Chapter 1

Sweat was dripping off my brow. My heart was beating faster than a professional drummer leading his troops to victory. The chase was on. I, an average fourteen year old boy named William Brown, could not be expected to do much more than pass school, sleep, and eat, but today, the entire world depended on me. Doomsday had arrived and terrorist forces had stolen the plans to making antimatter bombs from the United States. Many of our nation's allied countries were now parking lots. I was the last hope for humanity. I had snuck into the terrorist's main base and had stolen the plans for making the one bomb that would surely destroy the entire world.

Hot in pursuit were two heavily armed terrorist jets firing forty caliber machine guns just behind my feet. My heart was just about to give out from the ten miles I traveled but I knew that I had to survive to make the future a better place. Ducking and weaving through overhanging tree branches, I snuck a quick glance back to see that the jets were right behind me! Just when I thought my heart was going to give out, an emergency supply of adrenaline surged through my body. I could be easily running at five miles an hour! I was on top of the world; getting away while the jets had to stay above the treetop canopy. I could see a cave opening about fifty meters ahead! I was so close but so far yet I wasn't afraid. No, I could make it. I had to make it. Humanity depended on me getting away. Just twenty five meters now! I was almost there!

"Oof!" I exclaimed as I tripped on a conveniently place tree root. Groaning, I rolled over and saw that the jets were right behind me and soldiers were jumping out. My heart nearly burst from my chest just like one of the aliens from that one movie. I got up to run but collapsed all because of a sprained ankle. I could hear the march of the soldier's boots thundering through the ground like landmines as I was desperately crawling away. The sounds drew closer and closer as I grew weaker and weaker. Suddenly the marching stopped and was replaced by twelve high caliber guns cocking. Filled with dread I slowly looked back and saw the face of the terrorist leader. He grabbed my collar with his mammoth hand and lifted me up face to face with him. He struck me. Hard.

"Give me the plans sonny and I just might let you live," he said. His breath stunk of twenty cartons of cigarettes and stale Taco Bell.

Drawing the last of my strength I uttered, "I will never surrender to you filthy sons of ––"

"ARGH!" I cried as I found myself face down on the wooden floor with my left foot throbbing. It took a few seconds to completely wake up and a few more to realize that the unbelievably amazing adventure that just took place was a dream. Rubbing my foot I looked around to see what I "tripped" on in my dream.

"I must have stubbed my toe on the bedpost," I scoffed. "If it wasn't for that, I could've saved the entire world. Typical me." I groggily walked to the bathroom, brushed my teeth, and did other bathroom worthy duties. Putting on some fresh clothes, I walked down the stairs towards the kitchen where a godlike smell was wafting through the second floor.

"Mmmmm, the smell of frying bacon and syrupy waffles. My favorite," I said as my mouth salivated uncontrollably.

"A hearty breakfast for the first day of high school," my mother replied as I sat down to gorge my self on a meal fit for a king. My mood immediately dampened as I remembered that today marking the end of twelve hours of sleep and twelve hours of video games everyday.

"Ugh, don't remind me," I groaned with my mouth full of mashed up waffle and bacon wonder. "I'll probably trip or have my fly down the entire school day and embarrass myself establishing my reputation as "The First Day of School Loser."

"You'll do fine son. And don't talk with your mouth full. We taught you better than that," my father said with his entire upper body hidden behind a newspaper.

"Whatever," I replied nonchalantly while rolling my eyes.

"I see you rolling your eyes at me son," he said without ever putting down his newspaper. To this very day I still do not know how he does that. I finished my breakfast and started preparing for school. The doorbell rang and I ran to get it. It was my childhood friend Jenny. She had long black hair and big brown eyes. Her skin was lightly tanned and there was always a smile on her face. I met her when I was in Kindergarten and we had been best friends ever since. We did nearly everything together, good or bad. We had a friendly rivalry and she always had a tendency to tease me in public.

"Hi there, Dork!" she said with a smirk on her face.

"I told you not to call me that," I said in a particularly whiny voice. She heard my whine and pounced on me like a cat that had spotted a mouse.

"You're in high school and you're still a baby," she teased. I sighed and my parents came to the door.

"Oh, hi there Jenny. Happy first day of high school," my mom said smiling.

"Hi, Mr. and Mrs. Brown," Jenny replied.

"Well, go on kids, you're going to be late for school," my dad said. Jenny and I walked off to the school bus and got on.

"So how was your summer Jenny?" I asked.

"Ugh, I got grounded for a month yesterday for leaving the sink on. The drain was clogged too. It was an accident but I nearly flooded the entire bathroom!" she said.

"Ouch," I said sympathetically.

"Well, how was your summer?" she asked changing the subject

"It was nice. Twelve hours of sleep everyday and ten whole hours of no annoying teachers or ridiculous homework assignments!" I exclaimed. Everyone on the bus gave me a funny look and I sheepishly but quickly sank down in my seat.

"We're not even at school yet and you still made your self look dorky," Jenny teased.

"Ha-ha," I laughed dryly. "Look, we're here." The bus pulled up at the Independence High School and everyone got off. Jenny and I pulled out our schedules and we walked to a nearby school map.

"What's your first class?" Jenny asked. "Mine says Math in D-203."

"Mine is P.E.," I replied. "And according to this map, we're on opposite ends of the entire school!"

"Wow. That really sucks," she replied shaking her head. "Well, good luck anyways."

"Yeah, you too," I replied. We went our separate ways and I slowly walked towards the P.E. area, taking in the sights and smells of the high school but also thinking about Jenny. I hadn't seen her since the last day of school in the eighth grade. Our summer plans didn't really allow us to hang out together so today was my first glimpse of her in over two months and I had to say, she had really grown up. She was almost as tall as me now and I was about six feet tall. She was extremely beautiful and I had no doubt that she was going to be a very fine young woman. A loud school bell rang and broke me out of my thoughts. I was late!

***

I hurried off to the gym where we were supposed to meet. When I got there, I bumped into who might have been the most muscular gym teacher I had ever seen. His biceps were the size of my head and his abs almost ripped through his shirt! He was easily six and a half feet tall with broad shoulders, silvery white hair, and piercing blue eyes.

"WATCH WHERE YOU'RE GOING PUNK!" he yelled at me. His monstrously deep voice shook the entire gym and I was pretty sure that the Himalayan Mountains were having a massive avalanche and somewhere in the world, a herd of deer was looking in our direction.

"I'm sorry," I squeaked, cowering in a fetal position. The coach let out a booming laugh that set off yet another consecutive avalanche. I looked up with a mix of confusion and terror.

"I'm just joking, sonny. What's your name?" he asked in a surprisingly soft spoken voice that I didn't know was possible in a ridiculously muscular gym teacher.

"W-W-W-William," I gulped. I regained my composure. "Ahem, I mean William. Sir."

"Well hi there, William. Sorry for the scare there," he chuckled. "It's just a tradition of mine to freak out the freshman on their first day." He looked at his list.

"Come on in, it appears that I'm your coach." He walked inside the gym still laughing about his little scare. I followed thanking God that I did not pee in my pants. A second bell rang signaling the start of the period.

"Okay kids listen up! My name is Frank Silverstein. You will address me as Mr. Silverstein. For the first day of school, we will be playing dodge ball! There are fifteen balls on the gym floor. Those who do not have balls at the start of the game will have to pick them up throughout the game. Once you are hit, you will sit down until the next round. You may form teams no bigger than four people. On your marks, get set, GO!!!" he said in his loud, deep voice triggering the third and hopefully the last avalanche in the Himalayas. On the battlefield of flying balls, I met up with my friends Alex and Kevin, who liked to be called Belleville. Alex was Chinese with glasses and semi-long hair and Kevin was Caucasian with shorter hair and brown eyes. We teamed up, decimated all opposing players and won every single round. By the end of the period we were known as the kings of dodge ball. Finally the bell rang for the end of second period and the kings of dodge ball went their separate ways.

"Okay… My next class is Physics in K-312," I said to no one in particular. I walked briskly to the classroom which was quite far away. Upon entering I was surprised to see a suit of armor on the wall. Naturally curious, I set down my backpack and went to investigate. It was real and made of stainless steel. I tapped and touched to my heart's content. More students came in and a crowd began to from around the suit of armor. No one noticed that the Physics teacher was nowhere to be found. The bell rang to start the class but the teacher still wasn't here. We didn't care and kept ooh-ing and ah-ing over the suit of armor like moths to a flame. Suddenly, without warning, the suit of armor moved! Cries and screams of surprise and horror were uttered by a vast majority of the students. The cries included a few words that are not appropriate in a high school. I backed up against a table and the suit of armor turned towards me. It reached out with its arm and began to approach. I was scrambling backwards but was barricaded by the table. The armor was an inch away from me. I was gasping and spazzing out while the other students were huddled back against the wall.

"Booooooo," said the knight in a ghastly voice. The following scream was the loudest, shrillest and sadly, most embarrassing sound to have left the confines of my vocal chords.

"AAAAAAAAAAAUUUUUUUUUGGGGHHHHH!!!!!!!!!!" I screamed. Apparently it shocked the suit of armor so much that it stumbled backwards into a table. Adrenaline spiked through my veins and in a flash, I was on him clawing and tearing at the armor. I ripped off his helmet and saw an elderly man's face. He was balding and had a white beard and hazel eyes. Unfortunately, I was too pumped up to care. I would have probably poked his eyes out if he hadn't yelled out.

"Stop, stop, stop!!! I'm your Physics teacher!!!" he exclaimed with a half-smile half-frown that asked, "Should I be laughing or scared for my life?" I froze and slowly retracted my clawed hand from in front of his eyeballs. Crickets chirped for the longest time. Finally, a few sparse laughs broke the silence that I wished would last forever. The sparse laughter grew and grew like a tumor until it was a roar lasting for at least five minutes. Eventually, even I joined in with nervous laughter but in my mind, I was mentally slapping myself for being such a dork.

"Well, I certainly know not to mess with this guy!" said the knight. We laughed for a while more and then he introduced himself as Mr. Briber. He assigned us all our seats and we sat down still giggling. More specifically, the rest of the class was giggling while my face was so hot, I might as well have been Ghost Rider. Mr. Briber then explained to us what the suit of armor was for other than looking cool and awesome. He brought out a large cylindrical device called a Tesla coil. He told us all to step back and he put the suit back on. From a safe, but still awesome, distance, he turned the coil on and was shocked repeatedly with bolts of lightning. Every time the coil generated electricity, the lightning would be drawn to the armor and it would make a unique buzzing sound. If that wasn't cool enough, Mr. Briber started to play music using the Tesla coil and the armor. By then we were all cheering and screaming and doing all sorts of loud compliments. Time flew and the bell rang signaling the end of third period. By then, everyone forgot about my spasm in the beginning of the period so I could begin anew.

***

Break was next. I walked to the center of the school looking lost and out of place. Wandering around aimlessly, I finally spotted a group of people I knew. They were under a shady tree and all talking and laughing just like old times. The scene provoked a smile as I made my way towards them. "Hi's" and "How are you's" were exchanged and in a flash I was one of the people talking the most. Everyone from middle school was there: Belleville, Alex, Jia, Richard, Jasmine and Jenny. Exactly like old times. Jia was a Chinese girl with brown hair of medium length. Jasmine was a Filipino girl with long black hair and twinkling brown eyes. Richard was a Chinese boy who wore glasses and many interesting T-shirts. I felt like high school wasn't going to be as bad after all. Suddenly, Jenny beckoned me over to have a private conversation. Confusion, curiosity, and a little paranoia crept into my mind but I followed her anyways.

"What's the matter Jenny? Is something wrong?" I asked.

"Umm, no…" she replied, suddenly extremely interested in the color of her shoes.

"Come on, you can trust me," I said. "Spill the beans."

"Well… Do you think I'm cute?" she asked hesitantly. I missed the hint.

"Come on Jenny. You and I both know that you're the hottest girl in this school," I replied with a smirk.

"Seriously! I mean… Do you like me? As in like me, like me?" The question was blunt and was aimed right at me but I still didn't quite catch it.

"Sure Jenny! I love you!" I replied trying hard to keep a straight face. By now she was hopping with frustration and nervousness.

"Stop beating around the bush. If you want to ask me something then ask me," I stated in a tone that could have been a lot less arrogant and a lot more sweet and gentle.

"Will you be my boyfriend?" she whispered. I didn't quite hear her question.

"What?" I asked.

"Will you be my boyfriend?" she asked a little bit louder. I heard it that time.

"What??" I asked, shocked.

"Will you be my boyfriend?!!!" she practically yelled. All chatter in our immediate vicinity stopped. Everyone turned to stare, to hear my answer, but I didn't see them. For me, time and space stood still. That single question froze me solid faster than a vat of liquid nitrogen being dumped on my body. She was my best friend ever since I could walk and talk. She was the person I confided my deepest secrets in and now, she suddenly asked the question that I could have never seen coming.

"Will you be my boyfriend…? Will you be my boyfriend…?" That single question echoed around my head as I struggled to comprehend its meaning. It was so broad yet so accurate. It hit me like a baseball bat yet shredded me to pieces. My heart was beating like it had a caffeine overdose and my brain was about to explode from the pressure. Questions and answers started up a devastating war that seemed to last an eternity but in reality, it was only a couple of seconds. Everything depended on my next move. Finally, answers won the war and the sole survivor was this.

"Yes," I said with newfound confidence, newfound passion triggering a wave of "Aww's." I was suddenly aware of the huge crowd that had formed around our love scene but I didn't care. Everything was right in the world. Jenny smiled a smile that was an attempt to hide the fact that inside, her heart burst into tears of happiness and I could sense a massive weight being lifted off her shoulders. She stood tall, proud, and gave me a small kiss. It was just a kiss but right now, it could have been the key to the entire world and I treasured it forever. This kiss sealed the mutual agreement that we would both be there for each other through thick and thin and no matter what happened, there would always be something deep between us. I stumbled back in the cliché post-kissing scene where the boy is dazed and confused. Fortunately a crowd of friends and strangers were there to catch me. "Good job's" and "Nice one's" were whispered as they shoved me back towards my new girlfriend. We stood there awkwardly smiling and hugging until finally, the bell rang signaling the end of our little love scene. The crowd dispersed and Jenny and I were left alone to say good bye. We hugged and went our separate ways, never forgetting what just happened.

***

My next period was Math which was my strong point but I couldn't focus. My mind was clouded with thoughts about Jenny. Now that I thought about it, Jenny's sudden question didn't seem so sudden anymore. She was always there for me and I for her. She always laughed at my jokes no matter how lame they were and I always felt a special connection with her. I guess I had always liked her but it took Jenny's courage to pop the question to make me realize that. An hour passed by and I was on to my next class which was English. When I got there I was surprised to see that Jenny had the same class as me.

"Will!" she exclaimed and ran towards me in a hug. I returned the embrace and escorted her into the classroom. The teacher told us to find a seat and introduced himself as Mr. Pollock.

"Okay class today, we'll be doing some writing. You can write anything you want: a short story, a poem, and etcetera. You have forty minutes and the remaining twenty are for those who wish to share what they wrote. You may begin." the teacher said. I had just the poem in mind. Writing poetry was one of my hobbies and I had written it during the summer not knowing that in the not so distant future, it would actually be of use to me in such a situation. I spent the forty minutes remembering the poem and editing it to best express my feelings. When the forty minutes were up and Mr. Pollock asked for volunteers, I was the first to raise my hand. I stepped in front of the class.

"This poem is for Jenny," I said with a sheepish smile. In her seat, she blushed furiously and managed a small smile. "It is called 'She Who Saw Beautiful Things.' Enjoy," I said.

"She who saw beautiful things once said,

That she could see the life within the dead.

She saw the glimmer of truth in lies,

She saw the earth in the bright blue skies.

She turned to me with awe and wonder,

Watching the lightning, hearing the thunder.

Waiting for her telephone to ring,

She who saw beautiful things.

She watched the sands of time fall fast,

Slipping down the sides of the hourglass.

She watched the seasons change with glee,

Yet her eyes were filled with mystery.

It seemed as though she looked into your soul,

Like she conversed with the gods of old.

Waiting for the seraphs to sing,

She who saw beautiful things.

She was the light hidden in the dark,

Within her eyes there was always a spark.

She was the yin and she was the yang,

And when she laughed, the bluebirds sang.

She had no worry she had no fear,

She had no panic, though Death was near.

Waiting for the answers life would bring,

She who saw beautiful things.

She saw the excuses I was trying to make,

Remained unshaken when she heard my heart break.

Knew that I meant it when I apologized,

Like she read my mind when she looked into my eyes.

Her grace has helped injured birds to fly,

Her boundless innocence has made the strongest men cry.

While she was waiting and listening,

She who saw beautiful things."

The room erupted in applause and cheers but none was louder than Jenny's. I bowed and took my seat, heart pounding from what I just did.

"Well class, it seems that we have been blessed with the next William Shakespeare," Mr. Pollock teased but obviously impressed. The class laughed and applauded once more and other students went up to read their works. When the period ended, the first thing Jenny did was hug me. She was crying and her tears vanquished all my fears. We walked together, holding hands and exploring the schools. We talked about how much we cared for each other and how we would always be there for one another. Jenny also told me that she had been crushing on me since middle school. Thinking back, I think that the same could be said for me. I never thought that one day, my childhood friend would grow to be my girlfriend. I guess a lot changes when you grow older. The bell rang and lunch was over. I walked her to her next class then went to my own. My last two classes were a blur. I couldn't concentrate on anything except Jenny. Then I remembered that Jenny was grounded for a month. That was like a knife to the heart. We couldn't see each other for an entire month outside school. I finished the rest of my classes in a dark mood. It was like life was over for me, like I was dead. I had just been introduced to what love really was and now, a greater force stepped in and took it away. Now, I was without love and without feeling.

School ended causing all the students to cheer but I did not have the energy to speak. I walked to the bus stop with my head down. All of a sudden a voice cut through the darkness.

"Will!" said a voice very familiar to me.

"Will!" It was Jenny! My head shot up and hit something as hard as bone. Rubbing my head, I was grabbed by powerful hands. I looked up and stared in the eyes of an angry bull.

"Did… You… Hit… My… GIRLFRIEND???!!!" yelled a boy that could have been the miniature of Coach Silverstein. I looked down and realized the hard object I hit my head on was a very tall girl that was standing next to me. My head must have hit her chin and knocked her out. I shook my head and protested desperately but the mammoth threw me like a baseball.

"OOF!" I landed hard and had the wind knocked out of me.

"NO! Stop! Don't do that!" I heard Jenny scream but just barely. I tried to stand up but I doubled over trying to catch my breath. All of a sudden, Jenny screamed again.

"WILL, LOOK OUT!!!" That was the last thing I heard. I turned my head and the last thing I saw was the front end of a truck.