Quint opened his eyes, then closed them again quickly. Then he opened them again, this time, prepared for the screaming of the alarm on his phone.
It wasn’t a literal scream, although for 99 cents he could have purchased the app that would have turned all the sounds on his phone into a scream, but this early in the morning pretty much any sound pretty much was a scream. A loud, ear-piercing scream. There was also a bright light that went along with it, but at this point he was going to deal with only one problem at a time, and the sound was by far the biggest problem. He solved the light problem by putting a blanket over his head.
Using his amazing powers of early morning dexterity, Quint reached over and simultaneously hit the off button while also knocking the phone off his nightstand, where it hung by the cord, swinging in mid air like a hanged man. It was probably a metaphor for something, but remembering that this was how he broke his last three phones, and each one was getting regressively older in technology, he slowly reached his hand out and placed it back on top of the nightstand, ready to ignore it and go back to sleep. It was the first day for something, but in his sleep-soaked mind he could really remember what.
That’s when he heard a literal scream.
Again, not part of the 99 cent app he could have purchased. And not a blood-curdling scream so much as it was a more mischievous scream.
“GETUPGETUPGETUPGETUPGETUPGETUP!” this scream was accompanied by jumping on his bed. Quint moved the blanket off his face long enough to see his little sister, Tina fully dressed in her school uniform, leaping with glee and carefully avoiding his legs.
“It’s too early.”
“You just say that because you were up to late. Get up, you’re going to be late for your first day.”
“I don’t wanna.” Which was partly true. Quint didn’t really have a problem with school, but he had been up late configuring his room perfectly. He didn’t have a problem moving in time for his Junior year, although he’d miss his friends in Vermont, he was glad that his mother had gotten a job so close to Washington, D.C. But that didn’t change the fact that he was still sleeping, and wasn’t in a rush to join the school halfway through the year.
“Come on! You’ll be late!”
“You’re 8. Aren’t you too old for this?”
“You’re never too old to annoy your brother.”
Quint tried to roll over just as Tina was leaping up, and she ended up landing right on his shin, falling off the bed and onto pile of clothes that he hadn’t put away yet. Then the tense moment started… was she going to cry, thus ensuring that his day would start out not only sleep deprived but also with a real possibility of missing breakfast while he tried to calm her down and being stuck not picking out the perfect first day outfit (why didn’t he do it last night? Why did he have to find the perfect place for all his books) or would she laugh it off and get him to go downstairs?
Fortunately, the little sister gods were shining down on him as she laughed, pushed the pile around and just said, “You’re going to be late!”
Downstairs it was.
As it was today, Quint realized he had successfully dodged two bullets, so the day was off to at least a decent start, even if he was going to have probably play some lame icebreakers teachers usually liked to play with the new kid who joined the class halfway through the year. He was used to being the new kid, but with starting on the first day, he can just blend in. But at this point in the year, unofficial lunch table assignments were set, classes were full of their personalities, and romantic connections established. He resigned himself to the idea that starting in the middle of the year meant you were going to be a 17th wheel in everything.
At least third wheels could be functional 17th wheels were just unnecessary.
Quint slowly extracted himself from his bed, placed his glasses on his face, and went downstairs where his father was wrapping up a big breakfast of bacon and eggs. He knew that there was also some kind of victory because they had real bacon instead of the turkey stuff which wasn’t really bacon so much a some kind of punishment for an infraction he didn’t know he caused.
“Ready for your first day, Thomas?” came a strong voice from the kitchen.
His father was the only person who called “Thomas.” Everyone, including his mother called him “Quint.” When she was pregnant with him, she got big, bigger than anyone could think for such a petite woman. Everyone joked that she must be having Quintuplets. There was rumor that he had a twin brother (and Tina often joked that he was the evil one) but it just turned out he was an exceptionally fat baby. His mother wanted to give him the official name “Quint” but settled for using that as his middle name, and naming him after his father, Thomas. This technically name him Quint, Jr, or as his best friend Ben used to call him, Quint Deux. To this day, he’s the only one who calls him QD.
“Almost. Just gotta put on my shoes,” Which was Quint-speak for “I need to get fully dressed.”
“Well, you should hurry. I want you to take the bus to get used to it, because I’m not driving you,” his father replied, which was a lie, because his father loves driving because it gets him out of the house.
“I didn’t know that the bus went to this fancy prep school you’re sending me to,” Quint replied.
“It does.” was the final answer.
Quint was initially skeptical about attending a prep school. The schools in Fairfax County were supposed to be the best in the country. Then yet another school shooting occurred, his father got a little freaked out, and decided that the two of them were going to start at this prep school that apparently got all sorts of great reviews. Apparently it was like if Jesus and Zeus got together and built a school on the edge of the Nation’s Capital.
“And you’re going to miss that bus if you don’t take a shower and get ready now,” his father said, putting his food in front of him. It smelled wonderful.
Quint managed to shove as much of it as he could in his mouth before managing to run upstairs, shower, and slip on his school-mandated uniform.
He wasn’t sure what to expect from the uniform itself. He’d seen pictures of it, but there was something a bit off about it. It was a plain blue button up shirt with a sweater-vest that could be worn over it on really cold days (despite the fact that it was a really could day, he had made a vow to himself that he was not going to show up to the first day of any school under any circumstances, wearing a sweater vest. He just couldn’t do it) and khaki pants. They were allowed to wear any shoes they wanted as long as they were black (after all, they needed to express some individuality).
What set this off was the arm band. It was a plain, black, metallic arm band that snapped snuggly around his - and they were adamant about this - right wrist. At first glance it seemed almost like a watch if anyone his age still wore a watch, but there wasn’t a face. It was just plain black. And kind of cold.
When he first got it, he tried to look to see if there was any kind of electronics in it. Like it was some kind of high-tech tracking device to make sure he didn’t skip school. Of course, he only skipped school exactly one day, and that was to attend the first screening of the new X-Men movie that came out, and even then he was quickly caught by his sister and grounded up until this most current school year. But there was nothing to indicate it was some kind of high tech tracker or anything like that. It was then that he was certain that it was some kind of thing to make kids think that it was, in fact, a high tech tracker, when in reality, it was just a metal band. But they’d behave more if they thought it was something more sinister.
Quint was snapped out of his thought by the sound of a bus driving away. He grabbed his bag that at this point, was mostly for show since he didn’t have any books yet, and bolted down the stairs, managing to trip over a spare box and face planting right into another box that contained something hard.
“So… you going to need a ride to school” His father said, standing over him, slowly rubbing a sponge over the pan he just used to cook bacon.