Mitch was dizzy with the surreal environment surrounding him as he slowly continued down the hallway. A hallway that once looked so normal, so bland, so 'high school'...before the chaos began. Now, the halls were dark except for the flicker of unrestrained flames and the fog of burning materials, hovering in the smoke above his head.
Mitch coughed a few times, nearly gagging from it as it felt as though a handful of pebbles were rattling around in his chest. What the heck happened? Where was everybody? At first, Mitch's rational mind thought that maybe someone had brought a bomb to school. Or maybe a fire started in the basement somewhere and hit a gas line. Every 'sane' analysis of the situation that he could think of came to an end the moment he reached a nearby hole in the wall. Mitch got a peek at the world outside the walls of that one school...and he was absolutely floored by what he witnessed.
Coughing again, he rubbed his sore eyes and approached the gaping hole in the bricks...
The entire world outside looked as though it had simply been obliterated with a single shot. Fires and smoke for as far as his eyes could see. The school parking lot had been completely destroyed. The football field, the fences, the trees, the streets, the surrounding residential neighborhood...either gone or currently being broken down by the swift, all consuming, fire. He couldn't comprehend the hellish scenery before him. It just didn't make sense.
And Mitch thought to himself...
Only God is capable of such immediate devastation.
On the other side of the campus, Darwin looked over at Geo as he began to open up, yet another, candy bar from the vending machine they had broken into. He couldn't believe the amount of empty wrappers forming a small pile of trash on the floor beneath the youngster's swinging feet as he sat on the table. He already had a few smears of chocolate around his mouth from eating so much, but seeing as Geo has never had such unlimited access to free candy before, he dove in with a gluttonous craving that was almost comical to look at from a distance. Darwin grinned as it crossed his mind that he might have to stop Geo at some point to keep his belly from bursting open like an overfed goldfish.
"Omigod! Nutter Butters! Do you know how long it's been since I had Nutter Butters? You want some?" Geo said, already opening the cookie package before he even finished what he was chewing.
"No, thank you." Darwin said. He turned to put his sore ankle up on the cafeteria bench next to him to, hopefully, get rid of some of the ache. It didn't work too well. "There's got to be more people here. With all the after school programs and athletic practices going on, this place should have been pretty full when the meteorites hit us. Heck, if nothing else, detention alone should pretty much guarantee us that we're not the only ones left."
Geo was crunching on his first cookie when the realization first hit him. "My mom!"
"My mom! I was waiting for her to finish up some stuff and then she was gonna take me home. Omigod! What if she's hurt???"
"Are you sure she was in the building when it happened?" Darwin asked.
"SUPER sure! She was in the library, up on the second floor!" Geo said, throwing more trash down at his feet and hopping down from the table top. "Hey! Maybe she's still up there! My mom will know what to do to get us out of here."
Darwin wasn't really certain of the damage that had been done to the entire building, outside of what he had seen with his own two eyes. But he didn't want to suggest to the boy in front of him that there was a chance that his mother might not have made it through the attack from above. Darwin knew that he was lucky to have survived at all...but didn't have much faith in the good fortune of anyone else, with the exception of his candy chomping friend here.
"Are you talking about the main library? At the end of 'H' hall?" Darwin asked.
"Yep! That's the one! C'mon, let's go!" He said, full of hope and excitement. He rushed over to grab a few more handfuls of candy and shoved them into any empty pocket that he could find on himself, as well as a hefty load into his backpack, and then came over to offer Darwin some assistance with his twisted ankle. "You ready?"
"Yeah. Thanks." Darwin said, weighing down on the younger boy's shoulders as he got back up to his feet. "Go slow, ok?"
"No prob, dude! By the time the rescue team or whatever gets here, we'll be a-ok! You'll see!" Geo got himself balanced, and Darwin held on tight to his backpack as they began to leave the cafeteria. Still protecting the weapon he carried inside. "You ready?"
"I think so." Darwin answered.
"Can you go up stairs and stuff?"
"I'll make an effort. Trust me." He said. "There's no way that I'm going to sit still and wait to be rescued. I doubt anybody is out there looking to make me a priority."
Opening the staircase door a few floors up, Jason and Martin tried to fan the rising smoke from their faces as they tried to quickly make their way down to the lower levels of the building. Martin had come across a fire extinguisher in the hallway, just before turning the corner and getting into this stairwell, but he had hurt himself trying to break the glass on it and get it dislodged from its secure spot on the wall. Ramming his shoulder into it, trying to raise his leg high enough to kick it open...the plexiglass container just wouldn't shatter. Jason watched with interest as Martin did all he could to exert some sort of force on the emergency box...failing each and every time.
Finally, Jason walked into a nearby classroom and got a folding chair from behind the desk. He came back out into the hall and said, "Look out. I'll get it." Then...with a mean swing of the chair, the glass shattered and they were finally able to get access to the fire extinguisher inside.
Martin, stubborn as always, pushed his glasses up further on his nose and said, "Well...yeah. If you need to use a chair, then...whatever." He was the first to reach for the extinguisher and read the short list of instructions on it before breaking the little plastic clip and holding the nozzle in his hand. "Ok. This should work. Follow me. Bring the chair. We'll try to pick up a few more of these along the way."
Jason and Martin were both so eager to find their way down to the first floor. Martin, to find a way to keep the building stable and find a way to communicate with the outside world. And Jason...hoping to find his number one obsession still alive and well. A boy that he had been dreaming about since the first time they made eye contact. It was the kind of instant infatuation that made a boy too weak in the middle to remain standing without leaning against a wall or something for balance. He wasn't prepared to think about the fact that he might never look upon that beautiful face again and have him smile in his direction. He needed Jake. The promise of Jake alone was enough to keep Jason alive through almost anything.
The smoke got to be a little too thick in certain places on the stairs. The only reason everyone wasn't completely overwhelmed with smoke inhalation was the fact that the walls in most places in the school had been turned to Swiss cheese. A lot of the smoke was going out, and a lot of oxygen was coming in...but the oxygen was only going to help the fires burn out of control, so it was both a blessing and a curse.
Coughing and lifting the collar of his shirt to cover his nose, Martin said, "We gotta get off on the second floor and find another way down. It's getting too smoky in here."
Jason agreed, finding the nearest door and butting it with his shoulder so he could get out into the hallway.
A wave of intense heat nearly knocked them backward as the bright light of a flaming bulletin board caught them off guard. With a hacking cough, Martin called out, "Stand back! I got it!" He held up the nozzle of the fire extinguisher and pointed it at the wall. He squeezed the trigger...and Martin's thin, wiry, arms were immediately challenged to do more than his un-exercised limbs were prepared for!
Martin was thrown back a few steps, his back hitting the lockers on the other side of the hall, Jason trying to shield himself with the folding chair as Martin began spraying in every direction except for where the fire was!
"STOP! STOP! Turn it off!" Jason shouted, and Martin finally regained enough of his senses to release the handle.
"Jesus!" He gasped. He watched Jason pick it up off of the floor, and warned him, "You don't want to do that, dude. It's got a hell of a kick..."
But Jason had a bit more of a sturdy build than Martin did. Not exactly an award winning athlete, but enough tree climbing and bike riding to say he was in good shape. He stood in front of the wall and braced for the kickback as he held the nozzle steady and extinguished the heavy flames in front of him. Short, careful, bursts. Jason coughed a little bit, fanning the foam away from his face to make sure there weren't any flames left. "You alright?"
Martin tried to brush himself and stand as tall as he could, ignoring the ache in the back of his shoulders. "Yeah. Sure. I'm fine. Just...you know...those extinguishers are heavy."
"I can carry it if you hang on to the chair."
"Sure. I mean...if you want to. Probably a good idea." Martin said.
Jason then noticed something that was lodged in the floor not far away from where hey were standing. Curiously, he stepped closer to investigate, with Martin following closely behind him. "That's weird..."
Martin looked over his shoulder. "What's weird? What is it?"
Squatting down, Jason examined the giant chunk. "It's...ice." He said. "This hallway's been on fire for at least an hour now...but it's hardly melted at all."
Jason started to reach out for it, but Martin put a hand on his shoulder. "I wouldn't do that if I were you. Space is, like...infinitely cold. It might peel the skin right off you if it's cold enough to remain in tact for this long."
"Oh? Really? This is the weird part out of everything that's happened today?"
"Chill, Martin. Let's just get another extinguisher and try to find a different staircase. Once we get down to the first floor..."
"The first floor?" Martin asked. "Dude, are you serious? Let's not get ourselves distracted here. That's not what we came out here for."
"Who's distracted? I thought that was a part of the plan."
"It was a part of your plan, I'm sure." Martin said, causing Jake to take a step back.
"What's that supposed to mean?"
Rolling his eyes, Martin said, "Can you stop thinking about your dream boy for five minutes so we can get out of here alive? I know you're just looking for Jake."
"What have you got against him, Martin? Honestly, all you ever do is bitch and moan about Jake and you don't even know anything him..."
"Oh, and you do? That's rich." Martin replied. "All this time, I thought I had a best friend...and the second some pretty blond boy catches your eye, suddenly I'm not so special anymore."
Insulted, Jack just shook his head. "You know what? You're just being ridiculous now. What the heck do my feelings for Jake have to do with you? Why does it even matter?"
"Your 'feelings' for Jake? Are you hearing yourself? He's just a boy, for crying out loud."
"I don't expect you to understand. So why don't you just let it go?" Jason told him. "You walk around thinking you don't need to have any friends at all except for me. And because of that, you want to horde me all to yourself. Well, maybe I want to be around other people every once in a while. And you can't STAND the idea that I might pay somebody else some attention because then you'll be left all alone. You treat me like I'm the only thing you've got in this whole world...but that's not my fault, now is it?" Jason meant for the comment to touch a nerve, but he wasn't trying to hurt Martin as much as he did. "And I'm the one who's distracted?" He handed the heavy fire extinguisher back to Martin, nearly causing him to fall over from a lack of balance. Then he picked up the folding chair. "I'm going to grab another extinguisher and find my way downstairs. I'm gonna go make sure that Jake isn't hurt somewhere or in need of my help. If you want to come with me, fine. If not...then...whatever." With that, he made his way into the smoke, taking care to watch his step. If Jake was out there, Jason's heart was going to guide him in the right direction. He was certain of it.
Down below, Jake and Dorian traveled into the gym locker room to retrieve Dorian's backpack. Jake could actually feel himself salivating over being this close to him. The most beautiful boy in school...possibly the world, by Jake's standards...wearing nothing but a glaring whit bath towel, sensually wrapped around his slender waist. Droplets of water still crawling down the smooth surface of his skin, clear drops hanging from the tips of his longish hair like morning dew...Jake's heart was beating so fast that he found it hard to breathe. Even with the towel blocking his clear view, he could see the well rounded cheeks of Dorian's bottom pressing against the fabric. A sexy curve reaching out from the small of his back in the most tempting way imaginable. Cute little nipples on his flat chest, and sensual dip in his shallow navel. Was it the flames that was making Jake sweat like this? Or was it the fluttering of his infatuated heart that was tossing his biology into such a love-stricken tantrum?
"I don't understand..." Dorian said, still a little dazed. "Where did it come from? Who threw a rock at the gym?"
"Ummm...I think...the 'Houdini 3'."
"The what? You mean, the asteroid thing?"
"Well, technically it was a comet...or maybe a meteor. Or they might be the same thing...maybe?" Jake wanted to stop himself from babbling, but he feared the silence it would bring.
Little did he know that Dorian found it to be adorable. "Is that what that is? That big rock in the center of the showers? That's crazy. I've...I've got to call home. I need to let people know that I'm ok..."
Jake didn't say anything as Dorian turned towards one of the lockers that surprisingly left in pretty good shape, considering the rest of the room. A thick cloud of billowing smoke hung in the air above them as they attempted to stay low enough to keep breathing. Dorian opened his locker, and reached inside for his backpack. Only having one hand to hold his towel together, one side of it came loose...and Jake swallowed a loud gasp as the milky white cheeks came into view. He only had a split second to really drink it in before forcing himself to turn around and not get caught staring at it...but even the quickest of glances was enough to fill his visual masturbation files for years to come. So perfect. Oh WOW, he's so perfect!
Dorian made sure to pull his underwear up quickly. He had been holding back from springing an erection the entire time Jake was talking to him, but didn't know how much longer he'd be able to keep it down without some sort of clothing to help him hide it. Something more than a towel anyway.
"So, I take it the school got evacuated? I didn't hear any sirens or...alarms or anything." Dorian asked. "Are we supposed to go out on the front lawn or...what's going on out there?"
Jake began to realize just how isolated Dorian was from the rest of the situation. He had only been in the showers and the locker room. He really didn't know. "Well, ummm...there is no front lawn. Not...not anymore."
Dorian looked over his shoulder, turning to him before buttoning up his shirt. "Wait...what are you talking about?"
"The 'Houdini 3'...it didn't just hit the gym. It hit...everywhere." Jake could see a moment of confusion on Dorian's face, then noticed him turn pale as the initial shock of what he was saying began to sink in. "The whole thing broke apart in the sky. The school's been totaled. All three floors. The front lawn, the parking lot, the track field...I don't even know if rescue trucks can even get to us yet."
A blank stare in Dorian's eyes, he said, "I can't believe this is happening..." His knees felt weak, and a nauseous feeling began to rise up in his stomach. "...I...I've gotta call my mom. I've gotta...I've got to find a way home..."
"I don't know if we can. I think our best bet for right now is to just stay put until we can round up everybody who survived and find a safe way out together."
"Survivors..." Dorian whispered. The gravity of the situation was getting heavier by the second. "I think...I need to sit down for a second."
"Oh! Yeah. That's...that's cool. I totally understand." Jake said, but got a secret thrill when Dorian sat on the bench right next to him. So close that their knees were almost touching. It have been the wrong time to be thinking about this, considering that Dorian was wrestling with whether or not he should have an emotional breakdown...but Jake couldn't help but to wonder what would happen if he could kiss those sweet lips just one time. Looking at the shape of his lips from the side, he was almost swooning with the idea that he was close enough to reach out with his fingers and actually touch them.
At that moment, there was a scratching noise up above them.
Subtle. Quiet. But when Dorian looked up at the ceiling, Jake knew he had noticed it too. Then the sound 'moved'. Like the scampering of a crab on a tile floor. Looking above, all they could see was smoke...but as their ears followed the sound, their eyes began to do the same.
Then, something swiftly crawled across the ceiling with ease. It was fast! But were it not for the puffs of smoke being disturbed by the motion of it, they may not have noticed it at all. Both boys jumped up with a simultaneous knee-jerk reaction and pressed their backs against the lockers on the other side of the room. They scanned the ceiling for any other movement in the smoke...things went silent again...then a quiet hiss.
All of a sudden, a high pitched squeal, and the shape of something 'odd' scrambled across the ceiling away from the boys and rushed out of the room. It was about the size of a large raccoon...but raccoons don't move like that.
"I don't think we should stay here." Dorian said, shaking.
"Me either. Let's get the hell out of here." Jake led Dorian back out into the hallway, making sure to keep an eye on the smoke for whatever the heck that thing was...afraid that it might drop down on them if it was still hiding somewhere.
"So...what now?" Dorian asked.
"I don't really know. I guess we just take a couple of minutes, find out where we are, and just...hope we meet up with some of the others. I mean, somebody's gotta be looking for us, right?"
With a harsh swing of the folding chair, Jason found his way into another emergency fire extinguisher case up on the second floor. Now on his own, he continued to stay pretty close to the wall, putting out some of the smaller fires along the way. The halls looked so unfamiliar, it was hard to place where he was in the building. But he continued his search for the East wing staircase, hoping that would place him closest to where Jake fell through the second floor. Jason really hoped he was ok. Dear God, please let him be ok.
As he walked underneath one of the few working sprinklers, the ice cold water sprayed his hair and face as he tried to escape the icy shower. His feet picked up the pace a bit, his shirt clinging to him with a frosty grip. Then, his feet began to slip!
At first, he thought it was a puddle from the sprinkler and that he'd simply be able to dig his sneakers into the floor and regain his footing...but it wasn't water that he was stepping in.
His feet slid in two different directions and the weight of the extinguisher threw him off center. He came crashing down on the floor...his pants leg, shirt, and right hand, covered in...paint?
It was warm...and thick...and a deep, dark, shade of red that Jason had never seen before. The texture was like syrup, and as he raised his hand up to look at it...his mind tried to think that it had to be something other than blood. It HAD to be.
Then the smoke in front of him was temporarily blown aside...and a body was laying on the floor just a few feet in front of him. Cut open, gashed, teeth and claw marks...'pieces' missing...
Jason had to fully let it register in his brain. And once it did, the scream that left his lips nearly caused his throat to burn.
Hopefully...there wasn't anything out there listening.
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