Chapter 1

24 Hours... Later?

Ace stared absently at the clock on the wall. Watching as the second hand slowly made it's way around... and around... and around.

In the background, she could hear her science teacher talking about physics... or something like that.

Her eyes were halfway closed, her head resting on her free hand, as she clicked the end of her pen against the desk to the rhythm of the second hand on the clock.

“Ace? Acelyn.”

Just a few more seconds, and she could fall right to sleep.

“Acelyn Monroe!”

She let out a yelp as two hands suddenly landed on her desk, and her pen went skittering across the floor.

Laughter echoed through the classroom as she looked up into the frowning face of her science teacher, Jonas Sinclair. “Y-yes, Sir?” She asked, quickly straightening in her chair.

He let out a breath and shook his head. “Ace, I would like to see you after class, please?”

Her shoulders slumped and she slowly slid further down into her seat. “Yes, Sir.”

After Sinclair walked away, Ace shot a glace over to her best friend, Valerie Winslow, who was slowly shaking her head.

Great.

Fifteen minutes later, the bell rang and Ace slowly put her things into her backpack as the other students left.

Valerie sent her a tight smile before following the other students out of the classroom.

Just get it over with... Ace released a breath and made her way to the front of the class, where Sinclair was sitting at his desk. “You... wanted to see me?”

“Yes.” He looked up at her and removed his glasses. “Ace, you are failing science,”

She cringed and readjusted her backpack on her shoulder. “Ye-ah... I know.”

Sinclair smiled ever so slightly. “Look, Ace. You are a very smart girl, so I'm going to give you a chance to bring up your grades.” He grabbed a sticky note from a drawer in his desk and quickly began scribbling on it. “There's a science fair this weekend. I want you to bring something.”

“A science fair!?” Ace yelped as she slammed her head into her hands. “But.. what would I enter!?”

“That's up to you, Ace. I want to see some real effort out of you.” He held the sticky note out to her. “This is your chance to save your grade. Don't waste it.”

She slowly reached out and took the note from him. “Yes, sir. Thank you.” Then she turned and walked from the room.

Valerie quickly straightened from where she was leaning against the wall. “Well? What did he say?”

Ace let out a huff. “Apparently. I am failing science.”

“Which we already knew. You sleep through science.”

“He wants me to enter the science fair to bring my grade up.”

“Oooh...” Valerie shook her head then slung her arm around her friend's shoulders. “Ace, my dear friend. You are doomed.”

Ace snorted. “Well, thanks.”

 

“So... have you decided what you're going to do?”

Ace glanced at her friend . “I was thinking... a solar powered watch?”

Valerie raised an eyebrow from where she was lounging on Ace's bed. “Shouldn't you do something easier? Like a Volcano kit?”

Ace shook her head. “Mr. Sinclair wants to see 'effort'. It's either that or I fail and I have to face the wrath of my mother.” She shivered.

“Aw, c'mon. Your mom is sweet.”

“I know that. But it doesn't matter how sweet she is, the mother look is something to be feared.”

Valerie opened her mouth to respond, only to close it back. “You have a point there.” she swung her legs over the edge of the bed to face her friend at the desk. “So, what do you need for a solar powered watch?”

Ace scrolled through the web page that was on her screen and pursed her lip, letting out a small hum. “Not as much as I thought, actually. In fact... I think I can get most of the stuff from the junk yard.”

“Ew. I'm out. Can't you just go to the local pawn shop?”

“I could, but the junkyard is cheaper.” She blew a stray strand of blond hair out of her face. “In fact, it's free.”

“But it stinks!”

“You don't have to come.”

Valerie clapped her hands together. “How about this. We go to the pawn shop first. And if they don't have what you need, then we go to the junkyard.”

Ace considered it for a moment before letting out a breath. “Okay, fine.”

“Great!” Valerie jumped off the bed. “If we run, we can make it to the shop down the street before they close.”

Ace pushed herself to her feet. “Okay. Let me go ask my mom.”

 

“Ugh,” Valerie muttered as she followed Ace into the pawn shop. “Maybe the junkyard would have been better.”

Ace swallowed a laugh. “Well, we're here now.”

“Unfortunately.”

They ventured further into the dusty, slightly dark shop. The flickering light overhead only emphasized the eerie feeling.

“I changed my mind!” Valerie whisper shouted. “Let's go to the junkyard!”

Ace nodded her head in agreement and quickly turned around to leave, only to come face to face with an old man.

A scream ripped from Valerie's lips and echoed through the small store.

The old man smiled ever so slightly. “Sorry, I didn't mean to scare you.”

Ace let out a deep breath. “It's okay. You just startled us a little.” She motioned to the girl, who was now clinging to her back. “You should hear the sound she makes when she's really scared.”

The man laughed. “Sorry, but I just bought this hearing aid, and I'd like it to last a little while.” He moved past them, walking towards the front counter. “Can I help you girls find something?”

“Um, yeah.' Ace pulled a folded up slip of paper from her skirt pocket and handed it to him. “I'm building a solar powered watch and just need a few things.”

“Ah, I see.” He scanned her list quickly before moving on behind the counter. “I believe I have just what you need.” He disappeared into the back.

“I thought we were leaving,” Valerie whispered.

Ace shrugged. “He's a nice old man, and he said he has what we need so... we may as well stick around.” She ignored her friend's groan as the old man returned.

“Here we are.” He slid a small cardboard box across the counter to her. “I've got everything on your list here. And a little something else I think you may need.”

“Okay, thanks. How much do I owe you?”

He held his hands up. “No charge.”

Ace blinked in surprise. “But, I can't just take this stuff.”

He waved a hand at her. “You're doing me a favor. Now please, take it.”

She reluctantly took the box and smiled. “Alright... well thank you.”

He nodded. “Of course. And good luck on building your watch.”

“Thanks.” She turned and nodded to her friend. “Come on, Val.”

“Only too happy to,” Valerie breathed and hurried to the door.

Before Ace walked out, she looked back over her shoulder, but the old man was nowhere in sight. With a shrug, she followed her friend outside.

“Well, I have to get home for dinner,” Valerie said as they walked down the sidewalk. “I told you the pawn shop would be better.”

Ace snorted. “You wanted to run.”

“Ah ah ah! But I'm the reason you went there in first place!” She pointed at the box. “Good luck and I will see you at school tomorrow.”

“See you, Val.”

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