My Best Friend is a Prince from Another Worldby
Pt. II, Ch. 9: “Never mind that. I just rescued a girl.”
Thursday, Sept 3rd
School and then our apartment
The bike ride to school in the morning had gone well; it was a long but straight shot on the boulevard to school, and unlike my ride into the city back home, I didn’t have to go over any bridges. There was a covered bike rack next to the sports center; it was almost full since I arrived late during my free period. Amazingly, many of the bikes weren’t locked up at all, and those that were had locks that wouldn’t have lasted long in New York – there wasn’t a U-lock among them. I wondered whether this was just that safe, or if you could get some a spell that would protect your bike from thieves.
Classes were still just starting today, so there wasn’t much new, and it was nice to have found a small crew to hang out with – Jack and Kai, plus Amy came along for lunch today. We had another mandatory PE orientation for the last two periods of the day, and then Joel headed off to the soccer team meeting with Jack, while I biked home.
It was still during work hours, so traffic was lighter than in the morning, and I worked up a good sweat biking back in the heat. Once at the apartment, I brought my bike around the back bring it straight into the laundry room and was just going to go in when I heard a cat meowing.
There was a gray and white cat, peeking out of the bushes behind the house. It looked at me, meowed again, and ducked back into the bushes.
I showered and thought about what to do with the rest of my afternoon. I hadn’t really had any time at home to myself outside of the late evenings; at home, my brother kept to himself and my folks, if they were home at all in the early evenings, were usually busy grading papers or working on some publication or other.
I decided I was going to make something to bring in for my lunch tomorrow; I looked in the refrigerator and didn’t see anything I’d like. When we’d been moving in, there hadn’t been time to go ourselves, so Joel’s mom had given Dormer’s housekeeper a shopping list.
There were no cold cuts, nor any cheese I knew I’d like - although there was an unlabeled brick of soft white cheese that I tried and rewrapped. It might have been the local version of jack; creamy enough, but quite bland; better to cook with than for sandwiches. What we had were too many vegetables which were going to go uneaten unless Dormer sent his housekeeper over to cook them.
The pantry was mostly full of unfamiliar stuff, although the local Crispy-Squares cereal was decent. There was pasta, at least, and sliced bread but nothing like a bag of sandwich roll.
I decided to go to the nearest market and see what I could get. My dad had left me with a full semester’s worth of lunch money and allowance, the lunch money particularly generous since I was getting free lunch on the scholarship. At home, it would have been a little over $300; at the exchange rate here, it has made for 3 and a quarter Imperials… 250 mil, as they’d have said here. It felt like a lot of money for someone my age, but it had to cover me until winter break.
I walked up to the boulevard, and a couple of blocks down found the place Dormer had sent his housekeeper – called Super Jordi’s. It was small for a supermarket, but clearly more than a convenience store. They also had a meat and deli counter, and all I was able to get enough lunch meat and bread for a week’s worth of sandwiches, as well as some more familiar cheese and some canned foods. Not bad at all for a week’s lunch money!
On the way back into the house, I got meowed at again. There was the same cat, in the bushes near the front of the house. It looked at me expectantly and meowed again. I decided to offer it a slice of ham out of my shopping bag. It wouldn’t approach me, but when I put it on the ground about halfway towards it and walked back to the door, it dashed out and took it. As I went into the house, I was almost sure I heard it say, “thank you!” but must have been reading too much into another meow.
Math homework awaited me, and I lost track of time. Joel came back quite a bit later, practically bursting in. “You wouldn’t believe what just happened to me!” he said.
“I’m guessing this isn’t about the cat in our yard?”.
“There’s a cat in our yard?” He shook his head. “Never mind that. I just rescued a girl.”
“Rescued a girl. You remember the girls we saw on our first ride to school on Tuesday, right?
“One of them was on the streetcar coming home, and there were a couple of shady looking guys who followed her off, so I followed them off. Sure enough, they were hassling her and when I told them not to, one of them grabbed her bag so I chased after them and got it back.”
“Dormer is not going to like that at all.”
The door opened just as I said that, and both Count Dormer and Special Agent Morgan walked in. “What is it that I’m not going to like?” said Dormer.
After Joel had finished his story – and in greater detail – Dormer was, as expected, not happy. “Joel, while you said you were bigger than they were, they outnumbered you, and one of them could have had a knife or worse. You don’t have any magical wards, which they could have had, or bigger friends nearby.”
“I can take care of myself,” he said.
“Have you ever been in a real fight?” asked Dormer.
“Not really, no,” said Joel.
“You need to be more careful. Especially if you don’t want either Agent Morgan or me to be shadowing you closely.”
“I understand,” said Joel.
Dormer told us a little more about what to expect; it sounded like Ms. Yali would be back to start teaching us (well, mostly Joel) some magic next week, and that at some point they’d be doing some self-defense classes as well.
After Morgan left, Dormer had some more questions. “So, was this the girl from your class that you were talking about from the trip committee?”
“No,” said Joel. “Violet’s a first year. I didn’t realize it until after I got her bag back, but she’s in my Obdresti literature class.”
“Was she the one you were pointing out to me at the opening assembly?” I asked.
“No, that wasn’t Violet. She said they usually took the streetcar together, though. Maybe I can get her to introduce you.”
I shook my head. “I think that’d be a bad idea if you want to keep a good impression with Violet.”
“Don’t sell yourself so short, Mark,” said Dormer.
Dormer had a few more questions about Violet; Joel had walked her to near her house, and it sounded like her parents were rich. When they were done talking, Dormer said, “I don’t want to be too negative; you know. It was not smart, but it was a very gallant thing you did for her. Your instincts did you credit.”
I had one question for him before he left. “In this world, can cats talk?”
“House cats?” he asked, and I nodded.
“Not normally,” he said. “Why?”
I told him about the gray and white cat outside. He explained a bit more about the house’s magic wards, and finished saying, “I don’t think there’s any chance a magical creature could have gotten in. You must have been imagining things, and it’s not a good idea to feed strays.”
Friday, Sept 4th
We had our first physics class the day before, and it seemed harmless enough. The class had its labs on Saturday mornings, and things took a turn for the weird part way through class on Friday when the teacher, Dr. Amril, started talking about lab partner assignments.
“I noticed that we have exactly the same number of girls and boys in the class,” he said, with a smile that was a little creepy coming from a teacher. “I know you all probably have friends that you’d like to work with but trust me… at your age you should consider this an opportunity.”
He then ran through the class roster, in order of the girls’ last names. A girl from another homeroom named Mina Fremis got paired with Kai. Amy got paired with Joel. Then, when he got to N, the teacher called for someone named Cory Nement who was paired with me.
There was a bit of a buzz in the room, and it didn’t sound encouraging. I meant to ask Kai about it, but by the time the teacher got through the rest of the class, and we went off to homeroom, I had forgotten.
- California, USA
Bio: Amateur SF/fantasy writer. Professional computer geek. Something of a grouchy old man, but mostly harmless.