Will Surprises Never Cease?

Chapter 1: Moving

Stan was busy helping his mom and dad for a week solid. His dad got a great new job hundreds of miles away, in New England, and for a boy from the big city it seemed like things were going downhill fast.

But he understood, because as a junior the teachers already were harping about what careers you might want to get into after graduation, and even he had to take a little time to think. His dad said he’d leave it completely up to him and his mom did mention a few things...obviously she thought very highly of his few skills... but he just smiled and helped load the big moving van and after a long tiring trip they arrived at their new home. A nice big two story house next to a river and within sight of the high school where he would graduate...that is if you knew where to look since you could barely see the top of one building through the trees.

The neighborhood was clean, the entire town seemed overly friendly, and already he had seen some pretty foxy young ladies around, so living here might not be so bad after all.

He was told there were two high schools in the town, one right down the street and another on the far side of town, about 10 miles away. He wondered if they had enough students for two schools, but he just left it go and after spending a few days getting the house set up he walked down the street and into the school for the first time.

It was a nice place...lots of red bricks and big windows that tilted out in the summer to get more air inside. The office was on the first floor and when he went to sign in they held him for a few minutes and he got tested...to see what his skills were they said...but they were some of the oddest tests he had ever taken, but he gave it his all and when they were done a teacher came and led him down a long hall to his homeroom.

There he got introduced, and he was told that his testing would continue after class, and he looked like he might be getting upset. He had never seen a school where testing was so important, but he nodded and took his seat and after the teacher left he got the whole ‘new kids first day’ thing with a hundred questions about everything he had ever done before and where he came from.

“Baseball huh?” One kid asked as Stan agreed saying he played outfield with the local team back home in Chicago, and they had a lot of fun even though they never were real contenders in the Fall contests.

“There are a lot of clubs here and sports too, maybe we’ll see you in one of them?” He got asked, and he said he’d think about it and many nodded happily that the new kid wasn’t too hard to get along with.

“What’s your skill?” One grumpy looking brunette sitting a few rows over asked, as someone cleared their throat as the teacher came back in.

The person sitting behind her whispered something and she looked at him oddly for a second, and after a second more class got started again and things settled back down nicely.

After seeing how classes were going to go Stan was led away again... and he asked why so many tests... and the lady smiled and said it was very important to know what he needed to learn and what could be ignored. And that got him wondering right there... because his other school didnt ‘ignore’ anything... to his immediate dislike. He was terrible at History for instance, and the teacher was determined to make him memorize things that he would never see, about people he would never know. Silly to him for sure.

So maybe after a few days like this they’d see that he hated it and he’d never need to remember that junk again, but he doubted it was going to be that easy.

More tests, odder than the last. ‘read this card’ they asked and as he did he mentioned that he couldn’t see it but they insisted and so he closed his eyes and said whatever came to mind at the time, and they rushed through to something else.

“Don’t bump the case...” he got told and he looked down at a metal marble inside a glass case and they said to imagine it moving and he laughed and asked them if they were UFO nuts or something, but they just smiled some more and he waved his hand like some great magician and said ‘move I demand it!’ and then walked away laughing, and more notes were taken.

“It’s been fun and all... but you guys are just weird.” Stan said finally as the lady looked oddly at him and she led him back to the front door and he went home to study for the first quiz in Math that he knew was coming. It was no big thing since he was further ahead than this in Math at his old school so he didn’t have much to worry about, and as he sat eating a buzz came at the front door and his mom got it to see a great looking little blond standing there smiling and she handed her a form, all filled out, and she read it and nodded seriously for her and signed it and handed it back.

“I’ll leave it up to you.” Clare said softly and shut the door and went back inside saying it was just a salesman, and they finished their dinner and Stan went upstairs to study and mom and dad had a soft little talk in their room about their son’s future.

Chapter 2: Meet the Instructors...and get Some Answers

Stan finished his regular classes and as he walked towards the front door a lady teacher called to him and asked him to follow her and he sighed thinking more of these odd tests might be coming. He did as she asked, and soon found himself sitting looking at 4 teachers who all shook his hand and smiled...way too much he thought...and Stan asked what was going on and they said it all would be explained in a second, and he couldn’t wait to hear that explanation, so he sat back and waited.

It took way more than a second, and he was about ready to leave them standing there when the door opened and in walked a man big enough to be Rambo’s older brother, only wearing really nice cloths and shoes that looked like they cost a fortune.

“AH!” he said looking around “ Stanley Hemming isn’t it?” he asked with his hand out as Stan agreed.

“It’s been many years since we had a 5 letter student here, so please excuse my friends for looking so surprised.” he added as Stan asked what he even meant by that ,as he gave the rest a dirty look and one lady mentioned that Stan was ...in the very least...intimidating, and he just shook his head and smiled.

“Every test you took had a letter assigned to it, each letter stood for a force of Nature... Air, Water,Fire,Earth, Time and Space. To find a skill in any of those would give you a code using that letter, but you have multiple skills, not all very strong but enough to measure, and so your code is STEFA...and since Air is your strongest skill its the last letter in your code, understand now?” He asked as Stan just shook his head no and they looked sad for him.

“Let me explain then...” He heard as his mom walked in dressed very well indeed, and even the big man stepped back out of respect.” We moved here so you can go to school at this place, and no other. Your Father actually took a small cut in pay coming here but my salary will more than make up for that.” She added as he still looked lost and she finally laughed out loud.

“Welcome to Hemming Academy...a school for special students like you. Remember how you were playing ball and no one last year could catch anything you threw? You were in the outfield and even at home base the speed was too much. Here’s a hint, sophomores in high school don’t usually throw 90 mph balls from 200 yards away. So a special instructor came to watch a game and after that admitted you had skills. So when we learned that you inherited some of our skills, we moved back here so you could get proper training to learn to use them. This school has been around for 300 years training people like you, me and your father. You think your dad works in some office? He really works as a Freelancer prospecting for oil companys and finding new sites to drill, but he doesnt need any big expensive machines, he can smell the oil through miles of rock. I can travel massive distances in a second and have been working here part time for years. It’s our families own school after all.” She said with some pride, and waited for it to sink in.

“I get it now...” Stan said with a big grin as everyone finally smiled wide again.” you’re all on drugs! That’s the only explanation!” he added as his mom gave him a good slap and everyone looked away to keep from seeing it, or letting her see them laughing.

“Ladies and gentlemen...” She said loudly and one by one they showed him their skills. One lady had a 6 inch icicle in her hand a second later and was chewing on it, another lady tossed a fireball back and forth in her hands and the thin looking older man was floating on a cushion of air 2 feet off the floor, while the big muscular man seemed to fade in and out of sight.

“No Stanley...” His mom said loudly... and seriously close to his ear.” we ARENT on drugs..” And she slapped him again softly and introduced them all as his teachers and from today forward he was a REAL student here and not some test subject getting shuffled from room to room.

“And I’ll learn what exactly?” he asked finally as she waved to them and smiled.

“Everything.” She said and they applauded for him and he felt his whole world was fake up until today. “When in class you use your code name... in your case STEFA...it tells anyone who knows us that you have multiple skills. Its not some odd nickname, it’ll follow you the rest of your life and be proud of it, many don’t have that many skills to train.” She explained and by now he just nodded looking like his entire world had just collapsed... because to him maybe it did.

“Go home and study, I have a meeting then we’ll go out for dinner.” She whispered and he walked out slowly and in shock, and she stayed to talk to the teachers gathered there, and by the time he got hungry she and his Steve were ready to go, and they took him to some of their favorite places around town, and he was surprised many people knew them on sight.

“I told you I worked here for years.” Clare hinted, as Stan had to think maybe the world was a lot more complicated than he first thought, and many around them smiled and waved and he started feeling a little overwhelmed by it all but smiled back and waved when asked to, and on their way home they both told him stories of them in school, where they met, and that he’d have fun here too now that the formalities were over, and he tried to believe them even if it all just seemed to sudden to accept.