“Congratulations Devin!” Lillie yelled as she passed Devin in the hallway.
“Huh? What?” She was already gone and Devin was left confused. As students passed him in the hallway some patted him on his back saying things like, “Way to go!” and “I knew you’d get chosen.” Everyone seemed rushed to get to their classes so Devin stumbled into his class baffled. He sat down next to a ten-year-old girl. He had flown through some of his courses so fast he was now taking a few advanced classes. He was the only seven-year-old in them.
“Patty, why are people congratulating me?” he asked the girl. An eleven-year-old boy named Samir was sitting a few rows away.
“Don’t you ever read the board?” he said with disdain. “You, little seven-year-old friend, have been selected.”
“You are joking right.”
“This is his first year Samir,” Patty chipped in. “Give him a break. How is he supposed to know if no one’s told him about it?”
Samir rose from his chair and walked over to Devin. He put his hand on his shoulder gently and smiled down at him. “I am honored to be the one to tell you then. You have been selected from all of the students here at PIGC to represent our school before the board of directors. One student from each PIGC campus is selected every year. It is a great honor to be chosen.”
Devin looked at Samir in disbelief. “Why would I be chosen? I’ve haven’t even attended as long as the other students.”
“Devin, look where you are, my friend. Have you not wondered why there are no students your age in this class? Everyone excels at their own pace. I have attended PIGC since I was six, five years now. I have never seen anyone fly through the classes like you. Did you know some kids are betting on how long it takes you to get through this class?”
Devin stared at him with his mouth hanging open.
“And that is what we love about you,” Samir continued. “You are not arrogant. You don’t even know how smart you are.” Samir began to clap slowly and the other students in the class stood up, faced Devin and applauded him. Even the teacher stood and joined in.
Kevin watched in horror.
Devin sat with Chris and Lillie in the cafeteria.
“So who was chosen last year?” he asked Chris.
“Well, it’s always an eleven-year-old that is picked. This is the first ever that a seven-year-old has been chosen.”
“I’m almost eight.”
“Even an eight-year-old has never been chosen. The kid last year was named Monica. The chosen ones don’t come back because, like I said, they are always eleven and they go to another school once they turn twelve. There has never been anyone who came back to tell us what happens. You should be the first. That’ll be cool.”
“No one has ever come back?”
“No. We think they are accelerated to the next school earlier than usual as a reward.”
“I don’t want to leave Hawaii!”
“Don’t worry. The campuses are according to age. You’re too young to go to another campus.” Chris’ face widened with a big grin. “I wouldn’t mind going to the Greece campus to study with Pamela the stewardess’ daughter.”
“You’re terrible!” Lillie said as she smacked her lips.
Later that day Devin saw Mr. Jones in a hallway. His grandfather congratulated him and patted him on the back. When Devin got back to his room he found two envelopes and a folded up piece of notebook paper in his backpack’s side pocket. He opened an envelope first. It was from Sheila. Devin could tell that she had carefully tried to write neatly. It wasn’t a long letter. She told him that she was going to find a way to get to Hawaii and make sure he was okay. She missed him and would see him soon.
Devin kissed where she had signed her name. He missed his best friend and wished she really could come to Hawaii. He thought about how much fun he would have with her there.
He opened the second envelope and found a letter from his mother. She told him things were fine at home. Though she found it strange, she was glad that he was communicating with his father. She asked him to tell his father to call her if he could. She wanted to know immediately if anything strange was happening at the school and for him to send his letters through Mr. Jones. Nicky and Sheila said hi and she loved him very much.
Devin reread his mother’s letter three times even though he had memorized it after the first reading. He imagined her voice speaking the words to him. Tears welled up in his eyes and through them, he saw the folded notebook paper. He wiped his eyes and unfolded the paper. It was from his grandfather.
Devin, beware of being the one chosen. I don’t trust it or Mr. Gaydos. Tell Kevin to make plans to get you out of PIGC as soon as possible. I will do what I can to help.
“He’s right Devin,” his father spoke in his head. “I think the plan was to choose you even before you arrived at the school. I suspect the Pearce Institute wants to take you away.”
“But why? What do they want with me? Who are they anyway?” Devin’s heart shook with fear at the thought of somebody wanting to take him away.
“Find out when the next trip to Kona is. Also, ask my father to come on the trip. I plan to get you away from them and the trip might be the best way.”
There was a knock on the door. When Devin opened it he found Carl standing there.
“Devin, Mr. Gaydos is in my office and needs to see you right away. Please come with me.”
Devin had only been in Carl’s office once before. That was when he and his mother first came to PIGC in Hawaii. He remembered his mother signing papers at the small wooden desk at the back of a massive room. He imagined her still sitting there looking worried and hesitating as she took the pen from Carl.
Behind the desk now sat Trent Gaydos. He smiled widely as Devin entered the room.
“Come and sit down Devin,” he said in his high voice motioning to the chair Devin’s mother had sat in. “Please excuse us Carl and thank you for getting him.” Carl nodded and backed out of the office. “Well Devin, it seems we did not make a mistake bringing you here. You have done exceptionally well in all of your classes. It is a great honor for you to be chosen to represent this campus.”
“Thank you, sir,” Devin replied with little emotion.
“I wanted to let you know a little about the process. About a week before the semester ends we will fly you to Montana to join with the other campus representative. You will stay in an exclusive resort with luxuries beyond your imagination.”
“Can my mother come?”
“Uh, sure. It’s not uncommon for our students to want their parents to share this moment with them. You…you and your mother will spend time with the board of directors.”
“Who are the board of directors?”
“One of them is my father and I know the two you will get along fabulously. He has heard a lot about you and can’t wait to meet you.” Trent looked into Devin’s eyes. “You seemed worried Devin. Is everything alright?”
“Well…I heard that students chosen to meet the board never return. Will I still get to attend this campus?”
Trent sat back in his chair. He intertwined his fingers and placed his hands on his stomach.
“The thing is Devin; most students who are chosen never do go back to the schools they represent. They are sent to a special campus where only the most…uh….promising students are allowed to attend. It is quite an honor to be chosen. You will learn at a postgraduate college level and higher. Besides, at the rate you are flying through your classes here, there will be nothing left to teach you once you’ve been here a full year.”
“But I don’t want to leave Hawaii!” Devin whined.
Trent leaned forward and patted Devin’s clenched fist.
“I tell you what Devin, if you don’t like the other campus then I will see to it that you are brought back here.”
“I promise.” Trent stuck out his hand and Devin shook it. Devin couldn’t believe that such a likable man could be out to get him.