A Chapter by Amber Perry

Introduction to Scout, Daniel, Stella, Joss, and Headmistress Arbott, as well as pretty much dropping you headfirst into the world.


Scout stared at her map in dismay. She was utterly lost, having been wandering around the sea of people for a good ten minutes and feeling no closer to the dorms than when she started.  She twisted the map around, trying to find recognizable. When her attempt proved futile, she sighed in frustration and collapsed onto a nearby bench.

"Freshman?" Scout whipped her head around to find the owner of the unfamiliar voice. A tall, dark-skinned boy with cropped black hair was grinning down at her.

"Yeah. How'd you guess?"

The boy laughed and plopped down beside her. "I recognized that look of 'hopelessly lost,'" he informed her. "I was wearing it last year." He stuck out a hand. "Daniel Alabaster."

Scout took his hand and pumped it up and down. "Jennifer Scout. I prefer Scout, mostly." Scout motioned down at her black T-shirt, cameo pants, and combat boots. "I'm not exactly girly enough to be a Jenny."

Daniel laughed again. "What are you looking for, Scout?"

"Right now, I'm just trying to find the dorms. I need to unload my bags." Daniel looked over her green backpack and the brown suitcase she'd been lugging around.

"You've got a lot less in tow than most of the other girls that come through this place," he observed.

Scout looked at him, eyebrows high. "Well, I use shampoo and soap. I have one stick of eyeliner which I know for a fact will last me at least six months. All of my clothes fit in about half the suitcase. My laptop's in here," she said, motioning to her backpack, "and I don't carry a purse. I have three hats, a couple posters, and everything else is school supplies. I don't have a billion 'necessities' like most girls."

Daniel smiled slyly. “What sort of school supplies did you bring?”

Scout cocked her head. “Was I supposed to bring something aside from the usual? Pencils, notebooks, and things of that nature, right?”

“Oh, you’ll see. Anyway,” Daniel said, abruptly rising, “let’s get you to those dorms.”

Scout snorted. “Way to change the subject,” she muttered, but didn’t object past that. She picked up her suitcase with the assurance that she’d find out soon enough and followed Daniel as he expertly weaved through the crowds. He obviously knew his way around, so Scout simply trailed behind him, hating the fact that she was feeling just a bit like a lost puppy.

When they arrived at the dorm building, Daniel opened a large oak door and stepped into a big, open room filled with couches and chairs. People bustled about the space, and very few places to sit were empty.

“This is the common room. The girls’ wing is those two doors off to the right, and the men are over here, the two doors to the left.” Daniel flopped down onto a couch and kicked his feet up. “I hope you know which room you’re supposed to be in, because I’m not allowed in the women’s dorms. Rooms one through seventy-five are through door A, and seventy-six through one-fifty are through door B. Have fun.”

Scout thanked him and started down the hall marked A, counting off doors as she went. Jeez, she thought. This place is huge! She climbed a staircase and continued walking.

Twenty-five, twenty-seven, twenty-nine… She stopped short and backed up a yard or two and looked to the other side of the hall. Aha! Twenty-eight! Scout unlocked the door with the key she’d received at the office that morning and threw open the door.

A girl was already in there, totally unpacked. She’d hung bead strings along the walls of the side of the room that she’d clearly already claimed. When Scout cleared her throat uncertainly, the girl looked up from the book on her lap and turned. Scout took in the sight of her gorgeous roommate with awe. She had long black hair that curled into delicate waves that framed her Latino-tanned face. Her dark brown eyes glimmered with serious intelligence, and it was obvious that she was observing Scout with just a bit of disdain. Scout suddenly felt self-conscious of her blue eyes and mousy brown hair, wishing she’d done something a little prettier with her clothes, which made her look like a total non-girl compared to her roommate’s knee-length pencil skirt and figure-flattering pink halter top.

“You are my roommate?” the girl asked in a cute Peruvian accent.

“Um, yeah. I’m Scout. Jennifer Scout.” Scout stuck out a hand awkwardly.

The girl took it and carefully shook it. “I am Estella Maria Gonzales. You may call me Stella, if you wish, as my classmates at home used to do.” She looked around and shifted her weight uncomfortably. “I hope you do not mind that I have picked my bed already. I got here at nearly seven o’clock this morning.”

Scout grinned in a plucky effort to break the ice. “Nah, it’s cool. I like sleeping on the right, anyhow.” Stella smiled for the first time, and Scout sighed inwardly, relieved.

She began unloading her various things. It didn’t take long, so she went ahead and hung up her posters as well. Again, the contrast between her tastes and Stella’s was so blatantly obvious that it almost hurt to look between the silver and blue beads that hung gracefully from the ceiling to the black and red posters that were stuck to the wall with ordinary duct tape.

“Linkin Park? Breaking Benjamin? Paramore? Who are these?” Stella’s nose wrinkled in curiosity. “I’ve never heard of them.”

Scout looked at her roommate, horrorstruck. “You’ve… you’ve never… heard…” she spluttered. Stella shook her head. “Did you live under a rock prior to coming here?” Scout wondered aloud as she pulled her laptop out of her backpack and booted it up.

Stella walked over to Scout’s bed to see what she was doing. “Not a rock, exactly,” she mumbled in answer to Scout’s rhetorical question. “West Virginia.”

Scout pretended not to hear as she pulled up her favorite music-sharing website. She keyed “Breaking Benjamin” into the search box and rapped her fingers on the bed as it loaded. When it did, she scrolled down and clicked “Give Me a Sign” as she turned on the speakers.

As the song started playing she warily watched Stella’s changing facial expressions. Her features progressed from confused… to a careful, calculating look… to appearing like she was actually enjoying herself. She nodded her head back and forth in time with the beat and was actually singing along by the last chorus.

When the song was over, Scout beamed at Stella. Without a word, she typed in “Misery Business” and soon Haley Williams’ voice blared through the room. Stella grinned and danced in a way that implied her complete ignorance to the popular hip-swivel, cleavage-flaunt that most girls chose to use.

“That is very good,” Stella admitted when it was over. “Certainly, I would love to hear more later.”

Scout glanced up in confusion, as she’d already been about to type another title. “Later? What’s wrong with now?”

“Freshman orientation? We have ten minutes to be at the main lecture hall,” Stella said as she pointed a perfectly manicured nail at the clock on the wall.

“Well, crap.” Scout stood and started for the door, just a tad irritably. After all, she’d only been there about fifteen minutes, and already she was being forced to find another building. “Do you know your way around here?” Scout asked in frustration.

“I have a map.”

“I had a map!” Scout pouted. “That doesn’t mean I can find anything.”

Stella smiled. “You cannot read a map?”

“Oh, shove off.” Scout slung her backpack over her shoulder and stuffed her laptop inside in one fluid motion. “Get me to the lecture hall.”

“Como quieras, terca comandante chica.”

“And don’t speak Spanish at me!” Scout ordered with annoyance. Stella grinned and a dimple appeared in her left cheek.

As Stella led Scout around campus to get to the orientation, Scout hoped they were handing out class schedules during the program, or immediately after, or something. She still hadn’t received an itinerary, and classes started the next day. It’d be awfully embarrassing to be late to a class she didn’t know she was even taking.

Scout noticed as they walked that the other kids were scattered fairly evenly. This disappointed her a little, because she figured the flocking patterns might help her to see where the freshmen were supposed to be. There were people everywhere, but no more in any one place than another.

When they got to a brick building, Stella announced in her clipped accent that they’d arrived.

“How can you tell?” Scout asked, squinting. “It looks the same as all the others!”

“Well,” Stella began, unfolding her map for the umpteenth time while Scout peered over her shoulder to see, “that over there is the sports field. Also, the big sign above the door says ‘Main Lecture Hall.’” Scout looked right and saw a group of kids playing tackle football. She looked around the corner of the building and saw that there was, in fact, a sign over the huge doors as well.

“Oh. Okay.” She pushed her way through the doors. Lots of students were already seated and staring at envelopes. Before Scout could register the oddness of that, a pudgy man with an ugly polka-dot tie stopped her before she could breeze past him.

“Hello,” he said cheerfully. “Your seat is the one with the envelope bearing your name. They’re arranged alphabetically. In the envelope you should find your semester schedule and a paper explaining why you were placed in the particular classes you received. Understood?” When Scout nodded, he said, “Good. Move along, please.” As she stepped forward, she heard him begin the same speech to whoever was behind her.

She started along the last few rows of seats, looking at the names on the envelopes to give her a ballpark of where she’d be. Zimmerman… Tucker… Smith… Ryder…

Scout backed up one row and moved in until she found the envelope marked “Scout.”

“What the heck is this?!” the girl to Scout’s right said. “Intro to Weaponry? Demonology for Beginners? What kind of school is this?”

A curious glance toward the voice revealed a slight girl with an incredulous expression staring at the unfolded paper in her lap. Her hair was bleached-blonde with shocking fuchsia tips. She wore a black corset over a red-and-black long-sleeved shirt accompanied by a black lacy micro miniskirt, fishnet tights, and blood red stiletto heels. She noticed Scout staring at her and turned her heavily lined, glossy, grey-green eyes to meet Scout’s.

“What’d you get?” she demanded in distress.

Scout tore open the envelope.

1)    Latin I �" Mr. Sneed

2)    Street Smarts �" Miss Gibson

3)    Intro to Weaponry �" Mr. Harper

4)    Tracking �" Mr. Keown

5)    Demonology for Beginners �" Ms. McGinty

6)    Integrated Chem./Bio �" Mrs. Paulson

7)    Physical Education �" Mr. Smith

“What the…?” Scout pulled out the second paper, the one with the specifics and information.

1)    Latin I was chosen for you because you show promise with roots and pre/suffixes already.

2)    Street Smarts was chosen for you because you show exemplary “people” skills and may do good undercover work.

3)    Introduction to Weaponry was chosen for you because it is a required course for all freshman students.

4)    Tracking was chosen for you because you show signs of keen awareness and accompanies your possible future of excellence in the field of undercover work.

5)    Demonology for Beginners was chosen for you because it is a required course for all freshman students.

6)    Integrated Chemistry and Biology was chosen for you because it is a prerequisite for any Magicks course, an area which you show promise for.

7)    Physical Education was chosen for you because it is a required course for all students every year.

Dumbfounded, Scout stared over at the girl with the fuchsia-tipped hair. Numbly she heard herself say, “I do believe we’re not in Kansas anymore.”

Fuchsia-Tips laughed out loud. “I don’t see any Munchkins,” she observed.

Scout cracked a slightly hysterical smile. “If anybody mentions a Wizard, I’m leaving.”

Fuchsia-Tips clapped her hands. “I like your style,” she declared. “I’m Joss. You and me can crack open this nuthouse, I think.”

“You and I,” Scout corrected under her breath.

“What’s that?”

“I’m Scout,” Scout said. She felt like she was in a bit of a fog and ran a hand through her hair nervously. “What do we do? I mean, I thought I was here because I was smart.”

Joss snorted. “I thought something was weird, because I’ve gotten straight Cs since pre-school. I guess I thought they’d finally made a place to ship off all the people like me. Nonconformists, freaks, and misfits.” She eyed Scout with genuine interest. “You don’t look like a misfit. I mean, you don’t look like a prep, but you don’t even remotely resemble me, either.” She grinned. “Which is probably a good thing for you. Society generally frowns on people like me.”

Scout smiled. She liked this girl already, despite her odd way of bluntly stating everything that seemed to go through her head. She opened her mouth to respond, but was interrupted by the sharp click of heels on the tile floor up front.

A very severe-looking woman had taken the stage. She wore a neatly pleated mauve suit and her short brown hair was twisted into a small bun at the nape of her neck. Her grey eyes didn’t miss a lick. Her harsh, unwavering gaze caught every last movement, breath, or blink. A silver microphone was gripped in her hand, which she lifted to her face to speak.

“Welcome, incoming freshmen,” she began, “to Malicide Academy. My name is Ms. Arbott, and I am your headmistress. I understand that if you’ve already opened your itineraries that you probably have numerous questions. If you still have them when we finish here, feel free to ask. However, in the meantime, I must ask your full attention.

“At the end of the eighth grade, every young adult in America is made to take a series of tests. These tests are masked, of course, to appear purely academic. They are disguised as IQ tests, career surveys, and the like. Those students who fail the tests move along to their local high school as though nothing happened. For them, I suppose nothing did. Those who pass the tests, however… come here.

“Malicide Academy.” The woman surveyed the students slowly, allowing them to digest this. “Have any of you taken any Latin courses? Are you familiar with any etymology?” A few scattered students raised their hands, Scout among them. “Can anyone tell me what the prefix mal- means?”

Arbott pointed at a boy with light blonde hair. “Mal- means bad, or evil,” he said carefully.

“And the suffix �"cide?” the woman continued. Nervous glances were shared by all. No one was willing to define it, as though saying it were a very curse in and of itself.

Finally, slowly, a pale girl with insanely curly fire-red hair raised a steady hand. She didn’t look scared, Scout noticed as she craned her neck to see the few rows down where the girl sat. She looked… almost dangerous. Focused.

“It means death. It means to kill.” She never broke eye contact with the headmistress, barely blinked when a murmur rippled through the crowd of students.

“Evil death?”

“Bad killing?”

“Why have I never heard of this school?”


“Is she threatening us?”

“Who is she, anyway?”

“What’s going ON?”

“Are we going to die?”

“We’re supposed to kill people!”

“Why are we here?”

“Why us?”

“She’s going to kill us!”

“We’re going to DIE!”

All at once, the entire hall was in pandemonium. The red-haired girl remained seated, but tension was written all over her face. Everybody else was on their feet. Scout and Joss looked at each other and Joss nodded toward the stage, where Arbott was standing quite still. She looked a little bemused, but mostly like she’d seen it before and was waiting for everyone to settle themselves down. Scout saw Joss yell something at her and point toward the stage again, but hearing was out-of-the-question by then. Scout understood what Joss meant, though, and within moments both girls were pushing their way through the crowd and shoving to get to the stage. Joss ran over to Arbott and snatched the microphone out of her hand before she could so much as object.

“HEY!” Joss yelled directly into the mike. The projection of her voice combined with the microphone’s feedback was enough to get everyone’s attention; the panicked chatter ceased immediately. “Let the woman finish! If she were just going to kill us, how would there be upperclassmen?” She proceeded then to chuck the mike back at the woman and drag Scout back up to their seats.

“An excellent point. Thank you, Miss Shadley,” Arbott said.

“How does she know my name?” Joss hissed into Scout’s ear. Scout shrugged. She had a feeling this woman knew ALL their names, plus tons of fun facts about each and every one of them.

“To tell you that you are not in any danger would be not only pointless but a lie. Danger lurks everywhere, especially for us. You see, we are demon hunters. We have a slight mutation in our genetic makeup, which makes us faster, stronger, and have more acute senses than the normies. The general terms we use here, by the way, are muties�"meaning mutants, meaning us; and normies�"meaning normals, meaning them.”

No one said anything. Scout glanced at Joss, who was grinning widely and mouthing something that might have been, “Bring it on, demon scuzz!” Scout felt the corners of her lips twitch uncontrollably upward.

Arbott looked around at everyone and a hint of a smile crept into her harsh face. “I see promise here. I believe this group has a great deal of potential.”

With that, she waved one thin hand toward the door in dismissal.

© 2013 Amber Perry

Author's Note

Amber Perry
Is this too fast? Should I split it into multiple chapters?

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Added on November 21, 2013
Last Updated on November 21, 2013
Tags: Scout, Daniel, Stella, Joss, Headmistress Arbott, Malicide Academy, demon hunting


Amber Perry
Amber Perry

I have a million ideas bouncing around in my head, but I haven't finished anything yet. Based on you guys' feedback, hopefully I'll get an idea of what ideas are worth something and what ideas should .. more..

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