The Beginning: Part I of V

"Wake up Alexandra, wake up."

The young girl stirred in her sleep.

I am awake.

No, wake up.

I told you, I am awake!, she said more urgently, Who are you?

Wake up, you are needed.

Needed where? Who are you?

Open up your mind, you are ready.

Ready? Adrian is that you? Are you here to come and get me?

No, we are not your sister. You must awaken, the time has come.

What time, she asked frantically, Where are you, I can't see you?! What's going on?!

The young girl woke up with a start from her dream. She was panting and in a cold sweat. She looked around her room frantically to see if anyone was there. She was alone. She clutched the dark purple jewel draped around her neck, looking for some comfort and slowly lay back down to bed.

"It was just a dream," she told herself out loud, "I wasn't awake."

But you will be, a voice said.

The girl screamed, jumped out of bed and ran out of her room. She instinctively ran to her sister's room, forgetting that it was empty. When she opened the door, she remembered that her sister wasn't there.

"Alexandra?!" a stern voice behind her asked angrily.

She whirled around to see her father, Peter Arkham, standing there.

"What the hell are you doing?!" he asked.

"I-I had a bad dream," she stammered.

"Is that any reason to wake up the whole damn house?!" he shouted, "Now get back to bed. Your own bed."

"Sorry fath-Sorry," she said, remembering that she couldn't call him "father" anymore.

She waited until he went back to his own room before she closed the door to her sisters. As she passed along to her room, on the other side of the hallway, she was tempted to look in her brother's, but she knew that it would be forever empty, with no hope of him ever coming back. Her feet were cold against the floor, even though it was carpeted. She opened the door wide to her room, surveying the whole area before she entered. She then turned on every single light in the room and put the radio on, softly though so as not get her father angry again. No, he wasn't her father anymore, he never was. She would have to stop calling him that.

She slipped back into her bed and pulled the covers up to her neck, daring not to close her eyes. She had to go to school tomorrow.

"Lexi! Lexi!" a friendly voice called to Alexandra as she got out of the limousine, "Over here!"

Alexandra turned to see her best friend Jasmine Fox over by their favorite spot, the large elm tree, with some of their friends. She smiled and walked over to them, fixing the crease in her uniform blue jumper.

"Hi guys," she said cheerfully.

She received a chorus of greetings from her friends as they let her in on their discussion for the day.

"I heard that we were getting new uniforms next year," Jasmine said to the rest of the girls.

"Finally! I hate these stupid jumpers," Leigh Ann Edwards said, "They itch."

The rest of the girls nodded in agreement.

"What do you think Lexi?" Jasmine asked her friend. Ever since Alexandra's brother died, Jasmine tried extra hard to pay special attention to her. Always trying to get her to speak and join in on group conversations and activities. She had been withdrawn and although it had almost been a year and she seemed happy, her friend knew better.

The fake plastered smile Alexandra had put on suddenly disappeared, "I don't think I'm going to be going here next year," she said quietly.

"Why?" the girls asked.

"I think they might be putting me in another school next year."

"A genius school?" Jenny Stillwell asked, "Is that where you're going?"

Everyone knew about Alexandra's uncanny intelligence. She had always been a precocious child. At age four, her teachers discovered that she had an abnormally high proficiency in math and science. When she was six, a college math professor, during a luncheon at her father's house, found her outside in the garden, writing math theorems, that she had proved herself with sidewalk chalk. When he asked her how she knew what she was writing, she just shrugged and responded that it seemed to make sense. This professor, named Ivan Gerich was so impressed with her abilities that he immediately began working with her to improve her knowledge. At first Alexandra liked the idea of being a genius, she enjoyed math and science and looked at Professor Gerich with admiration. But once she had gotten back to school, one of her teachers suggested that she enroll in a special school for gifted children, she protested the idea. They came to a compromise in which she would go to her regular school, St. Bernadette's Parochial School, for all classes except for math and science, for which she be tutored by Professor Gerich. This situation worked out fine, until her brother's death. She no longer became interested in learning and became less interested in going to her sessions with the professor.

"It's not a genius school," she said softly, "It's just a school for-"

"Geniuses?" Jasmine chimed in, smiling.

The girls laughed, Alexandra was grateful to her friend for breaking the uncomfortable attention on her. The ringing of the bell cut off the girls' laughter as a nun came out of the front door of the school.

"Children, time to learn," she said congenially, "Everybody inside now."

The boys raced each other inside, while the older kids hung around a little more before begrudgingly joining the rest. The group of girls by the tree flocked together towards the door. Alexandra pulled Jasmine aside from the rest of the girls.

"There's something I have to tell you at recess," she whispered to her friend.

Jasmine nodded, although curious as to what it was, and kept silent.

"Can anyone tell me what "B.C" and "A.D" stand for?" Sister Marie asked.

To Alexandra, religion class was the worst. It wasn't because she wasn't Catholic, which she wasn't, or because she didn't believe in God, which she didn't. It was because the nuns made them do the dumbest things in class for no reason. How were they supposed to learn who God was and what His purpose for mankind was by making hanger mobile of their families? She thought it was the stupidest class in the world and something she definitely would not miss if she had to leave the school.

"'B.C' means before Christ and 'A.D' means after the death of Christ" Tommy Andreko called out.

"No it doesn't idiot," Leigh Ann said, "'A.D' means 'anno domino', it means 'in the year of the Lord'."

Alexandra rolled her eyes.

"That's correct Leigh Ann," Sister Marie said, "But please don't call others 'idiots' and don't call out. That goes the same for you Tommy."

Leigh Ann turned to Tommy and stuck out her tongue while the nun wasn't looking. Tommy looked down at his folded hands, embarrassed. Alexandra hated Leigh Ann, she was so mean to everybody sometimes.

"Alexandra," the nun called.

Alexandra turned her attention to Sister Marie, as the other kids turned her attention to Alexandra. The students in the class knew that whatever question Alexandra was getting, it was going to be hard.

"Can you tell me the name of our current pope?" she asked.

"John Paul the second," she replied mildly.

"Very good. And how many popes have we had before him?" she asked gently.

"Two hundred and eighty-four."

There was an impressed murmur around the room. Alexandra hated it when the teachers put her on the spot and made her answer questions that no one else knew the answer to.

"Where does the Pope live?"

"Vatican City," Leigh Ann piped up instead of Alexandra, "It's a city in Rome."

"Actually Vatican City is a country, not a city. It's the smallest independent country in the world, only spanning 109 acres wide."

"Wow, that's small," Jasmine said, "How many people live there?"

"About seven hundred and fifty, as of the year nineteen eighty-nine" Alexandra answered.

"Very good Alexandra," Sister Marie said smiling, "I think you've filled your answer quota for the day."

Alexandra smiled back at her, glad to not have to talk again. From behind she could hear Leigh Ann say, "Show off." The smile immediately left her face.

"She's not showing off, she's just smart," said Jackson Stromwell. Alexandra turned around and smiled at her friend. The boy winked at her before being rebuked by the nun to be quiet.

"Alright kids, let's continue."

Alexandra watched as the boys played a game they invented called "E Ball". The object of the game was to hit as many people with the letter "E" in their names, which every single boy was victim to. The last person left would then immunity in the next round of the game, in which he could be hit three times before having to sit out. If he won that game, then his immunity would double and so on and so on. No one has ever won twice.

"So what did you want to tell me?" Jasmine asked standing beside her.

"The school that I'm going to," she said, "It's in London, England."

"England?!," she exclaimed disbelievingly, "And you're going there for sure?!"

Alexandra nodded her head sadly.

"So you're going to leave?"

"No, not to England," Alexandra turned to her friend excitedly, "I'm going to find my sister."

"What?"

"I know she's in a college in California somewhere, so I'm going to find her and then we're going to live together."

"Are you crazy?! You can't run away to California!" Jasmine practically screamed.

"Keep your voice down," she hissed at her friend, "I have it all planned out, Adrian has trust fund money from father. I can go to school in California instead of England."

"How will you find her in California?! It's a big state."

"I'll just check every college."

Before Jasmine could say anything, the bell rang, signaling the end of recess. The kids lined up near the door, leading into the school, with Alexandra and Jasmine at the front.

"What wrong? Go inside," an eight-grader said.

"It's locked," Jasmine said as Alexandra was trying to open the door.

Alexandra slammed against the door with her side, with another push, the door clicked open.

"Oh," Alexandra said as she stepped inside, "It must have been stuck."

The kids piled inside as the nuns came running to the doors.

"We forgot to unlock the doors," Sister Jose said, "How did you get inside?"

Most of the kids ignored her.

"It wasn't locked, it was just stuck" Alexandra said before going to her class.

Sister Jose found that odd because she had remembered locking the door herself. She inspected the door and found that the bolt was broken off and the doorknob fell off the door at a touch. It looked as if someone had pushed the locked door, open.

Alexandra opened the door to her room slowly, still not comfortable in the room after what happened last night. She opened all windows, allowing ample light into the room. Today had been weird all together, at the end of the day, Sister Jose had asked her how she opened the door. When she told her she just turned the knob, the nun gave her a strange look and walked away from her. Maybe she wasn't supposed to open the door. It didn't matter anyway, she was leaving the school. She was leaving Gotham. And she was glad. She lay down on her bed and closed her eyes, she didn't get much sleep last night and she was really tired. She yawned and slipped into the quiet recesses of sleep.

Alexandra. Wake up.

Leave me alone.

Wake up.

I am awake. Don't talk to me anymore.

It's time. You're ready.

Ready for what?

To begin.

The phone rang, bringing Alexandra out of her slumber on its third ring.

"Hello?"

"Hi, it's me," Jasmine Fox said, "Were you sleeping?"

"Uh, no," she lied, "What's up?"

"I just wanted to talk to you about what you said earlier."

"Listen Jas, I've already made up my mind. I have to find my sister, she's all alone."

"You mean, you're all alone."

Alexandra was silent at this.

"So," she said quietly, "I miss her."

"I know Lexi," Jasmine said gently, "But ever since," she stopped and then began again more cautiously, "Ever since your brother-"

"I have to go and get ready for my session," Alexandra said cutting her off, "I'll call you later."

She quickly hung up the phone. She looked over at her clock, it actually was time for her session. She had a violin lesson in ten minutes. Professor Gerich had encouraged her to take up a musical instrument, saying that many mathematicians were also musical virtuosos. She had chosen the learn the drums; the professor had chosen for her to learn the piano; her father, the violin. As usual she lost out and was taking both piano and violin lessons. Although she had secretly cancelled her piano lessons when she learned that she could play by ear.

The rest of her day went as routine. She had an hour lesson, then went to do her homework. Her regular homework took her minutes to do, but the homework from Professor G required more time. Reading two hundred pages of Stephen Hawking's, A Brief History of Time and then creating a discussion topic based on one of its concepts. She finished the whole book. When she was done, she bounded down the grand staircase of Fisbourne Palace, her house, or rather the house she lived in; and went to the kitchen to look for something to eat. After one of the cooks made her a snack, she came out of the kitchen to see Peter Arkham going into his study. She hesitated but then followed him inside.

"Hello," she said politely as he sat down at his desk.

He looked up at her briefly, "Alexandra."

"How was your day?" she said entering the study even more.

"Fine. Shouldn't you be going to bed?"

Alexandra stopped her advancement towards the couch and turned around. "Probably." She went out the door, "Goodnight," she said before she closed it behind her.

She looked at the grandfather clock in the living room, it was already nine o'clock. She went upstairs to her room to call Jasmine before it was too late.

"Hello?" Jasmine's voice said on the phone.

"Hey, am I calling too late?" Alexandra asked.

"No, what's up?"

"Nothing much."

There was an uncomfortable silence before Jasmine said something.

"Listen Lexi, I'm really sorry for what I said. I shouldn't have-"

"It's okay."

"Are you sure?"

"Yeah, definitely," Alexandra assured her, "Still best friends?"

"Always," Jasmine paused, "Because you're my best friend in the whole world. Can you do me a favor?"

"Uh oh," Alexandra joked.

"Promise me that you won't run away to California," she said seriously, "Please."

Alexandra was silent.

"Please?" she insisted again.

"Okay," Alexandra said, "I won't run away to California."

"You swear?"

"Yeah, I swear."

She could hear the relief in her friend's voice. "Good, alright, I have to go and clean my room. Bye."

"See you tomorrow."

After Alexandra hung up the phone, she opened up the drawer in her nightstand and pulled out a key. The key was to a box she kept up in her closet. She got a chair from her desk and brought it over to her closet. Since the first grade, she was always the shortest girl in her class, a fact that she hated. She thought that she would never grow. She climbed up on the chair and retrieved the box on the shelf. Jumping down, she sat down on her bed and opened up the box. It contained two thousand, three hundred and forty-eight dollars. Money she had garnered over a few months, from allowances, whatever she found in her sister's room and stealing from her grandmother. The bulk of the money came from the last. Her grandmother was careless when it came to money and left it lying around everywhere. She closed the box again, this money should be more than enough to get her to California by train. By the end of the school year, she would have more than double this amount. After placing the box back, she got ready for bed. It didn't take her long to fall asleep, she was out minutes after she slipped under the covers.

Alexandra.

Not again.

Wake up.

Why do you keep saying that? I'm awake. If I weren't awake, I wouldn't be talking.

You are asleep, we are talking to your subconscious.

Who is we?

You are ready.

What are you talking about? I don't know who you are. I can't even see you.

That's because you are in a dream state. You cannot control it. Awaken your powers and you can control anything.

Powers?

What do you see?

I don't see anything, everything's black.

Picture your hands. Remember what they look like, their shape, contour, feel, size. Do you remember? Can you picture it?

Yes.

Look down at your hands.

I can't see anything.

Keep looking. Picture your hands there, look at them.

Hands suddenly appeared, at first they were blurry and inconsistent but they began to take a clear form.

I did it! I can see them.

The hands flew to the face, which suddenly appeared, mouth, nose, ears, eyes, body. Whatever her hands touched, she could see. Became real.

Now you are ready.

Ready for what?

To begin. Look.

A forest appeared in front of her. The trees were dark and close together, it was hard to see through. She started walking through it. Suddenly a bright light appeared, she looked up, the sun. She could feel the rays of heat on her face. She looked down at her hands again.

Is this real?

Go here and it will begin.

What will?

Your destiny.

She could feel her dream world slipping away from her. She looked down back at her hands, they were fading.

No, wait!

The forest was fading as well. The sun was no longer there. The last thing she saw was a sign on one of the trees: Deer Hunting Season: 4/9.

"Miss Arkham," a soothing voice rustled her from sleep, "Time to get up, Miss Arkham."

"Hmm, okay," she said her eyes still closed, "I'm up, I'm up."

She opened her eyes to assure the maid that she was awake and waited until she left to get up. She looked around her room before getting out of bed and heading towards the bathroom.

"Another boring day at school," she groaned.

The piercing whistle of Sister Francis cut through the whole gymnasium, calling all kids to attention.

"Alright, give me five laps around the gym" she said over the children's groans, "And make them good, I don't want to see an walkers."

Alexandra rolled her eyes as she bent down to fix her shoe, a ploy she always used to cheat herself out of one lap. When the class was already around once, she would join in and finish with them.

"Come on," Jasmine said as the rest of the class started.

"Hold on, I have to tie my shoe" she said.

As she tied each shoe slowly, she saw a pair of sneakers and a robe walk in front of her.

"Is there something wrong Miss Arkham?" Sister Francis asked.

"Um, no," Alexandra said smiling, "Just tying my shoes."

"I see, well don't think you're getting out of the five laps," the nun said, "I know about your devilish little scheme. Just because you're some kind of Einstein, don't think I'm not unto you."

"I don't know what you're talking about, Sister," Alexandra said innocently, "I plan to run all five laps."

"Well better hurry up because the rest of the class is already on their second."

She smiled at the nun and then jogged up with the rest of the class. After one lap of keeping up with the rest of the class, the nun yelled at her.

"Faster, Miss Arkham, you still have four more to go."

Alexandra glared at the nun but kept running. She closed her eyes to focus. She hated running, it made you pant and sweat and she saw no point to it. She opened her eyes and looked down at the floor, something which always made her go faster. She didn't see any other sneakers around her so she figured she was behind everyone else. She pushed ahead faster.

"Miss Arkham!" Sister Francis exclaimed.

"I'm going, I'm going," she insisted, running yet even faster. Then she realized she that the kids had all stopped running and that they were all watching her with strange looks on their faces. She also realized that they were behind her. She stopped.

"What?" she asked everyone.

"Are you sure?" she asked Jasmine again as they walked into the locker room to change.

"Yeah, you didn't notice?"

"No."

"You were running really fast, you passed everyone, even Joey, and he's the faster runner in the class. You finished four laps before we were done with our two."

"Really? Are you sure?" she asked again.

"Yes, for the bizillionth time, yes!" Jasmine exclaimed exasperated as she began to change, "I mean you should have seen Sister Francis' face. I thought she was going to have a heart attack or something. You were flying by. You should run track in high school."

"Wow, I can't believe it. I hate running," Alexandra said softly, "I didn't even think I was going fast."

"Well you were," Jasmine stopped talking when Leigh Ann approached them.

"I'm starving, does anyone know what's for lunch today?" Leigh Ann asked them.

They both shook their heads.

"I think it's ravioli," shy Katie Eckertt, said to Leigh Ann.

Leigh Ann turned to the chubby girl with a sadistic smile on her face.

"Figures you would know," she sneered, "Don't you think you've had enough lunch, Katie, to last you a lifetime?"

Some other girls in the locker room snickered. Katie's face turned bright red as she bit her lip to fight back her tears.

"That's not funny Leigh Ann," Jasmine said. Alexandra fumed.

"Well come on, I'm not trying to be mean, but she's like two hundred pounds and she's only eleven. It's unnatural."

Katie burst into tears and ran out of the room crying while Leigh Ann and some others laughed.

"Leigh Ann, you're a bitch!"

The locker room was instantly quieted as all eyes turned to Alexandra. No one had ever said the "b" word out loud, well not to anyone's face at least.

"Excuse me?" Leigh Ann asked.

"I said you're a bitch," Alexandra repeated, "Why would you do something like that, what did Katie do to you?"

"Shut up Lexi!" Leigh Ann fumed, "You think you're better than everyone else."

"You have no right to treat anyone that way!" Alexandra yelled at her, "I'm going to see if she's okay." She turned away from Leigh Ann and headed towards the door.

"Who died and made you God?!" Leigh Ann screamed after her, "Oh yeah that's right, your brother."

There was not a sound in the locker room after this was said. Even thinking about Andrew Arkham in front of Alexandra made all the girls feel guilty. Alexandra stopped dead in her tracks.

"Leigh Ann!" Jasmine shouted, she turned to Alexandra, "Just ignore her, she's not worth it."

Alexandra clenched her fists at her side. No one ever talked about her brother, not even her. She had spent a whole year, building a wall around her sealing in all the anger, pain, confusion and the bottomless pit of sadness. She was not about to let this cruel idiot take off even a chip of that wall. She turned around slowly.

"What the hell did you just say?" she asked in a low scary tone.

Leigh Ann's veneer of defiance broke briefly as she a wave of terror flashed upon her face from Alexandra's glare. But she quickly squared her shoulders and braved on.

"You heard me," she challenged, "Everyone else may be to chicken to say it, but I will."

"Shut up Leigh Ann" Jasmine warned.

"No!" she said looking straight at Alexandra, "Ever since your brother was killed, you've been walking around ruining everyone's good mood. Then you go around thinking you're above everyone else just because you have a dead brother. We all feel bad for you but-"

Those were the last words she got out before she was silenced by her own scream as Alexandra's fist came in contact with her face. She could feel her nose cave in under Alexandra's iron-like fist. She fell to the ground, covering her nose, which was rapidly filling her hands up with blood. She looked up at Alexandra and kept screaming. Just then Sister Francis ran in with a tear-stricken Katie beside her.

"What in heaven's name just happened here?!" she asked rushing to Leigh Ann's side.

Alexandra stared down at her bloody hand. It tingled, it didn't hurt as much as she thought it would though. She looked up at everyone staring at her.

"I-I didn't mean…I'm sorry," she said backing out of the locker room.

"Lexi, wait!" Jasmine called as Alexandra broke out into a run, out the door of the school..

Alexandra didn't know when she had run so fast, she was definitely running faster than she had in the gym. She didn't want to stop, ever. She could never go back to school after what had happened. She felt sick, she'd never hit anyone before. But that wasn't the part that disgusted her, it was the fact that she had actually gotten some pleasure out of breaking Leigh Ann's nose. Something she never thought she would have neither the gumption nor the strength to do. She stopped, realizing that she had no idea where she was going or any idea where she was. She looked around and found herself at a forest.

This looks familiar.

A sudden breezed swept through the forest and bent the trees, oddly half were bent one way, the other half were bent the other way. It was as if the trees were opening up a way for her. She didn't think it was safe to go in but she did anyway. As she ventured into the forest, the trees bent back.

"What's going on here?" she asked out loud.

She turned back on her way to the path the trees were leading her to. She had not gone in long when she saw a familiar sign.

"Deer Hunting Season: 4/9" she said, reading the sign on a tree, "This is the place, from my dream!"

She turned around and was blinded by a bright light.

The police were gathered at St. Bernadette's Parochial School, looking for a missing student. They had already sent out two search parties and were trying to keep the girl's disappearance under wraps. It was nearly ten at night, and they had already lost much light. Lieutenant Stockwell, checked on the patch on his arm to see if it was still working, because it didn't feel like it.

"I picked the wrong day to quit," he said sighing as a young officer came up to him, "What've you got for me Lopez?"

"My team just got done checking as far as the woods, we even went through the whole forest, nothing."

"And no one's seen anything?"

"Nothing," the young officer said shaking his head.

"Well keep looking, there has to be something," Stockwell said, "She didn't just disappear off the face of the planet!"