Zeke walked down a round earthen tunnel softly lit by torches. He kept feeling like something was calling to him, pulling him farther along. It was rather strange. Even though Zeke knew he was in a dream, he was surprised at how realistic it felt. He could smell the burning wood and sap from the torches and feel the slight breeze wafting from the openings somewhere at either end of the tunnel, bringing along the rather peculiar hints of an ocean and fruit. He heard his feet pattering on the damp ground as he walked and the torch lights crackling as they burned. The smell of fruit was growing stronger with each step. Just then, Zeke noticed a light at the end of the tunnel, but before he could go investigate, he felt his body shaking and heard a voice calling to him, slowly bringing him back to reality.
He woke to find his mother, Meera, standing over him, shaking him. â€œZeke?â€ he heard her call softly. â€œSorry I woke you up, honey, but you were having a bad dream.â€ He sighed softly. Why did she have to wake him right then? If he remembered correctly, this dream had been coming to him every single night for the past two weeks straight. The tunnel seemed never-ending. He would always wake before he could reach the end. What could it mean? He sighed softly once more and looked over at his motherâ€™s concerned face.
Meera was shorter than her son by at least two feet. She had dark brown, almost black, hair that flowed down to her shoulders in waves and was a rather robust woman with hazel eyes that sparkled when she laughed. She was wearing a black silk robe that matched her hair and was held closed by a silk belt tied neatly in a bow at her back along her waist.
He nodded and looked out the window quietly, rubbing his eyes with a soft yawn as he said, â€œIt's alright, Mom. What time is it?â€ He asked the question for sake of conversation as his deep green eyes had already caught the bright red display sitting on the desk next to his bed.
â€œIt's just past one, dear. You were mumbling and tossing about in your sleep. I thought it best to wake you,â€ she answered, lightly stroking his hair, noting how he didnâ€™t quite meet her eyes, as if he was upset with her for disturbing him. â€œWhat were you dreaming about, honey?â€
â€œAlmost had it that time,â€ he mumbled quietly, not listening to his mother, as if she wasnâ€™t there. He was off in his own world thinking about the tunnel. What could it mean?
â€œHad what, Zeke?â€ Meera asked gently. â€œYou kept mumbling that in your sleep.â€
Zeke glanced over at her, lightly biting his lip before looking back out the window. It was a clear night, the stars shining brightly in the gray darkness of night. The two moons, Luna and Galaz, glimmered as bright as the three suns in the middle of the day. Earth, Mylaran's North Star, was reflected in his eyes. The planet never moved from over Mylaran's North Pole, which was the reason why it was named the North Star. It wasnâ€™t too far away, so the suns reflected on its surface making it shine as bright as any star; yet it never moved. It was one of the mysteries in the space around Mylaran. The scene outside his window, however, was play of light and shadow. The moons cast enough light that it looked like it was daylight outside, but the light was pale in contrast to that of the two dwarf stars and the red giant that made up the three suns of Mylaran during the day. It really threw off oneâ€™s sleeping schedule. He lived on the outskirts of town, so his two-story red brick house was hidden amongst the trees on the edge of the lake. The lake itself was crystal clear and dark at the same time that night. It reflected the night sky perfectly. In the center, Luna and Galaz were reflected, making them look like two eyes peering back up at the sky. He thought for a moment longer about the mysterious dream before having to focus his full attention to Meera. â€œIt was my soccer ball, Mom. I dreamed I had lost it down a well,â€ he answered slowly.
Meera could tell, as any mother could, that her son was lying to her. She smoothed the black sheet blanket that was lying over her son as she picked her words. â€œAre you sure you're okay?â€ she asked nonchalantly, trying to prod information out of him. â€œI know you haven't been sleeping well. What's been bothering you?â€
â€œI'm fine, Mom,â€ answered Zeke, faking a yawn (which promptly turned into a real one), not fooled by the innocent act. â€œI'm just worried about the game coming up next week. I should really try to get back to sleep. Goodnight.â€
â€œGoodnight, sweetheart,â€ said Meera with a soft sigh, knowing her son would not tell her anything else. She got up, walked to the door, clapped her hands to shut out the light and walked out. The door slid closed automatically behind her.
Zeke waited until her footsteps had died away before lying on his back, looking up at the ceiling that he had programmed to look like deep space. The walls were programmed to look that way as well so Zeke's mother had bought him a carpet for his floor that looked the same way as the rest of his room. The carpet looked like the twenty planets, fifty moons, and three stars solar system that Mylaran was a part of, glowing in the dark, with the programs on the walls and ceiling actually moving. He could see a star dying and being reborn without having to actually travel into outer space. A young scientist by the name of Barik Kontara had developed this technology that used the same concept as an old laptop. Using the LCD screen's technology, he had made wallpaper with the thin, flat microchips that one could easily post to his or her wall or ceiling and program them to do just about anything. Zeke would always pretend to be floating off in space, often putting him to sleep easily.
Nothing hung from the walls in his room. His bed was in the shape of a flying saucer complete with lights that circled it. Next to his bed was his dresser that held the only light in his room next to the glowing yellow and green ring around his bed: a desk lamp. It looked like a black vase but the galaxy patterns on the outside swirled like real galaxies did. He had mobiles and model rockets everywhere. He even built a human-sized model rocket that sat in the corner of his room with a bookcase next to it filled to the brim with astronomy books and had a Galilean thermometer on top of it. Currently the temperature read 70 degrees Fahrenheit. In the other corner of his room sat a music stand and a trumpet case. He had been practicing for his audition for marching band that was coming up in the next few days. His soccer ball was there as well to remind him to practice for his big game. Being in both band and soccer really took a lot out of him, but Zeke didnâ€™t care. He enjoyed being busy with things that he loved.
Why this comes to me every night, Iâ€™ll never know, he thought to himself. I never get to the end. I guess I'd better try getting back to sleep. I have school tomorrow. He rolled back over and closed his eyes, drifting off into a dreamless sleep.
Zeke was a tall, yet normal, boy by Mylaran standards. He was a 6'5'', skinny, yet muscular and rather handsome sixteen-year old with short black hair. He usually wore jeans or shorts and a t-shirt unless he was in his uniform for band or soccer. Most people were surprised at his complexion, however. Unlike most, he didnâ€™t tan or burn. Even though he was usually out under all three suns most of the day, his skin remained white and pale. Zeke was the type of kid one could look to for leadership, although he never wanted to lead. He had become leader of the brass section in only a few short months. The band director had seen his potential to go far with his playing. Even though he had declined the brass leader position, the director put him there anyway. He received pretty good grades in school, but since the dreams began his grades had been slipping. He zoned off in class just thinking about it, and his mother was called into school about it on one occasion.
Zeke had been in gym class that day, playing outfield in starball. It was a game similar to Earth's baseball but instead the ball was a round, sphere-like, cloth-covered object filled with miniature pieces of rocks that came from Galaz, the closer of Mylaran's moons. Zeke had been staring off past the game he was involved in, zoned out, and someone hit a fly ball in his direction. One of his teammates, noticing that Zeke wasn't paying attention, had yelled at him but he hadn't listened so she ran off to catch the ball. Zeke was still zoned out when the player reached him and they collided. The only good thing that came out of it was the girl had caught the ball for an automatic out. Zeke ended up with a broken ankle, bloody nose, and two bruised ribs. The girl only ended up with a sprained ankle and some bruising on her elbows. Meera had been called in, and she had a long talk about Zeke's performance with the guidance counselor. After that, Zeke and Meera went home since the high-tech medicine would only keep him off his feet for one or two weeks rather than a few months. Zeke made sure to not zone off in gym class again.
Besides his reoccurring dream, Zeke had one stranger characteristic. This one started up randomly; mostly at times he didn't expect or want it to. Zeke couldn't explain it, but he could â€œhearâ€ other people's thoughts. Every so often, he would â€œhearâ€ someone say something, or at least he thought he did. When he looked at that person, he or she would be sitting there, listening quietly to the teacher or chatting with a friend about something that had nothing to do with what he thought he had heard. He never told people about what he thought he heard. He didnâ€™t want them to give him surprised stares or forced blank looks. It also would have brought about awkward questions. Despite this and his dreams, he managed to get through life without any major problems; well, major normal problems as he was soon to discover.
â€œWhy did you do that?â€ asked Zach, confused.
It was two weeks after his mother had woken him from his dream. He was sitting in his second period geometry class listening to his teacher, Mr. Monder, lecturing about Pythagoreanâ€™s Theorem and its uses in a right triangle.
Mr. Monder was a well-aged man. He had streaks of brown left in his curly, fuzzy gray hair, mustache, and what little bit of stubble he would let grow before shaving it off. He had dimpled and wrinkled cheeks from laughing and smiling too much as if the world was a private joke of his. His skin was tanned a deep tan and muscles were prominent. Mr. Monder gave pop quizzes once or twice a week as if it were a religion. He never missed his weekly pop quizzes. Bonus was always a number puzzle given once a month.
The room Mr. Monder taught in had white walls like the rest of the school, but he had covered them with posters of math equations and little comics. The students had laughed when he pointed out his favorite. On it, a turtle was sitting in front of its class. Next to it there were two rabbits. The turtle had a bubble over its head that read â€œMultiplication will be taught today by the rabbit.â€ A few others had rhymes and one or two showed previous winners in big math competitions. Mr. Monder would always hide the posters that showed that weekâ€™s lesson so the students wouldnâ€™t be tempted to cheat from it.
Zeke was stretching after Mr. Monder had taken the quiz from him and got a real shocker when his pencil flew up and hit him on the nose. Zeke looked around but everyone was paying attention to the teacher so he was sure he had done it himself, but didn't have the slightest clue how he had done it. Luckily, he was sure no one else but Zach noticed what had happened.
Zeke looked over at his best friend. Though they were the same age, Zach was shorter and stockier than Zeke. Zach also had short, dirty-blond hair and green eyes. He always wore baggy camouflage jeans that had big pockets and dark colored t-shirts that showed off his rather muscular body underneath. Zach was normally a prankster and was always keeping an eye on the girls to see if one could be his match, but he could never stick with a girl very long. Zeke and Zach had been friends since their fifth year in primary school. They were put on different teams during the same dodgeball game and the match took them the rest of the class. Neither one got out. They met afterwards and soon became best friends. Now, Zach had a look of confusion on his face.
Zeke shrugged at Zach, who immediately came up with a different question. He was always full of questions or blond jokes. â€œWell, how did you do it without touching it?â€ asked Zach softly. â€œCould you make it hit someone else?â€
Zeke shrugged again, lightly biting his lip, and motioned for Zach to pay attention to Mr. Monder and act like nothing had happened. In truth, Zeke was just trying to buy some time to figure out how he had done it. Was it a motion he had made with his hands or something else entirely? He was sure he had done something but he wasnâ€™t sure what it could have been. He managed to at least buy a few minutes of thinking time before Zach interrupted his thoughts.
â€œAre you going to tell me?â€ asked Zach softly.
â€œTo be honest, Zach, I really don't know how I did it,â€ answered Zeke with a slight shrug. â€œIt was an accident.â€
Zach's face changed from a look of excitement to one of puzzlement. Before he could open his mouth to say anything, however, their conversation was interrupted by a voice behind them saying, â€œYou're lucky Mr. Monder didn't see that, Zeke.â€ Zach scowled at the interruption.
Zeke smiled slightly as he turned partially in his seat to see his second best friend, Jade. She was a tall, beautiful, willowy-looking girl who was the same age as Zach and Zeke. She had long, straight, waist-length hair that was silky smooth and as black as a midnight sky. She also had shocking, jade-green eyes that were her namesake. In a way, her appearance reminded him of his mother. Zeke and Jade had been friends since their first year of primary school. They talked about almost everything together. Zeke hadn't mentioned the dreams or hearing other people's thoughts to her though. He thought it would be awkward for the both of them. He kept a few other things from her as well and was almost positive that she kept things from him. She was easily the smartest kid in their grade and it was a wonder that she hadnâ€™t been pushed into becoming a junior instead of being a tenth-grader with them. She always received top marks and was constantly reading even during class. The teachers knew she could ace any of their tests so she pretty much got away with anything. There were more benefits to having her as a friend than Zeke first realized as she would always be able to help him out in any of the subjects he struggled with.
There were only two classes she did poorly at: chorus and gym. Although she was a lithe teenager, she wasnâ€™t very fast. She relied heavily on her fast-thinking to get her out of situations. She also couldnâ€™t sing. Most girls her age could sing prettier than a bird, but Jade couldnâ€™t carry a tune in a bucket. Despite either of these, Zeke knew that if he was ever in a jam, Jade would be the one he trusted to get him out of it.
Zach, however, didn't trust her, having known her for only about three years. He didnâ€™t like Jade being a know-it-all and barely talked to her. â€œThanks for pointing out the obvious, Sherlock,â€ whispered Zach sarcastically. â€œJust ignore her, Zeke. She's going to get you in trouble.â€
Jade just ignored Zach. Her piercing gaze was on Zeke. â€œIt was an accident, Jade,â€ he mumbled uncomfortably. â€œI don't know what happened.â€
Jade's look changed from piercing to skeptical as if she didnâ€™t quite believe him. â€œI think you would have noticed something.â€
â€œNo, Jade, I honestly didn't,â€ whispered Zeke defensively. â€œI was just stretching when it happened.â€
Before Jade could answer, Zach interrupted. â€œIf Zeke says he doesn't know; then he doesn't, Jade,â€ he said, coming to Zeke's defense. â€œStop pestering him and trying to be an insufferable know-it-all like always. How can you say you are his friend? Just trust him.â€ Zeke shot Zach a look that said he had taken it a bit too far, but it was already too late and the damage had been done.
Jade sat back in her chair, crossed her arms, and refused to talk to either of them throughout the rest of math. As the bell rang to signal the end of class, Zeke turned to apologize to Jade but found she had already left. He rushed out of the classroom, but he couldn't find her anywhere. Resigned, he went to lunch.
The tables were round and large enough to fit six to seven people at a table. Both chair and tables were black. The rest of the room was a spotless white, with a row of windows on the west side looking out over the soccer field. The floor was white tiled linoleum, with a grey swirled pattern, to give a different shade to the room. Here, anyone who didnâ€™t bring a lunch had to pay for their food. The students would go through a door toward the front of the cafeteria which would lead them in through the kitchen. There, they had several choices per day. Mainly it was a sandwich or some other healthy food with a carton of milk or juice and a fruit. Every lunch had the basic food groups in it even when it didnâ€™t look like it. For those who got lunch and forgot their student card, they had to press their thumb to a scanner. Dessert was a bit different. Anyone could get dessert. It was free. All they had to do was walk up to one of the five machines and stick their heads in. The machine, depending on which you went to, would make ice cream, yogurt, cakes, pies, or brownies and cookies. It all depended on what you were craving at the time.
As he walked into lunch, he saw her sitting at a lunch table all to herself reading a book as she ate. Zeke sighed, knowing that as soon as Jade was reading a book, it was useless to try and talk to her. He walked over to the lunch table where he and Zach usually sat at to find Zach chatting with someone else. This kid seems familiar, but Iâ€™m sure I haven't seen him around here before. Strange... thought Zeke as he walked over and sat down, starting to eat.
Zach finished his conversation and looked at Zeke. â€œNo luck, huh?â€ he said. Zeke shook his head, looking at the new kid, but Zach didnâ€™t seem to notice as he continued. â€œI really don't see why you bother with her, Zeke. She's annoying,â€ Zach said with a faint smirk. â€œOh, and this is James,â€ he quickly added, turning to James. â€œHe's new here. James, this is my best friend Zeke.â€
Zeke and James shook hands. â€œNice to meet you, James,â€ said Zeke.
As Zeke sized up James, he could see the latter was slightly taller than himself by a couple of inches with short, light brown hair and cool grayish-blue eyes. He had lighter skin than most but had a lot of freckles on and around his nose. Zeke learned later on that even though James was sixteen, he was rather clumsy due to being very skinny and having rather large feet. He was honest and almost always cheerful, brightening up a room as soon as he walked into it. It was very rare to see Jimmy show any signs of being upset. No matter what his problems were, he hid them with his bright exterior attitude on life and a big goofy grin.
â€œRight back at ya, Zeke,â€ answered James. â€œYou can call me Jimmy.â€
â€œSo, where are you from, Jimmy?â€ asked Zeke, starting to eat again, savoring his favorite meal of goulash as he tried to think of where he had seen James before.
â€œI come from Mardan. It's in sector 3-1-2 Delta,â€ answered James automatically, sounding as though he had memorized it.
â€œWhere is that?â€ asked Zeke, trying to remember his astronomy class, knowing they had just learned this recently.
To Zekeâ€™s surprise, Zach answered with, â€œIt's this planet's, Mylaran's, North Star. We call it Earth around here.â€ Zeke was just staring at his friend, knowing that it was rare for Zach to actually pay attention in Astronomy class. He usually sat there doodling the entire time. Seeing Zeke's look, Zach added, â€œJust because I draw and stare out the window in Astronomy class doesnâ€™t mean Iâ€™m not paying attention. Next time, Zeke, you shouldn't fall asleep. We learned that last week.â€ He turned to James. â€œJimmy, what happened there? That planet is looking rather different colored these days. It seems dead.â€
Jimmy's face sobered even before Zach finished asking his question. â€œThat's because it is dead, Zach,â€ he answered quietly. â€œIt used to be a beautiful blue and green planet occupied by several oceans and continents covered in forests, mountains, lakes, streams, and even a few deserts. It was very much like Mylaran, so full of life and color,â€ he paused for a moment, as if gathering his thoughts, before continuing softly. â€œThen, about four years ago, one of our scientists noticed that our moon kept orbiting closer with each passing year. The scientists deduced the collision would happen this year. They devised a missile that would set the collision back about three or four years.â€ He paused again and wiped away tears that were forming at the corners of his eyes, ducking his head down.
â€œTake your time, Jimmy,â€ Zeke said softly. â€œIt's not like we have to rush or anything.â€ Zach nodded in agreement, starting to eat his double cheeseburger that had been saved till last as usual. He always ate the fries first.
James nodded slowly, keeping quiet for another moment before wiping away the last of his tears and continuing, his voice thick with remorse. â€œThe missile worked almost like the scientists had planned, but there was one major miscalculation that just ruined the planet way ahead of its time. The sudden change in the orbit of the moon affected the nature of the planet. Mardan was dying, gradually at first but it picked up as things became much worse. First, the lakes and rivers began to dry up. Where there were deserts, typhoons appeared, the rain forests caught on fire, and even the oceans began to dry up. Volcanoes, even the dormant ones, began to erupt all over the world. The ice melted at the North and South poles. It was terrible. Everything was in utter chaos.
We were living underground at the time after a disease wracked the planet 800 years ago. We had forgotten how to live life above ground although the disease had finally died out and those who were affected had long since passed away. With the drastic changes in the climate, we lost most of our food supply. We felt the huge tremors wrack the planet two years ago and we knew we had to leave. It was destroying the underground cities where we lived. So, the military brought out the huge ships they had confiscated from the secret extraterrestrial landings. We managed to evacuate most of the planet. I missed all of the transports and was separated from my mother. I was never good at being on time. I was lucky enough to find a one-man transport hidden in the military base where the evacuations were held. I flew it here. As far as I know, I'm the only one who made it here. I may just be the last survivor from Mardan.â€
â€œThatâ€™s horrible,â€ said a sympathetic voice behind them, making the trio jump and whirl around. Sitting behind them were three sixteen year-old guys wearing clear glasses with varying frames. They were Sitka, Ivan, and Genryu.
Sitka was taller than the other two, but shorter than Zeke wearing his usual white t-shirt and blue jeans. His black sneakers with white shoelaces contrasted harshly with the floor. He had shorter dark brown hair that curled slightly at the bottom and brown eyes. He was muscular to some extent and the girls called him â€œcuteâ€ with his farmerâ€™s tan. Sitka acted like more of a big brother to most and would defend his friends even if it came down to a fight. He was loyal and easygoing with a great sense of humor. Zeke and Sitka were good friends because Zeke had known him since the sixth grade of primary school. The two had to stay inside after lunch once due to problems with their homework. It was there that they had hit it off. They joked about the teachers and instantly became friends as they talked about computer games. Zeke was able to help Sitka when it came to English class, aiding with grammar and punctuation. Sitka, on the other hand, helped Zeke with his hands on classes, like Woodshop and Electronics. Somehow Zeke always managed to fumble up something, but Sitka could always set it right.
Next to Sitka, Ivan was shorter by a few inches or more and was much skinnier too. Ivan and Sitka had been best friends from the fifth grade. Ivan had a mop of curly brown hair that came down just past his ears and deep blue eyes. He almost always wore a black, leather jacket, even indoors which gave him a pale complexion. Ivan was a quiet kid who rarely got into trouble, but spoke his mind if he felt it needed to be spoken. He was always there for a friend in need. Zeke had met Ivan the same year he became friends with Sitka, because Sitka was friends with Ivan and introduced the two to each other. Once again, video games became the bonding point. Zeke helped Ivan improve in gym over the years. Ivan showed Zeke a thing or two about the video games as well, showing him the new games and new cheats that came out.
The final member of the trio was Genryu. He stood off to the right a little, but his pose struck Zeke as one who was overconfident in himself. He was almost the opposite of the other two. He was shorter and stockier than both of them with longer dark brown, almost-black hair that was almost always in his green eyes and came down about an inch or so past his collar. Not too tan or too pale, he was in the middle when it came to skin tone. He liked to play the tough guy and he could back it up for the most part if need be. He always wore a loose t-shirt and baggy jeans. People had nicknamed him Jet Lee because his hair and appearance was similar to a movie character. Zeke had met Genryu through Sitka as well, but not under good circumstances. Genryu had been trying to pick a fight with Zach over a girl. Zeke and Sitka had broken the two up telling them both to act their age. Later on, Zeke and Genryu had met at a gaming party and slowly became friends although not as good as the friendship with Sitka and Ivan.
Zach didn't know any of them as well as Zeke and wasn't too keen on their company, especially Genryuâ€™s company. â€œWhat do you guys want?â€ asked Zach rather rudely, knowing Genryu liked to make fun of him behind his back.
â€œGeez, Zach, what's your problem?â€ countered Genryu, mimicking Zach's tone perfectly.
â€œLay off it, you two,â€ interrupted Zeke, trying to stop them before they got carried away for the fifth time that week, and it was only Tuesday.
James looked over at Sitka. â€œSo, why did you come over here, uh...?â€ asked Jimmy, unsure of the other's name.
â€œMy name is Sitka,â€ filled in Sitka. â€œThis is Ivan, and Genryu is over there trying to pick a fight with Zach again. Those two usually fight so try to ignore them.â€
â€œOkay, Sitka,â€ said Jimmy. â€œI'm James, but you can call me Jimmy. Back to my original question though, why did you three come over here in the first place?â€
â€œI heard you talking,â€ explained Sitka. â€œI thought it was just another one of those adventure stories or a plot to a game. As it went on, however, I realized it wasn't. Now, itâ€™s my turn to ask a question. Why didn't Mardan's scientists just evacuate the planet from the beginning?â€
Jimmy sighed. â€œSome of them did evacuate beforehand. I heard them talking about this planet which is why I set course for it as soon as I got in that transport. But as for the rest of them,â€ he replied, shrugging, â€œmaybe it was pride, I don't know. Your guess is as good as mine. I've often wondered that same question.â€
â€œI know why they mentioned this planet when telling the crews where to evacuate to,â€ said Ivan softly. â€œItâ€™s because a quarter of the population came from Earth. We learned about it recently in History class.â€
â€œThatâ€™s right,â€ said Genryu with a nod. â€œI remember that now. It happened after the third world war.â€
Next to Zach, Zeke had been paying the conversation his full attention until he felt his body leaving his seat even though he had not gotten up. None of the others were paying attention as he floated up, his knees touching the table. A slight wave of panic went through his body. First it was the pencil and now itâ€™s me, he thought. How am I going to get down? Calm, Zeke, think. He slowed his breathing and focused thinking. Then, he made sure he wouldn't float any higher, keeping his knees tight to the table. He knew that this was his fault but he didn't know what had happened. He thought he had made a funny symbol with his hands but he wasn't sure. Could that be what he had been doing? First it was the dream, then hearing others thoughts, and now floating objects. Why couldnâ€™t he be just a normal kid like everyone else?
Suddenly, he heard Jade's voice in his mind as if she was right beside him, saying, <Just lower your hands, Zeke, and you'll come back down.> Zeke did as her voice told him to do, even though he doubted it would do much good. To his immense surprise, he felt himself coming down. It felt good to have the chair underneath him again. I wonder how she knew that would work, not to mention that I could hear her thoughts, he thought to himself, relief flooding through him. For a moment there he thought he would just keep drifting upward like a helium balloon.
A faint glow suddenly caught the attention of Zekeâ€™s eyes. The pendant that he always wore around his neck had started to glow faintly. Wait, why is it doing that? he thought to himself, quickly bringing his hand to the neck of his t-shirt, attempting to cover it.
Zach looked over at him. â€œZeke, are you okay?â€ he asked. â€œYou look like you've seen a ghost.â€ Zeke was abruptly aware that most of the others were looking at him strangely, but he could tell from their concerned, rather than shocked, expressions they hadn't seen him floating.
Zeke noticed that Sitka was looking at him with a thoughtful, rather than strange look on his face, but it vanished almost as soon as he saw it. â€œYeah, Zach, I'm fine. I'm going to go try talking to Jade again,â€ he answered, getting up and walking over to Jade's table, ignoring Zachâ€™s comment that it was pointless, before sitting down across from her.
Jade put her book down slowly, biting her lip as she looked at Zeke. â€œYes, Zeke, what is it?â€ she asked him, a little quieter than Zeke had expected her voice to be, almost as if she was trying to keep the words from coming out.
â€œHow did you know what to do and how did you know that I would hear you if you spoke in my mind? I didn't tell you that I could hear thoughts.â€ Zeke's mind started to race with questions. So many questions flooded his mind that his tongue was struggling not to trip over his own words. For the second time that day, he felt like a little kid again always asking why and other such questions.
â€œI figured it out, Zeke. I'm not dumb,â€ answered Jade, before taking a bite out of the salad sitting in front of her. Zeke had always teased her about liking so much â€œrabbit foodâ€ in her diet, but she had always ignored him and ate a salad almost every lunch period anyway. Zeke looked at her, dumbfounded. â€œYou glance around when no one had said a word, as if you hear voices,â€ she offered as an explanation, noting the look on his face. â€œWhen you donâ€™t see someone speaking, you get a confused look on your face. By the way, how did you do that?â€
"How did I do what?" Zeke asked, his brain still trying to get over the fact that Jade had managed to work out his secret, even after his attempts to keep it hidden. It also made him wonder what else she could have worked out.
"Lifting yourself off of your chair, obviously," Jade said in response, shaking her head almost exasperatedly, resting one of her hands on the table, the other laying on top of it, but he could tell she was trying to keep her hands from trembling. She usually had problems with her blood sugar just before lunch. She was a diabetic and although doctors had found ways to almost stop the effects of it and have painless ways of getting insulin, they still had not found a way to completely cure it.
â€œI'm not sure, Jade,â€ said Zeke, before adding. â€œDid you take your pill yet?â€
Jade raised an eyebrow skeptically at him. â€œOf course I did, and let me guess. You have a pendant like this one, no?â€ she asked. She slowly pulled out a black cord from under her shirt after looking around to see no one watching. On it a dark, jade-green pendant, a little bigger than a marble hung, clutched in a silver dragon's claw.
Zeke nodded slowly, looking around nervously. He was sure no one was watching, but he wondered why she was showing him so quickly. Was there something special about his pendant? Could it be that this little necklace was the source of all his problems? He never took it off except to shower or swim. Even in soccer games he found a way to keep it from coming out from under his shirt. It was the last thing his great-grandmother had passed onto him before she passed away. He pulled it out reluctantly to show her. There were only two main differences between the two pendants. His was gold and it was on a silver chain instead of a black cord.
"Hmmâ€¦" Jade said quietly, quickly examining Zeke's pendant as it hung in front of her. "When did these strange accidents of yours start occurring?" she asked him.
â€œJust this morning in math,â€ said Zeke, slipping his pendant back under his shirt. â€œWhy? Is there something special about it?â€
â€œI've read about these pendants,â€ said Jade, following his example and slipping her pendant back down through the top of her t-shirt.
â€œI would be surprised if you hadn't,â€ commented Zeke.
â€œNow what's that supposed mean?â€ Jade scoffed, throwing Zeke a reproachful look.
â€œNothing, Jade, you were saying?â€ he replied hastily. He didn't need her mad at him again. Truth was, she did seem to know a lot about any subject that was brought up. She spent most of her time reading and researching.
She eyed him suspiciously before answering. â€œThey are supposedly called dragon-star pendants,â€ she explained. â€œAccording to legend, a man brought them here through a mysterious portal. He said that they were the bringers of a new future to his world. The pendants were sought after throughout the years when they, and the man, mysteriously vanished about seventy years ago. No one knew where the portal the man had come through was. There are eighteen of them in total floating around this world. I was given mine by my great-grandmother who said that it had been with her for a long time and given to her by a strapping young man with wavy short blond hair and blue eyes for her sixteenth birthday. She said it had brought her good luck ever since. So, she decided to give it to me on my sixteenth birthday. She said she hoped it would give me as much good luck as it had given her.â€
â€œWhere did you learn about the legend? I haven't heard that one before,â€ said Zeke, speaking when Jade fell silent.
â€œKiro has a book on them. It's a really old legend that most don't believe or understand anymore,â€ she replied casually. â€œIf you want to learn more, you should get that book off of her.â€
Zeke nodded. â€œI think I will,â€ he said. â€œI think it's all rather interesting. Besides, maybe something in that book may be able to help me with some weird dreams I've been having lately.â€
Jade looked sharply at him. â€œDreams, what sort of dreams? Was someone or something calling to you in these dreams?â€
Zeke blinked slowly in surprise then nodded. â€œHow did you know?â€ he asked. Was she having the same dreams as him? That would explain her reaction and how she knew about the calling. In his it was a feeling of being pulled along. He had tried turning and heading towards the ocean smell, but a blast wind or gushing water would make him turn around and head towards the smell of fruit.
Jade had a thoughtful look on her face. â€œI've just been having dreams of a weird greenish light and someone calling out for help. Anyway, here comes your new buddy.â€
Just then Zeke heard the bell ring, signaling the end of lunch and someone coming up behind him. â€œBye, Zeke,â€ came Jimmy's voice in his right ear.
Zeke turned around and shook Jimmy's hand again. â€œIt was nice to meet you, Jimmy,â€ he said. â€œFeel free to hang out any time.â€
â€œDon't worry, Zeke, I will,â€ said James, grinning.
â€œBy the way, this is one of my other best friends. Her name is Jade,â€ added Zeke. â€œJade, this is James.â€
â€œIt's a pleasure to meet you, Jade,â€ said Jimmy, offering his hand. â€œYou can call me Jimmy or James, whichever you prefer.
Jade shook it with a thoughtful look on her face. â€œNice to meet you too, James,â€ she answered, seeming slightly preoccupied. â€œThe bell rang. We should probably get going.â€ Zeke and Jimmy nodded towards Jade before the three of them gathered their things together and left for their next lesson.
Zeke forgot all about Kiro's book and didn't have any more of those weird accidents. However, the dream kept getting stronger. It woke him up almost every night when he would get close. Then one day in English class, a month or two after Jade mentioning the book, he was messing around, drawing random things on his paper when one of the books from the shelf went flying across the room and hit the door.
Zach immediately looked at him. â€œThat was you, wasn't it? You gotta tell me how you did that,â€ he whispered.
Zeke shook his head and motioned for Zach to be quiet as the teacher, Mrs. Genzal, eyed the room sternly. â€œWho threw that?â€ she asked. â€œThe culprit had better fess up. You know better than to throw books around. You are almost juniors now. Two more years, you graduate.â€ She walked over, picking it up, not even noticing that there was no one near enough to even think of grabbing the book to throw it.
As Zeke's eyes followed her, he saw Kiro looking at him with a thoughtful look on her face. Only then did he remember about Jade telling him that Kiro owned a book on dragon-star pendants. Maybe Kiro can help me control this, he thought to himself. She probably does know more than me on this since she has that book. Maybe she can figure out what is happening to me. I'd better borrow that book anyway, just in case. He looked over and saw Zach still looking at him eagerly and whispered, â€œI have no idea what you are talking about, Zach. I didn't do anything. Be quiet, or she will blame us.â€
Mrs. Genzal was a skinny woman, who looked like a vulture. She had wrinkles upon wrinkles, and no one doubted she was the oldest person at the school. The next oldest was Mr. Monder. They would bicker, as if they were married, about english and math. She always dressed in a dark green ankle-length dress with a white blouse, along with an exquisite gold watch on her right wrist. Her brown frizzy hair with gray streaks was tied up in a bun and not one hair ever stood out of place. She had rectangular glasses that stood towards the middle of her long, beak-like, nose. Whenever she was reprimanding a student, she would always peer over the top of her glasses, piercing the student with her gray-eyed stare. She almost always had a sever look on her face, her mouth pinched in a thin line constantly, and would rarely allow herself a smile unless it had something to do with her precious literature. She was the English teacher of English teachers. She was the authority on literature and no one double-checked her on anything. She knew it all. When she was being interviewed for hire, she answered every question the superintendent and principal asked her with impeccable grammar and pronunciation. She baffled them with her thorough knowledge on several older pieces that other applicants had not even come close to knowing. Mrs. Genzal knew them all, like a cartographer knows his own maps that he drew himself.
Mrs. Genzal picked up the book and surveyed the room sternly again, her mouth pinched as her voice took on an accent from her homeland that only came out when she was really angry. â€œSo, no one is going to confess?â€ she asked them. â€œWell, I am ashamed of whoever threw that. You know, books are our heritage. They contain the stories of our past and will be carried on to our future. To throw a book means that you are throwing away your history.â€ She eyed the room again, her eyes lingering on Zach and Zeke for a few seconds longer than the rest, but no one looked guilty so she put the book on her desk and went back to her lecture on the literature in the early periods of history.
Zeke was listening to Mrs. Genzal when he put his head on his arm, which rested on his desk. He had been woken up by that dream at three in the morning the previous night and was still tired, having not been able to fall back asleep. When he put his head on his desk, he immediately fell asleep accidentally and back into the elusive dream. He was walking back down the tunnel, almost running this time. Maybe I'll make it this time and solve this, he thought to himself in his sleep, shivering. All of a sudden, his sleep was interrupted by someone shaking him awake, making him trip on a root in the tunnel. Why don't people ever understand how important this is to me; he thought with a soft sigh as he jerked awake to find Zach there.
â€œOur last class is over, Zeke,â€ said Zach. â€œI can't believe you slept right through that annoying bell. Even I couldn't do that. School is out for the day and we are going to miss the bus if we don't move it. Just think, two more months of this, then it's summer vacation and we will be juniors.â€
Zeke nodded groggily as he rubbed his eyes, his mind still focused on his dream. Am I going to walk down that tunnel for eternity, he thought while Zach was rambling on. What is the meaning of this? A tap on his shoulder told him that they were not alone in the classroom. He turned and found Kiro there.
Kiro was shorter than most of the kids, even in the grades below them. Zeke sometimes felt bad for her, but Kiro always came back with a cheerful, â€œshort people always find a wayâ€ though she did like to curse tall people a lot, but she would laugh when she did it. She was a stocky sixteen year-old with a tomboyish personality. Kiro could deal with most of the guys' jokes and could laugh along with them at times too. She had hazel eyes and dark brown hair that she kept short, although sometimes she let it grow out a bit so she could put it in a ponytail to keep her bangs out of her eyes. Kiro was almost always wearing a starball cap (a hat similar to Earthâ€™s baseball cap), and was often told that she was smart, but she didnâ€™t believe it. She had low self-esteem, but tried to hide it. She was trustworthy and if a secret came to her, it stopped and stayed with her, so a lot of people came to her with their problems. She was loyal to her friends, family, and those that trusted her. Zeke and Kiro had met about the same time he met Jade since she was also friends with the other girl. Jade had been showing Kiro something in music class when Zeke had walked in. Zeke and Kiro had instantly become friends over their love of music. Zeke was teaching her how to play the trumpet when he had the time.
â€œHi, Zeke,â€ she said. â€œI have something for you. Could you come with me to my locker?â€
Zeke blinked slowly, looking at her, not understanding why she would have something for him. Oh, wait, the book, could it be that Jade had talked to her about the pendants? Either way he wanted to find out what it was about. â€œUh, sure, Kiro,â€ he answered, giving Zach a dirty look for snickering behind his back. â€œOh, shut up, Zach.â€
Kiro smiled. â€œLet's go then,â€ she said as she left the classroom. Mrs. Genzal watched Zeke scramble for his books and Zach following him out, then sighed and looked over the book that had flown across the room, inspecting it for damages.
Zeke followed Kiro to her locker, which coincidentally was right near his own. While she was taking time to look for whatever it was, he went to his locker to get the rest of his stuff. He put in the combination, spinning the dial of the thick lock first to the left click, then to the right click, and finally to the left again, passing the previous number click. As an annoyance the locker had jammed shut again. He sighed, making sure no teachers were around, then kicked it and pulled up again on the handle. It slid open. He grabbed his bookbag and his homework that he would have to do for the weekend then shut his locker and went back to Kiroâ€™s. She was still searching.
â€œFinally,â€ she said, standing back up with one of the thickest covered books that he had ever seen. The covers themselves were at least the thickness of the book and then some. They were a deep red color that really brought out the gold spidery lettering on the front and binding that read A Dragonologist's Guide to Runes and Stones. It also had a smooth, round green stone that sat in the middle of the front cover with a ring of strange silver runes around it. â€œHere's a book I think you will be interested in reading. Jade gave me the impression that you wanted to learn more about dragon-star pendants. This book has been with my family since someone gave it to my grandfather years ago. His name was Keith Rhiner, but, even though my grandfather had never seen him before, Keith seemed familiar somehow and said he knew my great grandfather.â€
Zeke looked at her confused for a few seconds after the comment about Jade, still entranced by the book and how the light seemed to dance off the covers like firelight. â€œOh, right,â€ he replied. â€œI remember now. Jade told me to ask you about the book because of something that happened a couple months ago. I totally forgot about it because I didn't see you that day.â€ As he took the book from her, he felt his pendant grow warm against his chest. He glanced down but didn't see anything unusual. â€œThanks, Kiro,â€ he said, dismissing the thought. Then he turned away and walked out of the school, walking to his bus, leaving Kiro scrambling to get her things and running to catch her bus.
(I need a better description for the pendants. If you can help that would be awesome!)
They look like this:
I have a red one! PM me or comment on it! Thanks!)