Victory was close at hand, so close it was almost tangible in the humid air. The tension between the opponents had been rising ever since the beginning of the battle and now as the climax drew nearer, an ominous feeling crept stealthily upon the two fighting sides. A steel blue gaze observed the field and the warriors on the field. The fight had been a challenge to play out, but now fortune seemed to turn in their favor. The general of the men in white pondered the next possible assault on the enemy lines. A breeze brushed a few sandy brown strands of hair lazily across her face. Suddenly, a voice rang out through the air, breaking the concentration of the silent entity.
"Carolyn!" the voice called, drawing the agitated girl out of a prolonged contemplation involving the demise of her opponent. She turned her head quickly to face the source of the sound; there was no mistaking it for anyone other than Thomas Revell, her long time friend. It took him a few long strides to reach the spot where Carolyn was positioned, tripping over his own feet once or twice in his hurry. Although a smile graced his lips, his hazel-gold eyes did not reflect any hint of his thoughts. "Carolyn," he repeated, coming up beside her. Then, after pausing for effect asked, "Guess what?"
"Is the sky falling, Tom?" Carolyn asked to humor him, wary of the fact she needed to make her move soon.
"You always say that," he replied with a melodramatic sigh. "So unimaginative…"
"Will you please get on with it?" she urged, slightly irritated already with the boy for interrupting her concentration. Patience had never been one of her virtues.
"Fine. I just wanted to inform you that Mrs. Doyle posted our test scores just now and William beat you by about two percent."
Carolyn's fantasy world dissolved with that one sentence. She was no longer a general atop a hill surveying a battlefield but a high school student sitting at a table observing the chessboard in front of her. The calming zephyr that had messed up her hair a few moments ago returned as a rotating fan that blew refreshingly cool air about the classroom.
"Thanks, Tom," she replied dryly, sarcasm in her voice.
"No problem." He waved cheerfully before walking off to talk with another group of boys. Shaking her head, Carolyn returned to the matter at hand.
'William Kaiser is not a force to be reckoned with' a young freshman once said. Wise words, not that Carolyn paid them any heed. Which was most likely the reason she was in the middle of a chess match with this infamous William. His expression was haughty, a smirk played upon his lips.
"Go on Lorence, I don't have all day. It might be a hard concept for you to grasp, but I do have better things to do, such as looking at these test scores; it would be preferable to see them before I die of old age."
"The grades are probably switched anyway," Carolyn muttered darkly in retort, moving her remaining rook to counter his knight; the intensity of the tension between William and Carolyn increased tenfold. The battle raged on, a few stragglers finding themselves enthralled with the fierce passion of the players.
William's turn brought about the death of her bishop. Carolyn mentally cursed at herself for not foreseeing this. Many of the class's geekier population, mainly boys, had gathered around to watch; a few tried to hiss strategies in Carolyn's ear. She scowled, waving them away irritably. Personally she didn't care what they had to say, this was between herself and Kaiser.
Just as she had found the move to destroy his seemingly perfect strategy, the bell sounded, resonating its dull monotonous tone throughout the corridors of the high school. The students who had so eagerly become back seat players gathered their bags in a mass exodus out the door without any concern for the silent mental battle between the two warring intellectuals. The main thing on many of the students minds being arriving at their next class on time and having time to chat with friends. Carolyn rose from the table first, her movement soon mirrored by William.
"I'll ask Mrs Doyle if we can save the game until Monday," he said, not for Carolyn's benefit, but his own. He wanted to see how it turned out as much as she did. "I need to see our test results anyway."
Carolyn nodded indifferently, gathering up her books to go to her next class. The grey lockers that lined the hallway were constantly squeaked open on rusty hinges then slammed shut mercilessly. Cliques of students wandered the halls to their classes, girls gossiping, boys making absolute fools of themselves and trying to act cool, couples walking hand-in-hand: their relationships were almost always short-lived. School politics were quite entertaining if one happened to be a spectator.
As she turned into the room labeled 'English 211 Hammond', it was as if she had walked into the wrong classroom. The usually chaotic classroom was completely quiet. Taking her seat cautiously, she looked around for the cause of the strange silence. Soon enough, the bell sounded again and a door slammed, causing the class to jump two feet in the air out of their seats. Carolyn's head whipped about to see a tall, dark-haired man in his thirties standing by the door; his dark gaze sweeping over the classroom. It landed on two girls passing a note back and forth and laughing at its contents, the only sound audible in the room. In a few effortless strides, he intercepted the paper and smashed it in his fist, glowering at the two stunned girls with dark eyes. Not a smart comment or giggle disrupted the silence that had descended upon the room.
This class must be possessed, Carolyn thought as the man walked to the front of the room with a swift but commanding demeanor. Either that or scared out of their wits.
"Your teacher Mr. Hammond has had a most untimely stoke of misfortune," the new teacher said in a low, cold tone that had many of the students on edge, hanging onto his every word. "I shall be taking his teaching position until he returns. You may address me as Mr. Moore." He smiled eerily and Carolyn could have sworn the entire class was holding their breath.
By the time English class ended, Carolyn surmised that the class would never be like Mr. Hammond's and Mr. Moore severely disliked her. Luckily, Latin was her last class before the school day ended. Everyone loved the Latin teacher Miss Clark. She was always smiling and very reasonable with homework amounts, not to mention her class was always enjoyable. As Carolyn entered the classroom, Miss Clark greeted her as usual: "Ave Adria."
She smiled and returned the greeting as she entered the sunlit room. The desks sat in rows, slightly askew from previous occupation. Piles of books sat on the rectangular desk tops as people trickled into the room before the bell rang and dumped their materials on their assigned desk. Thomas was also in her Latin class and he waved as she came to her usual seat next to him. He looked at her with his large golden-brown eyes. It took all Carolyn's control to keep from smiling at the sight. Unfortunately her concentration was broken as Miranda came up behind her, poking Carolyn's highly reactive neck. She knitted her shoulder back as her first instinct.
"Miranda!" Carolyn exclaimed, laughing a bit as she relaxed her shoulders and spun around to face her calm friend. The intense light brown eyes flickered with amusement at her friend's twitchy reaction.
"Good afternoon Carolyn," she greeted, bowing at the waist melodramatically, her auburn hair falling gracefully from behind her shoulders to hang in midair. Carolyn rolled her eyes at her friend's behavior, a small smile on her face. Miranda was one of those types of people who commanded the respect of the entire school population but still remained loyal to her true friends, even if they were a bit strange. She also attracted the attention of the opposite gender quite effortlessly, which had led Carolyn and Thomas to form the unofficial Miranda Dawes Fan Club.
"Hi," Carolyn greeted in return. Before Miranda could continue the conversation, however, the bell rang for class to begin. Both Carolyn and Miranda sat down at their desks as Miss Clark walked into the room, lighting it up with her presence. Her golden hair, pulled back into a ponytail, shimmered in the sunlight dancing about the room. Warm brown eyes glowed with eagerness and anticipation.
"Good afternoon everyone," Miss Clark greeted in English, her voice light and cheerful.
A few scattered hello's chimed from around the room. The teacher smiled, her eyes sparkling before looking down at her teacher's edition of the book to begin the lesson.
Carolyn twirled a lock of short hair around her finger as she waited for Latin to end. They had taken a chapter test today and as usual Miss Clark had given the class the entire period to work on it. The only downside was Carolyn now had nothing to do to keep herself entertained. Miranda was reading and Thomas had homework to finish; all she could do really was sit and wish she had something to do. The clock moved painfully slow, inching along as if to torture her with every minute. Sighing, she put her head in her arms to rest a while.
Assuming she had dozed off, Carolyn looked up to see that class was almost over. Just then, Mr. Hammond's "substitute" swung open the door with such tremendous force that even Miss Clark to jump out of her seat. The class broke out into a melee of nonsensical babble. Mr. Moore glared at the class and the noise level seemed to drop instantly. Carolyn, still unnerved by this power he had over students, watched the teacher carefully as he made his way over to Miss Clark's desk. He muttered something quickly to the shocked Latin teacher. Immediately her face contorted from unnerved into a stony look. She stood, leaving the startled class to its own devices in order to speak with Mr. Moore outside the classroom. Hushed whispers blossomed up from the silenced class, Thomas and Carolyn turned to each other with similar looks of confusion.
"Have you ever seen Miss Clark look like that?" he asked, referring to her flash of fear when Mr. Moore entered the room. Carolyn shook her head, her mind already in high gear. This new teacher seemed to be sending chills through everyone's spines, like a strategically placed chess piece seemingly harmless until forgotten. The metaphor made Carolyn's stomach turn uneasily.
Soon enough, Miss Clark reentered the room, the shadow of Mr. Moore returning to his classroom visible through the glass in the door. The Latin teacher's face was emotionless, very unlike her usual self. The bell soon rang and the students gathered their bags, stowing away binders, books and folders, shouting their good-byes and other bits of conversation. All of this Carolyn disregarded as she made her way out the door, her book bag slung over one shoulder. She looked over at Tom, waiting for him to pack everything away when she noticed Miss Clark. Her face was in her hands and looked as if she was extremely perturbed. Carolyn frowned slightly but left without saying a word with Tom, her mind racing.
Later that same evening, grey clouds gathered forebodingly in the sky. A wind had picked up and from what could be observed from his bedroom, William knew a storm was brewing. His gaze drifted from the sky to the deserted library building across the street from his house. There had been a fire in the basement children's section and since then had been abandoned; the city had yet to bulldoze it down. Until they did so, Will found it an interesting place to explore when no one else was around. A few of the books in there were still salvageable so scavengers were sometimes visible seeking in and out of the dilapidated building, disregarding the chain link fence labeled "KEEP OUT".
His gaze flickered to an upstairs window in the building where a light seemed to be on. But that wasn't possible, was it? It wasn't a natural color for a lamp or another fire. His eyes narrowed slightly, not liking what he saw. Glancing down at his watch he noted the time was 8:01 p.m. He stood and left his room to go investigate just as the light in the library flickered a shade of deep red.
The evening air was crisp and cool but he was unconcerned about it, his destination was the only thing on his mind. As he entered the fenced off perimeter, the temperature seemed to become unnaturally warm. His eyes flickered up to look at the window now steadily glowing this color of dried blood.
William found the broken window he usually used to enter the building and climbed in. Bookshelves were still partially intact and a few familiar titles were visible in the faint light streaming through dusty windows. Splinters of wood and glass crackled beneath his feet. He made his way through the fiction section, past the empty front desk and took the charred steps two at a time to the nonfiction section. This part of the library was not as badly destroyed as the others, so many of the books from here had been saved. He continued looking for the source of the light he had seen from his window.
His search seemed futile it seemed until he past by a janitor closet. Suddenly, a blast of burgundy colored light smashed open the door, throwing William into the aisle and crashing him shoulder-first into a bookshelf. He cried out, in shock as much as in pain as he fell sprawled on the ground. Now the contents of the room were visible. No physical entity could be seen, but a tall glass mirror stood along the wall, on a table next to it sat a crystal chess set and a rotating sphere. Only blurs visible as the sphere spun so rapidly so no one looking upon it spinning form could tell what it actually liked like.
William stood up from where he lay, his shoulder throbbing painfully. He approached the door slowly, his eyes narrowed in suspicion. It was this peculiar rotating globe that emitted the strange sanguine color. Looking over at the chess set he noticed something even stranger, the chess pieces.
He could have sworn that white queen had an exact resemblance to Lorence, from the posture to the dark look of concentration in her eyes. William then looked at the onyx-carved black side. What he saw in the king was unsettling; it was his own face glaring darkly from the small piece. He furrowed his brow in unease and picked up the black king to study it more closely. Just then, a thread of dark red fire lashed out from the sphere and enveloped William entirely, restraining his movement. He tried to strike out at something to free himself but it was in vain. A high-pitched shriek drowned out any sound he tried to make. Then, within the instant, the sound, light, and William were gone. The black king flared and then glowed a steady shade of deep green, the only hint that anyone had disturbed the peace.