That night, as promised, Florian was waiting for them. “Ready to have your mind blown?” he asked, as he reached his hand into one of the Academy’s many trophy cases, pulling a latch and exposing a hidden door in the brick wall.
Florian led them through a maze of underground staircases and into a cavernous room packed with people. And not just people – classmates from every grade in the Academy. Girls and boys!
“Welcome to the Throne Room, the Academy’s most exclusive venue,” said Florian. “Just think, by tomorrow you could be part of the cool crowd, like me. You in?”
Not really knowing what Florian meant, the band agreed.
They set up their equipment and Knox counted them in, “One and two and three and…” Before long, the sea of heads was bobbing up and down. The crowd loved them!
“You guys rock!” bellowed a boy in the crowd, yellow smoke spilling out of his mouth. Yellow smoke? Keats surveyed the crowd; they were all exhaling yellow smoke. And the more excited they became, the more smoke poured out of their mouths. Cheering and choking, thought Keats, worried.
He turned around to see his band falling apart behind him. Knox was slumped over his drum kit, gasping for air. Cato was struggling too. He looked thin, frail and… old.
What was happening? And where was Florian? Scanning the crowd, Keats spotted him standing by a pale woman in a long black dress. Only it wasn’t Florian. It was someone, no, something, holding a Florian mask in its hand.