Winter Break 2016 Week 1 Friday
“Tomo, Tomo, Tomo…,” a voice beckoned.
“Please, just let me sleep for a few more minutes,” I groaned, waving my hand at whatever called out to me.
I settled my head back into the pillow after hearing no response. The comfortable feeling of my pillow never failed me. When I next awoke, it was already 11:00 AM.
“Guess that was a dream after all,” I muttered.
This seemed all too familiar, an exact replica of when Tess woke me up. I entered the dining room, expecting her, but no one was there.
“Probably just imagining things,” I said, checking the fridge for food.
I saw a note with my name at the top. Mom asked me to change a light bulb in the living room. Finishing my lunch, I headed toward the garage. I actually thought Tess might show up, standing near Dad’s worktable. It would be like her to just appear in these kind of situations.
However, it was just the same old garage. I searched for ten minutes, finally locating a box containing the spare light bulbs. There was a knock on my front door after completing my assigned task. I peered through the peephole, seeing Tess outside. She had her usual indifferent look, holding a stapled packet of papers.
“At least she’s coming in normally this time,” I said with relief.
Tess walked inside, looking around as if searching for something. Her eyes darting around unsettled me. Her actions resembled that of a thief scoping out a victim’s home for a robbery.
“Something wrong, Tess?” I asked.
“Your house is quite different in the early morning,” Tess finally said.
“So it was you this morning,” I accused her.
`I just arrived. This is my first time speaking with you today,” Tess denied, shaking her head.
“Really? Then who was the person calling out to me?” I wondered.
“That is cause for concern. Are you sure it wasn’t just a dream?” Tess asked.
“I can’t really remember. I was pretty sleepy at that time so it might have been just in my head,” I admitted.
“It appears to be nothing serious but we can investigate it at a later time. But first, Tomo, may I ask a question?” Tess asked, her eyes turning serious.
“Go ahead,” I replied.
“How are you feeling today?” Tess asked.
“Good?” I answered, my voice wavering at the end.
“Tomo, more specifically….are you a 95 and above or 95 and average?” Tess clarified her question, making me more confused than before.
“What does that even suppose to mean? I guess I’m feeling like a 95 and above,” I decided.
“A good attitude to have. It was obvious, however, that you didn’t evoke such confidence when completing the quiz,” Tess remarked, waving the papers in her right hand.
I expected something like this. A bad feeling developed ever since seeing those papers in her hand. Tess was strangely committed to this. Alright, time for the moment of truth. What score did I obtain?
“Tomo Yuki, here is your quiz back. Look at the score,” Tess commanded.
I swallowed hard, accepting the papers from her. I saw a 50 circled in red on the top page. My hands shook, despite it not even being an official test. I suddenly felt overwhelmed with fear, refusing to make eye contact with Tess.
What was happening to me? Summoning enough courage, I finally examined Tess’ face. She maintained her usual calm look, nothing breaking her composure. The only time I saw a different expression was when I attempted a fight with her a few months ago.
“So, now what?” I asked, not sure what punishment Tess would hand out.
“Just flip through it and check what you got wrong. The quiz was an indicator for me to test your recollection as well as your level of knowledge. Questions on the exam were selected for maximum difficulty so it’s expected for you to score low. It’s data so I can decide what to teach you,” Tess answered.
I felt relieved after her statement. So Tess wasn’t going to do something weird. I flipped through the quiz and saw many red circles. Guess that meant I got those wrong. There were check pluses and check minuses scattered throughout the pages. What kind of grading system was this?
On the edge of the pages, there were various comments. This wasn’t Tess’ handwriting though. It lacked her beauty and clearness, instead it was choppier with the words slanted to a side.
“Tess, who wrote these comments?” I asked.
“Long did, he wrote a few observations about your answers, as well as the actions you took during the test. I used it to gain an understanding of your behavior and why you wrote down specific answers,” Tess answered.
“Okay, thanks Tess. You’re still here pretty early though. I think you said you would be here around two but its only twelve now,” I asked.
“I was hoping to provide a short introduction to physics, but it appears that will have to wait. Fel requested we arrive early to facilitate the party setup,” Tess revealed.
Of course, she wanted to lecture me, but I was saved by the party. I had reservations about this whole thing, but it was a good chance to have fun and temporarily forget about the whole hero thing.
The black gate of Felicity’s house swung open when the car neared it. Tess drove to the left. I saw a garage in the distance, but also a small parking lot with four cars already present. From my estimates, the parking lot probably fit fifteen cars.
“You’re here! Lifesavers! I just realized how hard it was to set up so I needed a few extra helping hands. Thanks for coming so early,” Felicity greeted us with a brilliant smile.
Felicity wore a grey cashmere sweater with a red Christmas bow tied into the right side of her hair. In addition, I saw two festive looking bangles on her left wrist. She really dressed the part for this party. Leading us inside, Felicity listed out the uncompleted tasks.
“There’s still setting up the table with food, decorating the stairs, cleaning up the area around the Christmas tree, getting the food ready, and cleaning up the guest rooms for people,” Felicity listed, leading us into the main living room.
“Before we continue on, how big is this place?” I asked Felicity, taken aback by the vastness of her residence.
“Four rooms down here, five rooms on the second floor, and three rooms on the third floor. Also the basement and the attic too. But I think we’ll only be using the basement and first floor. It’s the biggest down here after all. If people need to stay for the night, the guest rooms will be available on the second floor,” Felicity answered.
I blinked at her response, still trying to get past the fact that there were twelve rooms in total. Felicity really was well off.
“Hey, Felicity, where are your parents right now?” I asked.
“They’re out right now. Both of them are on a business trip and they won’t be back until let’s see here…two days from now,” Felicity answered, adjusting some of the holiday LED lights strung across the ceiling.
“Fel, where would you like us to be?” Tess asked.
“Oh, Yuki, would you like to help me in the kitchen? I can give you a quick tour while we go there. Tess, do you mind checking the first floor and seeing if everything is set up correctly? If anything’s out of place, you know what to do,” Felicity replied.
“Affirmative,” Tess nodded, walking away.
“Okay, follow me, Yuki. The kitchen is near the stairs to the second floor,” Felicity said.
Synopsis: Somewhere in the universe, there was an altar. On it, laid a bloody eye as big as the sun itself. It burst with light and bathed the entire star system in red.
"The aura of an ancestral artifact!" Someone's voice rose in surprise.
The Great Galactic Era had begun.