Friday, August 18
East Raven Academy
“Let’s go over it one more time.”
Today, I am getting dropped off at boarding school by two secret service agents. One is pretending to be “Uncle Matty”, and the other, Jake, who is pretending to be my cousin. I have no idea if those are even their real names, but I doubt they’d tell me if I asked.
I let out a sigh. “You’re my crack dealer...”
“Be serious,” Uncle Matty says, cutting me off.
“I’m sick of going over this. I know my cover story. It’s all I’ve been doing the past week,” I say, but I do comply. I know he won’t let this go. There is no fighting him. “I’m Phoenix Black.”
Jake cuts me off. “Underwood.”
“Phoenix Underwood,” I correct. “I live with my Uncle Matty and older cousin, Jake. My real parents are dead, but I don’t remember them because they died when I was a baby.”
The truth is my parents are very much alive. In fact, it’s my father’s fault that I’m in this situation right now. Well, not his fault completely. But he was the one who decided to run for congress, and got elected. Just another rich, white guy in office. Apparently that makes people not like him. And by people, I mean terrorists. Only they didn’t go after him. They came after me. Hence, the new identity.
I continue my cover story. “I got kicked out of my old school for arson...”
“Phoenix,” Uncle Matty scolds.
They never let me have any fun.
“Fine. I was kicked out for hacking the school’s computers.”
The getting kicked out part is a lie. Hacking the school’s computers is not a lie. At my old school, I kind of made it so the entire student body could go on social media websites on school computers, without being detected by the IT department. The truth is, I never got caught, and last time I checked, the school still hadn’t caught on.
“But let the record state, arson sounds so much cooler,” I say.
“Yeah. If you like juvie,” Jake says.
“Juvie. Prep school.” I tap my chin. “I’m failing to see the difference between the two.”
I cringe as we pull up at the security booth. There is a huge wall that goes around all two hundred-plus acres of the school, ensuring the safety of each student who attends. At least, that is what the pamphlet says. To me, this wall is more like a prison, keeping me in rather than keeping others out.
Oh, sure. You’re allowed off campus on weekends, with parent’s approval, but it’s not like actual freedom. You can’t just come and go as you please. There are rules. Curfews. Both are things that I’ve never had in my life. And I highly doubt Uncle Matty is going to let me go anywhere, considering there is a group of terrorists after me.
“Name of the student, please,” the guard says.
I lean over the center console. “Phoenix Underwood.”
“Is this your dad?” the guard asks. “I’m going to need to see ID for everybody in the car.”
Uncle Matty smiles as he reaches for his ID. He likes that everybody has to prove who they are before being let in the gate. Of course, as if that’s not enough, Uncle Matty and Jake are going to be living on campus.
Technically, nobody will know, except a select few of the staff.
But I’ll know.
“This isn’t my dad,” I tell the guard. “He’s my crack dealer.”
“I’m her uncle,” he says, trying to force a smile.
“Seriously, I’ve never met him before. You should call the cops,” I say.
I hear Jake crack up in the backseat.
“I’m her uncle,” Uncle Matty says again, handing over all three of our ID’s.
The guard looks carefully, then hands the plastic ID’s back.
“Welcome to East Raven Academy, Miss Underwood. Just go straight through the gates, and in about a quarter of a mile you will see a sign telling you which way to the dorms. There, you can check in with a prefect.”
“Thanks,” Uncle Matty tells him.
“That was not funny,” Uncle Matty says, as we leave the security gate.
“It was hilarious,” I say. “Even Jake laughed.”
I turn to look at him and see that he’s still smiling. When he sees me looking, he clears his throat and relaxes his face muscles. “It was very wrong of you.”
His fake sternness just makes me laugh harder.
A quarter of a mile up the road, I see a huge sign with the East Raven Academy logo on it.
East Raven Academy.