Xeo Nexus Episode 1: Guardian – Chapter 8!!

For the preceding chapters of Xeo Nexus Ep.1: Guardian, click here for  Ch.1Ch.2&3Ch.4Ch.5Ch.6 and Ch.7

Chapter 8

Another day nearly comes to a close at Theodore Roosevelt High School.  The students are in their final class period.  Among the students, it is said that the last class is always the longest especially when it’s just before the weekend.  The statement is also true amongst the teachers whose unfortunate weekends will be comprised of grading papers.  Dan is one of those students who can’t wait for the bell to ring signaling the joyous end of the school week.  Sadly, the bell can’t come fast enough.  History is his and Brayden’s last class.  The most boring of classes strategically placed at the end of the day to toy with his agonizing wait for two days of freedom.  Dan has been watching the clock with a jaded expression since class started.  Though the class is half over, the last twenty minutes seem to stretch into two hours.  The clock’s taunting face stares back at Dan as it ticks away at a snail’s pace.  He might as well have been watching paint dry.  The class’ teacher isn’t making things any better.  The middle-aged man in the plain brown suit went over the lesson in a dreary monotone voice.  His voice had no pitch or octaves.  The man’s facade was just as dreary and expressionless.

“Mr. Snider?” said the teacher.

Dan didn’t respond right away.  Everything else was tuned out from his mind except for the repetitious ticking of the clock that doesn’t seem to move.

“Psst, dude.  Steinberg’s calling you,” Brayden whispered to Dan, snapping him out of his trance.

Dan, becoming conscious of his surroundings, looks around the class room noticing the twenty pairs of eyes upon him.

“Mr. Snider, welcome back.  Please don’t leave my class to go to daydreaming again.  It’s awfully rude,” said Mr. Steinberg.  He is still dreary and impassive even when making a joke.  “Now let’s see if you were paying as much attention to the lesson on the French Revolution as you were to the school clock.”

“Pfft, some clock.  Is that thing even working?” said Dan.

“I’ll answer your question if you can answer mine.  At the height of the French Revolution, what monarch was executed by the guillotine on January 21 1793 for treason, nine months before his wife Marie Antoinette?” Mr. Steinberg asked.

Dan thought about the question.  By the expression on his face, it is clear that he has not been paying attention to the lesson.  Looking at the class’ eyes staring at him was making Dan nervous.  Mr. Steinberg’s pokerfaced gaze was doing little to help.  He looks over at Brayden, pleading with his eyes for help.  Brayden shrugs his shoulders, signaling his inability to help him.  Dan was stuck.  His friend couldn’t help him and his inexpressive teacher is waiting for his answer.  Figuring that he had nothing to lose except his dignity, he decided to say whatever came to mind.  “Uhh, I dunno, Mark Twain?” Dan said.

“Your mental retention is astounding to think that the author of ‘Tom Sawyer’ and ‘Huckleberry Finn’ had any part of the French Revolution which took place nearly a century prior to his writing of Tom Sawyer.  In other words, Mr. Snider, like Louis XVI, who was the monarch in question, you are dead wrong,” Mr. Steinberg said.  The other students, except Brayden, snicker at their teacher’s stoic sense of humor.  “There are a couple things you will learn in my class, Mr. Snider.  First, knowledge is only measured by one’s attentive capacity.  To put it simply, pay attention you might learn something.”

Mr. Steinberg’s advice rings true, but Dan regards it with next to zero enthusiasm.  “Thanks for the advice, Stein-y.  I’ll consider it.  So what’s the other thing I’m supposed to be learning while in ‘Snoresville’?” he said apathetically.  No sooner than he finished asking his question did the bell ring, signaling the end of school.  Dan was especially surprised.

“Another thing you’ll learn is that that clock is over twenty minutes slow which is surprising considering that you’re wearing a watch,” said Mr. Steinberg.  Dan looks at his watch and then looks back at Mr. Steinberg with a sheepish grin.  “Okay, everyone there will be a test next week on the French Revolution and as always I’m not obligated to tell you which day that’ll be so be prepared.  Some more so than others; you know who you are.  Enjoy your weekend,” Mr. Steinberg said, addressing the class.

Roosevelt High students pour out of the doors to begin their joyous weekend reprieve from classes and books and teachers’ dirty looks.  Dan and Brayden exit the building ready for a weekend of, unfortunately for Dan, preparing for Mr. Steinberg’s test.

“Argh, I can’t believe it.  I had a whole weekend planned and stuffy old Steinberg sticks us with a test.  I swear that guy has it in for me,” Dan complained.

Brayden laughs and says, “It doesn’t take much to get you fired up, huh?  Relax man; I said I would help you out.”

“Yeah, I know, but it still sucks,” said Dan.  Brayden and Dan continue towards the gate, passing a small group of girls along the way.  One of the girls, wearing a purple plaid skirt and black T-shirt with shoulder length almond hair approaches them.

“Hey Brayden,” Heather called.

Brayden and Dan stop upon hearing the girl’s voice.  “Hey Heather,” Brayden greeted her.  He introduces Heather to Dan.

“I just wanted to thank you for helping me with history,” Heather said, gently brushing a few strands of hair behind her right ear.

“No problem,” Brayden said.

“Well, I was wondering, uh, what you were…if you are doing anything this weekend?”  Heather was nervous.  She begins to twiddle her hair.  Brayden, noticing her shyness, gently tells Heather that he and Dan have a test to study for.  “Oh, well I was wondering, if you had time, if you would like to go out—hang out?!  Go hang out; if you would like to go hang out?”

Brayden thought about it for a second.  He and Dan had a test to study for; more so Dan than himself.  Knowing Dan for so long, he knows that his friend’s mental retention isn’t the best.  Unless the subject has to do with cars and hot women Dan can be less than interested in it.  But Brayden has been helping Heather out with being her science tutor.  He has grown quite fond of her, but he hadn’t counted on it to warrant a date.

Dan sees Brayden taking his time to answer Heather.  For him, if Brayden takes her, he gets to have some fun of his own.  He knows Brayden will keep him studying all weekend, interfering with his plans.  Dan grabs his friend.  “Excuse us for moment,” he says to Heather before walking Brayden a couple feet away from her.  He pulls him in close. “Listen up stupid, this girl’s sweet on you or hadn’t you noticed?  You’re not gonna turn down someone that cute, are ya?”

“I don’t want to, but we got Steinberg’s test—” Brayden said.

“C’mon screw the test.  Listen, we’ll just get the studying done on Sunday.  You can’t spend the whole weekend with our noses in the books.  Look, you have your time with Heather and I’ll have mine with Evilyn on Saturday.  And on Sunday, I’m all yours, alright?  I promise.”

“Wait, you have a date with Evilyn, the Goth chick?” Brayden said curiously.

“Yeah, I know she’s a bit creepy, but in a cute sorta way.  She’s got this vibe about her,” said Dan.

“It’s called the Dark Side of the Force, Luke,” Brayden quipped.

Dan shoots him a look.  “Anyway, we gotta deal?” he says.  With a chuckle, Brayden agrees.  Then they return their attention to Heather who has been patiently waiting.

“Well, it looks like I’m free for tomorrow,” Brayden tells Heather.

“Okay, um…here,” Heather said as she looks through her book and hands Brayden a piece of paper with her phone number on it. 

Brayden takes the paper.  “Alright, so I’ll call you about three, get an early start?” he suggested.  Heather stared at him dreamily and agrees with a nod.  “We’ll do something classic; dinner and a movie?”

“Okay,” said Heather, “It’s a dat—da-day…day out.  It’s a day out.”  She is nervous even though she has finally asked him out.  Heather has always liked Brayden but never really mustered up the courage to ask him out until now.

Brayden chuckles a bit and says, “Heather, just relax, alright?  You don’t have to try so hard, ok?”

“Okay,” Heather said, feeling a bit calmer.

Brayden tells Heather he’ll call tomorrow for their not-quite-a-date and reminds Dan of their study date on Sunday.  Dan, of course, groans his agreement.  With his friend and his soon-to-be-date on their way home, Brayden heads over to the park near his home for another day of training.

Brayden’s mother arrives home early from work.  She exits her car and enters her house as usual unaware that is being watched.  Three men sat in a car across the street.  They have been keeping a close watch on Brayden’s house for the past two hours.

“The mom’s home early?  I thought she wasn’t due for another couple of hours,” said the man in the back seat.

“She didn’t get in until almost seven the last couple times I scoped this place out.  Musta gotten off early,” said the man in the front passenger seat.  “Well, it don’t matter.  The boss wants the kid, right?  So let’s see if he’s a mama’s boy.”

Brayden’s mother was in the laundry room to finish a basket of clothes she started yesterday before dinner.  She has already deduced that Brayden wasn’t home when she didn’t hear the mixture of rock music and the TV.  Brayden’s mother places each article of clothing in the washing machine, separating them in the process.  Once the clothes were in, she pours in the detergent and turns the washing machine on.  She was heading to the kitchen when she hears a knock at the door.  Assuming that it maybe Brayden, she heads over to answer it.  However, she finds that it is not her son when she opens the door.  A young man slightly older than Brayden wearing jeans, a white T-shirt and brown boot stood on the stoop.  Thick dreadlocks framed his face.

“Can I help you?” Brayden’s mother asked nervously.  The young man smiles with a chuckle.

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