You are on page 1of 8

Train goes through the Rockies, spectacular Jasper, picks up more kids.

Will go back and write this spot once secondary characters are more firmly established. We pick up with John, arriving on one of the bus loads of kids, arriving at Frewin Friends school in the early evening. * John checked his digital watch, then quickly pulled his sleeve back down his wrist to cover it. He had noticed that most of these kids didnt have watches they had cell phones. Several of them didnt just have cell phones they had new, touch-screen smart phones with email, games, music and who knew what else. A few of the kids at his old school had these phones too, usually gifts from their parents, but it wasnt something every kid in the run-down little farming town owned. John glanced around him in dismay these phones seemed to be standard equipment for his new classmates. John glanced down at Sonja, sitting beside him. She was staring out the window at the mountains in the fading daylight, transfixed. Ever since the crossing through Jasper in the Rocky Mountains, Sonja had become stoically quiet. As she was two years younger than him and had seemed to latch on to him as a fellow new student, it was easy for John to pretend that Sonja was like his little sister, and he allowed himself to feel just a bit protective of her, even though she already had two brothers. Just then Sams head popped up from the seats in front of them. Hey John! Enjoy it while it lasts, eh? Sam jerked his chin at Sonja. This is the first time shes been quiet since the day she was born! Shut up! Sonja smacked the back on Sams chair, her eyes never leaving the window. Its so beautiful. Ah! You want to check your email, Sunny? Last chance before we get to school! Sonja waved her hand at him, eyes still glued to the window, mouth slightly open. Shes gone. What about you? Sam asked, offering the little glass rectangle to John. John, shocked that Sam would offer the use of his phone and panicked to be found out that he didnt know how to use it, that he didnt even have an email address, stuttered and shook his head, Uhh, uh, no. Thank you.

You sure? Sam offered his wide, toothy grin. Last chance before we get to Frewin and they confiscate all the phones. Confiscate? John choaked out. Was this some kind of prison camp? Why would they confiscate things? Did they search the students luggage? But before John could figure out an unsuspicious way to ask the question, Sam had turned back around and was addressing the entire bus. Hear ye, hear ye! As the returning elected S.U.T.S. representative for the year two thousand eleven, Sam paused here to wave graciously in response to the laughter, cheers and whistles of the other students, then held his hand over his heart with a sober expression. I solemly swear to continue the rein of the ludicrous over the logical! To NEVER bow to expectation when there can be EXCITATION! And to ALWAYS CHOOSE CHAOS OVER CONFORMITY! The busload of students burst into applause as John stared, stupefied at the students, at Sam, at Sams own mother sitting at the front of the bus with her back pointedly facing the group of rowdy teenagers. Sonja had finally torn her eyes away from the window long enough to roll them at her brother as she clapped her hands. She leaned over and spoke into Johns ear, Sams been the S.U.T.S rep for two years in a row. If he gets it again, and knowing Sam he probably will, itll be the first time S.U.T.S has ever had the same rep for three years in a row. What are you saying? Soots? John was beginning to feel like a stressed-out imbecile again. Did everyone know more about the school than he did? No-no! Sonjas voice dropped to a loud whisper. S-U-T-S! It stands for the Secret Union of Troublesome Students. Or Students Up To Something. Its supposed to be a secret society but all the teachers know about it. Most of the teachers who went to Frewin themselves were part of SUTS. What does this club- but Sonja was waving her hand at John now to shush him, as Sam continued his speech.

As you know, the campaign for re-election begins today. You will be pleased to know I have already begun arrangements for our welcome back to school! I advise you all to DRINK RESPONSIBLY tonight! WHAT! John whisper-shouted into Sonjas ear. They serve alcohol there? No-no-no! Sonja whispered back. Of COURSE they dont, youre not allowed alcohol or drugs not even aspirin unless you see the school nurse. Thats just my idiot brothers way of telling everyone hes done something stupid to our drinks. Its the SUTS student rep job to make the school year more, I dont know, unexpected I guess. Sams been planning stuff all summer. Hes a real pain in the- The rising noise of the students drowned out the rest of Sonjas words as the bus turned off the highway and on to a dirt road, winding through a forest so thick with cedar and pine trees that the branches scraped and banged along the side of the enormous bus. Huge potholes launched the students out of their seats and into cheers of excitement! John could hear the high-pitched barks of Mingus, who was standing in Maries lap with his front paws on the window sill, tail wagging furiously. The bus bumped along for twenty minutes or so, an agony for John who was beginning to feel overwhelmed and a bit sea-sick with all the movement and noise. Several groups of students had burst into song, what sounded like a dirty version of some official school anthem. At last the forest road widened and the bus rolled on to a smooth, round gravel drive, came about and stopped in front of a large baseball diamond. A large moving truck was already parked beside the bleachers, and several students were working busily to unload all of the student luggage on to the bleachers. Alright! Everyone! Marie stood at the front of the bus and waved her hands for attention. No one was looking at her. Marie motioned for the intercom mike from the driver, and she spoke into it. SCREEEEEEEE! All the students slapped their hands over their ears at the terrible feedback. In the aftermath of silence a kid at the back shouted, EVERY TIME! Merci! Marie regained her self-possessed composure. All new students must follow me to collect their room assignments. All returning students may turn collect their luggage and proceed to their cabins. ALL STUDENTS are advised to turn in their electronic devices should they wish to see them in working order at the end of

the school year! ALL STUDENTS are to report to the dining hall for assembly and the evening meal at SEVEN oclock! Welcome, Frewin Friends Students. A deafening cheer rose up from the students and Marie stepped aside to make way for the stream of students bursting out of the bus. The noise of the students on Johns bus joined the shouts and of other students disembarking from the other busses, until John wondered if hed ever be able to breathe or sleep ever again! As soon as John himself stepped off the bus, he immediately felt better. Outside the crowded bus and into the vastness of the sports field, with the surrounding forest and the snow-capped mountains rising on three sides, the feel of the grass under his shoes and the smell of the fresh mountain air revived Johns calm. It reminded him of camp and then he understood. The excitement he was witnessing was just like the kids coming to summer camp. These kids LIKED this school. Maybe it would all work out after all. A sharp bark and tapping of two paws on his shins made him look down there was Mingus again, wagging his tail and looking from John back to Marie. Oh yeah. Room assignments. Thanks Mingus, John knelt down to give the dog a little pat, but Mingus was already running off towards another dazed looking student, a tiny, fey-looking blonde boy who seemed much too young to be at boarding school. John walked over to the group of students gathering on another set of bleachers near where Marie and six other teachers were standing, conferring lists. They were calling out names and waving envelopes. Alicia Parkman! Melody Touchie! Sonja Jackson! Sonja launched off her seat and was gone before John could reach her. John Cunningham! Marie was waving an envelope. Ah, John. I will be your home room advisor. Here is your cabin assignment, theres a map inside Jordan will help you. JORDAN! Marie waved her son from unloading the massive pile of luggage. Jordan set down and enormous trunk and came jogging over to them, sweat glistening on his forehead, breathing hard.

Jordan, would you please assist John to his room? John felt himself flush with embarrassment. No one else seemed to need escorting. Dont worry, Jordan patted John on the shoulder with his warm, sweaty palm. He left a hand print on Johns T-Shirt. Ah, sorry, Jordan wiped his palms on the back of his jeans. Almost everyone knows their way around here but its confusing your first week or so. And its getting dark. Here, lets find the rest of your luggage, Jordan slung Johns hockey bag over his shoulder with one hand and started looking around for more. Uh, theres just my guitar somewhere there it is, and John grabbed his guitar case, which had been carefully placed on a side table next to what looked like a small orchestras worth of instruments. Was the whole school musical? Lets see where theyve got you, Jordan indicated the envelope in Johns other hand John had already forgotten he was holding it. He handed it to Jordan, who ripped it open. Ah! EXCELLENT! Youre in my old room! Cabin six! Ha ha! Is that a good cabin? One of the BEST, Id say. For a first year. Next year youll get your permanent assignment theyll set you up with your friends once youve had a chance to make some. Another flutter of worry rippled through John. What if he didnt make any friends? But for now, yes, Id say this is the best place! Jordan puffed enthusiastically as he half walked, half marched John off down a footpath that wound around the baseball diamond and behind a large log building with native carvings of animals on the front door they blew past the building so fast, John couldnt see what they were. THAT is the assembly hall. We go there for games, special performances, indoor sports that kind of thing. Its kind of like a gymnasium. That over there, on the other side behind these little brown buildings Jordan pointed off to the right, John tried to figure out where he was pointing, thats the small animal barn and the dog kennels.

Dog kennels? There are more dogs? And even as John questioned it, he could hear the excited barking of dogs in the distance. Yeah, lots of animals! Dogs, horses, chickens. They usually have the run of the place, but its too much chaos on the first night, so all the animals go into their shelters. Otherwise they just get too excited. Over there, Jordan pointed off to the left, Thats a short cut to your cabin, but its getting too dark to use it. Well have to go around by the mess hall, which is where you need to go next, anyway. Well at least that part will be easy, thought John. Here you are! Number six, just as I left it! Jordan rushed up to a little white cabin poking its face out of the woods. This is one of the best first year cabins, like I said. Its close to the dining hall and the showers, over there. And theres an outhouse in behind there, Jordan pointed to a faint little path leading off behind the cabin. A shout interrupted Johns orientation. YOU MUST BE JOKING! Outhouses?! A very tall, regal woman was facing the two boys. She was covered from neck to ankle in an expensive looking white wool coat with an elaborately patterned twill shawl draped across her shoulders. Her auburn hair swept into an elegant chigon, Her face looked very pinched and pale. No! No this is unacceptable. Stephan, there is not even plumbing. You cannot possibly stay here. John noticed another boy was approaching along the path, carrying an oval case. He looked older than other first years, taller than John, broader in the shoulder, but then John thought - who wasnt? Marie was swiftly following the pair, her long, colourful skirts flying with haste. Madame Benedict! I must assure you, the school has complete and operational plumbing! The outhouse is a term the students use for these outdoor facilities near the dormitories. Here students must walk outside to reach everything including the washrooms.

Audrina Benedict had already picked her way along the path to the outhouse and thrown the door open wide. Inside, the outhouse was indeed fully outfitted with a flush toilet, a sink with running water, a mirror and walls of clean, wooden clapboard painted white. Mrs. Benedict marched back to the cabin and stomped inside, ducking her head to get into the low door way. Inside, despite the low ceiling, the cabin was quite spacious. One side of the cabin was a mirror image of the other with a bed, a small bookcase and bedside table, a lamp coming out of the wall above each bed, another lamp coming out of the wall beside the small desk. Beside each desk, a chest of drawers, and beside that John gasped in surprise. There was a guitar stand beside one bed. That must be for him. There were windows on either side, and an oil lamp on each windowsill. Right in the center of the room was a wood stove. On the wall beside the door was a box of kindling, and beside that six hooks for clothing and a boot rack. Mrs. Benedict stopped and stared in horror at the beds. There is two of them. Mrs. Benedict stated, flatly. Oui, this is John Cunningham, Stephans roommate. The red-haired woman started coldly and silently at John for a long moment. John felt every worn patch in his jacket, every stain on his jeans leap outwards under her scrutiny. Unacceptable. The woman snapped her eyes away from John and back towards Marie. Stephan must have his own room. He needs to keep up his practice. Stephan will have access to practice time in the round room, with the best acoustics a musical prodigy could desire. I must INSIST that you accompany me to Monsieur Frewins administrative office, where I am sure he will address ALL of your concerns. You are welcome to inspect every INCH of our facilities on Parents Day. TODAY is NOT that day! Mrs. Benedict stared hard at Marie Johnston, as though the very weight of her gaze would cause the teacher to back down. Marie returned her gaze, calmly. Fine. I must speak with my husband, is he with the principal?

Oui, Madamme Benedict. If you will follow me. The two women walked away, leaving the three boys in awkward silence. Jordan cleared his throat. So, uh, Stephan, was it? He held out his hand to Stephan, and the boy gently shook it. New this year too, eh? I didnt see you on the train. Do you live close by? Jordan tried to strike up a hearty, comrade-like banter. No. Stephan placed his oval case atop the desk and flopped down on to the bed, not looking at either of them. We flew in by helicopter. Well neither John nor Jordan knew what to say to that. Stephan was staring pointedly up at the ceiling, ignoring both of them. Jordan looked at John and jerked his chin back at Stephan. John shrugged. Well, er, John! Why dont we just let Stephan here settle in and well see you later at the mess hall, OKAY? Jordan wrapped his arm around Johns shoulders and dragged him out of the cabin. Stephan didnt acknowledge their departure. What is WITH that guy?!? Jordan whispered in Johns ear as he dragged them both away from Cabin six. HELICOPTER!? Jordan tucked his chin into his neck and used his sunglasses as a monocle, MMMMM, yeeeesssssssss, we took the HELICOPTER because the white elephant was in the shop! John laughed. Is that guy my roommate? Like, I have to live with him for a year!? Rotten luck, Jordan shook his head sadly. Seems like a real charmer, that one. Maybe you can appeal, get into one of the second year dorms after they skip you along a bit. You can ask Ma I mean Madamme Johnston about that in homeroom tomorrow. But for now WE EAT!

You might also like