Panerva's school for the Gifted
Author's note: This is relatable to any new kid at a school, and then some. I get all of my inspiration from... Show full author's note »
Chapter 1: Newbie at the schoolThe city bus I was riding in rolled to a stop in front of a red brick building that was poised ominously before it. The building itself was at least three stories high, large and rectangular, with a big black fence surrounding its perimeter. A few trees were dotted here and there and all was silent. Any evidence of the time of day was in the skyline; the sun was just rising.
The bus departed right after I got off, backpack in hand. I have long, pretty chocolate brown hair that flows to my
I touched the gate with a lingering finger before pressing it open, listening as it croaked reluctantly. It swung back against its frame with a screech and then I stepped through, so nervous that I was shaking. A winding river of grey cobblestone lay before me, ending in a set of stairs at the entrance of the building.
I began a slow, leisurely pace towards the door, trying to keep my breathing even.
“I can do this.” I whispered to herself as I forced my limbs to carry me forth. I repeated this line over and over as I walked.
I didn’t believe what I was telling myself, but I continued to repeat the self-assuring mantra. One that obviously wasn’t true.
I at last got to the door, mahogany stained with a gold lion’s head biting on to a door knocker. I took the knocker into both hands before proceeding to smack the door with it. All the while I held my breath.
I only had to wait a few moments before a man with short grey hair and darker grey eyes opened the door. His stormy grey eyes held wisdom, intrigue, and something else that I couldn’t quite place.
“May I help you?” he asked me.
I shuffled my feet nervously. “Good morning. I am Nikita Brownston and I’m your new student here. I can take it safe to assume that you are-”
“Headmaster Panerva? I am. Aldridge Panerva to be exact. Pleased to make your acquaintance.” he did a sort of half-bow to me. “Welcome to Panerva’s school for the Gifted. Shall we go in and set you up?”
I shook my head. “There’s no need.” I insisted. “I did that all ahead of time so that I could get started swiftly upon my arrival.” I dug into my backpack and pulled out a blue portfolio.
“Would these be such papers?” Aldridge asked, a hint of a dark mood surrounding his tone. I was a bit surprised by it, but who wouldn’t be upset at being woken up early in the morning to find out he had one more thing to do that day?
“They would indeed.” I clarified and passed them to him. “Everything is included. I have a copy of the schedule as well.... Did I forget anything?”
Aldridge took a second to look everything over. “Not that I can tell...” he said. “Go ahead and come on in. I’ll alert Mrs. Thalia and Ms. Brown to your presence.” the door behind him swung open and after only a moment of pause, he stepped into the building.
I trailed behind him, keeping my eyes open for anything. I got an eerie feeling from Headmaster Panerva and I didn’t want my guard let up too much yet. I was so alert that I nearly jumped out of my skin when the door behind me snapped closed. With a shiver, I forced myself to move on.
When I made my first friend, I was walking around the school, feeling like an idiot. My first class was Calculus and I couldn’t find it from the maps I had been given. As a downside, hardly anyone was around to help. I knew that eventually, my excellent memory would get me around. But until my brain processed the route from class to class, my lack of geography skills would hamper my progress.
So I wandered aimlessly around the first floor of the school, backpack on my shoulders, Calculus book in one hand, maps and various other papers in the opposite.
Yeah, I really felt like an idiot.
I felt even more so when I crashed into someone, papers flying everywhere. My Calculus book hit the floor with a dull *thump*. I fell to my knees with a cry.
“I’m so sorry!” I exclaimed to whoever I’d hit and I began to gather my things.
“No worries. You alright?” the person I’d hit asked me. It sounded like a male, deep, and laced thickly with humor. The person chuckled light-heartedly and crouched down next to me.
I didn’t reply, but I did look up, an arsenal of apologies at my lips.
And that’s when I felt like even more of an idiot, if that’s even possible, because I almost dropped what I’d collected again and everything I’d thought of to say fleetingly dashed off, leaving me tongue-tied and blushing.
Yeah, he was that good looking. Before me was a boy with dark brown hair and green eyes that sparkled with humor. He looked around 17 years old. And to me, he looked…. Beyond sexy. His mouth moved but I was so caught up in my observations that I didn’t hear him.
“Hello? Are you alright?” He repeated, his sweet voice finally finding place in my ears. I went scarlet and nodded slowly.
“Y-yeah. I’m so sorry!”
“Hey, don’t sweat it.” He told me and helped me to my feet. “Are you lost?”
I nodded again helplessly.
“Well then, where to?” he asked me, not taking notice of the Calculus book in my hands. But he gave me a knowing smile... Maybe he already knew but wanted verification?
“Uh…..” I stalled, glancing at my schedule. I already knew, but I needed to look at something else to distract me from him. “I need to go to Calculus.” I finally told him.
“Oh! You must be Nikita!” he smirked and started to walk along, beckoning for me to follow. “Ms. Brown sent me to find you.” He continued, never breaking his leisurely pace.
He led me through a few halls, all a blinding white. If not for the lack of scientists or insane people, I would’ve been convinced that we were in a mental asylum.
We finally stepped through a black door. Then he and I stepped in.
The teacher, Ms. Brown had short brown hair and green eyes. That day, she was wearing a white sundress with white sandals. She made me make my introductions to the class. Then I sat down in the back of the room.
The rest of the class went by in a blur.
The science teacher, Mrs. Thalia, was more than happy to see a new student, and she made that very apparent. At a height of 5’4 and having a build like a supermodel, she was actually a tomboy. She wore a light brown tank top and a pair of jeans, with light blue hair and green eyes, and she acted like dissecting animals was the greatest thing on earth. Just my luck that I had come in on dissection day.
With the greatest disdain that any human being could possibly carry, I walked into the biology lab and had almost sat down when Mrs. Thalia beckoned me to her side.
“Welcome!” Mrs. Thalia cried and hugged me close. I didn’t move, not wanting to ruin her excitement. “It’s always a happy day when a new student comes to this school! And you’re just in time for frog dissection!”
I paled visibly and squirmed in her grasp. “What?”
“Frog dissection!” Mrs. Thalia repeated and let me go. “You get to sit with Jean over there. Will that be okay?”
No, nothing about what I’m going to be doing is okay! I thought. But I might as well go along with it... I plastered a smile onto my face and looked her straight in the eyes.
“That’s perfectly fine.” I lied swiftly. “Thank you.”
“Well just let me know if you have any problems.” Mrs. Thalia said and she turned to another student.
With the greatest effort ever exerted, I sat down and dissected the frog with Jean, a brown haired brown eyed girl. The bile in my stomach kept churning as time went on and I nearly screamed several times in the process. I think I blacked out for a couple seconds, though.
After class was over, Jean guided a shaky me to the kid I’d had earlier crashed into. From there he proceeded to take me to my next class.
The kid I’d crashed into I later learned was named Joseph. He seemed to like to joke a lot. I didn’t say much to him at first. I didn’t want to act any more stupid than I had. But when he asked me a question, I knew that talking was inevitable.
“Hey Nikita, what class do you have next?”
I froze in my tracks, not the best idea in the middle of passing time. I attempted to stall for time.
“Uh...” I glanced at my schedule. “Looks like I have Mr. Denozo. Do you know where he is?”
Joseph snuck a look at my schedule as well and nodded. “Seeing as how I also have his class right now, I can take you to him. Did you know that he used to work for the C.I.A.?”
I stiffened at this new fact. “Really?”
“Yeah. Apparently, he was really good. Caught a bunch of criminals and stuff.”
A kid squeezed in between us as we moved through the hall. We both were silent and I took advantage of the limited noise to think.
“So then why did he leave?” I asked aloud. Caught up in the topic of conversation, I didn’t really take notice to who I was talking to, only what he was talking about.
“Denozo. Why’d he leave the C.I.A.?”
Joseph shrugged and we stopped at a door. “Don’t know. No one really does. But a lot of rumors have spread to make up for it. One is that he had a mistress who doubled as a convicted criminal. When it came time to capture her, people say Denozo was forced to kill her. Then he dropped out and has been teaching ever since. But, like I said, it’s a rumor. No one really knows.”
“Did anyone ever think to ask him?” I asked, appalled. The lack of logical action was surprising to me.
“That’s the first thing everyone did.” Joseph replied. “But sadly, he both doesn’t want to and can’t talk about it.”
“Yeah, the whole government secrets thing, I guess. The C.I.A. won’t let him. Anyway, this is his room.”
I bit my lip, mind swirling with the information I had just acquired. I started wondering what other secrets the staff of this school were harboring. But at Joseph’s last words, I snapped to attention.
“Oh, okay.” I said lamely. “I guess we should go in.”
Joseph opened the door for me, motioning for me to go first. I did so quickly and then Joseph came into the room right after. The walls were the color of squash and the carpeted floor was a subtle grey. The desks were all in blocks of four and each block was in one of three rows that ended at a set of cabinets, a bookshelf, and another desk with a middle-aged man standing against it. Most of the students were in their seats already and they stared at us curiously as we came in. I nearly froze in my tracks but then forced myself to approach the teacher without flinching under such heavy scrutiny.
“Well, I see we have a newcomer among us!” Mr. Denozo exclaimed. He wore a pair of black slacks, black shoes, and a white t-shirt under a brown duster coat. He had black hair and blue eyes that sparkled with a wiseness passed his time, and he looked around forty. He examined me closely before gesturing for Joseph to take his seat. “Benjamin Denozo, pleased to meet you. And you are.....”
“I’m Nikita.” I replied and gave him equal scrutiny.
“Yes, I would figure as much. Aldridge sent the word out already about you. And now, so we don’t lose any time, sit with Joseph and try to catch up. Someone will get you up to speed soon.”
I nodded and turned with such abruptness as to prevent him from seeing my frown. Apparently time was of the essence and I was about to find out why. I took my seat right next to Joseph and tried to focus on the lesson plan, not how the kid sitting next to me smelled really nice all of a sudden.
“Now class, today we are going to continue reading about Augustus Caesar and his involvement with the lovely Cleopatra. So, one person from each table needs to get the World history book and turn to page 528.”
Joseph’s chair scraped the floor as he got up to get the book and then again as he sat back down. He opened the book to the desired page and we started reading together.
I had trouble focusing on his words as his sweet voice filled my head, making it spin. I couldn’t tell what he was saying. His was just so darn charismatic! I couldn’t think when all the world consisted of in that moment was Joseph’s shaving cream and his voice.
I tried to shake myself back into focus, but try as I might, I couldn’t. He was all I could sense and I couldn’t shake from it. The class slipped by in a blur and I only found my way back into clarity when the class bell rang and I had to go. I gave him a hasty ‘Goodbye’ before scurrying away.
With only a moment’s glance at my schedule, I could tell that the thing I had next was lunch. The first thought in my head was oh boy. Here goes nothing. because being the new kid, you really just get ignored. The only thing other people will do is deny you a seat.
But the second thought that occurred, and Joseph helped me with this one, is I could sit with him and his friends. Jean didn’t seem that bad, anti-social at most, and her boyfriend, Damien, was like Joseph in the class-clown sense.
Seats and new people aside, the only other thing I was really worried about was food. I had transferred to six different schools before in my life before the present and some of the food from some of the schools were awesome. But in some school, it was surprising to me that no one ran straight to the bathroom after catching just a whiff of the stuff.
Well, things couldn’t be that bad here, right?
I got my answer as I walked into the cafeteria.
Well, it didn’t smell as bad as the stuff I’d tried at other schools, but that didn’t make it look appetizing, either. No, it was somewhere in the middle of good and god-awful, I decided. Today’s special was..... I don’t really know what it was, exactly, to be honest. It looked like mystery meat meatloaf. Emphasis on the mystery. As some things you could eat instead or as additives, there was pudding, a salad bar, fruits, mostly apples, and devils food eggs which smelled like something had died in the mix. Lovely. I thought. I’m eating who-knows-what.
“You okay?” Joseph asked from behind me. I hadn’t moved in the line and the other people looked like they were getting aggravated. Fantastic.
“Uh... Not really. Lunch doesn’t look that appetizing.”
“Anybody could tell you that!” Joseph joked. “But seriously, don’t worry about it. Some of my friends actually bring food from their dorm and they like these lunches, so they trade with us.”
“Wait, you said they like this crap?” I asked, appalled. The very thought sent chills up my spine.
“Yeah. But hey, who can say otherwise? We get their good food, and they get our supposedly good food.” He rolled his eyes at ‘supposedly’ and accentuated it for emphasis. “Now you might want to move. The others in this line are getting aggravated.”
I looked behind him. They did wear scowls on their faces, but nothing else made them apparent. He had been looking at me the whole time. How could he tell?
Regardless, I reluctantly took.... whatever this stuff was, a pudding, and an apple. We moved up the line and I took a chocolate milk.
“So where are you from?” Joseph asked me as he guided me to a table.
“California. I would take insane blistering overt freezing rain and cold temperatures any day, for the record.” I replied. It was true. Are you kidding me? Washington state’s high temperatures are lower than the lows in Cali. Christmas in California is warmer than Washington’s summer, or so I’ve researched. I hope that this isn’t true for the sake of all of us. For if it is, I swear I’ll go insane. Or worse.
Joseph laughed. “I agree with you entirely, and this is coming from someone who’s lived here his whole life. I think all Washingtonians agree with you and I.”
“Is all of Washington like this?” I asked, I hoped not.
“Lucky for you, I’m sure you’d find Eastern Washington more to your tastes. But the winters are insanely cold. If you think this is bad,” he whistled long and low before taking a breath. “Eastern Washington is freezing on a different level entirely. We’re talking extreme frostbite levels here.” He sat down at an empty table and I had almost sat down next to him when he shook his head.
“That’s Astrid’s seat. She’ll kill you if she finds you sitting there, no questions asked. Sit on the other side.” he recommended.
I complied with barely any hesitation at all and sat on his left instead. Jean soon joined us. She wore a white t-shirt, a pair of jeans, and a pair of black converse.
“Hey Jean.” Joseph said.
“Hey, what we got today?” I took it that she was talking about the food but kept my mouth shut.
“You know what, I don’t really know.”
“Is it going to get me sick?”
“Hard to say.”
“Should I go grab some anyway?”
Joseph shrugged. “Up to you. Remember, Lienu, Astrid, Tristan. and Hecate are bringing sack lunches.”
“Eh, I can get that from the lunch ladies too. But everyone else's are better... Hey, Shaky.”
Oh good grief. She was talking to me now. “Hi...”
“You still look a little green.” Jean noted and stood up. “I’m grabbing lunch.”
“I forgot to ask you, what happened?” Joseph asked me as Jean walked away.
“Frog dissection day.” I replied and shivered visibly as the gruesome images replayed in my head.
“Oh joy. That’s the worst. Come to think of it, you didn’t look too happy when we left Mrs. Thalia’s room...”
“Worst day to come in, by far.” I commented and picked at my food absent-mindedly.
“Hey, no one said you had to come in today.” Joseph reminded me.
I groaned. “I know.”
Another person sat down. A girl. I stared at her for a few more moments than I probably should have. She was the picture of beauty, tall and thin with blonde hair and sparkling green eyes.
“Who do we have here?” she asked. She didn’t sound aggressive, or even unfriendly. She sounded cautious. She must have caught me staring, for she gave me a weird look.
“Astrid, this is Nikita. Nikita, this is Astrid.” Joseph told her.
“Pleasure.” she said shortly. There was a definite edge to her voice this time and I flinched. The meaning behind her tone was obvious: Back off!
“Hi.” I replied and then shut my mouth.
“Did Jean get to her first or something?” Astrid asked Joseph.
“Well, she’s new. You can’t to expect them all to come in talkative and loud.” Joseph defended me. This made Astrid glare at me.
“It’s the quiet ones you need to look out for.” she remarked simply and opened her lunchbox. I nearly fainted. It smelled awesome!
“You new to food or something?” She sneered at me. This made me mad for some reason.
“No, I just....” I shrank back. I had nothing to say. I suddenly felt really stupid.
“She doesn’t like the smell of this stuff and thinks yours smells awesome.” Joseph said for me.
“How’d you know that?” I asked, alarmed. I completely disregarded the fact that he had said it aloud, no less, and instead took hold to the fact that he had known in the first place.
Astrid shared my surprise, shooting Joseph a warning glance.
Looked like I had just stumbled upon another School for the Gifted secret.
“Uh, you made it very obvious based on your expression.” Joseph lied. I knew he was lying but let it slide. I didn’t want to dig too deep into this, yet.
At that time, Jean came back and sat down.
“Hey Jean.” Astrid said to her.
“Heya. Want to trade?” Jean asked her.
“Depends. What do you have?”
“I think it’s mystery meat meatloaf.” Jean replied.
“Interesting.... All right. I’ll give you some of this. I don’t know yet if this kind of lunch will make me sick.”
“So why eat it?” I asked her.
Astrid shot me a look, as if to say are you serious? “Experimentation.” she replied slowly. “Once I know, then I can determine whether to keep accepting it or not.”
Why not get one of the lunch people’s sack lunches?” Jean suggested.
I felt really stupid for not have thinking of that myself.
“Well, I would be eating the same thing every day.” Astrid pointed out. “This is experimentation, like I told Nifrila-”
“It’s Nikita.” I interrupted.
“- and once I can determine what’s good and what’s not, then I won’t be as cautious. Until then....”
“Fair enough.” Jean replied and passed her tray to Astrid.
“Where’s Damien?” Joseph asked.
“Apparently, he got detention for springing a kid out of class.”
“Did the kid get in trouble?”
“Of course not.”
“Fifteen minute detention or full lunch?” Jean queried.
“He broke a kid out of class. Which do you think?” Astrid replied.
“Good point.” Jean said and took Astrid’s sandwich.
“Where’s Tristan?” Joseph asked.
“Sick. Apparently it is not okay to eat boiled eggs that have been in the fridge for a month.”
“Well gee, you think?” Jean growled sarcastically.
“You forget, in Sweden, we eat a lot of weird foods. Things that should make us sick but don’t. I guess he figured it was safe.”
“You guys need to go see a ‘what’s good to eat’ food demonstration.” Joseph said.
Astrid shrugged. “He’s also the weird one, so....”
“All right... So Damien’s gone. Tristan’s gone. Anyone else?” I asked.
“Chris went out for lunch with his dad.” Astrid replied.
“Who is...” I prodded.
“Mr. Denozo.” Joseph told me.
“Well, well, if it isn’t Shaky Gonzalez, Jean, Joseph, and Astrid!” Damien exclaimed. He was around 5’6 with short black hair and brown eyes. He had been to Hawaii on summer vacation a year before, apparently, and was really tan. But one of those good ones that you only get naturally.
“Damien!” Joseph cried. “Dude, why are you here?!”
“Not happy to see me?” Damien frowned.
“We are!” Jean said quickly. “But we heard-”
“About the detention? Yeah, well, when you put me in the back, there’s a window, and the teacher is called to the office for something, I’m what’s called a flight risk.” Damien shrugged like it was nothing and sat next to Jean. “So what are we eating?” he asked.
“Nothing that tastes good.” I replied. “And I’m Nikita, not Shaky Gonzalez. And you did it wrong, it’s Speedy Gonzalez.”
“Same difference.” Damien replied. “Point is, you did not look happy in Mrs. Thalia’s room.”
“You got that right!” Jean put in. “I had to listen to her complaints all class period. Thank goodness she was gracious enough to whisper them most of the time.”
“Hey!” I cried, offended.
“It’s true.” Jean said simply and took a bite of her sandwich.
“Now, now, be nice.” Joseph crooned. “She isn’t a fan of blood and we aren’t a fan of complaints. Can we all agree on that much?”
Everyone including me grunted in acknowledgement.
“Besides,” Joseph continued, deciding he should before an argument broke out. “she’s new here. I have a feeling that a lot of things are going to continue to scare her for a while.”
I shrugged. “You’d be surprised at how fast I adapt to things.” I grinned. “I bet that in a month, I’ll get used to this.”
“Then I guess we shall see...” Astrid said cooly. “And hope for the best, I suppose.”
“It would help.” Joseph told her, a warning note to his voice.
“So why exactly did you transfer here?” Damien asked me.
“I don’t really know. I guess it looked like the best one in Burlington and the closest to home. My mom just got a job transfer, and her job keeps her pretty busy,. A private school seemed like the best option, I guess.”
“What does your mom do?”
“She’s in the navy.” I told them.
“Ah, that would explain it...” mused Jean.
And so it began. They fired off a volley of questions and I would continue to answer them. It was much like a round of 20 Questions. By the time the bell rang for fourth period, I had basically spilt my life story. Eventually a couple other people had joined us, one a red-headed female with green eyes and a act-before-she-thought attitude, and the other a black haired and blue eyed girl who had a mystical air about her but whose words mostly made no sense. And really, lunch wasn’t so bad. I mean, I just picked at it, but even still. I didn’t throw up. That’s an accomplishment for me and the staff.
When the bell finally rang, I got up, sweeping them a gallant bow in turn. “It was a pleasure to meet you all. I hope to see you soon!” I picked up my backpack and hurried off, hoping that I wouldn’t have to talk to anyone else until I got to class.