Eevee TF Series
"Before we get off on the wrong foot, let me set something straight. I don't want to be here right now any more than you do. I woke up probably about two hours earlier than any of you did." Ron blinked at that ignorant statement, recalling how early he had woken up. "Just follow me wherever I go, and do whatever I tell you to do, and we'll all get along just fine. Understood?" Cathy Ruck looked around the room at her audience, glaring into each individual's heads. She twitched her cheeks faintly as she looked over Ron's face. "Glad to see you made it, Caverte."
"Glad to be here, Ca- Ms. Ruck," Ron fumbled, not moving his body at all. He felt the urge to squirm under the building anxiety. The first impression of Cathy was relaxed and, when not jogging in the pouring rain, quite amiable, though a bit rough in spirit. The woman in front of him was opposite in nearly every way. Even her skin looked a bit paler than it did earlier that morning.
"Don't try anything cute because it will not help you here. Here I will show you the basic and advanced techniques we use here every day. Hopefully you will learn something, if you're paying attention. Now, let's do a little ice-breaking before we start killing anyone. Follow me." She raised her right arm out of the crowd and turned around swiftly. Her frizzled hair set on her shoulder, then fell back into place in the center of her back, falling just below the white collar of her suit. She quickly flung open the heavy door of the small back room and walked down the hall. A mass of stunned students followed at a distance.
The group made its way towards the lobby. Ron maneuvered over to the left side of the carpet, avoiding the white, beached whale-like desk. There were fewer people waiting in the seats, and whoever was left now appeared to have lost some frigidity, as generations were seen conversing with each other across the gap. Cathy led them past the abominable desk and over to a corner on the left side of the lobby, where a lone metal elevator door stood waiting.
Cathy raised her hand, and the parade stopped. After pushing the button with an upward-pointing arrow on the wall next to her hip, she turned around and began pointing at each head in the group, keeping a tally in her head. "Okay, half of you get in here." She pointed to the opening on her left. "The rest of you, go down that hall and take the elevator on the right to the first floor, and wait for me there. Got it? Now go."
Crystal stepped out of the crowd, and drifted two paces down the hall. A ripple followed her as four people broke out and filed next to her. Mutual agreement concurred that only those who knew her could follow her, and of course those were Ron, Corbyn, Valencia, and the quieter one who had retreated to the corner of the meeting room. Although he was not exactly acquainted with Crystal, or any of her affiliates, he felt it more necessary to follow this Well-Tempered Clavier than to go with Orpheus to the Underworld.
Crystal led the group, insisting on clinging to the right side of the hallway by default. The other four followed behind with no regard for hospital etiquette, as they were walking side by side in a wall, in a manner that could inevitably hinder any hurried doctor.
The hallway was a much more pleasing sight to bear than any other room in the hospital. The walls were generously laden with colorful canvases and portraits containing founders of whom the center was in memory. Between each was a room, supposedly dedicated to the picture hanging outside, however solely recognized by a three-digit number on the plate located across the top of the door. Beneath the untouched artwork was a blue-gray carpet that covered the majority of the stretch of wall. The old red carpet that brightened the dull floor in the lobby had ended where the company split up, revealing a bright-white tile floor that had recently been mopped.
Finally, the group came upon a sliding metal door upon which was attached a large label that read "LOBBY." Crystal found the console and reached for it. She noted the lack of a "down" button, and reluctantly pushed the "up" button, hoping for a mild taste of deviousness. The steel doors promptly separated, revealing an empty car lit by fluorescent lights located on each side from above. Crystal ushered her party in, and narrowly slipped in before the door shut.
Like the lobby, the elevator had red carpet. Like the hallway, it had gray walls and a large, intruding poster of a male in his mid-twenties wearing a teal-blue suit and a teal-blue plastic scrub covering his head. It was wider than most elevators any of them had ever seen. Valencia pointed out it could have been to accommodate any stretcher-bound patients. Next to the door was a console, similar to the one outside, but plated in brass.
"Really, nine floors? It didn't look that big outside!" Ron exclaimed, examining the shining console. Indeed, there were ten buttons, the lowest decorated with an "L."
Crystal was about to hit the "1" button, when she paused and smiled cooly. "Well, how about we see what's up there?" Without time for debate she avoided the "1" button and instead casually bumped the "9" button instead. The button glowed yellow, and the floor beneath them silently rose, carrying the five of them up the shaft. A sign above the door inside the car indicated the progress of the devious trip as it passed Floor 1 and approached 9.
"You know Mrs. Ruck's gonna be pretty pissed when she finds out, right?" Corbyn inquired of Crystal.
"Isn't she always?" She received a generous snicker from the metal auditorium, as she crossed her arms and leaned against the wall near the console, admiring her handiwork. "Oh, this'll be a fun week."
There was a indicative "ding!" and soon the doors opened up to a pleasing sight. For one, there was no sign of a fuming blond-haired woman outside holding a scythe with their names on it; but even better, there was not a single soul to be seen. The tile floor was designed similar to the ground floor, except that it hadn't been mopped recently, and had more of a translucent whitish-blue color to it. There were notably fewer paintings lining the walls- no doubt few people ever came up here. It was also much quieter, but brighter. Instead of a dozen portraits staring at them, the walls were replaced with thick panel windows through which the morning sunlight was cast onto a collection of neatly-placed couches, which were arranged in a beige semicircle opening towards the breathtaking panorama outside.
"What... is this place?" One of them asked slowly. The others turned toward the unfamiliar voice, it was the stranger who had yet to speak until then. His eyes suggested that he felt able to freely speak, as though the rulebreaking had lifted a curse.
"That is a pretty good question," Ron replied, heading over to the windows to explore, "but here's a better one: Who, might I ask, are you?" Ron, who soon found himself seated comfortably in one couch. He turned to face the person who had spoken up, and was followed by the rest of the group, whose faces were lit to welcome the new person.
The eyes on the sandy-blonde head widened a bit as he sat down, not realizing it was he who had spoken. He broke his stare, trying to look out the window, trying to muster a response. "Uhh... I'm Eric... Listia... Forgive me for not
Ron interrupted with an outreached hand, and Eric immediately froze. Ron personally hated being put on the spot in the company of others, and tried to warm up to the new friend with more friendly questions. "No, no- you're fine, I'm just curious." He received an unseen smile. He could sense a small smirk on Crystal's face. "Hello, Eric," he continued, trying his best to make his introduction not sound too intrusive. "I'm Ron Caverte, it's great to meet you."
Eric sighed, relieved. He turned from the window to an outstretched hand, belonging to his newest acquaintance. He gingerly reached forward with his arm, ignoring the groan of his own seat, and politely shook Ron's hand. It was more of the opposite, as Ron's grip was far stronger and firmer, and his arm led the action. Eric recognized the introduction and tightened his grip a bit more, smiling wide. He was accepted. Confidently, he looked around at his new, soon-to-be friends.
Corbyn walked over to Ron's couch and sat down next to him. He leaned back and casually lifted a hand in a brief wave. "Hey, Eric. I'm Corbyn- Corbyn Piroack." Eric nodded and waved back feebly.
Valencia was the next one to introduce herself. She walked over from the window and sat down next to Eric. She lightly placed her hand on his back enticingly, and he felt a warm blush. "Hello. My name's Valencia Tuman." He looked over and saw her gentle smile. The sun's glow hit her eyes lightly, brightly illuminating them. Her well-kept hair shined vividly, as if still wet from a shower or morning swim. Eric returned the smile, now more than pleased with himself for having spoken up earlier.
Crystal stood over by the window, near where Valencia had been standing. She looked deeply interested in the view, as if soaking in every detail about the landscape below. Her lavender dress flapped gently in the mild draft that was streaming through the lounge.
Ron stared at her a moment, and then returned his attention to Eric. "Ahem. You'll have to excuse her. She can be a bit absent-minded sometimes. Crystal!"
Quickly, she turned her head from the dizzying spectacle below. "Oh, sorry. I am Crystal Aistha." She pointed to her crystal necklace for Eric to see, "Easy to remember, right?" Eric nodded in approval. She lowered her hand and held down her dress. "Does anyone else feel that draft?"
"Now that you mention it, it is a bit chilly up here. Crystal, why don't you come and sit down?" Ron gestured at the available chair between the two couches.
"Why don't you move those sofas over here? The view is fantastic." She walked over and grabbed the seat that Ron suggested, and dragged it over to the window. Ron and Corbyn looked at each other, shrugged, and got up. Each grabbed an end and positioned the sofa right next to Crystal's chair, allowing some space in between. Ron helped Eric and Valencia do the same, on the opposite side. After the minor adjustment, they all sat down, enjoying the short time they had together before reality would find them lounging around and come to bite their heads off.
Indeed, it was a fabulous view. It was certainly a better view of Coledge than Ron enjoyed in his hotel room. Bracherock still towered above them, but for the first time, Ron could make out forests on its sides and top. If one looked close enough, they could see the small river that led out of Lake Windbell and snaked along the sides of the mountain. Next to Bracherock, Windbell was a large, irregular body, with a noticeable peninsula jutting into it. It had bluffs on the sides, upon which were seen a few hotels and condos. It could have been mile across, but there was still fog on the other side that should have disappeared hours ago. Next to the lake and nearly out of view was the thick Corwood Forest, nestled on a high ledge overlooking the lake. Not a single clearing could be seen within it, even from nine stories up. The whole scene created a curious rainbow of color, from gray-white to cerulean to emerald green. Looking down, one could see the buildings that managed to peek up and scratch the tranquil scene.
"Wow. That's beautiful," Eric breathed.
"Isn't it?" Crystal answered.
"A bit curious, isn't it," asked Valencia, "that we are confined to this hospital in such a spectacular place?"
"Confined? We totally just ditched the teacher!" Eric was quickly getting used to the company. He found that he loved a good joke, and even more so if it was his own. There was a short round of hoots and laughter, and he smiled brightly. It was more than he could ask for- to be in such good company.
There was a moment of silence as the five soaked in the view.
Valencia leaned forward. "Oh hey, Ron?"
He sat up and looked over at her. "Hm?"
"Crystal was telling us earlier that you had a little secret to tell us." She held her gaze, with the most innocent honesty in her shimmering eyes.
Crystal was telling us was all Ron needed to hear. Crystal looked over at him and gave a small, apologetic smirk. He responded with a face devoid of any amusement. Everyone was now looking at him. "I-I don't think I have... the slightest clue as to what she may be referring."
"Oh, but she insisted. Something about a new
pet, right? She said you couldn't wait to tell us about it."
Ron narrowed his eyes at Crystal who held her hand over her mouth, struggling to contain herself. "Well, I guess Crystal doesn't know how to keep a secret."
She lost it. "I'm sorry, Ron! It was too good of a secret to keep!" She was red in the face.
Corbyn turned toward Ron. "Well, if you would tell your secret to Crystal, it's practically not even a secret is it? C'mon buddy why don't you share? It's just us up here."
Ron grumbled and slowly placed his hand to his side. He felt the familiar bulge in his coat pocket. "I guess... but do you know how much trouble I could get in if anyone found out that I had it with me?"
There was a gasp. "You mean," Valencia asked, "you have it with you? Where?"
At that point, he knew he'd said too much. Crystal had been generous enough to leave that crucial little bit out, but he blew it for himself. Apparently even she didn't know he had "it" with him. He thanked her with a sarcastic grin and a glare. She laughed again.
"Well come on," insisted Eric, "Let's see it. What, do you keep it in your purse?"
Ron gave him the same look he gave Crystal. He then sighed out of surrender. "No, coat pocket."
Four heads lunged forward from the sofas to get a closer look at Ron. He slowly reached inside his coat, and made his way to the smooth pocket. He hoped that he wouldn't feel the cold metal ball, but it was inevitable. How he didn't notice it earlier was a mystery to him; as far as he could tell, he could not feel any extra weight until Valencia spoke up. When he touched it, he remembered that he had shrunk it by pressing the button. It was the size of a large marble, and not of a baseball. He fingered it, trying not to press the button, and seized it. As slowly as he could, wishing something would come in and interrupt him, he revealed the back of his clenched fist. Again, the heads leaned forward. He inhaled, "here goes... whatever...," slowly turned his fist over, and he opened his hand.