So, I was fully intending to put this off until the end of the year and post it on fictionpress. Well, that little part of me that hates breaks and change decided now was a good time to write up a first chapter and see what you guys think. And I might still post it on fictionpress with different names, but we'll see. Anyway, I know this is short, but it's only the first chapter and the chapters will get longer with time.
Disclaimer: I do not own The Darkest Powers
"Keys," I muttered. "I know I had them yesterday."
I pulled up on my jacket and the entire content of my desk flooded over onto the floor. Grimacing, I leaned down to clean up my mess.
"Chloe!" Dad called from the kitchen. "You're going to be late!"
One quick glance at my alarm clock proved him right. Ignoring the mess and my lost keys, I swung my backpack over my shoulder and raced out of my bedroom. As I ran past the kitchen, Dad called out,
"Find your keys?"
"I'll walk!" I called back.
I raced down the stairs of the apartment building and sprinted through the first few blocks before slowing down to a walk. The strap of my backpack started cutting into my shoulder and I stopped to readjust. A motorcycle sped past me and I looked up, my eyes following it until it disappeared around the corner. Apparently I wasn't the only one late for something.
I continued on and sighed in relief when the school came into view. Being late on the first day was not the impression I wanted to make, especially when my first class is chemistry. I needed to stay on my teacher's good side if I expected to pass that class.
The halls were abuzz and filled to the brink when I stepped through the front door. I had to awkwardly stand behind a lot of hugging people before finally making it to my locker. As I emptied my backpack, I looked around at everybody. I spotted a group of girls actually crying as they hugged the life out of each other. I love my friends, but tears were never involved.
"Ugh, I think I might vomit," Mila said, walking up next to me.
Mila Andrews had been my best friend since middle school. She was sort of my self-proclaimed bodyguard and she didn't exactly play fair. She spent most of her days hiding underneath a bulky sweatshirt, making her appear smaller and weaker than she actually is, which comes in handy when someone bigger than her tries to pick a fight. She wasn't a violent person, but she could hold her own. I thought it was a shame she chose to go around in a giant sweatshirt. She has such a phenomenal figure. However, in eighth grade we had a swimming unit in gym. Matt Walters called her hot once and she hasn't shown an ounce of skin since.
"I'm sure there's an open stall somewhere," I said.
"I hate all this happy-feely crap," she complained. "Everybody is all happy and chipper; hugging everybody and exclaiming how much they missed them when in reality they were just as excited to get away from them for three months. And they're all retelling every disgusting detail about their summer vacation which they spent in sunny California having a romantic tryst with Pedro the cabana boy."
"I doubt everybody had a tryst with Pedro," I said. "Especially the guys."
"You never know," she said. "The grass is really greener."
I rolled my eyes, smiling. "What's your semester look like?"
"Psychology and Creative Writing," she said.
"That's exactly what you need," I said sarcastically. "To learn how to mentally disable people."
"How about you?"
"Gym," I said.
"They put you in gym?" she asked. "You'll be pummeled."
"Thanks for the confidence," I said. "At least I got theatre like I wanted."
"I don't think you had much competition with that one," Mila said. "You're probably the only person not in it for an easy A."
"Be that as it may," I said. "I plan to make this my best year yet."
"And I'll be the one on the sidelines cheering you on in spirit."
My first two hours passed as expected: roll call followed by an hour of introductory exercises, which was fine by me. Today was probably the only easy day I'd get all year for chemistry and algebra. My next class, however, was the one I was most worried about. My aunt assured me that nobody fails gym, but I was convinced that I'd be the first. I had no balance, no coordination, and no strength.
Stepping into the gym, I found my class and then proceeded to lean against the wall. I didn't recognize that many people. A handful of faces were familiar, but for the most part they were complete strangers. I did recognize two people, but it was a lost cause. The first was Amber Long. She was a senior and was the co-captain of the cheerleading squad. Not even in utter desperation would I talk to her, though. I wasn't one to slander others, but she was the greatest bitch I'd ever met. She practically ran the school. Well, almost ran it. The quarterback of the football team was the king. We have a new quarterback this year because our old one graduated. I didn't know who the new one was, but he now reigned supreme and Amber would have her claws in him in no time. In fact, she practically decided who you could and couldn't date. For instance, if he was captain of any of the sports teams, you could forget it.
The other person I recognized was Simon Bae. He was also a senior and, like Amber, was as popular as they come. Unlike Amber, Simon had a little substance to go with his popularity. Underneath his popular exterior, he was genuinely a nice guy. I hadn't really ever talked to him, but he didn't make the friends he had just by his social standing. Even his flaws boasted his status. Simon Bae was as fickle as a person could get. I couldn't really criticize him, though. At least he was honest about it. He didn't exactly make my heart go pitter-patter, though. Even if it did, there was a little problem. Simon was captain of the basketball team. An instant dating no-go.
"Alright, everybody to the center," Coach Wilson shouted as he came in wheeling a cart full of basketballs.
I pushed myself off the wall and followed everybody to the center of the gym. The coach has us stand in a line and he numbered us off into groups of four. I wasn't really paying attention, so when I wandered over to my group, I was surprised to find myself with Amber and Simon. The last person was some guy from the basketball team.
"Every group gets one ball," Coach Wilson announced. "You're going to practice passing."
I sighed. Time to test my butterfingers. Simon started it off first and we went around clockwise. We had a pretty good rhythm going down until I missed and it rolled into the middle of our circle. Simon and I went for it at the same time and he ended up grabbing my hand.
"Sorry," he said, flashing that charming smile my way.
I shook my head. "My fault."
I stepped back and let him take the ball. He passed it to Amber, who was supposed to pass to Peter, the other guy. Before I knew what happened, she launched it at me and it collided with my head.
"Learn to catch," she snapped.
I blinked away the cartoon birdies and picked up the ball. Resisting the urge to hit her back, I passed it to Simon.
Gym ended soon after, which I would have cheered about if my head wasn't throbbing. Simon and Peter wandered off and I leaned down to pick up the ball. Before I could touch it, somebody's foot came flying out of nowhere and sent it rolling across the gym. I looked up to see Amber standing above me. Even after I stood up, she still had at least half a foot on me.
"Listen up, pipsqueak," she said. "I run this school. Don't think I didn't notice your attempt at stealing Simon. He's mine and I don't need some freshman coming in and thinking they can take him."
"I'm not a fr-"
"I'm talking!" she snapped. "Come basketball season, Simon's going to be a big star and I'm going to be on his arm. So you can forget about him. And hands off the quarterback."
She pulled back and plastered on the fakest smile I'd ever seen. "Have a nice day."
I watched her as she walked across the gym, her heels clicking against the hardwood. I wasn't exactly sure when just happened, but I had a feeling I'd just made an enemy.
My headache had dimmed a little when I got to English. I took a seat next to Mila and told her about my adventures in gym.
"Amber needs somebody's foot up her ass," Mila said. She looked around the room and grimaced. "Yippee. English. My favorite class."
"Has anyone ever told you that you have a deeply cynical nature?" I asked.
"My parents tried to send me to a therapist," she said.
"He had to see a therapist," she said dryly.
I shook my head and turned my attention to the woman who had just walked into the room.
"For those of you who don't know or can't read, I am Ms. Davis. For those of you who can read, congratulations. You have something in common with most six-year-olds. Yes, there is an 'R' in front of my name. If you learn when it stands for, I suggest you keep it to yourself. If I hear anybody call me by it, there will be a foot-shaped indent in your ass."
"I think I might love her," Mila whispered to me.
Ms. Davis continued. "Most of your teachers will begin by doing an introductory activity to get to know each other. I will not. You've had twelve years to learn each other's names."
Mila and I shared a look.
"From now until the end of the year, each of you will be responsible for a project. It will focus on sports. I don't care which sport you do, but along with it you will hand in a twelve-page paper. This assignment is due at the end of the year. You can pick up a rubric at the end of class."
At the end of class, we finally got a break in the form of lunch. When we entered the cafeteria, we found Sam waiting for us. Sam Martin has been my friend almost as long as Mila has. She moved to Buffalo in eighth grade and our little band of misfits adopted her. Sam wasn't a raving beauty like Mila, but what she lacked in looks she made up for in brains. She was probably the smartest student in school. Well, second smartest. She gets private tutoring in math because she's already taking college-level math. According to her, there's a guy who has a private tutor as well, but he's a few levels above her. She won't tell us who he is though. There must be some genius trust thing that we dimwits aren't aware of.
"Good table," I said, sitting down.
"I had to kill two people," Sam said.
"Where'd you hide the bodies?" Mila asked.
"In the sloppy joes," she said.
I dropped my sandwich back on the tray. Appetite ruined.
"That's why I don't eat meat," Mila said as she stabbed a tomato from her salad with a fork.
"Because it may be dead people?" I asked.
"Yes," she said. "You can't hide dead people in lettuce."
"But you can harvest vegetables that were grown from the nutrients of decaying bodies," Sam said.
I dropped my carrot stick next to the sloppy joes.
"Thanks, Sam," I said. "You should do weight-loss videos. Ten steps to a disgusted you."
"Speaking of disgusting," Mila said. "Check out Amber. She's gonna need bib for all that drool."
I looked over to the table occupied by the basketball team. She was leaning over Simon's shoulder and laughing at something one of the guys had said. My eyes drifted to the seat next to Simon. It was empty.
"The football team is eating lunch on the field," Sam said, reading my mind.
"Oh," I said.
It was no secret among my friends that a certain football player had caught my eye last year. I never told him, though. I was going to tell him on the last day, but he didn't come to school. Not that it really would have made a difference. He was too high socially to even notice me.
When lunch ended, I had study hall. Normally I spent the hour doing homework, but I didn't have any yet, which meant I had to figure something else out.
Walking into the classroom, I stopped dead in my tracks. Sitting at the back of the room with his feet kicked up on the desk and a book propped open in front of him was the football player I'd just been thinking about. Derek Souza. But there was something different about him. The first thing was he'd gained about twenty pounds of muscle, as evidenced by the straining fabric of his t-shirt. The second thing was the sheer amount of girls gawking at him, most importantly Amber Long who was sitting in the second seat at his table and gushing about something while undressing him with her eyes. And seeing how Amber only went after top guys, Derek had obviously make quarterback this year.
I felt the air rush out of my lungs and I claimed a seat in the front of the room. If Derek was quarterback, he was completely out of my league.
When Ms. Davis walked in to start study hall, the room went silent. Apparently her reputation was widely known. She took a seat and started sifting through papers, completely ignoring us. When a sophomore started talking to the person next to him, she looked up and sent him a death glare. That shut him up instantly.
By the time the final bell rang, I was exhausted. I trudged to my locker and after two attempts to remember the combination, I finally got it open. I packed my backpack with what I needed and shut my locker. I was so zoned out that I didn't notice the open locker next to me and I walked into it. My face collided and his slammed shut. Embarrassed, I kept my eyes screwed shut. I expected complaining. When I heard the sound of someone turning the lock, I opened my eyes and froze. Standing at the locker next to me was Derek. He completely ignored me and filled his bag. Shutting his locker, he turned and walked off without saying a word.
I stood, frozen in place, and watched his back as he headed off towards football practice. Derek Souza has the locker next to mine. This is going to be a long year.
Voila! What do you think?