Pixel picked up her school bag and swung it over one shoulder. She walked over to the front door of her house placing a hand on the doorknob. Her father stood by the front window watching her carefully.
“You need to go to the library to study now?” he asked.
Pixel nodded. “I have a lot of homework and I want to get to a good start on it.”
“It was only your first day.”
“It’s high school.”
Her father sighed. “Can you even get into the school this late at night? What’s wrong with the local library right down the street?”
“I met a couple friends and this is what they do.” Pixel replied.
“Can you trust these friends?” he wondered aloud.
Pixel sighed exasperated. “Dad.”
He threw his hands up defensively. “Alright, alright. I just want to make sure you’re safe and know what you’re doing. Sometimes people aren’t always what they seem.”
“No kidding,” Pixel cracked a smile. “I’m half-fairy, remember?”
Her father chuckled. “Fair enough. Just be home by 10, alright?”
“I promise.” Pixel said. She kissed her father on the cheek and left the house. As she walked down the walkway and onto the curb, she didn’t bother looking back. She knew her father was going to watch her from the window until she was out of sight.
Pixel knew she very well couldn’t tell her father what she was doing. However, she told him that she’d be at the high school, so it wasn’t completely lying, right? She felt guilty. She never lied to her father. But it was just one night. She had a feeling the Underneath wasn’t even going to be anything special and she’d make a couple friends out of it. It was a win-win situation for all, right?
She needed to have a couple friends in order to get through high school in a normal way. High schoolers had friends and socialized a lot, right? So this was what she needed to do.
The high school wasn’t too far away from her house. She wasn’t old enough to learn how to drive and she certainly didn’t want her father to drive her. Lucky for her it was close so her father trusted her enough to walk.
When she made it to the high school, she walked to the back of the school where the student parking lot was. Just as she rounded the corner, she noticed two figures in the shadows. She stopped for a moment, hoping it was Alvin and Miles, though it was hard to tell.
Pixel wasn’t there long when one turned around and took notice of her.
“Ah, there you are!”
Pixel recognized Alvin’s voice and let out a sigh of relief. She walked over to the two boys and smiled in greeting.
Miles curled the corner of his mouth into a smile. “I was beginning to think you wouldn’t show.”
“Sorry,” she said, “My dad thought it was strange I’d be at the school so late at night.”
“You told him?!” Miles glared at her.
Pixel took a step back. “No, no! I told him I was going to the library to study with some friends.”
Miles let out a breath. She couldn’t tell if it was out of relief or if he was still annoyed.
“No worries,” Alvin said calmly to Miles. He turned to Pixel and winked. “We’ll teach Emily to sneak around soon enough.”
“Yeah, you really are new around here, aren’t you?” Miles grunted.
“Emily?” Pixel repeated. She looked over her shoulder but no one was there.
“Em, sorry,” Alvin corrected himself.
Pixel was about to say something but then she realized she was Emily. Oh, right. She had forgotten she had lied to them too.
“Where are you from anyway?” Alvin asked.
“Uh…” she hadn’t thought that far into her back story.
“It doesn’t matter right now. We’ve already wasted enough time.” Miles interrupted. He turned away from them and led the way to a door inside the school. He took out a pair of keys and started unlocking the doors.
“How did you get keys to the school?” Pixel asked.
“His dad is a janitor here.” Alvin replied.
“And he just gave him the keys to the school?”
“Geez,” Miles chuckled, “you really are naïve, huh? I stole them from his dresser while he was in the shower.”
“He won’t notice?” Pixel asked.
“Not unless I don’t put it back by the time his shift starts tomorrow morning.” Miles replied.
They entered the school without saying anything else. Pixel didn’t appreciate how dark it was in the school. It was spooky and everything looked different – not just because of the lights but because she hadn’t gone to this part of the school before. She had no idea where they were.
Miles closed the door behind them as Alvin led the way through the school. Pixel followed him and Miles followed her, neither of them speaking. It was obvious they knew what they were doing and where they were going. She didn’t understand why she had agreed to go with them or why they even let her tag along in the first place. She figured, as long as stuck close to them and did what they told her to do, she’d be fine. They were only in the school, after all. They weren’t actually going to an Underneath place.
“How do we get into the basement?” Alvin asked.
“There’s a code. I think it’s 8-4-6-2.” Miles said. Then he paused.
Alvin opened the code box and punched in the number eight.
“Or was it 8-4-6-1?” Miles whispered to himself.
Pixel heard him but when she looked at Alvin he was punching in the numbers four and six. She suddenly had a bad feeling. “Wait–”
An alarm blared throughout the halls.
“Well, damn. I guess it was 8-4-6-1.” Miles muttered.
Alvin turned around with wide eyes. “What do we do?”
Pixel reached for the door and turning the knob. Of course, it was already unlocked. “Guys, in here.” She opened the door and disappeared into the basement.
“How’d you do that?” Alvin asked.
“Just run!” she exclaimed.
Alvin followed, as did Miles, closing the door behind them.
The three of them dashed down the stairs and ran through the hallways trying to find either a good spot to hide or a way out so they could get home without being detected.
“My dad is gonna kill me. He’s going to the one the alarm company calls.” Miles sighed.
“And he’s not going to have his keys to get in.” Alvin replied. “You’re definitely screwed. Em and I are fine though. As long as you don’t rat us out.”
“Gee, thanks.” Miles glared at him.
“Guys, I don’t think now is the time to bicker.” Pixel said. There were a few doors lined up down the hall but they all had signs – various storage rooms, the boiler room, and more. However, there was one door that didn’t have a sign.
“There’s nowhere for us to go.” Miles sighed.
“How about here?” Pixel pointed to the unmarked door.
The boys blinked at her. “Uh, Em? That’s a wall.” Alvin stated.
Pixel cocked her head to the side. Was it too dark for him to see the door? How could they not see it?
Without another word, Pixel grabbed the door knob and opened it revealing a bright light. Both boys gasped and Pixel grabbed them both by the arm and shoved them through the door.