Liedecker Institute #9: Make Your Own Luck Part 2

This entry is part 9 of 13 in the series Liedecker Institute Volume 1: Meet The Class

It was Friday again, free period, and Eddie was sitting cross-legged on the stairs of the Enrichment Center, watching a flight class in progress. They were practicing maneuvering through rings supported in air by balloons.

At the moment, one of the juniors; a dark skinned girl with white, feathered wings, was having trouble negotiating the rings with her impressive wingspan. It was one of the issues with trying to train young psionics; the course was very hard for her, but all too easy for others, like Kura, who could only levitate at the speed of a slow walk.

All the same, it looked like fun to Eddie. While he appreciated his luck, he couldn’t help but feel more than a little envious of the kids that could fly. Or who could use their powers at will for that matter.

The doors at the top of the stairs opened and Eddie looked up to see his roommate, Phil Simms, emerge. Phil was a little taller than Eddie; dark skinned with long hair that he usually kept in a bushy tail. Beside him, laughing at some joke told before they came through the doors, was Joy.

Eddie and Joy had spent the free period hanging out on both the previous Monday and Wednesday, following their conversation the previous Friday and had mentioned her belief that all the ‘oddballs’ (as she called the kids who had the last period on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays free because their powers didn’t lend themselves to formal training) should all stick together. Phil, it seemed, was the first recruit.

“Hey Eddie!” Joy smiled as wide as she could without opening her mouth.

Phil, who looked like he wasn’t entirely certain what he was doing there, waved casually to his roommate. The two didn’t talk much outside of their rooms, mostly because the clique Eddie had found himself with considered Phil persona non grata and Phil’s friends felt the same about Eddie’s.

It was a huge, confusing mess and Eddie wasn’t entirely sure how and why it worked out that way.

Joy seemed to have a better handle on it, especially after her talk with Eddie the previous week, and had come out strongly agaisnt the whole thing. Thus, the Anti-Clique she was building during free period.

Laughing to herself, she bounded down the steps on all fours, forcing Phil to nearly run ti keep up. She glided down the last four to land on the step just above Eddie. “So have you asked him yet?” Her eyes sparkled with hope springing eternal.

Phil finally caught up and leaned on the rail. “Ask who what?”

Eddie knew all about it. After all, Joy only asked that same question every time she saw him; not just when they hung out, but in the halls. “I told her that I’d tell Jacob she’d like to help him in Physics class if he needed it.”

She flashed a fangy grin and looked at him with eyes all aglitter.

He started to shake his head, but it was a fake-out, turning into a nod. “I did and he said to call his room after dinner and the two of you can decide on when to actually get down to the tutoring thing.”

The gleeful squeal that resulted from his news made Eddie’s ears hurt and made him entirely unprepared for Joy to grab him up in a huge hug. Considering her size, she was very strong Eddie found himself wincing a bit at the sudden pressure.

“Thankyou thankyou thaknyou!” Said Joy, releasing Eddie from her grip. “This is amazing!”

“A tutoring job is amazing?” asked Phil.

“It’s not about the tutoring.” Eddie smirked and got to his feet. “All the girls have huge crushes on the guy—and he doesn’t even notice!”

Joy nodded emphatically. “He’s just so strong and kind and…” Her expression became demure and shy, “And he looks really good to…”

“I notice smart’s not on that list.” Phil frowned at all the fawning.

“Hey that’s my friend, man, let’s not go there.” Eddie felt the need to defend his friend. “Besides, he tries; nobody studies more than Jacob.”

“Sorry.” Phil backed down, “Sorry. I’ve been hanging around Tammy and Kura too much. Plus, I mean I’m more than a little jealous of the guy. He seriously doesn’t notice? Even though the upperclassman girls stare too?”

“It’s all the studying.” Eddie shrugged. “He hardly notices anything besides school and football when it’s on. It annoys the hell out of Rapunz… Betty though.” He corrected himself based on Joy’s observation that he’d taken to calling everyone by their codes just like his ‘friends Rapunzel and her boyfriend Hightower. “She hates that he takes so much convincing to hang out with us, but in her mind, she can’t not have him in her group.”

Phil nodded, turning his attention to the flight class. Kura was making her way through the course at a speed that could only be called ‘puttering’.

Eddie followed his gaze. “So… you and Kura…?”

“What?” No!” Phil threw up his hands defensively. “Are you kidding me? They’re fun as friends; her and Tammy, but jeez, I’m just a normal guy, man; they’re… not.”

“Not normal?” Eddie raised an eyebrow.

Joy was more blunt on that score, her ears drooping with her displeasure at the idea. “But none of us are normal. You have a pocket world!”

Onl then did Phil realize how what he’d said sounded. “Wait! I didn’t mean it like this; you know powers. I’ve got no problem with powers, that’d be pretty dumb. When I said ‘normal’, I meant acting normal.”

“I don’t act normal.” Joy said without a hint of irony, considering that fact that over the course of the conversation, she had climbed onto the handrail and perched there with all twenty digits and her tail wrapped around it.

“That’s not what I meant either.” He sounded more weary than defensive now. “With those two, it’s always pranks and surprise trips, and just doing stuff at the drop of a hat; it’s tiring just being their friend; I can’t imagine what a date would be like.”

Eddie snorted and did a breathless impression of Kura, “Hey Phil! I know we were going to dinner, but I just heard that there’s a shipwreck in the river! Let’s go find scuba gear and go see if its true!”

That sent all three into laughter.

Still shaking from laughing, Phil shook his head at Kura and Tammy’s antic in general and asked “So what are we going to do?”

“About what?” Asked Joy, still in the throes of a residual giggle fit.

“You know, do. We’re supposed to be hanging out, we should do something while hanging out.”

“Oh.” She said blandly. “I never thought of that.”

“Wha?” He goggled. “But came and found me and said I had to hang out with you and Eddie! That was for no reason?”

“It was for a reason. We don’t need training… or can’t take training. That’s something in common, so we should hang out.” Even before she was done saying it, she knew that was weak sauce and her ears twitched as is independently irritated with her.

“Come on!” She finally protested. “I don’t have to come up with ideas with my sisters! Glory always had a agent… um… agenda we’re supposed to follow, or Charity would have an idea that was much more fun than Glory’s, sometimes even Faith came up with something fun.” Absently, she tucked her wings up tighter around her midsection, effectively hugging herself.

“That reminds me, your sister teaches my Programming II class.” Eddie said, feeling proud he’d finally remembered that after holding it on the tip of his tongue over the past week.

The words, as they entered Joy’s mind, were received, given a cursory once over, then thrown up in the air in excitement as one neutron pointed out to another neuron that Eddie was exactly the goat necessary to cast the onus of coming up with something to do off of Joy.

“And Eddie!” She blurted without actually going through the process of minting a sentence to carry the name first. “Um, I mean Eddie came up with what to do all this week; he’s good at it. We played cards and he taught me how to shoot pool, and we played Medieval Warfare VI. I was Korea because the hwacha is awesome.”

Phil smirked at Eddie. “Two out of three are gambling games. You really live up to the name Vegas, don’t you?”

Eddie shrugged. “People taught me stuff. Plus, I already gave her a magic show the first time we talked. But don’t look at me, I’m out of ideas.” He sighed. “Wish they’d let us off campus during free period; American Titan II: Texas Round-up is playing and I’ll never get to see it on the big screen hanging out with the likes of Betty and Annette; they only like movies where there’s a make over or a bride who doesn’t want to get married.”

“So?” Phil asked.

“So what?”

“Blow ’em off. Just don’t show up to meet them aftr class. Go to the movie instead.”

“Yeah!” Joy said with new enthusiasm. “We’ll all go! That’s even better than just hanging out during free period.”

Eddie balked at the idea. “Do you two have any idea how much crap I’d have to put up with doing that? Just not showing up?”

“How’s it any different than the crap you usually put up with?” Phil asks. “Seriously, do you want sit round and talk about codenames and clothes and how much they don’t like people? Or would you rather deal with a little natter and go see Dr. Taslim al Meer forced to step once more into the Quantum Enlarger and become the American Titan to protect his family from the Vale Corporation?”

“You quoted that from the trailer.” Eddie said suspiciously.

Phil shrugged.“Pretty much. I’ve been wanting to see it too, just haven’t had time this week on account of homework.”

“Please, Eddie?” Joy asked, her too large eyes getting watery. “I’ve never even seen this Titan movie and I want to now!”

“We can get snacks out of the student lounge and smuggle them in with my power.” said Phil, his tone worthy of offering apples to passing leaf-garbed women.

It wasn’t an argument that normally would have won him over, but Eddie was really just looking for an excuse anyway. “Okay, sure, let’s go then.but we’re taking kettle corn, not the butter and salt kind.”

“But I love butter and salt.” Joy sniffed. “And… and my doctor says I need more salt than normal people because of my powers.” There was no way for them to argue with that, or even question the truth of it (there wasn’t any, Joy just liked salt.).

“We can have both.” Phil assured them. “I haven’t found a limit to how much stuff I can put in hammerspace, and I doubt a bag of popcorn is going to put it over.”

“Hammerspace?” Joy asked.

“You know how in animated shows, sometimes people pull stuff out of nowhere?”

“Like you do.” Eddie pointed out.

“Exactly.” said Phil. “I’ve been thinking aobut it and hammerspace just sounds better than ‘my secret pocket’ or ‘my invisible warehouse’.”

“How much stuff do you have in there anyway?” Eddie got to his feet and stretched.

There was a sound like a struck match and Phil drew a hazy green circle in the air. The moment it was completed, a box of Sugar Straws candy emerged as if being doled out by a phantom vending machine.

Phil pulled the box the rest of the way out and the circle vanished like smoke in the wind. “Let’s just say that besides popcorn, we’re good for snacks and drinks. Even if the the theater sank into the ground while we were in there.”

Joy snagged the candy and eyed the box suspiciously. “How old are these? I haven’t seen Sugar Straws since before I got my powers!”

“They’ve still got ’em around where I live.” Phil said, taking the box back and opening it to share. “But it doesn’t really matter; I don’t think there’s time in hammerspace. Food doesn’t go bad, or even get cold or warm no matter how long I leave it in there. I once kept a hot cup of coffee in there for a week!”

Joy nibbled the straw given to her cautiously. “That’s cool. So can something alive got in there?”

The door above them opened again and Rose Abernathy shuffled out with her gym bag and shinai case over her shoulder. Because her eyes, opal spheres set in red sandstone with granite accents, lacked pupils, it was impossible to tell if she noticed them there on the stairs or not.

Following the assumption that she did, Eddie waved. “Hey, Arkose. I thought you had Super Strength class this period.”

She turned her head in his direction, her face neutral. “It’s called Application of Enhanced Strength and Resilience.” She corrected him dryly. Then she shrugged subtly, apparently deciding her terseness was overkill. “And Mr. Leneir was out sic today.”

“You’re doing it again.” Joy muttered to Eddie.

“Don’t what?”

“Calling people by their codename.”

“But it’s okay this time; Arkose wants to be called that.” He defended.

Arkose shook her head and started down the stairs. “It doesn’t matter.” Her voice was flat even taking into account her naturally hollow voice.

“Actually, we were all talking about hitting a movie once classes let out.” Phil said. “Wanna come?”

Her brow raised, looking like the thrusting up of a nascent mountain. “Why?” She turned to look at Eddie. “This isn’t another ‘let’s be friends’ deal is it? Aren’t you already friends with the shallow crowd… and Jacob?”

Joy’s ears flattened back a bit from the way Arkose said his name.

“Yeah, well I figured I should get some friends besides Jacob that I actually like.” Eddie skillfully avoided the fact that the three had only just had their fisrt friendly meeting with one another.

“You don’t like me.” Arkose declared with the air of someone starting to see the cracks in the lies behind a con.

“Why would you say that?” Phil asked. Joy nodded enthusiastically in agreement as he added, “We just don’t know you. Come on, we go see the movie, maybe find this arcade Kura and Tammy go too; I’m sure we’ll like you by the time we get back here. Oh, yeah, and snacks are on me!”

“I don’t eat.” Arkose pointed out as she frowned at them. After regarding the disappointment that brought out in them, especially Joy for some reason, she sighed. “Fine. What’s playing?”

“American Titan!” Joy says. “But I don’t know what that is.”

“A giant scientist fighting computer generated giant robots in Los Angeles.” Arkose said with a sigh.

“Actually, according to the trailer, it’s going to be CGI giant tarantulas in Dallas.” said Phil.

“There’s more to it than that.” Eddie felt the need to speak out in defense of his entertainment. “In the first one, he had to do it because the robots were created using his designs and he couldn’t let something he made hurt people.”

“So he engaged them in a building destroying brawl.” Arkose snarked.

“Well yeah, but—“ Eddie started, but she shook her head.

“I didn’t say I didn’t like it. Only that it’s stupid.” In truth, watching movies in that vein were one of the rare things she and her father bonded over before her powers manifested, so she carried a soft spot for them. “Fine, I’ll go.”

To Be Continued…

Series Navigation<< Liedecker Institute #8: Make Your Own Luck Part 1Liedecker Institute #10: Make Your Own Luck Part 3 >>

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Landon Porter is the author of The Descendants and Rune Breaker. Follow him on Twitter @ParadoxOmni or sign up for his newsletter.

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