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Chapter One

Chapter One

A Chapter by Indigo Oswald

Chapter One. Austria declares war on the U.S. and Cassi doesn't think people are taking it seriously enough.



Two days, seven hours and forty three minutes.

We’re all waiting, waiting for something to happen. It’s 10:36 on Sunday night. No one has slept since the announcement.

The living room is completely silent, everyone sitting cross-legged on the plush orange couches. We just sit there, staring into space, unsure of what to do. It seems like time has come to a standstill. We know what’s going to happen, so why won’t it happen sooner?

Finally Mom picks up the remote and turns on the TV.

“…and eight hours since Austria declared war on the U.S. and we are still waiting for the attack.” The blond newswoman says. “Does this mean that Austria only wants to scare us or are they just waiting for the right moment?”

Mom turns to Ali and I, we are huddled on the couch across from her.

“I think it’s time for you two to go to bed. You’re exhausted.”

We know not to argue. This is not the right time.

I pick Ali up and carry her to her room, setting her down in her sea of violet comforters and tucking her in.

Then I trudge to my room and crawl into my bed, not even bothering to get under the blankets. I’m surprised when my eyes start to droop. I should be on red alert. But I haven’t slept in days….

When my eyes flutter open the next morning orange light is streaming through my slightly open blinds. My eyebrows scrunch together. Sun is not particularly normal for northern Washington, especially after it’s been rainy for weeks and weeks and it’s the middle of December.

I slide my legs off the side of my bed. The unpolished wood floor is warmer than usual. Slowly, I sit up. The house is silent.

I blink once and walk across the room. The door sticks as I open it. Why is it so quiet?

On the opposite side of the hall my little sister’s door is slightly open. I lean forward and give it a little push. It rattles. I try to muffle my steps as I turn around the corner and look down at Ali. She’s still asleep.

“Ali.” I whisper, making my way to her head. “Ali, it’s time to wake up.”

She opens one eye and glares at me.

“It’s Monday.” I say.

I don’t know why they haven’t cancelled school yet. It’s not like anyone can focus anyway.

Ali nods tiredly and starts to wiggle out of the blankets. I leave her and slide my sock covered feet down the hall into the kitchen. There’s a note on the fridge.

“Gone to get bread and eggs. Be back soon. Your bike’s in the garage.” I read aloud.

I shrug and get the milk out.

Then I see the clock. 8:15.

My eyes widen and my brain goes in to panic mode. I take a giant swig out of the jug and grab an orange on the way back down the hall. My socks make me nearly fall as I skid around the corner, holding the door frame.

“Ali!” I shriek. “Wake the hell up!”

Ali’s at her door, scratching her head.  “Geez, I don’t think they’re gonna kill you if you’re late to school when there’s a war.”

I strip off my pajamas in the hall and throw them at her head.  “It’s exactly the opposite, they’ll want to know exactly where everyone is at every second of the day. Get your clothes on.”

Of course my dresser drawer has to stick when I yank it open. I press my left foot on the lower drawers and put every last ounce of my weight into it. The entire drawer flies out of the dresser and I land on my butt.

 “Crap, crap, crap.” I mutter, scuttling to my feet. I raise my voice, “You better be getting dressed in there!”

“I am!”

I grab the first two pieces of clothing I see; red and black plaid shorts and a purple sweatshirt.

Ali pokes her head through the open door. “You look like an idiot. Your clothes don’t match at all.”

I throw my orange at her and it bounces off her head.

She scowls and retreats to her room. I frantically shove the shorts on and pull the lint covered sweatshirt over the tank top I was wearing under my pajamas.

As I sling my open backpack over my shoulder pencils fly out and scatter across the floor. I groan and pick up one before dashing down the hall.

“You better be ready to go or else I’m gonna kill you!” I scream.

She’s halfway out the door. “Do you realize your hair is a mess?”

I violently stuffed my feet into my shoes. “Shut. Up. Now.”

Ali rolls her eyes and tosses me a hair tie before slamming the door in my face. “Thanks.” I grumble.

I sprint to the garage, at the same time pulling my knotted orange hair into a ponytail. I slam my hand up against the big red button in the wall and the garage door slowly slides upward. I jump on my bike, ducking as I skid under the door. My bike and I zip off, leaving the door gaping open.

Everyone on the streets seems to have gone back to normal. Little kids playing with each other. Parents dropping their kids off. I wonder if the initial shock of the war has started to wear off. For two and a half days everyone was terrified… but I guess when it all comes down to it we only care about the drama. Once the drama wears off it’s just boring again.

I lock my bike up at 8:28. I sprint up the stairs, down the halls, and past hundreds of lockers. Every time I pass a class with an open door the teacher shouts at me to not run.

The bell rings half a second before I crash into my seat. The guy next to me slowly turns his head and stares at me.

“Stop it.” I whisper.

He whispers something involving the word “friends”. I glare.


The guy glances up at the teacher. “Here,”


“Here,” I say, glaring at Finn.

When the teacher finishes attendance she slams her hand on her desk and announces that she has something very serious that she needs to talk to us about.

“As you hopefully know,” She begins. “We are now at war with Austria. And since we don’t want you guys all to go panic like a bunch of puppies in a thunderstorm if they attack, we’re going to have drills every morning.”

My eyes widen. Every freaking morning? Is Austria really that serious about making us die some horrible death?

“You can’t complain about this, because it needs to happen. I don’t want to hear one little whine about this, got it?”

We all nod, and the announcements come on.

“Good morning Joseph Lane Middle School, this is your ASB with the morning announcements.”

The alarm starts wailing halfway through the announcements.

“Alright boys and girls, this is a lockdown drill. Repeat, this is a lockdown drill. Teachers, please pause from your work for the lockdown drill.” A sixth grader says with an overly happy voice.

Our teacher switches off the lights and commands us to huddle against the inside wall in alphabetical order. So we do.

“If I hear one peep out of any one of you you’ll all be in here at lunch scrubbing every inch of this place.” She whispers, glaring directly at Finn and me.

I gesture at myself with raised eyebrows saying “What, why’re you looking at me?”

“Shut up!” Madison Sully slaps me from one person down our line, her curly black hair bouncing.

Ms Wurtz’s eyes widen as she passes us. “Okay, guys, huddle in the corner.”

Huddling in the corner? As if that’s going to protect us from, like, an armed battalion or something. Seriously, has anyone thought actually about these things? Because it doesn’t seem like it.

Flynn seems to be thinking the same thing. He’s staring skeptically at the other people, who are huddling very determinedly into our corner. He pokes me and points at Ms Wurtz from our position in the cozy corner.

“She looks like she’s about to have a hernia… if that’s possible.” I whisper.

Finn cracks up and the teacher whips around. And she screams.

“Do you think it’s funny that any second we could be under attack?” She shrieks. “What if an armed battalion burst through that door right now?”

So we would be ready for an armed battalion?

“Would you think it was funny then? Would you? I highly doubt it. So shut your mouth!”

Finn nods. “Yes, Ma’am.”

Ms Wurtz scowls. “You’re coming in at lunch for the rest of the week, both of you.”

“Both of us?” Finn asks.

I stare him down, biting my lip.

“Yeah, don’t pretend I didn’t see little Cassi whispering over here. Both of you. Rest of the week. If you don’t show up, you’ll get after school time.”


Someone from outside jiggles our door and it flings open.

Ms Wurtz turns around and shrieks.

The woman who opens the door angrily says, “Um, this door is supposed to be locked, thanks.”

Ms Wurtz stalks up to the door, slams it in the woman’s face and locks it.

I guess I’m right. Even though we could die at any second, people are still rude to each other and act like we have all the time in the world. But that’s what it’s like all the time, isn’t it? We just like to think that we can do whatever we want.

As the rest of the day passes there are, like, five more drills. At least some people seem to be taking this whole thing seriously. But as the drills keep going on, the kids and teachers start to take them less and less seriously. They joke about how many bombs have been “dropped” on us, how many fires, how many earthquakes, how many lockdowns. And to be honest, so do I. Maybe I’m naïve, going around saying how we should all be careful about this stuff and crap and then going and not taking drills seriously. But what can I say? Only so many fires can happen in one day.

During our sixth and final period my sixth and final teacher passes out a pamphlet that someone has apparently whipped up in the last two days about how to stay safe during this quote unquote period of battle.

I swear I see at least seven of the kids toss theirs’ off the bridge as I bike home. As I said… we’re not taking it seriously.

The sun is still beaming down from the nearly cloudless sky, making all the tall brick buildings that line the old, cracked streets glow orange. Dark flocks of birds scatter the blue, all making their way back North. Washed out coral petals drift lazily down through the mild wind and scatter the moss covered sidewalks. There are busses creaking and groaning. Cars are honking. Kids are shouting.

I rip the ponytail holder out of my hair, letting it all fall around my shoulders as I turn on to my street.

Thank the dear lord in heaven that Ali has closed the garage door… I just hope she did it before mom got home because mom would have a little baby cow right there in the driveway if she came home to find it open and we all know how messy that would be.

I toss my bike on the grass and bang on the door for Ali to let me in.

“Unlocked.” I hear her shout from somewhere inside.

I have to use all my body weight to shove the door open- all of the doors in our house stick worse than in any other house I’ve ever been in.

“Hey, mom,” I call. “I’m home!”

I drop my backpack as I shut the door behind me, and I flop onto our deep brown couch, sending a large puff of dust up. I yawn widely and pull my laptop off the side table and onto my legs.

Footsteps start up and grow closer until someone plops down next to me. Another mushroom cloud enters the air. I glance. It’s Ali.

“How come you weren’t sitting with anyone at lunch, today?”

I flip the laptop open. “What?”

“When mom picked me up from school she told me you weren’t sitting anyone at lunch. You were sitting alone.”

Well… that’s true. “How would mom even know that?”

“She went to drop off your high school papers there around lunch. At least, that’s what she told me.”


“How come you’ve never had any friends over? How come you never go over to friends’ houses?”

How do I reply to that? “Um… adjusting to a new school is hard?”

Ali scowls. “You’ve been going to this school for three years.”

Damn it. Pulling things off T.V. shows doesn’t work in real life. I sigh. “Er.” Should I tell her why? I mean, she’s only nine.

“Um… I did some not very nice things one time?” I smile really big hoping to make up for it. “Bad mistakes. I was stupid. Things like that happen in seventh grade. You should probably skip it. I wish I had-“

“Shut up.”


“So,  basically, what you’re telling me is that you, being the s**t that you are, stole someone’s boyfriend thinking it was going to be a secret, then everyone found out and they now write ‘Cassi is a w***e’ on the bathroom walls in their own sweet feces.”

“What is with the younger generations these days?” I mutter.

“The older generations these days have forgotten to delete their internet history and old text messages.”


“So I’m right.”

Spot on. “Not exactly!”

Ali stares at me and crosses her arms.

“Okay, yeah, but don’t you dare tell mom or else I will beat your little sorry monkey butt into oblivion.”

“Fine. But no one’s forgiven you or anything? Like, no one’s trying to be your friend again?”

That idiotic crap face who couldn’t care less about his future. “Well, some guy.”

“A guy?

“An idiot.”

“What’s his name?”

Satan. “Finn.”

“Sounds girly, but at least he doesn’t care about what you did. I mean… not that he shouldn’t, you were a freaking idiot. But he knows you won’t do it again.”

I groan and flop around like a dead fish.

“Besides, in my Staying Safe during a Period of Battle pamphlet, it says you should have a ‘battle buddy’ to help you ‘stay safe’.” She smiles.

Suggestive, much? “ Uh, no way.”

“You should try being friends. If you hate him, steal his boyfriend too.”

“He’s not that girly.”

Ali shrugs. “Battle buddy.”

“Okay. If I start being friends with him you have to clean my entire room floor to ceiling for the rest of the year.”

Ali bites her lip. “Your room?”

“My room.”

“Well, I guess it’s worth it for you to have a battle buddy.”

“Stop saying battle buddy!”

“Sure, fray friend.”

Ali gets up and goes into the kitchen to make her something to eat.

I turn back to my computer. No email, not even spam. Encouraging. Not even the scammers like me. Maybe being friends with Finn will be harder than I thought. Maybe I shouldn’t even try. Who needs a battle buddy anyway?

Ali throws a muffin at me from the kitchen as if she knows what I’m thinking.

“And no, absolutely no backing out. Or else you have to clean my room until you move out.”

I bite into the muffin and groan loudly. Stupid, scheming, little sister.

I start to mess around on the computer. Is there some way I could possibly trick Ali into thinking I’m friends with him without actually being friends with him? Because, like I said… Satan. And no one wants to be friends with Satan.

Or maybe I should just do it. After all, my room is pretty messy. And if the war gets any worse than I’ll have at least one person who’s not part of my family. But no matter what, I refuse to call him my battle buddy.

I watch a couple YouTube videos. Actually, a lot of videos. I’m halfway through a music video when I glance at the clock and see that I’ve been on the computer for three and a half hours.

Reluctantly I drag my hands across the keyboard and off the computer, pressing nearly every key in the process. My hands feel like lead weights as I lift them up and slowly shut the laptop. I sigh loudly and set it on the side table. I pull my earphones out and a rush of sounds floods my ears.

Glass crashes together in sloshing water, fingers are angrily tapping on a keyboard, warm air is whooshing through the rusty metal vents, the dryer is rumbling like a lion. My footsteps thud to the beat as I get up and drag my overweight backpack into my room.

My blinds are still mostly closed, making the navy walls look even darker.  The room is striped with thin sections of light. In here I can’t hear the keyboard, the dryer or the crashing glass. It’s just silent.

I let my backpack fall with a loud thud onto the wood floor.  I pry my shoes off and slide towards the window in my socks. I pull the cord to raise the blinds and it sticks with half of the blinds hanging slightly lower, but still out of the way of the light. I pull the window open for half a second before slamming it shut again at the little seven-year-olds screaming their heads off outside.

I flick my light on, knowing that the orange and pink sky outside means I won’t have natural light for very much longer. While flopping into the giant white chair under my loft bed I drag my backpack with me. The pamphlet about staying safe is lying on top of everything in my bag. I pull it out and flip to the first page.


© 2011 Indigo Oswald

Author's Note

Indigo Oswald
Please review description, dialogue and fluency with point of view. Please ignore grammar and spelling.

My Review

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This is really good. Really.

The only problem I see with this is that everything is orange. I'm not a color person in general, but I think there might be a bit too much.

But, nonetheless, I freaking loved it.

Posted 7 Years Ago

1 of 1 people found this review constructive.

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Added on July 18, 2011
Last Updated on August 18, 2011
Tags: chapter, one, austria, declares, war, on, the, us, cassi, flynn, ali, tyler, school, pamphlet


Indigo Oswald
Indigo Oswald

I don't write very often, but I love to. It usually takes me awhile to develop an idea enough to actually write on it. more..

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