Author’s note: This is a raw NaNoWrimo draft. I didn’t change anything except paragraph spacing (as WP doesn’t convert the tabs).
Aiden stopped in front of the locker room door, thinking about what had happened a few months ago. The way everyone had stared at him like he was going to go Carrie on them or something. Cold fear twisted inside him. What if it happened again?
No, it was different here. That kind of thing was normal to these people. They’d probably think it was lame. Dylan and those girls could throw fire, that other girl had formed ice around her feet. One boy had summoned things of smoke, from swords to a pair of snarling dogs.
Taking a few deep breaths, Aiden made himself push through the door.
He almost crashed into Dylan. “Whoa!”
“Sorry.” Aiden stepped back.
“Can’t wait to see what you can do.” His eyes weren’t glowing, but there was an eager light in them. He was like a different person from the boy who slouched in front of him in homeroom.
“I don’t think you’ll see much.” Aiden was nervous all over again, thinking about what he’d seen the day before. He couldn’t do anything like that and if someone threw fire or whatever at him, he’d be toast.
Dylan left and Aiden had to face the locker room again. It was different than the one at his old school, and that helped. There it had been bright white and blue. Here it was dim and gray. Creepy, like the scene from a horror movie. Aiden bit back a laugh. Everything about this school was like a horror movie.
Someone shuffled around farther back and a locker door slammed. Shouldn’t there be more boys in here? Aiden shook off the creepiness and found an empty locker. He changed as fast as he could and hurried into the gym.
Dylan stood in the middle of the room, bouncing on his toes. Right, the possibility of getting roasted. Aiden went to the teacher. “Ms. Yang, I don’t think I can protect myself if anyone throws… stuff at me.”
“Don’t worry. We’re not having matches today.” She pointed to the far side of the room where a row of targets leaned against the wall. “We’ll be working on precision. I won’t put you in matches until I believe you’re ready.”
“Thanks.” He let out a little sigh of relief, but a moment later he felt guilty. So now he was holding the whole class up?
Ms. Yang had them all line up opposite the targets and told them to work on accuracy. They let loose while Aiden stood there like an idiot. The boy who used smoke magic was next to him, firing smoke arrows from a smoke bow. The first arrow hit the edge of the target and disappeared, leaving a mark. Then the target shimmered and the mark was gone.
Farther down, one of the fireball girls made her target burst into flame. A moment later it shimmered, too, and looked like nothing had happened.
Magical regenerating targets? It made sense.
Ms. Yang came over to him. “So, what have you been able to do so far?”
“Nothing. I don’t know what I can do.”
She smiled. “Don’t be nervous. I’m here to help you learn. Focus on the target.”
Aiden started at the red rings and the circle in the center. The ozone smell was sharper when he wasn’t sitting on the wards behind the bench, and the air tingled, making the hair on the back of his neck stand up. It must be all the magic.
“Dig deep inside yourself. Find your center, where your power is. I want you to throw it at the target, just the raw energy, not worrying about the form it takes. It might help if you use a physical motion.” She put her hands up, palms out at chest level and pushed like she was shoving someone away from her.
He copied her. “Like this?”
“Any way that helps. Try different things. Do your best to ignore everything going on around you and focus.”
For the rest of class he made shoving motions, kicking motions, punching motions. He tried closing his eyes, staring through the target, yelling. All he got was frustrated and sweaty.
“You can try again tomorrow, Aiden.” Ms. Yang half-turned and shouted over her shoulder, “I said that’s it Dylan. Class is over.”
“What am I doing wrong?” Aiden asked. Everyone else made it look so easy.
Ms. Yang turned her attention back to him. “You’re not doing anything wrong, except maybe putting too much pressure on yourself. I can’t tell you exactly how to do it, it’s something you have to feel. Somewhere inside you, you know how to use your magic. It’s unconscious, instinct.”
“So I just keep trying until something happens?”
“What if nothing happens?” Even as he said it, he thought of all those doors opening and closing, the shocked looks on the boys’ faces.
“You’re full-blooded fae.” Ms. Yang smiled. “I put extra wards on the room just for you and Dylan.”
He opened his mouth to ask what Dylan was, but he remembered the bet.
“It’ll happen. Now hurry before you miss your bus.”