Chapter 1 - a new friend
Eleven leaned back in his chair. He gazed out the window at the odd sight of the red star shining in the sky during the daytime, as the professor droned on about something or other. He was feeling particularly tired today. He stifled a yawn behind his hand and looked around, blushing, hoping his professor hadn’t seen him. His attention was thankfully, elsewhere. Eleven gazed out the window again, contemplating the star and doodling absently in his notebook.
The star had been in the sky for around a fortnight now, and astronomers were puzzled to say the least. It had simply appeared out of the blue one night, and they could not account for it other than to speculate that perhaps they were witnessing the death of a star which had faded from existence thousands of years ago, and this was it’s dying light only just now reaching the present day. Everyone had been talking about it for the first day or so but by now the excitement and muttering about it had died down. No one really took any more notice of it, apart from Eleven.
He couldn’t describe it but he felt his attention oddly drawn to it. Like it was calling to him, or shining for him. He knew that wasn’t possible, but he felt a strange sort of connection to the red light in the sky nonetheless. Tearing his eyes from it, he looked back to his professor, who was pointing something out on the presentation board. Try as he might, Eleven just couldn’t pay attention today. He hadn’t been sleeping much as late, his dreams plagued by images of a giant tree with a glowing heart confined within. Sometimes the tree called out to him, calling him something he could never recall the next day. He’d been having the dream for around a fortnight. Waking in a sweat as sometimes the dream was full of people screaming, evil laughter, and the tree falling from the sky to crash to the earth below. He didn’t quite know what to make of it all.
He checked his watch, only 10 more minutes of this lecture and then the rest of his day was free. Maybe he’d go home and take a nap. God knows he needed it. He shut his notepad over, admitting defeat as all he had managed today was to doodle a few random symbols and shapes. He cast his gaze around the room. A few others seemed to be in the same state he was, some pretending to listen with their eyes glazed over and jaws slack, some hunched over and shuddering awake every now and again. Some were listening intently, he supposed he’d have to ask them for today's notes.
There was movement a few seats to his right as someone was now brazenly lounging back in their chair with their feet up on the desk, hood pulled up, arms folded behind their head. They were using their feet to lightly rock their chair back and forwards in an agitated sort of way.
“Ugh jeez, hurry up old man.” The hooded lounging figure muttered. Eleven chuckled quietly and the figure started, turning his head round to look at him.
“Heh, you’re so quiet I didn’t realise you were sitting there.” The figure mumbled, chuckling too. “He can sure drone on huh?” his accent was a little odd, Eleven couldn’t place it. He nodded at the lounging boy and smiled shyly.
Finally their professor dismissed him and the boy a few seats from him was up and out of his chair lithely, gathering up his things and putting them into his bag, which looked empty other than a large frisbee disc. Eleven supposed he must be part of the group that often liked to play Ultimate Frisbee on the grounds.
The boy glanced over at Eleven from under his hood. “Wait, don’t I know you?” he said, looking up at him. With his hood pulled over like that Eleven had no idea, though he thought he had heard that accent before somewhere.
The boy pulled down his hood to reveal a shock of bright blue spiky hair. He considered Eleven for a moment. “Oh yeah! You’re that guy from the show aren’t you? The psychic show? We got pulled up on stage together during fresher’s week, right?”
Eleven remembered the hair, it’d be hard not to. This was the boy he had sat next to on stage during a psychic show some of his dorm mates had dragged him along to as part of their fresher’s week events a few weeks ago. He had been randomly, (and rather dramatically), selected from the crowd to join in. He had gone up on stage, extremely reluctantly, and sat quietly as the psychic proceeded to make a show of telling him fragmented and vague hints his future. Eleven hadn’t believed a word of it but played along smiling and nodding until it was all over and he could retreat back to the safety of the audience. The blue-haired boy had been called up soon after Eleven in an equally dramatic fashion and she had made a big drama of telling them their paths would cross and their fates would be intertwined for an important quest. The blue haired boy had chuckled heartily at this and told her their fates were only intertwined because she had dragged them on stage and that his most important quest right now was to expose her as a fraud.
He remembered laughing when the boy had said that, and the flush of annoyance that had crept up the psychic’s neck. She had tried to salvage the rest of the segment but the magic had been broken as the audience laughed. She had then grabbed Eleven’s wrist tightly and tapped on the birthmark on his hand and told him he had an important destiny. Eleven had awkwardly smiled and nodded and backed away from her when she released him. All in all it had been a very odd event and he was glad when they had left – the whole thing had unsettled him.
“Yes... that was me.” Eleven said, feeling suddenly shy.
The blue-haired boy chucked. “Man, that was nuts. She was really going for it. I didn’t know you took this class...”he trailed off and then gasped dramatically and gave him a look of utter shock, “Wait!” he exclaimed, grabbing Eleven’s sleeve. Elven could only stare at him in startled surprise. “She was right! Our fates ARE intertwined!” he stared at him intently for a second or two, then let go of Eleven’s sleeve and laughed heartily again, rolled his eyes and pulled his bag on over his shoulder.
Eleven smiled and then laughed as he realised the boy was joking. He had been slow on the uptake on that one. The other boy looked back at him and grinned and Eleven’s stomach did something odd. They shuffled their way out of the row and made their way to the exit.
“The name’s Erik, by the way”
Eleven smiled. “I’m El.”