Undercurrent – A Merfolk Myth
~ Extras ~
Extra scene: Assignment
This scene is set at the end of chapter 3. It goes into detail about Alex and the merfolk assignment for his History class. It also introduces Gill in a different way, and gives a glimpse of how Scott is not exactly adapting to his life as a Brooks.
Since the day the United Nation had admitted that the merman story was real, everyone in the world had vocalized an opinion about it. Alexander Brooks, hacker extraordinaire, was ready to follow every lead, search for any threat, and protect against any attack that a human might be talking about—or so he’d told himself four months ago.
There was no way he could do this alone.
He’d tried to enlist his brothers’ help in this crusade, but Matt had told him Drake had all of this under control, and Chris had told him he was too young to be holding the weight of the merfolk world on his shoulders.
Scott had been interested for about a week, and then had collapsed under school pressure, something his new brother hadn’t had to deal with in his entire life.
Of course he’d never cared about human school, Alex thought as he yawned at the same time the first bell rang. If he heard one more time how Scott had all this glorified merfolk knowledge that Julian hadn’t shared, he was going to strangle the kid.
He was paranoid enough to be unable to leave the internet alone, but worried enough about his grades to pay attention at school. He’d missed almost the entire last semester while Chris had been recuperating at their summer house, and he was more than ready to make up for lost time. Besides, he needed to keep his mind away from Roy Wallace and murdered merfolk for a while. It was the only reason why Julian had sent them to school, so they didn’t have to breathe the toxic fear of the unknown in every corner of their home.
Plus, the worst thing that could happen to them here was an F.
He yawned once more as History started. In big, thin letters, Mr. Green wrote Greek Mythology.
“Okay, class. In light of recent world events, I think it’s time we understand how myths come to be, and how our mermaid friends went from being real, to being myths, to becoming real once more.”
Alex groaned so loud in his mind he was sure merfolk in The City heard him.
I take it back. There’s so much worse than an F here!
* * *
Lunch always baffled Scott. Too many people trying to stay in groups without touching the other groups, as if an invisible viral infection was waiting to spread any second now.
Fortunately, he had a guaranteed table of his own with Alex and Matt, but even they elicited fleeting looks and some veiled disdain.
“I can’t believe Mr. Green would think that was a good idea!” Alex was saying when Scott finally sat down. Untrusting by nature, Scott felt way too many eyes on him to feel comfortable even at school.
“Chill. It’s not like he knows.”
“What?” Scott asked, alarmed.
“History’s assignment is a research on merfolk,” Alex said, as if it were the end of the world.
“So? So? I’ve been ‘researching’ merfolk for five months straight now. I kinda want a break here at school. That’s the tragedy of it all.”
“You should already have the assignment done, then,” Scott said, frowning. “I doubt there’s anybody on this entire school who knows more about what’s being said about merfolk than you.”
“The kid has a point,” Matt said, tearing through half of his lunch.
“Don’t call me ‘kid’,” Scott muttered, without much hope of being respected.
“That’s not the point,” Alex said, sulking. “Everyone talks about us in this weird, downright bizarre ways all the time, and we have to swallow it all. But now I have to write a paper on all these lies and present it as fact. The whole thing is so unfair.”
Matt chewed silently, staring at Alex, almost as if saying what else is new.
“What’s with all the staring?” Scott asked before Alex could go on yet another tirade. Furtive and subtle, Scott could still feel the cafeteria’s eyes on him.
“They know we’re different,” Matt said, shrugging.
“They know we’re adopted,” Alex explained, while Matt shrugged. “Matt can be the swimming team star, and I’m one of their best students, but they know we’re not Julian’s blood sons.”
“They’re stuck,” Matt said. “They can’t shun us because you don’t shun a Brooks.”
“But they can’t fully embrace us because we’re not real Brooks,” Alex finished.
“That’s stupid,” Scott said, the currents of social behavior—of rich teenagers’ social behavior—way beyond his grasp.
“We know,” his brothers said at the same time.
“It’ll get better once you’re no longer a shiny new Brooks,” Matt said. “It’s like with the reporters, you’ll become old news and they’ll drop you.”
Scott opened his mouth to get a more detailed answer when he felt a shadow behind him.
“Alexander,” a girl said, tall and with a mess of reddish curly hair. “We need to start making a schedule to get the mermaid assignment going,” she pointed out while nodding, as if encouraging Alex to say yes.
Matt raised his eyebrows, “You didn’t say it was with a partner.”
“Would that make a difference?” Alex said, before standing up. “Sure, Gill. Let’s get this thing done.”
Matt stared with a devilish grin as both sophomores left the cafeteria.
“What?” Scott asked again. He seemed to be perpetually stuck in that question, and it was getting old.
“Gill McKenzie has had a crush on me for two years now. No wonder the Squid thinks the universe is out to get him. I think I’m going to enjoy this assignment a whole lot more than he will.”
“You’re all so weird,” was all Scott muttered as he finished his lunch.