The Interesting Tale Of Wolfgang Edwards And Cole Wilde

(Also Known As The Time An Entire School Ripped Itself Away From Earth)

For the most part, school life sucks, especially in high school, so it's only natural to want to do something to interrupt it. However, when your plans involve black magic and a bunch of kids high on sugar, everything which could ever possibly go wrong is guarranteed to go wrong. Strange situations push adolescent society to its limits, but, amidst all this turmoil, it is somehow possible for relationships to blossom... relationships with varying degrees of healthiness, but no matter - it is time for this tale to begin.

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2. Morning - Chapter One

A cold chill wrapped itself around Wolfgang’s stick-thin legs, barely protected by the dark school trousers which hung from his hips and flapped wildly in the wind as he attempted to traverse the pavement littered with rips and holes in the concrete and small, smashed pieces of glass which sometimes stuck into the soles of his worn school shoes. Sticking his paling hands deeper into his coal-black blazer’s pockets in an attempt to keep blood flowing to his fingers, he ducked his head and continued on his daily route to school, wishing that he could walk faster without arriving at school red-faced and out of breath.

In his pocket, his fingers closed around a rectangular box, almost automatically moving to pull it out, before he frowned, remembering what he had fatally forgotten that morning, and pushed it back out of sight, biting the already-tattered insides of his lip and casting his eyes down to the pavement. Five more minutes of walking and he would find himself at the gates of Ashwood High - five more minutes which would feel like an eternity spent hiking through a frozen-over Hell.

By the time those minutes had passed, and a drab grey building was looming over him, covered in stained and cracked windows and glass-panelled doors, the plain black backpack hanging from his shoulders felt like it was filled with rocks, and every breath sliced through his lungs like an icy blade. Glaring at the herd of small kids crowding the gate, guzzling down energy drinks and chasing each other around, he allowed himself the smallest inner smirk as they scattered, with only a few murmurs and annoyed looks, allowing him entry to the small yard which connected directly to the first main building of Ashwood High.

Kicking at the gravel path a little, he quickly reached the glass-panelled double doors which opened to one of the school’s main corridors, reaching out with one hand to push on the dark green metal - it didn’t budge. Rose flushed to his cheeks, the exact colour he hadn’t wanted them to become, as he pulled the handle and entered the mercifully warm corridor to a couple of chuckles and snickers from the older kids hanging around, with their backs pressed against the quietly gurgling, cream-coloured radiators.

Sighing inwardly, Wolfgang realised he would have to pass them to get to his form room. Pushing his hands further into his pockets, and ignoring the slight sting from his fingertips hitting the inner lining, he kept his eyes focused on the end of the corridor, and began to walk. Almost as soon as he started down the corridor, the stench hit him: a smothering blend of overpowering deodorant and… oh, of course, it had to be, just to torture him a little more for his idiotic mistake. Chewing on the inside of his cheek, he, not for the first nor the last time that day, lowered his eyes to the chewing-gum covered linoleum floor - only to see a dark blur dart across it, pausing time as a disaster became imminent, and the only thought in Wolfgang’s mind was, quite simply, ‘oh shit-

I’m falling.’

~*~*~

Allowing his smooth lips to set themselves into something akin to a warm smile, Cole tossed his head, just a little, to move his short, light blond fringe out of two piercing, darker-than-night eyes, not wanting to remove his hands from his warm blazer pockets just yet. The school was in sight, the air was filled with the lingering stench of cigarette smoke and cheap deodorant, and the pavement was covered in scattered sheets of homework, squashed cans of knock-off energy drinks and stamped-out stubs of cigarettes, all in similar quantities: all the usual signs of teenagers congregating in a place associated with high amounts of pressure and stress. Ah, the wonderful place known as Ashwood High, where souls were crushed and dreams were dashed.

    There were two main entrances to the high school, unless you wanted to brave the mudslide known as the Backfield, and, as the first was usually swamped by little kids high on sugar and older kids looking for walking punchbags to vent their frustrations out onto, he had elected for the second entrance on this particular day. Sure, it involved a rather long walk down a path watched closely by teachers, trussed up in high-vis jackets with walkie-talkies clipped to them, squawking out indecipherable noises every so often, but that didn’t bother him too much. They’d only ever stopped him once, and, as he was a rarity in Ashwood High in that he didn’t usually carry anything which teachers would find questionable, it went rather smoothly.

    Keeping his smile, he crossed the final road before the school gates, nodding his greeting to the fairly rotund teacher on duty, who, naturally, completely blanked him, standing still with an emotionless face, arms crossed. Resisting the urge to roll his eyes, Cole passed, unchallenged, through the gates, and started down the path at a leisurely pace. A quick check of his phone told him he had plenty of time to waste before he had to show up to his form room… ah, except he’d been moved into a new form over the weekend, which meant he’d have to find out where exactly he had to be, as no one had been nice enough to inform him of the room he was supposed to show up at on Monday morning. It was a real shame that he’d had to move… his old form tutor had been one of the more decent teachers at Ashwood, who turned a blind eye to a bit of eyeliner and nude-coloured nail polish so long as you didn’t give him too much trouble.

    At the second set of gates, a few kids were milling about, but they parted almost as soon as they saw him coming - one of the many advantages to being fairly tall and mature-looking in high school, but he wasn’t prepared to dwell on it, walking through the gap they’d made at his usual pace, straightening his silver tie in response to a glance from the teacher on duty at that gate, who just looked away and spoke curtly to one of the smaller kids about the energy drink she was clutching. Quickly crossing the larger of the two school yards, he reached the covered stairs which led up to the main building of Ashwood High. Pushing through the double doors at the top of the stairs, he was hit by a wall of warmth from the single, hard-working radiator to his left, currently occupied by a gaggle of girls from the year below him, who were giggling away at something on one of their phones.

Keeping clear of them, he kept walking, removing his hands from his pockets and watching the colour flood back to them, as a couple of kids rushed past, one brandishing a tie which most definitely did not belong to him, until he found himself in the Languages block. This was where his old form room was, in one of the German rooms, the one with the large windows which caught the sun nicely on the few days when the sun actually bothered to show up in the sky. No one from his old form would be waiting around for him, however, so he quickly moved on, through a set of doors which had been helpfully left wide open, into the corridor notorious for the brick-heads who inhabited it - and, true to their habits, they were there, some of them calling out greetings to him with varying degrees of friendliness.

He paused to try and ask them about his new form, to see if any of them - Gods forbid - belonged to it, but he had barely got a word out before someone was trying to sell him energy drinks out of a tatty backpack (two for a quid, quite the deal). Wondering why he even bothered, he was about to turn and leave when a chorus of snickers and murmurs ran around the group, making him look around for the source of amusement.

    He found it in a small, soft-eyed teen, auburn hair falling down their back in a complicated-looking braid, uniform neat but blazer badge-free, a light rose blush blossoming across their pale cheeks. Their little nose and the tips of their ears, pierced several times with silver studs and hoops, were ever so slightly tinged red, most probably where the cold air from outside had nipped them, and their lips had entire patches where the skin had been ripped away, and was growing back in a slightly different shade to the patches around it. With their hands tucked into their blazer pockets, however, they were opening themself up to such a common attack by the brick-heads, as they focused those glazed-over light blue eyes on something far-away - and not the leg which had been left out in the well-founded hopes of tripping them up.

    Without thinking, Cole rushed forwards, grabbing the teen by their arm and pulling them upright, removing their hand from their blazer pocket in the process, revealing a spider-like set of deathly pale fingers, even paler than their face, as if all blood flow to them had been stopped. Breathless, the teen looked up at their saviour, to see Cole’s face, usually set into his trademark smile, unperturbed by anything, contorted into an expression of confusion mixed with worry. Gritting his teeth, he removed his grip from the teen’s arm, ignoring the annoyed brick-head who was complaining about Cole’s interference, and, without a word, gestured for them to follow him away from the crowded corridor. Thankfully, the teen understood and complied, following him back into Languages, and relative safety.

    “Here.” Pulling his backpack off one shoulder, Cole rooted around in it for a second, before fishing out a large, dark hoodie with a white band logo on the back - it was lined with wool, and one of his favourites, but he hadn’t seen the need to wear it that day, as it hadn’t felt too cold out. Without hesitation, he handed it to the teen, who stood still for a second, holding it in their hands as if they didn’t know what to do with it. “You can put it on. No one’ll care, and you look like you need it.”

    “Hm... ?” The absent look in the teen’s eyes was ever so slightly worrying Cole, but, this time, he refused to let it show, reverting to his usual smiling mask. “I can… wear it? For free? You don’t… want anything?”

    “Nope. Just give it back sometime, ‘kay?” Is he high? Cole wouldn’t be surprised. Half the school was usually on something just to get through the day, but he couldn’t bring himself to ask. “Hey, do you know where 10D’s form room is?”

    “Of course I do… it’s my form room… “ Finally, he pulled the hoodie on. It was ridiculously large on him, close to reaching where some of the girl’s skirts went down to, but he didn’t seem to mind, putting his hands in the front pocket and looking up, directly into Cole’s eyes, for maybe the first time. “You got… transferred? Got in a… got in a fight or… something?”

    “It was a minor disagreement.” I smashed his face in. “Nothing important.”

    “Right… your eyes… they’re kind of… do you have a light…?” That sentence made literally no sense to Cole, so he just shook his head, prompting the teen to sigh a little and lower his gaze to the floor. “I forgot… this morning… form room is… this way…”

    Surprising Cole, the teen took his hand, which felt like a solid block of ice, and began to walk towards a classroom just across from Cole’s old form room. Weirdly, there was no one else waiting outside, which seemed to be confusing the teen, who began to try and look through the window on the door - alas, it was a small square at the top of the door, and he simply wasn’t tall enough to see inside. Huffing a little, he stepped back, a dejected expression on his face, before he had a moment of realisation and turned to Cole, whose warm hand he was still holding onto.

    “Please… you’re tall… I wanna see where my form’s gone… if they’re inside… I’m not too heavy… promise…”

    Swallowing down a chuckle, Cole let go of the teen’s hand and stepped towards him, waiting until he turned around again to put one arm around his middle and lift him up to the small window. He really was light - he must’ve weighed less than a year seven, and… was that a spine that he could feel through his blazer? It was all slightly abnormal, but Cole wasn’t going to call him out on it - at the end of the day, it was none of his business. There was no badge on his blazer saying that he was one of those prefects, who always stuck their noses in everyone’s business, so he was just going to stay out of it. He didn’t even know the teen’s name - wait, wasn’t that something he should’ve asked already? Probably, to be honest...

    “Um… they’re not there… could you let me down now…?”

    Before Cole could let him down, there was an ear-splitting bang, and the entire school seemed to lurch to the side, the floor moving beneath his feet, sending him crashing to the ground, the teen’s body hitting his chest as his head smacked against the thin carpet, and, just as an intense pain in his head set in, the world turned to black, and became silent.

~*~*~

“You’re all complete idiots. I- I actually can’t believe this is happening, someone tell me this is a nightmare, please.”

    With her head in her hands, Leah squeezed her eyes shut, attempting to remove the image of the disaster before her from her mind. Around her, kids waited uneasily for her final verdict, hands covered in red paint, scratching the backs of their necks and muttering half-hearted apologies. Sighing, Leah lifted her head, looking around at the collection of kids from the year below her. She knew it had been too good to be true - they were too easy to control, too gullible, too willing to do whatever she asked. Why? Because they were stupid. Her gaze moved to the… well, what could she call it? The blatantly not-a-pentagram on the uneven concrete floor before her, with six points. It looked like a star that some little kid drew on their Christmas decoration, in red, for whatever reason, not a satanic symbol which was meant to be able to summon some sort of demon to disrupt the school day and stop her first period maths exam.

    “Well? What the hell are you waiting for? I need an actual pentagram, preferably today! Like, right now! Move!”

    As they scattered and scurried away to a fresh spot on the ground, blowing out and moving the candles they’d placed on the six points of the failed pentagram and grabbing their paint brushes once again. Scowling, Leah kicked at a loose couple of stones in the ground, turning and walking towards the basement stairs which led up to the ground floor of Ashwood High. Sitting on one of the bottom steps, she pulled up the hood of her dark robe, which covered her uniform from her blazer down to her school shoes. Sure, it could be a pain when running, or walking quickly, and it caught a lot of dirt off the ground, but she’d decided on it as a uniform for her club a long time ago, and she wasn’t going back on her decision now.

    Still murmuring crossly to herself, she pulled her phone out of a hidden pocket, checking the home screen. Little red bubbles met her eyes, making her bite the inside of her lip and begin to tap, the quiet clicking sound of her painted-pink nails against the electronic screen soothing the itching sensation developing in the back of her mind. Overhead, a cheap electric light flickered, making a kid gasp and declare that the devil was present, causing much laughter and ridicule of said kid. Leah ignored them, continuing to flick through app after app, mostly ignoring the messages or sending one word replies, regularly having to stop to reconnect to the crap school wi-fi, then her VPN, which became extremely annoying after the fifth time she was forced to do it. Eventually, all the notifications disappeared, leaving her with a blank home screen and a relatively calm mind. Satisfied, she put her phone back into her pocket and stood, walking over to the new, correct pentagram to check on the kids’ progress.

    “Gods damn, you work fast.” Leah found herself staring at a newly painted pentagram, all in red and already littered with candles, being lit by lighters which she was pretty sure shouldn’t have been in the possession of such young and clumsy kids. “Right, let’s get this started. Where’s my rune book?”

    Someone handed it to her, and she began to flip through the pages. It was old, leather bound and bigger than her head, and it smelt of old bookshops with a side of dampness, but it had been the only rune book she could find which wasn’t mostly indecipherable - there were a few pages that even her translation app on her phone couldn’t work out, but, for the most part, the enchantments inside were both understandable and quite exciting. With ten minutes until form time began, she found the page which she had dog-eared earlier, and snapped at everyone to get into their correct places. Someone passed her a candle, someone else lit it, everyone put their hoods up and held their hands together, and she began. With the rune book in one hand and the candle in the other, she looked up to the cobweb-covered ceiling of the basement, before quickly looking down again to check the pencilled-in translation, then beginning to chant.

    It was only a second after she finished, the second in which worry and disappointment flooded into her mind, that she saw the first spark. She’d always imagined it would be… well, less spark-like, but that didn’t stop the wide grin on her face as the fire, which certainly looked like a fire but emitted no heat, grew from the middle of the pentagram, making the kids around it stand stock still, jaws dropping, completely silent for once in their lives. It grew larger and larger, right up to the ceiling, brushing against the cobwebs - until, all of a sudden, it imploded. The force threw Leah backwards, as the energy crashed in on itself then rushed outwards, making a bang louder than anything else she’d ever heard. Skidding backwards across the floor, her hands scrabbled to hold onto anything, as nausea hit her head and stomach, and regret splintered through her mind.

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