I got to school early today, before even Winston and Sunny, who normally have reason to be here before class starts. Though odd, as I’m notorious for being late to class, I wanted to just be alone to read, and the early morning school is a perfect location. The hallways were cool and dim, only faint footsteps and echoes of conversation drifted through the air, making it all feel eerie as I wandered. Passing the theater, the bustle of early bird tech crews came through the doors, as they prepared diligently for the upcoming play. Shrill voices of solitary instruments echoed from the music rooms, band students practicing for their next concert. Students were coming in at a trickle, the cool air of the cloudy morning blowing in through the doors.
I was on a casual search for a nice place to read the book I picked up with Mercedes, but none of the scattered chairs and benches were up to my drowsy standards. Around a corner in the basement, I found an empty armchair tucked between the auditorium and one of the magical practice rooms; the perfect spot for a bit of reading. My phone buzzed in my pocket, a text from Winston. “Getting coffee want one they have that weird spiced one you like.”
I debated correcting his run on sentence, but coffee sounded good enough to ignore Winston’s questionable text-to-speech grammar. “Yes please, I’ll pay you. Thanks Winston,” I replied, dropping into the armchair. Fishing my book out of my bag, I pulled my jacket tighter around me, cozying in to block out the world.
Though I hadn’t even opened the book when an announcement came over the intercom. “Staff, we’ve heard your and the students’ concerns about strange occurrences happening throughout the school, and we’d like to state that we have it all under control, and you can contact the administration team if you have any questions.”
I set my book on my lap, confusion clouding my brain. Strange occurrences was beyond vague, and there was no mention of any context, as if everyone already knew what was happening from a past email. The assertion of “under control” didn’t feel sincere to me, acting more as a pacifier for anybody listening than anything else. We’re lead to trust our administration, but I struggled to believe that if there really are “strange occurrences” that they’re not going to interfere with the students’ day to day.
Supressing my suspicion, I closed my eyes and leaned back in my chair, centering my magic within me. Nobody was around, and the school sat quiet. Visions started to materialize in my view, the warmth of magic filling my fingers as they rested on the arms of the chair. Though behind a magical haze, I see the future, the divine magic tracing lines around things in my view. It was cold, and magic was in the air, like the energy that makes your hair stand up before lightning strikes. But it wasn’t magic I was familiar with, and an open book on the floor was the lightning in the space, drawing me to it. My head felt like I was underwater as I got closer to the book, notes written in scrawl covering the pages I could see. My ears began to hurt, pressure crushing me as I leaned forward. Someone was moving closer to the book as well, but all I could see through the haze was dark hair, the rest of their appearance scribbled out of my view. They touched the book at my feet, and lighting struck, intense magic pushing me back from the epicenter. The haze turned dark in my eyes, and magic burned my hands. I opened my eyes with a start.
Footsteps were approaching me quickly, and Salem came around the corner, his gaze locked on the floor. “Good morning Salem,” I said, waving to him. He didn’t look up to see me as he hurried away. Salem turned the corner and disappeared from view, but I did catch a glimpse of his face, and the worry painted all over it was jarring.