Ready for the obligatory introduction? Good, because here it is. First of all, I want to thank all of you for taking the time to stop and read this. Feedback is always welcome, both positive and negative. (as long as the negative isn't indefensibly harsh and the positive isn't so happy that it would make a three-year old puke) While anything in a review is usually helpful, the one thing I DON'T want is any tip that could potentially alter the story. I've outlined this whole thing from beginning to end and I know everything that's going to happen in it, and nothing that you say to me will convince me to change what I have planned.

Now that that's out of the way, on to the story: Nice Place to be Lost

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There was a bright flash in the pitch black night, and then a quiet and lone figure was walking. He was stepping through what was apparently a wooded area, and the warm air of the spring night helped relax any tension or nerves he might have been feeling.

All he was hoping for was that he wouldn't get spotted. He was wearing all black and wanted to blend in as well as he could, but he had one distinguishable feature about him that made it incredibly difficult for him to be missed just in case someone else happened to be walking around.

Over his eyes was a pair of goggles, but not ordinary ones that might be worn into a swimming pool. The ones he was sporting had bright green lenses that were illuminated in the dark, casting a small amount of green light in front of him.

"Grrr…where am I supposed to be going?" he asked himself quietly, hoping that no one was around to hear him.

He continued walking for a few more minutes and looked around. There was a road right to the side of him, but he wasn't sure that he should be walking on it. In fact, he wasn't really positive where he should be going altogether. All he knew was that he was in the general area that he was supposed to be in.

What was he supposed to do now? He was in the right spot. Now what?

He growled to himself after walking around for over an hour. He decided it would be best just to curl up under a tree for the night and hope for the best. When he was slowly drifting off to sleep, he made sure that his goggles were facing downward to the ground so his glowing green specs wouldn't be noticed quite as easily.

-

"Yes, I signed my son up for here a few days ago," a woman said as she plopped a pile of papers down at the front desk of a building.

The secretary at the school's front desk looked at the three people standing in front of her with some confusion, and maybe some suspicion. She took off her glasses and squinted at the trio just to make sure she was seeing everything correctly.

"Your son?" the secretary tried to confirm.

"Yes," the woman said, sounding a little bit annoyed with having to repeat herself.

Again, the secretary studied the three people and tried to make some sense of it all. One person was the woman holding the stack of papers in her hands. She had dark skin which was the same tone as her thin hair. She was of average height and looked like she was dead-set on ending this meeting as quickly as possible.

The other adult was an older man who appeared to be just over sixty. He was slightly taller and had lost almost all of his hair, and what remained was hardly anything more than thin white strands. He, too, looked serious and wanted to leave the building as quickly as possible.

The third person was the one they were claiming was his son. He was average height and had thin, very short dark hair. There were really no indistinguishable features about him or any of his guardians, save for one common feature: they all had some form of gear covering their eyes.

Both adults were wearing dark sunglasses. However, the new student was instead wearing green goggles that looked like a very high-tech version of night vision goggles. Something the secretary also noticed: all three of them seemed to be in top physical condition.

"And…you are his…parents?" the secretary asked.

"No," the woman bluntly answered. "Just me. I'm his mother."

The secretary couldn't believe that; the new student was white skinned, but this black-skinned woman was claiming she was his mother.

"Is…that the boy's father?" the secretary tried to ask politely as she pointed the tip of her pen at the old man.

"No. That's my father. Paul's father died a few years ago. I'm taking care of him and my own dad right now."

"I…see. So, you're his grand father?" the secretary asked as she pointed her pen over to the old man and quickly shifted it over to Paul. (the new student who was wearing the glowing green goggles)

"That's right," the old man told her.

"We just moved here from West Virginia," the woman told her. "I signed up Paul to come here a few days ago."

"Yes, I heard you the first time," the secretary somewhat rudely responded. She turned to Paul and looked straight into his goggles. (the closest thing to his eyes) "Paul?"

"Yeah?" he answered, talking for the first time since they walked into the building. He very possibly sounded the most annoyed out of all of them.

"Okay, we heard about you a few days ago and printed out your schedule. Here, I've got a copy of it somewhere in one of these drawers…"

The secretary opened up one of the top drawers in her desk and looked through folders and loose papers until she finally came across the sheet she was searching for. On the thin periwinkle colored paper was a printed version of his schedule.

"Thanks," he neutrally answered as he took the paper from her hand and looked it over.

"Third period's going to be ending soon. When the bell rings, you can just head to fourth, alright? I've already notified your teachers that you're going to be here for the first time."

"Thanks," he again generically answered with a hint of annoyance.

"I think that about settles it," the secretary concluded, seeming to be almost as relieved as the two adults accompanying Paul into the school. "If you have any questions, please feel free to call the school and ask."

"Thanks," the woman said in the same tone as Paul.

The secretary watched her and the old man with a dirty glare as they both walked out of the office and into the school's parking lot.

Paul, on the other land, looked pretty sour and uncaring about being in this new environment. However, he was utilizing the one advantage to wearing those weird-looking green goggles: no one had any idea how he was glaring or staring at them underneath those lenses.

"Are you going to need help finding your way to fourth period?"

"No, I got it. Thanks."

Paul turned around and walked out of the office without saying another word to the secretary, leaving her just staring at him and horrified with the way he just ended the conversation.

And for the first time Paul was walking the halls of Merines High School on the eastern side of Kansas, which was where he figured he'd be staying for a while. He didn't like the place too much so far; it didn't seem like enough attention was paid to it while it was built and he could sense that the budget for it had seemed a little tight. The paint was peeling off some of the walls, and the only decorations were uninteresting paintings and drawings done by the art students, along with some timelines of historical periods that were done as history projects

Paul really didn't know too much about history, despite all the education he would have said he had received.

"Okay…let's see…" he said to himself as he looked down at the piece of paper in his hand. "Fourth period, fourth period…that's Pre-Calculus. Math, huh?"

For the next few minutes, Paul wandered the halls and looked for the room that he was supposed to be in after just a few more minutes. Finally, he found it, and all he had to do after that was to wait for the bell to ring.

When that time came, the hallway was filled with students, almost like the doors to the classrooms acted as open floodgates that were letting massive amounts of water loose.

Paul inched his way into the room passed all the outgoing students and looked at the desks. The room was aligned very typically, with five rows of six desks facing the blackboard.

Not really taking the time to think about it, Paul sat down in one of the first seats that he saw. Just moments later, an entire group of strangers marched into the room.

They were all going to be his classmates, and he tried to shake off any feelings of awkwardness when they were walking in. Unfortunately, that was hard to do when one student saw the desk Paul was sitting in and instantly looked uneasy.

The student seemed to be a head taller than Paul was and had buzz cut brown hair. He was wearing a jacket that read MERINES HIGH BASEBALL.

He turned to one of his classmates and said, "Uh…am I imagining things?"

"Huh?" the other student asked.

"Like, am I dreaming or something? Because it looks like some guy wearing green goggles who I've never met before is sitting in my seat."

"Oh, is this your seat?" Paul asked without any emotion. "Sorry. I'll move."

Paul started getting up, but the person whose seat he had inadvertently taken started waving his hands as if he were trying to stop a car and said, "No, no, no! It's alright! Really. Sorry, I didn't mean to offend you if I did. The whole thing just seems…strange, you know?"

"What do you mean?"

"Like…a guy wearing green glasses is sitting in my seat. I just wasn't sure whether that pizza I ate last night is making me dream this or if it's really happening."

"It's happening…"

"No, you can stay there, dude," the student said when Paul got ready to move again. "It's cool. Really. Hey, I've never seen you around here before. You new?"

"Yeah."

"What's your name?"

"Paul."

"Paul…what?"

"Paul…Smith."

"Paul Smith, huh? Hey, Paul. I'm Eddie. Eddie Brewster."

"Hi, Eddie. Look, I'm sorry I'm in your seat. If you want me to I could just…"

"No, it's cool. Stay there. I'll just sit in this one instead," Eddie decided as he plopped down in the chair to the left of the one Paul was in.

Paul gave a neutral nod and turned his attention to the front of the board. He didn't say anything and didn't really want much of a conversation, but hopes of a quiet class were soon dashed.

"You new around here?" Eddie asked, managing to sound friendly yet very quiet at the same time.

Paul turned his eyes to their corners so he saw a little bit of Eddie, but this was impossible to detect due to his goggles. "How'd you guess?"

Eddie forced a chuckle. "I haven't seen too many guys around here with green glasses."

"Heh. I'm sure."

"Hey, Paul? Where ya from?"

Paul was quiet for a split and tense second before answering, "I came from a city that's kinda far away from here."

"Which one? New York?"

"No. I don't really want to talk about it."

"Ahhh. Okay, dude. That's cool. That's cool."

Paul let out a stiff grunt and turned his attention back to the front of the room.

The fifty-minute lecture on trigonometry was soon over, and the start of the next class was underway. The trouble for Paul was that the next class was actually lunch. Initially, this wasn't a huge problem, but he soon found himself in an undesirable situation once he finally got his food.

While he was standing there with a tray of food (consisting of just a peanut butter and jelly sandwich with some milk), he saw that all of the tables in the crowded cafeteria were filled to capacity. He couldn't find any place to sit-not even a completely empty table where he could be all by himself.

Grrr…NOW where am I supposed to go, he asked himself as he scanned all the tables and hoped to find an opening.

He could see a few people were staring at him and possibly poking fun at him for wearing those goggles, but he didn't pay them much attention. He knew better than to react to small things that didn't matter.

After only a minute or so, he finally had a stroke of luck. When looking at all the tables, he saw one that seemed just as loaded as all the others, but there was one familiar face at it: Eddie.

Paul gulped and slowly treaded over to the table, where Eddie was laughing with all the other kids sitting at it. He repeatedly muttered, "I can't believe I'm doing this…alright, just gotta try to fit in. Just gotta try to fit in."

"Uh…Eddie?" Paul choked out.

Eddie turned his attention away from everyone at the table and looked around. He still looked just as calm as he did in Pre-Calc when he saw Paul. "Hey, Paul. What's up?"

"Uh…well…today's my first day and all, and you're the only one I've had a conversation with…actually I haven't really had one at all with you, but…"

"Oh, you wanna sit here?" he asked coolly while sounding as if he should have realized what Paul was getting at sooner. "No problem, buddy."

Buddy?! You haven't even known me for an hour! "Thanks."

Paul uneasily pulled a chair from another table and sat down with Eddie and his friends.

"You guys cool with Paul sitting here?" Eddie asked as he looked at all his friends at the table.

Everyone seemed fine with it. Most of them tried to look like they were welcoming him, although it was clear they were feeling a little odd about someone they've never met (and goggle-wearing) was sitting down at their table without them being told of it.

"Paul, this is Ralph," Eddie said as he pointed to the kid sitting to his left.

"Hey," Ralph answered. He was slightly on the pudgy side and had somewhat heavy, but neat brown hair.

"…that's Hailey," Eddie continued.

"Hi," said a slightly spunky girl with blond hair tied into a ponytail.

"…that's Ted."

"What's happenin', bro?" greeted Ted, a tall and skinny kid with a bit of a goofy face.

"…that's Kirk."

"Heeeey, what's shakin', bacon?" asked a boy who didn't look too athletic (but not very fat either) with dark hair.

"…and Christy."

"Hi, there," a thin girl with long brown hair warmly greeted.

"Hey, guys. Nice to meet you." Paul tried to say politely, despite the fact he put no emotion into it.

"You new here?" Kirk asked.

"Yeah."

"That's cool. Where you from?"

"I asked him this in Pre-Calc," Eddie interjected. "He doesn't want to talk about it."

"Hey, what's with the glasses?" Ralph spoke up at the very moment everyone finished welcoming him.

Paul stared at him for a few seconds while some of the other table members looked at Ralph like he had just said something rude.

"Heh…I'm not trying to make a fashion statement, I'll tell ya that much," Paul simply answered as he darted his eyes away.

"Then what are they for? You get impaled in the eyes with a nail or something?" Ralph persisted.

"Okay, we're eating!" Christy loudly said as she put both of her hands up.

"No, I was just asking," Ralph insisted.

"I don't want to talk about it," Paul simply answered as he took a sip of his milk.

Ralph stopped talking after that.

The entire table was kind of quiet as everyone thought about what they should be talking to Paul about. Paul, on the other hand, just tried to ignore them and continued eating away at his small lunch.

"Hey Paul, what kinda music do you listen to?" Ted spoke up after a while.

"Huh?...uh, I guess a little bit of this and that."

"Like, any special groups?"

"Not really, no."

"Whaaaaat?! Dude, how can't you have a favorite group?!"

"I dunno," Paul answered. "Why, what do you like?"

"Deh-neh-neeeeeeeeehhhhhhhhwwwwwwww!" Ted answered as he started moving his fingers around as he played a few strings on air-guitar. "The question isn't, 'What do I like". The question is: 'What don't I like?"

Paul stared at Ted while his mouth hung open a little.

Eddie let out a small chuckle. "It's a good thing for you that Paul's wearing those goggles, 'cause he's probably looking at you pret-ty weird right now."

"Ah, whatever," Ted smiled as he picked up his chicken salad sandwich and took a large bite out of it.

"No, I'm not," Paul muttered.

Kirk chuckled. "Ha. Two minutes and already he thinks you're a weirdo."

Ted quickly picked up a plastic spoon that Hailey was using to eat some cereal she bought at the school's store and scooped some of his tuna salad into it. In one swift motion, he pulled the spoon back and launched some of the food right onto Kirk's face.

Kirk went from looking laid back to very serious. "Hey! What the hell?!"

Ted laughed. "And now he thinks you're a mess."

Kirk snarled and glared at Ted for a few heated seconds before going back to his slice of pizza from the regular school menu.

Eddie looked over at Paul. "Yeah, we got a lot of weirdos at this table. You don't mind, do you?"

"No, they're fine."

Paul started eating normally again until he heard a horrified and angry gasp coming from next to him. He turned around and saw Christy staring at the screen of her cell phone as if she had just caught her boyfriend cheating on her.

"That bitch!" she screamed as she started mashing buttons on her phone. "Let's see how she likes paint from the art room smeared all over her windshield!"

"Uh…Christy?" Paul asked.

"Christy, you're giving Paul the creeps," Eddie said.

Not listening to a word either of them said, Christy looked up and said, "Veronica just said I dress like a slut! Can you believe it?! Me!"

There was an awkward silence before Eddie quietly said to Paul, "That's the only rule at this table: don't make Christy mad. She'll come after you like a dog chasing a steak truck."

"I heard that!" Christy loudly exclaimed.