Sycamore Center Preparatory
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Ah, September. That wonderful time of year when big yellow buses rumble down suburban streets, when schoolyards are alive with the shriek and laughter of children, when highschools are bustling with students either eager to learn or eager to get it over with. It seems picturesque, yes?

Well, that’s not the case in the small town of Sycamore Corner.

Sycamore Corner is located in (dare I say it) middle of fuckall NOWHERE, Maine. No real roads going in, no roads going out. Industry? Wood. Did I mention that middle of fuckall NOWHERE, Maine, is home to a hell of a lot of trees? It… yeah, there are trees. Most of the businesses are woodbased. Wood flooring, firewood, wood sculpture, wood shoes… hell, we even have some crazy batshit lady who sells wood clothing. But yeah, wood. Lots of it.

Anyway, Sycamore Center isn’t like other towns, especially in September. See, that’s when school starts, and honestly the weirdest time is when school starts. Sycamore Center has but one school, and almost every time school is starting people forget about it. It’s called Sycamore Center Preparatory, and it’s this really big old looking school. On the outside it is a really old, really tall building. It’s hard to believe that people forget it’s there, but whatever. Inside, it’s all white. Every wall, every floor is white. It’s like being in a really creepy hospital.

The teachers are really really off, too. Once, I took a picture of my ‘bioethics’ teacher, Mr. Alto. His head turned into a giant angry fuzzy spider. And he’s always ranting about green classes or something and how we should just shoot them in the head if they even look at us. And Ms. Lefts or Rights or some other direction was always hitting on the boys during sex ed (and some of the girls, too)… I mean, that’s not bad thing or anything, but it’s really damn distracting when you want to LEARN. Don’t even get me started on Principal Gears. I am absolutely certain that he’s at least a cyborg, perhaps even just a plain old robot.

We don’t have yellow school buses here. We have these big black buses operated typically by people in orange jumpsuits, always swearing at us and telling us to shut up. You never see the same person for more than a month, either.

The first day of school started off normally, at least for us. How normal can you get here? The bus rumbled up and all the students got in. Sycamore Center Preparatory was the only school in town, so we all had to go there. I kind of felt bad for the little bitties. They had no clue what they were getting into, and they got Mr. Konny. Mr. Konny is… well, frightening. I still have nightmares about him and his butterfly habitat. And don’t even start me on his friend Mr. Kain. He likes us to THINK that Mr. Kain is a fully animated robot in a very convincing dog suit. After I stepped in one of Mr. Kain's 'presents', I don't think that's the case.

Anyway, it was my last year and I planned on getting the hell out of middle of FUCKALL NOWHERE, Maine. There’s a lot of that here, you know. Once you’re away from the beach, it’s just nothing. I was planning on applying to big name universities because, you know, my grades were like the highest in the town. Not saying much, given the population of about 200, but it was impressive to me. I was planning on Harvard, Yale, Dartmouth, Wellesley, the whole nine yards. That is, until I was called into Mr. Gears’ office.

Mr. Gears’ office was white like the rest of the school. It had a poster that was probably trying to be uplifting, but only made me even more anxious. It read ‘There is no canon’ and had a picture of some kind of horse made of vines or something… Anyway, I sat there uncomfortably waiting for him to decide to come in. I think principals do that sort of thing on purpose, you know. Making you sit there uncomfortably, sweating, trying to figure out what you did so that you blurt out random things they probably weren’t going to yell at you for.

Finally, after what felt like forever (though according to my watch was just five minutes), Mr. Gears strode in, holding a file with a funny symbol on it. He sat down across from me and dropped the file in front of me. I tentatively opened it to see my name, my most recent school picture (wow, I need something to treat this acne and dammit we don’t have an orthodontist anywhere in town my teeth are sooooo crooked), and every single paper I’ve ever written, from when I was in kindergarten to now. Every report card, every certificate, every newspaper article that even mentioned me. My life was in that file.

“Mr. Gears…” I finally started, “W-what is this all about?”

Mr. Gears just sat there, stoic as always. He said in his typical monotone, “You interest us.”

“I… I what?”

“You interest us, and we want you in our ranks.”

“Ranks? Wh-what are you—“ I didn’t get to finish that sentence. I felt something in my neck, then the world started to spin around me.

Before I collapsed, I distinctly heard Mr. Gears saying, “Welcome to the Foundation."

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