Well, I am proud to admit that I have begun work on the sequel for Experiment Twenty Six, entitled Experiment Twenty Six: Serah’s Story. Set six years later, it follows Serah as she tries to find a man from Aiden and Jason’s past as she is thrown into a dark underworld of crime. So, here is a sample chapter of the sequel to come. Fair Warning, this does contain spoilers from the first book. I hope you enjoy it.
Chapter One: Six Years Later.
The sun rose over a quiet suburban neighborhood as its residents began their day. The chirping of birds filled the air with their songs as they enjoyed the warm spring air.
In one of the houses nestled along the street, a young woman had awoken from her peaceful slumber. She stretched her slender arms as a light yawn escaped from her mouth. Pushing her long black hair out of her face, she soon turned to the nearby nightstand. She reached over to the nightstand and grabbed a black rectangular object. With the press of a button, a screen emerged from the side, displaying the time. Seven AM was displayed on the transparent screen in bright green letters. She pushed the screen back into the case and raised herself from the bed.
She approached the closet door, opening it to access her clothes. The selection was varied as both formal and informal clothing lined the small wardrobe from side to side. After a minute of thought, she soon pulled out a pair of black jeans and a white button up shirt. Quickly putting on the clothing, she began to gather her belongings; a brown leather wallet, her phone and a set of keys. Prepared for the day ahead of her, she walked to the doorway and grabbed her black backpack.
She made her way to the end of the large hallway, adorned with various photos hanging on the wall. Descending down the staircase, she turned to walk into the kitchen to get a cup of coffee. From the adjacent room, she heard a familiar voice.
“Good morning Serah. How are you doing this morning?” The male voice asked. She turned to face the man for a brief moment to respond to him.
“I am doing well dad. Where’s mom?” Serah reached into a nearby cabinet to pull out a glass coffee mug and began to fill it with the pitch black coffee. The warmth of the beverage was evident as steam rose from the top.
“She was called into work early this morning. Apparently there was an issue with one of patients’ information that she needed to help sort out.” Her father replied, putting down the newspaper he was reading moments before. Despite being a man in his early forties, his face showed that he had been through much in his life. On his left cheek, there is a visible scar embedded below his eye. He pulled out an older cellphone from the back of his slacks to check the time.
“The hospital would go into a state of panic without her, wouldn’t it?” Serah asked, opening the nearby refrigerator to grab the carton of milk. She mixed the milk with her coffee, diluting the strong beverage to her preference before returning the milk. She took a sip of it and enjoyed the taste.
“It would seem that way. I am sorry to cut the conversation short, but I have to get ready to leave for work.” He told her, raising himself from the wooden chair and approaching her. She sat the cup down for a moment and wrapped her arms around her father’s body to give him a hug.
“Have a good day at work dad.”
“I will sweetie. I will see you after school.” He told her as she let go of him. He proceeded to walk to a nearby stand, where a black knapsack is sitting. Slinging it over his shoulder, he left the household to get on with his day. Serah followed suit as she finished her coffee and quickly rinsed it in the nearby sink. She soon proceeded to leave the home to go to school.
After a fifteen minute drive, Serah finally reached her destination, Winchester High School. A larger building that was once built on a brick foundation and modest aesthetics, now renovated to accommodate the modern times. Long lengths of solar panels lined the rooftops of the school, shining brightly in the morning sun. Before the main doorway, an elongated garden stretched along the sidewalks. Leaving her car in the nearby parking lot, she proceeded to enter the school to begin her day.
Five hours passed before the bell signaled for Serah and the other students to go to lunch. Serah soon left the classroom and proceeded to enter the expansive hallway, navigating through the myriad of students around her. After a short walk, she finally reached the glass doors leading to the school’s library. For her, it was a place of solace where she could either work on her assignments or read without being disturbed by others. As she entered, she turned to the librarian at the counter to wave to her quietly as she usually did before going to one of the desktop computers.
Sitting herself down, Serah logged into the computer and began to work. She inserted a usb drive into one of the ports and clicked on one of the options that appear. Within moments, a series of different windows popped up on her screen as lines of code fills each of them. With nimble and graceful movements, she quickly typed commands into each of the windows. For the next ten minutes, she continued to work on the computer before being interrupted by a familiar voice.
“Spending another lunch at in the library Serah?” The female voice asked. Without turning away from the screen, Serah responded to the query.
“I wanted to finish a couple of side projects that I am working on.”
“You are too focused on programming, you know that right? Serah’s friend asked as she sat herself in the cushioned chair next to her. She pulled her cellphone from her black jeans and began typing a message.
“What can I say? It’s something that runs in my family Chloe.” Serah told her. In a sense, she was telling the truth. Aiden and Jason were the closest thing to family for her and they taught her how to program and design software from when she was a young age. Chloe finished her message and returned the phone back to her back pocket.
“What are you even working on? With all of these browsers up, I can’t tell which is which.” Chloe said, leaning in to examine Serah’s screen. Part of Chloe’s auburn hair blocked part of the screen, disrupting Serah’s work.
“If you want to know, I will tell you. This window is running an Arduino program that I spent the past week working on, searching for any bugs that I might have missed. This window is for developing user interfaces for other programs, and this window is…” Before Serah could continue to explain what each of the windows are for, she was interrupted by Chloe.
“Please stop. I am getting a migraine from listening to you trying to explain what these windows are for.” Chloe said, clutching her head in confusion.
“It is really quite simple to learn if you can remember the specific commands.”
“It might be simple for you, but for a lot of people, programming in multiple languages is difficult.”
“I’m sorry. I am not trying to show off.” Serah replied. Chloe sighed before speaking.
“I know you aren’t. You are just gifted at what you do.” Chloe said, trying her best to be sympathetic. Serah glanced down at the clock on screen to see that lunch is coming to a close. She began to close the windows, exiting the programs she was once using before removing the usb drive. She raised herself from the chair as she prepared to leave. Chloe took heed and began to follow her. “Serah, where are you going?”
“I need to get something from my locker before we head back to class.” Serah told her as they both left the library. As they walked to their destination, Chloe tried to continue the conversation.
“So, are you heading to Melissa’s party on Friday night?”
“I haven’t thought about going. I was going to spend the night with one of the books I picked up the other day.” Serah answered nonchalantly. Chloe let out a moan of disappointment at what she had just heard, questioning what person would spend the night reading.
“Let me get this straight. You would rather spend your Friday night reading one of those musty books rather than a night out?” Chloe asked.
“First of all, my books are not ‘musty’. The books I find happen to be in the best condition you can find for books dating back over fifty years. Secondly, what is Melissa celebrating? It is not her birthday.” Serah asked as they reached the rows of lockers. Entering one of the rows, they found Serah’s locker and she began to open the lock. After a few seconds, she opened the metal door and pulled out a textbook from the locker.
“She isn’t celebrating anything. Her parents are out of the house for their honeymoon, so she decided to throw a party.” Chloe answered. She glanced down at the book that Serah took out of her locker. A larger textbook, the words ‘Rosenberg’s Molecular and Genetic Basis of Neurological and Psychiatric Disease: Fifth Edition’ were printed in large letters on the front of the tome.
“So, it is going to be another meaningless social event of excessive drinking, loud music, and guys being overzealous and cocky? No thanks.” Serah said, closing her locker door and relocking it. Chloe shook her head at Serah’s refusal.
“At least it is better than staying at home, locked away with your books. I mean, no offense Serah, but you do act like a shut-in from time to time.” Chloe told her, trying not to offend her friend. Serah looked at her with irritation, but understood what she was saying. She knew that she spent a lot of time focused on her studies and projects, but she recognizes the importance of her work.
“Look, I don’t mind going out to hang out with either you or Melissa. But I don’t want to go to a place where people have illegal beverages and guys are trying to force their way into my pants.” Serah elaborated. Chloe decided to stop trying to torment her.
“Ok, ok. You have made your point. Alright, this has been bugging me. Why do you have a book about neurological diseases?” Chloe asked as she towards the book.
“I am doing some research on something. One of my family members was diagnosed with a mental illness and I wanted some information on it.” Serah replied, lying to her friend. In reality, it was for herself, but she didn’t want to worry Chloe.
“I am sorry to hear that.”
From around one of the corners, two young men approached as they conversed to each other about one of their classes. Both of them were wearing the school’s varsity jackets, a symbol of their active participation in their selective sports. Chloe looked past Serah to look at them as they approached. Her eyes widen with anticipation as they glanced over to see them conversing.
“Hey Serah, look. It’s Colin.” Serah looked at her with mild confusion, both unsure what her friend was getting at. She had heard the rumors about Colin Hall; an ambitious young man who was the running back for the school’s football team, he had the reputation of being possessive and manipulative when the situation called for it. He managed to stay below the teachers and staff’s radar with good grades and charm.
“So?” Serah asked.
“So? Colin is a catch. One of the stars of the football team with an early admittance to Vassar University.” Chloe explained. Serah rolled her eyes at the notion, shrugging it off.
“What you would consider to be a ‘catch’, many would consider to be a psychopath.” Serah told her.
“What would you know about psychopaths Serah?” Chloe inquired, puzzled with her choice of words.
“Plenty.” Serah growled in response. In her mind, the memories of Frederick Petridis and Eric Froste were still fresh. She saw Frederick’s lack of conscious and Erick’s lack of restraint firsthand and she knew how cruel the world could be. To this day, she didn’t know where Erick was or what became of him. The news of his autobiography made international news, but he was nowhere to be found. As for Frederick, she was glad that he was dead. Chloe easily picked up on her anger, but was unsure of its reason.
As she was lost in her thoughts, Colin and his friend approached them, straightening out their jackets to try to impress the both of them. At the last minute, Colin pushed back on the rise of his auburn pomp to keep it back.
“Well, hello Chloe and Serah. Don’t you both look lovely?” Colin stated in an almost sickly sweet way, trying to appear charming. His attention was more focused on Serah, who was the most disinterested of the group. She groaned in disgust, wanting more than anything for Colin to leave her alone.
“Thank you Colin. How are you doing Samuel?” Chloe asked, turning to Colin’s friend.
“Doing well. Managed to get a B on one of my reports for Lapernski’s class.” He quickly replied.
“So…Serah. I wanted to know if you would like to catch a movie sometime.” Colin flirtatiously said, leaning his large hand against the locker next to Serah, much to her dismay.
“No thanks. Now if you excuse me, I have to get back to class. Lunch is nearly over.” Serah retorted, moving past Colin and Chloe to be on her way. Colin looked at her dismay and anger at her refusal. He didn’t enjoy being stood up like that.
“Hey listen. I know you are not seeing anyone right now. You are always holed up in your little studies, thinking that you are going to be the next Steve Jobs. Well, let me tell you. You are not the hot shit that you think you are. So, why won’t you loosen up a little?” Colin snarled as he turned to face Serah.
He reached out to grab her forearm to try to stop her. Serah quickly took heed of this, dropping her books to react. She instinctively grabbed Colin’s arm, twisting back with his palm facing upwards. With a quick gesture, she struck his elbow, breaking his arm as the sound of a loud crack momentarily filled the hall. Colin began to scream at the top of his lungs at the pain as he fell to the ground clutching his arm.
“Oh my god! My fucking arm! What did you do?!?” Colin wailed as Chloe and Samuel looked at what just happened. Even Serah was shocked at what had just happened. Her mind went blank for just a brief moment and within that time she broke another student’s arm.
As Colin’s cries filled the halls, it drew the attention of the other students as well as the faculty who arrived just to see the gruesome scene. In a short amount of time, a crowd of people had surrounded them.
“Serah, what did you do?” Chloe pleaded as she tried to make sense of the situation. Serah was almost speechless at what she has done.
“I’m s…s…sorry. It was an accident. I didn’t mean to…” Serah apologized, trying to defend herself, only to be interrupted by Colin.
“You fucking broke my arm, you bitch!”
Samuel raised Colin to his feet, being as gentle as he could to prevent causing him more pain. One of the teachers pushed through the crowd to survey the scene. She tried her best to resolve the situation.
“Mr. Adamson. Take Mr. Hall to the Nurse’s office for the time being. Ms. Corsaige, to the office. Now. As for the rest of you, get back to class.” She barked to them. Samuel shuffled down the hallway with Colin in tow as the other students looked at scene with confusion. As they left, Colin glanced back at Serah with piercing and hateful eyes. Serah soon did what the teacher asked and proceeded to the office.
Twenty minutes passed as Serah waited in the small lobby near the principal’s office. The room was silent except for the sounds of the secretary clicking on the desktop’s keyboard and the loud ticking of the analog clock above her. The secretary occasionally glanced over to Serah with surprise that she would be in trouble. She knew Serah to be a good student, but would never think that she would harm another student. As she waited, Serah thought about what had just happened and what could happen next. She had never been in this kind of trouble before. She was worried how her parents would react to hearing that she assaulted another student.
From one of the nearby doors, a larger man emerged and approached the secretary. Despite his age, he was physically in shape and it showed by the limited movements of his white dress shirt. Though he was strong, he was one of the friendliest people that the students knew. He whispered something into her ear before turning to Serah.
“Serah. Will you come with me into my office?” He asked despondently.
“Of course Principal Hackett.” Serah replied, raising herself up from the grey upholstered chair. She followed him into his office. As they both entered the room, he closed the door behind them and instructed her to take a seat. He walked around the cluttered mahogany desk and took a seat in the black office chair. He rubbed his tired hazel eyes, trying to think about the situation before them. After a moment, Serah tried to speak.
“Principal Hackett. I want you to know that it was an…”
“Stop. You don’t know how bad this situation is for all of us.” He interrupted.
Reaching over to his computer, he turned the thin LCD screen around to show her the school’s security footage. With the click of the mouse, he played the footage of what had just transpired. The entire event played back, reminding them of what just happened. Colin’s dialogue filled the small office. He stopped the footage at the moment where Serah struck Colin’s arm.
“I received an email from the nurse. Not only did you dislocate Colin’s shoulder, you shattered his elbow. He is on his way to the hospital and chances are, he is going to need surgery. I need to know what was going through your head when this happened.” He told her.
“I don’t know…my mind went blank for a m…m…moment and I….I just reacted.” She responded, unsure of what to tell him. Hackett let out a heavy sigh when he heard this, unsure of how to proceed.
“Serah, I am not going to lie. There is no easy answer to resolve this situation. Colin and his family will probably want to either have you arrested for assault or try to sue you. The security footage we have of the event as well as well as the testimonials of both Adamson and Soane could be your saving grace, but it reflects badly on both of you. Colin was the lineman for the school’s football team and his early admittance to Vassar was partly due to a football scholarship. With his arm broken, he could easily lose that scholarship and admittance.” He began to explain as he looked through some of the papers on his desk. Each of the documents sitting on his desk had information on both Colin and Serah.
“I am sorry Principal Hackett. I didn’t know that I was capable of doing that.” Serah tried to defend herself the best she could.
“I am going to tell you something that I want you to keep between us Serah. I have always disliked Colin. He was a pompous young prick, thinking that everything should be given to him. I heard the rumors from both students and parents about his manipulative nature and disliked him for it. If any good can come from this situation, he might learn a lesson of humility from it.”
“I see.” Serah replied, thinking about what he had to say about Colin.
“But, this incident also affects you badly as well. I am not going to lie, you are literally the most intelligent student in the school. Your consistent academic record as well as your SAT test scores has every college and university wanting you to attend. Hell, I wish more students were like you. If I did, I wouldn’t have to worry about the next generation being a bunch of screw ups. You could have graduated early, but decided to stay the remaining three months. But, assaulting another student, even by accident that is something that every school is going to be looking at. It could severely harm your chances of being accepted into a college.” He sternly said, looking Serah in her grey eyes.
“I know.” Serah replied. She didn’t know what to say that could have helped ease the situation. “Principal Hackett, what is going to happen now?” He paused for a moment, thinking about what to do for the time being. After a while, he came to a decision.
“After school, I am going to have a meeting with the other administrators about how we are going to resolve the situation peacefully. Both yours and Colin’s parents have been called and notified of the situation. Chances are we are going to have a meeting between you, Colin, and your families to try to ease the situation. Though for the time being, you are to continue to go to class. During which, you will not be allowed to participate in extracurricular activities and you will have to have one of the teachers escorting you from class to class. Is that understood?”
“I understand sir. But wouldn’t suspension be a more appropriate punishment rather than having me continue to go to class?” She inquired.
“One would think, but this is not a situation that can’t be resolved with an expulsion or suspension. Now, you need to get back to class. I will tell you what is going to happen in a day or so.” He said as he picked up the phone and quickly dialed it. After a moment, he spoke. “Mrs. Weller, can you please come to my office and escort Ms. Corsaige back to class? Thank you.” In a brief amount of time, the secretary entered the room, gesturing for Serah to follow her. Serah lifted herself from the chair and followed the secretary out of the office to her class.
As Serah followed the secretary, the students in the hallway kept their distance from her. Murmurs and whispering replaced the once boisterous conversations that once filled the hallways. They looked at her with fear and surprise that a student that was known for being silent and socially awkward was capable of breaking another student’s arm. The story had already spread throughout the entire school despite it happening less than an hour ago. Serah feared how people would react after what has just happened. They eventually reached the classroom and Serah quietly enters the room.
For the last forty minutes of class, the class proceeded and carried on as it would usually do before. However, whenever the teacher would call on one of the students, their response was delayed, their minds occupied by what Serah had done. As class ended, the students were hesitant to leave before Serah. Hanging her head low, Serah tried to not attract any more attention to her. Leaving the classroom, she darted to her locker to get her belongings to leave the school without the escort that Hackett had assigned to her. The watchful eyes of the other students monitored her as she walked through the school’s doors.
As Serah approached her car, she saw Chloe approaching her from the right. Looking closely, she could tell that her friend was still in shock from earlier. Reaching the car, both of them placed their bags on the ground and gave each other a short lived hug.
“How bad was it?” Chloe asked sympathetically.
“Principal Hackett has told me that he and the other administrators are going to discuss what is going to what happen next. He is going to tell me what will happen in a day or so. Until then, I am to be escorted from class to class.” Serah explained.
“Well…shit. The entire school is talking about how you broke Colin’s arm. Serah, how are you that strong?” Chloe inquired.
“I wish I could tell you Chloe.” Serah told her. She wished she knew how strong she was. When it came to participating in sports in school, she was above average amongst the other girls. She tried to keep herself fit through regular exercise, but tried her best not to overdo it.
“Alright, try to give me a call tonight. I will see you tomorrow Serah.”
“I hope so. Goodbye Chloe.” Serah replied. They both picked up their bags and went their separate ways. Serah entered the sedan, her thoughts occupied with how her parents would react. Aiden would probably be the more supporting of the two, though he would still be stern about what had happened. Catherine would try to think about the situation and how to handle it, but social problems were not her strong suit. Serah sighed as she pondered this as she began to leave the school.