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 3: Another day, another enemyChapter 3: Another day, another enemy
I woke up the next day to the sound of my alarm clock. It was one of those annoying ones that ran off while it played just so it could annoy the crap out of you while you chased it. So, reluctantly, I got out of bed and hunted the clock down, turning it off and setting it back on my nightstand.
CeCe gave me a tired look, her hair a bedraggled mess and her clothes wrinkled.
“Morning.” I said simply, getting out of my clothes I had forgotten
“Hey CeCe, you hungry?” I asked.
CeCe gave me a wistful look before shaking her head.
“Can’t.” she replied. “I have things to do.”
I shrugged. “Alright. Have fun doing them.” I told her before walking out of our room.
I made it out of the dormitory and over to the cafeteria. After selecting a bowl of chocolate cheerios, a pomegranate, and some milk, I made my way over to Joseph’s table.
Just before I got there, however, I felt a foot raise one of my ankles right before I tripped.
“Whoa!” I cried as my food went flying. The milk was in a container, so was the cheerios, so they were good. The pomegranate was good, before someone stomped on it over and over, getting pomegranate juice all over me.
“Hey!” I shouted indignantly. “What was that for!”
A barbie-like girl crouched down next to me. “Hello, new girl.” she growled, voice high pitched and sickly sweet. “I’m your worst nightmare and I’m going to make sure you stay in your place, got it? Here, the populars rule, and you sure as heck aren’t one of us. Nice to meet you, Underdog.”
“For your information,” I hissed, rising to my knees before spitting out pomegranate juice that had seeped into my mouth. “Underdog was a great movie. And he won in the end. Your turn.”
“Hey, new girl!” One of Barbie Girl’s lackeys called out.
“Did you get your clothes from a charity?”
“No, because if I had, I would look just like Barbie Girl here.” I shot back. The people around me let out long “Ooooooo!”s before Barbie Girl pushed me back down.
“I don’t care who you think you are,” she hissed. “but stay out of my way, got it?”
“Sure thing, Barbie.” I replied, pushing her off me again and rising to my feet. After brushing as many clumps of pomegranate off of me as I could, I gave her a bittersweet smile.
“Thanks for showing me how good you look in pomegranate, by the way.” I picked up my cereal and milk and sat next to Joseph. Seconds later, I heard Barbie scream.
“Dude, that was epic!” Damien cried. “No one has ever stuck up to Amber like that!”
“I know, right?” Jean added. “Totally epic!”
I gave as best of a bow as I could sitting down. “Thanks.” I said.
“That brightened my morning.” Joseph smiled at me.
“Yeah, seeing the new girl bravely standing up to the populus while being covered in pomegranate makes anyone’s day.” I laughed dryly. “The only downside, now my outfit is ruined.”
“I think it looks better with the splashes of pink.” Joseph replied. At that, we all laughed.
Unfortunately for me, I guess standing up to the most popular girl in school does not get me cool points. Why I think such is true is because mostly everyone ignored me in my classes. In English, we had another team project but no one wanted to work with me. Just as well though. Their loss for following a Barbie wannabe.
So, I sat with Joseph and his friends again at lunch. Perfectly fine by me. Except the fact that I was now wearing lunch, too, because Rhonda had tripped me, again.
Going through the rest of the school day smelling like bad rice and imitation teriyaki was not fun for me. I mean, come on, that stuff did not smell good. And to wear it was even worse.
The worst part yet, when I called my mom later that day, I had to tell her how I had ruined one of my only white shirts. Oh joy...
“You what?” my mom croaked.
“I may have accidentally ruined one of my white shirts.” I repeated.
“How do you accidentally ruin a shirt?”
“I got tripped by a popular kid, twice, and had no time to change shirts.” I explained.
“Let me guess, pomegranate juice and something sticky.” my mom guessed.
“Yep. The whole pomegranate as well as rice and imitation teriyaki.” I growled low in my throat.
“Deep breaths.” my mother crooned. “Which one was it?”
“My favorite one. The one with ‘ANGEL’ on the front in silver rhinestones.”
“How about I buy another one and ship it to you?” my mom said.
I couldn’t help but smile. “Really?”
“Yeah. It’ll take a few days to get there, but it can be done.”
“Oh, thank you!” I cried.
“Just promise to try to not get this one ruined.” my mom warned. “Because if this next one gets ruined, you’ll have to get another new shirt yourself.”
“All right.” I agreed. “And thanks.”
“No problem.” my mom said. “Now I got to go. Love you.”
“Love you too.” I told her.
“Bye.” and with a ‘click’ she hung up.
Well, it wasn’t as bad as it could’ve been. She’s usually very serious about this sort of thing. I should know. I’ve lived with her for 15 years.
“How was your phone conversation with your mom?” CeCe asked me.
“It was good.” I replied. “Wanna go get dinner?” I asked.
CeCe nodded. “Do I ever! I’m starving!”
“That’s why you don’t miss breakfast.” I teased.
“Yeah, yeah.” CeCe growled and then we both laughed. Then we took off for the cafeteria.
A few days later, I got my t-shirt. It hasn’t gotten dirty since.
An uneventful two weeks passed. I was catching up in school work and my crush on Joseph was increasing daily. Just a few days ago, he had started picking me up from my dorm and taking my to the cafeteria for breakfast. I mean, a few weird things occurred, like him saying things that I wouldn’t when people wanted elaboration, but I didn’t think much of it then.
No, it wasn’t until this morning that something really weird happened.
I opened my eyes expecting to see the sun pouring through my curtain and to hear my alarm clock blaring. But instead, I woke up in a meadow, the world kind of hazy and appearing to be viewed through a light layer of fog.
“How’d I get here?” I asked myself. “And where is here?” I continued to look around for any sort of sign of where I was.
“Don’t you remember?” asked a feminine voice.
“Who’s there?!” I snapped, disregarding her question.
“First, to tell you where you are. I kind of wish you’d remembered... This is the last place you’re family went together in California. And the worst part, it’s the last place you went before your father died.”
I choked on newfound tears as the memory filled my head. Trying to hold back the tears that had formed and trying, and failing, to swallow the lump in my throat.
“Yes, indeed, truly tragic. Died on the way to the hospital, if I remember correctly.” the voice continued.
Wave after wave of terror, grief, and misery washed through my and I sank until I was stomach side down on the ground. Then my knees curled up to my chest and I continued choking as I tried to keep the tears in.
“Ah, so now you remember.” the voice taunted. I had a feeling it was trying to get me to listen, but now I was beyond that point. My chest ached with the pain I felt and I finally let the tears I had been holding back go.
All the while that my tears fell, the voice remained silent and I wondered if it had left.
Once I had released enough of the heaviness I’d felt, I slowly rose to my feet and looked around, wiping the tears from my eyes.
“Who are you?” I repeated.
“The more important question, who are you?” the voice asked me.
“Ni-nikita....” I whispered. The feeling of cold, hard fear washed over me and I wrung my hands nervously.
“I see... My name is Sarah Dessen.”
“Why are you here? And am I dead?” I knew it was probably the stupidest question I could ask, but I had to know.
The voice laughed before materializing into a woman around thirty years old with strawberry blonde hair and blue eyes. She wore a pair of leggings and a blue shirt with roses on it. She was also at least five inches taller than me and had the build of a dancer.
“Now, what would make you think that you were dead?” Sarah asked me.
“I don’t know.” I admitted. “The world looks hazy. Like, covered in a light layer of fog or something...”
Sarah laughed again, a short, sweet sound that filled me with slight warmth. I didn’t feel as scared anymore.
“No, you aren’t dead. This is a dream. And I’m a Dream Walker.”
Sarah nodded. “Seeing as how you can see and hear me, I’ll explain.” she looked around quickly before clapping her hands. The scenery changed to the front of the school.
“What are we doing here?”
“When I first visited you, I let your conscience decide where we were. Now I chose the school since it better serves our purpose.”
“Which is...” I asked.
Sarah facepalmed. “Of course...” she growled. “I’m getting ahead of myself. My apologies.”
I nodded. “No problem. Now, again, the purpose is...?”
“Yes, of course...” she sat down on the grass and motioned for me to do the same. “This school you see before you, do you know it’s history? Or why it’s here?”
I shook my head.
“No, of course you wouldn’t...” Sarah said to herself. “It’s called Panerva’s School for the Gifted for a reason. That reason is because it’s been passed down through the Panerva family line for a few centuries. And it all started with Aldridge’s great, great, great, great, great, great, great grandfather, Ambrose. He was a renowned sorcerer, but not for good reasons-”
“Wait, did you say sorcerer?” I asked, confused.
Sarah nodded. “Uh-huh, now listen. Anyway, Ambrose was a renowned sorcerer, but not for the right reasons. He was vile and foul and everyone feared him.”
“Was he also cute and fluffy?” I asked, remembering a scene from a Lilo and Stitch movie I’d watched.
“What? No.” Sarah shook her head and muttered something under her breath. “Anyway, everyone feared Ambrose because he used his power to bend even powerful cities to his knees. He burned towns to ashes, murdered innocents who opposed him...” Sarah gave a shiver.
“Those who did follow him and his ruling were rewarded. They were taught in his ways. And they were taught at this very school. Ambrose himself was the headmaster. He taught some, who taught the rest.
“One day, he met a fair maiden, very pretty indeed. I believe her name was Aphrodite, very suiting. Aphrodite carried his one and only son before refusing to bend his way anymore. She, like the rest, was killed. Shortly thereafter, Ambrose died too. The line of Panervas kept going, but bit by bit it’s evil has faded into non existence.”
“Then why bother visiting me?” I asked. “And why are we talking about magic? Magic isn’t real!” At least, that’s what I was hoping. If it was, I was going to go stark-raving mad!
“Do you believe that people that people can be reincarnated?” Sarah asked me.
I shook my head.
“No, of course you don’t....” Sarah scowled. “Well, they can. And Aldridge is Ambrose’s reincarnation. He is the very same evil that Ambrose was and he will go through just as extreme measures, unless he can be stopped.”
“But who is capable of stopping him? And you still haven’t answered my magic question.”
Sarah gave me an are you serious look.
“What? It’s an honest question!” I protested.
“Yes,” Sarah agreed. “one with an obvious answer.”
“Wait, the magic question or the other one?”
“You are the one who can stop him.” Sarah said. Her annoyance was very apparent. But now she was slightly transparent.
“How?!” I cried.
“With magic...” Sarah was becoming very fuzzy. In fact, the whole scene around us was fuzzy now.
“But magic isn’t real!” I exclaimed.
Sarah gave me a determined look before she disappeared entirely. The scenery went with her and I fell into the world of blackness once more.
When I again opened my eyes, I was in my dorm, the sun shining through my window and my alarm clock going full blast. It was as if the dream had never happened.
But was it a dream?
I looked over to CeCe’s bed. She was staring at me like I was the most curious thing in the world.
“You were visited by a Dream Walker...” she murmured.
I frowned. “How did you know?”
“My power is I can see auras. When you are being visited, your aura flares in color and then again when it ends.” CeCe explained.
“Wow...” I muttered. I didn’t know which was worse, if people were certain that magic and dream walking were real, or if I was one of those believers. I shivered at the thought.
“Who visited you?”
“A lady named Sarah Dessen.” I replied groggily, rising into a sitting position and rubbing my head.
“Why would my mom visit you?” CeCe mused.
“Sarah is my mom...” CeCe explained. “But why would she visit you?”
“Is there something wrong with me?” I asked. All of this was starting to freak me out. Magic? Real? No way.
“No!” CeCe exclaimed. “Not at all... But she only visits certain people when they have an important part in something... What did she tell you?”
“She said that magic was real and that Aldridge is Ambrose’s reincarnation.”
“Wow, she didn’t waste time explaining, did she?” CeCe asked me.
I picked at a stray thread on my blanket. “She didn’t explain much at all. She disappeared before she could elaborate on the magic part.” I told her.
“Hm.... I can bet you’re very curious now...” CeCe told me, a focused gleam in her eyes.
“Let me guess, my aura?” I asked. I still wasn’t on board with this whole magic phenomenon, but hey, take everything in stride. I wasn’t going to show Crazy CeCe that I was scared.
“No,” CeCe answered. “I try to avoid doing that. It usually only occurs when I first wake up and then whenever I focus. No, I just guessed based on your personality. You don’t like being in the dark about something.”
I nodded. Makes sense. I thought. Actually, it’s the first thing that’s made sense this morning...
Then there was a knock at the door.
“It’s Joseph.” CeCe said at the same time.
I nodded my thanks. “One minute!” I called. Actually, one minute meant probably more like fifteen, but Joseph already knew this.
“Okay!” he called back. “Let me know when I can come in!”
I smiled wistfully and opened up my dresser. Stepping out of my pink tank top and matching pajama bottoms, I put on a plaid skirt, white t-shirt, and black jacket instead. I brushed my hair and put in a black and white clip on one side, then I put on my black and white Chuck Taylors.
“Almost ready!” I called. Then I went into the bathroom to brush my teeth.
“Tell him he can come into the room.” I added in a whisper to CeCe.
“You can come in, Joseph.” CeCe called and I shut the bathroom door.
After brushing my teeth and doing a few other things, I did a quick look in the mirror before stepping out.
Joseph whistled and hugged me.
“You look nice.” he whispered in my ear before letting me go and stepping back.
“Thanks.” I replied. Now that I thought about it, the things Joseph did... It all made sense now!
“Joseph, you’re a magic user.” I said.
He frowned, trying to hide his surprise. “What do you mean?”
“That explains you saying what I don’t. You can read my mind!” I exclaimed.
Joseph flashed a look to CeCe. “Who told you this?” he asked me.
“I was visited by a Dream Walker when I was sleeping.” I explained. “And it all makes sense!”
Joseph shrugged. “I don’t know what you’re talking about.” he said flatly.
CeCe’s face flashed with concentration. “He’s lying.” she said.
I nodded. “I know.” I replied. A spark of anger flared in me. “This is a huge discovery for me!” I exclaimed. “Why won’t you help me by telling the truth?!” Really, he knew I knew what I was saying... kind of. Why wasn’t he helping me?
“Because you can’t do magic...” Joseph replied. “Not that we know of. And until we do, I didn’t want to say anything.”
“We?” I snapped. The spark of anger turned into a flame, one that would raise higher and higher as time went on.
“All of us, Damien, Jean, Hecate, Chris, me, all of us. We can use magic.”
“But why didn’t you tell me?” I asked him, hurt. The fire rose higher in me.
“Because I didn’t want to make you overwhelmed.” Joseph said cooly. He looked me straight in the eye. “Just forget it, okay?”
Looking at his face, all my anger melted away and his words played over and over. Just forget it, okay? It suddenly seemed like the best idea in the world.
Well, that is until CeCe tackled Joseph to the ground. Then all my anger slammed back into me ten-fold.
“What did you do?” I asked in a deadly tone.
“He tried to compel you!” CeCe grunted, struggling to keep Joseph down.
“He what?” I hissed.
“Compel you into dropping the topic...” CeCe huffed before Joseph threw her off and rose to his feet. He raised his hands in the universal I surrender gesture and shifted closer.
“I’m sorry...” he whispered. “I shouldn’t have done that..” he admitted. “I’m sorry.” he stepped closer.
Too close. Like a match touching gas, I blew into a flurry of action. I grabbed on of his hands, twisting it and him until his arm was pinned behind his back.
“What are you doing?” he exclaimed.
“You should’ve told me the truth.” my voice came out in a throaty whisper, one that scared me inwardly. But right now my anger was taking the wheel, driving my to push him the ground. He grunted at the impact.
But before I could do anything else, CeCe grabbed my shoulder. “Stop!” she screamed.
That voice touched me somehow and deep inside, my anger defused. But not before a physical forced pulsed in and out of me in a split second. I parted my jaws in a silent scream before falling to the ground.
“Nikita!” Joseph shouted.
Next thing I know, the room is in flames.
“Get out!” I screamed to them both. I rose to my feet. “Get out before you get killed!” At that moment, I was terrified of myself. What had I done?
After a few seconds of deliberation, I decided that I must’ve been the one to set the room on fire, and now I had to be the one to put it out. It was common sense, right?
But before I could do anything, someone pulled me out and Jean came running in. With the raise of her hands, the fire was put out. The only evidence left of what had happened was an acrid smell.
She turned around to face me. “What happened?” she asked, voice unnaturally calm.
I never got to tell her, because in the next instant, I fell to the ground.
The last thing I remember hearing is someone shout my name before I passed out.
I didn’t wake up right away, no, rather I woke up slowly. At first, I could only hear things. Couldn’t open my eyes. But slowly, I was able to open them.
Once I could open my eyes fully, I immediately snapped them shut again. Joseph and Jean were at the opposite end of the nurse’s office, arguing.
“If you had just told her, none of this would’ve happened!” Jean shouted. I never heard her voice so full of fear.
“I had to be sure that she knew what she was talking about.” Joseph whispered. “I had to make sure CeCe wasn’t telling her things.”
“Why are you pointing to CeCe for this? Look, she might be crazy, but Astrid is just as likely!”
“Why would Astrid do that?” Joseph asked, confused.
“Because she likes you and sees Nikita as a threat. She probably thinks making Nikita look insane would drive you away from her.” Jean growled, upset by her friend’s stupidity.
“But I don’t like Astrid! I like Nikita!”
“Astrid doesn’t know this.” Jean pointed out.
“Well I can’t just tell her!” Joseph replied.
I kind of lost track of the conversation after that until they stopped talking about Astrid. Once they did, I tuned back in.
“Look, I don’t think Astrid had anything to do with this...” Joseph finally said. “Nikita told me she was visited by a Dream Walker.”
“What?! Who?!” Jean exclaimed.
At that point, I decided to get up. “She said her name was Sarah Dessen.” I told her.
“Nikita!” Joseph exclaimed. ”Are you okay?”
I shook my head. “The guy I liked was keeping a secret from me, I have powers I never knew about, I accidentally set my dorm on fire... How do you think I’m doing?!” I swallowed the lump in my throat before continuing. “Look, after this, ignore me if you want, because I’ll be doing the same. But first, what the hell happened?”
Jean and Joseph shared a glance before they both looked at me.
“The reason that you’re here is because you can use magic. That’s why we’re all here, because we all are sorcerers. We all use magic and we all are good at it. We are here to learn about the world of magic so we can one day help fight the bad sorcerers out to expose us.”
“Aldridge is one of them...” I whispered, storing the rest of the knowledge away for later use.
“Yeah, even Headmaster Panerva is a magic user.” Joseph agreed.
“No,” I shook my head, frustrated. “no, he’s one of the bad sorcerers! Haven’t you heard of Ambrose Panerva?”
“Well yeah,” Jean said. “Everyone has!” she looked at me like I was nuts.
“Aldridge is Ambrose’s reincarnation!” I exclaimed. “He’ll do just what Ambrose did and more if we don’t stop him!”
Jean and Joseph shared another look.
“Now, Nikita, this is a lot for you to process, we know it is,” Jean said gently. “but making assumptions like that-”
“Assumption?!” I hissed. “Sarah told me herself that he is! She told me that I’m the only one that can stop him!”
“Nikita,” Jean chided. “that’s a little far-fetched, don’t you think?”
Cold realization hit me. “You don’t believe me, do you?” I asked, the lump returning to my throat and refusing to move. “You think I’m crazy!” It was in that moment I knew that I was on my own in this. They wouldn’t help me because they were on Panerva’s side.
“I don’t think you’re crazy!” Joseph yelled at me. He took a breath. “I think you have been through a lot, however and need to sleep on it.” he tried to remain as calm as he could, but even I could see how hurt it made him to see me like this and to have to go against me.
“No I don’t!” I shouted. “It’s true!”
“Nurse!” Jean shouted. “Nurse! She’s up! We need help!”
“What are you doing?” I squeaked.
“Helping you...” Jean replied sadly.
Then the nurse came in and jabbed me in the arm with an anesthetic. I fell asleep, but not before screaming at them all about how they were going to get us killed.
Thinking back on it, I sounded a little psychotic in that moment. No wonder they thought I was crazy.