Chapter 3

Alice saw a pair of boys walking away from the building as she was heading towards it. They took no notice of her, clearly absorbed in their own conversation and playing catch with a pair of dice. Her new roommates, no doubt. Fantastic. At least the one with the brown hair was cute, or would be if it he weren’t wearing those ridiculous sunglasses in the shade. The other one, though, who was he trying to impress with that hair? Silver and spiky, was he trying to flunk the secret identity challenge before the semester even started?

None of that was her concern, though. Daddy had been strangely unbending in denying her desire to dorm with the regular Supers, saying that she had to stay in the dorm set up for the “special cases” like herself. She didn’t really see why she needed to be in the reinforced building; her ability was only flying, and she had suffered no uncontrolled attacks for over two months now. It was insufferable that she would have to... well, suffer through the group accommodations with a bunch of all-too-recently Powereds. Alice didn’t want to find camaraderie in their shared former disability. She wanted to forget that part of her life had ever existed.

Still, no one could say that Alice Adair didn’t make the best of a bad situation. She had taken a guiding hand in the construction of their dormitory, creating an environment that was spacious, desirable, and above all else, elite.

She breezed through the hallway, disregarding the note that hung on the entrance. A quick thumb scan took her to the central common room. She surveyed the work of the decorators critically. Yes, it would do nicely. Now at least when the other students asked her why she was in this small dorm set off at the edge of campus she could humbly explain that it was only available to those of sufficient means to afford such luxury and privacy. It wasn’t her ideal situation, but it would work.

Alice moved briskly to the girls’ side, anxious to get through lest the last boy be lounging about, hoping to sneak a peek at what members of the fairer sex would be sharing his roof space. The girls’ side was identical to the boys’, save that there were only two rooms, numbered 4 and 5 respectively. While group bathrooms were fine for males, Alice had been quite insistent with Daddy that she have her own private bathroom. The fact that this meant her fellow female received one as well was a very distant afterthought.

On that thought, Alice realized her other roommate was sitting in one of the plush pink chairs Alice had picked out, watching the television on mute. It seemed to be a game show, and the girl was as silent as the screen, just watching and occasionally cocking her head to a different angle.

The girl was... wild seemed to be the word that popped into Alice’s head first. Not wild in the sense of tequila, poor decisions, and eventual therapy, but wild in the way of the jungle. Her hair looked as though no one had even entertained the idea of touching it for years, sticking up at all angles willy-nilly. The girl’s clothing was clean at least, though it had the look of something that had been worn for many years. Ironically, Alice’s jeans had the same appearance, though hers had achieved the look through corporate innovation and the fashion demands of the public. The most disconcerting thing about the girl, though, was her eyes. While Alice had always considered her own green eyes, especially when paired with her platinum blonde hair, to be rather stunning, they held no candle to the amber irises that encircled this girl’s pupils.

“Ahem,” Alice said in her best impersonation of a throat clearing. “Good afternoon, I take it that you are my dorm mate?”

The girl swiveled her head toward Alice in a motion that seemed more owl- or hawk-like than human. She blinked those round amber eyes twice, then gave an oddly-shaped grin.

“You snuck up on me,” that girl said.

“Oh, well, I do apologize,” Alice said formally. Just because this girl seemed so uncouth didn’t mean Alice could allow her own standards to lapse.

“Don’t,” said the girl. “I just keep forgetting people can do that now. It’s a pleasant surprise every time.”

“All right, then,” Alice said, shifting on her feet uncomfortably. She knew everyone staying here had an ability, but she had been unable to wheedle Daddy into telling her precisely what to expect.  “My name is Alice. What do you go by?”

The girl blinked oddly once more, then cocked her head before answering. “I haven’t had any need to go by anything in a long time. My given name is Mary, though it might take a few tries to get my attention with it. As I said, out of practice.”

“I think Mary is a lovely name,” Alice said politely. In truth, she didn’t care one way or the other, but as she couldn’t very well go around all year referring to the girl as Freak Eyes, at least not out loud, Mary worked fine for her.

“I’ll do my best to remember its mine,” said the girl who was apparently Mary, turning her head back to the television and watching her show.

“Um, if you don’t mind me asking, why are you watching it on mute?” Alice inquired.

“I used to always watch television like this,” Mary replied without turning around. “I learned to read their lips; that way, if I wanted silence, all I had to do was shut my eyes. It was the only thing in my life on which I could actually turn the voices off, so I relished it. I guess old habits die hard.”

“Ah, well, I see,” Alice said quickly, eyeing room number four and edging her way towards it. “Well, I’ll leave you to that, then. See you tonight at the meeting.”

With those words, Alice jammed her thumb on her door scanner and popped it open. She slammed the door immediately after and rested against her wall. It was strange how uncomfortable that girl made her, how it felt like, despite being so disconnected, Mary was looking right through her with those bright amber eyes. Alice had grown up wealthy and aristocratic, and if there was one thing she could not stand, it was the sensation that someone knew what she was really thinking.

Outside Alice’s door, Mary sat in the chair, eyes still trained on her game show. “That girl is more perceptive than she thinks,” Mary whispered to a small stuffed bear that sat between her leg and the armrest of the chair.