Book 1: Beckham Institute for Prodigies
Chapter 2: Special Day
Beckham City, 9:00 am August 10, 20XX… The sun rose and intruded into the girl’s dormitory of the Silverstone Orphanage for Prodigies. The hard, wood floor reflected the rays brightly upon the dressers and bunks, except for a corner top bunk that remained in the shadows.
Little Suzan Halden, though not so little now, had slept in that bunk for nine years. It was her little nook inside this large home where she could read and write–she preferred it to any other place. It was private and yet it was amongst the chaos that was the orphanage. Living with nineteen other girls and twenty two boys can be crazy, but Suzan loved it… well most of it.
Gradually, the sun reached Suzan’s corner; the light warming her eyelids and she immediately became aware of the reds and yellows inside of her skull. It was time to get up and start the day, but Suzan was hanging on to that space between asleep and awake, desperately wanting to stay just a bit longer. But just as the sun had snuck up on her, so had another. She felt it nearing the edge of her bed.
It was what set Suzan apart, aside from the dark purple hair and eyes. Being a prodigy meant having super abilities, but it also meant learning new ones. Some of the other kids at the orphanage could lift buses. Others could outrun race cars.
What was interesting about Suzan was her inability to learn anything new. She was limited to feeling the auras of all living things and that was about it. Often she doubted she was a prodigy at all, that it was all just a bad dream. So she clung to covers hoping to wake up in another place, but every morning she woke up in the same bed.
There it was, the light, soundless steps of a person. The aura was familiar, moving, creeping up to her bunk.
“Happy birthday, Suzu,” shouted Sadie, Suzan’s best friend. She had thrown two water balloons at Suzan’s head, resulting in a very moist wake up call and a bump on the head caused by Suzan rising too fast from the water. Luckily the ceiling was OK.
“Thanks, D! Thanks for the morning shower.” said Suzan, irritated, “Can’t a girl sleep in on her birthday?” She rubbed the rest of the sleep out of her eyes that the water hadn’t drowned away to see Sadie standing in front of her bed. Her short, black hair pulled back with a dark headband.
“Unfortunately no, Suzu. And you’re welcome,” said Sadie, “It’s my birthday too, and I say you have to get up!” Her smile was infectious. Suzan couldn’t help but give a little grin, but she didn’t want Sadie to win this round.
“It’s only your birthday because you chose it,” said Suzan, her hands now rubbing the bump on her head.
“As far as that goes,” said Sadie grinning, “Your birthday just seemed like the most practical step for me to be more ‘normal’ as you call it.”
It was in fact Suzan’s birthday today. Now 14, she looked forward to starting high school soon. Sadie, on the other hand, adopted Suzan’s birthday as her own. Sadie didn’t know her real birthday; after she was born, she was dropped off at the orphanage in a basket. But ever since they met nine years ago, they had been inseparable–practically twins, growing up and looking after each other.
“You know what other normal people do?” said Suzan, leaning out of the bunk, “They sleep in! Ahh!” Suzan leaned a little too far and fell off the bunk onto the floor.
“Get over it, Suzu,” said Sadie, as she placed her foot on Suzan’s head and pushed it back and forth, “You know we have that visitor today, right?”
“Yeah,” said Suzan, rubbing the tears out of her eyes, “What about him?”
“He’s here right now,” Sadie said, “You should probably get some clothes on. You want me to dry you off?” Sadie snapped her fingers and sparked a flame upon her index fingers and thumbs.
“No thanks, pyro,” said Suzan smiling, “I’m going to take a shower.”
“Alright,” said Sadie, putting her arms behind her head and walking out.
‘A school for prodigies…,’ thought Suzan. She liked the idea. Being a prodigy in the real world meant the rest of the world hated you. With a bunch of super powered prodigies running around that only get more powerful the more prodigies they meet… Well case and point. There was a lot of prejudice amongst norms (those without powers) against prodigies and Suzan had seen her fair share of it.
Having purple hair and eyes gave Suzan away easily. Only prodigies had abnormal hair and eye colors. One day Suzan received a couple of well-aimed rocks on an outing to the market with Sister Edith. Sister Edith took her back to the orphanage immediately. Suzan was going to miss the sisters. Sister Edith and Sister Lauren were like mothers to her and the rest of the children. It was going to be weird going off to Beckham Institute for Prodigies this term.
Beckham Institute for Prodigies or BIP was a high school for prodigies. It was originally created to give prodigy children a place to understand their abilities and learn how to use them correctly for the benefit of mankind. However, now that it was run by the government, it had changed a lot since its founder left: Mr. Sanderson Reid. Mr. Reid was one of the lead prodigy experts (being a prodigy himself).
He had written many books on prodigies that Suzan was able to read at the orphanage, however, with the new regime of Dr. Leroy Ferris, the school had turned into a prison.
Dr. Ferris believed that prodigies were out to eradicate the norms in the world and his school was about rehabilitating prodigies into normal humans, something that so far he had absolutely no luck in doing. He wrote and presented many of the new laws that had been passed in congress that imprisoned prodigies.
With the release of his first book in ’85 called “The Rule of Five,” he painted a horrible picture of all prodigies. In ’90, all Americans had to submit to the “P” scan to deduce if they were prodigies or norms. In ’92, all prodigies 12 and older had to wear special blazers with red “P”s on the right shoulder when they were out in public (12 being the age when most prodigies began to gain a grasp on their abilities).
Suzan understood. She’d seen the news. Every criminal apprehended was thought to be a prodigy. Every eye witness pointed their finger at a prodigy. It would be nice to live in a place where all there were was prodigies… Of course that place would still be somewhat tyrannical.
Suzan stood up, brushed herself off, grabbed her towel, and walked out of the room towards the lavatory only to be hit by five more water balloons,
“Thanks, D!” She said.
“Happy Birthday!” shouted Sadie.
In the office downstairs, the sisters sat with an elderly gentleman with a handlebar moustache and a P Blazer.
Sister Lauren, a very compassionate woman, who loved all the prodigy children at the Silverstone Orphanage, arguably had no business being a nun. Most men, as they dropped their unwanted children off, would stare at her until she slammed the door in their face.
Sister Edith, a very cynical but caring woman, was just the same. With her short stature, short platinum hair and a curious, sniping wit, she made most blush before hurriedly exiting the orphanage.
As for their visitor, Professor Cornelius P. Schumacher, he was a bit strange. But after many encounters with the older gentleman, the sisters had grown fond of him as he took the children off to BIP. He was so set in his ways, that the sisters carried out the same routine since the very first day he visited.
He carried a magnifying glass wherever he went. It was his habit to examine everything, “Looking for clues,” he would always say and he would do this for minutes at a time. The sisters didn’t mind it but it always ended the same: his examining Sister Lauren’s breasts. And, just like clockwork, Sister Edith would hit him in the back of the head with a yard stick and then they would settle down and drink some tea. Other than Sister Lauren feeling embarrassed, everything would go back to normal and just as scheduled.
Cornelius, resigned to his seat, waited for the new students to come down and join them so they could have an official interview. The interview was just a formality, but it was Cornelius’s favorite part. It was his pleasure to meet new prodigies and assure them of their move to BIP. Until then, the Sisters talked about the two girls, giving Cornelius an idea of who they were.
“Suzan Jessica Halden is the practical one. Not impulsive like Sadie and because of that, we get more quieter nights than we did before. Sadie as a three year old… there was nothing she didn’t break or get into,” said Sister Edith.
“The two came together and became good friends then?” asked Cornelius.
“Yes,” said Sister Lauren, “They’ve helped each other a lot. In the beginning Suzan was very timid. She isn’t so much anymore, just as Sadie isn’t as troublesome.”
“The two really complement each other well,” said Sister Edith.
Meanwhile, upstairs… Suzan came out of the shower, a little irritated. “Sadie!” she shouted, “Did you flush the toilet?” She looked around to see someone coming out of a stall.
“That was me, Dull-den,” said a voice, “I heard today was your birthday. I got you a knuckle sandwich.”
“Chutes and ladders!” said Suzan, startled, “Claudia!”
Claudia, a very large girl at the orphanage, prided herself on being the strongest. She often got into fights with many of the kids, most of them involving Suzan and Sadie.
“Looks like your girlfriend isn’t here to save you,” said Claudia, “Are you ready to teethe all over again?”
Suzan remembered teething; it sucked! She wrapped her towel loosely around her. She knew if Claudia grabbed her, she could lose it and get to the dormitory.
“Come on girlie, this won’t hurt… forever,” said Claudia.
Claudia charged at her and Suzan, strangely, ran towards her. She knew that Claudia had the habit of spreading her legs apart when she grabbed anyone for stabilization. Suzan was going to use that to her advantage.
Just as she thought, when Claudia’s manly arms tried to envelope Suzan, her legs spread to hold her ground. Suzan dove and slid under Claudia’s legs and out the open door. She jumped up, closed the door, and ran for the dorm.
Claudia stumbled, but regained her footing and ran for the closed door. She opened it to find Sadie on the other side.
“Hi, Claudia,” said Sadie, smirking, “What cha doing?”
“I’m going to pound you and your girlfriend for burning my favorite jeans!”
“In case you don’t remember, slowby,” said Sadie, “I’m the one who burns stuff.” She lit her fingers to demonstrate. “Beat me! If you think you can.”
Suzan closed the door of the dormitory and huddled in the closet. She remembered her first days at the orphanage. Many of the kids were scary then, but mostly they were just normal prodigies like her and Sadie. Claudia, however, was never nice to anyone and loved to torture Suzan the most.
When Claudia first came, Suzan tried to be nice to her, knowing how hard it was to adjust. So Claudia punched her in the face. It happened often and usually Sadie would retaliate by burning something of Claudia’s, then Claudia would assault Suzan, and so the cycle continued.
Sadie herself was not adverse to getting in trouble for fighting. In fact most of the fights that Claudia was in, Sadie was the opponent.
“You know Claudia,” said Sadie, “I think I know why you like to fight so much. You’re just so ugly that it makes you angry when you look in the mirror–Oh! Too slow, slow-by!”
Claudia used a left hook, Sadie ducked and set Claudia’s shoes on fire.
“Ouch, ouch, ouch!” shouted Claudia, “You little bitch! Get back here!”
“Catch me, you bumbling dumb-ass!” said Sadie as she jumped onto the banister and proceeded to skate down while sticking her tongue out. Claudia roared and stomped after her.
Suzan emerged from the closet in the dorm wearing a pair of baggy jeans and a t-shirt. Then she grabbed her glasses off the night stand and cleaned them. ‘I hope Sadie doesn’t go overboard,’ she thought.
Peeking out the main door she saw no one around. The others must be outside. She sighed and looked out the window. It was a beautiful sunny day. Maybe she could enjoy it instead of running all over the orphanage.
As she walked down the hall, she felt something else: some sort of presence nearby. It was different from the other children; a force much older than the sisters (who really weren’t that old at all) and yet much more familiar, like the children.
‘It has to be the BIP rep.,’ she thought, ‘Who else could it be?’ She continued down the stairs cautiously, unaware of the beast that was tailing her on the ceiling.
A strange animal watched, smelled and followed Suzan as she emerged from the room. It was white with a wispy glow to it as it silently walked on its black paws to the stairway and watched as Suzan proceeded downward.
It was a fox, but a very strange fox. With three, black tipped tails, a large black diamond on its back and two small horns on its head, it was far from normal. ‘Had she noticed me?’ thought the fox as it closed its eyes. It began to glow brighter. ‘She had not,’ thought the fox as it moved away from the stairwell and back to where it had originated: the records room.
Suzan tiptoed down the stairs. She was concerned that if Claudia saw her, she was going to have to eat that knuckle sandwich. So she tried to be extra quiet as she hugged the walls with her back and slid all the way to the kitchen.
She was feeling a little hungry, so she wanted to grab something fast that could be eaten on the run. As she opened the kitchen door she was startled to find two of the children cleaning up a cake mess with their faces.
She smiled, remembering the first day she had come to the orphanage. Her father had left her at age five… And then it just occurred to Suzan that this was her and Sadie’s birthday cake…
Her smile turned to bloodlust in an instant. The room filled with pressure and the two children saw her in the doorway with the most unusual expression they ever seen on her before. Suzan was like a mother to them; they had never seen the fire in her eyes as they did now.
“Um,” said a little boy named Samuel, “Ms. Suzan, I’m sorry.”
“We’ll clean it up, honest,” said the other boy, Nathan. He was shoveling the cake into his mouth from the floor.
The two began to push the cake into their mouths as quickly as possible, hoping that it would make Suzan either laugh or at least smile again.
Suzan sighed. “What are you guys doing? You shouldn’t be eating cake off the floor like that. I’ll get a broom and a mop,” she said smiling, “And I’ll show you how to clean this up properly.”
She was angry that she wasn’t going to be able to have any of Sister Lauren’s special chocolate cake, but at least these two weren’t hurt. The glass plate the cake was on could have exploded into a million pieces and got stuck in their eyes and then they would be blind and they would say, “Darn it, Ms. Suzan, why did it have to be your birthday today!”
Suzan was brought to tears at the thought of this and she began to clean up the mess very quickly.
“Hey, Ms. Suzan,” said Samuel, “Shouldn’t we clean it up?”
“No no,” she said stifling a cry, “Let me get it. You just watch me do it. You’ll learn that way.”
Back in the office, the sisters continued the conversation with Professor Schumacher until they heard a ruckus coming from the dining room.
The disturbance was so disruptive that it tossed Professor Schumacher out of his chair, granted, he was leaning in it. He hastily rose to his feet and pulled out his magnifying glass again. “What’s going on?” he asked, his eye immediately looking through the lens.
The house began to rattle. It felt as if the orphanage was being torn apart. It was nothing new for the sisters; they knew exactly what was going on.
“Claudia Mounch,” they uttered together and jumped up out of their seats and rushed out the door.
Professor Schumacher smiled as he followed after them. “My my… The game is afoot then,” he uttered. He kept his pace leisure; he’d been in this situation before: young prodigies acting up and at the brink of knocking down a building. It was times like these that he reveled in his own abnormality. No norm ever felt this good; any regular norm would have crapped his pants.
In the dining room, Sadie and Claudia stood opposite each other. The room was a mess. All that was left was one long table between them. Chairs were tossed across the room as the opponents ran around overturning tables and hitting each other relentlessly.
It was hard to tell with Sadie. She had a calm, arrogant look in her eyes complimented by her trademark smirk. Her fists raised in a fighting stance. She didn’t give away any weakness. She looked strong, unstoppable.
Claudia panted. She wasn’t as fast as Sadie; her size slowed her down. However, she was still very strong and Sadie had the bruises to prove it. She raised her fists again. “I’m going to give you such a beating!” she shouted as she charged towards Sadie.
The other children were around the room, shouting, which excited Sadie. She continued to smirk and goad Claudia as she dodged another attack.
“I’m waiting,” she said, “You know I don’t have all day, slowby.” As Sadie relished the moment, the children clapping and shouting, she knew she couldn’t hold out much longer. Though Sadie had grown strong from all the battles with Claudia, she was growing weak as the fight dragged on. The only way she could win now was to use fire, but she couldn‘t do that in the house.
“Just hold still!” said Claudia, diving at Sadie again. She jumped over the table and nearly landed on Sadie, but Sadie was quicker and dove under the table, shoving chairs across the room every which way. The children ducked and scrambled to avoid being hit in the chaos of the dismantled room.
“Come on! I’m over here!” shouted Sadie.
Suzan opened up the dining room door followed by Samuel and Nathan. They had heard the commotion from the kitchen and after they cleaned up (Suzan insisted) they went to investigate. As they entered, Suzan saw the children circled around the two fighters. The boys began to chant Sadie’s name and then Suzan saw them in the center, Sadie and Claudia, circling each other.
She saw the damage. Chairs were actually stuck in the walls. Tables were overturned and broken. And the floor began to eat Claudia’s fists as Sadie danced around her advances. The room was beginning to look like Swiss cheese with every one of Claudia’s failed attempts.
Suzan had to stop this. She hated getting in the middle of these fights; she always ended up with a black eye. But she had to stop this before somebody really got hurt or worse, the orphanage collapsed. She ran to the center, put her hands up and said, “You guys have to stop! You’re shaking the whole orphanage!”
Claudia turned and advanced toward Suzan, but Sadie pushed her aside and took the punch.
Suzan fell backwards and watched as Claudia’s fist connected with Sadie’s head and then Sadie hitting the floor with a thud.
“Cheese and Rice!” said Suzan.
“Well,” said Claudia turning her attention to Suzan, “I guess we can finally finish what we started earlier.”
Suzan jumped as Claudia charged at her. Luckily for Suzan she was quick enough to avoid Claudia’s massive head, unfortunately Claudia’s head hit a support beam near the wall of the dining room. After cracking through it she collapsed to the floor.
The roof was crumbling. The sisters and Professor Schumacher finally showed up to the entrance of the dining room.
“By Jove!” said Professor Schumacher, “What a pickle!” Sister Lauren began to panic as she saw all the children in the dining room, now in major danger of being buried. Luckily Sister Edith took control.
“Everyone remain calm,” said Sister Edith unflinchingly, “Proceed to the nearest exit…”
As she spoke, the roof and walls collapsed and separated the children from the adults.
Professor Schumacher, using his prodigy instincts, was able to pull the sisters away in time.
“That didn’t go well,” said Sister Edith, unfazed as Sister Lauren sobbed into Professor Schumacher’s shoulder.
“I’m sure they are alright,” said the professor consolingly, “They are prodigies after all.”
On the other side the ceiling was still shaking. The children were hysterical. Suzan looked to the screen door over on the other side of the room. “Quick,” she shouted “Everyone out the back door, now!”
In an instant she was at the door opening it. She didn‘t know how; somehow she went from one side of the room to the other. The children noticed this too because they paused and gaped like dumbfounded apes.
“Hurry!” shouted Suzan as more of the ceiling fell to the ground.
They obeyed and fled out of the falling room to the back yard. The Sisters and the professor were also out there to meet them. Suzan stood by the door making sure that everyone one got out, but she noticed she was missing two people.
“Cripes!” she said as she spotted Sadie and Claudia still collapsed on the floor. She looked above them. The roof was about to cave in any moment. She ran over to Sadie and bent down to lift her up, but she was heavy. Suzan couldn’t even imagine pulling Claudia out.
And then the ceiling began to tumble. Suzan looked up, fear ran rampant on her face. Before she knew it she threw Sadie onto her shoulder and grabbed Claudia’s hand and instantly she found herself outside with the others, still clutching the two unconscious girls.
Sadie woke up at that moment and as she opened her eyes, she saw Suzan’s. They were bright white and glowing, and her body was shaking, no vibrating and steadily slowing down to stillness. Sadie’s eyes widened as she let out a, “Whoa.”
“What?” said Suzan her eyes returning to normal, “Am I spinning? I feeling like I’m spinning.”
Cornelius was the only one to realize what had happened. He gave a hearty laugh as he walked over to Suzan, who had since collapsed with Sadie still on her shoulder.
“Bravo,” he said, clapping his hands, “That was truly amazing! Astonishing! I have not been surprised like that in a long time. Tell me how you did that?”
Suzan didn‘t hear any of that. She rose up from her fall, puked and went unconscious.
“Oh my,” said Cornelius, looking at his soiled shoes. He picked her up. The sisters ran over to him and helped the other two to their feet.
“What happened, Cornelius?” said Sister Edith.
“I wish could explain,” said Cornelius, “I can’t say for certain what happened, but let’s say that this one,” he said addressing Suzan, “Saved all these kids.”
Sadie smirked. “I helped a little,” she said.
“Young lady,” said Sister Lauren, “How did the dining room get to… that state?” Sister Lauren pointed to the collapsed part of the orphanage.
“Um,” said Sadie surprised, “Well, it’s a funny story. You know, it all started with some well-aimed water balloons.”
“What did you do?” said Sister Lauren her face livid.
“Claudia started it!” said Sadie, “I…”
“Sadie,” said Sister Edith emotionless, “It’s best to have your fun outside instead of in. Well, let’s get this cleaned up.”
“What?” said the professor, “You’re all going to clean this up?”
“We’re used to it,” said Sister Lauren, her smile returning, “And the children are very helpful.”
“You can count on us!” said all the children and Sadie.
“Well,” sighed Sister Edith, “I’m going to call Mr. Silverstone. Tell him what happened. You all get to work.”
Sadie began to kick Claudia, “Get up, dumby! We need your muscles.”
Professor Schumacher pointed, “Should she be doing that?”
“Far as I can tell,” said Sister Edith pulling out her cell phone, “Claudia did most of the damage.”
The professor paused and then said, “And?”
“And nothing,” said Sister Edith, “A douche bag is a douche bag. Get over it. At least the orphanage isn’t on fire.”
She dialed her phone and walked away.
Professor Schumacher’s mouth dropped. “It’s alright,” said Sister Lauren, “Sister Edith has a knack for telling it like it is, whether it be tactful or not. It’s not a big deal. The children love her for it. And she loves them… even Claudia though she can’t control herself.”
Both of them turned around to see both Sadie and Sister Edith kicking Claudia now. “Get up!” they repeated.
“Well,” said Sister Lauren, a tad embarrassed, “I’m pretty sure she loves her.”
The professor carried Suzan off to the side where he sat her down next to Sister Lauren and then went off to oversee the construction with Sister Edith. Suzan finally woke up. She remembered the building coming down on top of them but everything else was a blur.
“You don’t remember what happened?” asked Sister Lauren surprised, “Well it was amazing. You saved both Sadie and Claudia from the falling dining room.”
“How?” said Suzan, “I couldn’t have done that. I can’t do anything like that.”
“It might have been a fluke,” said Sadie. She was eavesdropping while she carried more lumber over to the orphanage.
“Sadie!” said Sister Lauren, “You should be happy that Suzan saved you.” She turned to Suzan, “I’m sure it wasn’t a fluke. Just believe that you did and hopefully you’ll be able to do it again soon.”
“Well,” said Suzan, “If not I’ll always have Sadie to help me.”
“That’s right,” said Sadie grinning, “I always have your back, Suzu.”
Sister Lauren smiled but she felt pity for the two girls: Suzan and her unknown power and Sadie for her prideful overconfidence. Each was strong but both misunderstood just how strong they actually were.
On the roof, unbeknownst to everyone else, Takashi sat watching. He smiled as he stared at Suzan… ‘I think I should tell the boss about her…’