My legs were burning while we sprinted through the last couple of blocks to the schoolyard. The emphatic ringing from the school bell rushed blood to my knees, crushing my calfs with the vibrations. Time ran as fast as we did, but the earsplitting resonance made it seem faster.
Slowly but surely the bell’s noise abated, but we only reached the door before the sound dissipated entirely. Wyatt and I entered the building gasping for air like that Dweller was. I saw where he was coming from; after chasing us to the brink of exhaustion for some money and not getting any, I would be angry enough to punch a stranger in the face. I also wanted to punch myself for being late again.
“Damn, looks like we missed the bell by a good couple of seconds,” panted Wyatt.
“Great, Mrs. Sands will have our heads for this.”
“Correction: my head. Your ears might be bleeding from her screaming at you, but my thick skull is going to throb for days.”
“Don’t exaggerate it; your ‘thick skull’ will cushion the blow. I’m sure you won’t feel a thing,”
“Haha, what a riot,” he feigned amusement and smacked me over the back of the head.
It was maybe five minutes past Initium Excitus, and by this point we were late enough that running would just be a waste of energy. So, we casually strolled down the halls of the school to our class.
The hallways were stark and plain. Creme paint smeared the walls with simple black tile lining the floor. Simple and dull. Nothing to bat an eye at; nothing that grabs attention. And that is my every day. Once again, I do not complain. Simple is comforting.
At last we approached our first period class, history. We were relieved to finally arrive, but our teacher, Mr. Tinker, felt the opposite. The minute I stepped into the classroom we were already being scolded.
“What time is it currently, Mr. Oliveira?” Mr. Tinker asked rhetorically.
I decided to answer him anyways. I consulted the digital clock that hung over the chalkboard, “Ten past IE, sir.”
His frown contorted further, drowning the room in his disappointment. However it quickly turned into a smug smirk, “And would you care to indulge the class on what IE stands for?”
His enjoyment for embarrassing students was news to me, but I entertained his urge, “Initium Excitus, or ‘Beginning of the Wake.’”
“Now, care to indulge me on your excuse for missing your Wake?”
Wyatt stepped in to take some of the damage, “We were nearly mugged on the way here. Some Dweller tried stealing our money.”
Mr. Tinker stroked his nonexistent beard, an odd gesture for a man who could not grow facial hair. I assumed he was passing judgement on our story, “Coming from Mrs. Sands, I can’t see the truth in his words. Shall I interrogate you, Mr. Oliveira?”
I sighed from this petty squandering, “If it helps you realize that we’re telling the truth, then fine.”