Chapter 1 – Moving Day
Art lied back on the uncovered mattress he had just set down on the bed frame. He was wearing his favorite blank white shirt and long blue jeans. He had short black hair, dark eyes, and a calm but happy expression. Staring out the window, he watched the distant clouds of blended white stay frozen in the sky. A swarm of dust particles floated in his room, illuminated by the sunlight. The off-white painted walls were barren and had no features in particular. He sighed depressingly and grabbed his pillow, stuffing it over his face. He heard footsteps coming from the hall. They stopped just outside his room.
He felt the person's stare and squeezed the pillow harder. But no one said anything. After a minute he let go and moved to see who was at the door. They had disappeared. He dropped the pillow onto his mattress and leaned out of bed, letting his feet touch the hard wooden floor. As he leaned to his right, he felt something grip his shoulder tightly.
"Ahhh!" he shouted, dropping to the ground. He quickly turned and crawled backward holding his chest as he did.
"A little jumpy are we?" Lily teased with a grin. Her body was sticking halfway out of a solid plastered wall. She was wearing a dark red shirt while her long black hair spilled out over her forehead and behind her neck. She waved her finger in disgust and laughed.
"Come on Lily, that's not fair," Art whined. He carefully stood up. "Just because you can go through walls doesn't mean it's healthy."
They both heard footsteps coming up the stairs and glanced at the door. A thin man with short hair and glasses appeared. Their father was carrying a large box marked with his name on it. He was also frowning with an annoyed expression.
"Lily, get out of there! What if someone sees you?" he shouted.
"You mean like, the gremlins living in the wall?" Art asked with a smile. He and Lily laughed while their father ignored the comment, walking to his own room.
"I mean it, if you have time to play around, go get the rest of the boxes out of the moving van," he shouted.
"Alright," Lily shouted back. She slipped back inside the wall and disappeared. Art stepped out of the room and stopped at the top of the stairs. He glanced around the house. Piles of boxes were set onto the living room floor downstairs while larger pieces of furniture were set in their general locations. He went down to the first floor, seeing his older sister come through a hallway underneath. They both continued outside.
In their driveway the family car was parked in front of the garage. The large moving van was behind it. Their mother was carrying a small box with a lucid smile. She stepped out of the truck and walked down its long ramp. She had long black hair, a youthful face, and lush green eyes. She was an older replica of Lily.
"Kids, can you help me move the big bookshelf in the back?" she asked, passing them by. They forced a nod and stepped into the van, stopping near the bookshelf. The monstrous wooden piece was filled with volumes of research journals and reference books. Half of them were from their father's collection, working as a professor at a nearby college. The other half was from their mother's collection as a doctor at the hospital. They stood at opposite ends next to the cabinet and inspected it, wondering how to pick it up.
"Let's move it into the open first," Lily advised, grabbing one end. Art rolled his eyes. Lily extended her hand through the shelf and shoved him.
They grabbed the shelf together. There wasn't an inkling of strain on either of their faces. They set it back down in the center of the van and shrugged. They lifted the shelf again and began walking backwards out of the van.
"Lily, Art, look at yourselves," their mother scolded. "At least pretend you're having trouble, that shelf must weigh a few hundred kilograms."
They ignored her, making it to the top of the ramp, and then stopped for a second. Art glanced back over his shoulder to see where he was going. Suddenly, a woman appeared from the side of the van.
"Hello Mrs. Bairis; how are you?" the woman shouted with a smile. Lily nearly dropped the bookshelf.
"Oh! My foot!" Art shouted. He glared at Lily. She peeked around the corner in surprise and violently shook her head at him.
"Oh, this is so terribly heavy," she suddenly shouted, trying to hold it up.
"Oh, oh ouch, lets set it down for now," Art answered back, still glaring at her. They gently set the bookshelf down and stood at the top of the ramp looking down at the pair of women.
"My goodness, are you two children alright," the woman said, looking appalled. "If you want I can ask my daughter to give you all a hand," she said with a smile.
"Ah, that won't be necessary," their mother quickly answered, laughing. She then glanced at her children with a smug smile. "Anyway, why don't we go inside and have a drink, these two can take care of everything."
Before the woman had time to argue, their mother pushed her along. They disappeared into the house right after their mother glanced back and waved her arms in a circle.
"You heard the lady," Lily said, grabbing the shelf again. As she lifted up, Art let out a muffled cry and grabbed the shelf as well.
"You can at least pretend you're having trouble," Art mimicked their mother. They quickly jogged down the ramp and quickened their pace into the house.
"Are you sure you don't want my daughter's help," the woman asked, suddenly popping around the corner again. Lily forced the shelf toward the ground.
"Oh God my foot!" Art shouted.
"Oh no we couldn't, we're perfectly fine aren't we Art," Lily said, nodding her head with a smile.
"Yeah, just…fine," Art answered, pretending to grin. The woman looked at them with surprise before disappearing into the house. Lily brushed the strands of black hair from her eyes and quickly shook her head letting her hair bounce against her shoulders and back. Art wiped his forehead and frowned, picking up the shelf on his own.
"Hey wait a second," Lily shouted, grabbing the end of it. They both walked into the house and quickly set it down toward the back wall behind a sofa. They rested for a moment on the couch. Lily tugged on her pleated black skirt and leaned into the couch with a smile. The dark brown stockings on each leg disappeared under her skirt. Over her feet she wore fuzzy brown boots.
Art glanced down at his own clothes and tugged on his pants with a smile. He then felt a heavy pressure against his head as Lily twisted her palm into his dark hair.
"What's wrong, thinking about changing your look? Who knows, maybe you'll find a girlfriend if you do," she teased, frowning at his bland choice of apparel.
"Thanks but no thanks," Art said, pushing away her hand. "If you want to attract attention, you go ahead. But I'm fine by myself."
"Attract Attention? I'm ashamed that you would think of me that way Art," she said, lowering her eyebrows to cry. "Oh what indignities I have woven into our good family name and how I have tarnished the image and representation of responsibility that your innocent mind has conceived."
"I have no idea what you just said, but you know what I meant," Art answered back.
"You're just so cute when you're confused," she said, pressing her hand against his head harder.
"Ouch," he whispered trying to grab her hand. She watched with a grin at his week attempts until stopping from pure pity.
"Come on, lets hurry up and finish, we have our first day of school tomorrow remember," Lily said, standing up.
"What? Ah come on…can't we stay home another day?" Art was still rubbing his head. They walked back out to the driveway and grabbed the remaining boxes still left, carefully setting them in the living room. Their father joined them saying hello to Mrs. Swenson, their neighbor, and unpacked some of the boxes. After Mrs. Swenson had left and they had eaten dinner, the four of them sat down together in their messy living room. Their father sat in a recliner in front of the table while their mother sat in her own chair next to his. Both Lily and Art sat on the large sofa and slouched.
"Look what we have for you kids," their mother said enthusiastically. Lily and Art glanced at her with bright smiles wondering what she had hidden. Their faces quickly changed to shattering disgust when she showed them their school uniforms. The uniforms included the usual dark dress pants for males and dress skirts for girls. Both also had light dress shirts, formal ties, and fancy jackets.
"I forgot all about that stupid thing," Lily said, lowering her eyes. "But they look really expensive and classy."
"So much for that attention eh sis?" Art said, glancing at her with a smile. She turned to him with a scowl and folded her arms.
"This is a private school so I want you all to be on your best behavior," their mother said. She held up both uniforms.
"And an expensive one at that," their father added as he nodded his head. "By the way, what grade are you both in now?"
"I'm a senior remember?" Lily said, glancing back at the uniform. "Come on Dad, how can you forget how old your own daughter is?"
"17? 18? Right? That means you can legally smoke," he said, glancing at his newspaper.
"Is…is that suppose to be advice?" she asked, cocking her head in surprise.
"Anyway, I want you both to behave tomorrow, alright?" their mother begged. She then gently set the uniforms down on the coffee table. "And Lily, take care of your brother, he'll be going into his second year of high school."
"Mom, I think I might be better off without her help," Art answered back shooting Lily an ominous stare.
"Whatever do you mean," Lily replied. She pointed to herself with a questionable plea of ignorance. "I promise I'll take good care of him and make sure he doesn't get into any form of trouble."
"That goes for you too," their father said, glancing up. "You're both the reason why we moved here in the first place."
"Now Thomas, don't be that way," their mother said. She slapped his arm and waved her finger. "Although getting into fights at school isn't a good thing, the truth is your father and I both found wonderful jobs here."
"Insert understatement here," Lily said with a smirk. "Besides, that guy got what was coming to him."
"It's a good thing you didn't…whether he deserved it or not…" their father tried to say. "The point is…well I'm not so sure now."
"Thomas!" their mother shouted again. "Lily, under no circumstances, are you allowed to injure people like that…well…"
"You mean that pervert who kept stalking you all year and finally managed to get you alone in the same room and then tried to—"
"Art!" his mother shouted. Art laughed, ducking a smack by Lily. He jumped up from the couch.
"Well no one really liked him, but as for you Art," his father said, looking at him seriously. "I want you to be careful as well."
"I'm always careful," Art said as he glanced at Lily. Lily's face softened and she turned away and looked at her father instead.
"I know you try your best to avoid those kind of situations…but sometimes…sometimes you have to stick up for yourself," he said, fumbling with the words in his head.
"Alright, if anything like that happens this year, I'll protect myself, right?" he said, smiling back.
"Yes, but be careful too. I know you and your sister have odd powers or whatever, but you still have to be careful."
"Lilith said we were special, but there are others like us," Lily said, nodding her head. "I don't completely understand it myself, but I think cards were in there somewhere too."
"Why does Lilith sound so familiar?" Their father asked as he rubbed his chin.
"Lilith was Art's scary imaginary friend that scared him so bad—"
"She still does," Art said shakily. "As long as I never call her…"
"Lilith called us Gates," Lily said to her father. "You know, it has been a while since we had this kind of conversation."
"Well," their father interrupted, not particularly interested in the details. "That doesn't mean you can rule the world or anything…though you could probably get pretty far if you tried."
"But your not allowed," their mother added firmly.
"Why can't I have normal conversations with my children," their father said sarcastically. "Talking about things like, taking drugs and drinking alcohol until you can't see straight…but somehow, they just don't feel as important in light of your abilities."
"Does that mean we can do them," Art said with a grin.
"Absolutely not," their mother added again. "I'm a doctor so I know how unhealthy those things are."
"Sure you do mom," Lily said, walking up the stairs.
"What's that supposed to mean," she shouted back, not amused.
"We all know how much of a party drinker you were, so don't hide it," Lily answered. Her mother turned to their father appalled and then covered the side of her mouth.
"Was I drinking when we had her?" she asked.
"Mom!" Lily shouted, folding her arms.
"Probably," Art answered, walking past her on the steps. He quickly caught her demonic glance and darted up the stairs to avoid her grab.
"What I want to know is if I was exposed to radiation or something in the lab," their father said, looking down between his legs. He received another slap from his wife and he looked up at her mischievously.
"That's disgusting!" Lily shouted from the second floor. She ignored Art's escape into his room and gave up for now. Instead, she walked into her own room stretching her arms upward with a yawn.
The next morning both Lily and Art woke up to get ready for their first day of school. They were greeted by their parents making breakfast. They sat down with wide yawns and rubbed their eyes. After eating their food, they were both given their lunches and a kiss goodbye. They left the house and began trudging up the street toward their school. It was only several blocks away and they could easily make it in less than half an hour taking their time. As they passed the chalk white streets, they continued up the sidewalks slowly leading them higher. They passed kids, wearing the same uniforms, and noticed they were all heading in the same direction. Large houses with small yards appeared on both sides of the street until turning into apartments. Later more and more trees appeared until a large white brick wall towered over the sidewalk. Lily looked around gloomily. It looked like they were going to a prison instead. The entrance to the private school appeared at the end of the street in front of them. They stopped around the corner and took a peek.
An enormous dirty white, five story building towered above them. Windows and class rooms lined the floors like shelves while the roof had a high fence. Leading up to the building was a wide walkway. On the right there were basketball and tennis courts, while on the left volley ball nets and other courts were set up.
"Look at this place," Art said, glancing beyond the basket ball courts to a smaller building connected to the large one in front of them.
"It's huge," Lily answered, staring into the opposite direction. A wide two story building sprawled behind the volley ball nets. They heard a church bell ring and noticed some of the other kids walking faster. While Art wondered if there was a bell tower nearby, Lily glanced at her watch.
"Time to go, we've only got a few minutes," she said as she pushed Art forward. "Just be prepared for anything, the class and school setup here isn't like the period system or block system. They use something else I think."
"Really?" Art answered, passing through the main doors. They were greeted by the hallway spreading to the left and then to the right. Lily pulled a piece of paper out of her pocket and stared down at it. She waved to Art.
"This is where I go; good luck and don't get into trouble," she said, turning away. She then stopped and looked back saying, "Oh and Art…I know how you make stuff up in class pretending to be an idiot, but try to make some friends anyway, please?"
She waved again walking down the hall to the right. She disappeared into the crowd. Art pulled a small piece of paper out of his pocket. He glanced at the room number and flipped the paper over. He then sighed and looked around. A wave of heat fell over his hand and he looked down. The paper burst into flames and he instinctively dropped it. It formed a small pile of charred ash and continued to burn.
"Another Gate?" Art whispered in disbelief. "How did he—" The paper on the ground was still on fire and he shouted in surprise, stomping his foot to put it out. Several people looked at him and laughed as he stupidly kicked his feet around. He then wiped his forehead with a smile and laughed embarrassingly.
"What a moron," someone said, passing by him.
"Smoking isn't even allowed in the building," someone else said.
Art scratched his head continuing to appear as an idiot and grabbed his books. He walked off. He passed by a kid laughing with some of his friends and ignored their finger pointing.
"For a second I thought he saw me," the kid laughed harder. "But he's just stupid."
Art continued toward the classroom he had memorized. "I don't believe this, he must be a Gate. I can definitely feel it," he whispered to himself. The last thing he wanted was to draw attention, and hopefully acting stupid instead of making a real scene would be enough for him to hide out for the rest of the day. He wandered the halls until another bell rung. He gasped at the time and quickened his pace. When he reached the class room he stopped in front of the door. After taking a deep breath he stood silently for a few seconds. He then exhaled and opened the door. He was immediately met by stares while some people began laughing.
"It's alright to come in here, the air is just fine," the teacher said with a serious face. The rest of the class broke into laughter while he stood feeling stupid again. Somehow, avoiding the center of attention was going to be a bit more difficult than he thought.
"Oh well I…" he said, trying to defend his pride.
"Class, we have a new student," the teacher interrupted, flashing him a grin. "Please introduce yourself to the class."
Art stopped and slowly nodded. He turned to the class ignoring the snide remarks and chuckles, and bowed his head.
"Hello, my name is Art Bairis. I just moved to this city transferring from my old school. I like to study and watch old movies, and I also like to read books and play chess."
The class laughed again and clapped, unable to hold their taunts. He looked around with a wide grin pretending to appreciate it, but noticed two people in particular ignoring him. One was a girl in the back, clearly not wearing the standard school uniform. She just, stared out the window. She was dressed in black leather with long silvery white hair tied in a ponytail behind her head. She had thick boots over her feet and wore a black miniskirt over her leather pants. She also had a leather tank top with a black silk covering the top of her chest and shoulders. On both of her hands, she had fingerless gloves. A shiver ran down his spine.
He looked at the other girl. She appeared much more conserved, but had an eerie awe about her. She had her fingers locked together and had a smile on her face. She had long brown hair that disappeared behind her shoulders, a small nose and mouth, and an interested look in her eyes. A large bow was fastened behind her head. She was cute in all respects and was popular among the class.
Art glanced at her and looked down. A dreadful feeling entered his mind as he thought of her curious smile. It was the kind of smile that knew when someone was lying, but worse, the kind of expression that meant she was probably going bug him until she knew the truth about why he was lying.