Chapter One

Rhaven Academy

I sat on the edge of my bed and watched the sun come up, putting the night to bed and making the birds sing in the trees that the new day was upon us. Soft cotton-like clouds dotted the sky here and there, and I could just see the tops of the trees from where I sat some three feet from the window. This would be my last morning in the hospital. Some time that day I would leave Dr. Carlo behind and travel to Rhaven Academy. A place where I knew no one, and no one knew me.

Sometime in the next few hours, Ms. Bennet would walk into my hospital room and collect me like a lost possession. We would get into her car, probably a sedan. They were always sedans in the movies. Don't ask me how I knew that, but I did. Anyway, we would get into her sedan, and she would drive me to Rhaven Academy. The buildings and rooms in the pictures would become reality for me; only now there would be other students there. I supposed that I would probably have a roommate.

For my entire stay at the hospital I'd had a private room. How this was paid for I'll never know. The point is that I'd been free to do as I pleased. I could even talk to my reflection in peace, because I was safe and secure in my solitude. All of that would change once I walked through the doors of Rhaven Academy. I'd have a roommate, quad mates to spy on me when I was talking to myself in the bathroom. My stomach felt funny just from the thought of someone coming across me standing in front of the mirror having a one-sided monologue. Surely the things that my reflection said to me were actually in my head. Imagination? I didn't know if I was imagining it or not, but it was surely in my head.

I didn't want to go to boarding school. I didn't want quad mates or roommates. I wanted to be left alone. It was bad enough that I couldn't even remember my own family. Did I really have to be thrown in with people who would learn of my amnesia and think of me as some kind of freak? I could just imagine the rumors that would circulate around the school once word got out that I couldn't even remember anything before the hospital. I'd be the resident freak, the boy with no memory. I'd be just as alone as I was in the hospital. It would be worse, because I would be alone in a place filled with boys my own age.

The thought of being discovered talking to my reflection made me want to talk to myself one last time. I got up and made my way to the bathroom, delaying the act by performing regular morning bodily functions. I took care when washing my hands to ignore the mirror for as long as possible. I washed my hands over and over until finally I had summoned the courage to shut off the faucet and look up at my reflection. I half expected that it would be an ordinary reflection and I would be denied this last commune, but he was there, looking back at me with scared eyes.

"I'll find time to talk to myself at school, too," he said, but his eyes didn't look so confident. "They have to sleep some time, and I'll be quiet."

"I really don't want to go to the school at all," I said, testing my quiet voice just to see how it sounded.

"Of course I don't want to go, but I have to," he said. "I'm still a minor, and without knowing who I am or where I came from I have no one to fall back on. I have no choice."

"I could run," I said, the idea only just occurring to me. "I could run away. They'd never find me. I'm a smart guy."

"Oh I'm smart all right," said my reflection sarcastically. "I'm smart enough to know that I wouldn't get far before I was raped or killed. This isn't the fifties. All sorts of things happen to handsome sixteen year old boys who run away and try to hide in the night. Yeah, I'm smart."

I glared at my reflection only to be looked back at with mockery. I closed my eyes and sighed. What was I going to do, break the mirror? That would be smart all right. Then I'd have to explain myself, and once I opened my mouth the whole insane truth would come spilling out. I wouldn't have to go to Rhaven, but I'd be forced into a little white jacket that buckled in the back and stuffed into a soft padded room with white walls and never bothered with again. That was smart.

"Oh stop that," snapped my reflection, irritation thick in his voice. "I'm not crazy. I don't know why I keep holding on to that stupid thought. I've had this discussion with myself already. What I need to be doing is resigning myself to the fact that at any time Ms. Bennet will return with her fake smile and mock concern for my well-being. She'll come back to take me to Rhaven Academy where I'll meet new people and be a little nervous for a while, but I'll make it. It's only two years, after all."

"But I don't want to go," I said firmly.

"Quiet," he said, looking around the bathroom nervously. "Someone's coming. Go."

With that, my reflection was normal again. I heard a knock at my door, and then it opened. I came out of the bathroom to see a kitchen aid come in with my breakfast tray. She was a younger woman with red hair that she'd pulled back into a pony tail and tied with a blue ribbon. Little stray hairs had come free and danced on the back of her neck and around her face as she moved. Her face was a mass of freckles, and her green eyes were bright. She smiled at me, and her entire face lit up. I smiled back simply because I couldn't remember ever seeing someone so genuinely happy and content. It would take a great life to make someone that happy, and for just a moment I was jealous.

"Morning," she said, setting the tray on my bed table. "My name's Sherry. I don't usually work this floor."

"I'm Brian," I said, coming further out of the bathroom. The smell of sausage was thick in the air.

"Well enjoy, Brian," she said, flashing me that cheer filled happy smile again. "It was a pleasure to meet you."

"Oh, the pleasure was mine," I replied, smiling back at her again.

I watched as she glided from the room, and I imagined that she was off to her happy life where she had family and friends who love her. I could imagine her sitting in the living room of her parents' house, laughing and talking with them. Maybe she had siblings, a brother about my age. I imagined that they were close, and they told each other secrets. Most importantly, they remembered each other. That was the key to her happiness. She had a normal brain with memories from happy times in her life that she could call upon whenever that happiness escaped her to fill her up again and make those beautiful green eyes shine the way I'd seen them shine. She had her memories.

What I had were runny eggs and slightly overcooked sausage. My toast was hard and a little on the cold side while my milk was only a little less than warm. I sighed as I set to eating my last hospital breakfast. As less than perfect as it was, I'd miss it. How sad is that? Missing hospital food and a sterile room when I would be going to a posh private school where rich young men were the elite is probably the strangest thing you've ever heard in your life. You might think that is the most ridiculous thing you've ever read, but its the truth.

My thoughts were interrupted by voices in the hall. I was halfway through my breakfast when they started. They were getting closer, and at first I thought Ms. Bennet had come. Then I realized that the voices I heard were male. Maybe she'd sent another to claim me. That thought didn't sit well, and it didn't ring true when I finally could hear what it was that they were saying.

"He doesn't remember," I heard Dr. Carlo saying. "Surely you understand what I'm saying to you. Brian is suffering from amnesia."

"Brian, huh?" said the other male, whom I couldn't yet identify. I'd heard that voice before, though. I just couldn't place it. "If he's suffering from amnesia, as you say, then why is he so certain that his name is Brian?"

"I've told you before that the mind is tricky," said Dr. Carlo. "Slivers of memories can come to an amnesia victim almost from nowhere."

"Right," said the sarcastic voice of the vaguely familiar other guy. "I've told you before that if he can remember his name, he can remember more."

"Detective, please," sighed Dr. Carlo. Their voices were loud enough now that I knew they were right outside the door to my room.

"No, doctor," replied the familiar voice of the detective. "I'm interviewing this witness before that Social Services bitch gets her hands on him and hides him behind the protective curtain of the State. Now get out of my way."

"You can't just..."

"Mr. Doe," said the smiling dark haired detective as he shoved his way past Dr. Carlo and into my room. He was a good looking guy with eyes the same shade of coffee brown that adorned his head and even white teeth, which he displayed in a toothy grin as he stared at me. "You probably don't remember me. The last time I spoke to you, you were unconscious."

"Detective Miller," I said, wondering exactly where his name had come from. It wasn't in my head one minute but rolled off my tongue the next.

"Impressive," he said, advancing further into the room with Dr. Carlo hot on his trail. "I was under the impression that you couldn't remember much."

"Well what can I say?" I asked. "Some things I can remember and others are like stones that just won't budge when you pull at them."

"Good analogy," he said, taking a seat in the chair that he pulled over to the side of my bed. "Tell me, what exactly do you remember about the accident that killed the man and woman you were traveling with?"

"You mean my parents?" I asked, making sure to lay heavy influence on the term so he wouldn't make the mistake again. My first thought of the man was that he meant well, and Dr. Carlo shouldn't worry so much. However, the more I looked into those soft brown eyes it became clearer that he wasn't who he appeared to be.

"Right," he said, smiling at me again. I imagined that he thought that smile of his would put me at ease, but just like Ms. Bennet's saccharine smile, his wasn't exactly growing on me. "What do you remember?"

"I have dreams about screams and broken glass," I said slowly. "Once or twice I've dreamt of my mother calling my name just as we hit something. Then there are the dreams where I'm terrified and there are all of these explosions, and then my head begins to feel like its going to explode..."

"So you remember being shot?" he asked, and I stared at him open-mouthed.

Shot? No one said anything about me being shot. What was he talking about? They'd said that I'd suffered a severe head injury, but not once did they mention a shooting. I looked at Dr. Carlo, and he just looked at the floor. Had he lied to me? Had someone tried to kill me? Were my parents' deaths my fault?

"I was shot?" I asked, still looking at Dr. Carlo.

"They didn't tell you?" Detective Miller asked, feigning shock. "I wonder why they held that information from you."

"Dr. Carlo?" I breathed.

"The bullet grazed you," said Detective Miller while Dr. Carlo remained silent. "It's a wonder, though. All those bullets flying around that car and only one grazed you."

"What are you talking about?" I asked. This was confusing me even more than amnesia. Dr. Carlo wasn't talking, and the detective just kept saying things that really didn't make sense to me at all.

"There was a gun in the car, Mr. Doe," said Miller. "When the car caught fire, the bullets discharged all over the car. Two in the woman, three in the man and one to graze the side of your head."

"My mother and father were shot?" I asked, looking at Dr. Carlo again, but he still wasn't saying a word.

"Tell me, Mr. Doe, why were you and your parents driving around Storyville in a stolen car with no plates?" asked Miller.

"I believe that's enough," said Ms. Bennet as she suddenly appeared in the room. "Detective Miller, I believe it was made clear to you that you were not to talk to Brian. Now I've placed a call to your superior, and I must say he wasn't very happy to hear that you'd violated the judge's order. I suggest you leave now before you risk your job further."

"We'll talk again, Mr. Doe," he said, flashing that smile at me again, and for once I was happy to see Ms. Bennet.

"I was shot?" I asked Dr. Carlo again once Detective Miller was out of the room. "Why didn't you tell me? My parents are dead because they were shot? What else is there that I don't know?"

"Brian, you need to calm down," said Ms. Bennet. "I'm sure..."

"No!" I cried. "I want to know why I was lied to. What else haven't I been told about this?"

"Ms. Bennet, if you would excuse us for just a moment," said Dr. Carlo, speaking for the first time since the detective had started revealing things to me. He still didn't look at me, though. Something was going on and I wanted to know what it was.

"Of course," she said, casting one more glance at me before she left the room.

Dr. Carlo took the chair beside my bed that the detective had jumped out of when Ms. Bennet startled him. He looked at me for a long moment, and I looked right back at him. It seemed pointless to voice my questions again, but I wanted answers. If they weren't telling me what really happened, then how was I supposed to believe anything they told me? Had they lied when they said that there was no identification in the car? Did they know who I was? My heart was racing, and I was getting just a little light headed. I needed answers.

"Brian, I will tell you exactly what the report that came into this hospital the night you were brought in said," Dr. Carlo said finally. "Then I will tell you why it was decided to keep the information from you. I want you to listen without interrupting me. I only know what was in the report and nothing more. Questions won't get anywhere, because I really don't have the answers that you'll want."

"All right," I unhappily agreed. What he was basically telling me, at least as I saw it, was that what he was about to tell me would spark more questions that he couldn't answer. I didn't know if that would be all right with me or not, but I wanted to know the truth.

"We received the call that there had been an accident," he said. "At that time that was all we knew. A car had caught fire after colliding with the brick median on Cooper's Mill Road just outside of Storyville. The car had been hit by two other cars after striking the median. I don't know anything about those cars. For some reason, the car then caught fire. It burned quickly. Police suspected that someone had used an accelerant, but I don't know anything about their investigation.

"We knew nothing until paramedics brought you to us," he continued. "Your injuries were mainly confined to your head and neck. We were concerned, at first, that you had damaged your spinal cord, because your body did not respond to stimuli when we tried to test your reflexes. We were in the process of trying to remove your clothing and keep your body from being jostled. We feared that if a spinal injury existed, we would make it worse if we moved you too much.

"It was during the initial examination that we noticed three head wounds," he said. "One wound looked like a deep groove in the side of your head. We thought at first that you had been injured by an object in the car, but after further examination we found gunpowder in the wound. That told us that you'd been grazed by a bullet. It wasn't until four hours after you were brought into the trauma center that we learned that your parents were shot as well.

"The detective in charge of the initial investigation into the accident, Detective Fuller, told us a gun was found in the car," he continued. "However, he said that the gun was not fired by conventional means. The heat from the fire caused the gun to discharge all six rounds that it held. You weren't shot, Brian. You were hit by a stray bullet. I don't know why the gun was in the car or why the car had no plates. As for the rest of what Detective Miller said, I have no answers."

I sat there, staring at him for a long moment. None of it made any sense to me at all. Not remembering my parents prevented me from even imagining a reason behind the gun being in the car. I didn't have any way of attempting to come up with a logical reason for being in a car with no license plate. Detective Miller had said the car was stolen as well. As I thought about the things he'd said, or attempted to accuse me of I guess, I wasn't so sure I even wanted to remember. There was one more question, though.

"Why didn't anyone tell me this before?" I asked. "Why tell me that it was a simple car accident?"

"Information was kept secret so that we could see if you would remember actual events," explained Dr. Carlo. "I assure you that it is a common practice with amnesia patients. I'm sorry that you feel betrayed, but I swear to you that we only withheld this information in the hopes that you would remember it yourself in time."

"And that detective," I said, letting all of what Dr. Carlo had said tumble around in my head. "Detective Miller, he's going to keep coming and asking the same questions, isn't he?"

"I can't say for sure, Brian," replied Dr. Carlo. "Ms. Bennet doesn't want him to ask you anything at all. She agrees with me that you can't answer questions for his investigation until your own inner investigation is over."

I didn't know what to say to that. I had no idea what to think. Did doctors really hide information from amnesia patients? It seemed almost cruel. In my opinion it would have been better to give an amnesia patient all of the information there was. Wouldn't that help? Well, no. It certainly wasn't helping me. I didn't remember anything more now that I knew all of it than I did when I knew only part of it.

"I don't know what to think," I mumbled finally. Dr. Carlo was still looking at me closely. "None of what you just told me makes any sense to me at all."

"I didn't expect it to, Brian," he said. "I tried very hard not to let the detective in here."

"I know," I replied, looking at him finally. "I heard you arguing with him in the hall."

"Brian, I hope you know that I would never do anything to hurt you," said Dr. Carlo, leaning forward to peer into my eyes as he spoke. "I was against keeping the truth from you from the beginning. Once I heard what had really happened I wanted to tell you."

"Why didn't you?" I asked. If he'd really wanted to tell me, I thought that there couldn't have been much to stop him. After all he was the doctor in charge of my case. Dr. Gordon had bowed out after Ms. Bennet showed up.

"I don't have a noble reason," he said. "By the time Doctor Gordon handed your case over to me the lie had already been told. I saw no reason to upset you, and I still hoped that you would remember on your own."

"But if I had remembered that, wouldn't it have been worse for me?" I asked.

"Perhaps," he replied. "I can't say what it would be like for you to remember those events, Brian. I just know that if you do remember the accident, you may remember everything else as well."

I didn't have anything to say after that. He was probably right. Remembering the accident, or whatever it really was, could have unlocked my memories completely. I really didn't know anything much about amnesia or how it worked. I supposed I'd have to study to find out all that I could. As for Dr. Carlo, I couldn't be angry with him over this. I believed that he was trying to protect me or help me. He was also the only person in my world that I felt I could have any connection with.

We talked for a little while longer before Ms. Bennet came in to get me ready for Rhaven Academy. I was given my own tennis shoes to wear, and Social Services had given me a pair of jeans and a shirt to wear. At least Ms. Bennet had the tact to wait outside the room while I got dressed. When she returned, she was carrying a suitcase, and she didn't look happy about it. I couldn't ask about it, though, because she ushered me to the nurse's station to sign release papers. Then we were in the elevator and on our way out of the hospital. She gave me no time to say goodbye to anyone, and I didn't like that. I understood that there was nothing that I could do about it, so I just listened to her talk and actually picked up a few things that she said. The rest I tuned out. I was too busy thinking about the fact that I had no control over any aspect of my life.

My first look at the school was through the windshield of Ms. Bennet's Buick. The two-storey building in the center looked the same as it did in the picture Ms. Bennet had shown me. The grounds were just as immaculate as in the pictures, and I still had the same sinking feeling in my stomach as I had the day she'd shown me the pictures. I didn't want to be at Rhaven, yet I was staring at the main building as we drove up the long drive to the parking lot. I was still clutching the suitcase that Ms. Bennet had given me as well. Inside were the three Rhaven uniforms that she'd also given me. There were five pairs of blue jeans, five t-shirts, underwear and socks inside as well. Two boxes in the back seat held shoes. One pair were the dress shoes I would have to wear with my uniform. The other held a pair of boots that I was told I would need once winter came to Storyville.

Dr. Carlo had paid for the clothing, and he'd promised that he'd buy more soon. I didn't know what to think about that. Ms. Bennet said that he would be allowed to buy anything he liked for me, but he was never to contact me at the school without going through Social Services. That was also when I'd learned that Dr. Carlo had tried very hard to become a foster parent so that he could take me to live with him. I wished he'd succeeded, but I wasn't doing very well in the fulfilled wish department. After all I'd wished not to be sent to Rhaven Academy yet I was looking at the main building of the school coming closer as Ms. Bennet drove.

"You're going to love it here, Brian," she said as she pulled the car to a stop in a space marked for visitors in the parking lot. "Rhaven is a great school. You'll have a better education here than in any public school."

I kept my eyes on the building and didn't respond. I'd made my feelings clear before we left the hospital. Ms. Bennet had diagnosed me with a severe case of nerves. Dr. Carlo had looked at her hard, but I wanted to borrow his stethoscope to throttle her. The woman was insufferable. She wouldn't listen to me at all, and she'd completely ignored, and even interrupted Dr. Carlo when he'd tried to say anything at all. Through it all, she kept talking. She hadn't shut up since she'd come back into the room after Dr. Carlo had tried to make me understand why he'd withheld the truth about the accident from me. Now I just wanted her to shut up so I could think about how I was going to deal with doing exactly what I didn't want to do.

She led me up the steps to the main building when we finally got out of the car. She'd given me one more of her "pep talks" before she'd let me even open the car door. As we walked in the front double doors of the building, I took in the sights. The floor was polished hard wood that had a deep color. The walls were papered with the same blue pinstriped paper that I'd seen in the pictures. A long sofa sat against the wall to my left. The fabric was a deep red, and the pillows were the color of cornflower. There were three doors in the other wall, and she knocked on the center one, stopping me in front of it. A plate on the door informed me that this was the main office of the school, and when the door was opened by a thin woman with almost coal black hair, we were invited inside.

"I'm Bianca Morgan," said the woman. "Come in and have a seat. Mr. Colson will be with you shortly."

Ms. Bennet thanked her, and then we sat down in the center of the row of ladder backed chairs along the right wall. We'd been sitting there only a second when a door opened across from us and a bald man stepped into the room. He looked to be in his mid thirties with dark eyebrows and blue eyes. His eyes were bright, and they brightened further when he smiled at us. His lips pulled back to reveal prefect white teeth as he flashed us his dark goatee framed smile.

"Ms. Bennet, Mr. Carlo," he said, extending his hand first to Ms. Bennet. I'd chosen to take Dr. Carlo's last name until we figured out what my real name was. So now I was known as Brian Carlo. "Come into the office with me so we can chat for a few minutes." He turned to Bianca and smiled. "Please hold my calls, Ms. Morgan, and alert Jeffrey that Mr. Carlo has arrived. His suitcase should be taken to his room."

"Very well," replied Bianca, smiling back at him as we got up and followed him into his office.

Mr. Colson's office was very tastefully decorated. Bookshelves lined one wall, windows covered the entire wall behind his desk, directly across from the door we'd come through. The floor was covered with plush burgundy carpet, and the walls were papered with dark green striped paper. Unlike the pinstriped walls elsewhere, the stripes on this paper were at least two inches wide. The desk took up the entire center of the room with a computer on one end and a typewriter on the other. Two ladder back chairs like those in the outer office sat in front of the desk while a large comfortable black office chair sat behind it.

"Welcome to Rhaven Academy, Brian," said Mr. Colson as we sat down in the chairs in front of his desk. "As you know, you are one of six young men attending our school this semester through a program sponsored by Social Services. Now I understand that you've had a turbulent life, but what we're trying to do with this program is turn that turbulence into a peaceful and calm educational environment.

"We have a tradition here at Rhaven," he continued. "I believe that in accepting this program we're furthering that tradition. As I've explained to Ms. Bennet, we sponsor three students every year. Those students have three things in common. Those common traits are that they are hard working, from underprivileged families and last but not least, they are fine young men."

"I was under the impression that Brian and the others would be the first..."

"No, Ms. Bennet," said Mr. Colson, interrupting her as his smile slipped. "The first sponsored young man to enter this school was here the day it opened. This program is really just an extension of the original. I'm confident that Brian and the other boys under your case will be quite comfortable here and gain the best education available."

"I was told that this was a new program," she said, and I wondered why she seemed so upset to learn that it wasn't. After all wasn't she supposed to want the same things that the school's program was giving to the community?

"Ms. Bennet, no," he replied smiling. "What kind of philanthropist would I be if it took a nudge from Social Services to get me to help less fortunate young men gain an education at Rhaven?"

"I wasn't attempting to imply..."

"No, of course you weren't, Ms. Bennet," he said, smiling still as he interrupted her stuttering. "This is not the time for a healthy banter about the school's scholarship programs, however. This is the time to get Brian settled in and ready to attend classes once they begin on Tuesday."

"Of course," she said, looking put off as she glanced from me to Mr. Colson.

Mr. Colson looked at her for a moment before he turned his attention to me and smiled. "Brian, in a few minutes, Mr. Brenner will knock on that door and collect you. He's going to take you to your dorm and get you set up there. Before he comes, I'd like to give you a bit of information. We'll start with the rules here at Rhaven. Now, you'll have a copy of the school's handbook as well as other literature that should answer any questions. I'll just give you a basic outline of the rules here.

"Our first and most important rule is that everyone here at Rhaven treat each other with kindness and respect. There is a no-tolerance policy on both harassment and violence. One offense will end your education here at Rhaven. Second, though students are allowed to leave campus and visit the city, the first rule applies outside of campus as well. As long as you are a student at Rhaven Academy you will be expected to conduct yourself as if you were here on campus no matter where you are. Rule three does not apply to you. It has to do with tuition payments and book fees. Yours have all been taken care of, so we'll move on to rule four. Rule four is simple. If you are having a problem of any kind you are expected to report to a teacher, councilor or myself. Do not try to solve your problems on your own. I understand that you might have some special problems, so we've set up a private line here in my office for you to use to get in touch with Dr. Carlo.

"Rule five is simply that you attend classes on a regular basis. Absences will not be excused unless you clear them through this office. If I am not available you are to report to your councilor. Now you will have appointments and various other events going on that we already know about, so you don't have to clear your first absence with this office. We already have a copy of your appointment card, so we know that you'll be seeing Dr. Carlo on Friday. Any questions?" He looked at me with the smile still on his face, and I was relieved to see that his smile was genuine.

"None right now," I replied. I might have questions after I read the rest of the rules. I was sure that there were more than five. Even if I'd had questions, the knock at the door would have stifled the answers. Mr. Colson smiled again and then stepped around the desk to answer the door.

"Very good," he said as he opened the door and a dark haired man walked into the office. "Paul, come right in. I was just going over the top five rules. Brian is ready to go with you I think." He looked at me, and I nodded. I was ready to go anywhere that Ms. Bennet didn't follow.

"Good afternoon, Mr. Carlo," said Paul, extending his hand to me as he came further into the room. He was taller than me, so I stood to shake his hand. "Its a pleasure to meet you. Welcome to Rhaven."

"Thank you," I replied, gripping his hand and giving it a few pumps.

"If you'll follow me," he said, backing away so I could get around my chair. Ms. Bennet stood as well, but Mr. Colson informed her that she wasn't allowed inside the dorms.

"All male school," he reminded her with another of his smiles. "We'll talk a bit more while Paul takes Brian to his room, and then I'm sure you have other important charges to take care of."

I don't know what she said to that, because I followed Paul out of the office and then out of the building. The sun had sunk in the sky just a bit while we'd been with Mr. Colson in his office. I noticed for the first time that the leaves of the trees were just starting to change colors. The campus was beautiful with manicured lawns, and flowerbeds along the cobblestone paths from the main building to the dormitories on either side of it. We turned left and headed to the dorm on the left side of the main building. Paul told me it was the Washington Dorm and I would be living in B Quad on the second floor. He explained things that I already knew as we walked to the building and then up the front steps and inside. The decor was exactly what I'd seen in the pictures, and he led me straight to the staircase and up to the second floor.

He led me through the living room to a door on the right side of the room. When he opened it, I saw the two beds, nightstands and desks that I'd seen in the pictures as well. My suitcase was there on the bed on the right side of the room. I walked inside and stood beside the bed as Paul handed me a large folder he'd been carrying.

"Inside you'll find your handbook and other literature," he said. "There's a menu for the cafeteria to let you know what meals will be available once school starts. Today you can have meatloaf. I'm sorry to say that the full staff of the kitchen won't arrive until Monday. One cook is here now, and she'll be more than enough to cook for the handful of people that are already on campus."

"Thank you," I said. "I'm sure I'll be just fine."

"The cafeteria is in the main building," he said, walking out of the room with me on his tail. "The fridge in here probably doesn't have anything in it. You can stock the fridge and cabinets up here with whatever you like. You're dorm mates will help with that, I'm sure."

"I'll remember that," I said, thinking again about the other students that would be coming soon.

"There's a library in the main building as well," he said, turning away from the refrigerator to face me. "It isn't all that big, but you'll find some great books there. You're welcome to check it out. Twice a week we go to Storyville's public library, so whatever you can't find here you'll surely find there."

"Thanks," I said. Reading was something that I'd been doing a lot of at the hospital, and I was hoping to find new reading material.

We talked a bit longer about various things available on campus before he left me to unpack my suitcase. I hadn't even seen the contents that were inside it. Dr. Carlo had assured me that everything was in my size, so I just trusted him. I hung up the uniforms as well as the t-shirts and jeans. The socks and underwear I put in the top drawer under the pole I'd hung the others on in the closet. I was just putting the empty suitcase under my bed when the door burst open and a boy came running into the room with two suitcases of his own.

He was the same height as me with very short dark hair and glasses that framed his hazel eyes. His smile was huge as he came into the room, but as I watched it slip until it was gone. Replacing it was a furrowed brow and puzzled expression. I was about to ask him if he was all right when he spoke.

"Who the hell are you?" he asked, dropping his suitcases on the floor at his feet.

A Boy Named Brian