Boy With an Orb

Boy With an Orb

A Story by DTgringo

Scott is serving in-school suspension when his school comes under attack. Compelled by forces unkown Scott embarks on a quest to not only save his schoolmates, but the entire world.


Pleas for help, shrieks of terror, animalistic battle cries, gurgling death wails, all manner of futile masculine posturing, and I’m stuck in in-school suspension. Not stuck because the stuffy ISS Overseer refuses to let us delinquents leave. He’s crying in the corner now like the chump everyone always knew he is. Nope, I’m stuck because the goddamned door won’t open.

            I can hear all this insane commotion going on outside that door, I should be happy that the door hasn’t opened, but I can’t shake this urge to tear it open and rush out to save my schoolmates. I shouldn’t feel this way. I’m not one of those kids that hates everybody at school because I’m an ultra angst-filled teenager and unpopular. I’m not popular, but I’m not unpopular. I’m not like Rambo in Rambo 2. People think it matters that I’m at the party, but they never expect me to throw it. I don’t like everyone in the school, but I don’t hate anyone that doesn’t deserve it just because of cliqueological thinking or something pointlessly teenaged like that.

            I don’t really like any of them enough to feel such a need to run out into what sounds like Armageddon to try and save them. It could be some inherent heroism that has heretofore been concealed deep within my personality. I doubt that though. This situation doesn’t seem like a running into a burning building to save a baby type deal. It seems more like I’d be running into a lava pit to take a bullet for some stranger at Taco Bell.

            Still, here I stand, alone at the door frantically pawing the handle despite it failing to budge a single time. My fellow delinquents (most of us aren’t actually delinquents, we’re just average kids that get in minor trouble once in awhile [I am currently jailed for skipping a class]) are all terrified so they plead with me to stop trying to open the door. They ask repeatedly if I am crazy. Sometimes they say insane. Katie Daniels just asked if I’m quote, “F*****g brain damaged.”

            “Would you just relax and let me figure this out?” I say to her.

            “No I will not relax!” Katie says, “Not when you’re trying to get us all killed.”

            People call Katie, “Cocky” Katie D because she thinks she’s the s**t on the soccer field. She’s not bad at all, she’s actually fairly good, but she’s not the s**t. If anyone on the girls soccer team is the s**t it’s the goalie, Allison Brenner. She stops like 90% of the penalty shots she faces. Penalty shots. I looked it up once. They shoot from 12 yards out. The goals are huge. And she stops 90% of the shots. They say soccer goalies guess where the ball will be shot when defending a penalty kick. I think Allison is psychic.

            Katie usually lives up to her nickname. She likes to play the tough girl. Though, she isn’t masculine by any means. She’s fairly cute and slightly petit. Though she doesn’t look tough I guess she seems pretty tough when she plays soccer. She acts tough off the field for sure. At least she normally does. Right now she’s acting like a frightened kid. I suppose I really shouldn’t criticize her. I should be acting like a frightened kid right now too.

            But I’m not. Why am I not acting like a frightened kid? Even worse than that, why am I not frightened at all? The only adult in the room is more scared than any of us but I’m not afraid at all. If I weren’t so wrapped up in trying to pry this goddamned door open, and attempting to stop Katie form distracting me, I’d be doing some serious brainstorming. They love brainstorming sessions at this school. I think it’s because teachers don’t really have to do anything during them. Anyway, right now I would be brainstorming reasons why I am not afraid.

            There’s no time for that though. I need to calm Katie down and get this door open. I stop fiddling with that hunk of metal impeding my way into the halls and turn to her, “Listen, Katie, I have to get this door open. I don’t know why, but I feel like I’m meant to stop whatever’s going on out there. I can’t explain it. I may be crazy, but I have to get this door open. It’d be cool if you would help me, or at least just be quiet.”

            “If you open that stupid door you’re going to get us all killed!” Katie insists, “Stop it or we’ll stop you.”

            My other fellow delinquents don’t seem too keen on the idea of stopping me, but they are making it quite clear that they too believe I should stop. Jake Grane (an actual delinquent) had huddled against the wall a few feet away from Katie. He says to me, “Scott, I really think you should stop and just sit here with us. We need to wait for help.”

            “Does it sound like there’s any help coming?” I say while pointing at the door, “This has been going on for 15 minutes. Have you heard any gunshots? Any police yelling stop? Anything other than these same sounds we’ve been hearing?”

            It seems Jake lacks a good answer. He just shakes his head and looks at the ground. It doesn’t seem Katie has an answer either. I start to declare myself right and request some assistance when shy Melissa Manchin speaks, “Scott, what do you think you can do? I think Katie’s right. You’ll just get us all killed.”

            “Maybe, maybe not, but honestly, can you say we won’t be killed staying in here?” I counter, “You don’t think whatever’s out there will come through this door sooner rather than later?”

            Melissa shrugs her shoulders, Katie turns red and starts to speak, but the ISS Overseer cuts her off, “He’s right. If you stay there you will just end up dead.” I look over and see his previously frightened expression has been replaced by no expression at all. His eyes have rolled back in his head revealing nothing but bloodshot white. He sits straight up on the floor speaking in a monotone, “If you all work together you will open the door. If you all stay together you can find me in the band room.”

            Before anyone can answer his eyes have rolled back down. His body falls to the floor. His eyes remain open. He isn’t moving. He isn’t breathing. The ISS Overseer is dead. Melissa shrieks before starting to sob. Katie tells her to quote, “Quit acting like a little b***h.”

            Everyone else is just stunned. I feel no different than I did before the ISS Overseer talked like a spook before dying. Or perhaps he died before he talked like a spook. No matter, there’s no time for that stuff now. I have to open this door. I need everyone to help me. The manner in which my position was declared right should raise alarms. Should I listen to this voice, especially considering the source of it may have killed the ISS Overseer?

            I should question it, but I feel no need to. I should feel the need to, but I don’t. It’s probably one of those fallacies we learned about but I think the fact that I feel no need to question it means I don’t need to question it. Nobody else seemed ready to question it either. Except Katie. She says, “OK, what the hell was that and please tell me none of you are going to listen to it?”

            “How can we not?” I ask, “Do you have any better ideas?”

            “Gee, I don’t know, maybe.” She pauses dramatically, “We wait for help like Jake said.”

            Jake hadn’t looked away from the deceased ISS Overseer yet. Jake isn’t a mean guy. He isn’t a bully. He just has a hard time showing up for class, staying awake when he does show up, showing up on time for anything, refraining from using foul language, refraining from inappropriate public displays of affection, refraining from the use of intoxicating substances during school hours, and other such trivial matters. I’ve never had a problem with Jake, and I don’t think any other kids in school have either.

            Jake always looks a bit, scruffy. He wears a hat when not in school. Our school allowed hats when Jake, Katie, Lisa Packer, and I were freshman. They banned them the next year without good reason; you know, typical fascists being fascist stuff. The hat ban means that while in school Jake’s hair is always disheveled. He doesn’t bother styling it since he typically wears a hat. Nobody cares. Nobody makes fun of him for it or anything.

            He likes to wear hemp sweaters, and other sweaters that may not be hemp but still look like hemp. Slightly chubby, but in a way that only negligibly detracts from his slightly above-average looks, Jake does well with ladies that like bad boys (whether those gals actually like bad boys or only like them to annoy their conservative parents), partying, and/or projects. He dated Hannah Adams (the most religious girl in our class) for what he once told me was quote, “A strangely fascinating few months.”

            He gave me a lot of details. I skip the occasional class and I like to smoke the occasional joint. Jake is the perfect guy to do such things with. You can often find yourself listening to some oddly detailed personal stories when skipping class with Jake Grane. He told me quite a lot about his relationship with Hannah. I’ve had a few memorable dreams about the girl since hearing it all. This isn’t that sort of story though. I will respect Hannah’s privacy.

            I guess it’s kind of rude to mention Lisa Packer without telling you anything about her. Lisa is the hottest girl in school in my opinion. She’s a sweetheart too. She’s just not exceptional in anything other than her looks. Of course, most guys in school think she isn’t that exceptional in her looks but I’ve had a mega crush on her since fifth grade.

            It’s all a bit unfair if you ask me. In most schools, Lisa would easily be in every guy’s top-ten cutest girls list. I’ve been to dances at a good number of other schools (various girlfriends and friends of friends and friends of relative’s girlfriends) and I’ve yet to see any school with anywhere near the hot-girl quotient of my school. I’ve also confirmed this with friends from other schools that have accompanied me to my school dances, parties, and other such social events. Even girls from other schools have agreed. Lisa is at the top of my list but most guys at our school would probably list her in the low-twenties, or maybe early-thirties.

            I don’t know why I’ve never asked her out. She’s more than attainable for me. Going to a school with such a high hot-girl quotient means a good chance for a guy to overachieve. Of course being surrounded by such a mass of hotness can also severely hamper a guy’s confidence. I’m not a great athlete, I’m barely above average as a student, but I’m pretty good looking. I think most girls would put me in their top ten or fifteen. Our school is apparently quite average when it comes to hot-guy quotient. Confidence has never been an issue for me; except when it comes to Lisa.

            I doubt she’d turn me down if I asked her out. I’ve tried a few times. I spent hours in eighth grade standing before the bathroom mirror working out what I was going to say. I practiced my pitch over and over and over again. The next day I got ten feet away from her before I started breathing erratically. At eight feet, I found it nearly impossible to get a breath. By seven, I was ready turn and run. At six, I did just that.

            I spent the rest of the day trying to figure out why I had backed out in such an embarrassing fashion. It was about two hours after my usual bedtime when I finally settled on a theory. I had psyched myself out by spending all that time working out what I would say and practicing. I had made the event far too big a deal. I decided the next time that I would simply go in with no preparation. Of course, I immediately decided I would ask her to the Pumpkinfest the following Tuesday before third hour.          I ended up going to the Pumpkinfest with my friend Nick, his girlfriend Mandy, and her “hot” friend Tracy.

            That’s all there really is to tell about Lisa. She’d been unfairly sentenced to ISS for too many tardies. Her car had some trouble causing her to be late for first hour three times in one week. Her parents felt there was no need to call in for her since she had a more than legitimate excuse and hadn’t been tardy since that third time (they were also the only times she’d been tardy to any class all year). The school’s fascist administrators had recently introduced a strict tardy policy requiring ISS for more than two unexcused tardies in any class.

            The school’s most fascist assistant principal called Lisa to the office to issue the punishment. Lisa insisted she call her parents to get the tardies excused. The assistant principal called her parents to inform her that despite them excusing the tardies she was still giving Lisa ISS. She did this to quote, “Teach [her parents] the importance of excusing tardies when they happen.”

            If I were Lisa’s parents I would have scolded that assistant principal like the spoiled woman-child she is. But she’s an “educator” so she is treated with reverence even when being a total Nazi fascist c**t. They printed her salary in the local paper once. She makes more than my mom and dad combined. For being a Nazi fascist c**t. I don’t think I can afford to be feeling bad for Lisa right now, but f**k. I might just ask her if I can write a letter to the editor of our local newspaper about her case; if we survive and all that.

            So Katie is still arguing against opening the door when Jake finally looks away from the dead ISS Overseer and says, “Katie, I think Scott’s right. I’ve never been talked to by a dead guy before. I don’t really want to be the one that doesn’t listen to the dead guy. We should at least try to get to the band room.”

            “What if it’s a trap?” Katie argued, “If I were trying to kill us that’s just how I’d do it. Lure us out into a trap.”

            “They’d have to know we are in here for that to be true.” I explained, “If they know we’re in here they would have at least tried to get through the door first. They wouldn’t jump right to trying to lead us into some elaborate trap. They’d try to open the door. Nobody has tried to open that door since this whole thing started. Heck, the lock isn’t even engaged. We don’t even know for sure if we can get out. They wouldn’t know either.”

            “So that’s why they set a trap.” Katie says, “They probably think we locked the door.”

            I ask her, “If they can talk through a person like that don’t you think they would know we’re stuck in here?”

            Katie pondered the question before admitting, “I don’t know. I just don’t think it’s a good idea.”

            “There’s no good idea in this situation Katie.” I say, “It’s a bad idea to stay here and possibly just wait to be killed. It’s a bad idea to open a sealed door and walk out into whatever carnage might be going on out there. At least one of the bad ideas has been supported by some magic s**t, which I admit we can’t say for sure is meant to help or hurt us, but I feel like it’s meant to help us. I’ve had this strange feeling since this started that I have to do something about it. So, I mean, I don’t see why the bad guys would make me feel that way.”

            “So you’ll lead us out to them.” Katie suggests.

            “The door isn’t locked!” Nobody had ever heard Melissa Manchin yell, “It’s just staying shut. It opens in, so they can’t block it. Damn it Katie! Obviously if the bad guys are the ones trying to get Scott to open the door and get us to come out they’d have to be the ones keeping the door shut! So why would anyone go through all that?”

            Katie, still a bit stunned from being yelled at by the shyest girl in school, stutters as she responds, “To mess with us.”

            “I don’t think there’s any more point in debating this.” I say, “Why don’t we just take a vote. Who wants to leave?” Jake, Lisa, Melissa, the two freshmen, one of the three sophomores, and three of the five seniors raise their hands. I continue, “What do you say Katie? We all vote to leave, so, are you going to join us?” I turned to acknowledge the other ISS prisoners that had not raised their hands, “If you guys want to stay here, we won’t force you.”

            “You kind of are.” One of the seniors objects, “Once that door is open this place won’t be safe anymore.”

            “Possibly,” I say, “but most of us want to go so are you going to stop us? There’s no guarantee the door won’t seal again after we leave. You can stay.”

            “I’m not going to stay here if you all leave” He says.

            Katie finally gives in, “I guess we all go then.”

            Apparently that’s all it takes. The door opens. Everyone stands and lines up behind me. I poke my head out the door to check the hall in both directions. The ISS room is on the top floor of the two-story school. To the left of it are the main office, the attendance office, and the top floor of the gym. To the right are the auditorium, some classrooms, and lockers. The band room is on the first floor as far to my right as one can currently get.

            I can see no signs of danger. I can still hear sounds of carnage echoing from various other points in the school, but this entire hallway appears devoid of life. I wave for everyone to follow, I step out the door, I nearly trip over a dead body, and I finally see them. All of them. At least a hundred, probably more like two-hundred. Some are torn into unrecognizable bits. Others seem to have little more injuries than a fatal broken neck. Some are stabbed.  Some look bitten. A few look as if they were pummeled to death.

            I feel an urge to scream. I feel an urge to cry. I feel an urge to expel my breakfast. That strange force that previously drove me to open the ISS room door now drives me to suppress my expected reactions to the sight of the bodies of my classmates spread throughout the hall. I especially need to ignore that nagging voice saying, “If you would have got out of that room sooner maybe you could have saved some of them.”

            How can I save anyone? I feel I must do it but I haven’t been given a clue as to how. I still don’t even know what’s going on. And now, looking at this mess in the hall, I don’t think I want to know. Still, that urge prods me on. I begin stepping over body parts and whole bodies. I look back to see the sickened looks on the faces of my fellow delinquents. I smile reassuringly, hold my finger over my lips reminding them to remain silent, and I wave them forward.

            Loud growls or a screaming schoolmate startle us many times as we move past the auditorium and towards the first intersecting hallway. I can hear a loud pounding and grunting coming from that hallway. Occasionally, after a particularly loud pound the pounding stops. A loud deep roar sounds before the pounding commences once again. The closer I get to the hallway the louder these sounds get.

            Upon reaching the corner I stop. My followers fall in line against the wall as I cautiously peer around the corner. Nearly three quarters down the hall I see something large. Some lights have been smashed out of the ceiling leaving the thing shrouded in shadow. I can clearly see it stands somewhere between eight and nine feet tall. It is pounding on a classroom door. A bit of relief fills me. It seems some of our schoolmates have been able to barricade themselves in classrooms.

            I turn back to my followers and signal something dangerous is around the bend. Katie steps forward and signals that she would like to see it herself. I move aside and she peers around the corner. She clearly sees the thing stymied by a locked door because she immediately casts me a glance that clearly says, “I told you so.”

            I would point out that the scene also proves my point that they probably aren’t the ones that spoke to us through the ISS Overseer, but this is a time for silence. This hallway, and the mysterious thing pounding on a door near the other end of it, is the only obstacle between us and the stairwell. I decide to sneak past first hoping that if the thing does spot me, it will come after me allowing my followers to escape in the opposite direction.

            I should feel afraid as I take the first step out from the concealing wall. My brain seems to be telling me to be afraid but it’s as if my body is no longer under its power. I move as swiftly as I can without making a sound. The thing continues pounding on the door and growling at those holed-up within. I continue step by step without trepidation. When a wall is once again at my side I don’t breathe a sigh of relief. Being detected was never an option. I wait for the thing to begin pounding again after a roar before waving for the next person to follow.

            One at a time my fellow delinquents cross the opening without alerting that thing to their presence. A new level of confidence fills all of us as Jake finishes the procession and joins the rest of us safely on the other side. We all exchange quick, hopeful, and slightly triumphant smiles before I wave our silent march back into motion.

            The stairwell is not enclosed by doors. The hallway opens right to the bisected steps. However, a rather pointless wall has been placed between the upper and lower halves. Normally this wouldn’t be an issue, but today, it poses a bit of a problem. A blind 180º turn waits at the bottom of the first flight. The sounds of carnage come from all over the school. With the added noise from the nearby thing constantly banging on a door it is nearly impossible to identify where most sounds are coming from.

            The lower flight also lands at a rather imperfect space for our current situation. There is close to thirty feet between the hallway containing the door-pounding thing and the stairwell entrance on the second floor. On the first floor the hallway leading to the music and art rooms is less than ten feet from the stairwell. Everything besides that hall’s location is perfect for our current needs. Opposite the hall, and for another thirty feet from that hallway, the only openings are the school’s main entrances.

            I almost feel like laughing. I’m worried about how the layout of the school will affect our descending of these stairs, but I have no concern whatsoever about the dead body on the stairs and the three more I can see on half the center landing. Who knows how many bodies wait on the half of the stairs that I can’t see. All that blood could be pretty slippery. I snort as I hold in a laugh. I quickly turn to see my followers all quietly gasping and turning to watch the hallway we passed. We all listen for a few seconds. The thing does not stop banging on that door.

            I signal an apology for the noise. I follow that up with a signal to wait. Slowly, I descend the first flight of stairs. I take care not to step in any blood. Falling down these stairs is probably a sound that won’t go undetected. I make it down the first flight without a hitch. I look back up at my anxious followers before slowly twisting to look down the lower half. I see more bodies. A lot of them near the doors leading out of the school opposite the music and art hall.

            I can’t see much past those doors. The only important thing I guess is that I can’t see any big things. I can hear their sounds echoing but I can’t tell if any come from our target hallway. For the first time I think to myself, “Why don’t I just lead everyone down these stairs and out the door?”

            I don’t consider it beyond that. My body doesn’t hesitate. I wave everyone down to the landing. I post Katie at the corner to keep lookout. The others line up against the furthest wall from her and from the first floor sightline. I give them all a reassuring look before I slowly descend the final flight of stars. The first floor hallway the stairs bookend stretches down a quarter of the school towards the large opening that contains the lunchroom. At the opposite end of the lunchroom another nearly identical hall stretches past the gym to the opposite end of the school. Our luck is incredible. I see not one thing along the entire stretch.

            I signal Katie to bring everyone down. Standing with my back against the wall opposite the main entrance, I wait for them to line up at my side before I slowly peer around the corner into the music and art hall. It kind of looks like the goblins from the Rankin/Bass animated version of The Hobbit but without the big lower fangs, horns, and with the head of hair replaced by two-foot long sideburns extending below the bottom of its chin. It is also significantly more hulking than those goblins. I can only yell, “Run,” before it grabs me by the neck.

            It roars in my face, blowing my hair back and spraying me with its disgusting spittle. As it squeezes I can draw less and less breathe. I’m ready to accept death when I hear Katie shout, “Let him go s**t-f**k!”

            The thing shrieks in what appears to be pain and drops me. It takes me a few seconds to get my wits about me. When I do I see a defiant Katie staring down the beast as it roars in her face. Finally I feel some fear. I hardly felt afraid even as I stared into that thing’s eyes. As it choked the life out of me I felt calmly at ease with what I thought was my impending death. Now, I feel afraid. Afraid of the wrath I will face from Katie after what I am about to do.

            She clenches her fists, ready to fight, as the thing starts reaching out for her. She pounds my back with those oddly strong fists as I scoop her up over my shoulder and run down the hall faster than I ever thought my body could move. Thankfully, she’s quite light. I dare not look back but I can hear the thing chasing us rather close behind. Halfway towards the band room I see two more of the things with only slight differences in appearance (different sideburn colors, slightly different skin tones, and different blood spatter patterns) from the first one I saw clearly. They run at us. We reach the band room door with less than ten feet between us and the things pursuing us from front and back.

            The door opens on its own right as we reach it and slams closed as soon as we pass through. I turn to lock it but find it sealed like the ISS room door. I feel those fists pound my back even harder as Katie shrieks, “Put me down a*****e! I’m going to kill those things!”

            I put her down and apologize for forgetting to do so, but not for scooping her up. That thing would have torn her head off. I catch a lot less Hell for it all than I expected. Katie quickly finishes complaining so I look around the band room. Thankfully, we weren’t the only ones to come this way and reach it. Lisa Packer, Melissa Manchin, and one of the freshmen had thought to run into the hall past the thing. That was what I’d hoped they all would do. Everyone else had either run toward the lunchroom or out the main entrance.

            I check Melissa first. She is breathing heavily and shaking but seems to slowly be regaining her composure. I check the freshman. He’s struggling with tears but still amazingly composed; for a freshman. I hesitate some as I move to check on Lisa. I really wish my crippling crush would take the rest of the day off. I stutter as I ask, “Hey, Lis, Lisa, you, you doing OK?”

            She smiles at me. I have so many butterflies in my stomach I almost feel sick as she says, “I’m OK. I’m really glad you’re OK.”

She begins sobbing uncontrollably and throws her arms around me. I hold her tight as she sobs. I should love this moment. I don’t. I hate it. I wish I never came to school today. If you told me yesterday I will hug Lisa Packer tomorrow I’d think it would be the greatest moment of my life. But no, it had to happen like this. What real thing could we have now? After all this? How could I ever know if she likes me or only likes the possible hero I think I might be able to be?

“Moo.” It’s a quiet sound, “Moo.” I can’t quite figure out where it’s coming from, “Moo.”

I hadn’t even thought about who, or what, we were supposed to be meeting in this room. I had been so concerned with my fellow delinquents that I hadn’t noticed nobody else appeared to be in the room. “Moo.” It sounds again.

I now seek the source of the sound, “Moo.” I find it, “Moo.” It’s coming from the bell of a tuba laid across a few chairs.

“You guy’s hear that right?” I ask my few remaining followers. They all nod so I ask, “And it sounds like it’s coming from that tuba right?” They all nod again so I say, “I guess it’s better than a dead guy.”

They seem to agree. I slowly step toward the mooing tuba. It continues to moo every ten or twenty seconds. I’m within a few feet now and the rate of mooing has increased significantly. Slowly, I reach out and lift the brass instrument. The mooing continues. I speak into the bell, “Hello.”

I place my ear to the bell and listen, “Moo. Moo. Moo.”

“Remember when you kept doing that in middle school band class and the instructor told you to go outside if you want to make moo sounds?” It doesn’t come from within the tuba. A female voice is speaking from what appears to be in my own head, “I always thought it was so funny that you actually went outside and made those moo sounds as loud as you could.”

The tuba falls to the floor with a crash as a practice room door on the far side of the room swiftly swings open with a startling bang. My remaining fellow delinquents run to my side to await their fates. Lisa, Katie, and Melissa all clutch me tightly, the freshman kid clutches loosely, likely out of fear of being labeled gay. Only a few seconds have passed but it seems like more. Whenever I read that in a story I always find it lame but apparently it really happens.

A softly grinning Allison Banner slowly steps through the practice room door. She says nothing as she crosses the room toward us. Katie runs to her and they hug. “How did you survive in here by yourself?” Katie asks.

“I kept the door shut” Allison answers.

“How’d you do that?” The freshman asks

“The same way I’m doing it now.” Allison answers, “The same way I did the ISS room door.”

“You did that?” I say, “I knew you were psychic!”

She smiles at me slyly. Katie, her voice showing concern, asks, “Was it you that told us to come here?” Allison nods. Katie follows up, “Did you kill him to do that?”

Allison shakes her head, “He already died. I had to wait until then to contact you.”

“You knew he would die?” Melissa asks.

“I was told shortly before it all started.” Allison explains, “I sealed the ISS door to keep Scott safe until the time was right.”

            “How did he die then?” I ask.

            Allison shrugs her shoulders, “It was his time.”

            “You said you were told.” Katie interjects, “Who told you?”

            “I don’t know.” Allison responds, “I was only told something bad would happen, to protect Scott, and to guide him here when the time came.”

             “You’re not in the band anymore.” Katie remembers before asking, “Why are you in here?”

            “I was told to go here.” Allison explains, “I came after it all started.”

            “Through all that out there?” I ask while pointing toward the hallway door, “How did you get by those things?”

            “They can’t see me.” Allison answers.

            Understandably confused, Katie says, “Huh?”

            Allison smiles at her reassuringly, “They can’t see me if I don’t want them to.”

            “Why not make everyone else invisible to them?” The freshman asks.

            “I can’t.” Allison answers, “I can only make them unable to see me.”

            All this is certainly important, but I still have this unstoppable urge to rescue our remaining schoolmates. I don’t have time for question and answer. I quickly bring this back on task, “Allison, what do I do to stop all this?”

            “I don’t know.” Allison responds.

            “What do you mean you don’t know?” Katie is angry again, “You just said you were told something bad would happen and to keep Scott safe.”

            “I was.” Allison reminds her, “And to guide him here.”

            “Guide me here to do what?” I inquire.

            “I don’t know.” Allison says, “All they told me is something bad, keep you safe, bring you here.”

            “Can’t you ask?” Melissa chimes.

            “It doesn’t work like that.” Allison says.

            “Do you see where every shot will go before it’s taken?” Katie asks.

            “Yes.” Allison succinctly responds.

            “Wow,” Katie muses, “That’s like so awesome!”

            “Not necessarily.” Allison informs her.

            I have to get things back on task again, “OK ladies, there’s time for all this later. We have more important things to deal with now, like those…”          

            The door to the hallway flies open with a slam. Jake stumbles through with the shop teacher, Mr. Martin. Mr. Martin’s left leg is covered in blood requiring Jake to act as a human crutch. The door quickly slams shut behind them. Jake turns to lock it but stops when I inform him, “That’s not necessary.”

            “It’s f*****g nuts out there!” Jake says, “When you said run, I ran toward the lunchroom. There’s like five of those things in there. They start chasing me so I jumped the buffets into the kitchen. They seem kind of dumb. They didn’t go over the buffets. They started tearing them out. I ran out the kitchen back door.”

            Jake takes a brief pause as he hands Mr. Martin off to my shoulder. I help the shop teacher to a chair as Jake continues, “I figured I’d just run home.”

            Katie interrupts, “Why didn’t you? I probably would have.”

            Jake shakes his head as his expression grows more fearful. He explains, “Out there, it might be worse than in here. I noticed the sky first. It’s freaking red. It’s like some crazy Bible story out there. It’s dark too.” Jake shakes his head as his expression grows more saddened, “Much too dark. I couldn’t even look at the sky for more than a few seconds. I’ve never felt sadness like that. So I look at the student lot. I could have gotten about halfway across it if I ran fast. That’d be pointless though. Some kids got out there. There were more of those things from the lunch room standing around a bunch of bodies. A couple kids were locked in a car and two of those things were trying to tear their way in.”

            “It seems doors give them a lot of trouble.” Katie leered at me while she spoke.

            “The cars can’t protect us.” Jake says, “They ripped the roof off a few other cars. I wasn’t going to stick around to see how much longer it took them to get those kids. I went along the side of the building. Out on the football field, I saw more things. They weren’t those big things from the lunchroom and parking lot. They looked, smarter. More like people. Still way too tall and monster looking though. Their bodies are more like people, but not their faces. One saw me and pointed before I could get a real good look so I ran.”

            Allison and Lisa do what they can for Mr. Martin’s leg wound as Jake goes on, “Some of the things from the parking lot were chasing me, and when I came around the front and turned to the main door like five of them came out. I ran around them as best as I could, slipped through the main door. One was still outside the band room door. He saw me and started chasing. I ran toward the lunchroom again but cut down the other end of the music and art hall and ran into Mr. Martin. Couldn’t really talk to him though because I was still getting chased. We came here the long way around.”

            “Did you see anyone else alive?” I ask.

            Jake shakes his head, “Well, I think I saw some more people locked in classrooms, but I was moving kind of fast inside. It was just some quick blurs in the little windows.”

            The intelligence Jake gathered seems pretty useful. We now know this stuff isn’t just happening inside the school. We can probably confirm help is definitely not on the way. Best of all, we know we can outrun those big things. The new things outside might be less easy to evade but they didn’t catch Jake. I asked Mr. Martin if he is doing OK.

            He says, “I think I’ll be fine.” The gash on his leg is pretty nasty. I’ve never seen such a bad cut. Still, he says, “It’s not too bad a wound but I think I should try to get some medical attention.”

            “Scott.” Allison cut me off before I could speak, “You, Katie, and Melissa need to go.”

             “Go where?” I ask.

            Allison replies, “Mrs. Terry’s room.”

            That doesn’t sit well with me. Katie either. She speaks first, “Are you serious? That’s all the way on the other side of the school!”

            Mrs. Terry’s room is on the first floor at the opposite corner of the school from the hall serving the music and art rooms. To get there we would have to either cross the lunchroom with four unwatchable hallways emptying into it, go around the outside of half the school, or go back upstairs and make our way with no large open areas but with a number of hallways providing numerous opportunities for a surprise attack. Again I find myself stuck with nothing but bad options. I have to listen to Allison. My body won’t allow me to do otherwise. I’m glad I’m currently unable to feel how badly this all sucks.

            Melissa seems to be handling this better than anyone would expect. She had been looking less and less distressed every time I glanced her way. Perhaps yelling at Katie helped her break out of her shell. She begins questioning Allison, “Why did you say only us three? What about you? Jake? Craig? Lisa?”

            “Who’s Craig?” I ask.

            “The freshman.” Melissa tells me before returning her attention to Allison, “Why are we the ones that have to go?”

            “I don’t know why it’s you three.” Allison tells her.

            “Quit with that crap!” Melissa demands.

            That one stuns even Allison. She NEVER saw that one coming. None of us had ever seen Melissa Manchin insert herself into any proceedings in such a vocal and forceful manner. When working in groups she rarely offers any ideas. When she does, she rather sheepishly mumbles them to the person sitting nearest her. That person typically must ask her to repeat her idea two or three times before relaying it to the entire group.

            She’s a smart girl as far as I know. When she’s called on she knows the answer. I always feel kind of bad for her actually. She never raises her hand despite always knowing the answer. Some teachers are just jerks that get off on humiliating kids. If she doesn’t want to answer out loud why make her? You give her tests and read her homework. You know she knows the answer, why not call on someone that actually wants to answer? There’s no reason to call on her other than to force her to do something that clearly makes her uncomfortable.

            The teachers always make her repeat the answer a few times. Many would carry it to the point where she’d say the answer more than five, even ten, times. A few particularly mean ones would make her stand and practically shout the answer. They’d usually say something pointlessly dickheaded like, “See class. If you want people to take you seriously you must speak in a manner that gets their attention.” Or other stupid a*****e s**t like that.

            I’ve been thinking recently about becoming a teacher. I won’t treat the kids like morons or humiliate them. Though, I do worry. Is that the kind of people that become teachers or is that what people become when they go into teaching? How can you learn to like humiliating a perfectly nice and harmless girl like Melissa Manchin? I think you have to be born a dirtbag to get off on something like that. People like to say there’s this big bullying problem with kids and all, but I’ve never seen any kid bully Melissa Manchin. Only teachers do.

            Knowing Melissa, it’s understandable that even Allison, a psychic, would be surprised by Melissa’s sudden forcefulness. I guess when your life is on the line like this even the shyest person in the world can become a fighter. I never thought I’d see it. I’m kind of glad I did. Melissa demands Allison, “Tell me why the hell you know what you know?”

            “Because I was told.” Allison somewhat forcefully answers, “I’ll tell you everything I know and yelling at me won’t do any good.”

            “So out with it then!” Melissa says.

            Allison sighs before speaking, “Scott’s the important one but you two have to go too. I don’t know why. I wish I did. I wish I could tell you what to do. All I can do is send you to Mrs. Terry’s room. All I knew before that was exactly what I told you.”

            “How do you keep doors sealed?” Melissa asks, “How do you make a dead guy talk? How do you know where someone is going to shoot a soccer ball?”

            “I really want to know how you do that too.” Katie adds.

            I think everyone does. Who wouldn’t want to know? If I could do it I could get rich as a goalie. I’m only good at baseball. I’ve been a starter on all my teams, but I never got moved up to varsity as a sophomore or anything like that. Speaking of which, I want to know how Melissa knows the freshman’s name. I already forgot it. I only know the names of three freshmen and all of them because they got promoted to the varsity baseball team (we have a particularly weak team this year, but we don’t have any psychic hitters). I’m kind of scared of Melissa now though, so I won’t ask.

            Allison addresses their concerns, “I’ve been psychic since I was little. I can’t tell people’s fortunes or anything like that, but I get messages about things to come. When I was a kid they used to scare me. I’d see visions of all sorts of murders and disasters. I learned to control it though as I got older, filter out visions that I could do nothing about. I discovered I was telekinetic a few years ago. I can’t move buildings or anything, but I can move some small things around. I can make a deck of cards deliver specific hands whether I’m dealing or not. The thing with the doors is the biggest thing I’ve ever done.”

            “What about the invisibility thing?” Katie asks.

            “I was pretty amazed by that too.” Allison explains, “I’ve never been able to manipulate anybody’s mind until these things showed up at the school. For some reason, I can trick their minds. I can’t control their actions or anything, but I can make them not see me somehow.”

            “Can you do it to people?” Melissa asks.

            Allison shakes her head, “I can only do it to these things. I’ve never tried animals or anything. I’ve been trying to do it to the freshman since he got here, but nothing happens.”

            “Hey!” Melissa says, “Don’t mess with Craig’s mind!”

            “I gave up when I started talking to you guys.” Allison informs her.

            I look over at Craig. He’s just sitting near Mr. Martin watching the proceedings intently. He doesn’t seem too bothered by Allison’s attempt at mental intrusion. Occasionally, he glances at the bloody rags wrapped around Mr. Martin’s leg. Other than that, he seems pretty useless. I forgive him though. He is a freshman.

            Now Jake enters the conversation, “What about me? I want to go with them. I’ve been out there. I know how to handle myself.”

            “You stay here.” Allison rather forcefully insists, “The rest of you stay here until I tell you otherwise.”

            “What about you?” Melissa asks.

            Allison isn’t as firm with her, “I stay here too.”

            “That seems a little convenient.” Melissa suggests, “I think you would be pretty useful out there.”

            “I think I’ve been pretty useful to you already.” Allison says, “It’s not up to me anyway. I have no choice. My usefulness to you ends here and now.”

            “I don’t think I’m going to go.” Melissa says, “I’m staying here.”

            “You can’t!” Allison insists, “You have to go! You absolutely cannot stay here!”

            “Why not?” Melissa says, “You are.”

            “Do you want everyone to die?” Allison asks, “Do you want it to be your fault?”

            Melissa remains defiant, “How do I know you’re right about any of this?”

            “You don’t!” Allison is getting perturbed, “You need to go now! You’re wasting time! Why are you here now if you don’t believe me?”

            “I can’t just run out to die!” Melissa shouts, “I left the ISS room because there was no better choice at the time. We know we’re safe here and you want me to just stroll out into that!”         

            I’m so startled I nearly fall backwards. Apparently, I can still be startled. The door opened so swiftly the crash hurt my ears. I turn and see it’s the door to the hallway. It stands wide open inviting into the band room the sounds of the things roaming the halls. They begin growing louder. I turn to Allison. Her eyes are bloodshot. Veins on her neck writhe. She looks furious as she shouts, “The door doesn’t close until the three of you get out!” She looks at Melissa, “Are you going to kill everyone in this room?”

            I don’t hesitate. I run for the door. Katie doesn’t either, she runs along with me. Melissa hesitates briefly before shouting, “Wait up.”

            The door slams shut behind us. We can hear the creatures. It sounds as if most of the things within earshot have gathered together. I can identify the direction their growls and roars come from. They are close. They are near the main entrance heading for this hallway. There’s no way the crashing band room door hadn’t caught their attention. “Long way.” I order.

            We move as swiftly as we can making as little noise as possible. The music and art hall creates a square of hallways with the main hall. Classes and lockers line the sides. I don’t have time to check on any classrooms. We turn the corner into the far hallway without checking it first. Our mistake turns out to be no big deal. The hall is clear. I whisper to the girls, “Against the wall.”

            I slowly peer back into the first hallway. I see the first thing turn in. I pull my head back. I wait. I look again. At least ten of them are shuffling along the hallway. I pull my head back. I wait. I look again. Twenty or so have stopped at the band room door. I watch. One pounds on the door. They seem to think something went in instead of out. It appears we are safe for the moment.

            I motion the ladies to move further along the hall. Halfway down I stop and we huddle. I whisper, “They all stopped at the band room door. They’re trying to get in. The rest of the music and art hall should be clear. I don’t know what we’ll run into when we get to the lunchroom. So, once we’re in the open I say we run as fast as we can. We don’t slow down until we’re in Mrs. Terry’s room.”

            Melissa and Katie both signal their agreement. The rest of the music and art hall does prove clear. When we reach the main hallway we pause. I take a look. All the things in this area must be outside the band room. Hopefully they’ll stay there for a long time. The ones that followed us there before only left when Jake caught their attention.

            We move slowly through the last bit of hallway leading to the lunchroom. We pause before stepping out into the open. We all look at one another. I nod. We run. Katie quickly breaks into the lead. I’m in the middle. Melissa has fallen behind me but not too far. Looking around the lunchroom it seems any things here have moved on. Some could spill out of a hallway at any moment though.

            Damn Katie is fast. She reaches our target hall a good distance ahead of me and disappears from sight. I’m nearly at the hall when she comes sprinting back out past me. I stop just before one of the things rounds the corner behind her and slams into me. My breath flees my body as my feet leave the ground. The force throws me nearly ten feet, over a rail, and onto one of the long lunch tables. Unfortunately, it doesn’t break like the tables in wrestling.

            Pain keeps me frozen until I feel hands pulling at my arm. Melissa says, “Come on! We have to go now!”

            I meet her eyes momentarily before looking back to the scene of my accident. The thing I collided with had fallen too. It slowly begins climbing to its feet. I do the same, but much faster. Melissa tells me to move once more so I follow her. I can see Katie turning a corner towards the gym. Melissa and I follow. After rounding the corner, we see Katie standing near the doors to the student parking lot. She’s waving at us frantically. She doesn’t wait for us to reach her before shouting, “Out or up?”

            Going up means we must go back along a hallway equal in length to the one we just moved down. We then have to turn down another, slightly shorter, hallway to cross the school. Then along another hallway like the one I’m currently in, down some stairs, and into Mrs. Terry’s room. Out means we go along the back of the school outside. The path takes us along the student parking lot where we know some of those things were congregated before. Also, there are the other things Jake saw outside.

            Though, out is the much shorter route. “Out!” I shout back.

            Katie doesn’t wait for us to reach her. She bolts outside and out of sight. Melissa and I follow shortly after. We immediately see a group of probably thirty of the big things running towards us from the opposite end of the student parking lot. “We can outrun them for sure.” I tell Melissa.

            We do. We move along the back of the school and reach the doors leading back in before the things had crossed three-quarters of the lot. Our hope soars for about a second. After reentering the school we turn to see Katie frantically pulling on the door to Mrs. Terry’s room. “It’s f*****g locked!” She shouts to us.

            “No way!” I yell back.

            I can see some things moving across the lunchroom towards the opposite end of the hall. Melissa informs me that the ones outside are, “Almost to the doors.”

            I tell Katie, “Move!”

            She does. I grab the handle. The knob turns. The door opens. We move in. It doesn’t shut. I shut it. It isn’t locked. I lock it. I hear glass in the doors from the student parking lot shattering. I see one of the thing’s eyes staring through the three inch wide foot-and-a-half long window in the door. I hear them pounding. I hear more than thirty of them growling. They keep pounding. It’s deafening. The door holds. The sound becomes more bearable. I finally hear my own heavy breathing and that of Katie and Melissa.

            After catching my breath I look around the room. Nobody is here. There is no blood or bodies on the floor. The entire class must have gotten out of the room unscathed. Who knows how many of them are still alive. More importantly, there is nobody here to greet us. There’s nobody here to tell us what to do. There also doesn’t seem to be any way out. I don’t think those things gathered outside the door are going anywhere any time soon. We could try to break the windows I guess. But I’ve seen a kid throw a desk at one in a tantrum and it didn’t even crack.

            Melissa decides to point out our situation first, “Nobodies here! What do we do now?”

            “We really didn’t have much choice in the matter did we?” Katie says.

            “No, but still,” Melissa says, “I think Allison has gotten us killed.”

            “We’re not getting killed.” I insist, “All we can do right now is relax for a minute, catch our breath, and see what…”

            A noise interrupts me. It’s not very loud. I’m sort of surprised I hear it at all; especially with all the pounding. I ask, “Do you two hear that?”

            Katie and Melissa both nod. We all listen intently. It sounds like someone knocking. The pounding on the door makes it hard to locate the sound. It takes me nearly three minutes to track it to the corner opposite the door. I quickly eliminate outside the window as the source. I move towards the wall but it’s blocked by bookshelves. It’s coming from behind that bookcase for sure.

            That’s when I remember it. The classrooms all have doors connecting them to adjacent rooms. Nobody ever opens them and a lot of teachers block the doors with stuff. Mrs. Terry had blocked hers with a bookcase. “I have to move this bookcase.” I say to the girls, “I need you two to help me.”

            We clear all the books off the shelves before attempting to move the case. Turns out, it isn’t all that heavy and we get it out of the way with ease. I can hear the knocking clearly now. I reach to open the door but Katie grabs my arm, “This really could be a trap.” She whispers.

            I can’t disagree. I move close to the door and softly say, “Hello.”

            I touch my ear to the door and listen, “Hello. Is someone over there?”

            It’s definitely a person. I tell Katie and Melissa it’s OK and reach for the handle. I turn it and slowly push the door open. I experience no resistance. Once it’s open enough I step through. “Holy s**t, it’s you!” My friend Nick says.

            We share a quick hug before I look around the room. I see nobody else. I ask, “You’re alone in here?”

            Nick nods, “I’ve been going through the doors between rooms. I had to unblock some of them. All the rooms in this hallway are empty. I locked all the doors to the halls. Those things are f*****g everywhere!”

            All the rooms along this hall are empty. That’s quite good news. As long as the things keep pounding on Mrs. Terry’s door we can move to the opposite end of the hall. At least we found a way out. We still haven’t found any answers. Katie obviously wants some. She says, “Have you seen anybody or anything in these rooms?”

            Nick shakes his head, “Just a bunch of desks. There’s no bodies or anything either. It’s not like the hallways. I think everyone in this hall got out.”

            “I don’t know if they got out.” I say, “The hallways are hardly a safe place to be.”

            “I ducked into one of these rooms when I first saw one of those things.” Nick explains, “Everyone else just took off trying to get outside. I didn’t wait around to see if any of them made it. I looked out there a bit ago. It doesn’t look like too many did.”

            “Outside isn’t much better.” I tell him.

            “I know. I can see the sky.” Nick had been lucky enough to be in rooms with windows. The ISS and band rooms have none. We didn’t have any chance to look outside during our trek between them. He continues, “I saw some of those things from the hall walk by a few times. They didn’t see me. It’s hard to see into these windows good unless you get up close. I saw some other kinds of things walk by too; these big skinny demon looking things and these short scaly fat things.”

            I assume the big skinny demon looking things are the same things Jake saw on the football field. The short scaly fat things are a new dimension. Though, Nick’s description doesn’t seem to strike fear in anyone’s heart. After big hulking goblin things and tall lanky demon folk; short scaly fat things sound almost cuddly. I decide to take a look out the window for myself. Most of the shades in this room must have been closed when everything started. I walk over, spread two apart, and look outside.

            I’d been outside just moments before but all I saw was the things in the parking lot, the ground before me, and my destination. Running for my life didn’t allow a good look around. I looked at the sky first. Nick must not have looked out the window for too long. If he had, he would have noted the sadness when he mentioned the sky. His face would have shown it from the moment I first brought it up. After a few seconds I feel what Jake tried to convey.

            What sky had been blue this morning is now dark red. The white clouds are now a slightly lighter shade of red. What had been the burning yellow sun this morning is now the brightest, but only by the slimmest margin, red. I stare at that brightest red spot. It doesn’t bother my eyes in the least. Whatever covers the sky makes the sun safe to look at. My science teacher might like that part. I don’t think it’s worth the downsides.

            Last year Heather Sellers died in a car accident. She was one of the first kids in our class to get her driver’s license. I’d gotten to know her in the months before her death because she was dating a friend of mine. She’s the only person I’ve ever really known that’s died. Well, before today. I don’t know which of my friends are dead yet, but with the number of bodies I’ve seen so far, at least half of them have to be.

            Heather and I weren’t terribly close friends but when my friend called to tell me she died I felt this terrible sadness. Every muscle in my body seemed to tense. I cried but my body had tensed up so much it refused to allow even tears to escape. I felt this way for an hour before my body loosened. Then I felt sick. I cried. Tears flowed freely. I felt that way for three days. The sick feeling was the worst of it. That’s the feeling looking at the sky for just a few seconds brought back.

            I have to look down. I can’t turn away from the window. It’s too important that I see what else I’m up against. I can’t see any things. No big hulking things. No tall skinny things. No short fat things. All I see are dead people. It’s mostly adults on this side of the building. They must have been on the sidewalk or driving by the school. I can’t dwell on the bodies. I continue looking but none of the monsters come into view. I keep scanning. None walk by. I curse under my breath and give up.

            Turning back to Nick, Katie, and Melissa I say, “I can’t see any of those things out there. I think we need to figure out our next step.”

            “I say we just lay low here and see if this all lets up.” Nick says.

            The rest of us shake our heads. Katie says, “It’s pretty clear help isn’t coming. The only way we get out of this is to get out of it ourselves. It seems Scott is kind of important in this whole thing too. I guess he’s destined to stop it or something.”

            Nick looks confused by what Katie told him. Normally, Nick would be totally right. We appear safe here. We should lay low and try to wait it all out. He wasn’t with us in ISS. He didn’t see the talking dead ISS Overseer. He didn’t see Allison sealing doors and risking lives to force us into action. He didn’t hear the projected moo sounds. Nobody asked Allison about that. That’s a pretty cool trick. I guess it isn’t surprising that she can do that considering all that I know about her now.

            Rather seamlessly, the three of us tell Nick the tale of our experience since this all started. When we finish he looks angry and says, “Are you guys sick? All this crap is going on and you’re f*****g with me? Why would you do that now? You’re going to have a good laugh when we all might be about to die?”

            “We aren’t messing with you.” I assure him.

            “Really we’re not.” Katie seconds.

            “Are you stupid or something?” Melissa says, “The whole sky turns red, big monsters kill our classmates, and you find it hard to believe our story? Why the hell would we make that up?”

            Nick thought for just a moment before saying, “I’m sorry. I don’t know what got into me. I believe you. How can I not?”

            “It’s cool.” I say, “So now we need to figure out our next move.”

            “I’m with you guys I guess.” Nick says, “I’ve seen Allison play soccer. I totally believe she’s psychic.”

            “She isn’t all that.” Katie says, “She’s pretty much cheating. It’s not fair.”

            It seems Katie sees an opportunity to unseat Allison as the s**t on the soccer field. I don’t have time for pettiness, “Here’s what I say we do.”

            I’m about to explain my plan when Nick gets all fidgety and starts checking his pockets. He withdraws a vibrating cellular phone. It doesn’t seem Nick recognizes the number on the caller ID. He answers, “Hello.” He listens, “I’m sorry? I’m not sure what you’re talking about.” He listens a bit more, “Oh, OK, hold on.” He holds the phone out to me, “Um, it’s for you.”

            I take the phone. I place it to my ear and say, “Hello.”

            “You’re in the wrong room Scott.” Allison Banner says, “You’re supposed to be in Mrs. Terry’s room.”

            “I was.” I tell her, “Nobodies in there. We’re right next door.”

            “I know where you are.” Allison says, “You’re in the wrong room. You need to go to Mrs. Terry’s room.”

            “I just told you we went there and nobody was there.” I remind her.

            “I don’t recall ever saying anyone would be there.” Allison says, “I believe I just told you to go there.”

            “And that’s what I did.” I tell her, “Now we’re moving on to what’s next.”

            “You don’t even know what’s next.” Allison tells me, “Go to Mrs. Terry’s room now.”

            She doesn’t wait for me to respond. She just hangs up. I return Nick’s phone to him. I have to listen to her but I don’t know what good it will do. I say, “We need to go back to Mrs. Terry’s room I guess.”

            Nobody protests. We return through the door into Mrs. Terry’s room. It looks no different than when we left. Though, leaving the room had softened the sound of those things pounding on the door. I forgot just how loud, and how annoying, that ceaseless pounding is. I scan the entire room looking for anything I may have missed the first time. I see nothing. I continue looking around. I’m starting to get frustrated.

            “Was that here before?” Melissa says, “I don’t remember that being here before.”

            I turn to see her standing near the middle of the room pointing at a desk. I follow her finger to a desk near the center of the room. Something is on top of it. That something was most certainly not there before. Nobody would have missed that. A small stand holds a small stone not much larger than an egg. It appears to be perfectly circular. It has a cloudy light gray, maybe slightly bluish, hue.

            I walk slowly towards the object. The closer I get the warmer I feel. It’s not like a fever or anything like that. It’s a pleasant warming. Like the feeling you get in your belly when you drink a cup of cocoa on a cold winter night. As I reach for the stone I feel more at home than any time in my life. More than I’d ever felt in my own house. More than any kid should feel at home in a school.

            I close my fingers around the object. It feels cold. I lift it from its perch. Something happens before me. Reality seems to ripple. It rips. It rights itself but now something is standing before me. It looks like a man but some of it is wrong. The nose is misshapen. The ears are as well. It doesn’t matter. I know his name. Caleb, his name is Caleb. “Hello Caleb.” I can speak to him.

            He hears, “Hello Scott.”

            I feel intoxicated. Caleb seems to glow. I ask, “Why am I here Caleb?”

            “You are here for the orb.” Caleb says.

            I don’t fully understand, “The orb?”

            “The orb you hold in your hand.” Caleb says, “You are here for that orb.”

            “Why did I have to come here?” I say, “I already had the orb at school.”

            “You still are at school Scott.” Caleb says before motioning for me to look about.

            I do so slowly. My head rocks on my shoulders as if I’m drunk. I see Melissa. I see Katie. I see Nick. It seems they see me. They look concerned. I don’t really care. I don’t want to talk to them right now. I want to talk to Caleb. It takes me a few seconds to turn my head back toward him. When I do, I feel more alive than I ever have. Caleb is wonderful. I say, “It would appear that I am.”

            “In front of the school is a car.” Caleb points in the direction of the band room, “The keys are in the ignition.”

            I look where Caleb is pointing. I see a car sitting in front of the school. Someone must have pulled up when this all started and abandoned it, or got killed before they could get away. I can see the car as if I am looking out a window in the closest room to it. I see the immediate area of the bus loading zone around the car. I then see the walls of Mrs. Terry’s room. It’s like a funky invisible TV set. I like this.

            I slowly turn back to Caleb and he goes on, “Take the orb to that car. Drive where the orb takes you. Use it. You must do this, and soon.”

            “It’s kind of dangerous between here and that car.” I say, “How do you suggest I get there?”

            “Your friends and the orb will get you there.” Caleb says.

            I only have one question so I ask it, “What’s the orb called?”

            Caleb looks confused. I’ve upset him. I feel awful. He says, “I’m sorry, called?”

            “The orb,” I say, “what’s its name?”

            “Why would anyone name an orb?” Caleb says, “It’s just an orb. What use does it have for a name?”

            “Like the Orb of Power or Orb of Binding or something like that.” I say, “I thought all orbs have names like that.”

            “It’s just an orb.” Caleb says, “There’s no reason for it to have a name. It’s just an orb.”

            “OK.” I say, “I’m sorry Caleb. I didn’t mean to upset you.”

            Caleb chuckles. It makes me feel good. He says, “I’m not upset. I just didn’t understand your question. I have to go now. Do you remember what to do?”

            I nod slowly as I say, “Yes, I take the orb to the car and drive where it takes me. Then I use it.”

            “Good.” Caleb says, “Go now and prepare your troops, but hurry. You must hurry.”

            “OK Caleb.” I say, “It was nice seeing you again.”

            “You too.” Caleb says.

            Caleb is gone. Everything is back to normal. I’ve never seen him before then. Why did I say nice seeing you again? Nick says, “Dude, what the f**k is wrong with you?”

            I don’t feel intoxicated at all anymore. I don’t feel warm either. I just feel normal. I turn to Nick much more quickly than when I last looked at him. I say, “I’m fine why?”

            “You were just standing there.” Melissa says.

            “Yeah.” Katie adds, “And you were talking to yourself but you weren’t making any sound.”

            “You looked like you were drunk.” Nick says.

            “I was talking to Caleb.” I tell them.

            They look confused. Melissa asks, “Who is Caleb?”

            “I don’t know.” I say, “That’s the first time I ever saw him. I said nice seeing you again for some reason.”

            Nick comes over and starts prodding at my face and looking into my eyes. He says, “Are you feeling alright? Maybe you should put that rock down. It might be dangerous.”

            “I need the orb.” I tell him, “I have to take it to the car out front.”

            “There’s a car?” Katie says.

            I nod as Nick says, “What about what Jake Grane told you guys about the things in the parking lot?”

            “This one isn’t in the parking lot.” I tell him, “It’s in the bus loading zone. The keys are in the ignition. We just get in and go.”

            “Go where?” Melissa asks.

            I answer, “Where it takes us.”

            Melissa isn’t satisfied, “Where what takes us? The car?”

            “No.” I tell her, “Where the orb takes us.”

            “That’s all?” She says, “We go to some car and go where the orb takes us? We’re supposed to follow that?”

            “That’s not all.” I inform her, “After it takes us there we use the orb.”

            Melissa starts laughing. She seems unable to stop. It seems to rile up the things outside; they starting hooting and pounding harder. She still laughs. She says, “You know what. I’m in. Scott, whatever you say, I’m just doing it.”

            “Melissa, I’m only telling you what he told me.” I say, “I wish I knew more.”

            “I’m fine.” Melissa chirps, “Just tell me what to do.”

            “I’ve got a few ideas actually.” I tell them, “We bolt straight down the hall here, out the front door and along the bus zone to the car. We can cut across the lunchroom and head for the main doors then out to the car. Or I have one more idea that might be a bit crazy. We all setup in different rooms starting at the opposite end of the hall. Me and Katie would be closest to Mrs. Terry’s room since we’re the fastest. We all bolt and split up at the lunchroom. Each one of us takes a different route and we meet at the car. We can split them up a bit and maybe get away easier once we get there.”

            “That’s nuts!” Katie declares, “They could pick us off easy that way. Or what if one of us gets to the car before the other ones? They just hope those things don’t rip the car apart before everyone else arrives? What if someone gets killed? Do we just wait until everyone’s there? If they died, then we end up dead!”

            Everyone else agrees with Katie. I think I agree with her too. We decide to bolt straight down the halls and out the doors on this side of the school. We’ll have to cover a lot of ground outside in the unknown, but the more open area is probably safer than moving through the school. We’ll leave from the room farthest from Mrs. Terry’s room. Nick suggests one of us stay in Mrs. Terry’s room and make a bunch of noise to rile the things up and attract any stragglers. That’s a good idea. Katie volunteers and we all agree since she is the fastest.

            Everyone says a quiet prayer before we separate. Katie remains near the door in Mrs. Terry’s room. We make our way through the rooms toward the opposite end. I stand against the door ready to release the lock and pull the door open as soon as Katie enters this room. I watch the clock. She is to begin making noise in less than two minutes. I keep watching the clock anxiously.

            “Scott.” I can hardly hear it at first, “Psst, Scott.” I look around but nobody else appears to hear it. I realize it’s coming from outside the door, “Do you think that stupid girl can keep all these doors sealed Scott? Do you really think you can lead your friends to safety? Do you really think you can stop us? You can’t even keep us out.”

            I shriek in pain as the door swings open knocking my hand away. It slams hard against the wall. From the sound of things every door along this hallway opened just as swiftly at the same time. It’s one of the tall skinny demon things. It stands right outside the door. It wears tattered black robes with a hood. Its head is humanlike, but the flesh is gray and it is elongated as if God grabbed a person’s chin and their hair and pulled up and down. It’s tall, maybe eight and a half feet. It carries a jagged wood staff. It smiles at me.

            We all run towards the far corner. When we reach the door to the next class I see Katie running towards us. We meet near the center and turn towards the hallway door. We pass through it. The tall demon thing appears to be the only creature ahead of us. Behind us are too many of the large hulking things to count. We run towards the tall demon thing. It reaches out, but we evade its grasp. It shrieks. I glance back. The demon is moving slowly forward. The hulking things move more quickly. That’s helpful.

            Katie shrieking sure doesn’t help. I look forward once more to see her tumbling to the ground. Something is clenching her leg and biting into her thigh. I run forward and kick the short fat scaly thing off her. It cries out in pain as it soars through the air and smacks into a wall. It falls motionless. I pull Katie up but she urges me to leave her behind. I refuse. I lift her over my shoulders and run forward.

            I stop when I hear Melissa shout, “Guys I’ll get the orb out of here!”

I look back. She is at the end of the hall still in the lunchroom. Nick calls to here, “Come on Melissa it’s not that far.”

She yells, “I have to get the orb out of here!”

            Before any of us can respond, she turns and disappears from sight. We shout for her before I realize what she has just done. The tall demon thing waves for the hulking things to follow Melissa. It leers at me momentarily before also taking off after her. Melissa had drawn all our pursuers away. I make a quick decision, “Quick, into Ms. Flannery’s room.”

            Ms. Flannery teaches math in a room on the opposite end of the school from Mrs. Terry’s room. I set Katie down and check her leg. The wound is pretty bad. It will slow us down for sure. I tear some strips from a shirt in Ms. Flannery’s desk and quickly tie them around her thigh. Katie stands and walks a bit. It clearly hurts. Running may not be an option. She insists it is. I won’t leave her behind anyway.

            I lay out my amended plan, “Melissa may have made this easier for us but we still need to hurry. If they catch her, they’ll realize she doesn’t actually have the orb pretty quickly. So we need to hit that door and run. If you see any things out there just give them a wide berth. Go around them. They’re slower than us. Katie, are you sure you can run?”

            She jogs in place for a moment. She winces with every step. She tells me, “It hurts like hell, but I can push through it.”

            “I’m with you man.” Nick says.

             We move towards the door. I open it and check the hall. It’s still empty. They probably haven’t caught Melissa yet. I step out and move quickly towards the doors leading outside. I can see a few of the hulking things outside far off in the distance but none that present any immediate danger. Unfortunately, most of the area we need to run through is blocked from this vantage point. I look at my two companions reassuringly and ask, “You guy’s ready?”

            Katie nods as Nick says, “Let’s do this!”

            We each push open a door and run outside. Immediately to my left I hear a shriek. I turn to see six of the hulking things just ten yards away. No matter. We ignore them and keep running forward. Once the school is no longer obscuring our view I turn right. I can see the car some 150 yards or so ahead of us. There are hundreds of hulking things out here. There are dozens of the tall skinny demon things too. Thankfully, I can’t see any of those short fat scaly things. There’s no giving anything a wide berth. They are too spread out. We must run right through them.

            Katie keeps pace with me, unable to move any faster. Nick falls slightly behind. I yell for him to keep up without turning back. I don’t know what causes him to shriek. I dare look back only a second to see him gone and replaced by about fifteen hulking things. There are about twenty hulking things and two skinny demon things between Katie and me and the car. The gaps between them range from five to twenty feet. I pick a gap, Katie picks a gap, and we sprint towards them.

            Katie makes it past three or four hulking creatures before one of the tall skinny demon things trips her with his staff. He impales her with it and turns his attention to me. I make it to within fifty yards of the car when one of those short fat scaly things leaps from somewhere at my side and strikes my upper arm. The force of the blow makes me lose my balance. I stumble, but I don’t fall. It doesn’t matter. That’s all they needed. I feel a warmth in my pocket as one of the hulking thing’s hand squeezes my neck.

            Katie nods as Nick says, “Let’s do this!”

            We each push open a door and run outside. Immediately to my left I hear a shriek. I turn to see six of the hulking things just ten yards away. No matter. We ignore them and keep running forward. Once the school is no longer obscuring our view I turn right. I can see the car some 150 yards or so ahead of us. There are hundreds of hulking things out here. There are dozens of the tall skinny demon things too. Thankfully, I can’t see any of those short fat scaly things. There’s no giving anything a wide berth. They are too spread out. We must run right through them.

            “Stick together!” I shout.

            We move towards the wave of creatures. Katie falls behind, the wound is too much for her to handle. Nick keeps pace. I look back in time to see Katie fall victim to a hulking thing. It catches up to her and grabs her by the top of the head. The strength in one of its hands alone is enough to stop Katie’s body causing her feet to fly out from beneath her. It wastes little time stomping her head to mush before returning to pursuing Nick and I.

            There isn’t much room to move here. I have to swerve, bob, and weave. I have to fight off outstretched arms. I occasionally duck and roll along the ground to pass between two hulking things. I never knew I could move like this. Nick has pulled ahead of me. He isn’t ahead long when he collides with one of the tall skinny demon things. They both fall to the ground. Nick regains his footing quickly holding the demon thing’s staff. He stabs the thing and shrieks as I catch up to him.

We are only seventy yards from the car now and things are looking grim. Nearly twenty hulking things ahead of us have created a tight line with no gaps. They are moving towards us at a brisk pace. Nick howls like an animal and sprints ahead of me. I run faster but I can’t keep up. He runs directly ahead of me holding the demons staff like a jousting spear. He howls once more as the staff meets a hulking things chest. The things momentum carries it forward stabbing the staff deeper into him. Its body falls forward onto Nick, most likely crushing him.

            I don’t have time to check on him. Nick has created an opening in the wall of hulking things. I leap the dead one and run over its back. The coast ahead is clear. Many of the hulking things pursuing me from behind collide with the wall of things that attempted to stop us from the front. There are plenty more now streaming at me from the sides.

            I reach the car. I pull the handle but my fingers slip off without opening the door. I try again and the door pulls open. I step in. I’m too late. I feel a strange warming in my pocket. I hear a staff cutting through the air directly to the right of my head.

            Katie nods as Nick says, “Let’s do this!”

            We each push a door open. Thankfully, the area directly outside the door is devoid of any monstrous creatures. The ones I can see in the distance don’t seem to have noticed us yet. As soon as we reach the point where the school no longer obscures our view of the loading zone my spirits sink. Melissa is being torn apart by one of the hulking things. It stands before a group of fifty or more hulking things and four tall demon things looking on intently. It rips through her clothing. It finds nothing. It begins tearing her flesh away to sift through her innards. One of the tall demon things stops him and lets out a high-pitched wail. Then, it looks right at me. It points.

            The entire hoard moves toward the three of us. “Split up!” I yell.

Nick runs away from them to my left. Katie heads the opposite direction. I run right at them. I’m not going down without a fight. I howl.

“The orb.” A female voice says in my head moments before I reach the hoard.

            I don’t have time to listen. I howl once more, clench my fists, and throw myself at one of the hulking things. My boldness catches it off-guard so it falls to the ground. I remain on top of it pounding down with my fists. Another hulking thing grabs me by the left shoulder. Another one grabs my right arm. They pull. I shriek. I feel something warm in my pocket. They keep pulling. I can’t punch anymore. I howl once more.

            Katie nods as Nick says, “Let’s do this!”

            I hold my hand up, “Hang on a second.”

            “What is it?” Katie asks.

            “I don’t know.” I try to explain, “It’s something about the orb. I just suddenly remembered someone saying, ‘the orb.’”

            Katie suggests, “You’re just remembering Caleb. Maybe you’re worried about Melissa too. You’ve heard people say, ‘the orb,’ a bunch of times since we found it.”

            “This is different.” I say, “It came from nowhere. I was all ready to go. I’m thinking about nothing but the task at hand. Then as Nick says, ‘let’s do this,’ I just suddenly hear some girl voice saying, ‘the orb.’ It’s weird.” I reach into my pocket and withdraw the orb. I turn it around in my hand. I can’t figure anything out to do with it but I decide to hold onto it instead of leave it in my pocket. I say, “OK, let’s go.”

            We each push open a door. We run a few feet before I hear a high-pitched shriek to my left. One of the tall skinny demon things is just two feet away. I thrust kick it as hard as I can. It stumbles back as I yell, “Go!”

            We pass the last point of the school and the bus loading zone and teacher parking lot opens up for us to see. We turn right. We all halt. Hundreds of hulking things fill the area between us and where the car is supposed to be. There are so many of them I can’t even see through them to be sure the car is there. I yell, “The other way.”

            We all turn 180º and begin running. The tall demon thing I had knocked over is looking pretty angry. “The orb.” I hear a female voice in my head.

            I hold the orb out in front of me. I point it at the tall demon thing. I thrust it forward. Nothing happens. I wish for it to destroy the demon thing. Nothing happens. I give up and tuck my shoulder. The tall demon thing seems to lack balance. I knock it out of my path. I stumble, but I don’t fall. Katie and Nick pull ahead of me. We turn and head toward the student parking lot. There are a few scattered hulking things before us. I try the orb again. Nothing happens. I point it at a hulking thing. I thrust it forward. The hulking thing leaves the ground as if hit by a speeding train. It soars through the air some thirty feet before crashing back down. It appears incapacitated. I remark, “F*****g awesome.”

            I try the orb on another hulking thing blocking our path. Nothing happens. I keep trying. Nothing keeps happening. Katie realizes the beast isn’t leaving our path and attempts to change her trajectory. It’s too late. The thing catches her and quickly dispatches her via neck-breaking. Nick and I are able to amend our trajectories successfully. We move around the thing. It does manage to tear away a bit of my shirt sleeve.

            We reach the student parking lot and turn left. Things are everywhere but most are away from the building. We have a fairly clear path along the back of the school. As we near the corner to turn left the orb warms in my hand. We turn the corner.

            Katie nods as Nick says, “Let’s do this!”

            I motion for them to wait. I keep hearing a woman’s voice in my head saying, “The orb.”

            I pull the orb from my pocket and look it over. I decide to keep it in my hand. I look to my cohorts and nod. We each push through a door and step outside. No things greet us as we exit the building. The things we can see in the distance remain in the distance seemingly unaware of our movements. I hold my arms out at my side to stop my companions as we shuffle along the school’s outer wall (a classroom with a seemingly useless little courtyard attached to it bulges out from the front of the school next to the exit we used).

I whisper, “All right, when I say go we run.” I pause to look at the orb in my hand. I might drop it. I put it in my pocket before I say, “Go!”

            I turn the corner and sprint. The entire loading zone and teacher parking lot is clear. However, standing on the road across the lot from the front of the school about halfway between the car and me is a pack of hulking things sixty-strong. They see the three of us immediately. Some take an angle towards the car. They are apparently the smartest of the bunch. Some take an angle towards us. They are the dumbest ones. Most run straight ahead at what would be the middle of our path. They are the vaunted moderate middle.

            Though the things are closer to our path than we are to the car, we have the speed advantage. The things that took the intelligent pursuit angle will likely erase most of that advantage. There’s no strategy for us here. It’s just run as fast as you can and hope to get to the car before they get to us. We remain close together after 50 yards. We’ve already left the group that took the worst angle behind. Some of them fall over as they rather comically attempt to stop and change direction.

            After 75 yards the middle group realizes their mistake. They have an easier time adjusting course, but it’s futile. The only group with a chance to get us is the smart one. They are right where they need to be. With 60 yards left Katie pulls ahead. Nick falls behind. I check the smartest pursuers. I’m forced to write Nick off. With 40 yards to go I realize the things are ahead. They’ll reach the car the same time Katie does at our current pace.

            I reach down for everything I’ve got. I pump my legs as hard as I can. I slowly begin closing the gap with Katie. 30 yards to go and we’re still not fast enough. I exhaust the last of my energy to catch up with Katie. 20 yards to go and she’s nearly within my reach. 15 yards now and the things are almost upon us. I place both my hands on Katie’s back. With all my might I dive forward and shove her. I fall to the ground. She bursts forward almost slamming into the card with merely 8 yards between her and the things.

            She pulls the door open and slams it shut. They reach the car and begin pawing at the roof. A group of them surrounds me. I feel them pawing me like that car. One rips my arm free of my body. The pain is so bad I can’t even feel it. I feel a warm sensation in my pocket. There goes one of my legs. I hear the car start.

            Katie nods as Nick says, “Let’s do this thing!”

             We each push open a door and run outside. Immediately to my left I hear a shriek. I turn to see six of the hulking things just ten yards away. No matter. We ignore them and keep running forward. Once the school is no longer obscuring our view I turn right. I can see the car some 150 yards or so ahead of us. There are hundreds of hulking things out here. There are dozens of the tall skinny demon things too. Thankfully, I can’t see any of those short fat scaly things. There’s no giving anything a wide berth. They are too spread out. We must run right through them.

            “The orb.” It’s not someone speaking exactly. It’s more like a memory of someone speaking. A female voice simply saying, “The orb.”

            I can’t remember ever hearing that voice saying those words. I don’t know when it happened. I can just remember those words in that voice. It slows me down a step but I withdraw the orb from my pocket. I hold it out in front of me at the salivating things blocking our path. I thrust it forward. Nothing happens. I try again. Again, nothing happens. I’m frustrated. The orb feels warm in my hand. I hurl it at the heart of the things. I hear a clink as it hits the ground. I hear a loud rumble that lasts merely a second. I hear that female voice in my head, “You focus!”

            Katie nods as Nick says, “Let’s do this thing!”

             We each push open a door and run outside. Immediately to my left I hear a shriek. I turn to see six of the hulking things just ten yards away. No matter. We ignore them and keep running forward. Once the school is no longer obscuring our view I turn right. I can see the car some 150 yards or so ahead of us. There are hundreds of hulking things out here. There are dozens of the tall skinny demon things too. Thankfully, I can’t see any of those short fat scaly things. There’s no giving anything a wide berth. They are too spread out. We must run right through them.

            “The orb.” It’s not someone speaking exactly. It’s more like a memory of someone speaking. A female voicing simply saying, “The orb.”

            I can’t remember ever hearing that voice saying those words. I don’t know when it happened. I can just remember those words in that voice. It slows me down a step but I withdraw the orb from my pocket. I hold it out in front of me at the salivating things blocking our path. I thrust it forward. Nothing happens. I try again. Again, nothing happens. I’m frustrated. I remember that same female voice once again. It’s saying something different. It says, “You focus!”

            I stop running. I hold the orb out before me. The muscles on my face tighten. It begins turning red. Already sweaty, I’m suddenly soaked with the stuff. I’m clutching the orb so tightly my entire arm shakes. The things are moving towards Katie and Nick. They don’t know I’ve stopped. The things are within 15 yards of them. I cry out, “NO!”

            The six or seven things closest to Katie and Nick soar into the air clearing a path. I begin running forward. The gap has already closed as more hulking things converge on my two companions. I stop once more. I hold the orb out before me. Ten more things are sent flying out of our path. I move forward again. Nick and Katie reach the car. They climb in safely. Things are moving to surround the car. I’ve still got 20 yards to go. I stop and hold the orb out once again. Things go sailing away from the car in all directions. I’ve taken too much time.

            Katie starts the engine. She meets my eyes. My god, her face reveals so much fear. It’s with good reason. I feel those big strong beast hands on my shoulder. Another hand grabs my outstretched arm. Katie puts the car in gear and steers towards me. I feel a warming sensation in my hand. Something howls behind me. I hear something cutting swiftly through the air.

            Katie nods as Nick says, “Let’s do this!”

            “I have to focus.” I say mostly to myself, “The orb, I have to focus.”

            “Umm, what are you talking about?” Katie says.

            She’s ready to go. Nick’s ready to go. I’m mumbling to myself about focus. I work as a busboy at a family style restaurant. We have to take water and silverware to people when they sit down. In order to do this in an efficient fashion we prepare sets of silverware and fill a bunch of water glasses. We call it Focus. When the dinner rush is approaching you do your Focus. You get your waters and silverwares ready to go. This has nothing to do with that.

            I have this strange memory of a woman telling me to use the orb and to focus. I don’t know where it comes from. I just, remember it. Katie and Nick are getting anxious. She says, “Are we going to do this?”

            I withdraw the orb from my pocket. I look it over in my hand. I say a quick prayer. I nod. We go. Each one of us pushes open a door and we spill out into the chilly reddened day. Some hulking things immediately to our left greet us as we exit the school. With determination like nothing I’ve ever felt I hold the orb towards them. I hardly break stride. My body seems on autopilot as all my attention focuses on the orb and those hulking things. They don’t move towards us. They turn and run away.

            I don’t smile. I don’t gloat. I don’t shout to my companions, “Did you guys see that s**t?”

            I look back in the direction I’m heading. I continue running. We pass the room jutting out of the front of the school that is attached to some pointless little courtyard. I don’t even know what classes they have in that room. I’ve never seen any students inside. I’ve never even seen a student or teacher pass through its door. I think I saw a janitor go in there once.

            The bus loading zone and teacher parking lot look like a Civil War battlefield or something. Row after row of hulking things blocks our path. Mixed in are some of the tall skinny demon things. They move forward toward us maintaining their ranks. I shout to my friends, “Straight at them!”

            We sprint towards them. I aim the orb ahead of Katie. I focus. As if they stepped on a mine beasts in the first row are thrown into the air. They tumble to ground taking out their fellow creatures in other ranks. I switch my aim to Nick’s path clearing a similar hole. With merely 10 yards to spare, I open one for myself. It’s only a small respite before the holes bottleneck closed. I orb another opening for Katie. I open one more for Nick. I’m only feet from the things closing on me. The orb clears them away.

            Katie has merely ten yards of space when I open her next hole. Nick hardly has five. I have no time. Before I turn away from Nick’s path I collide with a hulking thing. We both fall to the ground. It seems more surprised by the collision than I am. I get to my feet first but it’s no good. Another thing has grabbed me from behind. I can’t see Nick or Katie anymore. I think I hear Nick, shrieking.

            The hands release me. I turn to see Nick letting go of one of the tall demon’s staffs. He had plunged it into my captor. We begin running together. I use the orb to clear our path. Katie is nearly at the car. She’s stopped. Three hulking things block her way. She stares at them defiantly just like the one that grabbed me on the way to the band room. That seems like it happened longer ago than it did.

            I use the orb to clear them from her path. She reaches the car and climbs in the driver’s seat. Nick and I still have twenty yards to go. Things are closing in on us from all around. I point the orb at the closest ones sending a number of them soaring through the air. From the hole they created hundreds of short fat scaly things come pouring out. I try the orb. It sends a bunch of them into the sky. It hardly makes a dent in their ranks. They are so fast and so strong in number that the orb is suddenly useless. It’s just a sprint now.

            I reach the car first. I slide over the hood and enter the front passenger seat. Short fat scaly things are nipping Nick’s calves has he reaches the back driver’s side door. I use the orb once more clearing the nearest creatures from him. He climbs in the back. Kate puts the car in gear. I hear a window shatter. Katie goes. Nick goes out the window. There’s nothing I can do. It’s just the two of us now.

            Katie swerves through hulking things while running over short fat scaly things. She strikes a tall skinny demon thing head on. The car wins that battle. She swerves around another hulking thing right into the path of a hulking thing. The car won’t win that battle. She hits the brakes hard. It swings its fists down but she has already turned. It misses. Their numbers thin as we continue swerving our way to the road. There are none in the road. In all the parking lots we see near the school are hundreds of things. Mostly hulking, followed by tall skinny demon, but not too many short fat scaly away from the school.

            They clearly notice us as we drive by. None of them bother trying to intercept us. Whether they find the victims they currently stalk more appealing or they have learned they’re too slow to catch a car I don’t know. I don’t really care. I’m just happy to have a moment’s peace. I quickly grow unhappy. I remember we lost Nick. He couldn’t have survived whatever happened to him. Thankfully, Katie interrupts my mourning, “So where now?”

            I respond, “Where the orb takes us.”

            “It’s not really doing anything.” She tells me, “I’m not feeling anything either. I don’t feel guided or anything like that.”

            “I don’t feel anything either.” I say, “I’m not sure how this works. Try holding it.”

            I hand Katie the orb. She holds it. She still feels nothing. It still does nothing. She returns it to me. The car has a GPS navigator. It turns on. Nobody turned it on. “Turn right.” It croaks.

            Katie turns right. The GPS navigator turns off. “Is it broken now?” Katie asks, “Are you focusing or whatever.”

            “I wasn’t focusing before.” I inform her, “I haven’t been focused since you hit the gas. That just happened.”

            The GPS unit lights up once more, “Turn left three hundred feet.”

            It promptly turns back off. We are still moving along main roads. It gives us a good view of the carnage’s reach. Every business we pass. Every neighborhood we pass. We see creatures. “Turn right one hundred feet.” The GPS behaves just as it did before.

            The businesses begin to wane. Neighborhoods take over. Soon, neighborhoods begin to wane. Houses grow larger but less dense. Their numbers dwindle. The number of evil things we see wanes as well. They seem concentrated in neighborhoods, towns, and cities. “Turn right.” This GPS unit is excellent at power conservation.

            Trees begin replacing the houses. Soon we don’t see a house for a mile; only thick forest. The road continues stretching ahead of us. We don’t see any things in the forest. “I have to pee.” Katie declares.

            I tell her, “I don’t know how safe it is to stop here.”

            She’s insists, “I really really have to pee.”

            It’s been at least ten minutes since we’ve seen a single evil creature. I tell her to pull over but I do demand that she hold it a little longer. We can’t leave the side of the car until we scan the area. It seems safe. Now I have to pee. Katie wants to cross to the other side of the road from where I pee. I refuse. I tell her to stay as close as possible but still where she won’t be seen. She says, “I don’t want you to hear!”

            “I’ve heard what peeing sounds like before Katie.” I say, “It’s not going to bother me.”

            She grumbles, but agrees. I set out to relieve myself. Now I’m worried about her hearing. It won’t happen. Now I hear something. It sounds like a snapping twig. I hear another. Something is coming towards us. Katie doesn’t seem to hear it. I make a soft sound to get her attention. She pops her head out from around a tree. She starts to speak but stops when she sees my finger over my lips.

            I cup my hand to my ear signaling her to listen. I hear more snapping sounds. Katie hears them too this time. It’s getting close. I hear something else now. It sounds like, whispers. I can’t be sure it’s people. I stand silent. The whispers get closer. I begin to understand, “I swear I saw a car.”

            Another voice, “Are you sure? Was it people driving? It could be those monsters.”

            The first voice, “Those big things can’t fit in that car.”

            Voice two, “Them little ones can.”

            The first, “You think them little ones can drive a car.”

            They’re only feet from me now. I leap forward shrieking. Two scared men in their thirties cry out in distress and stumble back from me. They’re dressed in hunting attire. Upon realizing they are human I apologize for startling them. They accept my apology. Katie calls over, “What’s going on? Did you scare it away or something?”

            “It’s OK.” I tell her, “It’s people.”

            Katie picks a bad time for a joke. The two men and I still can’t see her. Some brush and tree branches block her from our view. She ducks down in that brush and starts pushing through. In a deep voice she chuckles, “People, I love eating people.”

            The two men’s faces turn a sickly shade of grey as they wait for what they think must be a giant hulking monster. Both stumble backwards in fear when she leaps out of the brush yelling, “Boo!”

            Normally, everyone would have a good laugh about this. However, this is no normal time. Katie feels bad immediately. She apologizes to the men. I apologize again. Poor guys have had their wits frightened out of them twice since meeting us. After our repeated apologies and the men’s assurances that no harm was done one of them asks, “Were you the ones in that car we saw?”

            “Probably.” I say, “We haven’t seen anyone else on the road.”

            “Is it the same everywhere?” The other man asks.

            “As far as we can tell.” Katie answers.

            “I’m Scott by the way.” I say, “This is Katie.”

            We all shake hands as the first man says, “My name’s Earl. This is my partner Chip.”

            Earl is a bit taller than Chip. Chip has more hair than Earl. Other than that, they are dressed the same. Chip tells us, “We got a little cabin in these woods. We come out here all the time. Today, we saw on the news the first reports that people are seeing creatures. Then reports about some deaths. That’s when the news cut off. Some people from town started showing up. They tell us all kinds of crazy stories. Not too many people though. We find them on the road and bring them to the cabin. Haven’t been any for a good while though.”

            “How many people do you have there now?” Katie asks.

            “There’s seven others beside us.” Earl answers, “We don’t have much to offer in terms of hospitality but we’ve been safe so far. We haven’t seen any creatures out here.”

            Chip adds, “Y’all are welcome to join us.”

            I say, “I don’t know. We’re kind of in the middle of something important.” I decide it’s best to keep the nature of our mission secret, “We really should get back on the road.”

            Katie’s stomach growls, “I’m really hungry. Maybe they have some food.”

            “Not much.” Chip says, “But I’m sure we can whip up a good snack.”

            “I really don’t think we have time.” I protest.

            Katie’s stomach continues growling, “Come on. Is a half-hour going to make that much of a difference? We don’t even know how long it will take us to get where we’re going. It’s not like we’ve been doing anything quickly today anyway. Other than running. I don’t think a little more time is going to hurt.”

            I don’t feel like arguing with her. She’s probably right anyway. Besides, now I’m getting hungry. I agree to stop for a quick meal. Earl and Chip accompany us back to the car. They ride in back while giving us directions to the cabin. It only takes a few minutes to arrive. The people in the cabin flood out the door to greet us. One of them is Melissa Manchin.

            While Earl and Chip prepare some lunch Melissa fills us in on how she got here, “Those things chased me through the lunchroom then I ran back toward the gym. I ran out the back door and a bunch of those things were in the student parking lot. I was pretty much done with everything at that point so I just kept on running. I managed to get around them. I ran for like a mile dodging things. I get downtown and I see this couple in a car.”

            She points to a man and a woman in their twenties. The man introduces himself and his girlfriend before Melissa continues, “They were driving through town. They stop to let me in and we barely get going again before we’re swarmed. We end up driving out of town out into these woods. Earl and Chip stepped out from the side and flagged us down. They led us hear. We’re the last ones that came. Until you guys of course.”

            I feel overwhelmed with gratitude. Not just for Melissa saving my life, but also for god or whatever saving hers. I rush over and embrace her, “Thank you,” I say, “thank you so much. You saved my life.”

            Katie’s eyes fill with tears. She nearly sobs as she joins our hug. She thanks Melissa. I continue thanking Melissa. Melissa begins to cry. It’s become way too mushy for my usual tastes. I don’t care. I’d felt very little emotion since this all began. I guess my newfound purpose can’t eliminate it all. It’s as if all the sadness of the day and all the brief moments of joy picked this very moment to overcome me. I think I need this.

            We begin to compose ourselves and break our embrace. The moment must have been quite touching. I see Chip wiping away a tear before picking up two plates. He says, “Come you guys. Sit down. Have some food.”

            Katie, Melissa and I join Chip and Earl at their small table. The others in the room dine wherever they can find a seat. Few words are said. Once the meal is finished Katie and I quickly stand to excuse ourselves. I say, “I’m sorry to eat and run but we really do need to get back on the road.”

            “I’m coming with you.” Melissa declares.

            I shake my head, “You’ve done enough already Melissa. You stay here. It’s safe here.”

            “Nowhere is safe if this doesn’t stop.” Melissa says, “I’m part of this. Remember what Allison said? I’m going.”

            She’s right. She is part of this. She’s a huge part of this. Without her, we never would have gotten nearly this far. We probably would have died in the hall after leaving Mrs. Terry’s room. Melissa belongs with us. Melissa Manchin, the shyest girl in school, is my hero.

            Our group once again a trio, we set out from Earl and Chip’s place. Those staying behind step outside to wave us on our way. We return to the spot where we originally stopped and head back down the road. We drive through woods for twenty minutes before the GPS unit fires up again, “Turn left 100 feet.”

            It turns off just like before. Melissa, a bit surprised by what just happened, says, “Did you guys program that or something?”

            I turn to her and shake my head, “The orb is using it to guide us.”

            “Turn right” The unit says.

            That was quick. We’re now on a dirt road stretching deeper into the woods. We’ve seen no signs of civilization since leaving Earl and Chip’s cabin. “Where do you think we’re going?” Katie asks.

            “I have no idea.” I say, “I’ve never been out this way before.”

            “Me neither.” Melissa adds.

            The unit turns on again, “Turn left 40 feet.” Hardly more than a minute after Katie makes the turn the unit speaks again, “Stop now.”

            Katie follows the instruction. She places the vehicle in park and cuts the engine. The three of us exchange nervous glances before I say, “Well, this must be it.”

            I step out of the car first. Surrounding the dirt road seems to be nothing but woods. The lack of light caused by the reddened sky certainly makes searching the area difficult. Katie and Melissa soon join me. Katie asks, “So where do we go now?”

            I shrug my shoulders and continue looking around. I don’t know how Melissa sees it.  A tiny path cuts through the woods across the road from the car. Only marked by a foot-wide bit of dirt, it seems to be some sort of animal trail or something. It seems we have no other options. We decide to follow the path. Nothing happens to tell us it’s the wrong route. I declare it safe to call it the right way.

            We soon lose sight of the road thanks to the abnormal darkness of the afternoon. We follow the path, me leading the way while Katie stays at the rear, for nearly an hour. We chat the entire time about innocuous stuff. None of us knows one another very well. I’d said maybe five words to Katie before today. I’ve worked in groups with Melissa before. You don’t get to hear much from her in those situations. I sat next to her once. So, I’ve heard her whisper more words to me than I’ve heard Katie say to me before. But, I didn’t learn anything about her during those group sessions. When Melissa does speak at school she never says a single off-topic word.

            A real sense that, good result or bad, this would all be over soon gave us each a slight bit of relief. There’s nothing to plan for. We don’t even know where we are going. We have no idea what we are going to do when we get there. There’s no reason to discuss the previous events of the day. We were all there. We all saw what happened. The only thing left is to wonder which of our loved ones are dead and which are alive. This is no time to be thinking about that.

            So we talk about our favorite music, our favorite movies, our favorite TV shows, and other such small talk classics. We talk about funny things our friends have done. We talk about funny things our pets have done. We talk about funny things we’ve done. Melissa and I talk about sports. Katie talks about soccer. She doesn’t mention Allison Banner. That would just remind us of all that happened back at school. We talk so much I nearly don’t notice when the woods abruptly end.

            I look around. They haven’t ended. We’re in a clearing. The area is large enough to build a small house with a small yard. Maybe you could build a medium house with a very small yard. Either way you probably wouldn’t want to include a garage. Maybe something is wrong with this clearing so they never built a house. The problem could be that the only way to get here is a mostly obscured trail.

            A few small trees have sprung up about the clearing. Plenty of bushes and a few flowers can be seen.  Near the center a hideous looking creature stands. Hardly more than five-feet tall the creature has a humanoid shape. Its skin a darker red than the sky, its eyes a glowing green, its neck can barely be distinguished from its head. Its bony arms are too long for its body. Its thin hands are oddly stretched as well. The untidy nails rarely see a trim. They look like claws, but they are fingernails.

            If it has any hair I can’t tell. It’s wearing a hood. Its black robe is trimmed with detailed golden stitching. The robe is clean and sharp unlike the tattered ones of the tall skinny demon looking things. Its legs are much thicker than its arm. They can be seen from just below the knees. Its toenails are equally as unsightly as its fingernails.

            Some of the creature’s yellow teeth are missing. The remaining ones alternate between pointed and flat. Its mouth is wide, stretching to near each end of its jaw. Its nose is more human like, though it takes up more of the face and the nostrils open forward instead of down on both sides of the bottom. Find a picture of Leonard Ellerbe on the Internet. His nose is just like the creatures, only a bit smaller.

            Katie and Melissa stop upon seeing the creature but I keep moving. They soon rejoin me. The creature stares at us. It does not move to attack. It just stares, and smiles. I stare right back. The scene doesn’t change until we come within just a few feet of the creature.

            “Haha, you’ve come.” The creature speaks with a comical high-pitched British accent, “So good to see you Scott. So good to see you indeed. I wondered when you would come.”

            I say nothing. I reach into my pocket and withdraw the orb. I point it at the creature and focus. I clench, I sweat, I shake, but the creature just chuckles. I thrust my arm at it. Still, it just laughs. It continues laughing until I’m nearly ready to faint. Finally, it speaks once more, “You have an orb, hehehehe, oh goody. Well let’s have it then. Show me what your orb can do.”

            I’m focusing so hard my brain hurts. The creature still just laughs. Frustrated I lower the orb. The creature speaks some more, “Don’t even know what to do with your orb do you?”

            “I was told to bring it here and use it!” I defiantly shout.

            The creature laughs harder, “Then you must have talked to Caleb.” It laughs again, “That’s really too bad.”

            “What are you talking about?” I ask, “How do you know about Caleb?”

            “They have much better ones than him you know.” The creature says, “Much better ones indeed.”

            “Answer me goddamn it!” I shout, “What are you talking about?”

            The creature looks down at its side. It speaks as if there is someone there listening, “Has an orb doesn’t even know what to do with it. Hehehehe. It’s almost too easy these days.”

            I try the orb again. Nothing happens. I shout, “What do I do?”

            “You think I’m going to tell you?” The creature is speaking to me once again.

            “No, I wasn’t talking to you.” I inform it.

            “Oh, I’m hurt.” The creature laughs again, “He doesn’t speak to me.”

            The creature continues laughing as I turn to Katie and Melissa, “What do I do now?”

            They both look terrified. They just shrug their shoulders. Why did I even think they would know what to do? The creature attracts my attention, “They give the boy an orb. They don’t tell them what to do with it. Hehehehe. Sounds like Caleb all right.”

            I demand, “Tell me what you know about Caleb!”

            “He’s not important.” The creature says, “So what will you do? Would you like to die now? You can’t stop this. You don’t even have a clue. Hehehehe. I could just dispatch you quickly. Your wenches too.”

            “I’m no wench!” Katie shouts before turning her attention to me, “Don’t listen to it Scott. You can stop this. You just have to try. Allison told you, you can stop this. She hasn’t been wrong yet!”

            The creature begins laughing harder than ever upon hearing Allison’s name. It says to us, “You listen to the girl? Hehehehe.” It looks back at the invisible thing next to it. It stops laughing and sounds almost mad, “Give the girl the greatest gift a human can get and what does she do with it? She uses it for sport. Makes me sick.” The creature returns its attention to me, “Yes boy, listen to the girl. The girl that plays games with her great power. She said you’re special.”

            “She said I can stop you!” I correct him.

            “Oh and she would know wouldn’t she?” The creature laughs again, “She who can’t even make you remember without killing herself. Hehehehe. She knows, oh yes, she knows all. Hehehehe.”

            “What the hell are you talking about?” I ask.

            The creature stops laughing for a moment and feigns concern, “Oh you don’t know? She tried so hard to make you hear. But she had to make you remember.” It laughs again, “She had to try so hard it killed her!” It laughs a hearty chuckle, “Killed her twice actually.”

            Katie pushes me aside and moves right in front of the creature, “Allison isn’t dead!” She shouts in his face, “Your stupid friends can’t even see her!”

            “Oh I assure you.” The creature tells her, “The girl is dead. Dead as can be.” The creature looks around Katie at me, “Even you couldn’t stop her death.”

            I step forward and pull Katie back. She only puts up a minor struggle. “I don’t believe you.” She shouts at the creature as I pull her back.

            “What reason do I have to lie to you hmmm?” The creature says, “You can’t kill me. Sure, you have an orb, but you don’t even know what to do with it.”

            I say, “Maybe I do.”

            I shout a battle cry and charge the creature. I move only two steps before I stop. I don’t stop intentionally. My body refuses to move any more. My brain tells my legs to charge. My legs say no. The creature just laughs, “That won’t do. That won’t do at all.”

            My body walks backward against my will. It stops next to Katie and Melissa. I can move myself again. I don’t bother moving to attack the creature again. It’s pointless. I turn to Melissa, “What do I do?”

            “What if we all attack?” She suggests, “He can’t stop all three of us.”

            The creature chuckles, “He very well can.”

            Katie says, “The orb. You just have to focus. I know it will work.”

            “I’ve been focusing.” I tell her, “Nothing happened.”

            “Try again!” Katie demands.

            I do. I aim the orb at the creature once more. I concentrate. Nothing seems to happen. I keep concentrating. It’s brief. It only lasts a second, but I notice it. The thing looks quickly down to its side in discomfort. Something’s happening. It quickly tries to act as if nothing happened, “Keep trying boy. If you try hard enough maybe you’ll suddenly know what to do. Hehehehe.”

            The creature can laugh all it wants. I know something’s happening. It looks away again. It looked away longer this time and with a more noticeable wince. The girls saw it too. Melissa cheers, “It’s working Scott! Just keep…”

            My concentration is broken. Melissa has left the ground as if I turned the orb on her. She soars back striking a tree hard. She falls to the ground. I hope she is only unconscious. I turn to Katie. She’s scared. She thinks she’s next. I yell, “Run, get out of here!”

            She doesn’t protest. I hear the creature, “Uh uh uh, where are you going my dear.”

            I turn to see Katie. She stopped midstride. It froze her body like it did mine. At least she can’t see if I’m about to fail. I turn my attention back to the creature. It’s still smiling at me and laughing. I say, “Now you’re laughing, but I know this is working. I know you’re scared.”

            It laughs harder than any time yet, “Scared? He thinks I’m scared. Hehehehe. No silly boy, I’m not scared. You hurt me, but you still don’t know what you’re doing. But go ahead try again. We’ll see what happens. Be careful though, you don’t get any do-overs this time.”

            “What are you talking about do-overs?” I ask.

            “He doesn’t know?” The creature responds, “Of course he doesn’t. The power of the orb isn’t unlimited boy. It only has so much before it becomes a useless hunk of stone. You probably used it all with those do-overs. That’s what killed the girl. If you’d got it right the first time she’d still be alive. I’d be gone. This would be over. You wouldn’t even need to know what to do with the orb. It would have just done it. But you wasted it. You couldn’t get it right.”

            “What the f**k are you babbling about now?” I rather firmly ask.

            The creature laughs again, “He’s getting upset now hmmm? Hehehehe. You killed the girl.”

            “I didn’t kill anybody!” I say, “I’m only going to kill you!”

            The creature laughs, I concentrate. It keeps talking as I concentrate, “You killed the girl. You couldn’t get it right. She had to make you get it right. She died to tell you. The orb. Hehehehe. You focus. Hehehehe.”

             It was Allison’s voice. That’s the voice I heard in my head. I can recognize it now. Maybe the creature is right. Did I kill Allison? How? I don’t understand. The creature isn’t exactly making sense, “He couldn’t get it right. Had to try again. He still couldn’t get it right. Tries again. She tries to tell him what to do. He won’t remember. She has to make him remember. She dies. He killed the girl. You killed the girl.”

            “No!” I shout.

            I’m angry now. The anger seems to help. The thing finally winces again. It shuts him up for a few seconds. It begins chanting that I killed Allison but winces once more. This time is worse than all the times before. I hear Katie. She must be free of its grasp. She says, “It’s working! Keep doing…”

            I hear her cry out in fear. I hear the sickening thud against a tree. I have to block it out. I have to focus. The orb is warming in my hand. Something brushes my arm. It’s Melissa. She’s charging the creature. She gets closer than I did before it stopped me. It’s choking her. She’s going to die. I have to focus.

            The creature winces again. It’s still choking Melissa. Now it’s struggling to chant, “You’re killing her too. You’re killing her too.”

            She is dying. Her face is red. She can hardly keep her eyes from rolling back in her head. I can’t let this happen. My nose begins to bleed as I strain every muscle in my body. The orb is hot. My hand begins to smoke. It’s burning my flesh. I don’t even notice the pain. Melissa coughs loudly. She falls to the ground. She’s breathing.

            The thing isn’t chanting anymore. It’s leering at me angrily. It doesn’t seem as if it’s trying to attack at all. It looks as if it’s given up. The orb and my hand burst into flames. So does the creature. I still don’t let go. My hand burns. The orb burns. The creature burns. It makes no sound. It makes no attempt to douse the flames. It just lets itself burn. Now I feel pain in my hand. The creature smiles and closes its eyes. My hand hurts worse than anything I’ve ever felt.

            I drop the orb. The creature’s body collapses into a pile of ash. I fall to the ground crying in pain. My hand is charred black. I pass out from the pain.

            The pain is too much. I snap awake. Someone is wrapping something around my hand. It’s a paramedic. My vision is blurred by pain as I look around. Melissa is looking over me. She’s crying. I slowly look the other way. Katie is on a stretcher. They’re sealing her in a bag. I pass out again.

            I’m in a bed now. I think it’s a hospital. My vision is still blurred. It’s all white. Someone is next to me. I don’t know who it is. My vision clears a bit. Melissa is sitting next to me. Everything turns a bright white. I’m out again.

            “He has burst blood vessels all over his body.” An adult male voice says, “It’s crazy. It’s like, I don’t know, it’s like he lifted a car and strained every muscle in his body.”

            I can’t even open my eyes to match faces to the voice. I’m pretty sure this new one is Melissa, “Thanks doctor. I don’t know what I’m going to tell him when he wakes up.”

            I fade out again. I finally wake up. It takes my eyes a moment to adjust to the light. I can see now. I’m not in pain. My entire hand is concealed by bandages. Melissa is asleep on the chair next to me. I try to speak. I can’t, I just cough. That wakes Melissa. She smiles and begins to cry upon seeing me awake. She takes my uninjured hand in hers. She kisses it.

            I try to speak again, this time it works out better, “What happened?”

            “You did it Scott.” She says, “You stopped it all.”

            “Katie?” I croak.

            Melissa looks down and shakes her head. I already knew the answer to that question. Melissa looks especially sad now. It’s as if she has to tell me something she doesn’t want to. She finally says, “Your parents didn’t make it. Neither did your sister. I’m sorry Scott.” She begins sobbing, “I lost my whole family too.”

            I expected to lose people. I never thought about losing my entire family. I can’t grieve. Not in front of Melissa. I have to be strong for her. She was for me. I take her hand this time. After a few moments she says, “The thing was right. Allison died. I guess the doors were unsealed afterwards. The monsters got Craig and Lisa. Jake got out though. He came to see you yesterday but you were asleep.”

            “Does anyone know what happened?” I ask.

            Melissa shakes her head, “All the monsters just turned to ash. Nobody knows where they came from. They think more than half the people in the whole world got killed. Nobody knows for sure though yet.”

            I don’t want to know anymore today. I take hold of Melissa’s hand once more. I think we’ll be like family from now on. We sit in silence until I once again fall asleep.

© 2012 DTgringo

Author's Note

I've only proofread this once so there may still be some errors. Any and all comments are welcome.

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Added on July 8, 2012
Last Updated on July 8, 2012
Tags: fantasy, monsters, apocalypse, orb



Livonia, MI

Flowers Flowers

A Story by DTgringo