When the world was made, every person was given one and only one shadow, but one of the beings who were assigned to be caretakers of the world decided that he would give a gift to his people. Their lands were rich with life and their songs to him were sweet. So he decided that he would give each of them an extra shadow.
“Alas! We are doomed to die as caterpillars, never having become butterflies.” Lickspittle shook his head. He gazed up and shook several fists at the sky.
Sobersides sighed gravely. “Perhaps tomorrow morning.”
“Sometimes I think it’s kind of nice that vampires are accepted in this fictional society,” Glo said.
My attention perked up. That was different. But the response from the rest of our friends was not.
“That would be like chickens living among us and being okay that we eat them.”
“That show is dumb. They have high school at night so the vampires can attend? So dumb.”
Lord Orgulous came to our province some time ago, and when he did, he inherited the rule of the province. As might be expected, he arrived with quite a flurry of rumor swirling about him, for he hailed from a distant land, and he was young and handsome and mysterious. Some said he left behind a fortune so grand that even the stars looked down upon its glittering magnificence with envy. Some said he was exiled for some preposterous boast that insulted a very powerful personage. And there are some among us—the romantics—who believe that he came to our land because he was fleeing from heartbreak.
They say he did it because he asked to sit by an innkeeper’s fire one night and was denied with a lie. The innkeeper said that there was “not enough fire” to warm the man who was dressed in rags and filth. He appeared to be a beggar, but he was not a beggar. He was a warlock. And he was none too pleased by the innkeeper’s response. It was no surprise that he should cast a curse. What was surprising was that he did not just cast the curse on the innkeeper himself, but on the innkeeper’s entire country.
“Wait until you are within the borders of the forest before you open the box, else you have failed before you have begun.”
With those words, the schoolmaster turned away and left Naji alone before the borders of the forest.
Naji entered the forest with no other possessions but that box, as the test required. He carried no water, no food, no clothing but what he already wore, no bedroll, nothing to trade or barter with.
But that is what he had chosen. A box.
Jaquery Tattery was born at sea, and he grew up in a town far from the sea, and all he wanted to do was return to the sea.
“At least no one died or was seriously hurt,” Dani said as she worked open the huge garbage bag that our faculty supervisor had given us.
Ameena nodded. “I hope it stays that way. I heard there are still a few people missing.”
“Why’d it have to be the computer lab?” Jon said. His shoulders slumped as he looked at all the scattered papers and wrecked computer equipment in the room we were assigned to clean. “Why couldn’t it have been the gym?”
“Or the cafeteria,” I added. That made everyone chuckle and we started picking up the pieces according to the instructions that Ms. Quince had given us.
For generations, for nearly a century, the Rofotou family had been gathering the pieces of a puzzle that they believed would unlock some grand secret of the universe, or some extravagant treasure, or at least some profound piece of wisdom. But I didn’t know anything about that before a dark-haired woman named Red came knocking on my door one day. I didn’t know why she asked to see my old dream logs. And I certainly didn’t know what any of it had to do with Mrs. Highweather.
“How long has it been…since I closed my eyes?” I asked.
The medical technician sitting beside my cot offered me a business-like smile and said, “Just about thirty-seven minutes.”
I frowned. It had felt longer to me. Almost two hours. I had a crick in my neck. The cot wasn’t very comfortable. They didn’t want me to accidentally fall asleep. I sat up and swung my legs around so I was sitting at the edge of the cot.