hand as though it might be some vile creature looking to bite off some fingers for lunch.
“Aren’t you going to shake my hand?”
“No. I don’t know where it’s been.”
Evan’s smile brightened and he dropped his arm. “Von Crowley, isn’t it? Well, it’s a pleasure to meet you, Von.”
From what Von had overheard, Evan was a son from a family of noble descent in England, and had spent his early childhood at his home estate overseas, then the last six years traveling abroad with his father. That was all he knew.
“I really like it here,” Evan was saying as he led him out the English building and across the campus after Ms Sumerly's lecture. “I’ve seldom been around other children my age and I’m quite enjoying it.”
“I’m not a child,” Von said sourly.
Evan laughed. “What are you, then? Eleven-year-olds are not adults, or teenagers, so what are you?”
“How are you so sure I’m eleven?”
“Because you’re in sixth grade? Unless you're nine and some kind of super genius.” He smiled teasingly. “You’re so short, I’d believe that.”
Von was not amused. “So where are you taking me?” he asked after a minute of following Evan blindly.
Evan’s smile widened, if possible. “It’s a secret.”
“And you’d trust me? Someone you don‘t even know?”
He watched Evan’s eyes following the street below them, being ever so careful not to step on any cracks in the pavement. “I think you’re trustworthy. You don’t strike me as the sort who goes running off to a teacher for every little mischief.”
Von retaliated against Evan’s silent vendetta, making sure to stomp loudly on every crevice in the ground. “You’re an idiot.”
Evan stomped on his foot. “I don’t think so.”
Von grabbed him, clopping on his foot harder.
Evan laughed and poked his arm. “Come on, it’s this way, “ he said, pointing towards a dingy building in the distance. He grabbed the dawdling brunette’s arm, pulling it.
Through the campus they ran; a left here, a right there, coming around the same buildings several different times. Eventually Von lost track of how many turns and where they actually were, but one thing was for sure… “Evan, isn’t this off-limits to students?” he asked the blond as they came to a dilapidated old three story Victorian house on the outskirts of the school's grounds.
Evan laughed. “You didn’t strike me as the sort who cared for rules.”
“You did.” Von felt his lip twitch, threatening to turn into a smile, but he controlled the impulse. They’d passed the building three times in their running.
Evan laughed again. It was beginning to unnerve Von. Never in his life had he met someone so…happy. The boy was never without his sardonic smile.
“We’re going to play a game,” he explained, and after a quick look around to make sure no one had followed them, opened the fragile side door that looked as though it were about to fall off it's hinges. He pulled Von inside behind him. “And it will be a lot more fun with three people instead of two.”
The door opened up into a decorated lobby filthy with dust, dirt, and debris; a couple old chairs scattered hither and thither, a few resting on their sides. Old wooden ones. Down the hall before them stood an enormous staircase leading to the upper floors. With careful peaks around every turn, they at last seemed to come to the place Evan was looking for. The pair entered through the simple door on the first floor and into a grand schola whose every seat was draped with a dingy white sheet. Light shone in from a solitary window high above them. Alone in the front row sat a girl with layered short light brown hair a shade or two darker than sawdust; her back to them.
Evan bounced down the steps toward her. “I brought someone to play with us, Kami,” he said.
She looked back at him with curiosity. She was tiny, with features small and delicate fitting perfectly with her small face. She was cute, maybe even pretty. Or she would be if she smiled. Her hair lovingly framed her pale round face and large eyes, that even from the back of the room, Von could tell were a clear blue, and held not a particle of Evan‘s warmth. Intense and decisive. Not what he would have expected.
“Hello,” she greeted him softly. “I don’t know you.”
“No, you don’t,” he agreed.
Evan’s smile brightened. “Von, this is Kamryn Helena Synthell. I call her Kami because Kami is another name for God, and I think she’s like a goddess.”
Kamryn turned beat red at his remark. Von fought the urge to leave.
“Kami, this is Louis Vaan Crowley. I call him Von.”
Von looked at Evan sharply, who was still focused intently on Kamryn. He had no idea Evan even knew his full name, let alone could actually pronounce Vaan correctly. “So…what is this game I keep hearing about?” he asked them.
Evan’s smile widened. “So you are interested,” he said, walking back up the steps.
“Well, since you’ve gone through all the trouble of dragging me here and making me miss Assembly. And I’m curious as to what sort of game the two of you play by yourselves in an abandoned building.”
Kamryn smiled at him, but it was an amused sort of smile. “It’s simply Hide and Seek.”
“And what’s that?” Von asked.
Evan’s happy grin vanished and was replaced by confusion. “You’ve never played Hide and Seek?” He turned to Kamryn quickly. “Do they call it something else here?”
“Have you ever even heard of it?”
Von shook his head, frowning. “I don’t have the time for games,” he spat evenly
“Well, you do now. And it’s easy,” he went on without a beat. “Someone is It. The person who’s It hides their eyes and counts to one-hundred. Everyone else hides. When the person who’s It is done counting they come to find and catch the others. The first one to be caught is It next. We don’t play with base.”
“A safe spot that when you touch it you can no longer be caught,” Kamryn explained.
“Oh,” Von said simply. “That makes sense.”
“So will you play with us?” Evan asked earnestly.
Evan laughed again. “Good. You’ll enjoy it. Kami, do you want to be It?”
“Yeah,” she said, standing up at last. She smiled widely and covered her eyes. “One. Two. Three…”
Grabbing Von by the arm, Evan pulled him back out of the room. “You can hide in any classroom in this building, on any of the floors,” he explained. You’re caught when she sees you. But we can’t stay together.”
“So, I go anywhere in here and just hide and wait?”
The blond nodded. “You can move around, just try to do it without her seeing you. And it makes it more fun that way. I leave you now. Good luck.” Smiling, he turned and ran off, disappearing around the corner
As Evan departed Von surveyed his surroundings, an empty corridor littered with rooms. It turned in corners to both his directions, the staircase nestled safely to his left. It was dark and dusty, damp and stinking with the pungent odor of mildew; the creepy unused feeling of a so-called haunted house that hadn’t had a tenant in a long time. His mind snapped into focus as he heard Kamryn say “fifty-seven,” and he made his way up the two flights of stairs and into a classroom towards the far end of the hall. He couldn't have said what it was that made him go up the stairs. He disliked stairs. The many steps caused his hip to hurt. But today he felt fine.
There were maybe as many as two dozen desks scattered around the room, the old type, wooden with the chairs attached, all which once must’ve been covered by the sheets that were now strewn across the floor. He liked these old types of desks that he’d seen in old movies, and briefly wondered if there were a way he could snatch one for his room.
Then a plain wooden door to the left caught his attention and carefully he waded through the sea of desks to reach it. An office, perhaps. The door pushed opened easily. Maybe not an office.
Inside were a mass of more desks, chairs and even more sheets littered about, stacked haphazardly on top of each other. He could hide here, but then he’d have no way of knowing where Kamryn was; he’d be a sitting duck.
There was another door at the other end of this little storage closet, but he’d have to climb over everything to reach it.
He enveloped himself under the sheet and laid there still. It reeked of dust and mold and was quite unpleasant; much like the unused rooms of his house.
But if Kamryn didn’t pick the sheet up to examine it’s contents she’d never know he was there.
So he waited. Minutes went by in silence, stretching to seem like hours. Then--
“I see Evan!” Kamryn’s voice rang out. “Now I’m coming to get you, Von!”
He lay immobile for another eternity before he heard Evan‘s voice. “Okay, Von, we give up. Neither of us can find you.”
Von tossed the sheets off and exited the closet through the other door, after carefully maneuvering over the unstable pile of furniture. He stopped. There was something terribly odd about this room as he entered it. It held just as many desks as the former, but they were all pushed to one corner in a massive heap. And in the adjacent corner he saw a crumpled candy wrapper lying beside a Coke can. But that wasn’t it.
It took him a minute to realize.
It was dust. The room lacked the dust that was so laden in the entire wing. Evan and Kamryn aren’t the only ones who use this place, are they?
Uneased, he traveled back through the sea of clutter, exiting the classroom the way he‘d come, with the decision that he wouldn’t say anything about it. Evan was standing at the other end of the hall. Catching sight of Von his face lit up with a grin. “Kami,” he said.
Kamryn poked her head out of the classroom, smiling as she saw him. Pointing, she yelled, “I see Von! You’re caught.”
Von stared at her blankly. “But you said you gave up because you couldn’t find me,” he argued.
She shook her head, exiting the classroom and bouncing over to him, in a much happier mood than before. “No. Evan said that. Only the person who’s It can say they give up.”
Von narrowed his eyes. “You didn’t tell me that.”
Evan laughed, joining them. “Well now you know. You must’ve found a really good place. We looked for you for a long time; I thought you just left.”
“I’m going back.” He started to walk.
Evan and Kamryn followed in step. “It’s probably nearing dinner time anyway,” Evan told him. “This was fun. I hope you come back and play tomorrow.”
“It was fun,” Kamryn agreed. “With just two people it’s rather boring. Three makes it much more interesting.”
“You can be It first tomorrow.”
“You will come again, won’t you?” he asked.
Von shrugged again. “Maybe. If I can’t find anything better to do.”
At dinner he quickly detangled himself from Evan and Kamryn’s company, annoyed with their chatter. The game of Hide and Seek had eaten up the afternoon and he still had the day’s homework to complete. Sighing in annoyance, he sat with his tray at a nearly empty table in the corner of the balcony overlooking the main cafeteria. People seemed to prefer not to have to carry their trays up the stairs. He could see why but he preferred solitude. And he enjoyed having a bird's eye view of those who lingered below.
There was one other boy who inhabited his table; he was dark haired and probably one or two grades ahead of Von, and they’d sat together every day since school started without ever giving the other a glance. Today the boy looked up as Von took his usual seat.
Von sat for a while, rotating from poking his food with the fork and staring out a faraway window, strangely preoccupied.
“I saw you come in with some people,” the boy across from him said.
Von jerked his head up. They’d never spoken to each other before and he didn‘t want to start now. “What about them?” he asked defensively.
The boy didn’t blanch. “I was wondering why, if you’re friends with them, you’re sitting here.”
“They’re not my friends,” he said without hesitation. “We were merely playing a game.”
Von looked him straight in the eye. “It‘s none of your business.”
Silence ensued. It was nearly a minute before the boy opened his mouth again to speak. “My name’s Daniel,” he told him.
Von poked the food again; a shapeless brown blob that was masquerading as meat.
“Von,” he said simply. No one would ever say it right.
“That’s a strange name,” Daniel commented.
“And Daniel’s absolutely, completely and utterly normal!” Von barked back.
The boy said nothing else, consigning to stab his food much like Von had been.
After another moment, Von left.
* * * * *
The forbidden building of the school, Von discovered, was merely unused, originally titled Brayton Hall and had once been the science building. One that, the rumors said, was scheduled to be torn down, but people kept putting up a fight, signing petitions, insisting it remain for it’s historical merit, constantly delaying the inevitable. According to the librarian, Mrs. Perkins, it hadn’t been used in the twenty years since the new science lab had been built.
Not by the faculty, anyway.
Von thanked the librarian for her time and she smiled kindly at him and asked him to come see her should he have any other questions. Then he returned to his room to do his homework. He made his way down the now familiar route to his dorm, careful to keep his eyes to the ground, not even glancing up when he heard Evan’s voice call out a cheery “hullo!” to him.
He smirked at Mrs. Sumerly’s daily journal assignment when he had finally returned to his room. If you lived under the sea, what do you think life would be like? Describe a day’s events.
The sun rose, but not a creature noticed, he wrote, smiling to himself. For you see, the light never touched the ocean floor…
He went on, describing how jellyfish rioted for the light, holding the other creatures as hostages and stung them all, killing them and polluting the water, which eventually killed off everyone, including themselves. It was a bad day under the sea.
As he got ready for bed his thoughts wandered back to Evan and Kamryn and the game of Hide and Seek. It was fun, he had to admit, playing with them. He had never been invited to play with other children before.
Maybe he would go back to play again tomorrow. It certainly made time pass by quicker than him sitting alone in his room reading or surfing the Internet on his laptop.
The afternoon’s excitement had taken more out of him than he’d realized; he was asleep within minutes, his dreams abound with Evan and Kamryn and that odd room at the end of Brayton Hall with so little dust.