At the heart of the City of Mysts, the brightening sky announced the start of another day for the students of Roucan Academy dedicated to nurturing and developing the
future leaders of the next generation. In one of the dorms within the campus, Victoria surveyed the scene below her. Most of her friends were preoccupied with their tablets and smartphones that Sheila was the only one who noticed her descent. Victoria cleared her throat to catch their attention.
“Good morning,” she said, over-brightly. Five pairs of eyes looked up from various screens. They returned her greeting with less enthusiasm.
A hand raised in the air and asked: “So, what’s this announcement you’re supposed to tell us that we have to be up so early?”
She arched a brow in the direction of the speaker. The girl was a new member in their circle and has yet to know her place. She came highly recommended by Sheila, who background checked on newcomers they wanted to be in their clique.
Victoria turned to the rest, saying: “Remember the program we’ve been talking about last year?” Her friends sat up and leaned in eagerly. Satisfied to have their whole attention, she presented a flash drive. “Rina. Would you do the honors of installing this in your laptop?”
While they waited for the installation to complete, Victoria explained: “I designed it based on your insights. We can manipulate the surveillance cameras of our school and control satellites to monitor any part of the world. But, of course, I made sure to add a biometric scanner and pass code just in case the wrong person gets his hands on this.
“It’s ready,” Rina said.
Everyone looked on as Victoria entered the pass code and placed her thumb on the scanner. The word HORUS appeared in gold letters with an illustration of an eye on its left. Smiling, she said: “Shall we begin?”
6:35 am. Two blocks away from the girls’ dorms, Fred sat on the bench across the boys’. He leaned back on his seat and watched the clouds go by.
“Good morning,” a voice said, cheerfully.
He eyed the person who greeted him. Small in stature with a shock of black hair and the eternal grin, Paolo was hard to forget and more difficult to miss. Behind him, two more guys were approaching; James with his red hair and thick glasses and the tall and quiet Michael.
“What’s so good about the morning?” he returned.
Paolo tilted his head in puppy-like curiosity. Fred kept looking for a tail behind his friend to confirm his suspicions. Of course, there was none.
“Fred met her yesterday,” James supplied.
“I thought she never attends classes on the first day,” Paolo said.
“Technically, she didn’t. But she was in the library.”
“It was her fault she fell,” Fred defended. “She was in my way.”
“And you had to tell her to have her eyes checked or she might crash against a tree,” James said, disapprovingly. “You should’ve just said sorry.”
“Why should I?”
“You should since we’ll be seeing her in several of our classes for the whole semester,” Paolo said. “And FYI, her father owns this school. That’s why she gets away clean all the time. She had some students expelled last year because she wasn’t receiving royal treatment from them.”
Fred stared at his friends. They’re serious about this, he thought. A memory of another group of boys he had overheard the other day pushed its way to the forefront. “What do they call her? Lady Bighead?”
“Don’t call her that when she and her flock are around.”
“Two can play the game.” Fred slung his bag across him and headed to the building for their first subject. A slow smile spread on his face.
Unknown to them, Victoria had successfully connected her laptop to the school’s surveillance cameras and listened in on him. She and her friends had heard the whole conversation. Victoria wasn’t surprised to what she found out.
The rumors were true but the people she had the principal expel weren’t exactly innocent. She had caught them sneaking into the faculty to steal the answers for the final exams. They tried to keep her quiet by bribery and then threats when she couldn’t be bought. The security cameras had caught everything. The incident was hushed up quickly though. The offenders, however, had enough time to twist the story for those who wished to lend a sympathetic ear. Victoria had prayed it would die down with the ridiculous nickname, but it seemed her hopes were all in vain.
Still, there were small mercies to thank for. Victoria was a little grateful he didn’t describe yesterday’s encounter. She had fallen flat on her face, her books flying in all directions in front of a student assistant, who she had to bribe to keep mum about the whole thing.
“We’ll show him we’re not to be messed with.” Victoria closed the laptop.
“What about the others?” Sheila asked.
“Leave them be. Could you believe? The walls truly have ears,” Victoria smiled. Her friends exchanged worried glances. They knew she was upset more than she let on.
A quarter before the bell rang, Victoria and Fred came face to face at the door of their classroom.
“After you, my lady,” said Fred, letting Victoria and her friends enter before them. As she passed, he murmured, “Bighead.” Her smile vanished and she turned to glare at him before proceeding to her seat.
During class, Victoria tried to put him on the spot by asking their teacher to let the new student answer the math problem. To her dismay, he was able to solve it easily. Afterwards, their teacher slipped into speaking German, his native tongue, which Fred responded in the same language in front of the whole class.
Returning to his chair, Fred smirked when he caught Victoria staring after him.
“I hate him!” Victoria said irritably to her friends after classes were dismissed.
“He’s just trying to annoy you, Victoria,” Sheila said.
“Why did my father even admit him?” she fumed. Their friends looked puzzled with Victoria’s behavior. She had never been this angry until Fred came into the picture. “I have to talk to my father about this. I’ll see you at dinner.”
Victoria stalked to the east wing. Reaching the President’s office, she bypassed the secretary, who tried to stop her from barging in.
“Ms. Victoria, your father gave orders not to be disturbed.”
“He’ll see me, Ms. Woodley.” She swung the door open.
The man behind the desk had his back to them as he said on the phone: “A good day to you too, Dr. Williams.” Replacing the receiver on his desk, he noticed the newcomers.
“Mr. Roucan, I – I tried to stop Ms. Victoria—” the secretary stammered.
“It’s alright, Ms. Woodley. You may return to your post.” Appeased, the secretary left, closing the door to give them privacy.
“Now what brings you here, my princess? Are you’re having problems with your teachers? Classmates?” Mr. Roucan asked his daughter.
“It’s about a new student in class. He —”
“Do you like him? Is he as handsome as your old man?” he teased.
“Father, please,” she said. “Yes, he’s attractive but I don’t like him. In fact, I find him annoying.”
“But that’s not why you’re here,” Mr. Roucan gave her a knowing smile.
“I checked his records earlier. He was expelled from his previous school because he attacked a teacher. He’ll ruin the academy if word gets out.”
“What’s this young man’s name?”
“Frederick. Frederick Williams.”
“Ah, yes. Frederick. An interesting boy. You forgot to add his bad habit of prolonged absences, truancy and tardiness in his former schools. The last was unfortunate. From my investigations, Frederick wasn’t completely at fault. The teacher had been picking on him from the beginning and time could only tell when the boy would reach his breaking point. It was after that incident that Dr. Williams approached me regarding his son.”
“Wait a minute. Dr. Williams? Our Dr. Williams?”
“Yes. I told her that if her son passes the entrance exam – which, of course, he did with flying colors – the academy would accept him regardless of his previous records. Your Math teacher has been impressed with Frederick’s performance and I believe we have you to thank for.”
“It seems a little competition will both do you some good.”
“I beg your pardon?” she said, disbelievingly.
“You are the class representative and an outstanding student. Learning a little humility won’t hurt. As for Frederick, you’ll be a good influence to him. You can be his saving grace.” Mr. Roucan smiled.
Victoria skipped dinner. Her appetite has fled after seeing how her father’s eyes shone with faith. She went straight to the Tower, the name she called her bedroom, her father’s words echoing in her mind.
His saving grace, Victoria thought. What was father thinking? How could I change someone like Williams? I don’t even like his attitude. She sighed and shook her head. There were more important things to worry about, like her brother Louis.
Copyright © 2014-2016 Cecilia Beatriz. All rights reserved.