The Hidden

Darren is fourteen. He has stumbled into a world of constant danger and darkness. But in the terrible darkness, lost hope and shredded dreams, could he find the light to guide him on his way?
Enter into a world of danger, monsters and just enough romance to keep your heart beating faster throughout.
Enjoy :)

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3. 3. The Academy of Light

Darren woke with a start to find Chris staring at him.  Chris looked away hastily, and said, "We've arrived." 

Darren sat up and looked out of the window.  He'd expected to see some kind of building, or something, but what he saw didn't really impress him.  A vast span of green grass, an occasional oak tree, and a scattering of daffodils.   Chris saw his expression and laughed.  Darren smiled.  Chris looked cute when he laughed.  His eyes crinkled up and his perfect, white teeth would show.  Best of all, a single dimple would emerge on his right cheek.

David slammed the door of the car shut, making both boys jump.  He grinned, suddenly, unexpectedly. Then, he took of his sunglasses.   His eyes where green.  They crinkled in a smile.  "Well, boys, are you ready?"

They said yes, Darren quite unenthusiastically.  "Alright then, follow me."

He set off across the huge green expanse, the two boys jogging to keep up with his giant strides.  He came to a stop bang in the middle of the field, in the middle of what Darren recognised as a Pentagram.  Chris immediately stepped in one of the stars rays, David in the middle.  Darren was unsure what to do, and Chris realised that, although it wasn't the first time for him, it was for Darren.  "Hey, D, just stand here," he said, pointing to the ray next to his.  Darren cautiously stepped in, and gave Chris a small smile.  Chris gave him a thumbs up in return, and muttered,  "Don't panic, 'kay?"  Darren was about to answer when suddenly, David started chanting a weird song.  The Pentagram glowed, and suddenly, the Pentagram started sinking rapidly. 

Darren thought that he would be sucked up, but the Pentagram seemed to have glued him in place.       He snuck a look at Chris.  He had his eyes closed, but he had a huge smile plastered on his face.  Suddenly, with a jolt, their ride was over.  Only David with his sheer bulk remained upright.  The two boys managed to get tangled up in awkward positions, and, laughing hysterically, untangled themselves and just lay there, side by side, shaking with laughter, until David hauled them upright, a small smile lighting his eyes.

Darren looked around him.  He was in an underground chamber, but the air wasn't musty and dry.  There was even some kind of grass growing.  It looked white-ish, and glowed weirdly.  It was bathed in light, and in the middle was a building, not like anything he'd ever seen before.  It seemed to defy gravity, floating, yet firmly on the ground at the same time.  Cloudy matter seemed to swirl around it, and on top of the huge doorway, an energy ball seemed to float, a hologram.  Beneath it were letters, forming the words: "The Academy Of Light".  Chris hung back, next to Darren.  Darren's chin was hanging open, his eyes wide as saucers.  It was mesmerising.  Suddenly, the door opened and an elegant man walked out.  David stopped and bowed his head. Chris grabbed Darren's hand and dragged him forward, then he too bowed his head.  Darren copied him.  Whoever that person was, he must be important.

"Good morning, David, boys, and welcome to the Academy of Light.  Christopher Jones, we have seen you here, but the newcomer, no.  Please, introduce yourself."

Darren felt his mind go blank.  He managed to stutter out, "M-My n-n-name is D-Darren W-Williams...er..."

The man looked slightly amused at Darren’s apparent fear of him, and he cut into Darren’s stuttering speech smoothly, as he continued.

"Ah yes, Williams.  We had your mother here.  She was a teacher."

Darren swallowed.  He knew that his mom was a teacher, but she had always changed the subject when he told her where she taught.  Now, he realised why, and he thought of how many other things she'd lied about.  For the first time, he felt fear.  Could he trust his mother on this?  

The man continued.  "I will now introduce myself.  My name is Doctor Alexander Blake, but everyone here calls me Alex, or Blakey, though I prefer Alex."  As he said "Blakey", he glanced sharply at Christopher, who looked down.  Darren could see a faint blush colouring his cheekbones, even as a small smile twitched his lips.  Blake continued.  "Now, if you will, Christopher, follow Mr David to your dorm, although I do not doubt you know the way.  Darren, you will come with me."

Darren frantically caught Christopher's eyes, and the latter gave him a thumb’s up and mouthed 'Relax'.  Darren stared after his retreating form, not realising that Blake was looking at him thoughtfully.  Without preamble, Blake began to talk.  

"Now Darren, from what I know, your mum came through a portal to warn you about David's arrival to whisk you off over here. She had told me about it, and I had helped create the portal.  Now, you know absolutely nothing, as even Christopher had been forbidden to tell you anything.  It was a hard task for the boy.  He fell for you, I have come to think."

Darren blushed.

"Yes, yes, now I wasn't supposed to say that. But well, it’s high time that you knew it.  The way the boy looks at you is enough.  Ah, we've reached my office.  Please be seated."

Darren entered and was again stunned.  The ceiling was laced with interlocked beams of light, a lattice of shimmering light that change colour at every different angle you looked at it.  The floor shimmered, and it was only on close inspection that he realised that the floor was encrusted with light-reflecting prisms, creating small rainbows due to the dispersion of a white light that was shining from below the ground.  Blake noticed his amazement and smiled.  "It is nice to have your work appreciated," he said.

"Now, where were we?  Ah yes.  I have to explain what you are, what we hunt, and what we protect.  First things first.  My name is, as you have already heard, Alexander Blake.  I am part of the Council of Light, as well as the Headmaster of the Academy.  You, and everyone here, are part of the Afferens Lucem. This means "bringing light".  We live by the Code of Lux, or light: Triumphos lucem tenebras, et tenebras erit ligatum et in saecula.  That sounds complicated, but it actually means: Light triumphs over darkness, and darkness will be bound for ever.  So, as you might have guessed, we are the Light Bringers.  But who is the darkness?

"There are several different species of Creatures of the Dark.  But our main threat currently are new creatures.  We call them The Hidden.  We do not know exactly who they are, but we know what they do, and how they look.  We know they came from the neighbouring galaxy, called the Andromeda galaxy.  They landed here decades ago...somewhere around Roswell, 1947.  The spaceship the authorities said they found?  That was a distraction, sent by the Hidden themselves.  The alien said to have been found on the crash site was real, but it was of a primitive species, and it had no real intelligence.  It had very simple instructions on how to drive the spaceship, which was why it crashed.  It was meant to crash.  The humans were distracted by that, and they did not see the more obvious landings that took place after that incident.  They took refuge in caves, cliffs, and the sort.  Then, around forty years ago, they started the attacks.  

“It was always at night that they struck, and they attacked by plucking out the eyes, then filling the eyes with a dark matter, which slowly devours the body, slowly and painfully, cutting off major organs.  The person would die a slow, painful death, in the darkness, and alone, as the matter takes over the brain and shuts down the sense of smell, the sense of touch and the sense of sound, making the person think he is utterly alone.  When it is done, the matter leaves the body, which is only bones at that stage, and goes in the ventilation system.  Until it kills the entire household.  The attacks were not many, only one household per year, till some ten years ago.  The victims were many, around two households per month.  They targeted larger families, and left fear in every village they attacked.

 “However, these creatures were never seen, could not be caught on camera.  Hidden.  Until one day, a survivor was found before the matter took over the brain.  In that few seconds before the eyeballs were plucked, he had seen them.  Tall and thin, seemingly made of darkness and night.  In the face, two bright silver orbs glowed instead of eyes, and where there should be a mouth, a cavern of black fire roared.  The hands were long, many-fingered, and slim, and their claws were made of silver and diamond, cutting even glass.  We could not save the person.  It is virtually impossible to save people after the black matter is inserted in the eye sockets.  Our healers and warlocks are currently researching to find a cure, and to discover what the black matter is, and how exactly it manages to destroy its victims, but nothing had been found yet. 

"The thing we protect is light, of course.  It is the only thing that defeats the Hidden.  But not any normal kind of light.  We have the candentem luminam, the pure white light, to beat their darkness.  And we only find his kind of light in these: the Orbs of True Light.  There are only 10 in the world.  We have two in this Academy, and the others are spread out in other safe places.  We also have the Sacred Texts of Paytar Sar, an early Afferens Lucem from around the 15th century.  It was he who founded the Afferens Lucem, collecting people who had other special abilities, like him.  It was uncommon for people to have the ability to see visions of the future, with only one in a hundred of us every three years.  He was, in fact, the first person reported in history to have this gift.   Although the Hidden had not yet arrived, he had visions, visions of what they would do, and he also saw vague images of them.  He wrote all this, and ways of defeating them, in his Sacred Texts.  He also wrote of other things, things that also fear the White Light of the Orbs.  Things...we do not know of, and things that we are now aware of.  

"However, our main threat currently is the Hidden.  We are training you to be able to fight these...things.  There are six other students, all with special abilities.  Arielle, who can read minds; Gracie, who can teleport; Paul, who has the gift of talking in many of the old, forgotten tongues; Dean, who can change his appearance at will; Danielle, who sings with a voice that puts enemies in a trance; and of course, Christopher."

Silence.  Darren spoke, at last, "Em...what...what does Chris...do?"

"He is very clever.  He...his mind is like a computer.  He can work out equations, figure out fore-sights, come up with battle strategies, you name it, while at the same time completing the hardest mathematical paper schools could have provided, in less than thirty minutes.  He can also solve a Rubik's cube in 30 seconds flat.”  At this, Darren blinked.  He couldn’t even solve one of those in a whole day, let alone thirty seconds.  Blake continued.

"And then, there is you.  The same gift as the revered Paytar Sar.  The most unusual thing that can happen to an Afferens Lucem.  You and Christopher are probably the two most powerful people in this Academy, what with his calculating mind and your ability to see the future at will, and with education, you will be able to CONTROL when visions come to you, even what you want to see.  It is a very useful gift.  Use it well.  Tomorrow, Chris will wake you up, but you shouldn’t really rely on him, he’s notorious for sleeping in.  He’s nearly always late.  You are going to be living in the same room, controlled by CCTV (he added, casting Darren a look that clearly said 'No funny business'.  Darren blushed plum red.), which is there for your own protection, as the Academy is a target point of many evil organisations.  (Liar.)  You will be led to a classroom, where you will meet your personal tutor, Miss Lovelace.  She is an expert in visions and mind-control.  Everything else you will need will then be given to you.  For today, that is it.  I think you have had enough, by the look of your face."

Darren could only imagine what expression currently decorated his face.  He stood up, just as Blake rang a bell, and David, the burly bodyguard, entered the room.  "Ah, David.  Please escort Darren to his bedroom.  Thank you."

Darren gladly moved out of the dazzling, glittery office, and followed David as they went through meandering corridors and rounded sharp turns.  The atmosphere was charged with a kind of energy, and the ceiling was alight with little dots of light.  He realised that they were constellations, carefully plotted on the ceiling against a black backdrop.  Cool.  

David turned yet another sharp corner, and the atmosphere changed to a homely one. The furniture was traditional, the paintings on the wall symbolised peace, happiness, and of course, light.  They passed several doors, and David stopped in front of the second one on the right.  Only four doors. David saw Darren look, and said, "The two boys sleep in one room, the three girls in another.  The second door on the left is a general common room, where you can join your fellow classmates in the breaks.  This is Christopher's room.   All are CCTV operated.  And in my opinion, Chris's room is easy to find."  Too right he was.  The door was painted with a shocking array of rainbow colours, numbers all over and even the odd equation or two.  The door was ajar.  David pushed it open, and pushed Darren in.  "Night-night!" he called out softly, and closed the door.

Darren stood in the middle of the most colourful, chaotic room he'd ever had the fortune to step into.  His own room at home was rather chaotic, but one could at least see the carpet, and most of the walls.   This room was different.  The bed on the right was the only oasis of calm, with a duffel bag that he recognised as his lying on top of it.  Chris's bed was unmade, tie-dyed sheets crumpled up around Chris's body.  Chris was apparently asleep, his cherubic face smiling slightly, with a book titles “The Universe and its Mysteries” opened on top of him, with one arm casually resting on it to keep it open.  The walls were splashed with different paints, some with glitter, some neon, and covered with several educational posters that sported equations such as “E=mc2” and also several Star Trek posters.  The ceiling was covered with a single quote:  ‘"A question that sometimes drives me hazy: am I or the others crazy?” - Albert Einstein’.  Darren smiled.  It suited Chris.  The wardrobe was partially open, filled with…books?  His clothes were strewn all over the place, with a small pile of them neatly folded on a chair…  The carpet, or the pieces of carpet that could be seen through the mess of clothes, was bright pink.

"You like it?"

Darren jumped.  He had thought that Chris was asleep.  Then he realised that the lights were on.  How exactly would Chris be asleep with that much light in the room?  

Ah. Right.

He nodded.  Didn't trust himself to speak.

"Blake has been on my back for ages, going on and on about the disorder of this room.  I always win, though.  So, did he tell you everything? Who are you with?"

Darren smiled inwardly.  Chris was so adorable sometimes.  "Yeah, about the Hidden and...the...uh...offerens luchem?"

"Afferens Lucem."

"Yeah. Those.  I mean us.  It was a lot of info to process.  Still is.  I'm with a Miss Lovelace."

"Lucky.  She's a dear.  I have Mr O'Hara.  Horrible. Bleh.  He is so annoying, and pretty much useless.  He keeps repeating stuff, and he hasn’t got a clue about anything he teaches."

"Wow....Chris?"

"Yes?"

"Do they pick sound, the CCTV?"

"No, thankfully.  I would be expelled by now."

"Yeah.  That's what I thought too."

They looked at each other, and burst out laughing.  Darren, still laughing, prepared his bed and took out his nightclothes.  He excused himself, and entered the bathroom.  He quickly washed and changed, and as he was about to open the door leading to the bedroom, he saw his reflection in the mirror.  He saw his eyes alight, happy.  His brown, curly hair still dripping from the shower he'd just had.  His lips curved up in a smile.  A healthy red colour in his face.  He looked...different.  More relaxed.  A knock on the door interrupted his thoughts.

"Yes?"

"D. You O.K?"

"Yes.  Why?"

"Nothing.  Just wanted to tell you something."

"What?"

"Uh.  Well."

"Chris?"

"Be careful, O.K?  It's dangerous.  And...I care a lot about you."

Bam.  Darren saw his reflection turn red.

He replied, "That goes to you too, Chris.  I care for you, too."

The tension of the room visibly went down again.

"Good, 'coz if you didn't, it would be a real pain wading around my clothes."

Darren opened the door, finding Chris now sitting on his bed.  

"Nice pj's."

Darren looked down at his pyjamas.  Spider-man.  Oh.

"Thanks."

Chris gave him a manic grin.  "Welcome, honey.   Now go to sleep, or you'll wake up zombified.  Believe me, happens to me every day."

He switched the lights off.

Darren whispered, "Night, Chris."

And the whispered reply, "Night, hun."

Darren slept straight away, but Chris lay awake, thinking.  About school, life, Avogadro's constant.....

...and Darren.

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