SMC: Tales from Ohio Academy #1

Andrew Perron pwerdna at
Sat Nov 15 19:08:39 PST 2014

There were two moons in the sky on the morning Skylar Smith started

She ran through the grassy lawns between the dorms and the lecture
halls, jeans swishing, afro-puffs bobbing. She'd actually *been* at
school for a week now, because it was a boarding school, but this was
the first *class*, and therefore more special.

She stopped between two buildings. At her old school, it was all
learning names and seating assignments and schedules. Here, she was
going to learn how to be Strange.

Assuming she could figure out what she was doing, anyway. She looked
left, then right, then down at the single piece of paper in her hand,
her only guide to finding homeroom in the sprawling complex of buildings
that made up the Ohio Academy For Extranormal Individuals. 'East Mrss
108' - what was that even supposed to mean?

"Hey, need some help?"

Skylar looked up at the voice - and did a double-take. It was another
girl, about her age, but her face was painted in a complicated pattern
of triangles and diamonds, colored red, purple and gold. "Uh, hi!"

The girl's curly blond locks bounced as she took Skylar's hand and shook
it energetically. "Nice to meet you! Rose Stigandr, but you can call me
Compass Rose. What'cha lookin' for?"

Hm. Was this actual friendliness, or pretend friendliness in preparation
for a nasty trick? But no, she shouldn't be thinking like that anymore -
a new school was a new chance to get friends of her own. "Well, I'm not
sure where my homeroom is." She held up the bit of paper with the
confusing address on it.

Rose touched the letters. For a second, her eyes twitched, and then she
said, "Okay, go past the next building and turn right, you'll see
Morrison Hall at the end of the path, go in the big double doors and
turn left for the East Wing, and room 108 is right past the bathrooms."

"Oh, wow." Skylar squinted in that general direction. "You must know
this place really well."

Rose grinned. "Well, this is my second year. But that's my thing, you
know? That thing I do."

"Oh - your powers! That's awesome!" She had been right - this place
*was* different! "Are the shapes on your face part of it?"

"Fraid not - just makeup. But when I get old enough, I'm gonna get 'em
tattooed." Rose looked over her shoulder at a nearby clock. "Anyway, we
both better get to class."

"Ah!" Skylar lifted her backpack and started running, waving over her
shoulder at Rose.

She got to the classroom in no time flat, thanks to the helpful
directions. It didn't look all that different from her old school - a
bit nicer, a bit newer, the desks were a bit bigger. Each of the desks
had a folded piece of card stock on top with a name carefully printed on
it. With a bit of jostling around, she found hers and sat down, backpack
at her feet.

She looked around at the kids to the left and right of her. Okay, this
was her chance to introduce herself and make friends. she just had
to figure out how to *do* that, then.

Skylar looked up. The teacher was there behind the podium. She had a
long, wise-looking face, in the way of teachers. Her hair frizzed out
like a dandelion around her head; with the light from the window shining
through it, it seemed like a halo. "Hello, class," she said, with a
musical lilt. "My name is Ms. Telemachus." She stepped to the side; the
name had already been hanging there on the whiteboard, unnoticed.

"You've all been to the assembly at the beginning of the year," she
said, spinning nimbly about, "so you know how the school works. Let me
tell you how I work."

"For homeroom, the main thing is to show up and be counted! If you
don't, well, there are supposed to be disciplinary actions, but..." She
shrugged. "It seems to me that it's more important to get the clues I'll
be giving out to the treasure hunt at the end of the year."

Skylar could tell that Ms. Telemachus was trying to be a Cool Teacher,
to make it sound like her classroom was going to be fun every day. It
was such an obvious trick.

...but the treasure hunt did sound interesting... Well. She'd give her a
chance, at least.

"As well, everyone in this homeroom will have me for music class for the
first two quarters of the year. We're going to be very hands-on, playing
instruments, learning new things, making mistakes, and if we're lucky,
shrinking down into a miniature universe so we can go inside the sound
waves themselves."

Was that a joke? She looked around; some kids were laughing, but others
were wide-eyed. That was probably a joke. Maybe. ...Skylar was still

"Tomorrow, I'm going to want everybody to sign up for an instrument.
Think about what you'd like to try out." She swept a hand through the
air like a stage magician. "Don't be afraid to go for something you've
never tried before! Whatever catches your fancy, do it, with no
regrets!" Her hand swept inward and closed on her chest.

"But, for today..." She reached out and touched a button, and a familiar
song started playing. "Let's get caught up in the spirit of music.
Listen, relax, and get to know each other!" She walked around and sat
down at her desk, folding her hands and smiling over the class.

Skylar swallowed. Okay, introduce yourself.

She turned left. "Hi, I'm..." But the girl there was already talking to
someone else. She turned right. "Hey, what's your..." But the boy was
laughing at someone else's joke. Crap, she was too late *again*!

"Hey!" She jumped in her seat and spun halfway around. Behind her was a
guy with astonishing hair. It seemed to have been spiked upward with
mousse, and reached up a full foot from his head. He was Hispanic, with
a wide nose and a grin. "Haha! Sorry for startling you. I'm Eric!
Pleased to greet ya."

"Oh, nono, that's okay!" Skylar shook her head. "I'm Skylar Smith.
What's, um, what's up?"

He shrugged! "Not a lot! It's my first day." He looked around, then
leaned in and whispered, "Am I supposed to have a callsign already?"

She paused for a second. "I don't... think so?"

"Oh good." He sat back. "I'm trying to pick between Hotspot, Airwave,
and Signal Man."

"Those all sound kind of goofy!" Wait, no, that was rude! "Uh, I mean--"

Eric laughed. "No, man, you're right! But I have kind of goofy powers."

Oooh! "I'll tell you yours if you tell me mine!" ...that wasn't right.

But he didn't notice. "I can pick up radio waves... using my body hair!"

"Gross!" she laughed. "I don't think I--"


Skylar and Eric's heads turned automatically toward the back of the
room. The shouter was a boy with green skin. Or maybe he was just
wearing green makeup? "You can't" and then he said a swear "say that to

The boy next to him threw up his hands. "Man, back off! I don't know why
you can't take a joke!"

"YEAH?" The green kid stood up. "WHY DON'T YOU TELL A JOKE TO--"

And then Ms. Telemachus was there. "Excuse me, gentlemen."

She looked at them. Didn't *do* anything, as far as Skylar could tell.
Just, quietly... looked at them.

The other boy turned away. "sorry. shouldn't've said it."

The green kid turned away. "i 'cept your apology."

Ms. Telemachus clapped her hands. "Excellent! Back to the music,

Skylar let out a deep breath. Her first day was going pretty well so
far! Hopefully the rest of her classes would be as easy!

Oh, that reminded her. She unzipped her backpack and took out her pencil
case (with Japanese bunnies on it). She lifted the lid of the desk to
drop it in...

Huh. That was weird - there was a piece of paper, folded up and taped

Unfold unfold unfold. There was only one line written inside:
         You're going to get a really warm greeting after school!

A taunt by a bully, and a pointed invitation to an after-class fight?
Holy crap!

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