Dear Sir/Madam, In response to your/an eligible authority's request, a place has been prepared for your child/children at the Bedlam Academy. We would like to assure that, despite the name, the children and staff here have enough of a grip on their sanity to keep students from harm. Those that do deal in malicious intent are dealt with swiftly and decisively, so there is no need to worry. Three square meals are available each day, with a wide menu designed to cater to all tastes, beliefs, and allergies. Our chefs are specially trained, and our nutritional experts even more so. Teachers are experienced in handling those of different dispositions, and are forbidden from using force, unless express permission is given by an appropriate authority. Enclosed in this letter should be a ticket. Please show this, along with identification of your child (such as a birth certificate) to the official, who will arrive to transport your child to the Bedlam Academy. Thank you for your time. Harold Anderson Head Teacher/Owner "An overcast day, with quite an annoying amount of drizzle. It's almost poetic. Such grim weather, on the day I am committed to the madhouse." "It's not for long. They'll let you out, don't worry." "And I'm sure they will. I'm a perfectly acceptable member of society, I don't belong here. Oh well, such is life, and the machinations of our superiors' world." "But they are not superior..." "They are, but in rank only." It would have been a strange sight for most - a lone child, muttering incoherently to himself, while staring blankly out of a window. He looked truly and utterly bored - as if the teacher was of no great consequence to him. The look in his eyes told those who looked into them, tat even if the Earth opened beneath him, he would likely just raise an eyebrow and continue his musings. Along with Frederick. But nobody ever saw Frederick. Not that he did, either - Frederick was only ever heard. But, that was all he needed to do. Speak. Because, as it seemed, few people seemed to want to cross paths with Alan Thorn. Not least because of his... distinguishable... appearance. His height was nothing peculiar, nor was his build - yes, he was short, but the difference between him and the average human in his country of origin was only about an inch. Maybe it was his hair - scruffy and rarely fully tamed, it was usually combed into something vaguely resembling a smarter style. Yet, his locks seemed determined to retain whatever shape sleep had left them in, with neither copious amounts of water or gel. Or perhaps it was his eyes - two green, placid, glassy orbs, a dull look in them seemingly perpetual. His dress sense would not have attracted much attention, but it was still not really normal - namely, formal trousers and shirt, complete with tie and waistcoat. Today's ensemble was a pristine white button-up, complete with coal-coloured tie and matching trousers, the outfit rounded off by a pair of freshly-polished black shoes. His waistcoat, thin and snug, matched the tie, to the point where those with slight vision problems may confuse the two as one piece. The classroom, though it was the standard affair of "rows of desks with the teacher's and a whiteboard at the front," did have a few things different with it. For one, the floor and walls had a small layer of padding, though efforts had been made to cover this up with a large - but evidently cheap - rug, and shelves stacked with subject-related books that no right-minded person would ever read. Or slightly unhinged person, for that matter. And then, there was the fact that the door was also padded slightly, but the door itself was solid steel, and had at least three locks on it. Whether it was to keep people out or in, was not of much concern to Thorn. He simply wanted out, but without causing too much of a fuss. "Alan Thorn?" "Yes, yes, what is it?" "Please introduce yourself to the class, and try to pay attention in future." "I politely decline." "I'm sorry?" "I'm sure you are. You act as if we all want to be social butterflies. I'm afraid I must disappoint, dear. I can't pick my family, but by Jove, I'll have a say in who my friends are. And I refuse to have a future arch-nemesis associate with me before his - or her - time."