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The Underground

Author's note: Aurora is a girl I wish to be, but being someone else has a price. You never know what baggage...  Show full author's note »
Author's note: Aurora is a girl I wish to be, but being someone else has a price. You never know what baggage each person carries, and Aurora carries more than she should.  « Hide author's note

Chapter One

There was a baby crying. She could hear it, echoing off of the shadowed walls.

She had to find the source of it.

Her panting breaths bounced off of the walls as she raced through familiar hallways. Her arms pumping, legs shakily running down worn carpet. Her heart was beating fast, in tandem with her harsh breaths. Though she knew she was running, there was no wind rushing past her ears, no hair flying back.

The baby’s cries got louder.

She turned a sharp corner and breathed in a familiar scent, like old books and her grandma’s perfume. Then, she saw it.

The blood on the floor.

The baby’s cries suddenly stopped.
She panted out a harsh sob and made her weary body go faster. It seemed the hallways went on forever, hiding her destination in an unknown maze.

A bone chilling chuckle rang off the walls, in the place of the cries of the infant, and she felt the hairs on her arms stand straight up.

And then she awoke.
The girl sat bolt upright, in her dark bedroom. She tried to steady her harsh breathing for a moment, brushing blonde hair from her sweaty forehead. She looked over to her bedside table. The digital clock flashed the time; 3:34 A.M. She heaved a sigh before turning over and lying back down.

The last thought she had before closing her eyes was ‘My first day of school will be great, I can just tell.’
Chapter One

“Aurora Jade! Time to get up for
your first day!”

The blonde girl sat up and sighed, before slowly swinging her legs over the side of her pink-covered twin bed.

She rubbed her eyes for a minute before registering her mother’s
cheery words.

It was her first day.

It was her first day at a high

She jumped up out of bed so quick she almost fell back with the momentum. Her deep green eyes wide with anxiousness and nervous excitement, she hurried across her bright pink and green bedroom to the white door, flinging it open to bang against the wall in her hurry.

She thundered down the stairs, smelling the rare aroma of bacon this morning. Her mother only took the time to make breakfast on important days; First day of school, birthdays, holidays, etcetera. It usually consisted of bacon, eggs, and toast. Nothing fancy, but the woman could burn water if she wasn’t especially careful.

Aurora rushed past the kitchen to the bathroom, where she had laid out everything she would need to get ready this morning, to start out her next six years with a bang.

She stood in front of the mirror and nearly groaned at the rat’s nest she called her hair. She reached under the sink and pulled out a little red spray bottle, and coated her knotted hair in the detangling liquid. She dragged a brush through it, hardly flinching at the sharp pull on her scalp, and set about taming it down enough to straighten it.

By the time that was done, she only had an hour left to get ready. It was already 6: 45 A.M. and her mother had to leave to take her to school at 7:45, so they’d both be on time.

She decided that straightening her thick frizzy hair would take too long, so she just quickly pulled it into a ballerina’s bun on the back of her head. Next came the light make-up she wore, dusting the translucent powder across her face, pale pink blush across her cheekbones, and just a smidgen of eyeliner to make her eyes the dominate feature of her face. She quickly pulled off her pajamas, careful of her hair, and replaced them with her school clothes. Dark wash boot cut jeans, a light purple, white, and blue short-sleeved shirt with rhinestones, and a baby blue cashmere cardigan to ward off the cold of the school building, gave her a soft, yet professional look. She finished it off with shiny dark grey flats, though she was proud of her height of 5 foot 6 inches, it could be intimidating, and she didn’t want to seem unapproachable.

When she came out of the bathroom, it seemed her sister had already left for her last first day of high school. Aurora’s mother left her customary first day breakfast on the table, and was rushing around putting final touches on everything she needed herself for her first day back to school, only as an elementary teacher instead.

Aurora sat down and ate quickly; occasionally watching her mother’s hurried movements. After downing the plain breakfast with orange juice, she took the dishes she had used to the kitchen and rinsed them off in the sink before placing them in the dishwasher.

She went back to the bathroom to brush her teeth, put on deodorant, and sprits a bit of perfume on, before once again checking her appearance. After she was absolutely sure she was ready for high school, she grabbed her bag that’s been prepared for at least two weeks, and went outside to wait on her mother in the car.

They pulled up to the school in the family’s gold minivan, and her mother pulled into a parking space
near the entrance.

She turned the engine off and turned to her youngest child, the baby of the family, and said “I cannot believe I am letting you do this.”
Aurora rolled her eyes. They had had this conversation for many months, since Aurora and her Gifted and Talented teacher had convinced her mother that though she had weekly classes that challenged her brain, the grade level she was at just wasn’t enough to keep her interested. So they had let her skip the eighth grade, and now here Aurora was, thirteen years old and in high school.

“Mom, I can do this. Don’t worry about me. Everything will be fine.”
Aurora knew why her mom was worried. It wasn’t that she didn’t think Aurora was immature, or in over her head academically, it was her social life her mother was worried about. Aurora had always been smarter and more mature than most her age, whereas her sister was mostly the immature one and very average in her studies. Aurora was also very cynical, and that, coupled with the fact she was new, younger, and smarter than most , made her mother think that she’d be all alone, a loner, someone to pick on.

What Aurora didn’t tell her mother is that she already had a few friends in this grade. Her childhood friend, Natasha, and herself had hung out over the summer, which her mother knew about. What she didn’t know, however, was that the times they hung out together at Natasha’s house, there was also other people Natasha’s age there, male people.

Her mother sighed reluctantly before unbuckling her seatbelt and getting out of the van. Aurora did the same and together they walked to the entrance to the high school.

“Hi, I have a meeting with Principal Donohue about Aurora Jade Black?” Her mother asked the unpleasant looking secretary at the front desk.

The secretary didn’t even reply, she just pressed one button out of the many on the telephone on her desk and said through the speaker, “Principal Donohue, a Mrs. Black is here to see you.”

Aurora saw her mother open her mouth to tell her it was Ms. Black, but decided against it. Most people didn’t know it, but Aurora’s dad had left the family when Aurora was two years old. She still saw her father, but the visits were usually awkward, infuriating, few, and far between.

A man about mid-forties in a charcoal grey suit rounded the corner behind the front desk, probably leading to more offices. He had black hair, speckled with grey, a small goatee and mustache, but had kind blue eyes that had Aurora at ease immediately.

“Ah, hello Ms. Black, and this must be Aurora Jade.” He greeted them with a smile, shaking her mother’s hand.

“Please, Aurora’s fine.” Aurora said, shaking his hand as well. No one really called her Aurora Jade but her mother.

He nodded. “I’m Principal Donohue and I’d like to formally welcome you to Greenlee High School, home of the Dragons. I’ve spoken with your Gifted instructor, Mrs. Hope, and she suggested that you come early and I would escort you around to meet each of your teachers before classes begin.”

Aurora smiled and nodded her head, and her mother took her leave. “Well, honey, I have to head to work to check over my lesson plans once more. Have a wonderful day, and if you have any problems just come to Principal Donohue or text message me during your lunch hour.” She kissed Aurora’s cheek and shook the principal’s hand once more before leaving the school.

Aurora watched her leave, before turning back to Principal Donohue, who smiled at her and said, “Well, let’s get started, shall we?” before leading her out of the office.

They walked in near silence, the only sound was the soft padding of Aurora’s shoes and the sharp clicks of the principals loafers.

Aurora looked around at the place she’d spend nearly nine months out of the year for the next four years. The walls were a warm orange, with mainly red-orange and purple accents. The lockers were taller than Aurora, about six foot tall, and were a muted grey, clashing terribly with the inviting walls. There was a large glass trophy case down the hall from the main office, and it marked the split into two different directions. One would go to the large cafeteria, and the other down ,what the sign in front of it said, the math and science hallways.

Principal Donohue finally broke the silence as he ushered her down the math and science hallway. “This is where your first class, Honors Algebra 2, is. The room number is 605, with Mrs. Barnette teaching it. I’m sure you’ll like her, all of the students do. She’s a nice older woman, and she works you hard, but her Honors students always say it’s one of their favorite classes.”

Aurora smiled politely and nodded, following him down the long, straight corridor. They passed a few people on their way, a man with a sour look on his face, and a short brown crew cut was the first. A short old woman who reminded Aurora of a mouse, somewhat was the second to pass the two. She had curly grey hair, a tiny nose, and slightly large ears. She smiled warmly at the duo, which made the girl regret her thoughts immediately, and smile unsurely back.

Aurora didn’t really bother looking at the numbers posted outside the doors, as Principal Donohue surely knew where they were going. She was right when the man abruptly halted, and reached out to knock on the thick wooden door. He ushered her through after a faint “Come in.”
Aurora was immediately sucked into a vision of white.

Mist, fog, it was everywhere. A young man with brown hair, and a black suit to was sitting in the middle of it all, on a wooden bench.

She saw a young woman, around the same age as the man, in a royal blue knee length dress and curly black hair to her shoulders approach the man with a smile.

The man stood and embraced the woman, and when they pulled back, shared a sweet, chaste kiss with her.

The man, still in the woman’s arms, started to fade, and the woman began panicking, crying out.

But no sound came out.

It was all silent, and the woman was left weeping, and nothing else but the woman was there. The man was gone, and so was the bench.

“…… and this is your new Honors student, Aurora Black.” Principal Donohue’s voice pulled her back.
She looked over and saw an old lady, with short curly grey hair. She had a smile on her face, and her kind hazel eyes sought out Aurora’s own green ones.

“Ahh, you’re the young protégé I’ve heard all the teachers gossiping about.” The old woman, Mrs. Barnett Aurora reminded herself, said.

The girl blushed when she realized what she had said. “Oh, I’m not a protégé.” She said modestly.

The lady smiled benignly. “ And modest to boot. Let me ask you a question, young lady, do you like math?”

Aurora nodded once, still strangely shy.

“Then I think we will get along fine.” Mrs. Barnette stated. “Now, I’m sure you have more people to visit, so off you go, I have to get ready for my first class. Don’t be late.” The woman winked and shooed them out.

Once they were again outside the door, Principal Donohue asked her opinion about Mrs. Barnette. “I like her.” She responded
immediately. “She reminds me of my grandma.”

The man chuckled. “Mine as well. Well, we have seven more teachers to meet, so if you will follow me, I will show you to your second period classroom, where you will be having
Honors English.”

He lead her away, explaining that the first and last two periods were the core subjects. The quickest way to the English hallway, he said, was through the cafeteria, called the Commons, and through the courtyard.
She followed him through the Commons and was once again taken about by the largeness of it. The ceiling was around thirty or forty feet high, with a Plexiglas square in the middle, at the highest point, creating a sunroof. The Plexiglas was surrounded by four large columns, cream, in contrast to the orange walls and ceiling. It was an oddly shaped room. There was a wall made entirely of glass of the right, and farter down was a set of large double doors. Above the doors read ‘Harper and Littlepage Auditorium’. Farther down was what looked to be a closed snack bar, for shows Aurora guessed, and then on the back left was two doors with glass windows leading to what was obviously the gym. There was a closed off room beside that, probably the kitchens and where you were supposed to get your lunch. There was a bunch of open space, loaded with tables and chairs, but to the right of it all was the entrance to another hallway, and then what looked to be the entrance to the courtyard, a half- glass wall with a glass door leading out to a garden.

Principal Donohue stopped by the glass door and pulled out a little card, which he scanned on a little, unnoticeable black scanner. It beeped once and the door clicked, signaling the lock unlocking. He hurriedly grabbed the door.

The principal lead her out into the courtyard, and she was amazed at the inside. There, surrounded by the school, was what looked to be a replica of the Garden of Eden. There was bushes, trees, flowers, and even a little pond, overlooked by a huge willow tree. She had tons of questions, but one was first.

“How does it stay like this? There’re a lot of people I’m betting that would trash it.”

The man beamed at her logic and stopped. “That’s the beauty of the system. It’s a beautiful view, and viewable through the window, but surprisingly few people are allowed to enter. You are one of them.”

“How? I haven’t done anything special.” Aurora asked, confused.

“Each student is issued a card,” Here he stopped and pulled something from his pocket and handed it to her. It was a green plastic card, with a barcode, a picture of her, and her name on it in shiny silver letters. “On each card is a record of the student’s history. Grades, class schedule, awards, attendance, and past transgressions. Special privileges are awarded for things such as perfect attendance, honor roll, and such. Privileges like free admission to a school sports game. Students with less than five detentions on their card per year, and have had no more than ten the previous school year, get the privilege of entering the garden. Any more than five and your garden privilege will be revoked until the next year. You have never had a detention in your life, as most of your classmates had more than ten last year. Your homeroom teacher will explain it better than I. But
we must get on our way.”

Aurora may be smart, but she’s pretty sure her head’s about to explode.

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