“Is it gone yet?”
Miss Grubenfall glared at Clay, the scruffy 11-year-old boy. “No. The signal has not sounded and most likely will not sound for a while!”
The entirety of The West City Home for Young Minds was in the Central Pillar- the secure, windowless room at the centre of our floor. The Pillar stretched out through the entire building, from the Flats at the top right down to the Rooms and the Sties at the very bottom.
“What is it again?” I inquired. I knew already- it was a Flying Beast, of the larger, black variety that sometimes attempts to enter the City- but as the Central Pillar is so excruciatingly boring to spend time in, I decided I might as well ask.
Miss Grubenfall groaned. “You know quite well, Rayven. Three people have asked before you. Stop pretending to forget. And all of you- sit in silence until we hear the signal!”
All was quiet. The twenty-odd residents of the home knew exactly how much Miss Grubenfall hated people breaking the silence and were not planning to annoy her after she had said that we had to be quiet. In fact, the only sounds were the muffled shouts of the Beast Killers, attempting to destroy the creature before it could destroy the City.
After a while, I noticed they were getting closer. It was hard, as the walls of the Pillar were so thick, but the sounds were getting distinctly louder. Louder. It seemed like they were right over us. I couldn’t hear anything other than that. I felt dizzy. My eyesight was blurring around the outside.
Everything went black.
What..? Who am I? Was that Clay..? No, that wasn’t Clay…
Now THAT was Clay.
“Mmm…?” I groaned, trying to sit up. I felt a searing pain go through my head and stopped.
What happened again?
“Are you alright?”
The realisation that I just fainted came with another surge of pain. “N-no…”
“Rayven, open your eyes immediately!”
I reluctantly and painfully opened my eyes to see- well, nothing really. Everything was a blurred mass of colours. I blinked a few times and my eyes cleared enough for me to be able to make out that I was a) on the floor, b) still in the bunker and c) with everyone leaning over me.
“Where are my g-lasses..?” I said, turning my head slightly and instantly regretting it. Someone shoved them onto my face- presumably Pepper, knowing how cold his hands are- and everything became much sharper. I blinked a few times. My head felt like someone was digging knives into my brain. My back hurt from where I landed in it. But at least I was still breathing.
“I’m alive!” I said, smiling painfully.
Immediately, I was swamped with questions.
“Are you OK?”
“What happened to you?”
“Did you just black out?”
“Does anything hurt?”
“What did you do to yourself?!”
Miss Grubenfall pushed into the circle of faces that was surrounding me.
“Get up this instant, young lady!” she snarled.
I slowly clambered up, trying not to move my head too quickly, as although my head had almost stopped hurting by then- it was just a dull pain- it still hurt when I jolted it.
At that moment, the alarm rang to tell the City that the Beast Killers had succeeded and that the creature had been destroyed.
I woke up at 5:30 a.m., half an hour before the auto-wake up is set to wake everyone at the Home.
It was the next day- a Monday. The school rush had started again for another 5 days and I was not looking forward to it. Partly because I never am and never will be, but mostly because I hadn’t done my IPC homework.
IPC, or Inter-Personal Communications, was my worst subject. And as the homework was always along the lines of “Talk to and record three different people, then analyse the subject of your conversation and how it changed.” or “Write an essay explaining the six types of conversation.”, I did so terribly at IPC that the teacher was considering making me take extra lessons with her after school.
I sighed and covered my head with my covers, trying desperately to block out the City’s sounds and to go back to sleep. Unfortunately, that was not to be.
“Rayven, get up, I need you to help me with my IPC homework,” demanded Amber. “Did you actually do it?”
“No…” I groaned, covering my head with my duvet.
“All the more reason for you to help me,” said Amber. “Come on!”
Amber was my best friend and roommate. I was lucky- roommates are assigned randomly when you arrive at the Home, however tiny you may be. I was 6, the minimum age, when I was assigned to come here. I had to share a room with a girl called Juniper, the younger sister of twins. She hated me, I hated her, and next year the next batch of children came along and I was told to share with Amber, 6 months younger.
5 years later, we are the best of friends. And we’re in the same class at school, which means we have all the same homework.
“Right,” said Amber, when I had finally staggered out of bed. “The homework is to answer the questions about your best friend, then in the lesson we have to ask the above mentioned best friend the questions. The more we get right, the higher the mark.”
“Who even comes UP with this homework?” I complained, getting out my sheet.
“THEY do, I suspect,” said Amber, picking up a pen. “Right, we have half an hour. What’s your name, Rayven?”
“Who knows?” I reply. “What’s yours, Amber?”
“You know quite well,” Amber scribbled both our names on her sheet. “Favourite colour?”
“Dark blue, you?”
“Emerald green. You know that!”
“I could have sworn it was orange,” I groaned. “I’m so hopeless at remembering things, I suppose it’s just as well that we’re cheating, isn’t it?”
Amber laughed. “Yeah, I suppose it is. Now, what’s your eye colour?”
“Grey. You have green eyes, I remember that.”
At six o’clock, the auto-wake up forced everyone else to wake up. Amber and I put our homework in our bags and went to have breakfast.