Chapter 7: Science Teachers and Stormy Skies
It seemed we had arrived home just in time for the weekend. My mother was angry that I had missed two days of school but there wasn’t anything I could do about that anymore. After everything that happened during my journey to the New World the weekend was impossibly quiet, it probably had something to do with my mom refusing to let me leave the house. I felt I was to old to still be grounded, but that didn’t stop my mom. Tina decided to visit on Sunday, it seemed her mother had been sobbing when Tina had returned. Her mother was much more lenient then mine, a medusa couldn’t beat a demon in evil mothering power it seemed.
My only consolation was that Jamel was staying at my house so I didn’t feel that much like being grounded. I took the time to tell her everything that had happened before we had met and she told me a little about what happened to her too. It wasn’t much different then the old couple had told me or what I had suspected all along. However it was nice to hear the story from her, it gave a new perspective on the events. I won’t repeat it here though because most of it is stuff I have already told you.
Monday rolled around soon enough and it was time to go to school once again. I keep having unusual experiences so returning to school felt odd compared to everything I have been through. My big problem was what to do with Jamel while I went to school. It would have been too unusual for her to not have school so I couldn’t leave her at home while I went off to school.
I’m just glad I had left my phone in my bag when I had dived into the pool after Tina. It seems someone had found my bag and shoes and had returned them to my house. While my mom had confiscated my phone over the weekend I had gotten it back before I left for school. I had left early with Jamel, telling my mom that I needed the time to get all the homework that I hadn’t gotten and to catch up from my two missed days.
As I walked slowly toward school I made the phone call that I had been desperately needing to make. The phone rang several times and I almost though it wasn’t going to be answered when I heard a voice on the other end, “Eh, Ema... why are you calling me so early in the morning?” The voice sounded groggy, like the speaker hadn’t gotten much sleep. That was probably likely, she had some strange hobbies and usually stayed up late at night during the weekend.
“What are you saying? You should be awake by now. School starts in an hour and a half. Did you stay up all night bothering helpless people again?” My question was light and teasing. She always liked it when I pretended to be interested in her hobbies.
She giggled for a second and there was a pause on the other end of the line, I’m sure that she was checking her clock. “Oh? Your right, it is almost time for school to start.” She didn’t sound very worried. I heard some shuffling on the other side of the phone, she must have started getting ready. There was a yawn, “Thanks for the wake-up call, I don’t know what I would do without you Ema.”
“You’d probably miss class, it wouldn’t be the first time it would happen. The principle gets angry then that happens you know. But I actually called you because I had a favor to ask you. There is a friend I need you to keep at your house for a while. I can explain everything later but I need to keep her at your house during school today.”
That elicited a, “Oh really?” I could hear her getting interested. “Your going to have to tell me everything after school, I really want to know what happened.” I could hear what sounded like glee in her voice. I knew she was probably going to press me for details for hours tonight, she could get a little obsessive at times. “Well then, I’m assuming your almost here. I’ll be down in a moment, I can’t wait to see who your friend is.” I wasn’t sure what she was thinking as I hung up my phone.
Jamel looked at me questioningly, I gave her a reassuring smile. “Don’t worry, my friend my be a little strange but she will be able to keep you are her house for a long as you want. It will better then trying to explain everything to my Mother.”
It didn’t that long to arrive at my other friend’s house. She didn’t live to far from school, which is a good thing because she would constantly miss class if that wasn’t the case. It was a short squat building with dull colored paint. I went up and knocked on the door, it wasn’t too long before the door was flung open by a tall woman wearing a blood-stained lab coat. She began laughing maniacally and I heard what sounded like lightning and the splattering of rain even though it was a completely cloudless day.
I gave her a level stare before asking, “Don’t you think adding the audio track was a bit much?”
The woman swept her long red hair up before responding, “If something is worth doing, it is worth overdoing.” This loud woman was Miss. Krien Brain. She was my friend and the science teacher at my school. She was also a Freak so she still looked like a human. Freak is a rude way to refer the Gifted humans whose change during the Great Change was acquiring unusual powers. I usually don’t use the word Freak except for Miss Krien Brain for whom it always seems appropriate. As for her name, I still think that she changed her last name to Brain.
She stalked over toe Jamel. Krien stared over Jamel with a kind of scientific precision before reaching out and grabbing her hair, “Your hair, is fascinating.” There was a creepy tone in her voice. “Your arms and legs too.” Krien turned to me and smiled her too creepy smile, “Your letting such an interesting specimen stay with me. You’re too kind. Now you absolutely must tell my your story.”
Jamel didn’t even twitch when Krien ran her fingers through her hair. Maybe such a creepy person brought out Jamel’s inner monster more. “I’ll tell you the story after school but now we need to get going or we will be late.”
Krien let go of Jamel sort of regretfully. “Very well, you can stay at my place. Be a good girl and don’t leave until I get back, I haven’t had a chance to examine you yet. You can make yourself home anyway you want and there is probably food in the fridge if you want it, I don’t think there is anything poisonous in there. Just don’t let anything out of cages while I’m gone and you shouldn’t have much to worry about.”
Jamel nodded some before responding, “Don’t worry. I’m a monster so I can take care of my self.” She sounded sort of proud of herself.
I waved goodbye to Jamel as Krien and I headed to school. As we walked toward school I asked Krien for another favor. She thought for a minute on it before nodding and replying, “Should be fun.” I was relieved, that would help deal with a lot of my problems. Plus if she thought it was interesting then she would get it done and no force on earth would stop her. Krien is a little, ok a lot, crazy and when she got into something she didn’t stop.
I told you Krien was a Freak right. Well, Gifted humans have unusual powers and Krien’s was being hard to stop. I mean that in a shot several times and still coming way. Krien made a crazy science teacher because she didn’t care for safety gear and did things like stick her bare hand directly in the beaker of acid. As far as I could tell it was impossible for Krien to die from anything that wasn’t instantly fatal. She liked experiments where she could show the danger of something by exposing the danger directly to herself. The cleaning duty for the science classroom had long since learned effective ways of cleaning up blood.
Of course she only managed to keep her teaching license because she made sure that the students didn’t mimic her potentially dangerous actions. That and she was one of the most knowledgeable people in the world about human biology, mainly from experiments on herself.
There were a lot of students who were absolutely terrified of Krien. However some like me and Tina had learned that Krien was actually a really nice person... if a bit creepy and over the top. From what I learned apparently the reason she had become a teacher instead of a researcher was because she liked being with people even if a lot of people didn’t like being with her. When she had first started teaching at my school she kept inviting people into the science lab for tea, but nobody wanted to join her. She hadn’t done that recently, I guess now that she is mostly accepted at the school and has a few students and teachers she could call friends she was satisfied. She is rather a strange person, as I’m sure I mentioned.
Once we reached school she left me to go prepare for classes when I tried to figure out what I have missed when I was gone for a couple of days. Luckily Tina and her mom had already arrived and I was able to figure out what I had missed from them.
The rest of the day passed relatively peacefully, Krien had decided to have another science experiment during class but that wasn’t unusual for Krien. Thinking back I should have been glad for that one calm day before things started happening again. I spent some of the time during lunch catching up with some of my other friends, I told them what had happened to me and they laughed and told me it was a great yarn. I don’t think they were being rude, its just the tail was fairly improbably. I wasn’t surprised they didn’t believe me.
There were still a couple of my friend I wasn’t able to talk with. A couple of them I thought would believe me. Quell, who was a year older then me would probably believe me. He was local bookworm and loved hearing stories about the troubles Tina got in. I’m sure he would love to hear what had happened to me. But he was in a different class I was had plans for after school so I wasn’t able to meet with him. The second one was Mink, but she was missing from school as usual. Mink was usually very sickly and tended to miss a lot of school. However I was busy so I didn’t have a chance to see either of them today.
Indeed I decided to head back to Krien’s place to check on Jamel. When I was got there I was happy to see that she was doing well. I was worried at first when it seemed that she had ignored Krien’s orders and opened up one of the cages. However It seemed that shrinking hadn’t weakened her monster factor and the weird thing that had been in the cage now followed her around like a pet. I was coming to realize that Jamel was usually a timid girl that had to much power. She had probably grown up being afraid of being a monster. It then just got to much for her when her father died and she began letting everything out all at once.
I talked with Jamel for a few minutes while waiting for Krien to arrive back home. I wanted to make sure our plan was going smoothly before returning home myself. I didn’t have to wait very long before Krien entered with a flourish and a cackle of laughter. Among her various other talents Krien made very flashy entrances.
“Were you successful?” I asked Krien.
Krien swept out her hand and announced, “Of course!” Before pulling a piece of paper out from somewhere and brandishing it. “As of tomorrow Jamel Fillmore will be a student at your high school” There was a crackle of thunder from somewhere nearby. I wondered how she had managed to time that sound effect that perfectly.
“What?” Jamel only stared confused at the piece of paper. “Me, a student, but that’s... impossible.” She seemed very hesitant, which was understandable. She had probably never been to a public school before. There might have only been one school in the entire city she grew up in.
I grinned at her before saying, “Come on, it will be fun. You’ll be going to the same school at me and Tina. Krien is also a teacher there so you will know plenty of people there. Beside at your age it will be hard to make up excuses if you aren’t going to school.”
She seemed to hesitantly agree. I was going to try and encourage her more when I heard another crackle of thunder. I looked over at Krien, “What was that for? Is there something you wanted to say?”
Krien shook her head, “No, that wasn’t caused by me. It seemed to come from outside.” That was strange, the sky had been clear all day. I couldn’t tell what was happening outside because Krien’s house didn’t have windows. So I headed to the door and peeked outside.
The sky which had been crystal clear when I had entered Krien’s house was now completely clouded. There was a flash of lightning nearby and then a clap of thunder. I would have whispered impossible but I was getting used to impossible events. I looked back in, “It seemed the weather has changed instantly. I had better start heading home in case it starts raining. Sorry Krien my story will have to come later. Jamel do you want to stay here with Krien, it would be easier if I didn’t have to keep lying to my mom and Krien probably wants you to stay.”
Krien grinned that creepy grin of hers and per her arm around Jamel’s shoulder. “She will be fine with me tonight.” It seemed Krien was ignoring Jamel’s protests. “You go ahead, I’ll listen to your story later once I’m done with Jamel.”
I nodded and after saying goodbye heading out there door. I was only a couple of blocks away from Krien’s house when I noticed it. It was now dark outside so it wasn’t surprising that it took me a while to notice it. Looming over the city, tall and dark, was a tower. It looked almost like the one I had meet Zero in, but I knew it wasn’t the same tower. This one dark as pitch and seemed to sport parapets and outcroppings. The one I had met Zero in was smooth and straight, unlike this one. However they were both impossibly tall and I knew that the similarity couldn’t just be coincidence.
“The Tower of Nothing.” I almost jumped out of my shoes when someone just behind me spoke. I turned to see Bix standing right behind me. Either I had been distracted by the tower or he were completely silent in his approach. I turned back to the tower, at least this tower wasn’t invisible to everyone, Bix was able to see it too, though I wouldn’t be surprised if other people couldn’t see it.
“The Tower of Nothing? I thought that was the tower that Zero was in.” I said absently. However when I though about it I remembered that Zero had repeated the statement ‘Your Third Question shall be answered in the Tower of Nothing’ when I left the invisible tower. It would have been strange to say that if I had already been to the Tower of Nothing and asked my Third Question.
“Zero?” For a second Bix sounded like he didn’t understand. Then he continued as if everything had made sense, “I see, is that what happened.” It was almost as if he was speaking to himself. “So Zero mentioned The Tower of Nothing. It has arrived sooner then I had hoped but later then I feared. The plan will still proceed on schedule.”
I looked at him wondering how much he really knew. “This isn’t just a coincidence that the tower appeared in the same city as I live in. Ever since I entered the New World everything seems to be happening like it was a someone’s plan. Bix tell my why I’m mixed up in every thing.”
“Instead of wondering why The Tower of Nothing appeared in city you live in instead wonder why you just happen to live in the city that the Tower of Nothing appeared in. That is where you will find the answers. I can't tell you all the answer to the questions you have, that is why I gave you the Destiny Watch to guide you.” He was still staring at the Tower of Nothing as if I wasn’t really there.
“What questions of mine can you answer then? I’m tired of not understanding what is happening around me.” He finally turned and meet my gaze. For a glimmering of a second I thought I saw fear in his eyes.
“The Tower of Nothing is neither good nor evil. Only you have the key to open it, though you have not found it yet. There are those who fear the Tower of Nothing and will stop at nothing to prevent you from open the doors. Be wary of them and gather your seven hands. I am doing my best to protect you but there is only so much I can do. I only other advice I can give you is that the Tower of Nothing is only seem by those you are involved in Destiny, be they friends or foes do not ignore someone who can see it.”
Bix turned at left, I wanted to follow him but I knew he was not the type of person to tell me more if he didn’t want to. Why though, why was I important? Even given that I was important what was inside the Tower of Nothing and why would someone want to stop me from entering it. It seemed that the only thing that I knew about it was that my third question would be answered inside it. Yet what was my third question? It seemed that every-time I discovered something I knew less and less about what was actually happening.
Before I knew it my feet had brought be back to my neighborhood. Even after the walk I still haven’t thought of any answers to my questions. I was passing Tina’s house when I looked up and saw Tina on the room. Seeing her there wasn’t unusual but what was unusual was that she was staring out at the tower. So Tina could see it too. It seemed that Tina noticed me and she looked down and said, “Ema, that tower. What is it? My mom, she can’t see it.” She looked back at the tower, “Somehow I get this bad feeling from it.”
I looked at the Tower again. I got a bad feeling too whenever I looked at it, though I don’t think it was because of the tower itself. I felt that its arrival foretold a darker future for me and that life wouldn’t be quiet from now on. There was something else too, something that I felt I was missing, but I couldn’t figure out what it was. I could only respond to Tina, “I don’t know. Only Ruin dwells within the Tower of Nothing.” I was surprised at myself. Why had I said that, that ruin dwells in the tower. Maybe that was just the feeling that the tower had given me, but maybe it was more then that. I didn’t know.
When I arrived home I heard my parents comment about the strange weather but not a word about the tower. Maybe they couldn’t see it so I didn’t say anything. After dinner I watched the TV with mom and dad. I mainly stuck around to listen to the news. There was a report but all it talked about was how unusual the storm was and how it appeared almost out of nowhere. There wasn’t any mention of the tower. I guess most people really couldn’t see it.
I laid down to sleep but tossed and turned. I didn’t seem to be able to sleep. Maybe I feared I would have nightmares about the tower outside. I could see it through my window as lay in bed. What are the chances that it would appear just in a place I could always see from from room.
Bix’s question then came to mind. He had said that I should wonder what I happened to be in the city where the tower was and not the other way around. Then why was I living in a house that just happened to have a clear view of the tower. It seemed that even thinking about it that way didn’t help. I still had no answers but lots of questions.
I tried ranking my question to figure out which was the third one, but that also didn’t help. I was never able to make up my mind about what should be the Third Question. I don’t know when but I eventually fell asleep.