Rain thrashed against the tops of the trees that protected me from harshest impact of the storm. It was hard to see with the strong winds whipping waves of water into my face. I tried to bring up my
hands to shield my eyes, only resulting in my losing my balance and falling over. Suddenly, I felt something warm against my back. I turned around suddenly to see it was a buck, sitting behind where I had landed, as if to stop me from falling further down the slope I was positioned on.
I blinked a few time, surprised that the animal was so close to me, considering deer’s general tendency to steer clear of humans. The buck's eyes were staring at me, cold and callous eyes, yet somewhere deep in them, I felt a sense of security. Suddenly the buck's focus changed from me to something ahead of us and he stood up, forcing me to shift my balance once more. I looked over to see a doe off in the distance.
As if through some sort of soundless telepathy that only the two creatures knew, the buck moved to stand with the doe. I stood up to get a better look at them, thinking of how wonderful a photo this would make. If only I had my camera with me. Looking at the two, it was as if the storm around us was non-existent and world had gone completely still. The two looked so serene, as if, when together, nothing could harm them, not even the horrendous storm around us.
It was in that moment of peace that I heard the crack of the tree bough, and the next thing I knew, I was on my back, warm liquid oozing from my head, and a person on top of me screaming out my name.
My eyes snapped open to reveal the white linoleum tiles of the photograph classroom. I blinked a few times, trying to comprehend what had happened. It wasn't often that I fell asleep in a class, especially photography, considering it was my concentration of study. To think I traveled to Blackwell Academy all the way from my family in Seattle just to listen to the famous photographer Mark Jefferson talk about various photo techniques. Well, that's not entirely true. The prospect of a pretty large scholarship may have influenced my decision a bit as well.
With the soft hum of Mr. Jefferson's voice as white noise, I looked at what I had on my desk in order to fully reorient myself to where I was. Before me was my notebook with a few scrawled note and doodles I must have taken before dozing off. I hoped that none of the pen had transferred from the paper onto my face during my little nap. Other than that there was my pencil case, journal, and my beloved camera. It was a gorgeous analog camera that I was utterly in love with. There's something about being able to hold a photo in your hands immediately after it was taken that I'm drawn to. Not to mention, the prospect of instant selfies is something that rather entertains me.
My thoughts turned away from my strange dream, and I picked up the camera to take a selfie. Unfortunately for me, I misjudged the loudness of my camera, and caught the attention of not only Mr. Jefferson, but also everyone else in the class. I suddenly felt extremely self-conscious about every little move I made as Mr. Jefferson took a few steps in my direction.
"Ah, as we can see, Max here has just taken what we today call 'the selfie.' This art of taking photos of oneself, however, is not just some new trend thanks to social media. Well Max, now that you appear to be with us mentally, can you tell the class who was the first person to take what we call a 'selfie.'"
"Uh..." I felt my face flush as I looked at the other faces staring at me around the room. Then, Victoria Chase raised her hand at the speed of light, shooting a smug grin in my direction. I really didn't like her. Victoria was one of those girls who walked over other people and twisted things in order to get her way. It ended up hurting other people, and I couldn't stand for that.
Mr. Jefferson gave me one last glance before focusing on the eager looking Victoria. "Do you perhaps know the answer, Miss Chase?"
"The first selfie documented was taken by photo pioneer Robert Cornelius in 1839. He was able to use the slow process of taking photos back then to his advantage in order to take one of himself. Perhaps if Miss Caulfield had been paying more attention in class and spent less time sleeping, she would have known that," Victoria ended with an evil look of pleasure cast at me.
"Yes, well, thank you for that Victoria-" Just then, as if to save me from anymore embarrassment the bell rang, signaling my freedom from the four cold walls of the classroom. Mr. Jefferson called out over the shuffle of everyone leaving, " Don't forget to submit your photos for the 'Everyday Heroes' contest before the deadline! I will be announcing the winner on Thursday night at the Vortex Club's 'End of the World Party'" He stopped by my desk as I was packing up my things, "I am especially interested in what you have to offer, Max. Though, I'm not sure selfies will qualify."
"I hope I won't disappoint you then, sir," I said as I slung my bag over my shoulder. He smiled and walked back to his desk at the front of the room to a waiting Victoria. She was the type to suck up to teachers whenever possible.
Glancing around the room before I left, I noticed that Kate Marsh was also still in the room. She looked rather sullen, so I decided to go up to her and ask what was wrong. "Hey, Kate!" I said with a smile on my face. "What's up? You look kinda down."
She looked up from twiddling the cross she always wore around her neck with a distant expression. "Oh hi, Max..." She said softly. It was rather obviously that her thoughts were elsewhere. "I'm... I'm fine. I'm just worried about my entry for the 'Everyday Heroes' contest is all." She forced a small smile on her face. "I'm sure whatever you submit will be amazing though!" Kate said more genuinely.
"Thanks. You're stuff is great though, so you shouldn't be too worried. I'll talk to you later, okay? Bye." I knew the contest wasn't the only thing weighing of Kate's mind. She usually wasn't too concerned with contests, and rather just took pictures because she loved to. I hoped everything was okay.
"Yeah, I'll talk to you later," Kate said before going back to twiddling her cross. I hoped she was okay.
"So... Mr. Jefferson... About the 'Everyday Heroes' contest, I was wondering if we could take about my entry." I overheard Victoria's crooning as I past by to exit the room. Typical, I thought to myself. It was just like Victoria to try to cozy up with a teacher in order to get their favor. I rolled my eyes as I passed the two, simultaneously pulling out my headphones from my bag.
As I opened the door to the classroom, I could already here the roar of students leaving their classes and heading to lockers. Soon enough I was drowning out the various conversations around me with the melodic tunes of the new indie group I had discovered last week.
First thing was first; I wanted to stop by the bathroom. Even though I was thoroughly awake thanks to my humiliation in class, I still wanted to splash some cool water on my face. Plus, I had to check that no pen marks had made it onto my face during my little nap. I suppose I could always wait till I got back to the dorm, but my self-consciousness got the better of me, and I started towards the bathroom. It was pretty hard trying to avoid colliding with various people when literally no one around me was looking where they were going.
When I finally got to the bathroom it was like the save point in a faced paced video game, calm and quiet. No one else was in the bathroom either, meaning I didn't have to listen to anyone else's mindless chatter as I took out my headphones. To my relief, as I looked in the mirror, I couldn't find any signs of ink marks on my face. It would have been pretty bad if, on top of being upped by Victoria in class, I had been displaying my scrawled notes on my face. Regardless, I welcomed the cool water on my face. I hadn't realized how flushed and warm it was till the liquid touched it.
I stared at my wet face for a few moments before reaching for some paper towels to dry myself with. My blue eyes scanned the freckles speckled across my face as droplets of water that clung to my hair dripped onto them. I smiled slightly, thinking how in that moment nothing seemed to be weighing me down. Sure, I had plenty of things to do, but for just a moment, I didn't care about anything but those little droplets falling onto my face. If only it had lasted.
I heard shouting from outside the door to the bathroom, and instinctively went to hide in one of the stalls. Just as I got in, the door to the bathroom slammed open and a girl with blue hair and some pretty wicked tattoos stormed in.
"Fuck you, Nathan! I ain't selling you shit!"
Nathan? I thought to myself as I spied on the girl from the crack between the stall door and its adjoining wall. Did she mean Nathan Prescott? Shit, if what the rumors about him said were true, then it was no surprised that the kid was hooked on anything he could get. It must’ve been pretty easy for him to get it too. The Prescott family essentially owned most of Arcadia Bay, where Blackwell Academy was located. Hell, the family fucking owned the academy for that matter.
Just then the door slammed open once more to reveal Nathan himself. His eyes looked crazy and his expression was one of anger and hatred, "No! You listen here, bitch! I know Frank gave you the stuff so just hand it the fuck over!" He was writhing with anger. I wondered to myself if this was the first time he had been denied something in his life.
"I told you already! He didn't give me fucking anything! Just leave me the hell alone, you freak!" The girl with the blue hair was raising her arms up as if to show that she didn't have anything on her. Nathan didn't seem to take that response very well.
"Listen here, bitch! No one calls me a freak!" Just then, Nathan pulled a gun out of the jacket he always wore and pointed it at the girl.
"Shit," I said under my breath and hurriedly opened the door to the stall I was hiding it. The metal separation between us hit Nathan, slamming him against the bathroom wall throwing him off balance right as he pulled the trigger. The bullet that was aimed for the girl ended up missing and hitting the fire alarm located in the bathroom, setting it off. What were the chances of that?
In the moment it took for Nathan to regain his standing, the girl with the blue hair fled the scene, leaving me alone with him. "Caulfield? What the fuck?" He seemed even angrier than before, and yet, at the same time there was something in his eyes that said he was grateful his shot missed.
The fire alarm was shrilling and I couldn't think straight with everything that had just transpired before my eyes. The loud footsteps of heavy boots on tile floors was somewhere off in the distance. Nathan must have heard them over the alarm as well, because he put away his gun and grabbed my wrist firmly, dragging me out of the bathroom with him. "Shit, it's David, he can't catch us here," Nathan said under his breath as he dragged me out of the building.
"Ow, let go!" I yelled at him as he continued to drag me away from the masses of people fleeing from the building. When it finally looked like no one was paying attention to where we were he let go of my wrist and faced me. I immediately held my wrist where his grip had been. "Hell, that hurt..."
"Look, Caulfield," Nathan was bending slightly so that his mean eyes were looking directly into mine. He was close enough I could smell his breath. "You saw nothing, or else. Got it?"
Before I could even comprehend what he said, let alone give a response, he was gone.