"Don't forget to send letters every week, Sirius" she told me, giving me a suffocating hug.
"I will, mom," I told her. Of course I would... If I didn't forget. She tidied up my sleek black hair and dusted off my plain white shirt that was still kinda big on me considering how lean I was. I slipped my thin hands into the pockets of my jeans and kept my crystal blue eyes on my parents for the last time in a while. I said my final farewells to them at the gates of the school. Academy of the Supernatural it was called. Elaborate pillars towered beside the intimidating bronze gate that opened, revealing a winding path towards a massive stone building. Marble statues of the school's great graduates lined the pathway. What was it like here? Hell of a lot better than out there.
It's been thousands of years since human's walked the Earth. Now Supernaturals rule the planet, and a very sick one at that. Every living organism that breathes is built to kill. That's what happens when you have runaway radiation as a result of nuclear war. So we banned all weapons. Instead we fight with our abilities. Mine? I can manipulate cards. I constantly shuffled the deck I held perpetually in my hand with a backup deck in my pocket just in case. My favorite card was the Jack of Hearts for two reasons. First, I consider myself a bit of a romantic, and second is because the Jack is the underdog of the face cards. Everyone expects the Queen or King to trump it, but I like to think a little differently.
I approached a second set of large bronze doors that led into the school itself. A total of one hundred students were enlisted each year out of millions. I simply managed to make the cut. I followed the crowd through the long corridors and high rise ceilings to finally arrive at an enormous and elegant room with an alter-like podium where several people stood. Exactly one hundred seats were set up for us to sit. As I joined the other students in sitting down, I already began to notice peculiarities amongst the students (and a fair amount of eye magnets.. Ahem.. Women, I mean).
A pair of twins, dressed nearly the same, sat down in front of me, smirks written all over their faces. They already bothered me. One peeked over.
"There seems to be a problem?" I asked, leaning forward. They snickered, which really annoyed me. I hated when people acted all c***y.
"Listen, pokerface, the conversation was never about you. How arrogant of you to think we'd give you that pleasure," one of them said. I didn't say anything. I didn't need to waste my time pouring myself over the mouthful of words that seemed more fitting to see come out of his ass. I sat back in my chair, arms crossed. A dark skinned boy with curly brown hair sat next to me without a word, crossing his arms as if he had just finished arguing with someone. He didn't seem like he was up for much talk. I tried anyway.
"How's it going?" I asked. No response. "... My name is Sirius.. Sirius Polk." I extended my hand. The boy looked at me.
"Dewey," was all that came out of his mouth. I looked at him, blankly.
"Alrighty.. Good talk," I said plainly and turned back towards the front.
Another much more timid looking girl with short caramel hair and green eyes approached me and oh my, was she cute.
"Do you mind if I sit next to you?" she asked, overly polite, as if she had offended me just through talking to me. I ran my hand through the dark mop over my head.
"Sure you can sit. I don't mind," I said, giving her a brief smile. She nodded and sat. I faced her.
"What might a flower like you be called?" I asked, a bright confident smile branded on my face.
"Felicia, what about you?" she told me, her small pink lips plucking my heart strings. I told you I was a romantic didn't I. Skip introductions. After I told her my name and all, I got right to it.
"I have to say your eyes might be what they sing about in twinkle twinkle little star cause they're just dazzling," I said. Felicia giggled.
"Wow that might've been the cheesiest thing I've heard since pizza was invented," she said, jokingly. I chuckled.
"Well, I can go for more of that if you'd like," I said, a flirtatious eyebrow picking itself up as the sentence finished. Felicia smiled sweetly.
"Let's not," she said. My expression soured. Zero to one hundred faster than a bullet. Sensing the awkward silence looming over me like a Sunday night, I turned back forward without another word.
More students filed in as a group of well dressed individuals began to file onto the stage. I counted seven of them. I guessed they were the administration of the school. An older, bony faced woman tapped the microphone to test it. The students began to quiet down. The woman looked at everyone for a moment with a smile that looked about as real as a plastic doll. She raised her hands, motioning for everyone to stand. We all did.
"Welcome to the Academy of the Supernatural. We are pleased to see you all here safe and sound. It's a dangerous world out there. That's why we're here to help. Over the course of the year you will all be tested in what we call Trials. These Trials will test your ability to adapt and bend to nearly any scenario you will face out there, in the real world. I am Headmistress Nicolina, and these are my associates. For now, however, we are going to bypass introductions and get right to the heart of our meeting today. We are all here to see how well our admissions did in its selection process," the students began raising eyebrows. I chuckled. If it's what I think it is, this'll be fun. I could always use some exercise. It's better than shuffling a deck all day with calloused fingertips. Nicolina pulled out a holographic remote control. Murmurs were already beginning to emerge as confusion began to really settle in. With a smile, Nicolina said, "Ladies and Gentlemen, welcome to your first Trial," so she pushed a button and the ground beneath me just disappeared. I submerged into darkness, the gut wrenching feeling of a free fall gnawing away at my stomach.
That was when I face planted.
"Ow..." I grunted. I heard a few snickers and looked up at a brightly lit white box of a room. The twins were here and so was that timid girl and grouchy guy from earlier.
"Graceful one there, mate," one of the twins said mockingly. I raised an irritated eyebrow.
"If I were you I'd watch it," I said, getting up and dusting myself off. A holographic screen came up displaying our names along with pictures. Tweedle Dee and Tweedle Dum, Kevin and Dale, the darker skinned boy, Dewey, and the girl, Felicia, were all with me.
"As you can see, you have all been placed into groups of five," a voice suddenly resounded across the room. It was the same damn lady. She was already getting on my nerves. If she had given me more of a heads up, I would've saved a bit more face with my fall. "If you look above you, you'll see that there are four orbs hung from above you," she said. We all looked up. Indeed there were, an orange tint distinguishing them from the plain white ceiling. I began shuffling the cards in my hands.
"You will be tasked with obtaining these orbs in order to move on to the next part of the Trial. This is to determine your rank among the students as well as the quality of your living space. We believe that your performance in here will affect your standard of living just as much as your performance outside of school will. Because there are five of you and only four orbs, you will have to decide amongst yourselves who will proceed and who will stay behind. Good luck!" and that was it. Splendid.
"It's a game of musical chairs ain't it, Kev?" Dale said. To be honest, I couldn't tell the difference between the two. They both had light blonde hair and blue eyes. They were extremely well dressed, as if they were stage magicians.
"I couldn't care less of what it's called, I'm moving on to the next round," Dewey said, his expression soured and fiery. I glanced over at Felicia but she didn't say a word. Her eyes met mine and she smiled at me sweetly. I waved. She waved back. Well.. I least I got that much. Maybe I'll try for round two later.
"If everyone's just gonna stand there, then I think I'll just take an orb and get started with the next round," Dewey said, stepping forward. Suddenly, a pair of wings emerged from his back and his skin became scaly. Well, dragon boy, looks like you do have more than just a mood swing.
"I like that idea. Let's get started already," I said, a c***y grin etched on my face. Oh I'm really gonna take Dumb and Dumber... I mean, Kevin and Dale down. I began frivolously shuffling the deck. I'm keeping my Jack saved just in case I really need Lady Luck to take a bit of a shine to me. It was Felicia that made the first move though.
A rush of vines the size of tree trunks sped by me and the others. Felicia was using them to get to the orb.
"Excuse me? I didn't say 'Go' yet," Dale said, a frown finding itself on his face. Suddenly, Felicia fell. Something was grabbing her.. That was when I spotted it. A shadow that started with Dale ended with Felicia's ankle. Dale pulled her and threw her away from the orb. I looked at Kevin. He hadn't moved at all. There was definitely off about hi-
"OOF," I grunted as a fist landed onto my gut. Kevin was standing in front of me, a cheeky smile riddling his face. I staggered. I thought he standing right there...
"Keep your eye on me, pokerface, you're not the only one with magic tricks," he said. Illusions... That what it was. That's why his clone wasn't moving. A howling wind sounded. We all looked up to see three orbs left. Dewey was gone. He was serious when he said he wasn't going to play around. He took the orb and left. Kevin and Dale were shocked and irritated to say the least which made my day. I know how to make it better though. Eliminating one of them. I took the chance to tackle Kevin. I went right through him however. Another clone? How? I heard hysterical laughter.
"You're making a fool of yourself, mate, just give up. You can hardly stand a chance," Dale said, Kevin too busy wiping the tears of laughter from his eyes. My blood was boiling now. You wanna play ball? I'll show them. The only reason I care about this Trial anyway was to spite them. Otherwise I couldn't care less. I split my deck in half. I looked over at Felicia and our eyes met. I think at that point we both understood that it was going to be two on two.
Dale cracked his knuckles.
"What's your big move kid?" he taunted me. That's when I let loose. I swung my arms, throwing cards from each deck right at him. The cards cut through the air like a steak knife through butter. Dale dashed to the side and kept going. His feet seem melded with the shadow so he ran like he was ice skating. I kept machine gunning cards at him though, even as he began using the walls. Kevin made a move for one of the orbs but Felicia blocked, a wall of vines standing between him and his illusions and the orb. I began to run out of cards. So I threw one as a boomerang. All the other cards suddenly got drawn to it so that when it returned to my hand, I had my deck back.
Felicia caused the ground to erupt in a flurry of vines. They struck Kevin like whips, all of them being clones. She kept going at it, more vines filling up the room as she went, her hands moving like a composer's to direct the vines to where she wants them to go. One thing I noticed was that Kevin's clones were getting closer. He was trying to get close and Felicia saw that coming. Suddenly, she snagged him.
"Wha-" he yelped before being thrown towards the wall, a grunt of pain escaping his mouth on impact. I turned away from their fight. I needed to focus on Dale. I took the entire deck, but for one card. I threw the entire at Dale, aiming just ahead of him. The deck smashed right into his leg, causing to fall forward as he dashed, a confetti of cards flying as the cards scattered. Now's my chance. I took my sole card and focused hard on becoming like the cards. I needed to teleport to the cards. I closed my eyes and imagined the location where my cards are. I opened my eyes and suddenly I was above Dale, the cards fluttering around me. I landed on the ground and tackled Dale.
Then Felicia yelled in pain. I looked over to see Kevin grabbing her by her hair. Damn, his illusions got to her too...
"I've had enough of your bullish-"
"Hey!" I called over to him. Dale slipped from under, becoming a shadow and moving towards the orb. I watched him. I know, I should have stopped him but Felicia needed my help and I don't care who you are, but I'd rather help my allies than abandon them. I think that's how it's supposed to go, right? A howling whirl of wind sounded as Dale snagged the orb and moved to the next round.
"Way to miss your shot," Kevin said with a smirk. "What do you want, another reason to be the laughing stock?" I grit my teeth.
"Let her go," I said, gripping my cards hard. The Jack of Hearts was slipped gingerly in between my fingertips.
"Tell you what," Kevin began,"What do ya say, we take the orbs and leave her behind? Sound cool?"
My eyes held more hatred than I even remember having in my life.
"I said let her go.." I told him, dangerously cool. Kevin raised an eyebrow.
"I'm sorry, I think you're confused. I'm the one making the demands here," he said. "You're gonna have to make me." Well... He wanted to play ball. I turned and flung my Jack of Hearts. It spun like a disc, curving through the air. It came around but it wasn't going to Kevin... Or rather, his clone. Kevin's veil was broken.
"Agh!" he cried out as the card cut his cheek. I nearly missed but I did a pretty damn good job considering he couldn't be seen while his clone was around. Felicia's hair fell right through the clone's hands as it disappeared. A trail of blood trickled down Kevin's cheek.
"You bastard. You're going to get it later," he said, flicking me off.
"Too scared to do it now?" I said with a confident half smile.
"No," he said, his voice in a completely different location. Crap... I looked up to see him holding the orb on a string in one hand, and a knife in the other. "I'd just rather not waste my time." He touched the orb and a howling gust of wind sounded throughout the room. Kevin was gone. Damn.... There was only one orb left. I let out a massive sigh. The Jack of Hearts fluttered back into my hand. I threw it again haphazardly at the last orb, cutting the string and catching it, being careful not to touch the orb itself.
"Are you ok?" I asked. Felicia was still tidying up her hair and dusting herself off.
"You should be the one to continue," she told me. I laughed.
"As if you could give me a reason why I should," I told her, the orb dangling nonchalantly as I held it.
"You stand a better chance. You were able to hold your own," she told me. I shook my head.
"So they got the jump on you. And? I want you to have the orb. The only reason I had an interest in this Trial to begin with was to spite them but I guess that never worked out," I told her, holding it out. Felicia looked at me.
"Is this a flirt thing or this a nice guy thing?" she asked. I rolled my eyes.
"It's a nice guy thing," I said with a smile. Felicia reddened slightly and smiled too.
"I guess this makes up for that pick up line you tried to pull on me earlier," she said. I chuckled.
"I guess it does. Good luck. Kick their ass for me, alright?" I said with a grin. Payback would definitely be sweet. Felicia nodded.
"Thanks," she said, taking the orb. Suddenly, a rush of wind whirled around her and she disappeared. Then it was just me. I pump my fist.
"I knew it'd work, haha," I said. "That was 100% a flirt thing and it worked." I raised my fists into the air victoriously. She was cute though. It felt great to let her go ahead. After the feeling died down, I looked around the room. It was all white and the only thing of interest in it was me. Nothing happened.
"Uh.... Hello? What the hell am I supposed to do now?" I said, hands raised up and looking up, hoping that someone would be watching me. Stranded. In the middle of nowhere. Suddenly, a blinding white flashed and I couldn't see for a moment.
Next thing I know I'm in some office. Sitting in a chair. Headmistress Nicolina sitting in front of me with her hands folded.
"Hello, Sirius," she said. I took in my surroundings for a moment. It's not everyday that you get to talk to the head of the school, much less on the first day.
"Hey," I said, casually... Or rather because I was too busy looking at the red velvet curtains decorating her only window and the glass chandelier above me.
"Excuse me?" she said.
"I mean, Headmistress," I said, flashing an expression that seemed to say 'oops'. "You came calling?" I asked. She nodded, still raising a skeptical eyebrow at my attitude.
"Yes... I want to ask you," she started. I finished for her.
"Why I gave the last orb and lost in the first round?" I said. She stood quiet, pursing her lips. She nodded again. I smiled.
"Why not?" I said, shrugging.
"So you could live in a better place and potentially be one of the top students in your class," she said. "Is that reason enough for you?"
"Eh... Could be but I can work my way up," I said.
"When you're out there, it's every man and woman for themselves. You realize that, right?"
"Sure but if that's the case, I'll need all the help I can get," I said, leaning back on the chair.
"You're now at a very unfavorable position within the school, Sirius. It is now vastly more difficult for you to rank high among the other students," she said. Wow, she really wants to get into my head. To be honest, I just wanted to get at the twins but like I said, that didn't work. I never cared about the competition much anyway. But now I have to impress the headmistress so I'll leave this little story at this,
"Headmistress, if there's one thing that I've learned through using cards all my life is that it's far more important to master your hand than to complain about the ones your foes were dealt."
"Don't forget to send letters every week, Sirius" she told me, giving me a suffocating hug.