“Could you please tell me why we’re sneaking your passed-out drunk sister in trough her bedroom window?”
It’s my best friend Garrett. He already knows why but he likes to make me tell him things twice.
“Well, one of my sisters friends called me and said that she’d passed out, and I said that I’d get her home. And since you were with me, and because you’re such a good best friend, you agreed to help me.” I say. He throws me a pleased smile.
My sister’s bedroom is luckily at the ground level, and for some stupid reason she always leaves her bedroom window open, even though we’re in the beginning of December. I quietly ease the window open while Garrett holds up my sister. I crawl in through the window, and Garrett lifts her over the window sill, where I take hold of her. Garrett goes in too, and he clears my sister’s bed. I lay her down, and pull the covers to her chin. While I find a sticky note and pen, Garrett throws himself in a chair. My sister’s bedroom is messy – just like mine – so finding a sticky note and pen is impossible. In the end I just write on her whiteboard, and hope my mom doesn’t see it.
Thank me later,
“Ready to get out of here?” I whisper to Garrett. He nods.
I absolutely hate Monday mornings, and unfortunately there is a Monday morning every week. I’m sitting at our dining table barely able to keep my eyes open. My cereal has gotten mushy. But Emma looks even worse than I do. Her usually straightened hair is hanging in limp brown curls, and her makeup is smeared all around her eyes, which have dark blue circles underneath. But in an hour she’ll probably look like she just stepped out of a magazine.
“When did you come home last night?” My mom asks my sister. I form my lips as if saying ‘Ten’, to Emma. She picks up on it.
“Ten,” she replies. I can tell my mom doesn’t really believe her.
“And you, Sam?” My mom asks me.
“Around eleven,” I reply. Emma – unlike me – has a curfew, even though she’s two years older than me. She has to be home every night at ten, except Friday and Saturday. On those days she has to be home at one AM. See, my mom doesn’t really trust Emma that much.
After I’ve eaten I get ready, and – unlike Emma – I only require ten minutes, so I’m able to watch television before I go to school. On my projection screen, some situation comedy is running. I don’t get why they call it a comedy. It’s not even that funny.
An hour later I’m on my way out of the door, when Emma grabs my sleeve.
“Katy explained everything that happened last night, and thank you little bro.”
I take the train to school, since it’s the only form of transportation that’s here in Trodger Hills, besides walking on foot. And you can’t really call that a form of transportation. The train is free for students, which is lucky for me, because I take the train everywhere. Halfway there Garrett gets on. We talk a little, and ten minutes later we get off. It only takes us 2 minutes to walk from the train station to the Trodger Hills Army Academy. This has been my dream school ever since I was ten. And then when I got enrolled one and a half year ago, I was super stoked that I was going to be a soldier. I actually still am.
Garrett and I walk through the front doors passing several groups of students crowding the hallways. Everyone is wearing the same school uniform. We just have time enough to grab our books from our lockers, before our first class begins. Garrett and I have eighty percent of all classes together.
Mr. Runner fortunately hasn’t shown up yet, when we enter Vampires 101. Garrett quickly finds us a seat. I lay my books down on my desk, and the moment we sit down, Mr. Runner enters. He is a mean cold-hearted retired officer in his fifties, who now spends his days teaching us “weaklings”, as he calls us students.
“Today,” his voice booms. “We’re having a pop quiz.” Sour scowls roll over the class; no one dares to speak a word. Mr. Runner is not the least hesitant to make a disobedient student do one-hundred pushups. On my first day of school he’d made me do a total of six-hundred pushups. “Miss Tennyson, how quickly do vampires heal from a one inch deep gash?”
“Two days, sir,” answers the girl.
“Mr. Acker, what are the most effective ways to kill a vampire?”
“Beheading, burning or staking the heart, sir,” Garrett answers.
“Mr. Wright, do vampires have souls?”
“Uhm, I guess…” the boy answers.
“That was a very unintelligent answer, Mr. Wright. Of course vampires do not have souls! Get down on the floor and do one-hundred pushups.” The boy does as he is told, while Mr. Runner continues with the pop quiz. I never get asked, not even once. But I always get asked.
The bell rings fifty-four minutes later, and everyone starts to pack their thing for the next class. Garrett has a history class next and I have an English class next. While zipping up my backpack, the voice of the principal sounds over the loudspeakers.
“Mr. Sam Middleton is to report to my office immediately.”
That’s me. But it can’t be me. I haven’t done anything wrong. A couple of people are looking at me, probably wondering what the hell I have done. Well, I’m wondering that too.
I gather up my pride, walking out of the class and to my locker. I drop off my books, and walk straight to the principal’s office. When I pass a group of girls, they all giggle. Girls have done that ever since I grew from 5 foot 7 inches, to 6 foot over this past summer. I swear I have no idea why.
I first knock on the door to principal’s office before entering.
“Please have a seat,” the principal says. I sit down in the chair in front of the principal’s desk. “First off, I want to tell you, that you have done nothing wrong, Mr. Middleton.” I let out a breath I intentionally had inhaled before sitting down. “I brought you here because you have been chosen for a new military program that sends young men and women outside Trodger Hills, to declare that there are no signs of vampire activity in the area surrounding Trodger Hills.” ‘Outside’. Nobody’s ever been outside since the Dome Cities were created. I feel like a panic attack is coming. My hands begin to tremble slightly, and I can feel myself starting to sweat more. “This is obligatory.” ‘Obligatory’. I have to do this. I can’t get out of it. I swallow. When I speak, my voice comes out raspy.
“I accept, sir,” I say and wipe my hand in on my pants before handing it to the principal. We shake on it, and he gives me a document of information before I leave.
“You have the rest of the day off, to prepare for tonight.” Yes. Tonight. I’m leaving Trodger Hills tonight.
“Thank you, sir.”
No one’s in the hallway. Not a single soul. Everyone’s in class. Everyone except me.
As I sit on the train, I read the document the principal gave me. Four other kids are being sent out as well, one tomorrow, and one the day after tomorrow, and so on. The document also says there is no safety guarantee, so what they’re basically saying, is that I will most likely die. I’m not allowed to tell anyone about the new military program, not even my family or Garrett. The document has a ton of other vital information, that I don’t bother reading for now.
I get off the train at my stop, and walk three minutes to my house. It’s not a big house, but it’s not exactly small, either. It’s enough room for three people. I immediately change into more comfortable clothes and throw myself onto my bed, and lie there, staring up at the ceiling. My ceiling is blue. Blue is a soothing color, right? Or is it green? Eventually I close my eyes, and fall into a dream filled sleep. I dream of the girl again.
I wake up to sound of something electronic. What time is it? Oh, it’s my phone. Garret’s calling me. I pick up.
“Hey man, you disappeared at school today,” he says. “I heard you got called to the principal’s office. What did he say?”
“I’m sorry, but I really can’t tell you,” I say. It pains me to say it, but it’s true. Garrett and I never keep anything from each other.
“Oh, it’s okay. But-“ His voice is cut off from another call. I look on at my phone. It’s the military calling. When authorities call, anything else you’re doing on your phone gets cancelled. I push ‘Answer’.
“Mr. Sam Middleton, I am calling to inform you that your escorts will be at your home in ten minutes.” The call ends. ‘Ten minutes’. I have ten minutes.
I quickly jump out my bed, knocking my covers down on the floor. I empty my backpack of everything, and start to throw random things into it, stuff I might need. In the end I think my backpack weighs two tons. I only have time to shovel some food in my mouth before the doorbell rings. I open the door to a man and woman, both in military uniforms.
“Mr. Sam Middleton?” the woman says.
“Yes,” I answer.
“Come with us.” They start to walk away, as if expecting me to follow them. I do, and soon I myself at the edge of Trodger Hills, looking up at a huge metal gate. I’m the first to ever walk through that gate. Ever. The thought makes me exited, but also at the same time anxious. There is an officer just at the front of the gate.
“Mr. Sam Middleton,” he says.” You will travel to the town Soter; declare that there is not vampire activity, and return home. The whole process shall take you seventeen hours. You will keep the military updated with the journal on your Tracker.” Someone hands me a rectangular device that could fit in my pant pocket. “It will transmission what you write directly to the military.” He turns to shout at someone else. “The gate, please!”
Immediately the gate opens and I’m pushed lightly forward, towards the gate. My family isn’t even here to say goodbye. What kind of military program is that? But I’m a soldier in training, and I need to do this. I compose myself, and step through the gate, not looking back. Behind me I can hear the gate closing.