My Best Friend is a Prince from Another Worldby
Pt. I, Ch. 3: “You two don’t really expect me to believe this story, do you?”
Monday, May 18th
Manhattan, New York City, United States, Terra
William Jennings Bryan High School
3rd floor hallway by the Computer Lab
“You two don’t really expect me to believe this story, do you?” asked Anne. The textbook the Legatus had given him sat closed in front of Joel; another friend, Martin, was sitting there looking incredulous, while a couple of our other classmates sat nearby, probably pretending to do homework so it wouldn’t be so obvious they were eavesdropping.
“I wouldn’t believe it myself,” said Joel, “but this is way too much effort for a hoax. Besides, what would they have to gain?”
“Doesn’t your family have money?” asked Anne.
“Not really. My dad’s business has been doing pretty poorly, and my stepmom has been back at work part time.” Joel’s dad owned a catalog sales business that brought discount electronics in from Asia. They’d hadn’t had any really big hits recently, but this was the first I’d heard about financial trouble. He went on, “Besides, it sort of fits. My mom hardly talked about her family at all, and she always seemed kind of foreign.”
Anne was not satisfied with his answer. “It’s not like a blackmailer would know that.”
“I don’t see how it could be blackmail,” I said, finally speaking up. “I don’t know how this can be real, either, but the government types were legit.” Hull had made a point of giving me one of his business cards as well, which I showed her.
She glared at me. “Why am I not surprised that you’ve gone along with this nonsense?”
“It beats video games.” I shrugged. “It’s not like I’ve been invited to another world, I just tagged along to the meeting so he’d have a witness.”
To Joel, then, she said “And you’re seriously considering transferring schools there?”
He nodded. “At least for a year. I mean, what do I have to keep me here? Who wouldn’t want to be a prince? If it sucks, I can come back.”
Martin spoke up, which he rarely did. “I dunno, man, it sounds like a hassle.”
“Didn’t you say that the family had been dying out over there?” asked Anne.
“Yeah,” Joel nodded slowly, “how vague they’ve been about what’s happened to that part of my family is weird… worrying… or something.
“Right now all I’m going to do is tour the school and hear more. My dad’s supposed to be checking with the school here that I can come back for Senior year if it doesn’t work out.”
“Tour… as in go through this gate thing? In the basement of the federal building? What a joke.” Anne picked up her backpack, turned to me and asked, “Hey, Mark, are you taking the train today?”
When I nodded, she tilted her head in the direction of the stairwell. “See you guys,” I told Joel and Martin, and I followed her out.
On the train home, she grilled me about everything Joel and I had heard, her mood getting worse and worse. When we got a few blocks from our station on the #7 line and it was time to split up to head home, she finally told me, “Look, I don’t know how this can be real, but you’re right, it would be really hard for this to be fake with everything you’ve seen. Just don’t let Joel get you involved in anything dangerous, OK? If something happened to you, I wouldn’t forgive either one of you.”
Friday evening, May 29th
South Riverside, inner Eastern suburbs of Feldaren
Dinner was over, and Violet Conniello had a question for her parents. “Dad, Mom, can I ask you something?”
“Of course, sweetie,” said her mother.
“Would it be alright if I start riding the streetcar to school? My friend Tess lives near here so I wouldn’t be alone.”
“What’s wrong with having your mother drop you off?” asked her father.
“Nothing, dad,” said Violet, “but it feels childish, and I’m almost in high school.”
It was deeply embarrassing; dropping her off really meant a ride in one of the mission’s official cars, with her mother in the back with her.
“We’ve talked about this before, Violet,” said her mother. “I don’t mind dropping you off, and your father worries.”
“She’s getting older, I suppose. This is the Tess we met at last year’s festival, yes?”
Violet nodded. Tess had been her best friend practically since both of them started middle school two and a half years ago, but she wasn’t surprised that her father didn’t remember that.
“Well, how about this, then,” said her Father. “You can start taking the streetcar for your Saturday classes until graduation as long as Tess joins you. If that goes well, you two can take it regularly when you start high school in the fall.”
- California, USA
Bio: Amateur SF/fantasy writer. Professional computer geek. Something of a grouchy old man, but mostly harmless.