Note: This is a present-day event, i.e. (continuation of odd-numbered chapters time span event: 1,3,5, etc.)
I firmly gripped the half-burned note in my hand, staring for quite a while at the continuous flashing of the wording on Gregory’s smartwatch. I notice that his running shoes are missing. Then he must probably still be running. I am very much aware that he is fanatical about it. He could run for hours on end in the morning. Sometimes even in the afternoon. Interestingly, he is known to be punctual. So, for the time I have come to know him, he has never been late. It concerns me somehow. Did something happen to him? I try not to ponder too much on the matter. But like a blown-up ball that bounces back when you try to push it down underwater, it keeps popping up in my head.
After a while, I subconsciously shrugged my shoulders. Knowingly so with the surety that he might return at some point. Perhaps even with a good tale to tell. Who the heck knows?
I decide to leave Greg’s room, doing due diligence by making sure the door is closed properly behind me, and then make my way to the classrooms. First period: English by Mrs Charlene Davis. I raise my wrist – I am late I realise.
The first three periods go by relatively faster than expected.
Break time. I have had no sight of Gregory as yet. I hastily make my way back to House Basquiat to see if perhaps he returned and is back in his room.
“Hey, man what’s the rush? Where are you going in such a hurry!” ask JT when he saw me run passed him.
“I’ll inform you later, JT” I responded to him swiftly.
“How does a couple of whacks of badminton this afternoon sound?” he yells sternly.
I just sake my hand in the air as proceed towards Gregory’s room with haste. I would not even know what he means by that. The only thing on my mind right now is to check if Greg is doing all right.
The hostel is like a ghost town. A cleaner is busy near the entrance.
He pauses momentarily, then looks up from his broom when I pass by him. I have no appetite to climb the stars right now, so I just tap the button on the elevator to the appropriate floor. These elevators are made of state-of-the-art tech, so the door opens without any hesitation. I get inside it, press the button for the top floor and the elevator shoots up. When the doors opened, I hastily ran out of it and then down the other hallway towards Greg’s room. He still is not back.
Suddenly my phone beeps. Gregory! I thought. It must be him. Since his phone was not in his room. But then I remember his phone is linked to his smartwatch, and I did not hear that go off. So it can not be him. Irrespective, I look at the screen.
The text is from Isabella:
My thumb moves swiftly over the keyboard. I respond Luv u.
For a moment I hesitate before pressing the send button. I erase the message, then type rather: Miss you too.
Gregory’s room seems to me all of a sudden as though it is though quite empty. My eyes shift to the mirror in front of me that is above the bed. Dammit! I notice that wrinkles formed on my forehead. I look nearly like my dad. I try to escape for a while. Then move my hand through my hair, shifting from side to side. I wonder if other people look at themselves on end at times in mirrors as well.
I wonder whether Gregory does it.
The guy’s quite intense. One does not come to realise it, but after a while having spent time in his company, you come to realise it. He knows about a bunch of things that the rest of the guys here have absolutely no clue about. At times the realisation kicks in, only after you have spent some time with him. Things like quantum theory and the impact it has on quantum computers. How computers work with the binary figures of zero and one, but how those very figures of zero and one in quantum computers simultaneously can represent the same state. Qubits he calls it. Argh, whatever man. He will turn the computer world upside down apparently.
It is amazing sometimes the things he comes up with. And that is all from just reading. “Knowledge does not cost you much”, he would say. “Knowledge cost time. you just have to make time, sit on your butt and go sit and read.”
I will confess, I am not that much of a heavy reader. I would only feel compelled at times to read if I am bored. Had it not been for, my dad, I could give a rat’s ass about schoolwork itself. But I do indulge him just to get him off my back. Well, no, perhaps not just due to that. I do it because of – argh, never mind, let’s just leave it at that.
Greg on the other hand is different. He reads because he wants to. So many books already these couple of months I have known him. The books on his bookshelf are neatly back. Interestingly it is packed in such a way accordingly to each book’s length. Most likely packed in alphabetical upon close inspection, would not surprise really if it is the case.
As my eyes glided over the books, my attention caught a particular one: Depression and mental health.
Now, why on earth would he be interested in reading something like that? Does he have problems? I think back to one of the many moments we had had together. The subject matter never seems to have come up though. Well, okay I know as much that he is not a party animal. Always seems to keep to himself, quiet in one place. However, part enough of the group, to not stand out as a sore finger. I suppose it is the type of fortitude you should have when your parents dump you in your final year at a new school. The last thing you want is to stand out, wanting to be different. Things could seemingly get difficult for you.
This sudden feeling of guilt befalls me. I was the one that almost made things difficult for him. For the mere fact that he was new at Blackwood. But all that changed. I came to realise that he is actually a cool dude. Or perhaps it was a little bit more than that. I saw something in him. Something that reminded me of Daniel.
Maths period after break. The teacher was William Stanford. Students make fun of him at times, calling him Einstein’s reincarnation.
“Where is Gregory?” he suddenly asks me when he scanned the class and noticed the empty chair.
No one answers.
Oh well, I might as well be upfront, I reckon.
“I have not seen him today as yet, Mr Stanford.”
“He was not in his room this morning, sir.”
“Does anyone have a clue where he might be?”
There is no reaction.
Einstein here seems a tad bit bleak in his face. “Very well, let us continue. Yesterday we were busy with the trigonometric activities on page 149. I would like for you all to complete this so that we can move ahead to the next topic in our syllabus. I will return within the next five to ten minutes. Gentleman, even though I do not expressively have your assurance, I will trust that you all will not, in God’s name break down the place while I am gone.”
Well yeah no, teens will be teens. The moment he was out the door the convos began to fly around
A wrestling fight broke out in front of me. I have no appetite to entertain the matter and do not involve myself in it even though I know they will lay it on me: “Erik you are student president, and you choose not to stop this.”
Bill came to my desk and sit on the edge of it. “Hey dude, so what do you think happened? Did he rock off?”
“I would not know,” I answer. “Then again, I would not think so. He would have said something.”
“Well I would figure, perhaps his dad them came to pick him up during the nightly hours. There could have been a crisis at home or something.”
“Bill you look like one of those supposed people with their supposed problems in one of the soaps, that you would look that way.” Hehe, yip, can you believe it, a guy that plays rugby is infatuated with soaps. “What possible crisis can it be?”
“Would not know Ric. Perhaps, someone…you know pinged. It could have been hey. His dad them could have come and picked him up. Perhaps he did not want to bother at that time of the night. I suppose they might have decided to choose to phone the school the next day. Telling them not to worry about anything.”
Bill’s eyes seem to be much clear today. Less blood elopes as well in them. Probably the reason why he appears to be so sharp at the moment.
“It is likely what Einstein went to go and find about now,” I say. “Surely, someone has to know something,”
Einstein arrived a bit later on. The wrestling fight thankfully had ended by then, and the class simmered down and was silent – one of the guys kept hard to spot when he was coming on.
Mr Stanford, deep in thought, tugged his tie neatly. He continued with the lesson as if nothing had happened. I search for some kind of sign on his face. What did he find out.? I am none the wiser, so I decide to just approach him after class ended to ask him. All he answers is: “Mr Steward has taken note of the matter. Stuff like this had happened before to other learners.”
Bill – I mean Justin said that his parents likely came to pick him up during the cause of the night. They would probably have let the school know about it. “
“Most likely, Erick. But like I said, leave it to Mr Steward. He will also speak to House Basquiat’s administer as well.
On to the next class, the issue haunts me somehow. Greg still left his smartwatch in his room. Knowing the tech addict he is, I never knew him to leave without his gadgets, phone and laptop. Granted, the latter two were not there, but his smartwatch alongside a half-burned note was on his uniform. He does not look like someone who notes things down often as well, even in class he found it unnecessary to write down anything because he practically knew everything that was being taught.
Why would he leave one of his tech gadgets behind intentionally? And the other question is, was the note from him, or someone else? Why would he leave a valuable asset behind if he had left with his dad them?
Note: This is a past-day event, i.e. a 'flashback' (continuation of even-numbered chapters time span events: 2,4,6, etc.)The first day of my last school year has been rolling like a long boring flick. Some of the other guys are up quite early already. For once I feel like just sleeping a bit longer for a while. I was not provided that leisure. Bill came knocking on my door and woke me.“Come on Erik, surely the student president should be setting an example for the other guys,” he says sarcastically.“I was not the one who elected myself into office. I shall choose to sleep if I wish,” I answered him sleepy“Oh, thee high and mighty,” giggled Bill. “President, vice president, of the student council. You bunch were likely business transactions, were you not? Contesting to see whose dad could give the school’s budget the best financial boost? Not to speak of those badges on your blazers that were pinned on your chest, is the bloody quotation you will be wearing throughout the year.”“F
Note: This is a present-day event, (continuation of odd-numbered chapters time span evennts: 1,3,5, etc.)It is Friday morning, the day after Greg’s disappearance. The television in the hangout blurs in the hangout. Something about Avian influenza that caused two deaths in England is being broadcast. I am bewildered about the fact as to how the Avian flu has its origin in Hong Kong but had spread rapidly toward the West: The Middle East, Italy, Frans, and England. Even parts of North Africa have been affected, and case there has been detected as well.Gradually the sound of the television fades as the voices in the hostel hallway amplify. It appears as if it is the voices of teachers. Some of the seniors gather in small groups in the hallway.“What the heck is going on?” I ask one of the guys that are in reach.“Gregory has not yet returned,” he said.“Mr Steward, along with a couple of other teachers are in his room.”“Sorry guys,” I say as I forcefully try to get through the crowd t
Note: This is a past-day event, i.e. a 'flashback' (continuation of even-numbered chapters time span events: 2,4,6, etc.)On the quad between the five hostels, there is another water drainage pipe that runs along. It is this iron lid which Cedrick now removes. The metallic sound reverberates through the night. By the windows of the hostels, the rest of the guys stand and look on. They know exactly what is going on, they too went through this.I notice Gregory standing somewhere between all the other guys, while we wait for the eighth graders on the other side. While it appears that he might be standing amongst us, he seems at the same time distant. Arms folded. His eyes intently fixed on the dark hole in the ground.Shadows stretch long dark stripes over the paving. Voices banging against the buildings.We wait, breaths held until... the first pale fingers were folding over the edge of the manhole. Cedrick held out his hand, took hold of the eighth grader’s, and pulled him out. The yo
Note: This is a present-day event, (continuation of odd-numbered chapters time span events: 1,3,5, etc.)By Saturday morning, the news had spread like a flu epidemic to the lower grades. Everyone tries to get information out of the seniors, but because they don't really say anything, the guys make up their own stories. I am on duty in the Basquiat dining hall. Just wander around there listlessly, wishing the bunch would now eat and walk their free-range eggs and other organic food."They got him, guys. For Gregory." an excited voice behind me. I turned around quickly. "Hung from a tree. His tongue so out -" I grabbed the grade-eight guy by the shoulder. Hard. "Where do you hear?" "By Jones," he says, quietly startled. "Who's Jones?"He pointed with his finger. I felt anger take over my body. It's so bad that for a moment I just had to pause and breathe. Calm down. "Tell Jones I will pull his tongue out if he spreads such rubbish again."I walked outside and sat down on the staircase i
Note: This is a past event, i.e. a ‘flashback’ (continuation of even-numbered chapter time span: 2,4,6, etc.)'“What? Are you crazy?" I asked. "Where would I have tried to hack by now?" Gregory Smiled timidly. "Close the door behind you. The Realm of Cyberspace awaits..."Dark words, choking with excitement. Realm. Just the sound of it makes me want to get goosebumps. As if it's Daniel announcing "Hey, bro, we're going to try a new extreme sport. What do you say, are you in?"Gregory turned back to his laptop. "Let me show you. I've been trying to hack this one," he says. "It's a travel agent's website. I ran a show to check for CGI weaknesses and-""Wait, CGI... like the shows they use to make special effects for movies?"Gregory shook his head. "No, it's something else. This CGI is "Common Gateway Interface." It just refers to the way apps on a web server talk to a surfer’s browser.""Why are you doing this?""I'm looking for a place to come in. You can see the company on the other
Note: This is a present-day event (continuation of odd-numbered chapter time span: 1,3,5, etc.)The email slips into cyberspace like a bullet from a silenced pistol. Quiet and deadly. Right on target. The sports day was barely over when I saw a car coming towards the school. The only one arriving, while the others are driving away. I can't be sure if it's them, but a squirm pulls through my body, making my neck hair stand on end. And I wonder... Is this a reporter from one of the news newspapers?There is great excitement in House Basquiat's corridors. Blackwood College crushed Lockwood Boys High. In the Hangout, someone starts playing a rugby CD very loudly. Yeah, no, money can't buy good taste either.I was just aiming towards my door to go for a walk around the other floors, seeing if everything was alright there when JT and Bill came rushing on. They bundled me back into my room. "Hey, my dude, you should have seen it," Bill says, his arm around JT's neck and his fist in the air.
Note: This is a past event, i.e. a ‘flashback’ (continuation of odd-numbered chapter storyline: 2,4,6, etc.)That's the day after I saw Gregory hack the travel agent's system. And the first morning Gregory came to wake me up. "While Zeus, the ruler of Olympus, lies sleepily folded in Hypnos' wings, his son Heracles' ship runs aground on Kos again today," he says."What the hell?" I asked through sleep."Never mind. Move your arse and get up," he replied. I open one eye and lift myself on my elbows. Gregory is in his workout clothes. Sweat gleamed on his body."Are you crazy? Have you gone jogging already?" I asked."Always. The only time to think clearly, so early in the morning. Come on, get a move on, it's almost time for breakfast."The day drags around. At the behest of Doc, I must accept the SRC over their "deplorable discipline." Mr Steward showed up halfway through the meeting. Spying on us, as if we didn't know. "Would you like to add anything else?" I asked until I finished m
Note: This is a present-day event, (continuation of odd-numbered time span: 1,3,5, etc.)"Get that computer technician... uh Thomas...""Thompsen" Mr Steward corrects Doc Pat."Get Thompsen, that he's coming to see.""But will he come out so late at night, Doc?" asked Mr Steward."He lives on Harrismith. He'll have to drive all the way -""That's what he's paid for, damn!" From his tone of voice, I can infer that Doc is now sitting nicely in the pinch. But for what? What's wrong with the computers? They were talking about the learners’ database. The answer came sooner than I expected."You're sure you looked right, Nic?" rumbled Doc.Mr. Steward's voice is calm, but the distress nonetheless persists, "I'm telling you, Doc. There are no contacts on Gregory's records. Not even his parents' names. No address, no phone numbers. Nothing. Just his name: Gregory Stevens."Again, alone in my dark dorm room and I can't sleep. It's like Gregory doesn't want to let me sleep. He's gone, but now