Books held tight to her chest, Lydia walked down the halls of her new school. It was her first day, and she was still a bit fuzzy on the details. It looked like a normal school. A bit cleaner then her last one, but otherwise, just the same. Lockers lined the walls and groups of teens congregated around them. She received a variety of looks as she made her way from class to class. Some were curious glances. Others, she felt were an instant hatred.
How could anyone dislike her so quickly? She wondered. She had always been well liked and popular at her last school. Perhaps that was the problem. Almost half way through the day, and not a single person had made an attempt to make her feel welcome.
Lunch time arrived, and she found herself seated alone at a four chaired table in the quad. She sadly poked at her food, considering whether or not it was a good idea to agree to go here. A small girl, with mocha skin, and self-conscious hunch took a seat next to her. Lydia perked up.
“Hi, I’m Lydia,” she said.
“I know who you are. We don’t get new students here often, especially not in the middle of the year. I’m Myra.”
“Is that why I’m getting the cold shoulder from everyone?”
“Partly. Also, because you’re competition.”
Myra took a sandwich from a brown paper bag, and devoured the contents.
“I would have thought there’d be better food here,” Lydia said.
“Right? So, how’d it happen?” Myra asked.
“How’d what happen?” Lydia asked.
Myra gave her a look that suggested she knew exactly what she was talking about it.
“Oh, I thought we weren’t supposed to discuss that?”
“We’re not. But everyone does,” Myra said.
“Texting,” Lydia answered.
“Texting?” Myra asked.
“While driving. I was paying more attention to my phone then the road, and I ended up running into another car. From what they tell me, the kid lived, but the mom,” she stopped, and redirected the question. “How about you?”
“Suicide,” Myra said.
“Life seemed intolerable. If only I had known.”
“And they let you come here?” Lydia asked.
“Well, the thing is. I didn’t mean it. It was just a cry for help, and, it went a little too well. I guess the intention is almost as important as the action in the right eyes.”
“Explains why they gave me this second chance,” Lydia said.
“You really believe that’s what this is?”
“They hat they told me in orientation.”
“You bought that? Go to Heaven High, get your wings, help people.”
Myra laughed awkwardly.
“Isn’t that the point to all this?” Lydia asked.
“For the lucky few. Do you know what the graduation rate is? Maybe five percent. They’re supposed to be creating new angels, but they’re just making super powered sociopaths. The competition is steep here. They only let a couple people graduate every year. And if you don’t finish within ten years, then you automatically fail.”
“So what? You fail. You don’t get to be an angel.”
“I’m guessing you didn’t ask what happens if you fail?” Myra asked.
“No. I figured I’d just go to regular heaven or something.”
Myra laughed again.
“If you fail, you go the other way, girlie. Demon city.”
“Why would a school created for the purpose of making angels produce way more demons? Or, any demons?” Lydia asked.
“Because, the angels need someone to fight against. Humans, as you remember, can be swayed either way. And evil is wining. But good can’t exist without it. But don’t get any wrong impressions. Being a demon, from what I’ve studied, is nothing like being an angel. Your off hours are spent being tortured, or being forced to preform torture. Probably both. What’s worse, you lose all of your memories. You won’t be you anymore, just some pain riddled thing that looks like you,” Myra said.
“Why are you telling me all of this?” Lydia said.
“Because I’m going to graduate. Some of us get there doing the right things. And I just want to make sure you know what you’re in for. The stakes couldn’t be higher. Your soul is on the line. And your classmates, they are going to push you, hurt you, worse then you could imagine. And that’s just the beginning. Classes are tough, sure. But field work is even worse. At some point, you’re going to be back down there, on Earth, and you can’t see or talk to anyone you know. The consequences for such a violation, I can’t even talk about them. But it’s bad. And if you think that’s harsh, just wait until you lose your first soul. And you will. You can’t save them all, no matter how much you want to. Happens to all of us. I think a lot of the drop outs are from that alone.”
Myra stood to leave. She grabbed her empty bag and crumpled it up.
“Thanks for the warning, I guess,” Lydia said.
“No problem. I’ll see you around,” Myra said.
Rattled, Lydia’s small appetite vanished altogether. She pushed her tray away and surveyed the room. Myra had disappeared from the space. Hushed whispers and stolen glances came her way. If what Myra said was true, then failure wasn’t an option. No one here would be here friend. And that was fine, because Lydia planned to graduate, no matter what it took.