Turbo’s stomach fluttered with nerves as he followed the principal into her office. It was spacious, larger than his own bedroom, and it reminded him of a nursery. Dozens of potted plants lined the walls and floors around the room. The principal’s dark wood desk sat in the center of the room reminiscent of a forest clearing. The lean, lithe woman walked around the desk and sat in the highback chair; she gestured at the seat in front of her for Turbo.
“Did I do something wrong, ma’am?” he asked as he sat down. She shook her head; it made her emerald curls bounce.
“Please, call me Mundo,” she said. “You haven’t done a thing wrong; however, I’m sorry to say I cannot, and will not let you enroll as a student here.”
“What?!” Turbo straightened up and sat on the edge of his seat. “Why not!?” He didn’t expect any more roadblocks after spending close to a year trying to convince his parents to let him attend. In the back of his mind, he wondered if his mom changed her mind and called the principal.
“Our school has a tradition, a requirement really. Each student is assigned a target for practical experience. More than half of this year’s freshman won’t survive until graduation. It’s meant to a test of their commitment and skills.”
“I’m committed!” Turbo blurted out.
“Oh, I don’t doubt that one bit,” Mundo smiled. “Can you tell me why though?” she asked. “Why are you so interested in attending this school as opposed to something… safer and normal?”
Turbo’s posture deflated slightly as a confused look washed over his face. He never gave it any thought. His parents asked him the same question several times, but he dismissed it as a question designed to talk him out of his decision. Something about the way Mundo asked him actually gave him pause. He thought quietly for a moment and Mundo, for her part, didn’t rush him. She sat still with a patient smile on her face as if she were watching a child attempt something for the first time. Her aqua eyes sparkled with amusement. Finally, he looked up again to meet her eyes.
“My name’s Turbo,” he said. “I’m not John, Eric, Mike, Tom, Harry, Jason, Joe, Fred, Bill, or Pete. I’m not meant for a safe, normal school. That’s boring. I want to meet interesting people with cool names that can do amazing things. I know less than half a class graduates, but those that do are amazing. That’s what I’m meant for,” he said. Mundo smiled.
“You’re right,” she said. “That is what you’re meant for. Luckily, I know of a school where you’ll fit in. Much easier than you ever would here.”
“A different school?” Turbo asked. “You still haven’t told me why I can’t come here.”
“Even if we made you the target for everyone else in your class, there’s no one that could kill you,” she gave a half-shrug. “It’s cheating, basically.”
“What do you mean no one could kill me?” Mundo gave him a melancholy smile that seemed odd.
“I really wish I had time to explain why,” she sighed. “Unfortunately, I need to get back out there to keep monitoring registrations.” Mundo opened a desk drawer, reached in, then placed two cards on her desk. One was made of glass about the size of a playing card and the other was solid black and the size of a business card.
“This is yours now,” she tapped the glass card. “It’s like a smartphone. Play with it and learn how to use it.” Then, she tapped the black card. “On Monday morning throw this at a wall or the floor, then go into the hole. That’s your new school. Just show up at the front office and they’ll help you out.” After her explanation, Mundo stood. “Got all that?” she asked. Turbo nodded and stood to let the Principal walk him out.
“Have fun, Turbo. I think you’ll like Toku-High.”