Magical Security Taskforce

 FULL ARCHIVE

VOLUME: 1

CHAPTER: 5

1 2 3 4 5

Chapter 5: Mystical Caravan of Wandering Wizards


Session One

July came soon enough. With the possible exception of Donovan, everybody did have lives and without school or work to get in the way, everybody did their thing and nobody got hurt. Molly sent Claude to tail Troy on occasion, but there was little to report. Troy spent all of June splitting time between Kurt, Kathryn, and all the DVD box sets he had received for Christmas and never got around to watching.

Regardless of how everybody killed time, when the first Saturday after Independence Day arrived, all four recruits were anxious to get going. Only two of them were actually at the designated meeting point at the designated time, however, and Troy kept his distance from Donovan in front of the Pearson residence. Kathryn being absent was one thing; Troy would have thought the Pearsons themselves would be on time walking out their front door.

Troy tugged on the collar of his shirt; one would have called it a beautiful clear summer day if one was looking out the window of their air-conditioned home. Troy looked over at Donovan, amazed that he was still standing in his black turtleneck and jeans. Donovan's fashion sense, as it turned out, was one of the many reasons Blaine specialized in air magic. The minion silently cast streams of cold air upon Donovan, trying not to faint from heat exhaustion himself.

“Lovely day to stand outside and wait, isn't it?” Kathryn said as she approached. Her attire was much more weather-conscious, consisting of a white tank top, blue shorts and a Cincinnati Reds cap.

Troy took notice to the large duffel bag slung around her shoulder, the only luggage she had brought. “Is that all you've got?” he asked.

“Sure. They got washing machines there, right?”

“And I thought I kept it pretty light,” Troy replied, glancing at the suitcase sitting on the grass behind him.

“Not bad. What's Donovan got?”

Kathryn didn't bother noting Donovan's luggage. Instead she saw his personal fan and drifted over there. “Oh, oh, Blaine! Buddy!”

Blaine saw Kathryn, but tried to ignore her as he kept fanning Donovan.

“Care to hit me with that too?” Kathryn asked.

“Get your own minion,” Donovan muttered.

“C'mon, Blaine, just a little.” Facing Blaine, she tugged the front of her shirt suggestively. “Right down Main Street. You'll get a good view out of it.”

The front door of the house opened, interrupting them. Everyone except Donovan watched the doorway attentively as Renee emerged pulling a large luggage cart behind her. She wore a fancy white blouse with a bluish silver ribbon around the neck, along with a black skirt. Renee rolled the cart out to the sidewalk, smiled at Donovan and Blaine, then frowned when she saw Kathryn.

“You sure it's okay to wear something like that?” Renee asked.

Kathryn stared back cluelessly. “What, the Reds aren't doing that bad.”

Renee scoffed. “Maybe for a team with only two starting pitchers and an iffy closer. But that's not what I mean. I just think it's a bit... casual. I don't know if there's a dress code or anything, but uh... you know.”

Frowning, Kathryn loudly replied, “Well sorry, but I left my Catholic schoolgirl jumper at my ex-boyfriend's.”

That successfully scared off Renee, who distanced herself from Kathryn. Troy, on the other hand, walked up to Kathryn. Uncertainly, he said, “You're being sarcastic, right?”

Kathryn's face erupted into a broad smile. To leave no doubt, she boasted, “Naw, Brad was totally into that!”

Troy looked away in disgust and saw Renee standing on the curb and facing the street. She was making some strange arm motions- holding one clenched hand at her waist, then lifting her arm out until her thumb pointed at the mailbox across the street. Her other arm flew gracefully and aimlessly on the other side. Whatever she was doing, Troy was mesmerized by the elegance of her movements. A smile crept on his face; he now understood why Molly was so adamant in keeping them apart as one look at Renee brought it all back.

A hand on his shoulder startled him. In a lowered voice, Kathryn said, “Speaking of unnatural arousals, strange that Molly isn't here to keep you and Renee separated. Wonder where she is.”

According to Troy's watch, it was twenty minutes to ten. “Yeah, we're supposed to leave in five minutes,” he said.

“Might as well say something to her then.” Kathryn looked around cautiously. “Just hope Molly doesn't have a sniper planted.”

Renee continued her motions, oblivious to the discussion and wearing a downright delirious smile. Troy took a deep breath and asked, “Is that your trigger?”

She smiled at him and answered, “No. I'm just practicing my wand technique.” Now facing Troy, she did the motion again, pointing the 'wand' in his direction and adding a whooshing sound for good measure.

Troy closed his eyes, suddenly uplifted and grinning madly.

“Think that spell was a bit strong,” Kathryn said, snapping her fingers in front of Troy's face. Still addressing Renee, she continued, “Hey, if Molly's running late, can we go inside and cool off?”

“I already asked. Molly said no,” Renee replied.

“Is she in there?”

“No, I called her a couple minutes ago. She said she's arranging the transportation and she'll be here soon.”

“How exactly are we getting there?” Troy asked.

“She didn't say. Guess it's a surprise...” Suddenly giddy, Renee turned back to the street and started bouncing up and down on her toes. “I hope it's something cool, like a flying bus or a hovering train or a mystical caravan of wandering wizards...”

Troy wasn't listening. He was busy watching Renee's skirt bounce up and down... up and down... up and down... the skirt was short but not short enough. Still, his thoughts instinctively made him look around to see if Claude was watching.

At that moment, Troy caught sight of their transportation to the academy. Amazingly, one of Renee's guesses was correct: sure enough, along came a caravan.

A Dodge Caravan.

As it pulled up to the curb in front of them, the passenger side window rolled down. Alone in the driver's seat, and operating the power windows, was Molly. She removed her sunglasses and glared at Renee, Kathryn and Troy.

“Get in,” she barked.

 

Session Two

It wasn't even a particularly new Caravan. The simple, uninspiring interior lacked any of today's frivolous luxuries: no built-in TV, GPS navigation, nor enough foldaway space to entertain the backseat passengers with a foosball table. Coffee stains dotted the carpet and the idling engine revved some distinct percussion that wasn't quite a problem, yet was far-removed from healthy. This vehicle had clearly been built before the minivan became the epitome of suburban cliché.

Renee looked inside, pretending to be impressed. “Where'd you get this?”

“I borrowed it from Claude,” Molly replied, “Doubtful that the four of you would fit in my Saturn.”

“You could put Troy in the trunk,” Renee said with a smile. Molly opened her mouth, but Renee held up a finger and interrupted, even more chipper. “You thought about it; I know you did!”

“Speaking of which, pop the rear end.” Kathryn had already walked to the back of the van. “With all of Renee's junk, there still may not be enough room.”

Molly sighed. “Right... luggage,” she muttered, turning off the engine. She stepped out and walked around. “Everybody put your things on the sidewalk.”

Troy, Kathryn and Renee did. They had to wait for Blaine and Bryce to lug Donovan's steamer trunk onto the pile. Upon releasing it, both minions sat on it and slumped over.

Molly began to gesture for a spell, but paused and turned to them. “Bryce, where's that crystal of yours?”

Bryce silently reached into his pocket and handed it to her.

“You two might want to move,” Molly said, barely giving them a chance to as she began swinging the crystal in front of her. Bryce and Blaine got out of the way as she swiped the crystal horizontally. The whole pile vanished.

“Now we can go,” she declared, tossing the crystal back to Bryce and taking a step towards the Caravan.

“You don't mind us tagging along, right?” Bryce asked.

Molly glared at him. “Are you in my unit?”

“Uh... sort of...”

“No, you're not. Therefore I am not obligated to provide transportation.”

The only other word spoken was Renee's cry of “shotgun!” but Donovan had already claimed the front seat while Molly was losing the luggage. Renee instead settled for the middle row opposite Troy, while Kathryn stretched out in a back seat clearly designed to hold three.

Molly started the van up again and pulled out into traffic. Bryce and Blaine watched them drive off into the distance.

“I hope Donovan doesn't call for us while they're moving,” Blaine said.

“Oh God, I hate when he does that!” Bryce concurred.

 

The group didn't get far. Molly froze at one of the major intersections in town. Left? Straight? Right? U-Turn? In spite of her intense preparation for the journey, successfully navigating her way out of L. B. Gould was one major oversight. In response, she glared at the street sign hanging overhead, next to the green stoplight.

Cautiously, she mumbled, “I... think we go...”

A car honked behind her. Kathryn turned around and waved at it. Its driver gave her the finger, then several fingers encouraging her to stop holding up traffic.

“Nothing pisses people off like an idiot in a minivan,” Kathryn mused, “So far I'm having more fun than I thought I would.”

“You do know how to get there, right?” Renee asked Molly.

Molly gritted her teeth. “In principle.” Desperate for some clues, and sorely missing the navigation system on her own car, she found an omen and immediately plowed through the intersection as the light turned yellow.

“We need gas,” she announced, glancing again at the needle teasing the 'E.'

Pulling into the station was another cause for embarrassment as Molly braked, jolted and hesitantly maneuvered the Caravan around the maze of cars bellying up to the bar for a drink.

“A lot bigger than the Saturn, isn't it?” Renee teased as Molly finally stopped in front of a pump.

“Shut up,” Molly replied, “Donovan, make yourself useful and get the map out of the glove compartment.”

“Br-” Donovan started.

“Never mind!” Molly angrily reached over and pulled it out herself.

After selecting her options at the pump and inserting Nozzle A into Slot B (harder than it seems, as Slot B was on the opposite side of the vehicle), she finally got around to unfolding the map. Thankfully, the bottomless pit of a gas tank gave her ample time to orient herself. She re-entered and restarted the car with more confidence and pulled out.

“What were you looking for?” Renee asked.

“The fastest way to get to Columbus.”

“The academy's in Columbus?” Troy asked.

“No!” Molly shouted, annoyed that Troy had spoken. “It's in Indiana.”

“Wait... Indiana?” Renee repeated, mildly disgusted.

“Yep.”

Kathryn leaned forward. “Really? Big, fancy academy that teaches all that magic crap? And it's in Indiana??”

“Is there a problem with Indiana?”

Renee and Kathryn opened their mouths, but nothing emerged for a long time. Finally Kathryn shrugged and said, “Eh, I liked Hoosiers.”

“But wait, why are you going to Columbus?” Renee asked.

Sufficiently irritated by now, Molly replied, “It's the fastest way to get on I-70, right?”

“Yeah, but you should go through Chillicothe to get to Indiana. A couple back roads gets you there, then it's smooth sailing to Dayton.”

Molly raised an eyebrow, resisting the urge to turn around. “And... when was the last time you went to Indiana?”

Renee giggled nervously as Troy and Kathryn looked at her. Even Donovan turned around, awaiting the answer.

Eyes on her twiddling thumbs and a little bashful, she answered, “Gen Con.”

Kathryn shook her head and laid down. Troy and Donovan faced forward again, neither willing to respond. The van was silent for several moments until Molly said, “So what's the best way to get to Chillicothe from here?”

 

Session Three

When Claude lent Molly the van, he had neglected to mention one tiny detail: the radio was broken. For the first part of the trip, Molly barely noticed. Being the no-nonsense, uptight bitch that she was, music was not a major concern as she navigated some randomly-numbered highway on Renee's improvised route, all the while trying to get a feel for the vehicle.

Hours later, however, any threat of them getting lost and abducted by deviant Ohio hillbillies had subsided and they were cruising along major highways at speeds well above the posted limits. As it was useless for Molly to make any attempt at conversation with her co-pilot Donovan, she grew bored in a hurry. Few circumstances would ever make Molly wish to “rock out” in public, but she needed tunes and fast.

A quick glance into her rear-view mirror revealed the solution: both Troy and Renee had brought their own entertainment. Renee was lost in whichever DS game she was playing, while Troy had the foresight to bring his MP3 player. Kathryn, incidentally, was dozing in the backseat while Donovan seemed perfectly content with sitting upright and facing forward with his arms folded.

“Troy!” she shouted. As he cowered and looked up, she reached back. “Give me that iPod!”

After a brief moment of hesitation, and debate over whether to mention that it was a different brand of MP3 player, Troy slowly handed it over.

Renee said, “Oh, Molly, you can use mine if you want. I'm not using it.”

As she drove with one hand, Molly set the device on her lap and replied, “Knowing what you listen to, I'll take my chances with Monroe's.”

“Hey, Renee, I'll take it,” Kathryn blurted, apparently awake, “I'm bored to death back here.”

While Renee retrieved her iPod (brand name and everything) from her purse and handed it to Kathryn, Molly began casting a spell on Troy's machine.

“Uh... what are you doing?” Troy whimpered.

“Sound amplification,” Molly said, completing the spell and setting Troy's headphones on the dashboard. “I'm not wearing headphones while driving.”

She fiddled with the contraption for another minute, all the while recklessly passing cars on the highway, then perched the MP3 player in the van's cassette deck.

Donovan smirked. “And now we humiliate Troy and his taste in music.”

Molly cracked a faint smile, although she knew better than to give Donovan the satisfaction of having someone agree with him.

The joke was on them, however. Fearing such an inquiry by the student council, Troy had already swept through his playlist and took out anything indicating any trace of personality or insubordination toward the mainstream. Being constantly monitored by someone like Claude for three months tends to make one slightly paranoid. In this case, Troy's neurosis proved beneficial to him as neither Molly nor Donovan found anything objectionable with his mix of radio-appropriate rock, classic hits from decades past to maintain some sanity, and a little hot country to back it up.

As Molly nodded along to whichever Nickelback song was playing, Troy sighed in relief. For once, he had managed to not piss her off and foolishly considered that a good omen for the weeks to come.

“What the hell?!” On the other hand, Kathryn whipped off her headphones and shoved Renee's iPod back to its owner. “What language was that in?!” she asked Renee.

Renee blushed and chuckled nervously as she checked the screen. She calmed down once she saw it.

“Oh! This is in German,” she said, smiling suddenly, “You scared me there. I thought it was something embarrassing.”

   

The power of music propelled them through the flat and uninteresting terrain of western Ohio and into the even flatter and equally uninteresting terrain of eastern Indiana. Anyone who could fall asleep did at some point, and Molly was seriously tempted to try to enchant the van into driving itself so she could steal a nap. Thankfully, the best part about long trips is that they eventually end, although it wasn't until mid-afternoon that the Caravan had reached its destination.

As excited as she was to get there, Renee was less than thrilled at the location. Her anticipation had grown and grown as they pulled off the interstate, reached a boiling point as Molly made those last decisive turns, then spilled over and scalded her as they entered what was unmistakably a military base. While Molly settled the van behind a line of vehicles at the security gate, Renee tried to find something magical about this. All she saw were crops of identical-looking barracks, uniformed servicemen everywhere, and a particularly disheartening sign identifying it quite clearly as a United States Armed Forces military reservation.

“We're not joining the Army, are we?” Renee asked, not hiding her worry.

“No,” Molly said, unsympathetic, “This is just cover.”

The cars ahead of her proceeded through the checkpoint very swiftly. Molly barely had time to get a clearance badge out of her bag before she was forced to move forward.

“This looks like a real Army base to me,” Renee said.

Molly scoffed. “It is. We just use its security points to keep out unwanted visitors.”

She pulled up to the guard post. Before Molly could show the guard her clearance, he waved her along, not looking up from his magazine. Molly sped forward.

“They do this job well,” Renee said, nodding.

Molly drove through and seemingly beyond the military base, past a wooded area that seemed to mark the base's boundary. There was no checkpoint on the other end, however, just a gate with a small sign on the left reading “Thank you for serving our country; please come again.”

The next attraction on the tour was the ridiculously large parking lot that suddenly began the moment they exited the woods. Around this point, Kathryn and Troy woke up and immediately wondered if all this talk about going to a magical academy was actually some coded message for a trip to Disneyland. In the distance, two tall buildings, about ten stories each, jutted out from the horizon to at least offer some hope that they were going somewhere.

Molly drove forward enough to find the closest spot that didn't require scouting equipment. She parked, they they all got out, and they all stretched. They were going to need those legs to survive the walk to the academy's entrance.

“Are you sure there's a magic school down there?” Renee said.

Molly didn't answer. She just kept on walking.

About five minutes into the trek, a boy appeared in front of them. Everyone but Molly stopped to watch him pop open his trunk. That essentially forced Molly to stop as well. The boy grabbed an overnight bag, slung it around his shoulder and looked at them.

“Freshmen, huh? Enjoy the walk!” he mocked, before slapping his upper arm twice and teleporting away.

“Such friendly classmates,” Kathryn muttered as the group started walking again.

“Why aren't we teleporting?” Donovan asked.

“Yeah...” Renee walked up to Molly, “I'm assuming you can teleport.”

“Yes,” Molly replied

“And I'm guessing they made this lot so freaking huge because they expect us to teleport?”

“Yes,” Molly replied.

“So why don't we?”

“I don't feel like it,” Molly replied, refusing to even consider it. And after just a moment of silence, she shouted, “Don't even think about it, Dunmar!”

Donovan glared at Molly, set his arms down and continued the march.

 

Session Four

The journey was long and arduous, but they eventually made it to the registration center. A sign overhead welcomed them to 'MST Training Academy, Central U.S. Campus.' Everybody knew it as Central Academy.

“I think I burned more calories on that walk than I did all of last month,” Troy moaned.

“I didn't think it was so bad,” Kathryn replied, smiling boastfully at Troy.

Without bothering to make sure the other four were following her (and they weren't), Molly walked up to a registration desk to check in. The four new recruits took in as much of the academy as they could, which wasn't a lot. The registration center was just that- a place for clueless freshmen to check in and hope to find some idea of what to do next. As such, the lobby was packed with students who were just as lost and just as unable to draw some opinion of this place.

Molly returned with a sets of folders and preprinted name tags. She immediately threw out the tags and handed everyone a folder. Before they could open it, she walked away, motioning for them to follow.

“What's in here?” Kathryn asked, looking at the label on the folder: 'Kathryn Santos- D202.4.'

Not turning around, Molly replied, “Campus map, class schedule, token letter from the chancellor and an appointment to go figure out what your trigger is.”

“What if we already know it?” Troy asked, thinking it was an innocent question. He had thought wrong, as Molly spun around and glared at him.

Before she could say anything to point out his mistake, two students, both in their late teens, walked up to him. The girl smiled brightly and got uncomfortably close to Troy. “You already know your trigger?” she asked.

“Do something cool!” the boy added.

Molly stepped between them and Troy, scowling at the strangers. Both shirked back as she said, “Just because he knows his trigger doesn't mean he can do anything with it.” She turned around on her heels and commanded, “Let's go!”

They followed her out of the building and into the main campus of Central Academy. As Molly sped up, Renee ran up to her. “Hey, Molly... is something wrong? You seem kinda... grouchy today.”

Molly grumbled, but answered truthfully. “I'm not having a good day, Renee. I hate that van, we didn't get my first choice of dorm and you're all here three years ahead of schedule.”

Naturally, Renee picked up on the most dire of her sister's complaints: “Choice of dorm? What do you mean?”

“Never mind. It's not a big deal.”

Renee shrugged it off and did her best to appreciate Central, despite its sleep-inducing moniker. While it had all the makings of a perfectly legitimate college campus, that was also its greatest flaw. As Molly led them past what was apparently the student union, Renee found little that could be considered architecturally interesting. Even the students killing time outside weren't helping; almost everybody was reading, talking or playing catch with such mundane items as frisbees or footballs. She did spy a few slackers in front of the union playing some telekinetic version of hacky-sack, but not particularly well. In all, Renee couldn't help but feel a little gypped.

“You know, I was expecting something a lot different,” she said to anyone within earshot, “It looks nice and all but it's kinda... boring.” Renee walked alongside her sister and continued, “I mean, something like this you'd expect a little more flair. You know?”

Molly answered firmly, without even a glance at Renee. “We didn't come here to appreciate the aesthetics. We came here to learn magic.”

“I know, I know!” Renee threw up her hands. “I'm just saying that there should be a few little quirks here and there to get kids in the mood. You know, a dark tower or two, some gargoyles... maybe some flying buttresses on the library...”

“What were you expecting, Notre Dame? We're in Indiana, for Christ's sake.”

It was one of those points that seemed easy enough to argue against, yet rendered everybody completely silent. Renee looked back at the hacky-sack players, who gave up on using their minds and resumed the traditional method of kicking the sack with their feet. Upon first impact, it exploded. That made Renee smile.

 

Session Five

The five of them silently crossed the campus to their designated residence hall. Like most of the residencies at Central, this dorm was four stories tall and had the same distinct design. The walls on the two longest sides were curved in a series of windowed semi-circles going in and out of the brick exterior, as if each dorm was once a perfectly-typical block until a humongous crimping iron swept through and made a mess of everything. Either way, up close this dorm was the neatest thing Renee had come across yet and besides its location at the exact opposite end of the parking lot, she struggled to see why Molly didn't care for it.

“So what's wrong with this dorm?” Renee asked.

“Probably nothing,” Molly replied, “But you know how it is- certain dorms carry certain reputations.”

“And?” Renee was suddenly very interested.

“This is considered the, um...” Molly cleared her throat, then mumbled under her breath, “...party dorm.”

While Renee tried to decide what to make of that, Kathryn slapped her hands together. “Sweet,” she said.

“Don't get your hopes up. It's all rumors and unfounded chatter.”

Renee gave up and looked around the building's facade for some identification. “What's the name of the hall?”

“D.”

Now Renee turned livid. This dorm was first fun thing she had seen and it didn't even have a fancy name? Renee considered that a birthright to any upstanding building and immediately protested.

“D?! As in the letter D?” Molly nodded. “You're telling me our dorm doesn't even have a name?!”

Molly rolled her eyes. “It's a long story.”

It was true, however; none of the eight dorms at Central Academy had official names, instead going simply by the letters A-H. When the academy opened, the plan was to name them after alumni that had made significant contributions to the MST (or significant contributions to the academy's research fund), and had a last name corresponding to one of the eight letters. Yes, Central did have its share of notable/rich graduates, however their names were astoundingly disproportionate towards the latter half of the alphabet.

The other problem the academy ran into was that many alumni were stubbornly loyal to the hall they had stayed at. When one longtime donor by the name of Ernest Engleberger was asked to be the namesake for Hall E, he vehemently opposed the idea because, according to him, 'that's where all the fatties stay.'

Inside Hall D, the first floor was a reminder that this was move-in day and everyone who wasn't fluent in magic was certainly fluent in the ribald vocabulary they were often using as they waited ten minutes for an elevator. For as long as guardians trained for their role, Molly found it completely inadequate at preparing for the first day. In fact, she had only discovered the complementary baggage transport a couple weeks earlier. Judging by the number of kids trying to get luggage carts, televisions and computer monitors through the elevator, most guardians had not read their packets as thoroughly as Molly had.

Molly enjoyed a stifled chuckle at their expense and headed for the stairs. They were only on the second floor, which meant avoiding the trouble of teleporting for all but the truly lazy. On that floor, she found the correct unit number- 202. She grasped the doorknob, then stopped and turned to the others.

“This is important- you have to grab the handle like this, then pull down, then push in.” She demonstrated; the door opened.

“Yeah, we got those at home. They're called doors,” Kathryn deadpanned.

Molly continued, unfazed: “The handle will only open if it's grasped by a hand belonging to one of us five. So you can't use your elbows, feet, head or telekinesis. Understand?”

The other four ignored her and pushed her into the first, and largest, room of the unit. The commons was a shared room that served all general needs in an efficient, although slightly cramped, manner. Although the decor was sparse with an inoffensively light red carpet and no effort to spruce up the brick wall, the furnishings weren't bad. The room had a large couch and two living room chairs facing an empty stand (apparently for housing a TV, which wasn't included). Near that was a rectangular table with five desk chairs neatly pushed into it- a group study area. Closest to the exit were doors leading to a private bathroom and a small kitchenette. The other five doors arching across the room led to five individual bedrooms.

Troy, at least, was impressed. “This is good. I can live here. And we each get a private room?”

“Yes, thank God,” Molly replied.

Kathryn saw the bathroom and pointed at the room next to it. “Dibs on that one.”

“Rooms are preassigned,” Molly said, retrieving a folder that contained the room assignments.

Instead of waiting, Kathryn walked up to the door of the coveted bedroom and saw a nameplate identifying it as Troy's. “Aw, this one's yours, Troy. Wanna switch?”

“Nope,” Troy said, smiling as he approached.

“Dying to learn that 'see through walls' spell now, huh?” Kathryn nudged him as he went inside. Troy stumbled and tripped over his suitcase, which had been dropped on the floor next to his bed.

Molly pointed to the room on the opposite end, next to the kitchen. “Kathryn, you're in that room, Donovan- you're next to her...” She skipped the center bedroom- a larger suite reserved for the guardian. “And Renee...” She ended up pointing at the room adjacent to Troy's.

Her arm fell and she grumbled, “Want to switch?”

“Nope!” Renee replied cheerfully as she checked out her digs. She froze immediately and screamed as soon as she did.

Rushing to her side, Molly saw that Renee's massive luggage cart did not handle the trip well at all. Every pocket was unzipped and her clothes, books and personal items had all spilled out to various (and in some cases, physically impossible to reach) places across the bedroom. Like all delivery services, the complimentary magic move-in program had a small percentage of 'exceptions,' as they were called. It was a polite way to describe utterly violating the parcel before it reached its destination.

Renee fell to her knees. Exasperated, she moaned, “It's going to take me hours to sort through all this.”

Molly peeked into Renee's closet and saw a bra fastened to a coat hanger. She unhooked it and tried to give it to her sister, but Renee was too distraught to accept it. So Molly threw it on the floor and started to walk out.

Patting Renee on the shoulder, Molly, as any sympathetic sister would do, smirked and said, “Welcome to Central, Renee.”


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CHAPTER: 5

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