Alone in his room, with a burst of inspiration, Matt realised he’d been going about his delinquency all wrong. His actions weren’t ‘bad’ enough on their own to justify expulsion, because a ‘bad’ person could be overlooked – but a bad influence, bringing down the whole team, corrupting those around them, weakening the entire Academy…
Matt leapt out of bed, snatched up a towel and raced into the shower for a quick wash and to remove his two-day-old stubble, emerging five minutes later clean, clear and feeling fresh. He pulled on his best jeans and coolest t-shirt, then ran out of the door and down the hallway, dialling the number of a very particular someone.
Will met him in the foyer.
“So where do you need to go?” the teleporter asked without any foreplay. They walked out the large wooden front doors side-by-side and into the brisk dusk air of the grounds.
“Right here,” Matt replied, showing him a long-saved message on his phone as they strode purposely through the freshly cut grass, “Is that going to be a problem?”
Will gazed at the co-ordinates. “Shouldn’t be. My paperwork’s in order.” He scrunched up his face as if performing mental calculations. “Yeah. I got it. No sweat.”
“Awesome,” said Matt, trying to suppress a grin, “Five bucks alright?”
“Heck man, I’ve got nothing else on, you know I’ll do it for free. Sorta my job.”
“Shh-shh-shh-shh-shh,” shushed Matt, cupping the other man’s cheek with one hand and placing a crisp fiver in his pocket with the other, “Don’t fight it.”
“I’m not,” Will said with a laugh, pushing Matt’s hand away, then added, “You know your neck’s bleeding right?”
“Oh for crying out-” Matt grumbled, dabbing at where Will was pointing and pulling his fingertips away to view the small speckle of blood. “Razors. Remind me to get some better razors.”
They’d reached the edge of the forest, which marked approximately where Morningstar’s Disruptance™ Anti-Teleportation security extended to. Matt gripped Will’s arm.
“And a one-two-three,” Will whistled. There was a lurch, rushing darkness and pressure all around them. After a second or two it stopped and Matt opened his eyes to find them standing in the middle of a cobblestone street full of single-story, brightly coloured, slightly run-down houses.
“Wow that was… really fast,” said Matt, looking around in mild amazement at exactly where he’d wanted to go. The teleporters at Northridge had always taken at least ten minutes to line up a long‑distance jump and even then had routinely ended up a mile off target.
“What do you think I practice all day?” Will chuckled, not even sweating. He glanced up at the open doorway in front of them and the neon blue lettering above it, seemingly unfazed by the smell of rotten eggs which for some reason always accompanied teleportation.
“Licorería?” he read aloud with a slightly derisive snort, seemingly unimpressed by the second flickering ‘R’, “Matt, why are we at a Mexican bottleshop?”
“Be right back,” Matt replied without a backwards glance, walking inside before the teleporter could ask any more questions. He moved purposefully, his shoes scuffing across the dull wooden floorboards as his eye adjusted to the irregular lighting and gleam of walls of bottles. To his right, a round, swarthy face above a rough-hewn white cotton shirt looked up at him as he entered.
“Hola Mauricio,” Matt hollered at the squat, balding man behind the counter.
“Hola señor Calejandro,” hola’d Mauricio, turning back to the tiny TV screen he’d been watching, easily the brightest thing in the room. He made no further move to acknowledge Matt’s existence as the American moved between the shelves, picking out bottles and cartons with the eye of a seasoned inebriant. Matt’s math was good and he’d already checked the exchange rate, so he had a fairly good idea what he was up for when he finally bought his collection to the counter.
“Eso también por favor,” he asked Mauricio, who’d already started dutifully arranging Matt’s purchases in a cardboard box. He pointed to the packets of Purple Dragon on the shelf behind him. “Tres.” The shopkeeper grunted and added three packets of cannabis to the pile.
“Dolares Americano?” Matt checked, just to be polite. His Spanish was appalling, probably because he’d never practiced with anyone besides his dog, but since he’d only learned it for this exact purpose it did the trick.
“Si, por supuesto,” shrugged Mauricio, who’d never had any problems taking American money before. He glanced down and tapped on a calculator. “Ciento noventa y nueve setenta y cinco.”
“Gracias,” replied Matt, wincing internally but reminding himself that really Natalia was paying for everything. He handed the two hundred over to the Mexican, stuck the weed in his front pocket and grasped the box full of alcohol with both hands, not bothering about the change.
“Hasta luego Mauricio.”
“Adios Señor Calejandro,” said Mauricio, already turned back to his soaps.
Will was still waiting for him outside with an expression of some concern.
“Hold this,” Matt instructed before the teleporter could get a word out, handing Will the box. The older guy glanced down.
“What’re these drinks for?” he asked, half sceptical, half nervous.
“I’m building a drink fort,” Matt replied sarcastically. Will just looked at him. Matt shook his head in despair. “For drinking. Drinks for drinking. Come on, home Jeeves.” He gripped Will’s arm, which was locked precariously around the booze box as though it was filled with snakes, and gazed up expectantly. For a moment the teleporter looked like he might protest, but the confidence and resolute calm of Matt’s expression seemed to put him off. Will made a face, and suddenly there was a rush of familiar teleporting sensation. Before Matt could worry too much about what would happen if they dropped the booze box mid-jump, the pressure around him ceased and he opened his eyes to see the foothills of the Academy.
“Nice,” complimented Matt. He reached over and gingerly relieved Will of the alcohol. “Thanks.”
“Hold on,” said Will, finally finding his voice though it stumbled slightly, “Aren’t you underage?”
“Not in Mexico,” Matt corrected.
“You bought it into the country,” shrugged Matt, technically right, “You’re over twenty-one.”
“Come on,” said Matt, rolling his eyes over-dramatically, “It’s Friday. Relax a little.” He started up the hill. “It’s just a few drinks.”
“I don’t know man,” stammered Will, hurrying to follow, glancing nervously around them as though afraid some authority figure might materialise out of the night. “We don’t really dr-”
“Shh-shh-shh-shh-shh,” Matt reassured again, although with no free hands this time, “No doubts now, only drinks. Let’s just get this to the pavilion.”
The pavilion was a wooden outdoor gazebo someone had erected on Morningstar’s east side for God-knows-what purpose near some training trenches and storage sheds. It wasn’t ideal but it was probably better than drinking in a ditch. They walked there in silence, Matt humming idly to himself. Upon arriving, he placed the box down on one of the pavilion’s wooden slat seats.
“Here you go man, want a brew?” asked Matt. It felt a bit weird offering as if he was the one with seniority here, almost bossing the older Acolyte around, but for some reason the presence of intoxicants imbued Matt with authority. Will shifted on his heels, looking like a big kid who’d been caught doing something naughty.
“Man I’m not sure, I don’t really-”
“One drink man, come on,” said Matt. He shot the teleporter a friendly, reassuring smile. “It’s not illegal. Just have one drink, see how you feel.” Will hesitated for a moment, but in the end the combination of Matt’s easy-going demeanour and subtly crafted peer pressure won the day.
“Okay,” he replied with a nervous smile, “Just let me go change and I’ll come right back.”
“Bring anybody you want!” Matt called after him, as Will’s figure hurried back towards the Academy. He pulled out his phone and dialled.
“Hello?” the reply came after two rings.
“Ed, do you have speakers?”
“Ah, yeah, definitely,” Ed’s voice replied, “What do you need-?”
“Can you bring them down to the pavilion?”
“Uh, sure, I could- I mean I’d have to disconnect and- a trip or two-”
“Excellent man, bring them down. Also, I need a cooler.”
“Uh, I don’t have one on me-”
“Ed, you’re a genius, work with me here. Speakers, cooler.”
“Good man.” Matt hung up and started texting Wally.
Come pavilion emergency need help
Half a minute later his phone was lighting up.
“Matt it’s me, what’s going on?!”
“Wally thank god you called, come quick – I’ve got all this weed and I don’t know what to do with it. Bring as many people as you can.”
Bio: Born and raised in Newcastle, Australia, Ben is a lifelong writer currently studying his Masters in Creative Writing at the University of Technology Sydney. An avid fan of the weird and wonderful, he has wanted to be a writer since he was five years old (before which he wanted to be a dinosaur).