Chapter 1- Early Mornings & Strange Meetings

Now that I look back on it, my last year of school was…. odd to say the least. I had spent so much time avoiding people and shutting out the world that I had half-expected my final year to be as painless and uneventful as all the others and I mean could you have blamed me? A new school every year, always filled with the same types of people I despised. Those who obsessed over their looks, those who wanted to find their 'true love' in high school, those who where focused solely on exams, those who focus solely on each other bodies, those who rebelled by fighting people, those who bullied to make themselves feel better, those who moaned and cried about how unfair it all was... and worst of all, those who put on a fake smiles and pretended everything was fine. I had had enough of school by the time of my final year. Those mannequins with their perfect life's, with their masks and ulterior motives. I felt I couldn't trust any of them, but I would later discover how naive I really was. I would meet someone so strange that would completely change my view on the world and myself.I would discover I could be a nice guy, when forced to be and I would even get a girlfriend, but you know what they say "Love Hurts" though no one told me I wasn't meant to take it literally….

I arrived at the front gate of Thornton academy early in the morning, sleepily walking past the large stone arches into the main campus. I was greeted with the utter silence of an empty playground, though playground was perhaps the wrong choice of words, as the grey asphalt looked like it had barely been trodden on, let alone played on, with sleep still clogging my mind I couldn't summon up the effort to imagine the reasons for the lack of people on the grounds. I simply stumbled through the grey yard towards what I assumed to be the main building. As I neared the large building I had to admit the stone structure was something to behold. Three stories tall with large glass windows spread out on each floor, polished to a mirror shine, the brown sandstone clean and smooth with no plant or fungi to speak of . However, what I found most interesting was the sizeable flight of stairs which led up to the building's entrance.

It seemed almost like a test or perhaps a symbol of some kind, only made clearer by the fact, at the bottom of the stairs stood a rather large copper statue of a man in an old fashion pin stripe suit, the statue cut an imposing figure, the balding middle-aged man peered down at me, his sunken-in eyes beady and unnerving . Under the statue lay a plaque which read as follows. "TODD THORNTON – FIRST COLLEGE CHAIRMAN – 1912 to the plaque, there was a quote from the man himself. "True equality is anarchy, not all men are born equal, some are just stones on which greater men must step"- 1968. While I found the quote rather old-fashioned, I couldn't help at the time but to agree with one part of it 'not all men are born equal'. At the time I was a strong believer in idea that the circumstances of people's upbringings weren't exactly fair and affected their standard of living. However, I didn't have time to muse over the unfairness of life and it inequalities, I needed to register, the last thing I wanted was to be late or cause trouble on my first day. So, I quickly bypassed the statue and made my way to the Chester oak double doors of the building's entrance. As I opened the large doors and took my first tentative steps inside, I was greeted with yet more silence. 'Strange' I thought. 'Where is everyone, I made sure I had the right time for the start of school and I didn't sleep in…hmm…this place is odd, to say the least, I better just try and find registration'. And so, I did try, I wandered aimlessly through the pristine white corridors for close to 20 minutes. The school looked the same no matter where I went. Always neatly organised blue lockers that flanked either side of chalky white corridors, with row after row of doors hidden between the lockers with subject names like "chemistry, math's and English" printed on top in gold print. No matter how long I searched there was still no sign of registration and as my search continued I soon felt my body becoming weighed down by a lack of sleep and increasing irritation.

Just as I was about to give up and go home, one of the side doors I was passing began to open. Out of pure reflex I almost hid, but then quickly realised how stupid that would look. I then decided on the advance strategy of standing stock still. I remind frozen rooted to the spot in the middle of the corridor. The handle of the door began to twist, then the door slowly opened to reveal... a girl. My immediate course of action was to scan him, seeing if he was perhaps a possible threat. This was a habit I had developed a few years back, when I kept the company of less honourable people .The girl had brown hair and blue eyes and a puzzled look on her face. "Who are you?" she asked in a confused tone of voice. "I'm Johnathan, I'm new here, just started today in fact," I said in as polite and non-threatening voice as I could manage. I watched as her expression snapped suddenly from a confused questioning look to the picture-perfect white smile. "Oh, I'm sorry for my rudeness, I'm Katherine, nice to meet you," she said daintily offering out her hand. "Likewise," I said as I grasped her hand "I'm glad I finally found someone, I'm trying to get to reception". "Oh yeah, this building can be quite hard to navigate if you don't know your way around, don't worry I'll show you where it is," she said leading the way as he began to walk. My first opinion of this 'Katherine' was, as I imagine like many others, she seemed pretty, that I'll admit gave me some immediate interest in her, she was thin and very elegant with her auburn hair tied back into a ponytail, she looked mature she could have most likely past for much older than just 17. However, there was also something off about her, don't get me wrong, she seemed a nice…. good looking and very polite, Which usually would have made me hate her, as I had always found people who looked and act perfect hard to relate to, but for some reason, I was drawn to her. Her eyes, a piercing blue, held a softness, I don't think I had seen before.

"So…" I asked to break the silence as we walked "Why is there no one around, did something happen?" As I asked this I saw her walk falter for a fraction of second before she quickly regained her step. "Oh... Nothing happened, just most of the school is away on a day trip". As she spoke I saw her smile drop from her face yet again, her lips forming a hardline of resignation and acceptance. "Is that so, if that's the case why are you still here?" I asked her, treading lightly in case it was a touchy subject. "Uhm..., well you see, I wasn't permitted to go on this trip," she said with a solemn expression. "the fact is my families' dirt poor, and you have to pay to go". "Oh... I'm sorry, I shouldn't have been so tactless in asking you". I said feeling slightly guilty forcing her to tell me that. I could have guessed it was not something she wanted to talk about. "No-no don't worry about it," she said as she waved it off casually. "I'm not ashamed of being poor, if I was I wouldn't last two minutes in this school" again the simile tripped.

"Is the school not very understanding about your finical situation?" I asked now more curious than ever about the strange school. "Well what can you expect, I'm just a stepping stone" she said in a harsh whisper I could barely hear.

Then as if she suddenly just realised what she had said, she quickly and nervously began to backtrack "Uhm… what I mean to say is that I couldn't afford to go, that's it, and besides it just means I get a head start on studying" she said with a forced laugh. "So anyway, that's enough about me, what about you?" she asked deflecting the conversation away from herself. "What about me?" I ask as I was slightly taken aback by her sudden deflection of the previous topic. "Well... for one, why did you decided to come to school here?" she questioned. "Decide is the wrong word, more like forced," I said trying not to give too much away. "What do you mean forced?" she asked seemingly intrigued. "What I mean is I've been 'asked to leave' all other schools in the surrounding area, this is the only one left," I said matter-of-factly. For the first time, I saw a genuine look of surprise on her face. "Why where you asked to leave?" she said even more interested. "let's just say I had trouble keeping out of trouble, and that some of that trouble ended in people or school property being damaged," I said trying to not make a big deal out of it, when I saw her pale and a slight look of terror come across her face I quickly added. "But don't worry I'm not here to cause any trouble, contrary to popular belief I hate fights". As I spoke I saw her face begin to relax a bit"Oh, that a relief" she said with a sigh "But I've got to say it's weird you're a delinquent, you seem so…... normal". "there ain't no such thing as normal" I said laughing at her assessment of me, until...I realised what else he said."HEY I AM NOT A DELINQUENT!" I shout feeling slightly offended. "Oh 'sure you're not' and I'm guessing guys just always run into your fists," she said sarcastically. "They do," I said trying to defend myself "I'm just always in the wrong place in the wrong time". "Yeah okay, whatever you say, pal…. anyway, here's the registration office" she said pointing to a door along the corridor with the words 'REGISTRATION' printed in block capitals on the door. "Thanks for your help," I said grateful for the assistance and the information about the school. "No problem, hope to see you around Mr. delinquent," she said in a cheery voice as she turned to leave. "I'M NOT A DELINQUENT" I shout at her retreating figure. All I could think as I walked towards the registration office was 'this school is going to be an odd one. But…who knows, it might be interesting'.

A young man sits on a hilltop, the man is dressed smartly in a two piece grey suit, in the man's hand lay an old and withered envelope.

I received a letter from an old friend of mine. Well...when I say I received a letter, I actually was handed a letter that was over 17 years old. This being the downside of not have a consistent address. But when I opened and skimmed its content. I deeply wished I had gotten to it sooner. The letter went as follows...

Dear Solomon,

It's been far too long since we've talked old friend. As I begin to feel myself getting old, I often find myself missing your strange (I mean unique) mannerisms. But I also know you'd be very disappointed at the sorry state of a man I've become. I am ashamed to say I haven't been able to keep up with training. In fact, I feel as though I'm getting weaker at an alarming rate...perhaps that just the reality of ageing. I suppose in that regard I'm kinda jealous of you...

But, that's beside the point, I actually wrote this letter to tell you...WE HAD A KID! Can you believe it? I sure as hell can't, he's so small and just SO CUTE! I've attached a picture tell me, how cute is he? JUST ADORABLE RIGHT!

Anyway, I just wanted to share my happiness with you, my friend. I know you keep telling me your perfectly 'content' but I still haven't given up hope that you'll come and visit us( You know Maria would die to meet you). Maybe someday right?

Well...a guy can dream. I don't even know if you'll get this. You could really use a permanent address, I don't even know where I'm going to mail this, oh well it doesn't matter. Just wanted to brag about my SON! (I still can't believe I'm a dad) and also nag you about coming to visit( preferably sometime within the next 5 decades)

Sincerely,

your faithful friend

Irish

P.S - The boys' name is Johnathan.

I reread the letter then looked at the worn Polaroid photo, which held a small bundle of wool and flesh cradled in a young woman's arms. I have n't felt this bad in a long time. Of course, I, couldn't have known about the letter before I got it. But the fact that 17 years have passed has proved his point rather ironically. What had I been doing for the past 17 years? The answer was simple. I was doing what I have always done, wandering around the globe honing my skills. Which while It may not have been the worst use of time, this letter proved to me I need to interact with others more, and while I would be 17 years late. I felt it was only fitting I pay that visit to my old friend and he most certainly would be old at this point. But it seems I had been caught up in my planning too much, as it took me a surprising amount of time to notice the three men sneaking up behind me. Only when they were a few feet away had my mind registered their presence, which I suppose is what happens when I become distracted. I simply sat rooted in the same spot, waiting as the three men approached and when they attacked...

Three men in all black launched themselves at the young man, each brandished some form of a blade and at near-superhuman speed slashed at the young man. However, as the men in Black launched their blades towards the young man's flesh...the young man disappeared from view and seconds later reappeared two leagues away from the men, somehow brandishing a small wooden weapon. The confusion on the three killers faces was quickly replaced with one of pain and then dull unconsciousness. As the third man fell to the ground with a hard 'thud' the young man turned his back, put his makeshift weapon back in his coat and began his long walk from his distant land to his old friend's house.

END OF CHAPTER ONE