Chapter Three

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I was numb. It wasn't that I couldn't feel my body—I couldn't really, actually, not with it having been eaten and dead for so long, though the feeling was slowly coming back—but more of a sensation that I wasn't real. Tommy had refused to say anything else about what had happened to me after we were in the city. It also seemed like he was trying to avoid the rest of the story, mainly why he wasn't around when I died.

We'd walked through the streets in silence, kids dressed as various things and people darting around us. Not one person realized I was actually dead. After a while, we came to an old abandoned building. At least, that's what it looked like on the outside.

The inside proved to be the school I'd heard about, and it looked the part. Some type of magic had been cast on it, making the interior as large as a castle, with high vaulted ceilings and tapestries hanging over the marble walls. The floor was made of the same stone, glistening under the crystal chandeliers that graced the hall wherever the long, red carpet runner didn't touch. I felt more like I was being inducted into Hogwarts than joining an institute for the dead.

"The headmaster's office is just at the end of this hall," Tommy said, speaking to me for the first time since entering the city. "She likes to meet with all of the new students when they arrive." Motioning to a pair of large, metal double doors to the right, he added more. "That's where the dining hall is. Those doors over to the left lead to the classrooms and dorms. You'll be staying with the other—uh—zombie students while you're here. Drake was the only one from last year, but there were about ten others the year before that."

"Were you supposed to watch any of them, too?" I asked bitterly, under my breath. He heard me, though, and visibly flinched.

"No." Stopping outside the normal, wooden door at the end of the hall, he rested his hand on the knob, turning to look at me. "The headmaster is different." There was a careful tone to his voice, like he was trying to explain something delicately. "Her . . . condition is not very common anymore. But she's lived with it very well. She deserves a lot of respect for that."

"Okay?" I was finding that my patience with him was starting to wear out fast. What the hell wasn't he telling me about my death? If it was his job to be there, why wasn't he?

Knocking on the door three times, he opened it at the headmaster's permission, nodding for me to enter.

"You're not coming?" I whispered, hesitating at the threshold as I stared at the back of the woman inside.

Shaking his head, he motioned again for me to enter, urging me forward with his expression. Not knowing what else to do, I entered the room, jumping slightly as he quickly shut the door behind me.

The headmaster was standing on the other side of her desk, staring out the window, hands clasped behind her back. She wore a nice, black pantsuit, the collar of a purple shirt showing over the top of the jacket. Her black hair was slicked back and tied at the nape of her neck with a simple, purple ribbon. She looked like she belonged in this room, with all of the bookshelves lining it, full of thick volumes and knick knacks. The red carpet filled the room here as well, and, coupled with the light from the roaring, stifling hot fireplace on the right, it made everything feel warm and cozy. It was all welcoming and normal. Well, except for the headmaster's ears.

They were long and pointed, like a dogs, and stuck out of her hair, which was probably why she'd slicked and tied it back in the first place. Hair covered the ears as well and I suddenly had the impression that the condition Tommy had mentioned was one I'd heard about before.

Upon hearing my shuffling feet, she turned and smiled at me, her wolfish face confirming that she was indeed a werewolf. "Bridge. How wonderful to meet you. I'm sorry it's under such grim circumstances for yourself." Her voice was like honey, despite the fearsome look she had about her.

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