Author’s note: I can’t find the same location I used when Apollo had his vision as a kid so instead of spending hours trying to find or setting up one as identical as I could get, I just decided to use a new location so it looks different. Sorry also sorry if this chapter isn’t very good… I really lost a lot of inspiration and kinda scrabbled around.
The next day everyone was interested in me, it seemed. People kept coming up and asking if I really saw the world end. At one point Casimir swaggered over, saying some crappy things mostly to show off his new nickname for me. ‘Apollo-clypse’. Freakin’ lovely.
The whole morning was spent in a lousy mood and it only got worse after lunch when we went to history class and I realized for sure that Professor Aubrey Marshash prettty much hated my guts. She had a huge smile for everyone else and this weird look for me. When she called my name for roll call, her tone had a sort of stiff way to it. Almost as if she had to force my name out. I guess nobody noticed since afterwards Sam and Lilah kept asking me how cool was ‘Bree’. I decided not to point out that she had said my name as if being forced to eat slugs.
At dinner I couldn’t bear to be around all the staring and whispering and stuff so the three of us just took food outside. Before bed Sam promised me soon people would forget about it but I couldn’t be too sure.
On my third day of classes I had my special class with Mr. Hunter and the other two psychics in school. Shoshanna Irvine and Li Song. Li greeted me with a slight snicker and Shoshanna gave me a rather amused look. Great.
“Welcome, Apollo,” Mr. Hunter said, waving his hand. “Have a seat. Before we begin, do you have any questions or concerns?”
I wriggled a bit, trying to come up with something. “Um, n–not really,” I mumbled. Li covered… errr–xer? mouth. I wasn’t a hundred percent sure what the right pronouns were. I’d have to find out.
“Xyr,” Li said, hiding a smile behind a hand. “Xe, xem, xyr. It’s fine if it takes a bit to get used it, I know you’ve never been around someone who actively uses those pronouns.” I blushed deeply, a bit put off at my mind being read. “Sorry,” Li added at that.
“Li, how many times have I told you the importance of control,” Mr. Hunter said.
“Yes, sir, I’m sorry. It’s just… teenagers are so… easy to read.” Li hung xyr head. “Especially when one is as stressed out as he is.” I went even redder, somehow. “S–sorry.”
“Are we going to have another lecture on control?” Shoshanna asked. “Because I am very good at it, and if so then can I just go?”
“We will talk a bit about control for Apollo, but that won’t be everything.”
Li snorted. “It’s easy for you to blather on about control, all you have to do is wear gloves.” Xe leaned forward, eyes glinting a bit. “I have to forcibly put up and maintain a wall inside my own head and Apollo here–what, sees shit while you sleep? Can you control thoughts every second while you sleep, Miss Rogue? I don’t think so.”
Shoshanna’s eyes darkened. “Don’t you call me that!”
“Li–” Mr. Hunter tried but Li just went on, “Pretty soon you’ll be killing people with your touch, not just seeing–“
“Stop it!” Mr. Hunter snapped and both psychics went quiet. “Li, do not ever use that name for Shanna. Shanna, Li is right–xyr ability and his ability aren’t as easily controlled as yours is but that is no reason to get smug.”
Tension crackled between Li and Shanna. I hunkered down in my seat, wishing I could be in my dorm or maybe out walking with Sam and Lilah.
Mr. Hunter cleared his throat. “Now then. Apollo, I am afraid that what was said is correct. Your ability is one we cannot help you figure out how to control. Shanna is able to control her visions by focusing… but as you are asleep when you have yours, that is not something you are able to do.”
I felt a bit deflated at that, wondering what the point of this class was if I couldn’t control them. I began to ask but Mr. Hunter said, “What we can do is help you figure out how to interpret them and perhaps give you better understanding into your ability.”
“What understanding?” I asked a bit bitterly. “I see horrible shit happen and then it happens in real life. I can’t stop it…”
“Maybe you can, with better understanding of your dreams,” he said in a comforting way. “Now–why don’t you tell us about a happy vision you’ve seen?”
“Painting happy little bushes next to a happy little river,” Li mumbled but this time xe wasn’t admonished.
I felt miserable the rest of the week. Part of me had kinda hoped Mr. Hunter would help me figure out a way to stop the visions but apparently that wasn’t gonna be happening. The classes began blurring together once I had properly gone to each of them and soon we landed on the weekend. It felt good not to have to go to classes and be able to do what I wanted all day long (well, I did have homework and we were assigned some chores but still). Sam tried to get me to go on a walk with him at like, 6 in the morning but I just rolled over and told him to go on ahead. I slept in till about ten before finally ambling out of bed and off to find something to eat.
I looked around the kitchen then finally up at the ceiling where Blake Rice perched, wings beating wildly to keep him up there. “Hey. Hiding from someone?”
He glanced at the doorway then tumbled down to the floor. “Maybe. Would you tell someone you’ve been with me for the past, like, hour?”
I sighed heavily. “What did you do now?” By this point I knew just how much trouble the pixie could get into. He already had three nights of detention and an extra essay to write.
“Nothing!” Blake protested. “Well, nothing really baaaad. Just a bit of… errr… mighta filled Professor Soares’s desk with glitter. A bit. Some. Sort of.”
I snorted with laughter at the thought of our hates-anything-ostentatious-and-gaudy teacher opening her desk to find glitter everywhere. “Watcher, you’re gonna be in so much trouble for that one!”
“Only if I don’t have an alibi!” he said with a hopeful grin.
Before I could respond, Casimir stalked into the room. He shot me an angry glare. “Well, well, well. Apollocalypse. How’s the world doing today? Gonna end anytime soon? And–” He stopped when he spotted Blake and his lips went very thin. “And the asshole.”
Something I had noticed is Blake was pretty much the only kid in school who Casimir couldn’t really bully. Casimir went out of his way to avoid Blake and now I was finally seeing why.
“I’m an asshole now?” Blake perked up. “Awesome, that means everyone needs me. Assholes are very important. I mean, without me people would probably die then, right?” He tapped his chin. “Cause how would you poop without one? Haven’t people died from not pooping? Didn’t some King die from not pooping? APOLLO!” I jumped at that. “Look it up on your phone! How many people have died from not pooping! I must know.”
“You are such an idiot,” Casimir snarled.
Blake just smiled and bowed. “I do my best. Anyway back to not pooping. I guess werewolves and vampires wouldn’t need an asshole, right? Cause if they died from not pooping they’d just not die–wait, do vampires even poop? Werewolves poop, right Cassie?” Casimir’s face went very dark at that and I thought he might try to tear Blake’s throat out. “But–but do vampires poop? Huh. I never thought about that. I need to ask Booker or something.” He whipped a pen out of his pocket and began writing on his arm. “Ask… Booker… vampire… poop. I mean, would it be all red? UGH! That’d be disgusting!” He stared intently at me. “I think I might throw up now. Huh. I wonder if vampires throw up.” He began writing again. “And… vomit.” He tucked the pen behind his ear and smiled. “There. Now I can ask Booker all the important questions. Hey Cassie, do werewolves throw up? I mean I know they can throw up but usually vomiting is from illness and weres don’t get sick-sick, do they? What do pregnant werewolves do on the full moon? Do the babies in the womb turn into little puppies? Do newborn babies turn into puppies? What if a were gives birth on the full moon? What happens then?”
By this point Casimir had stormed out of the kitchen and I clutched at the table laughing. “Blake you are brilliant!”
He cracked a broad grin. “Thanks! But no seriously, do vampires poop?”
I wound up spending most the morning with Blake as he rampaged across the school leaving a trail of rubble in his wake. I was more fascinated than anything else at how easily he found something to destroy or booby-trap. Eventually, though, he was caught by a teacher and dragged off by his pointy ear as he protested his innocence in a not-too-convincing tone. Thankfully the teacher believed I had nothing to do with it and I was free to go on my bored way. Eventually I made my way outside to walk around in the woods nearby, making sure to keep within sight of the castle. It felt good to be outside, and the outside here felt very different than the outside back home. Crisper. Fresher. Perhaps because of a heavier concentration of magic?
I began wandering down a path that led uphill. I got farther and farther from the school until I couldn’t see it anymore but something seemed familiar. I rubbed the back of my head as I tried to figure it out. A dream, I realized when I reached a cliff. The dream I had with Sam there… I struggled to remember everything. Something huge had happened.
I screamed and jumped, turning to see Romance standing there, wisps of white hair blowing across her wide-eyed face. “I’m sorry, I didn’t mean to frighten you.”
“It’s f-fine,” I panted, feeling rather embarrassed.
She turned her head, staring out over the cliff. “What are you doing up here?”
“Um… just… thinking about things.” She made no response as if she expected me to continue but I didn’t really want to talk about the vision (especially since I couldn’t quite remember the important part) so I cleared my throat and, after a moment, I asked, “How about you?”
“I come up here to think sometimes.” More silence. She wrapped her arms around herself, shivering slightly when the wind kicked up. I wished I had a jacket to offer her. She looked very fragile and… like a whisper of winter wind through the bare tree branches… I didn’t know Cordell but his phrase couldn’t be closer to the truth. “You’ve had your first meeting with Shanna and Li and Mr. Hunter?”
“Huh? Oh, uh, yeah.”
She kept her gaze directed at the empty air above the cliff. “Did they say anything?”
About what? I studied her profile, trying to figure out what the heck she meant. I couldn’t discern anything though. “Ummm… Li can read minds and Shanna touches things to see the future, I think. That’s about all I got…”
Finally she faced me again, a small smile playing on her lips. “Plus those two hate each other. I’m guessing you figured that out too. Shanna believes herself to be above Li, and Li hates xyr ability.”
Say anything. The words churned in my head with the answer as to what she meant just out of reach. I began to ask her directly when someone else popped out of no where. At least when Sam said hello I wasn’t the only one to jump.
He grinned sheepishly. “Sorry guys. I forget how quietly I walk sometimes.”
Romance tucked a loose bit of hair behind her ear. “I better go. See you later Apollo, Sam.” She gave us each a distant smile before going back into the woods.
We watched her until we couldn’t see her then Sam asked, “Did I interrupt anything? If you were making a move or anything I am seriously sorry–“
“No!” I squeaked out, going as red as my hair or at least feeling like I did. “N-no, we were just talking. Not even that really, she just said… said…” Say anything. Shanna could see the future like me. Had Shanna seen something involving me and Romance? “Where did Lilah go? I thought she was walking with you.”
Sam shrugged. “She wanted to go on a flight. Can’t exactly go with her there. Wanna head back to the school or hang out up here?”
I shuddered and moved towards the woods. “Let’s go back to the school. The wind’s getting pretty strong.” Honestly, though, I just felt uncomfortable standing at the top of the cliff with Sam because whatever my dream had been, it had ended in tragedy.
After that the autumn began going pretty fast. Between classes and hanging out with my new friends, it seemed like the days just whizzed by. October came in with storms and anticipation for Halloween since that was a big holiday in the school. Students began walking around in costume weeks before the day hit and decorations followed soon after.
“–m saying is we should do it. There’s nothing to be afraid of.”
“I am not afraid! I’m just saying it’s incredibly stupid, and utterly pointless. And they won’t think any better of us, if that’s what you’re expecting.”
“Expecting? What I’m expecting is we prove our balls and then terrorize them! We can totally freak them out, it’s easy.”
“Oh like they’d–Sam! Apollo! Good, come here.”
Sam and I were headed back to our dorm about a week before Halloween and the door to Blake and Eli’s dorm was open, revealing them arguing over something. Eli spotted us and waved for us to go in. We did… albeit a bit nervously as who knew what sort of thing would explode the moment we stepped over the thresh hold between Eli’s inventions and Blake’s pranks. But nothing happened (except I noticed one of them had a picture of my father up… what the heck?!).
“Wassup?” Sam asked, casually leaning back against the wall.
“Blake thinks we should spend the night at the old McCormick place,” Eli grumbled. “Apparently he had a run in with some of the local assholes who’ve dared him.”
Blake made a face. “They think we’re all freaks–“
“And that won’t change anything!” Eli emphasized his words with a punch of the wall making me flinch. “They’ll still hate us!”
Blake shrugged. “If we stay the night, they’ll have the stay the night and then we can scare them. Holy hell can we scare them!” He grinned wickedly and sent little creepy green flares of smoke up from the tips of his fingers.
Eli reached over and smacked Blake’s hand, sending the smoke drifting into nothing. “They’ll never stay the night after us and besides, they’d be doing the same to us.” He then gave me a glance. “You’ve never been into town yet, have you? A lot of the local kids hate us. Fair warning.”
“They bully us,” Sam yawned. “I try to ignore them but it seems Blake has gotten us all into a bit of trouble by accepting a dare.”
Blake perked up. “You’re with me?”
“Dude, if we chicken out it’ll be all the more hell for us next time we go into town,” Sam said. Eli scowled deeply. “Eli, you don’t need to go. Blake and I should be enough to satisfy their need for whatever revenge they think this is.”
“H-hey!” I stammered. “I’d go!”
Blake burst into laughter. “No way, man. The McCormick place is terrifying. You’re not–I mean, no offense but you’re not…”
“I’m not what?” I demanded angrily. “Magical enough?” I turned to Sam, annoyed to see a passive look on his face. “You agree with him?”
“I just think that things could be dangerous, and you’re not really in much of a position to defend yourself if anything happens,” Sam said.
I couldn’t help but snort. “How dangerous can it be? I’ve lived my entire life with a ghost. All they can really do is nag.”
“Not all ghosts are like that,” Eli said quietly. “Not Miss McCormick. She’s out for blood, according to the legends.” He shoved his glasses up the bridge of his nose. “If Blake and Sam wish to endanger themselves, I won’t have anything to do with it. You shouldn’t either. Even if nothing happens the lot of you will be in trouble if you’re caught. When you’re caught, I should say.”
“Sneaking out, eh?”
We all jumped and spun to the open doorway, staring at Kiley. Her hooded gaze focused only on me though and I immediately looked down at the ground, trying not to blush. “What? Was this supposed to be a private conversation? You shouldn’t leave the door open in that case.” She stepped in, shutting the door behind her. “You’re going to stay at the McCormick place, yes?” She edged closer to me. “I’ll go too.”
“Sorry, guys only,” Blake said.
Kiley narrowed her eyes even more and snapped her fingers. Blake let out a choking sound as he was jerked upward towards the ceiling. His wings began beating wildly and his feet kicked at the air. Then he dropped like a stone to the ground. “I’m not in the mood to deal with any sexist pigtalk, Blakey. I’m going.”
“You only want to go cause Apollo’s going,” Eli pointed out.
“So what if I am?” Her arm brushed against mine and I felt sudden fear I’d be thrown helpless into the air as well. I never realized before how at the mercy I could be to someone’s magic like that. “Now then tell me, why are we going and when?”
Our group of four almost doubled by the time we actually went. Blake and Sam of course. Me. Kiley. Zaid too. Originally Clifford was gonna join us but he backed out because he wanted to spend his time grooming. Then Ginny wanted to come too when she found out from Kiley. Finally Romance showed up out of the blue the day we grouped together, not saying anything as she came into our circle but holding a white backpack.
“Okay guys, for those that don’t know… the local brats have challenged us to stay the whole night at the McCormick place,” Blake explained for those that had no idea what was really going on which… okay, was most of us. “They threw the open dare at me. I’m glad all of you want to come too. Proves we’re not all a bunch of cowards.”
“Get to the point, Blake,” Ginny sighed.
“The point is, they’re gonna be trying their best to freak us out.” Blake folded his arms, sticking his chin stubbornly out. “But we’re better than them. We’re powerful. We’re not scared of anything they throw at us.”
“And… Miss McCormick?” Romance asked, speaking up for the first time since coming to our group.
Blake got a strange look on his face. “Uhhhh well, I’m sure if her ghost is real… uhh, she won’t cause us any trouble. Apollo’s got experience with ghosts anyway. Right?”
I swallowed a bit. “Um, j–just my grandfather really, and he’s not… I mean I’ve never technically seen–“
“Good!” Blake slapped my back heartily. “And if anything were gonna go wrong, he would have seen it anyway.”
“Let’s go!” he cut me off and began walking through the woods.
Sam elbowed me and rolled his eyes. “It’ll be fine, really. All that talk about danger is a bunch of nonsense.”
But Sam didn’t sound too sure and now I didn’t either. As we ventured deeper into the woods I began to get a really, really bad feeling.