“Excuse me,” Randy stopped by one of the teachers directing kid traffic in the halls with his daughter. “I’m having trouble finding her room,” he raised the orange-haired girl’s hand. “Could you point us the right way?”
“Sure,” the friendly teacher smiled at both of them. “What’s the number?”
“42? We looked all over, but the highest room number we found was 30.” The teacher’s smile all but evaporated and her sparkling eyes dulled. She turned and pointed down the hall.
“Take a left at the end of the hall, first door on your right. If you think you’re in the wrong place, you’re there. Be sure to knock,” she answered with her back to them. Then, she shifted her attention back to directing children without another word.
“Oh, okay,” Randy was puzzled by her sudden coolness. He led his daughter down the hall and his paranoia started wondering if she somehow knew of his daughter’s abilities. He shook his head and looked down at the girl. Her long orange hair was tied back in a single braid that bounced against her back while they walked.
“Remember, no rough stuff, okay?” The girl nodded vigorously while smiling up at him.
“Like eggs!” she replied. Randy and his wife went through hundreds, maybe thousands of eggs trying to teach her how to play carefully.
“And no running,” he added.
“Like turtles!” she giggled.
“And please listen to your teacher like you listen to us,” he said as they turned left. Randy stopped immediately at the first door. It looked narrower than the other room doors and was closed. He looked to the next door and saw a bright classroom full of kids through the open door, then shrugged. “Well, it looks like the wrong place,” he grabbed the knob and opened the door.
He expected a bright and full room like the rest of them; he found a dark, small janitor’s closet that reeked of cleaning supplies.
“Definitely in the wrong place,” he said and closed the door again. “I think that teacher didn’t like us for some reason,” he said while looking around for someone more helpful.
“Daddy! Knock!” the girl said. Randy laughed.
“There’s no one in there, darling,” though he reached out and knocked just to humor her. He turned to look down the other hall, then heard the janitor’s closet open. White spiked tips appeared from behind the door, followed by a pale, teenage girl’s face. She stepped out from behind the door, but kept it open, and smiled at Randy. She was the last thing he expected for a teacher. She wore a red t-shirt with a yin-yang logo on the front and a pair of blue jeans. She looked nothing like the dresses and slacks worn by the rest of the staff.
“Looking for room 42?” she asked. Randy gave a half-confused nod. “C’mon in,” she stood aside and held the door open. Randy peeked inside and his eyes went wide. Instead of the janitor’s closet, he found a white room, bigger and brighter than any of the other rooms in the school. Randy counted about eight kids sitting together in the middle of the room, they all turned to face him when he walked in.
“I’m Dread, what’s your name?” The teenager dropped to one knee and asked Randy’s daughter. The moment he heard the girl’s name, Randy felt a bit relieved. He always felt a bit of guilt over his daughter’s name. He loved it, and it felt right to him and his wife. But it was an unusual name, like Dread’s.
“Riot,” his daughter said with a proud smile.
“Go make some new friends, Riot. I need to talk to your dad for a second, okay?” she said. Riot nodded eagerly, Randy squeezed her hand because she looked ready to run. She got the message and took slower than normal steps. Dread laughed and looked at Randy.
“I’ll bet she’s faster than that,” Dread said.
“Uh.. no, no. I mean, yes, of course, but she likes moving slow.” Randy stumbled out the reply and Dread laughed again.
“I’m sure you noticed this was a janitor’s closet,” she said. “Riot was assigned this class for a reason, we know how special she is.”
“What do you mean?” Randy narrowed his eyes at her. He didn’t question the hidden room very much because his daughter had superpowers. He was willing to accept that there are likely other mysteries in the world. However, the fact that she was put in a special class because of her abilities made him worry about government experimentation. Dread’s smile grew wider.
“Don’t worry, she’s perfectly safe,” Dread walked to a nearby desk that Randy hadn’t noticed and grabbed a manila folder from it. She turned and handed it to him.
“This will explain everything, and there’s a number you can call if you still have questions.”
“Are you the teacher?” Randy asked. Dread shook her head.
“I’m more like the chaperone. These kids are strong, but I’m stronger.”
“Are they all… strong like Riot?” he asked. “You too?” Dread nodded.
“They have different abilities too, but they’re all very, very strong. I’m sure you did all you could to prepare her for a class with normal kids, but accidents happen. Any of them could easily, accidentally rip off a normal classmate’s head. Luckily, we were able to put together enough of them to make a worthwhile class.”
“Wow, I didn’t know there were so many strong kids in the school district, much less the city.”
“There isn’t,” Dread shook her head. “Usually one per Earth, they’re all from different universes.”
“Different….universes?” Randy asked. Dread nodded and tapped the folder in his hands.
“It’ll explain everything.” Randy opened it and found an information packet. The first page had a corporate logo he didn’t recognize, a pair of red scissors with the name, “Sharp Education”. Before he could ask about the company, he was distracted by a knock on the door behind him.
“Oh!” Dread said. “Sorry to rush you out, but you need to go back to your universe before I answer that,” she wiggled the doorknob once, then opened the door. “See you at 3,” she said once he stepped out, then she closed the door again.