Phoenix Rose,” I stutter, “Uh, Phoenix Rose Adams,”. The teacher who is taking attendance in the front field is looking at me strangely, but hands me a map and locker key. “Thank you,” I smile nervously and quickly hurry towards the ever-growing line of new students in front of the door. Oakhill Boarding School towers magnificently over the neatly trimmed grass and cherry blossom trees. Some white sheds and benches stand either side, shielding a small alleyway which I believe leads to the sports area. The canteen and creative arts blocks should be behind the school, white cubes of concrete which they call buildings, with large glass windows and doors. The entire school, from its pristine classrooms and stern teachers, to the bullies and chaotic students (which were sent here because no parent or guardian could stand them for three entire school years) is my definition of a nightmare. But instead of waking up safely at home, every morning I will wake up exactly where I was. The line begins to shuffle along, and I hurriedly follow.

When I get inside, we go to our lockers, finding inside a small pack. I open it, remove my dorm key, and class schedule, lunch ticket and another map, then stand by the entrance to a corridor. “Hi, I’m Emily!” a cheerful voice squeaks in my ear. Startled, I turn around to see a girl with short brown hair bouncing around enthusiastically. “Sorry, I’m very energetic,” she giggles. I smile. She seems a bit odd, but I’m okay with that. “Hi, I’m Phoenix Rose,” I respond politely. “Wait, is Rose your middle name? Or is it one of those names which are joined to another name?” “Weird way of putting it, but it’s my middle name. People often call me Phoenix Rose, though.” “Oh cool! What lesson do you have next?” I check the schedule. “Um, I think Geography.” “Yay! I have geography too!” I roll my eyes as she hops around excitedly, but secretly I’m happy that I’ve made a friend. Usually I’m too shy to speak to anyone of the first day. A teacher calls us to move along, and the line of people shuffles up the stairs.

Anyway, after, a quick tour of the school (normal classrooms are on the first floor, science and languages on the ground floor, and dorms at the top) I follow Emily to the Geography classroom, where we are greeted by a man wearing a smart suit and a harsh expression. “I am Mr Johnson, your Geography teacher. Today we will be learning about reading maps. The first half term of this year will be about technical work, then we will move on to weather,” he says tonelessly. “Write your name on your books. Phoenix Rose.” For a second, I think that is just part of his speech, then I realise he is talking to me. “Listen, please and do not talk.” I wasn’t talking. I never talk. Thinking he made a mistake, I begin, “I’m Phoenix Rose sir- ““I know.” He holds up his hand for silence, then suddenly seems to jolt out of a trance. “Write!” he shouts terrifyingly. Everyone begins to write down the use of maps and navigational tools in the current society, which is scrawled on the blackboard. This seems to be obvious, so I jot down my ideas, before jumping up as he barks at Emily. “Be quiet!” Emily blinks back tears, so I give her a reassuring smile. When the lesson is over, I quickly catch up to her.

“That was weird. He seemed sort of… distant, like he was talking to someone in a parallel universe or something.” I mean it as a joke, but Emily just looks up sadly. “Maybe. I have a music lesson now. Bye.” She trudges away before I can respond. I begin to head to the library to calm down. We started later today, so it should be lunch now. I am interrupted in my thoughts by a loud thud, and someone groaning in pain. I turn the corner to see a bulky figure raise his fist at a scrawny boy who looks about 14 too. “Ryder, stop!” A crowd gathers around, and within the commotion, I can barely hear the boy. Thinking instinctively, I grab my camera from my bag and press record. The bully notices me instantly, and I know I have made a mistake. He grabs my tie before I can resist, choking me. He peers at my name tag. “Adams. Listen to me. This boy-“ he jerked his arm viciously towards the center of the crowd, “this is what he deserves. People fear me for a reason. You don’t want to find out how much I can hurt you.” He drops me, and I grimace as Ryder stalks away, muttering some rather creative curse words under his breath.

The boy gets up, and comes over to me. “Thanks, um, Phoenix?” “Phoenix Rose. You’re welcome. I can’t stand people like him.” “Well, thanks anyway, Phoenix Rose. I’m Liam.” “Oh ok.” I don’t really know what to say, so I nervously wave and turn to leave. “Wait, uh, Pheonix Rose?” I turn back, but it seems as though he has changed his mind about something. “What lesson do you have next?” “Maths.” “Oh, cool, me too!” “See you there then,” I answer quietly, “bye.”

“What… does… the Pythagorean… theorem… mean?” Our teacher, Miss Teller, seems to get distracted between every word. “Phoenix Rose,” she says as I raise my hand. “Umm, I think-“ “Hand up,” she says sweetly. Her smile looks so forced that I almost laugh, before it twists into a vicious snarl. “Don’t laugh. Hand…” She seems distracted again, and her beaming smile returns. Slightly disturbed, I glance over at the other students. They seem just as confused. “Miss, I think the Pythagorean theorem shows that the sum of the squares of the height and width of a right angled triangle is equal to the square of the length of the hypotenuse,” Emily pipes up from the back of the room. The teacher glares at her. “Minus three.” What? She must be confused. We don’t have any point systems, and there is no minus three in the Theorem. “The Pythagorean theorem is one minus three.” Liam snorts loudly, before hastily diguising it as a cough. She waves a hand indifferently, and we stumble out of our desks and into the hall, intrigued by her now blank expression.

“Liam,” I hiss as we leave. He ingores me. “What was up with Miss Teller? She was acting weird, don’t you think?” Suddenly, he pulled me into a tight hug. Confused, I have barely any time to shrink away, before he whispers in my ear. His voice is laced with terror. “Something is wrong. Be careful. Don’t trust anyone, especially not the headteacher. They’re watching us.” His ominous tone tells me he is serious.

The rest of the day passes in a blur, and when I finally reach my dormitory on the third floor, I am exhausted and paranoid after Liam’s warning. “Why don’t you talk?” is how I am greeted when I step into the dark room. I decide not to respond. “I know you can, idiot. Are you deaf or something?” I still stay quiet, unpacking my suitcase and laying it out on the top bunk. I have dealt with this sort of thing a million times before. “Fine, be quiet then.” “I will.” I feel so exhausted that even this girl’s persistent whining voice irritates me. “Wait, so you do speak. Ha!” “Wow, you guessed my big secret.” I say sarcastically. “Shut up loser,” she answers. I can’t bear it. “SHUT UP. I HAVE TO DEAL WITH THIS ALL THE TIME. I DON’T HAVE TIME TO ACT STUPID AROUND ANYONE ELSE JUST SO THEY CAN FEEL IMPORTANT!” I scream. I don’t know what I expected, but the girl bursts into hysterical laughter. Imitating my voice, she squeaks, “I don’t have time to act stupid around anyone else…” she trails off. “That was the best insult I’ve ever heard. Do you think I’ll feel sorry for you? Everyone here is here because they’ve been abandoned. There’s something wrong with all of us. Get it? You’re not special.”

The next day when I wake up, I still have the echoes in my mind. “Abandoned…” My pillow is damp where my tears seeped through the fabric. I stalk out of the room angrily. I think I can guess what’s wrong with that girl. Carson, the sign on the door reads. I am still fuming when I reach my science class. Liam smiles sympathetically as he notices my tear stained face. “What’s wrong with you, then?” I ask him suddenly. Confused and hurt, he begins to speak, before the loudspeaker interrupts him. An announcement is made by the headteacher. “All students will have the opportunity to participate in a science experiment. It is compulsory so that you will be prepared for your practical work in your exams. Abigail Fielding. Beatrice Thomas. Carson Lewis. Aidan Torrez. Please report to the science block.” Carson Lewis. Well, I won’t have to deal with the dorm girl for the entire day. That’s a relief.

Then I remember Liam’s warning, and feel slightly guilty. Don’t trust anyone, especially not the headteacher. They’re watching us… I shudder. It is only in the evening when I hear it. In our last class, the teacher suddenly speaks as though possessed. “Liam West. Molly Turner. Opal Crescent. Luna Parker. Phoenix Rose Adams.” Phoenix Rose Adams. My name. They’re watching us…

The short story I was going to publish is quite long, so I have only published this part at the moment. Comment if you want to next part. Thanks!

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