The piercing blare of the alarm clock was enough to wake the dead.
Nicholas jolts out of his slumber, his face inches away from the source of the noise.
Groggily, he lifts a hand to smack the snooze button, but in doing so misses, the clock tumbling off the nightstand.
It clatters to the hardwood floor, skidding a few feet before it is stopped by its own power cord.
That it was still intact after its fall was a testament to the sadism of the person who'd created it.
The slap earlier had turned off the alarm, but unfortunately, had turned on the radio instead.
" - still baffled by the seismic activity, calling it unprecedented, officials are warning everyone to st-"
"Turn that thing off!" A muffled, feminine cry comes from the other side of the house.
" – roads have been closed in response to the –"
Throwing half of his body off the bed, nearly banging his head against the nightstand in his stupor, Nicholas grabs the cord to the alarm clock and yanks it closer with more strength than is necessary. As it hits the underside of his bed, he sighs dramatically. With another curse, and another yank, he lifts the alarm clock and finally turns it off.
"THANK you!" That same feminine voice calls out. "Trying to sleep here!"
"Must be nice!" Nicholas yells back, still half-awake, and thus the response is probably louder than intended.
Practically skidding into his doorway comes Michelle, clearly confrontational by the annoyed look on her face. Wearing pink pajamas, a bit ratty due to it being clearly a size too small, it's obvious that she's the older of the two. Her blonde hair and green eyes are a stark contrast to Nicholas's brown hair and blue eyes. She has a number of tattoos, just barely visible from what little flesh her pajamas expose. Anyone who saw them together wouldn't guess they were siblings. "What did you say?"
"Party too hard last night?" Nicholas responds sarcastically.
"Oh, as if you're such a saint!" Michelle cries out.
"More saint than you, Satan. Aren't you too old to be at home?" Nicholas growls at her, climbing slowly out of bed. Not so much because he wants to at this point, but more because he feels the need to be on his guard now. Inwardly, he's thankful he remembered to at least put on pajama bottoms. "Can you get out of my room?"
"I'm not even in your room."
"Well, you're in the doorway."
With a roll of her eyes and a rude gesture, Michelle turns to walk down the hall, her voice echoing as she speaks. "If you're late, don't beg me to take you to school, brat."
Finally left alone, Nicholas shuffles into his bathroom, still trying to wake up. Turning on the water inside, he simply climbs into the shower, the cold water immediately snapping him fully conscious. He shudders and leans in to move the water temperature higher, hoping it'll make the water warmer faster. It does the trick, but the temperature quickly rises to boiling lava hot. With a startled yelp, he quickly regulates it to something that won't feel like he's melting his skin from his bones. Once done showering, he jumps out and wraps himself in a towel, walking back into his bedroom.
Nicholas's room isn't particularly large, but it's big enough that he has some privacy. A twin bed, a desk with a single chair, and a dresser take up most of the floor space, with the only other doors linked to his bathroom and his closet. The walls, painted a sky blue, are the leftovers from his childhood. If one were to look closely, they could see the remnants of what used to be fluffy white clouds painted over. A single window looks out over the backyard. Through it, Nicholas can see the nearby retention pond, just in view of a sign buried in the ground that warns people not to swim in it.
Crossing the room to his closet, Nicholas digs around in a pile of what's probably 'lightly used' clothes: not too smelly so as to be noticed, but not worn enough times to warrant a presence in the hamper near his door. Putting on dark blue baggy jeans, and a red t-shirt, Nicholas starts to look more like the typical high school student. He checks himself in the mirror before stepping out the door.
Glancing at his wristwatch, Nicholas checks the time and quickly grabs his skateboard and backpack. "Too late for breakfast again," he mutters to himself, jumping onto the board to take advantage of the gentle decline the driveway offers. His home is one of several in a cul-de-sac, but each home has the same sort of manufactured look to them. Aesthetically, they are pleasing to the eye, but with only a few designs.
Just barely in time to catch the bus as its brakes noisily bring it to a halt at the end of his street, Nicholas kicks his skateboard up to his hand and climbs aboard.
Spotting his friend seated in the back, Nicholas makes his way down the center aisle, squeezing past some legs. A few inches taller, with hair cut close to the scalp, his friend Darius is very much the stereotypical jock, with his mind on his body, and so he's well-built. His milk chocolate brown skin stands out among his peers, who are predominantly white.
With the bus accelerating, it's slow going for Nicholas, but he soon settles down into the backseat with his friend. "You know, Darius, you're not really taking advantage of the whole Rosa Parks thing."
"Yeah, yeah. By the time the bus gets to my stop, this place is already packed full. Don't have a whole lot of choice," Darius grins, nudging his friend in the side with an elbow.
Rubbing his ribs lightly in response, Nicholas leans back comfortably, or as comfortably as he can in the stiff school bus seat, setting his backpack onto his lap. "So, did you ever hear back from that college?"
"Sure did. And get this," Darius says, grinning wide and resting a hand against Nicholas's shoulder to shake him a bit, adding emphasis to his excitement. "I got accepted!"
"Dude!" Nicholas calls out, genuinely surprised. The two bump fists in a friendly, celebratory gesture.
Darius chuckles, leaning back and folding his arms behind his neck, attempting to get more comfortable, but mid-movement the bus hits a bump that forces him to drop his arms again. "I mean, I was.. kinda expecting to get accepted, but man, my parents were stoked. My dad.. he was alma mater there, y'know. He said during his time there he majored in beer, co-eds, and law. Depends on if you ask him when my mom is around or not."
"Man, it's a shame you're going to be gone," Nicholas admits. "But I'm happy for you."
"Oh, c'mon, don't get all teary eyed on me," Darius says. "I'll only be a few hours away."
"Oh, I dunno," Nicholas smiles. "Might have to start looking for a new best friend."
With the bus arriving to school and squealing to a slow stop, the door opens and the students disembark one by one, heading down the walkway toward the front doors of the school. The halls inside are even noisier than the bus with the presence of more teenagers.
Upon entry into the hallway, Darius and Nicholas are immediately confronted by a diminutive, albeit excited, girl: her green eyes and bushy, unkempt black hair are accentuated by her tan skin and freckles, the latter hidden somewhat behind the thin wire-frame of glasses. Judging by her size, a head smaller than Nicholas, one might expect her to be a timid sort of girl. Instead, she's practically bursting with a charisma befitting someone older and a few feet taller.
"We got invited to the party!" She squeals, leaping up to throw her arms around Darius, hanging off him like a pendulum. "I didn't think they'd invite a sophomore like me."
Reaching a hand out to grab Darius's backpack, now properly on his back, Nicholas helps to balance the two so they don't topple forward. "What party?"
"This one!" Sophia releases Darius, but only to pull a paper out. It has a set of numbers on it, though judging by the look on both of the men's faces, neither of them are understanding. "They're coordinates," she whispers to the two.
"Coordinates to what?" Darius whispers back, still visibly muddled.
Sophia smiles, voice low. ".. Buckhorn Mountain."
Nicholas lets out a gentle 'oh'. "I guess they're throwing it early this year." He looks at Darius, who is still visibly confused. "Every senior class camps out there at the end of the year. I'm surprised you didn't know about it. It's right up your alley. Tons of loud music, girls and booze." He glances over at Sophia, suddenly realizing. "Aren't you a little young to be drinking?"
"Relax, mom. I'm not that much younger than you," Sophia huffs, pushing against Nicholas's chest, before she turns around to rush off. "It's tomorrow! We should go together!" She calls back, before disappearing into the crowd. Considering her height compared to her peers, once she's gone, she's impossible to find again.
Nicholas sighs, turning his attention over to Darius again. "Are we going to this thing? With Sophia?"
Darius grins, shaking his head slowly. "Cut her some slack. We'll be doing her a favor if we take her with us. Besides, she knows we're going to be gone soon. She probably wants to spend some time with us before we're out of here."
Nicholas looks toward the crowd, spotting one particular girl with blonde hair and blue eyes. "Yeah. You're probably right. Maybe I'm just thinking too much about it."
Any further thoughts or words are quickly drowned out by the sound of the bell, signaling that the first period of classes has begun. "Counting down the days." Nicholas says, curling fingers into a fist and extending his arm toward Darius. Without missing a beat, his friend nods and returns the gesture, the two bumping fists together. Pulling his backpack over his shoulders and preparing to turn away, Darius nods. "See ya later, Nick."