• Lisa Champagne

Verve - Book 2

Updated: Aug 30

I pack the contents of my dorm room into clear cases, preparing to head to Verve, the Celestial City, for our three-month break from campus. Every Celestial at Cognosco, the Celestial training school, was assigned a summer internship based on our first-year assessment scores, which measured the strength of our abilities. My above- average results got me a coveted position working at the Celestial headquarters. The only catch is I’ll be interning for Adem, one of the Celestial leaders.

When I first saw met Adem, I felt inexplicably drawn to his emotive eyes delicately painted on the walls of Cognosco. But after I discovered he was working for the Darkness, my interest in him has been squashed like a peanut butter and jelly sandwich inside an overstuffed school bag.

I sit on the edge of my soft bed, despondently looking around my room with the sizable tree in the center, for the last time. Nora was my one and only friend and I miss her boldness and wit.

I move to sit at Nora’s bare wooden desk, remembering her love of reading and our study sessions, where she would pretend to be a game show host. Nora was my one and only friend and I miss her boldness and wit. I feel the wave of grief getting ready to crash, as an unwanted tear rolls down my tired face, hitting the bureau. I take a deep breath, wiping the painful proof away from the antique oak when I notice a hidden book caught behind Nora’s desk. I try to shimmy it out, but it’s really stuck. I use all my strength to push the desk, but my weak arms are unable to make it budge. Why didn’t I have worked out more?

I hesitate to use my powers, but without another option, I gather my energy in my core, using my abilities to levitate the desk a foot to the right. I try to lower it gracefully, but the claw feet thump hard on the floor.

I gained my full Celestial powers on my sixteenth birthday and I’ve been having issues controlling them. So, I’m thrilled that my little desk move didn’t explode the school.

The golden book dislodges from its hiding spot, floating to the floor like a feather in the wind. I pick it up and am hit by a surge of magic radiating from the cover. The title of the book reads, “The beginning of energy” Wayward, Cognosco’s dark headmaster, must have missed the book when he cleared my room of Nora’s belongings. I wonder if it just fell or if she intentionally hid it. I flip open the book, and begin reading,

Icarus was a young man with everything before him. He was loved by his father, and adorned by all who meet him, but..

Bang, knock, Bang. There’s an odd rhythmic knock at my door and I hurriedly place Nora’s book at the bottom of my packed bins.

I take a deep breath answering the door as my new darker self. “What?” I see Sebastian staring back at me with his distinctively mischievous eyes. He’s wearing a purple and white striped suit, which reminds me of Beetle Juice, and I can’t help but say, “The ghost with the most!”

Sebastian, my only remaining friend, looks at me with confusion. He slowly tilts his head to the side and asks, “Should I know this ghost?”

I almost forgot I’m supposed to be dark and darkling’s are notorious for their lack of humor. I try to fix my mistake making my voice more monotone. “It’s from a movie, never mind.”

Sebastian walks in my room, shutting the door behind him with a flick of his wrist. “Lili, there’s no need to pretend with me. I’ve seen you staring at Easton in the halls and I know your memory eradication procedure was a big failure.” He’s right, I have had a hard time watching Easton stroll around the school, unaware that we used to be in love. I miss him, and he doesn’t even know I exists. For the last two months I have been working tirelessly on how to get Easton and my Mom’s memories back, but I’m currently at a standstill. If only Nora was here to help me.

I look at my hands as I try to hide the emotion behind my words. “Easton? I have no idea what you’re talking about.” Sebastian shakes his head in response, then begins mimicking me in a way too high voice, that makes me cringe.

“Who’s Easton?” He boisterously laughs falling to the floor as he adds, “Quit it! You’re the worst liar ever!” Once his enjoyment dies down, he stands up and becomes more serious. “What’s the plan to get his memory back?”

I struggle between telling Sebastian the truth and continuing to lie. I know dishonesty is the safer choice but without anyone in my life, I need to have a friend before I become a stinky recluse who talks to herself. “I was hoping I could discover where the removed memories were stored in Verve, the Celestial City. Adem or Michael must know something.”

Sebastian smiles playfully like a chestier cat, with purple shimmering eyeshadow. “I knew you wouldn’t give up. Adem, most definitely knows where the memories go. Just know, there’s a reason the humans think he’s the devil, he’s cruel and unempathetic.”

Sebastian’s warning scares me and I try to convince him and honestly myself that I know what I’m doing. “Believe me, I’ll be careful with Adem. He thinks I’m dark and without my memories. I hope to use that to my advantage.” Removing Celestial’s memories supposedly allows the darkness to infect us with evil. The Darkness believes my memory were erased, so therefore I must pretend to be infected, if I’m to be successful.

Sebastian speaks in a whisper. “Very sneaky! I love it. Just remember to not over do the darkness and don’t let Adem get too close.”

I try not to let my grief enter my response. “I won’t. I know he’s the Celestial responsible for taking everything I love away from me.”

“Well, should I take you to Verve then?” Sebastian is my advisor and is responsible for showing me my new home for the summer.

I shake my head yes, as I watch Sebastian take out a shimmering metal ball with celestial etchings on it from his suit pocket. He twists the sphere open and a blue electric portal opens in front of us. The gateway is made of small lightning bolts which produces a circular entryway.

The electrical current causes my hair to float in the air making me look like the possessed chic from Ghostbusters. On the other side of the portal I see Verve, the Celestial City. I step through the gateway and into the vivacity channel determined to get Easton and my Mom’s memories back. Within the transporter I feel energy passing through my body, which feels like a thousand tiny shocks from my head to my toes. Once I make it to the other side, I wait for Sebastian to join me.

I came to Verve for the first and only time when I was informed, I was a Celestial on my fifteenth birthday. I thought this town was a dream from a fairytale, but today the metallic city in the sky seems more apropos than it once did.

Verve is filled with Celestial’s floating down the stoned walkway. Lightening shoots into the shiny metallic flower pods that seamlessly intertwine with building made of large trees and metallic flower houses, which make up the city. Today is gloomier than my last visit, with purple cotton candy clouds blocking the majority of the blue and peach ombre sky.

Sebastian finally comes through the portal, floating with ease to my side. He lifts his hand like a 1950’s bellman, waiting for me to grab it as he announces, “Time to learn all there is to know about Verve…”

I look at him with attentiveness. “I’m a sponge – ready to absorb!”

Sebastian laughs lightheartedly, walking with me down the city’s walkway. He points drawing my attention to the right side of the capital. “That’s where you’ll be living through the summer.”

It takes me a second to see what he’s pointing at. The building is a mirrored rectangle that is almost invisible to the naked eye. The only perceivable part of the building is the entrance, which is a large, exposed archway. I ask Sebastian, “Anything important to know about the house of mirrors?”

He replies quickly, “I won’t be taking you there yet. It’s full of ordinary things: bedroom, bathroom and shared living spaces. Very anticlimactic. Very mundane. Let’s first check out where you’ll be working.” I look to the center of town and see a golden flower with glass windows that climbs high into the bright sky.

The building makes me feel anxious; like there’s a kid on my shoulders weighing me down and smacking me in the face. What if I don’t discover where the memories are stored. What if they’re gone forever? I bend my neck from side to side, snapping my fear away with each crack I feel.

Sebastian leisurely points out a football stadium sized arboretum with flowers and trees adorning the outside. “Food and drink are located there. There are little stands with different cuisine. It’s cute, really.”

The thought of different food, besides the raw fruits and veggies I’ve been eating for the last year excites me. “Really? Do they sell spicy Cheetos?”

His perplexed look gives me insight into his response. “I highly doubt it. Those don’t sound natural in origin. Cheat-toes I’m going to have to try those.” Celestials believe in eating only natural foods, insisting anything else pollutes our energy. I would be fine with contaminating my powers for just one taste of my mother’s Christmas tacos!

We get closer to the giant golden flower passing by clothing stores made of glass with glowing clothes and flowers in the window. We also pass by a bookstore within a large Oaktree. It has old leather-bound hardcovers on display in the window. We enter a flower garden with benches and waterfalls right before we finally make it to the front entrance of Verve’s headquarters.

Sebastian’s voice becomes grandiose, “Welcome to HQ, where good thoughts go to die.”

I roll my eyes at Sebastian’s remark as we enter the building. The glass headquarters is imposing with panoramic views of the city. The marble and gold interior feels like an insane Egyptian God designed it.

Sebastian signals to a large rotating sphere in the center of the building with his chin. “That is the main source of power for the entire city. The electricity allows Verve to float above the clouds and creates a barrier that makes us hidden from the humans.”

“So, you’re saying I should never touch the ball.”

Sebastian chuckles, “depends on if you want to have a really exciting day or not.” I smile in response, as Sebastian continue his tour. “Every floor has a purpose and the higher up you go the more important the activity. You are interning on the top floor with Adem and Michael.” Michael is Adem’s counterpart. Both control a faction of Celestials.

After some heavy breathing and much needed exercise Sebastian and I finally make it to the highest level, where we are face to face with two female guards who are protecting the golden entrance. Sebastian bows to the guards saying, “This is Lili Araica and today is her first day as an intern for Adem.”

The tall guard with wolf eyes and mocha skin checks a list on her Gnosis, then looks at me suspiciously, “You are cleared to enter, but your advisor is not.” She quickly types on her Gnosis. “I just sent a message and Michael’s intern will be out to show you around.”

I’m nervous to enter Adem’s lair of darkness by myself but I grin at Sebastian trying to make him feel okay about leaving me. “I’m good. Thanks for the tour.”

The enchanted metal door opens with a groan and I’m shocked to be facing Easton.

His is devoid of all emotion as he asks, “Ready to check out the place?”

I still feel a spark when he’s close, but unlike last year, the spark makes me sad. It makes me remember everything I’ve lost. I wonder if he still feels the spark our combined energies create.

I bottle up my inner feelings, putting on an indifferent facade. “Sure. Lead the way.”

Easton gazes at me before signaling me to enter the floor through the now open doors. “Let’s do this.”

I enter the leadership floor which has ornate paintings, gold accents and ostentatious stone columns raising three floors into the sky. The large windows have a spawning view of the peach and blue sky making it feel like the floor is in the clouds.

Easton moves close to me, touching my arm with his and making my skin tingle from the contact. “Yea, Michael loves gold. I would be good with a little less luxury and more comfort.” I’ve been actively avoiding Easton ever since I learned his memory was erased. I attended classes late to avoid him in the halls, skipped meals to avoid him in the dining hall, and I may have even hide in a bush outside as he walked by.

So, to say I’m uncomfortable now would be an understatement. “Give me a bean bag chair and some cheese balls and I’d be good anywhere.”

Easton looks at me suspiciously. “What’s a bean bag?”

Easton is most likely a spy for the other team and I need to be more careful. I quickly try to change the subject. “What is your position here?”

Easton’s eyes narrow. “I’m an intern for Michael. I started about a week ago.” He continues to lead me through the vast leadership floor. “I’m not really a tour type of guy, but I’ll take you to your new desk. I’m sure you can figure out the rest.” I remain silent as we walk through a golden barrier into a separate office with glass tables, golden floors and a see-through roof. Easton points to an empty desk. “This is you. I’m over there.” He points to the opposite corner of the room to a cluttered desk full of shimmering papers and a display of Gnosis monitors standing up.

I debate how to respond. I want Easton to leave, but I also secretly want our conversation to continue. “Okay. See you around.”

Easton walks back to his desk, glancing over his shoulder before he takes a seat. I try to ignore him as I sit at my empty desk without a clue of what to do.

I feel lost in this elegant room full of important celestials running back and forth. I pretend to be busy in my mind as I make thinking faces. But without a beard to stroke in thought, I play with my hands. I wish I had worn something more professional—Jeans seem out of place with all the shiny onyx and gold around.

A kind looking black girl with oak colored eyes and bouncy tight curls walks from the large office directly in front of me to my desk. She sits on the glass edge in jeans and a crisp, white shirt. Her jeans are much more professional than mine, but they’re still jeans. I want to smile at her, but I must remember I’m supposed to be dark.

She leans into me and talks like she’s singing. “Don’t worry I was nervous my first day too. It’s very nice to meet you. I’m Beth.”

“Beth, it’s a pleasure.”

She beams in response. “Everyone is mostly nice, but there’s always a few rotten humlings in the group. I will teach you everything you need to know.” She pauses looking at me like an object for purchase. “But first, Adem asked to meet you. He rarely wants to meet interns, so you must have impressed him.”

I feel my stomach tighten at the mention of meeting Adem. I thought I could avoid him, like I had Easton. My face feels flushed and I wipe away sweat, from my forehead. “If I must.” Crap! Did that just slip out?

Beth giggles. “Most girls clamor at the chance. I think I’m going to like you.” She jumps off my desk, landing on her feet gracefully. “Follow me, if you dare.” I do as she instructs following her into Adem’s office.

He sits at his desk sternly, shuffling a pile of glimmering papers on his desk. His office has a dual staircase leading to an upper level full of books and most assuredly evil artifacts. The darkness likes what the darkness likes. The gold and black accents in the room remind me of who Adem pretend to be, but a small part of me hopes there’s something else hidden underneath the show.

He looks up at me with despondency. “Lili, I’m happy to have you join the team.”

Our eyes connect and the room suddenly sways, like I’m on a boat. My vision blurs to black and I fall to the floor with a thud.

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