Simya Academy is coming out on August 15th.
Dawn, a student at the mysterious Simya Academy, thinks nothing is strange at all about her school. She’s been here as long as she can remember and nothing about it – From the classes on how to use her magic to the fact that they are only permitted to leave the grounds under very special circumstances to the fact that no one in the school has a family to go home to – seems strange.
And then something about her starts changing and slowly, she realizes that not all is quite as it seems with her school – or herself.
She laid on the cool grass, basking in the sun and watching the clouds drifting through the clear blue sky. One of them looked like a small rabbit, refusing to break apart in the wind and looking like it hopped from one cloud to the next.
There was no sound, the world having fallen away for just this moment so she could be alone. It was peaceful.
She was so tired. With the sun beating down on her skin, she closed her eyes to rest.
Dawn woke up to find her eyes already open. She blinked several times as she sat up in the top bunk where she slept. Her eyes felt dry and she rubbed them with the back of her hand. The sun was only just starting to creep into the room and she was the first one awake.
“Angel, don’t cry! It’s adventure! You said you like adventure!”
Dawn blinked and took a look around the large dormitory for where the voices had come from. A few eyes opened in the bunk beds that filled the room in rows. The other children were starting to stir at the sound of the new voices.
“Adventure happens outside! I don’t like it here, Jared. I wanna go.”
Taking a deep breath, Dawn crawled out of her bed and poked Zeke on the bottom bunk. Zeke was her best friend and the one she went with to do everything dangerous. Sometimes when there were new people, they were scared and they started punching people. Dawn preferred it if they punched Zeke instead of her.
Zeke groaned and rolled over. She frowned, but left him.
She could do this all by herself. She was the oldest. It was her job.
“We’re staying here for a little while. It’s gonna be okay.”
She made her way through the beds, past five and four and three years olds, most of whom were still fast asleep. She could feel the eyes of the few awake children on her as she walked past, expecting her to find out who these new people were and to deal with them. The rows of empty beds were more comforting, giving her somewhere to run and hide in case something went wrong.
She just hoped they didn’t want to hit her.
In the corner of the room, an older boy knelt down, his brown hair gelled back and parted on the left. Next to him was a blonde girl with her hair in braids. She had her fists clenched and eyes shut. Her face scrunched up in concentration.
Angel relaxed, looking like she might cry. “I can’t scatter,” she said, her voice only a whisper.
“Hello?” Dawn said, coming around the last bedpost.
Jared jumped at the sound of her voice, fists ready and standing in front Angel.
Dawn shrunk back behind the bedpost and prepared to run away. She held herself behind the post with both hands, trying to make herself brave.
She was the oldest. She could do this.
Dawn stepped out and stood in front of the bed, trying to stretch as tall as she could and staring at Jared without looking away. “If you do it, I’ll tell,” she said.
Jared hesitated and put his fists down as Angel hid behind him. He glared at Dawn, his eyes such a light brown that they almost looked gold. “Who are you?”
“I’m Dawn,” she said, feeling better now that he wasn’t going to hit her. She relaxed and took one step forward, stopping when she saw Angel hide further behind Jared.
“Where are we?”
“Where’s the dormitory?”
“Here,” Dawn said. A moment later, after Jared glared at her some more, she realized that wasn’t the answer he wanted. “It’s the Children’s Wing in Simya Academy.”
“What’s Simya Academy?”
Dawn shrugged. “It’s where we are.”
“I wanna go home.”
“You can’t.” Dawn shuffled and tried not to meet Jared’s eyes. She saw Jared’s fists clenching. This was the part where it went bad. They would get mad or they would cry or they would do both. Dawn tried to smile. “But it’s okay,” she said. “It’s fun here!”
Jared relaxed after a moment and smiled. “Okay,” he said, nudging Angel out from behind him. “We can stay for a little while. I’m Jared and this is my sister, Angel.”
“Hi,” Angel said, glaring back up at her brother before trying to smile at Dawn. She shifted nervously, but Jared wouldn’t let her hide again. “I’m hungry.”
Dawn looked out the large windows that lined the dorms to see the sun creeping over the horizon. “Miss Tara will come by soon. Once we’re ready, we have breakfast.”
“It’s Mister Steve today,” a voice said behind her. Dawn turned and saw Zeke rubbing at his eyes and looked from Dawn to the two new people. “I’m Zeke.”
“I’m Jared. This is Angel.”
“Hi.” Angel didn’t try to hide this time.
Dawn blinked. She was sure Miss Tara was going to be here today, but Zeke was right. It was Mister Steve’s turn to watch them and he was supposed to be there. There was no reason for him to have gotten sick and the chances of them having to wake up Miss Tara to come and watch them instead were low.
She managed to step back into the bedpost as a wave of dizziness overtook her and stayed on her feet. The room moved around her in slow circles, slowly coming back around until it was still again. Angel looked at her, but Jared and Zeke were talking and ignoring her.
“We usually have stuff,” Zeke said. “It’s different every day but there’s always something good. But if you don’t like it, then you don’t get to eat anything. But you can pretend to like it until you really do like it and that works sometimes.”
“This place is weird.”