I glanced at all the stuff again and then looked at Dad. “Where were you keeping all this stuff?” I asked.
“In our closet.” he said.
“How did you manage that?” I asked, thinking of all the clothes he and Mom had, not to mention all the shoes and everything else they had in there.
He gave me a secretive smile and said, “Oh, that’s classified. You’ll find out in a couple years.”
Then Mom finally came back into the kitchen holding two boxes, one smaller than the other and both covered in dark red velvet. They looked like they held jewelry. “What’s this?” I asked, taking the boxes from her. I opened them and saw they were both the same thing, just in different sizes. They were like crests or something, because they had a black ‘A’ with gold scrollwork behind it.
“It’s the insignia you’ll be wearing to show your rank.” she said and I gave her a confused look.
“There are two ranks, and three degrees for each of them.” said Dad, “You’re a 1stClass Novice.”
“What are the other ones?” I asked.
“Well, there’s yours, then the Novice 2ndClass, Novice 3rdClass, Proficient 1stClass, Proficient 2ndClass, and Proficient 3rdClass. After that, you go on to the real world.” he said, sipping some more of his coffee.
We were quiet for a few minutes as I surveyed what lay on the island again. “So,” he said, both him and Mom sitting down again. “Do you believe us now?”
“It just seems a little wild still, but there’s too much evidence to ignore.” I said and they both nodded with smiles on their faces.
“Listen, I know you like this school you’re going to now and you like your friends and everything, but I guarantee you that you’ll like this school. Your father wasn’t kidding when he said it’s unlike any school you’ve ever dreamed of. It is, and the people there are extraordinary, a kind unlike any other in the world.” Mom said, smiling softly at me.
Then Dad reached across the island and took my hand, squeezing it as he said, “I promise you’ll love it. I know that once you finally get there, you won’t even remember anything else.”
“Okay.” I said and a flash of surprise crossed his eyes.
“You’ll go?” he asked, his face lighting up once more in hope.
“Yeah, I’ll go.” I said and I thought for a minute he was going to jump for joy.
He contained himself though and said, “Oh Rylee, I’m so happy.” He jumped up and hugged me across the island before sitting back down again. “I can tell you, you’re mind is going to be blown when you see this place. It’s truly amazing.”
“I can’t wait.” I said as we all started gathering everything up. They helped me get everything in my room, then gave me my schedule and a list of required items to bring, both for school and for the dorm. Mom and Dad had already gotten me everything on the school supplies list so I didn’t worry about that, but I was very interested in the other school supplies shown in the catalog, along with the stuff for my dorm room.
There were pens that wrote with invisible ink, pens that excreted an acid that would melt anything and I meananything, pens that were also cameras, guns, lasers, and I saw one that was even a flame thrower! How cool is that? But really though, why would someone need a flame thrower in the size and shape of a pen?
I got to the clothes section of the catalog and took out a pen, circling everything I had to have, and let me tell you I needed a lot of it. They had everything! And I know Mom had told me that already but still, I was amazed! They had white long-sleeve shirts, short-sleeve and sleeve-less shirts that came in both red and white, and they had a choice of pleated skirts in red and red plaid. There were coats, jackets; they had dresses (white or red) for summer and winter, leggings in red, white, and black for us girls in the winter since we couldn’t wear pants, and even socks.
My hand was a blur as I excitedly circled everything I wanted, and it didn’t stop when I got to the dorm room section. They had beautiful bedspreads, in of course red and white with the Atlas insignia in black on both, though at the top of the page and on my list they said I was allowed to bring my own. They had trash cans that were incinerators, dental floss that also was able to cut through steel, little storage bins to put extra stuff that just happened to be bulletproof, and other little things like that.
I had a blast, listening to my music all the while, and when I was done with the catalog I turned to my books, which like I’d noticed earlier, were very different than any other books probably in the world. My list included:
Things the World Doesn’t Want You to Know: Conspiracy Theories Uncovered (Grade 1)
Secret Science (Grade 1)
How Agents Changed History: The Very Beginning
Languages and Dialects of the Americas (Grade 1)
Anthropology: The Americas
Fundamentals of Espionage
Making and Breaking Codes for the Beginner
A few hours later, after I had skimmed through all my books I became engrossed inHow Agents Changed History: The Very Beginning. Then, only a few chapters in about extraordinary men and women agents saved the country and the world, I began to notice something. They seemed so indescribably awesome and as I gazed at the book’s cover, recalling their heroic tales, I couldn’t help but feel inadequate.
These people were special, they were strategizing geniuses, they could defuse a bomb with seconds to spare then shove it into the special compartment hidden in their fur wrap and leave a prestigious after-party without anyone ever knowing who she really was or that she had just saved all their lives. And what could I do? I could kick butt in volleyball and make you eat dust at track, but that’s really it. I wasn’t a genius like my dad, my school grades were above average I guess, but not genius, and the only reason I was so good at sports was because, well, because I’d almost been kidnapped.
I was nothing special, just an ordinary girl with extraordinary parents. I sighed and put the book down, suddenly not sure I would make the cut at Atlas. And then as Mom poked her head in to say it was dinnertime, I had a suddenly terrifying thought come to me. Mom and Dad were really excited about me going to Atlas, almost and if not more than I was, and why wouldn’t they be? Their only daughter was going to attend the beloved school they’d gone too and train to be an extremely talented agent like her mother.
Or so they thought.