Hands grabbed me around my abdomen. With tears pouring down my face, I tried to keep hold of the woman's hand. The hands wrenched me from her grasp and she sank into the arms of the man behind her. With my legs and arms flailing in the air, I was taken into a small van. I could hear the sound of a baby screaming and a feeling of loss overwhelmed me as the vehicle began to move. Three words were reverberating around my head. "Look after him."
"Chelle, wake up." I felt a hand land on my shoulder. My eyes darted open.
"Chelle, relax. It's me." I looked up to see Kristy's face above mine. "I think you were having a nightmare."
To my surprise, I realised that my eyes were damp. I'd been crying. "I'm fine," I assured her. I looked around. The four other girls were still asleep. Kristy, who slept in the bunk-bed above mine, had probably felt me tossing around. "What time is it?"
Kristy looked at the clock situated above the doorway to the dorm. "Looks like half past five," she said. "I can't see too well in the dark."
I slowly sat up in the bed and made room for Kristy to sit next to me. "So what was the dream about?" she asked.
I thought back to the nightmare that had caused me to be so vulnerable and scared but I found that I couldn't remember it. "I have no idea," I laughed quietly so as not to wake anyone else up. "I think I'm going to get to the showers early," I said.
"Well, I need some more sleep," Kristy replied. "You mind if I use your bed? I can't be bothered to climb back up to mine."
"Sure," I replied and retrieved my towel and a change of clothes from my cupboard. As I quietly closed the door behind me, I heard the distinctive sound of Kristy's snoring. She must've been tired.
I tiptoed along the heated flooring of the corridor and past three other dorms to the bathroom at the far end of the passage. The other girls would be getting up within the next half hour, as everyone had to be up by 6am so I was glad that I would be able to use some of the hot water before everyone else.
The bathroom consisted of six showers, three on each side of the room, with an island of sinks in the middle and there were about eight toilets towards the back.
As my big toe hit the colder tiled flooring of the bathroom, I stopped. A shower was already running which meant that someone was up before me. All the lights were off however, which probably meant that she wanted to be alone.
Deciding to pretend that I hadn't heard her, I reached for the light switch to my right and flicked it down. The shower stopped immediately. "Who's there?" a voice called.
"It's Rochelle," I answered, recognising Anya's voice. She was one of the eldest in the block at about 16 years of age and had been quite withdrawn recently. "It seems like I'm not the only one who wanted to get to the showers early," I said, placing my towel and clothes in a stall to my left.
"Ya," Anya replied vaguely and fell silent. I waited for the shower to go back on, but I heard nothing.
"Are you okay?" I asked her eventually as the silence stretched on.
The door to the shower opened and Anya stepped out with a towel wrapped around her and her dark hair in a bun on top of her head. She looked down. "I think I'm getting my powers," she whispered.
I stared at her. I'd heard about this from older girls whose friends had gone through the same thing. I knew that it was going to happen to me at some point, but I didn't realise that this point was getting so close. "How do you know?" I asked, whispering as well.
"I… well… just watch," she said, walking over to the sink and turning the tap. The water flowed out the spout and down the drain just as it usually did and I walked closer to see if I was perhaps missing something. Anya, put her hand under the running water, collecting a small amount in the palm of her hand.
"Watch," she repeated. I watched as she stared at the water in her hand with intense concentration. Slowly the water began to move and formed a perfect circle. "Just wait," she said.
My eyes were already astounded at what I'd seen but then the water moved into the formation of a triangle. "That's amazing," I said.
Anya smiled and then threw the water back into the sink, breathing heavily as though she were exhausted from what she'd just done.
"When did you find this out?" I asked.
"Yesterday," she replied. "Well, actually I've noticed something different for a while." She walked over to the shower stall that she'd been in and began getting dressed. "For some reason, water just fascinated me more than usual and so I began experimenting." She stepped out of the stall, dressed in her typical jeans and hoody. "And then yesterday, I found out that I could control the water."
She looked at me in my nightie and smiled. "You should probably shower if you're still aiming to use the hot water. I think I might've used more than my share." She walked towards the door.
"So are you going to tell Ms Conelly?" I asked. Ms Conelly was the head of the junior section here at Home and she dealt with people who had developed their powers and had to be moved up to the senior section.
"Well, of course," Anya said, swinging her towel over her shoulder. "I want to see what the senior section's like."
I watched her figure retreating down the darkened hallway until the door to the bathroom closed and then moved back to the shower stall in which I had put my things.
As the warm water rushed down my back, I began to wonder what type of power I would develop. Up until now, I hadn't seen what type of powers there could be because as soon as someone developed a power, they were moved to the senior section on the other side of Home.
Home was divided into three sections: the "baby" section, junior section and the senior section. I couldn't remember much about the "baby" section, but as its name implies, it is the place where babies and children up to the age of seven stay. None of us in the junior section had ever seen the senior section so I wouldn't be able to describe it but I knew that it was bigger than the junior section which consisted of six dorm areas – three for girls and three for boys – a dining hall and about ten classrooms. Boys and girls were always kept separate except for when we ate, but even then, the boys sat on one end and the girls on the other end. If you sat in the middle of the dining hall, you would have the opportunity of sitting back to back with a boy but only a few girls ever made a big fuss out of it.
The three dorms for boys and girls were split into age categories. Every three years, you moved into the next dorm area and the youngest group usually started at eight years old. I actually couldn't remember my life before being here. This was Home.
As I stepped out of the shower, I noticed that a few girls had already come into the bathroom to shower themselves. I couldn't wait to let my dorm know that powers had begun to develop in our section.
I quickly slipped on my jeans and polar neck and tied my long blonde hair into a loose pony before making my way back to my dorm.
I wasn't surprised when I saw Kristy still asleep on my bed and everyone else up. Joanne stepped past me on her way to the bathroom and laughed. "We've all tried getting her up," she said, "but she wouldn't listen."
Shaking my head, I nudged Kristy on my way past her to my cupboard. "You really need to get up now. I'm not making your bed for you."
She rolled over to face me, holding onto the pillow as though it could allow her to sleep more. "There's still enough time," she mumbled. "And your bed's just so comfy."
I looked at the clock. "Actually, it's five to six and the floor is soon going to feel very comfy if you don't move quickly."
Kristy groaned but eventually managed to move herself into a sitting position. "Is it really that late?" she asked. "I'm sure you were only gone for like ten minutes." She leaned forward to look at the clock for herself and then squeaked before jumping up and running to her cupboard. "Why did nobody tell me it was so late?" she exclaimed.
We all just laughed at her as she clambered into some clothes and quickly tamed her mess of curls before hopping on to Tammy's bed next to hers to make her bed.
"Please don't fall," I said as I made my bed under her.
"Pfft. Me? Fall?" she laughed, suddenly seeming wide awake.
I shook my head at her and finished tidying my bed before hanging my wet towel on a drying rack.
"Breakfast in five minutes, girls," Ms Fredericks called as she popped her head into our dorm. "You had better have your beds made and yourselves looking neat and tidy."
"Yay!" Tammy exclaimed once the door was closed. Everyone heaved a great sigh at the exclamation. We all knew exactly why she was so excited about breakfast.
"You're all just jealous," she said, while fixing her hair in the mirror, "because I'm the only one with a boyfriend."
"You can hardly call what you have a boyfriend," Jess said in reply.
"Yah," Kristy agreed. "All you do is give notes to each other every time we go eat."
"And I've kept every single one of his," Tammy sighed, obviously very proud of herself.
The door opened again and Joanne and Liz came in, running to make their beds. "They've already started going down to breakfast," Liz exclaimed.
"And all the hot water was used up," Joanne added, "so I didn't even get a decent shower."
Feeling slightly guilty for using up the water, I grabbed Kristy's arm and dragged her to the door. "We'll meet you down at breakfast," I called back over my shoulder.
"Hey, slow down," Kristy said, as I continued to pull her along. "The food won't disappear."
"Anya has her power," I said, unable to keep it a secret any longer.
She gasped. "That's awesome. What can she do? Will she show us at breakfast?"
I walked down the stairs ahead of her and waited at the bottom in the foyer outside the dining hall. "She can control water," I said once she had caught up to me.
"Ooh," was Kristy's reply and she squeezed past some youngsters to get to the dining hall quickly. "Where is she?" she asked, scanning the girl's side of the dining hall.
The dining hall was laid out with two long tables running the length of the room: one for the boys and one for the girls. Another table was laid out at the end of the hall perpendicular to the two for the teachers to sit at.
"I can't see her," Kristy whispered, poking my arm to get my attention.
I moved forward towards two open seats while I searched the room for myself. I couldn't see her either. I assumed that she was probably showing her dorm her new powers.
"Children, please be seated," Ms Hooper called from the front table.
I shoved Kristy into a seat in the middle of the hall and took the seat beside her. I noticed Tammy sitting a few seats away from me, looking anxiously for Jake, her "boyfriend".
Mr Harris stood up, scraping his chair across the wooden floor as he did so and causing everyone to quieten down. He waited for everyone to be quiet and seated before he began to speak.
"Some of you may have realised," he began in his deep, gruff voice, "that it has come to that time again when the older girls and boys begin to leave us and move to the senior section." He turned his gaze on the far end of the room where we, the older children, were seated. "If anyone realises that they are developing any sort of power, I urge you tell a teacher right away as there are consequences for those who do not do so."
Suddenly, a fierce whispering broke out to my left.
"Where is he? Have you seen Jake?" Tammy was asking everyone around her and was obviously not paying any attention to Mr Harris.
Mr Harris stopped what he was saying and stared at Tammy. Joanne, who was sitting next to Tammy, tried to quiet her down, but she was so intent on finding Jake that she hadn't even noticed that everyone in the dining hall was looking at her.
"I don't know where Jake is," she kept saying, waving Joanne's hand away.
"Tammy," Joanne whispered, trying to get her attention.
Joanne pointed up at the teachers' table where Mr Harris was still standing with his arms now folded. He was looking straight at Tammy.
Tammy's face transformed to a bright red as she realised that it wasn't just the people around her whose attention she'd caught. "Sorry," she squeaked and stared back down at the wooden table.
Mr Harris shook his head. "I'd like to see you after breakfast, please, Miss…"
"Oh, um, Tamlyn," Tammy replied, darting a glance back up to Mr Harris.
"As I was saying," he continued, returning his eyes to the rest of us, "if you suspect that your power is developing, come to one of the teachers immediately and tell us so that we can make the necessary arrangements. Two children have already come to us about their powers developing and they are being moved to the senior section today."
There was quite a bit of chattering about this, but Mr Harris merely continued, saying, "That is all for now, so enjoy your breakfast."
"Do you think Anya is one of the two?" Kristy asked me as we moved towards the queue for breakfast.
"Maybe," I replied. "We'll have to see if she's in class later today."
"I wonder what my power is," she exclaimed, excited as I was that life was starting to move forwards. She covered her mouth, yawning. "I just need to get more sleep."
"Are you still tired?" I asked.
"Yes," she replied. "I didn't sleep very well."
"I hope I didn't wake you up with my nightmares," I said. I dished up some yoghurt and muesli and waited for Kristy to dish hers up before going back to the table.
"No, I haven't really been sleeping well for a while now," she replied.
We sat at the table. I noticed that Tammy wasn't seated yet. Mr Harris was probably still scolding her.
"You know when you wake up and you feel like you've just had a really vivid dream but you cannot remember what it was about?" she continued.
"Mhm. Like this morning. I have no idea what that dream was about but it's just somewhere at the back of my memory, out of reach."
"Sort of…" she trailed off. "I donno. I'm just being silly." She yawned again. "Tonight I'm having an early night," she said.
The rest of the day went as usual. It was Anya who'd told the teachers about her powers and Tammy was very upset the whole day because Jake was the other one who'd developed powers. She kept pretending that she'd developed some sort of power so that she could move on with Jake but none of the teachers bought it. They wouldn't even tell us what powers they had because they said that it could limit our potential.
Every day, we had four lessons: Geography , History, Maths and Science. They were each an hour long so that we were finished by midday. After that, we could sit in the common room where only the older group was allowed. The younger groups had their own area which was bigger but it consisted of a play area and a lounge area. Thus the middle age group had to share with the younger ones who were often noisy and quite excitable – being between 8 and 11 years, this was to be expected.
After lunch, we were taught languages. So far, I was fluent in English and German and we were busy learning French. We'd just started, so we were still learning the basic vocabulary.
We'd just started counting when suddenly Ms Fredericks slapped her ruler on the table.
She sat up with a start, her cheek still red from laying her head on the table. "Sorry," she said, rubbing her eyes.
I turned around in my seat and gave her a look. She'd been struggling to stay awake all day.
"Kristy, I expect you to get enough sleep at night. You don't have much else to do around here," Ms Fredericks said. She walked up to Kristy's table and looked at her properly. "Are you feeling alright?" she asked. "You look a bit pale."
"I'm really tired, Ms Fredericks," Kristy replied. "Maybe I'm getting sick."
Ms Fredericks sighed. "Well, then, you'd better head of to the nurse." She walked back to her desk at the front of the class and began to fill out a sick form. "Rochelle, you'd better go with her to make sure she doesn't fall asleep while walking."
"Yes, Ms Fredericks." I got up and took the sick form from Ms Fredericks before walking out the class with Kristy.
"Are you really feeling sick?" I asked her once the classroom door had closed.
"I don't know," Kristy replied. "But I can't think why I'm so tired. I didn't sleep that badly last night."
"Mmm. Well, I'm not getting your germs, so you can walk on that side of the corridor." I playfully pushed her to the other side of the corridor but she stumbled and fell.
"Kristy, I'm sorry. Are you okay?" I kneeled next to her wondering if she was really that tired and weak that she could fall so easily.
Suddenly, she grabbed the sick form out of my hand and pushed me away.
"Did you really think I was that fatigué?" she laughed, folding the sick form into a paper airplane.
"Kristy," I complained. "You're going to get us into trouble." I got up and brushed myself off.
"Come on," she said, "let's go sit in the common room or something. It's just up the stairs. I'm bored."
She threw the sick form airplane at me and I put my hands up to shield my face, laughing at her rebellious nature. A sudden drain of energy caused me to stop laughing and I found myself back on the floor, the paper airplane lying in front of me.
I looked at the paper airplane and then up at Kirsty's shocked face. "What just happened?" I asked.
"I think you just stopped that airplane mid-flight," she replied.
"But – but that's impossible," I exclaimed, staring at the airplane.
"Maybe it's your power. You have a power!" Kristy was getting excited now.
"What? Stopping paper airplanes in the air?" I asked sarcastically.
"No, silly," she replied, helping me up from the ground. "Moving things with your mind. Here. Try to pick it up with your mind."
I looked around. "I don't know,' I said. It was tiring enough just stopping it moving.
"Come on," she nagged. She picked up the paper airplane and held it in her hands in front of me. "Okay. I'm going to let go of the plane and you need to keep it in the air."
"Kristy…" I complained. I looked around to make sure that no one else was around.
"1…" she began.
"This is probably going to fail miserably," I tried again.
"2…" she continued.
I gave up resisting and stared at the piece of paper, trying to hold it up.
"3!" She dropped her hands. The airplane fell and I concentrated harder, trying to keep it up.
Suddenly, it flew up into the air and crashed into the chandelier in the foyer ahead of us. I stumbled forward and held onto Kristy's hand to balance myself.
"Wow, dizzy," I said, trying to clear my head.
"You did it!" Kristy exclaimed, bouncing up and down.
"Stand still," I complained.
"But you did it! You have a power! You can't tell anyone though. Wait till I get mine, please! Maybe I'll be able to fly, or go through walls, or ..."
I laughed along with her, nodding in agreement.
Since the sick form was now hanging from the chandelier and I wasn't about to use my powers again anytime soon to get it down, we ended up going to the common room anyway and both flopped down on one of the soft couches.
"We should probably both just have a nap seeing that we're both so tired now," Kristy suggested.
I nodded, already getting comfortable on the couch. I closed my eyes.
"What do you think are the consequences of not telling any of the teachers about our powers?" she asked.
"I don't know," I replied. "Maybe they put you in a horrible dorm in the senior section."
"Or maybe they make you stay in the junior section even longer as punishment."
We both giggled then sat in silence for a while, our breathing in sync.
"Kristy?" I'd just thought of another possible consequence of not telling anyone.
There was no reply and I opened one eye to peek over at Kristy. She was curled up with her head resting on the arm of the chair; a cushion held in her arms. She was already fast asleep.
I closed my eyes again and began to doze off. We could discuss it later.
I was woken up by Kristy poking me. "Wake up," she said.
"Hey." I sat up slowly and looked over at the clock above the door. We'd slept for at least half an hour.
"I just had the weirdest dream," she said.
"Oh?" I rubbed my eyes to try to get some of the sleep out of them. I'd really slept deeply.
"It was about you. You were in your dorm and..." She paused.
"What?" I asked.
"... and... I can't remember the rest," she said.
"Come on," I exclaimed. "You can't just tell me that you had a strange dream about me and then not tell me the whole dream!"
"Sorry, it's gone. I thought..."
She was interrupted by voices coming down the corridor outside the common room. We both looked at the door as a furious Ms Fredericks marched in.
For detention, we had to write out French vocabulary, which, although it was extremely tedious, helped quite a lot with my French speaking. Kristy, however slept through most of the detention and was thus forced to complete her writing out as homework.
For the next few days, I practised my new power whenever I could. However, lifting anything heavier than a pencil caused me to get so tired sometimes that I'd have to sit down for at least five minutes before I could catch my breath. I wondered how anyone was supposed to do anything of use with their powers if it took so much energy.
I didn't tell anyone else about it and Kristy became determined to find out everything she could about powers in order to obtain hers faster. She and Tammy were both getting on the teachers' nerves by asking about powers but the teachers wouldn't tell us anything, saying rather that they didn't want to influence the way our powers manifested.
Two days after I discovered my power, we were back in French class when Kristy was again caught sleeping in Ms Fredericks' class.
"Are you sure you're alright?" she asked Kristy.
"Yes, I'm great, thanks," Kristy replied, stifling a yawn.
I gave Kristy a look again. She really wasn't usually one to be tired all the time.
Ms Fredericks eventually went back to the board after double checking and as soon as her back was turned, I felt Kristy poke me in the back.
"What?" I mouthed, turning back quickly to look at her.
She pointed at my table, her eyes wide.
I looked back at my desk. Everything looked as it should.
Kristy poked me again and pointed back at my table.
I looked again. There was my pen, pencil, textbook and writing book. Nothing was amiss. I shook my head, indicating that I didn't know what she was going on about.
She poked me again.
"Do you two wish to share something with the class?" Ms Fredericks asked as I turned around again.
"No, Ms Fredericks," Kristy replied. "Sorry."
Ms Fredericks directed her glare at me.
I folded my arms over the items on my desk as I replied, "No, sorry." Except that everything on my desk is starting to float up off of it. "Actually," I began as Ms Fredericks started towards the board again. "May I please go to the bathroom."
"And me!" Kristy piped up.
Ms Fredericks folder her arms. "No. I'm not going to allow you two to bunk again."
"But, please, I really, really need to go," Kristy exclaimed, bouncing up and down in her chair.
Ms Fredericks sighed. "Alright. Five minutes. But then I'm sending Joanne to come look for you."
We both jumped up and walked to the door. As I walked out the classroom, I heard my pencil roll to the floor after dropping from where it had been sitting in the air.
"What are you doing?" Kristy asked after we'd made sure that the bathroom was empty.
"I'm not," I replied. "At least, I didn't think I was."
"Can't you just wait a few more days?" she asked. "I'm sure I'll develop my powers soon and then we can go to the senior section together."
"I don't know if I can wait for much longer," I replied.
"Please," she asked. "Just a few more days."
"No," I said. "Look."
I walked over to a hand towel hanging from a rail and as I walked towards it, it began to lift. I held onto the rail to steady myself as fatigue swept over me.
"Stop showing off," Kristy complained.
"No, I can't help it." I pushed myself away to a nearby sink and the towel fell back down. "I don't know if I can control it much longer."
Kristy remained silent. I splashed my face with some water and felt a bit more awake.
"I had another dream about you," Kristy eventually said.
"When?" I asked.
"When I fell asleep in class just now. It was the same one as before I think."
"Don't tell me you've forgotten it again," I teased.
"Not all of it." She was speaking softly. I looked up at her. She was standing with her back leaning against a toilet stall, her eyes staring off into the middle distance. "You were in the dorm and..." She looked at me. "... there were things floating all around you. I can't really remember much more of it."
I looked towards the door of the bathroom. "We should probably start heading back before Joanne comes looking for us."
I looked back to my best friend leaning against the stall, so tired and downcast. I gave her a hug. "We'll always be best friends," I said. "Even if we have to be apart for a bit."
I walked back to the door. "I'll wait till tomorrow before telling, ok?"
"Chelle..." her voice was very quiet and out of the corner of my eye, I saw her slide to the floor.
I ran to her side. She was still breathing but unconscious. Her eyes were moving restlessly behind her closed eyelids and her hands were clenched shut. I lifted her feet up like I'd been taught in first aid class and placed then on an unused toilet roll to keep them up.
The door opened and Joanne walked in. "Come on, guys. Ms Fredericks is furious... What happened?!"
"Get help, quick! She won't wake up!"
Without another word, Joanne ran out and soon after came back with Ms Fredericks and Ms Conelly in tow.
"What happened?" Ms Conelly asked, kneeling next to Kristy and checking her pulse.
"I don't know," I replied. "I think she fainted and now she won't wake up. Is she having a fit?"
"No," Ms Conelly replied immediately. "Has Kristy talked to either of you about getting any powers?" she asked both me and Joanne.
"No, not to me," Joanne replied.
I shook my head, tears stinging my eyes.
"Joanne, take Rochelle back up to your dorm and get her to lie down for a bit," Ms Fredericks said.
"Kristy'll be fine," Ms Conelly assured me.
I let Joanne lead me down the corridor and up the stairs towards our dorm. I put my hand to my head as it began to throb. "Can you get me some water, please," I asked her.
She nodded and left me at the entrance to our dorm. I opened the door and stepped in. I reached my hand out to steady myself as the dorm began to swim. My headache got worse and my breathing became more and more ragged so I closed my eyes.
As a familiar sense of fatigue washed over me, I opened my eyes again and looked around. Almost everything was floating at least a few centimetres off the surfaces they were on. My energy was steadily depleting.
Joanne gasped as she entered the room and the glass of water slipped from her hand but before it could hit the ground, it slowed and came to a halt a few centimetres from the ground. That extra bit of weight on my mental muscles was too much and I fell to the floor along with everything else in the room.
I heard Joanne shout for help as I slipped into unconsciousness.