Blue Wheel Academy was just a few blocks away from the Mayor’s manse. In the northern part of town, and up-scale to a point that didn’t seem possible. The Academy had a fully manicured lawn, shimmering bluegrass that sparkled when I looked closer. Trees were lined up along the walk to the three-story building. And above the main doors to the building, was the eight-spoked blue wheel that must have been the symbol of the Academy.

As we walked towards our new school, Lana and I tried to appear confident, and relaxed. We were superheroes. We had saved towns, defeated big criminal gangs. We just faced down a wyvern.

I tried not to let it show that we were absolutely terrified.

I hadn’t been to school in years. Even before we left Littlebrook. We didn’t have a school teacher for a while, and I had been fine with that. I mean, what did you need to learn after you could read and write? I just kept reading more comic books, and other stuff if my mom had made me.

But this school thing was important to people in the city. We couldn’t run away, we couldn’t fight, and being good wouldn’t cut it. It would be all about smarts. I was doomed.

The woman stopped at the entrance to the school. “Emelia, you enter through here. Lana and I shall walk through the Reza entrance.”

“The what?” I asked.

“Just go down this hallway, up the stairs, and turn right. Third door on the left, Mr. Grumbly.”

I snorted.

“Laughing at your teacher’s name shall result in more demerits.”

I sighed, pushed my way through the door. I had made it up the stairs, down the hall, and to the classroom door before I realized what she had said.

“Reza entrance?”

“Miss McKay?”


An old man looked down at me. Mid-forties, hair starting to go gray. He had a stare that was full of derision and scorn. Must have been standard for working at Blue Wheel.

“Mr. Grumbly?” I asked.

He sniffed, and bowed his head. “I am he. Are you Miss Emelia McKay?”


“Yup is not a definitive response, young lady.”

I grit my teeth. Merryl was going to be fixing up houses. We were not being blown up. This was a good way to deal.

“Yes, sir.”

“Miss McKay, you are late.” He jotted a note on a pad of paper on the desk. “That brings your total demerits up to five.”

“Five?” What had I even done? I just showed up to school, and already I was in that much trouble?

“Six, if you do not take your seat.” Mr. Grumbly held out his hand. “And ten if you do not hand over that ridiculous stick.”

Right, I was still holding on to my staff. It felt warm in my hands. Comfortable. I had built it with my own hands, over months of effort in secret. It had helped liberate my town. Helped bring down a dragon.

“I’m okay with ten demerits, Mr. Grumbly sir,” I said. “Could you please point in the direction of my seat?”

Mr. Grumbly’s hand twitched. He obviously wasn’t prepared for me to both accept the punishment of holding on to my staff, and be polite about it. I thought his head might burst into smoke processing it.

After a long moment, he pointed at the seat in the back. “Just take your seat.”

I nodded, and walked through the classroom. The rest of the students were all in rows, long wooden tables. They looked back at me, a mix of smug, scorn, and curiosity. As I walked past, I tried to take note of who looked at me in what way. It might be useful later, and Sela would be proud.

The last table had one spot open, right on the end by a window. I settled in, and looked around. No one looked back at me now.

Fine. I nudged the boy next to me. A bit of a burlier boy, dark-skinned and dressed closer to my fashion.


He ignored me. Stuck his head into his notebook.


“I’m not listening.”

I smiled. “My name’s Mel.”

“I don’t want to talk to you.”


“Because I already have enough problems.”

“Me, too!” I said. “Ten demerits, whatever that means.”

“Ten means you need to speak with the headmaster after classes today,” He said. “And you don’t want that.”

“We’ll see,” I said. “Now what am I supposed to be doing here?”

“Miss McKay,” Mr. Grumbly said. He held up a big book, and frowned at me and the boy.

“If you and Mr. Jones are quite finished, could you please open your textbook to page three-hundred and ninety-four?”


Mr. Grumbly’s eyes bulged. “Eleven demerits, Miss McKay.”

My head slumped onto the table. This was going to be a long day.

copyright 2019 Jack Holder

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