Echoes of Power
Parts 1 – 5
When you think things are going perfectly well in your life, there is always something that comes tumbling in and ruins everything. That’s a lesson I’ve learned over the years and that has always proved to be true. Well, except perhaps that one time near the temple, but that’s not a story for me to tell you, at least not yet. It happened to me a good number of times, though I didn’t really pay attention to it for the most part of my life until the day she died. I don’t mean to say that I’ve become bitter because of that and that I don’t see the fun in life anymore, I still do, but I also know that fun can’t last forever. That’s why I make the most of it while it’s there. Anyway, one of the first times something like this happened, Bryan and I were still in highschool, I think it we were in our third year which had just begun.
The alarm had already begun ringing for the eleventh time when Alexandre Parson, still half asleep, finally managed to move his arm and groggily turn it off.
“Ugh…” He exclaimed, letting out a deep sigh as he rolled on his back and slowly opened his eyes.
07:14. The time was projected in large blue letters by his alarm clock on the white surface of the ceiling. The teenager looked at the time for a long moment, which seemed like an eternity to him, after which the number for the minutes incremented by one and he let out another heavy sigh. He contemplated the thought of staying in bed and going back to sleep, it seemed so attractive to him and so wonderfully comfortable. But he shook his head, ruffling his short light brown hair slightly as he did so, and rubbed his eyes before rising into a sitting position.
“Damn it” He groaned as he pulled the covers aside.
Under any other circumstance he would’ve stayed in bed for the next fifteen to twenty minutes and then he would’ve gotten up and rushed to wash his face and eat a quick breakfast. But not that morning, no, today was special and he didn’t want to have to rush. Plus he wanted to be at least a minimum presentable before getting to school. After all it was the first day of school of the year, he had to at least make an effort for that occasion…
Alexandre walked towards the bathroom, rubbing his shoulders with his hand as he yawned. He took a few seconds to look at his reflection in the mirror, his brownish grey eyes seemed sleepy and his mouth was still half gaping. Wow, who’s that sexy guy? He thought with a silent chuckle before splashing his face with cold water to wake himself up. It worked very well, perhaps a bit too well even, he had a sharp intake of air and hit his knee on the sink as the cold water took him by surprise.
“Damn it!” He swore again, loudly, as he massaged his knee to dull the pain.
Once the throbbing began to fade away the teenager quickly proceeded to wash his face and to shave the patch of body hair that was starting to become visible under his nose. Then he dried himself and walked down the stairs into the kitchen before preparing himself something to eat. His usual breakfast on school days consisted in a simple bowl of cereals with cool milk and a glass of orange juice, whereas during the weekends he preferred to eat something more elaborate to make a contrast between the two. Usually varying from different types pastry to virtually any easy meal that could be cooked in less than five minutes. Alexandre was almost finished eating when his father stumbled in the room and sat down heavily at the table, still half asleep.
“Hey dad!” He greeted the older man with a smile, to which his father replied with an unintelligible grunt as he poured himself a large glass of juice.
“Well, good to see you too but I have got to run or I’m going to be late!” The teenager exclaimed as he hugged his still sleeping father before he ran up the stairs again to brush his teeth.
Once this was done he went back to his room, grabbed his jacket and his backpack before rushing back downstairs. He hurriedly put on his shoes and ran out, wishing a good day to his still sleeping father and slamming the door behind him as he jumped on the sidewalk.
David Parson was a tall salt-and-pepper-haired man in his early fifties who had given up sports a long time ago but still retained a remarkably fit silhouette. He worked as a software and hardware technician for a small local company, his job consisted in responding to the emergencies that any business in the area might have. His calls were often long and at any time of the day or the night, which explained his difficulty to get up early on most days. The older man replied to his son with another grunt before focusing back on his coffee and buttered bread.
Alexandre started running as soon as his feet touched the pavement. He was going at a moderate pace, even if he knew he wasn’t late at all he still wanted to get there on time. Usually it took him a quarter of an hour while walking at a normal pace and barely five minutes by sprinting. He still had almost twenty minutes before classes, which was far enough by any estimation, but still he had decided to run. As he passed by the shopping district he took a right, following New Odel Road which led directly to Bartholomée Santana Highschool. He was barely halfway through the road he usually took to go to school when hear a voice call his name from behind. From the corner of his eye the teenager saw his long time best friend quickly catch up with him on a bike.
“Hey Alex!” Called the tall and dark-skinned teenager.
“Hi Bryan.” Replied Alexandre with a smile as he quickened his pace slightly to follow the other teen.
Bryan Vogt was a tall young man with tan skin and clear blue eyes, he had his hair cut longer than his friend, it stopped in the middle of his neck and seemed to be brushed in a faux-messy style. He was well-built for his age due to his regular martial arts training since he was a young boy and was just a bit smaller than the light-haired teenager at a meter eighty-two. All this added to his extrovert personality and his almost-permanent bright smile earned him quite a lot of attention from the other students, especially the girls, or so had noticed his friend. Alexandre and him had been best friends since middle school, they had met during the summer before their second year of middle school at a summer camp and had been almost inseparable since then.
“Might you be in a hurry?” Asked the dark-haired teenager with a mocking smile as he slowed down slightly.
“You know I hate being late!” Replied Alexandre as he put his bag back in place on his shoulder. “Plus I’d like to get my pass as soon as we get there, I don’t wanna have to wait half an hour for that piece of plastic before lunch…” He added as he took a deep breath.
“Oh good idea!” Exclaimed his friend as he snapped his finger. “What would I do without you…?” He added with a smile.
“Nothing much I- Hey!” Alexandre barely had the time to begin his sentence before his friend suddenly accelerated and left him far behind in a matter of seconds.
“See ya there, slow poke!” Shouted the tan young man as he disappeared along the large road leading to the school.
Alexandre noticed a few passersby turn around to look at his friend, this made him chuckle. This was a good summary of people’s reaction when they met Bryan, he had always been very active and loud. The teenager slowly accelerated into a full sprint after seeing his friend disappear in the distance, he knew he wasn’t late but for once a bit of exercise didn’t seem to annoy him, on the contrary. He passed by a few people who he had to quickly evade and earned himself a few unnerved looks as well before finally reaching the large square and the entry of the Bartholomée Santana Highschool after barely three minutes of running.
He passed through the already open gates after greeting a few other students he knew and noticed his friend sitting on the front stairs of the reception and toying with his new-found school pass. Bryan smiled at him as he too noticed him arriving.
“Wow, were fast!” He exclaimed with an admirative whistle. “Hope you’re not too tired though…” The dark-haired teenager added with a mocking smile.
“I hate you know…” Replied Alexandre as he tried to catch his breath.
He was usually used to run for at least that long without too much problem during the school year but two months of summer had greatly contributed to make him lose that habit. He knew he would get back in shape quickly once the sport events started once more but in the meantime he had work to do.
“Well you could thank me at least.” Said Bryan with a stern look.
“For what?” Asked the light-haired teen with a puzzled expression.
“For getting this for you.” Explained the tan young man with a smile as he took out a second pass from his pocket. “This one is yours.”
“It seems you’re not so useless after all…” Replied Alexandre with a small frown as he took the small plastic item from his friend’s hand, his breath still a bit shallow.
“Don’t throw me away yet!” Replied the well-built martial artist with a wink as he stood up. “You’ll have to go and sing the paper later during the day though, Lynda’s order.” He added as he pointed towards the reception’s doors.
Alexandre replied with a nod as he put the pass away in his pocket. Then they both proceeded to walk towards the school’s main building to join the third year students that had already gathered there for welcoming gathering that took place once each year for all the students of a same level. The first and second year students had already had their welcoming ceremony a few days earlier, the first years’ always being the largest one as the school felt it was very important to welcome new students with utmost care and to make them feel at ease. It usually took place in the large outdoor amphitheatre behind the main building, unless the weather wasn’t good enough in which case the ceremony was move inside the large gymnasium.
For the second and third years the ceremony was a simple call to make sure everyone was present and to dispatch the students in smaller groups for the rest of the year. It was sometimes preceded by a small speech, often by the principal himself, and didn’t take much more than quarter of an hour. The two teenagers reached the amphitheatre after a couple of minutes and joined the small group of students that were already there. No teacher was to be seen yet though they wouldn’t be much longer to arrive. Alexandre and Bryan walked towards a small group of people they had known for the past years and settled down after quickly greeting everyone.
“Hey guys!” A tall dark-skinned brunette with thin glasses greeted them with a smile. “How are you doing?”
“Fine thanks!” Replied Bryan with a large smile as he leaned against the wall.
“I’m good.” Nodded Alexandre as he put down his bag. “And you Jasmine?”
“Me too.” She replied as she straightened one of her legs to ease the blood flow.
The two young men had met with Jasmine a year back when they were forced to partner up with her and Anthony, one of the three other people that they had just joined, for a science project. They hadn’t been on very good terms with the slender girl since she had played a trick on both of them the year before. But the sour mood that had taken over the first few sessions of collective work had soon disappeared after they had learned that not only she was sorry for pranking them but also that the subject they had to work on was her older brother Simon’s area of expertise during his studies at the Oural University in Sacrajevo. The girl had proved a real asset in obtaining information from her sibling and, with Anthony’s help and playful mood, they had all been able to clear the air and get a great mark for their work. Since then the four of them had often spent a lot of time together with Carlos and Evangeline, also known as “the school’s famous couple” and a few other friends.
The group barely had to wait a few minutes before a flow of third year students joined them in the amphitheatre, the teachers arriving not long after. Everyone slowly got to their spot, sitting on the white stone step and, even though they all were asked to keep quiet by the adults, the loud sound of whispering could be heard and created a hubbub effect. Only when the principal finally arrived and greeted them all did the large crowd of teenagers get silent, waiting for him to begin his usual speech.
It lasted for nor longer than ten minutes, during which he reminded them of the values and the precepts of the school, of their duties as honored students and of the crucial part of their scholarship this year was. The tall and thin man with graying hair and thin glasses than had been elected as the school’s principal a few years back finished his speech by wishing each and every one of them the best of luck and asking them to honor the name of the school. Then he left them in the hand of their respective teachers who started calling them by their names to divide the crowd into small class groups.
Alexandre, just as he had hoped, found himself in the same class as Bryan, with almost all of the others from their usual group, with the exception of Karl Rochen, Misha Rochen’s twin brother who seemed to have been too sick to come to school that morning. The two brothers had arrived in the middle of the previous school year and had quickly become part of the small circle of friends. They had moved from a small country in the European regions to northern America a few years back following their parents who had come in search of a better job and a better life.
Apparently they had found happiness in Echo Valley after having moved two or three times before and had settled down for good. After having greeted the young of the two and inquired about his older sibling’s health Alexandre and Bryan followed the rest of their group towards their classroom. Apparently they would be based in one of the most recent buildings that year, or at least that’s what the light-haired teen deduced as he saw the bulky history teacher in his black leather jacket who had called them out head towards it.
“Nice!” Exclaimed Bryan as he too noticed where they were headed. “We’ve got a better spot than last year.” He remarked.
“Yeah that’s for sure.” Replied Alexandre with a smile as he remembered the old and dusty classroom they had had to work in the previous year.
Apparently, from what he could hear the others say, the school had decided to renovate the oldest building and therefore had relocated them to the newest building. Alexandre could remember the few times he had been inside the large brick building they were headed towards in the last few years, barely a handful, and always on the first floor where the language laboratories were located. But now they’d have a privileged spot on the third floor he realized as they walked out of the staircase and into a bright hallway. Mr. Brown, the history teacher, stopped in front of the third door they passed, almost at the end of the hallways and, after unlocking it, motioned to the group of teenagers following him to enter it.
“Here is your new home for the rest of the year!” He exclaimed with a smile as he two walked in and closed the door behind him before going towards his desk.