The window of her room was blurred with fog that morning. There were multitudes of quiet taps on the glass, like many small fingers pressing against the transparent barrier, but the fingers were just rain drops and they were much gentler, sliding toward the ground without resistance. She opened her eyes, but just stayed still, enjoying the faint scent of rain and the warmth of her covers. Her eyelashes were dark against a pale face, blood slowly starting to pump but not enough to make her feel awake.
She could hear sounds of the others opening and closing drawers in the other rooms. and she knew she had to start getting ready. Her bed was lofted up, which made it more difficult to get in and out of bed in the morning. But since it was elevated, she could pretend she was a cloud at night, just floating as she drifted off. Like a sloth, she crawled out of her covers, hugging her bed for a moment before her feet touched the scratchy carpet on the floor.
Opening her drawer, her fingers trailed over the different bundles of shirts. “Oh..” she remembered, turning instead toward the smoothest wall of her room and gently pressing her hand against it. With a purring click, the display wall slowly faded to reveal a glass case that held a pristine uniform. Everyone in the first year dorm had individually been introduced their uniform at the beginning of the year, but it was only last night that the Resident Advisers (older students who managed the newcomers) had announced to the entire dorm that they were meant to wear the uniforms for today, and that they would finally have access to unlock the case.
Even though the morning sky was dark, the uniform seemed to glow, untouched by her hands until this moment. She loved the color of it, a light tint of blood orange for the shirt, with long flowing sleeves that looked like wings. As she lifted it from the display, the shirt’s fabric felt light and soft against her fingers, yet strangely durable and warm, reminding her of the fabric used for sports gear. It hugged her skin as she pulled it down, fitting perfectly without clinging.
The elegantly draping sleeves made her hands look more feminine than before, even as she hesitantly took the pants from the case. These looked much less fashionable, more like leggings but fitted with a labyrinth of leather loops and small pockets. Pausing for a moment, she noticed small threads of silvery material along the length of the legs, and this same pattern spread throughout her shirt.
Doors begin to open and slam shut, and she jolts from her reverie, rushing to pull on the pants, lace the plain set of boots from the bottom of the case onto her feet, and grab her ID card. Grabbing the doorknob, she realizes that she doesn’t have a raincoat. “Oh well…,” she thinks to herself. As she enters the hallway, it became clear that it was unnecessary. Her own friendly Resident Adviser, Gi-gi, was informing others to leave their coats in the main lobby. Dark curly hair bobbing as she nodded emphatically, Gi-gi’s sweet voice carried down the hallway, “No, you don’t need those. Don’t worry. Just head to Bryton Hall.”
A jumbled mixture of all sorts of colors scrambled to get out the door, people’s uniforms varying as much in hue as in design. One girl was even wearing a pristine white outfit, complete with a teasingly short skirt. How lucky, I wish I had a skirt, she thinks, her eyes following the other for a moment before the group began to move in front of her.
Without warning, a cold droplet of water landed directly on her cheek, leaving a fresh trail as it found its way to her chin. Now they were all outside, and the pace of the group began to pick up, shouts and conversations energizing the crowd as they headed toward Bryton. Concerned about the status of her precious uniform, she looks down, only to notice that the water that attacked the uniform was quietly wicked away, efficiently managing to keep her shirt and pants completely dry. Nor was she particularly uncomfortable from the chilly outside breeze, although the girl in the white skirt seemed a little more miserable. Feeling suddenly smug, she stepped more confidently on the uneven sidewalk.
It was a decent walk to get to Bryton. The group spread out more as it made its way over the bridge and as the pavement angle became steeper. Conversations began to fade away too, everyone concentrating on their footing and trying not to appear too out of shape as they climbed the hill. As they got to the top, they could already see the other dorms filtering into the enormous building that was Bryton Hall. “Look, the upperclassmen are here too,” said an amused voice to her right. Tucking back a wet strand of her hair, she smiled as Natasha returned her grin.
Natasha was one of her few friends, who also lived in her dorm. She had angelic curls framing her tiny face, golden brown hair that floated around tan skin and oak-brown eyes. Almost 6 inches shorter than herself, Natasha seemed even smaller, with a thin and wiry body that was accentuated with attractive curves. Her uniform was pretty too, a flowing summer dress that had the same light green tint as jade stone. The silvery threads on her dress coalesced into a cohesive pattern though, unlike the veins of metal that lined her own outfit. Natasha’s fingers were suddenly in her view, grasping the skirt of the dress and tossing it a bit so the pattern of leaves shimmered even though there wasn’t any sunlight. “Isn’t it pretty? I love the uniforms! I wonder what the assembly is for, though,” her voice betraying a small hint of anxiety.
Yes, they were all afraid. She had noticed, as they approached the darkened entrance. “ID card please,” said an almost robotic voice, as the man in front of her gestured to a small square where she was meant to swipe her card. A barricade of men all in black were at the entrance, accompanied with the kinds of machines you would see in subways. With a loud beep, her credentials were accepted and she passed through the metal gate, hastened forward by escorts waiting just inside the entrance and unable to wait for Natasha.
Inside was the gymnasium, with a massive overhead ceiling that arched above everyone as they found a seat with their respective year. There was a jovial nature about the upperclassmen, and even the sophomores. But as she sat down next to a couple other first years, she noticed the wide eyes and nervous nature of the newcomers. A giant projector screen was displayed in the direction that all the chairs were facing, and she assumed they would have to watch some sort of orientation video. “Great.. again? You would think we had been introduced to the school enough by now,” said a random kid next to her. She agreed with him, inwardly of course, since the last of the students had been seated and the lights were dimming.
A voice swelled up from all around them, battering their ears.
“Welcome, students, to the Moss Project.”