Written by AllyTrish34. This is the continuation of Masai Giraffe Attack! and Coincidentally... as some segments of the Lucid Dream fan fiction. The whole Lucid Dream is inspired by the FantasTeen novel of the same name.
The first day of school unexpectedly goes pretty much better than three years ago in my dreaded hometown. Rafaela and Tristan are friendly (and polite); they take me on a school tour and sit with me during recess in the school canteen. They also introduce me to their friends: Vanessa, Darcey, and Amadea. And, just like I thought, as long as I don't say anything about a man wrapped in bandages like an Egyptian mummy floating in the air and watching their pork meatballs suspiciously, they won't call me a weirdo.
I feel satisfied with moving out of town. But, when Dad asks, "How's school?", I pretend to be not enthusiastic and flatly say, "There's classes...then chairs....and tables....and lots of people."
Dad nods dejectedly and resumes chewing on his tenderloin steak.
Suddenly I remember something. "Dad, what does 'serendipity' mean?"
Dad looks surprised. "Pleasing fortune. Not a common-used word. Is it for an English task?"
I ignore that. "What about 'zemblanity'?"
"The opposite. Misfortune. Bad luck," replies Dad. I bet he's been reading zillions of dictionaries. I bet. "You know, I can help you if you wish, Yolanda."
I contemplate the conversation I had just now, not caring about whatever Dad and Mom are talking about at the dining table. We're having dinner. I think about Devin Verona, about why he said them to me. Serendipity? Zemblanity? Or, maybe, it was the wrong way to say "hello". From Tristan and Mariska, I know a little about Devin Verona — coded as "the boy who ate bread in front of the class" by Tristan—he's pretty popular in this school, for good and bad things. The good news is he's a straight-A student who brings home A's in all his tasks and tests. That means that he's motherloving smart, right? The bad news is...he's famous for being a freaky scientist. His using a Bunsen burner instead of a bread toaster in class proves it. Sometimes, scientists get too creative when it comes to toasting bread.
Once again, I look at Dad. "Dad," I say slowly, "can you guess a person's middle name using math? Statistics, or anything similar..."
Dad titters. "No way, dear."
"Just like I thought," I mutter.
For a week, I try to avoid Devin Verona. Not that I have problems with him. I simply enjoy my social life. But, either this is good or bad luck, eventually, talking to Devin Verona can't be avoided anymore.
It is a Tuesday today. I woke up too early, all due to raining cats and dogs. I thought I was the first one to arrive at my class. I almost fall asleep on the table, which is why I jerk myself awake, surprised, when Devin Verona calls out, "HEY!" from the column of seats lining up neatly on my left. He's sitting on a table, a red apple and a lunch box on his lap. I don't know how to answer. Before I say anything, he's already talking to himself.
"Millions of ghosts walk on earth; unseen, when we're awake and we're asleep." He smiles, moving the apple to the table. "John Milton, Paradise Lost IV, 677-678."
I frown, while trying to keep a smile on my face even though I'm scared now. Ghosts, he says. A bunch of curious wraiths float close to the floor around me, getting close to Devin Verona. "Poetry watcher?"
Devin Verona shakes his head. "I know you can see 'em, Schneider," he breathes as he hops down from his table and walks toward me. He smiles; Devin Verona always smiles in a way that the edges of his eyes curl up. "The headless security guard said 'hello' to me nicely."
Just so you know, the ghosts I see aren't the spirits of dead people. Such things go to heaven after the person's soul dies. Instead, I've been seeing ghosts that are ghosts; something like Daphne's form after her Sirenix powers cursed her in Winx Club.
My jaw drops open. This isn't the first time I know that I'm not the only one who can see ghosts, but this is the first time I meet that kind of person in real life. "You can see them? I mean, you can..."
"I'm a bit more special." Devin laughs. His way of talking always sounds cocky like that. He holds out his hand for me to shake. "Devin Verona. Meet me in the lab during recess, all right?"
"Why can't we do it now?" I demand as I impatiently shake his hand.
"Oh, sorry, I can't," Devin says, shoving his hand into his pocket and takes a few steps backward. "I haven't finished my English assignment."
* * *
My mom always brings me food from home. For some reason, she's obsessed with healthy food. And hygiene. She doesn't trust those sold in canteens and kiosks. If possible, she might as well as not buy F&B from restaurants.
I peek into the lab. I'm unsure if we're allowed to be in there outside school periods, but Devin's there when I arrive. He's even tweaking a lab instrument.
"Hey," I greet awkwardly, entering the Promised Land. I point to a tube that he's heating. Inside is a liquid in the color of caramel.
"Tea. Twinings," answers Devin. He lifts the tube and places it on the table, putting his bread on top of the tube. He smirks. "So, how's it going?"
My heart skips a beat. "I'm supposed to be one who asks, right? How do you know that I can see ghosts?"
"Right," Devin says as he nods. For a genius, he's fairly silly. Devin lifts an Erlenmeyer flask from the table with the help of a pair of tongs and drinks his tea. I observe a slice bread on a ceramic plate that he's burning above a metal tripod topped with a gauze mat, then turn around to face Devin when he starts talking. "A dog whistle is being blown in New York."
I raise an eyebrow. "Huh?"
"Some students, especially the rowdy seniors, are attending a food fight. The first thing to be utilized is a cream pie inside its round pan. Mrs. Bloom will pass by, just wait and see."
I look out the window, counting silently with my fingers. A few moments later, Mrs. Bloom walks past us, flashing a smile at us.
"You can predict the future?" I guess.
"Ah, no, not my psychic vision which is special," Devin talks calmly as he flips his bread. He pulls out a small jar of jam from his pocket. Orange marmalade. "My hearing is, you know, pretty eccentric. I can hear all kinds of sounds since birth. Sounds from a thousand miles away, people's thoughts... I can catch sound waves that a normal person can't. Including..." Devin swings a toasted bread loaf in front of my face, "...ghosts' sounds."
He puts the bread down and spreads some jam on it with a Victorinox knife, and eats the bread. I plunk myself next to him, eating my lunch.
"What's your name again? Yolanda, right?"
I nod. He puts his second untoasted loaf on the tripod/gauze mat/plate combination. "I heard your sound when you walked here. You kept reminding yourself so no one would find out your ghost-whispering ability. It looks like you've had much trouble with it."
I stay quiet for a moment, eyes downcast. "How did you get over it? That difference is, you don't seem distracted."
"Oh, I was. I got scared of sounds that didn't come from around me, like firefighter sirens, shattering glass, and couples fighting verbally when I was small... But gradually I realized those didn't happen around me, and not everybody went through them. Then, I tried to ignore all those sounds, and looked for the ones that did come from around me. I started doing lots of things; all things. I read all books so I'd focus on reading, not my hearing. I started playing music so other sounds wouldn't be heard. I tried all sports. I tried everything; everything. Everything so I could distract myself from hearing such things."
"And did it work?" I ask.
"Oh, yes, more than successful." Devin giggles. Crumbs scatter around his mouth. "Now, I'm used to my hearing sense, and I'm good at distraction if I don't want to hear them. Extra: I'm good at almost everything, except for one."
"What is it?"
"Long-distance leap. Just the shadow of me myself leaping into my swimming pool in my backyard with an elastic underwear frightens me," says Devin grimly, shaking his head. I laugh. "Honestly, being able to hear all sound frequencies is creepy. But, as it goes with other things, it has a pro. You get to know the latest gossip and, this is the most important and crucial, answer keys read out loud in a secret room."
I blink, surprised. "Wow, you do it?"
Devin shrugs. "Sometimes. I'm already smart like a dolphin."
I've ever heard that dolphins can be smarter than monkeys and apes. Whatever, I make a face. "You're joking."
"Okay, that's enough about my little secret. How about you? You've been seeing ghosts since you were a newborn baby?" asks Devin, preparing his third loaf.
I'm not sure if we can use lab instruments however we want, but seeing the demonstration is actually exciting. Dopamine rushes through my blood. Devin blinks a few times, probably due to the smoke in his gold-flecked green eyes.
Shaking my head, I answer him. "I was caught in an accident when I was twelve. Not apropos to what I just said, I'm younger than most people in my grade by one year."
Devin's jaw drops, but he quickly recovers and nods.
"Anyway, where was I? — Oh. That part." I clear my throat. "My eyes went blind and I had to undergo a surgery. After that, I earned the ability of ghost-whispering."
"I know," Devin interrupts me through a mouthful of singed bread. It sounds more like, "Ah no." He adds with an off grin, "You, impulsive loud mouth."
I'm starting to get pissed off. If he knows it, he doesn't have to ask, right? And he knows that he just provoked me. I bare my teeth, almost turning into a thylacine, a supposedly extinct wolfish marsupial, but don't turn so.
"I'm just trying to verify it," he continues impatiently — he must have known my emotions. "Listen, I've got a story too similar to yours, I'm flummoxed. When I was twelve, I acquired hyphema, thanks to a tennis ball — what a gnarly reason to lose sight, right? I underwent a corneal transplant on my right eye. I can see ghosts afterward. Here. Give it a try." He takes off his owlish glasses and lends it to me. I try it on. Blurry on the right. Devin removs them. "I put concave lenses on the right one in purpose so it's got no focus. I'm not scared anymore, but it has turned into a daily habit."
I crack up. Actually, my laughing style tends to be more like a hyena's than a normal person's. I still have my animalistic side in my human form. So much for being a shapeshifter. "So, is this why you use owlish glasses on the first day?" I say, stifling laughter.
Devin smugs. "One half is just for fashion statement. I don't really need prescription glasses, anyways." He turns off the flame that flickers on the Bunsen burner. Unbeknown to me, he has made a stack of toasted bread, all for himself. Compare that with my biting my cheese sandwich once. "Okay, listen, Yolanda, the story goes like this: You see ghosts after an eye surgery. I see ghosts after an eye surgery. Aren't you curious?"
"What?" I ask, baffled. "Do you mean our eye doctor inserted something into our eyes that we can see specters? Oh, and what's all about our supernatural species?"
Devin chortles. "First, I'll answer your species question, then your cornea one. So, we supernaturals carry the genes of our own respective species. When we were twelve, we turned into the supernatural species. Not really a virus. It's just passed down between generations, but usually skipping one or more. I got the werewolf genes from my mom."
"Anomaly," I say flatly.
He ignores that. "Let's move to the next subject. Hell, no. No way. Not everyone who's gone through eye surgery sees ghosts afterward." Devin slurps the tea from his Erlenmeyer flask with a drinking straw. How impolite. "But," he blurts out, then continues drinking, "maybe the surgery was spiked, and this substance to spike it really was why; not by accident, but by coincidence. A bad coincidence."
"What do you mean?"
"Cornea donor," he answers confidently. "Probably, we're both special cases, but if there's anything we have to suspect, it's our cornea donor. Probably, our donor had special eyesight. Or probably, something else, I don't have an idea. But whatever it was," Devin takes a deep breath, on the verge of hyperventilating, "it might free us from our dreaded eyesight. So it has nothing to do with our species."