Zaire stood facing the building before him with something like grim resignation. It was very modernized with floor length windows embedded into the far right wall, among a scattering of orange and red bricks, set just underneath a sloping granite roof. The front of the building stretched out in front of him, dauntingly spectacular. Students were filing in massive double doors that reflected the sun's magnificent rays. Too sunny for a Monday morning.
White concrete led the way to Crystal Falls High School with what looked like palm trees lining the pathway either side. It was the sort of school Zaire had only seen in American films and he felt incredibly out of place. Today could go one of two ways for him: he could be the mysterious, strangely fascinating new kid that intrigued everyone, or the freak that no body wanted to bother with. He wouldn't mind the latter if he was honest, it would certainly complicate things less.
Girls with short skirts and tanned legs passed him, gossiping animatedly about some event that had happened over the weekend. He heard their thick, American accent and once more felt like he shouldn't be there. This was so not the place for him.
As soon as he entered, he was bombarded with curious glances. He thought a school with over three thousand students would have something better to do than scrutinize the new kid, but what did he know?
Straight to his left was a small room with the word REGISTRATION printed in bright red letters. He pushed the door open, slightly apprehensively. It appeared as though he wasn't the only new kid. Two other guys sat in chairs with an expression of total anxiety. He may not be the only new kid, but he was sure as hell the only one displaying impassive features.
He walked straight over to the desk. The woman looked up at him through thick rimmed glasses.
'Hello dear, are you new?'
'Yeah, my name's Zaire Boldeux. I've just transferred from England.'
'Oh yes, that's right. Well, we have your timetable all ready for you. Also, you'll need to get the teachers to sign this slip for you at the end of each lesson and return it back to me at the end of the school day.' She handed him a collection of papers. 'Good luck with your first day dear.'
'Thanks,' he smiled at her. If everyone was as nice as her, he should get along fine.
He glanced at the timetable which informed him that he was due in 'homeroom' with Mr Perkins. He had absolutely no idea where that was but he sure wasn't going to ask anyone. Room 150. That couldn't be far from here, could it?
The first door was marked M - 40.
'How the hell does this work,' he muttered under his breath, frowning at the sheet of paper in front of him.
'You're new,' a kid seemed to materialize out of nowhere. Zaire looked up at him. He was grinning, showing bright white teeth. The kid was half caste with warm hazel eyes and a mop of dark brown hair. He was only an inch shorter than Zaire.
'The name's Tyler,' he stuck out his hand. Zaire shook it.
'Hi, I'm Zaire.'
Tyler's eyes widened infinitesimally as Zaire spoke. 'I didn't know we were getting a British kid. You a transfer?'
'Well, welcome to America I guess,' he laughed. 'How are you finding it so far?'
'Yeah, must be a bit of a shock.'
'It is. But I think I'm going to like it. Could you tell me where Mr Perkins' room is? Room 150?'
'Hey what dya know? That's where I'm heading now. Follow me.'
Tyler seemed to have a profound affect on the students around him. Nearly everyone smiled at him, some stopped to chat and others just grinned. All of their eyes lingered on Zaire though, curious and intrigued. It appeared as though he wasn't going to be the freaky loner.
After a flight of stairs and endless corridors, Tyler pushed open the door for Room 150. Zaire's heart flipped unexpectedly as the chatter drew to a still and thirty pairs of eyes looked up at him. Mr Perkins stood at the desk, his eyes skimming over a sheet of paper.
'Late again Tyler?'
'Sorry, I was showing the new kid where to go.'
Zaire wasn't sure if he liked being called the "new kid" but he kept silent.
The teacher's eyes hovered up to speculate him, almost habitually. He wasn't interested, like everyone else. He looked almost bored.
'Welcome,' he said in a flat tone. 'Find yourself a seat and enjoy your stay at Crystal Falls.'
'Thanks,' Zaire muttered, following Tyler to the back of the room, where he sank down in an empty desk by the window. Almost as soon as he put his bag on the floor, people started talking to him.
'Whoa,' Tyler held up his hands, cutting them all off. 'Let's not bombard the poor guy. Go on Zaire, introduce yourself.'
'Um, hi. I'm Zaire Boldeux and I just transferred from England.'
'Sweet,' someone said. 'A Brit.'
'Why did you leave England?' someone braver dared to ask.
'I got transferred,' Zaire shrugged his shoulders, as though it was the most obvious thing in the world.
'But why?' they pressed on.
'My dad got a new job with better pay and longer hours over here in California. So we moved.'
'Right!' Mr Perkins' booming voice rang throughout the classroom, immediately bringing everyone to attention. 'I think that's enough with the questions.'