An hour passes. But it seems to speed by in minutes. It is just enough time for some of the shock to have died down, and for the survivors to actually 'realized' that they have survived. In many different parts of the irreversibly damaged school building...thoughts are being gathered, breaths finally returning to normal. And the ones left alive release a sigh of relief, as their minds work hard and fast to restore the illusion of safety that they once took for granted. Right before it was shattered to pieces by an event that will never be forgotten.
Not by the ones who survive it.
And that will not be everyone.
The third floor computer lab was still in shambles, but it didn't keep Martin from constantly looking for some kind of an electronic window into the outside world. He moved from computer to computer, tapping away on the keys and trying to get just ONE of them to work. Even the ones that were clearly out of commission. He mumbled angry curse words to himself with every failure, but he wasn't giving up.
Jason Riley, on the other hand, tried to hide his braces behind a lovesick grin as Jake Gordon attended to his sore leg. Just having Jake touch him in a caring way...just being able to look at him, talk to him...it was filling his heart with more mushy feelings than he could handle. And his body was physically trembling from the overload.
"Does this hurt?" Jake asked, squeezing Jason's calf ever so slightly.
Jason smiled with a blush, but quickly tried to hold back from giggling like a toddler in his crush's presence. "No....not that much." To be honest, Jason had almost forgotten the pain of having his leg trapped under that teacher's desk at all. Jake reached up a little higher, almost to the knee...and Jason was instantly reminded again. He yelped out in pain. "Owww! Yeah! Ok...THAT part is still kinda sore."
"Hehehe, sorry." Jake's smile could truly heal almost anything.
Martin was getting even more frantic. "Doesn't ANYBODY have a working cell phone?"
The other kids around us all shook their heads. A few of them were checking every five minutes to see if they could get a signal. None of them were lucky enough to get anything other than a busy signal.
"I think you might have saved my life, you know?" Jake smiled as he scooted over next to Jason and leaned up against the wall with him.
"No...I didn't..." Jason replied bashfully, hiding his face.
"Yeah, you did. I could hardly breathe. And it was getting worse. I just..I don't know how much longer I would have been able to make it if you hadn't helped me. So...thanks."
Jason felt the emotion nearly choking the air right out of him, and he looked into Jake's eyes as he gave himself over to the feeling. "No problem.." He said, with a shaky voice. The boys shared a sweet connection for a moment or two, and Jake, once again, began to wonder. There was something different in Jason's eyes whenever he spoke to him. Something more 'attentive'. Jake never really believed in the concept of 'gaydar' before. But if there was ever a hint as to its existence, the sparkle in Jason Riley's gaze would be it.
Jason was swooning and needed to put his hand down on the floor next to him to better balance himself as he was pulled into Jake's blue eyes. It was then that he heard a few cracks and felt his hand sink a little bit. He took his weight off of it and looked back to see one of the many baseball sized holes in the floor from the meteorites that crashed through the ceiling. Just leaning on it caused the floor to crack, and when Jason looked closer at it, he saw how far down it went. Jake peered over his shoulder to see what he was looking at, and both boys examined the hole a bit closer.
"Wow..." Jason said, "It goes all the way down to the first floor." He leaned closer, putting both of his hands on the floor on either side of the hole. The floor creaked a bit more, and Jason froze as the cracks spread out from where his hands were, like cracks in a plate of glass. "Shit..." He whispered...and very 'carefully' moved back to his upright position "I don't think it's cool to stay over here anymore."
"Yeah. Let's get away from this thing before it gets any worse." Jake agreed, trying to get to a standing position.
Both boys got to their feet, and slowly navigated their way to another part of the room that seemed to be a little more stable. But not by much. There were so many holes in the floor that certain parts of the room looked like Swiss cheese. And any two holes that were close enough together, left for a very weak foundation indeed. When Martin saw them walking, he warned them to be be careful. "Look, we gotta find a safe way to get down to the first floor." Martin said.
One of the girls in the room wiped tears of fear and panic from her eyes, and said, "NO! We should stay where we are! Who KNOWS when those things might come back!"
"She's right!" Another boy said. "If any more of those things come through the roof, they'll fucking split our heads wide open!"
Other voices joined in to protest the idea of leaving the supposed safety of that room, but Martin knew better. "The comet's already passed us! It's moving at thousands of miles an hour, if anything else breaks off, it's not gonna fall anywhere NEAR here!" He said, hoping to calm everyone down a little.
"He's right." Jason added. "Even for the chunks that hit US to get here, it would have had to break off somewhere over the Atlantic. That's the only way for the pieces to travel this far inland. We should be safe."
"You don't KNOW that! He doesn't know ANYTHING! What happens if he's wrong???" Someone else shouted, and the conflicting attitudes all began to blend into a symphony of frightened voices, babbling away about how we were all gonna die if they didn't stay cooped up in this one room.
Thankfully, Martin spoke up again. "LISTEN! We're not gonna be able to stay here forever! First of all, we don't even know how much 'damage' was done to the school. This whole building could be ready to collapse at any minute. Second...this floor has got so many holes in it that we don't have any idea how stable it is. All of us being in this one room at the same time might be enough weight for it to fall straight through to the bottom. And I don't know about you guys...but being on the third floor..that's a little bit further than I wanna drop!" Martin told everyone, captivating the others' attention with every word. "And third...everything electronic in this place is totally fucked. Nothing's functional. We NEED to get to a room that has some working electronics or something. We need to be able to figure out what's going on out there and listen for instructions on how to get out of here and get home. Or at LEAST send a message out to people to let them know we're still alive in here, right?"
There were a few kids in the room who nodded silently, and a couple of others that looked even more worried that they were going to have to leave the somewhat stable 'sanctuary' that they had made of that one room. But they listened to what Martin had to say. Jason looked over at his friend in the middle of the room, talking to everybody at once, and he couldn't help but to be kinda proud for the class 'reject' standing up and take some kind of a leadership role in getting everyone out of there. It's not really something Martin was used to...having people pay him any real attention, other than to make fun of him, that is.
"Where do we go...?" One boy asked, crying and huddled up as far into one of the room's corners as he possibly could be.
Martin seemed a bit lost as to an answer for that one. But Jake made a suggestion. "Well...what about the stairwells?" All eyes focused on Jake. "I mean...aren't doorways, stairwells, and elevator shafts, supposed to be the most stable structures in places like this? If we can make it through the fires in the hallway and get to a stairwell, we might have a safe way down to the ground floor."
"That's an awesome idea, Jake." Jason smiled.
Martin frowned a bit, seeing his best friend still lost in a daze. But he knew a sane idea when he heard one. "Ok, so we should make a plan to find one of the closest stairwells to us. If we're cautious, watch our footing, and stick together...we should be able to make it out of here just fine."
The sky had gotten extremely dark, the fading afternoon sunlight almost completely blocked out by the lingering cloud of dust that had been thrown up into the air from the impact. Occasionally, small rocks and chips of ice would continue to fall, tapping gently at what was left of the school windows. Every small rock and stray fragment that fell from the sky caused the other kids in the room to jump in horror...worrying that the barrage would start up again. And then...the loud creaking noise.
It filled the room, and when it was over, Jason looked down as was certain that there were cracks in the floor that weren't there before.
"I think we should get ourselves ready to go pretty soon." Jason said, trying to find the safest way to get to his feet without putting his full weight on any 'soft' part of the floor.
"Agreed." Martin replied. "Let's grab our stuff and see if we can find our way around in this place before it gets too dark." He noticed a few of the others were still uneasy about moving, but he assured them, "We'll be FINE. I mean, it looks like the worst is over. They'll probably wait a little bit to be sure, but...somebody's GOTTA come looking for us, right? They should be coming to dig us out of this mess soon. We should be somewhere visible when they do." That said, everyone tried to get to their feet slowly, and began collecting their backpacks...hoping that the building would hold itself together for just a little bit longer.
Meanwhile, the ground floor of the building didn't look too much better. While the floor was intact, the ceilings were torn apart, and large areas of the school had been blocked off by the unfortunate collapse of sections of the second floor. One of the few places still standing...was the counselor's office.
It was the throb of an unmerciful headache that first brought Mitch Campinini back to consciousness. He struggled to open his eyes, and waited a few moments for his vision to come back from its blurry haze. The pounding in his head was almost enough to make him cry out in agony, but he bit his bottom lip, tolerated the pain, and got up on his hands and knees. Out of all the beatings his father had given him, he had never felt a misery so awful as he was feeling at that moment. Mitch was slow in recalling the incident that had taken place. He vaguely remembered being in Mr. Wyman's office. He saw bits and pieces of their conversation in his mind. And then....?
Ugh! It hurt to think. But Mitch forced the images to the front of his mind. He remembers the lights flickering, then some loud crashes coming from outside. Mr. Wyman went to see what was wrong...and then...came back in Slamming the door. Ranting and raving about hiding under the desk. But what for? That's what Mitch couldn't figure out.
"Mr.....Mr. Wyman?" He called out, reaching for the side of the counselor's desk to maintain some balance as he got up on his feet. "Mr. Wyman?" Mitch walked around to peek behind the desk, but there was no one there. He then noticed that the door was open. He was gone. "He left me here? The son of a bitch just...'left' me here." He said to himself.
Mitch noticed the unsettling silence all around him. And he slowly crept forward to peek his head out of the doorway. The main office as a complete disaster area. Papers blowing, sparks from damaged computers, small fires burning in every corner of the room. What the fuck HAPPENED to this place? It was then Mitch remembered that one last moment before blacking out. The 'boom'. The giant vibration that ran through the entire planet, and rattled him until he thought the tremor would break every bone in his body. He remembers being tossed up into the air, as if gravity had temporarily ceased to exist...and then being brutally slammed against the wall before landing on his head as he crash landed into the floor. His head was spinning, wondering...what the hell could have done that? He really had no idea.
He stepped out a bit further. "Hello? Is anybody there?" He called out, but there was no answer. And it was then, by the light of a flickering fire in a nearby office trash can, that he saw the main office secretary slumped over her desk. He noticed her because her hand was hanging off the side of the desk, and the trash can fire was reaching up to cook her hand until it was charred black almost to the bone. And when he tipped closer to see what happened to her, he noticed a fist sized hole in her back...and he could read the desk calendar through it.
Mitch felt his breath speed up, along with the beating of his panicked heart, and he covered his mouth with his hand...hoping not to gasp too loudly. He just stared at the hole in her chest. He didn't dare to look away from it. It went straight through her, spine and all, and around the entry wound was a littering of a dark black fungus. A strange 'fuzz' that seemed to almost be growing larger....right in front of Mitch's eyes.
Sitting on the cold tile of the bathroom floor was a lot more comfortable than Darwin had expected it to be. Or perhaps it was just the exhaustion of the moment, mixed with the total silence he experienced as he closed his eyes and leaned his head back against the sink. Geo was still cowering in the stall like a frightened hamster, and he was still too scared to even bring his feet down to touch the floor, much less come out of there. Darwin hardly had the energy to force him out. Geo was ready to bite, kick, and scream, like his life depended on it if Darwin even got close enough to try. So the two boys remained locked in a silent stalemate for over an hour. And then...Geo spoke.
"Do you think it's over?" The young boy's voice was trembling so badly that Darwin could hardly decipher the words. Especially the ones swallowed up by a strangled sob and a few sniffles.
Darwin opened his eyes, not aware of how close he was to simply dozing off before Geo said anything. He directed his eyes up to the ceiling, and listened out for any more noises. Then he answered, "Yeah...I think it is."
"The comet....it hit us?"
"I think so. That's what it looked like outside." Darwin answered, happy to at least have Geo talking again.
There was a pause, and then the boy asked him, "You....you saw it?" Darwin nodded in response. "What did it look like?"
"Umm...big..." He said. Darwin was still in shock over witnessing the sight of that 'falling mountain' in the sky. It was hard to detach himself from the horror of the memory. "It was, like...'spinning', you know? And...and it was on fire, I think. With...all of these jagged little pieces falling beside it. And in front of it. And behind it. It made the whole sky turn black..." He said, more to himself than to Geo.
There was another long silence between them, and Geo sniffled some more as tears ran out of his eyes. "Do you think...do you think we're the only ones left?"
To be honest, the thought had never crossed Darwin's mind. And now that Geo had brought it up...he kinda wished it hadn't. "No. No, I'm sure there's gotta be others." He said, hoping and praying that he'd be able to fool himself as well as he was trying to fool the cowering boy in that bathroom stall. "I'm sure that if we got out of here and looked around, we could find them..."
"NO!!!" He demanded, and his whole body tightened up even more.
"Ok...ok...we can just...we can wait for a little bit longer. Maybe they'll come looking for us instead. You never know. We can stay put if you want to."
"I don't wanna go anywhere..." He sobbed.
"It's ok. Me neither." Darwin leaned his head back again, seeing the pointlessness in trying to argue with him. "Let's just...sit here and see what happens, k?" He saw Geo nod his head, and slowly loosen his grip on the back of the toilet. This might take a while...getting Geo to trust him. But Darwin didn't want to leave. If nothing else, at least he wasn't alone.
Back in the computer lab, everyone had gathered their belongings, and was ready to venture out into the hallway. The floor was now beginning to 'sag' in some places, and the cracks were becoming bigger and more evident. Martin made a few cautious leaps towards the front door, where he was sure the foundation would be a bit more solid. A few other followed his lead, causing a few more damaged parts of the floor to whine and creak under their weight. Jason took a moment to look at Jake Gordon. Wondering how he could still be so wrapped up in feelings of overwhelming love, even at a time as desperate and disastrous as this. He smiled appreciatively for the opportunity to spend time with his 'idol', even under such horrific circumstances, and Jake caught sight of his shiny braces out of the corner of his eye.
Those same bells and whistles went off in Jake's mind. That same silent 'alert'. And as the realization that Jason's fascination with him wasn't merely a 'friendly expression of admiration'...he got a warm feeling inside that made him smile back. Their eyes connected, and a thick tension creep in between them as certain possibilities that either of them never knew existed...suddenly came to the light.
Martin called the boys to the door, and Jason sighed with a grin. "Go ahead. I'll go right after you."
"No...it's ok." Jake replied. "Besides, my backpack got tossed waaaay over there by the desk. So...I've gotta go get it." There was a moment, where Jake looked at Jason's braces, and the sweet lips surrounding them, and almost had the urge to see what it would be like to kiss him. Just once. It wasn't love he felt, but a sweet curiosity. An inquiring impulse that simply wondered, 'what if'?
"Any time TODAY, you guys!" Martin growled from the doorway.
"Go." Jake told his newfound friend.
Jason blushed. "Are you sure?"
"Yeah. I'm right behind you."
Jason began to move carefully across the room with a slight limp, making sure that he didn't step too close to any of the holes in the floor. Since those seemed to be the weakest spots. And Jake went over by the desk to get his backpack. By the time Martin called out Jake's name...it as already too late.
The holes in the floor were scattered in heavy concentration all around the area behind the teacher's desk. When the others pulled it off of Jake's stomach and Jason's leg, they unknowingly scooted it over to one of the less stable parts of the room. The combined weight of the desk and Jake's body, along with his movements, proved to be too much for the damaged floor to handle. And the second he stepped close to it...the ground began to give way, cracking like thin ice on a frozen lake.
"Jake...?" Jason said, as he reached the door. Jake looked back for a second or two, seeing the cracks get even worse beneath his feet, even without him moving. "JAKE!!!"
The thought of making a run for it momentarily crossed Jake's mind, but as the floor sagged more and more below, he found himself frozen stiff. He held his breath, hoping to find a way to 'jump' to a safer part of the room in time...but the cracking tiles were relentless, and the weakened foundation was beyond repair. Jake slowly turned around, trying his best to make a single step forward. Everyone at the door felt as though they were walking that same fragile surface as Jake attempted to move. However, the weight of the desk alone was too much...and the damage had already been done. Without any further warning at all...the floor gave way, cracking open as Jake was pulled down into a giant sinkhole.
Jake felt the weightless freefall take him as the once stable support was yanked from underneath his feet. The giant hole swallowed him up, and he fell to the second level with a thud that knocked the air right out of his lungs. Followed by a shower of dust and debris, Jake curled himself up into a tight ball and just tried to keep from being squashed before he could catch his breath. The fall was maybe a total of 15 feet, give or take. But it was enough to leave a few extra scratches and bruises on him from head to toe.
"JAKE!!! JAKE, ARE YOU ALRIGHT???" Came voices from the top of the hole. Jake lazily rolled over, coughing up dust and holding his sore shoulder as he looked up at the spot he fell through. "JAKE???"
He coughed a bit more, and fought to speak. "Um...it's alright! I think I'm ok." He shouted back up.
As the dirt and dust cloud settled a bit, Jake could see Martin and Jason peek over into the hole, trying not to get too close and put even more pressure on the floor. "Can you get up?" Jason asked.
"I...I think so..." Jake replied. He rolled over onto his stomach, and put his palms down on the floor as he tried to bring his knees up under him However, this floor was even LESS stable than the one above, and with just that movement alone, along with the added weight of the collapsed ceiling...the second floor began to crack and turn brittle under his fingertips. "Shit...." He whispered to himself, too scared to move. He tried to back up, but the cracks spread out from both hands. He might as well have been kneeling on a cracked eggshell.
"Do you think you can make it to the door? We can meet you on our way down." Martin yelled down to him, but Jake's arms were practically trembling with the fear of another fall.
"I don't think so. Th-Th-This thing is gonna go any minute." Jake said, trying not to quake too much.
Martin thought the situation over for a minute, and then got an idea. "Ok, stay there! We're gonna find something up here and try to pull you up!"
"You guys better hurry..."
"We got you, Jake! Just don't move!" Jason called to him, and both boys disappeared from the opening.
"Don't move. Great. Good advice." Jake said to himself...just as the cracks around his left hand got even more severe. He just needed for that landing to hold out for a FEW minutes more. Just a FEW.
Outside, just outside of school premises, Dino found himself just now regaining most of his senses after being trapped, upside down, in his car for almost an hour. He managed to crawl out of the passenger side window and stand upright, thankful to have some of his blood rushing down to his feet again. He stretched himself out, feeling his back and muscles snap back from being in such an uncomfortable position. The house had a giant hole in the side from where Dino's car had come crashing through. He took a moment to see if maybe he had accidentally 'smooshed' some old lady to death under his Mustang. Luckily, it didn't look like anybody was home. Except for 15 to 20 cats, that seemed to be running back and forth around the house without any real purpose in mind.
Looking around the musty old place, Dino saw an old television in the corner, and quickly moved over to turn it on. But he got nothing but static. Not even a HINT of a picture. "Great. Bum antenna...no cable. I should have known." He stepped over some broken furniture and wreckage, heading into the kitchen. Dino's mouth had gotten dry, and his head was still spinning. His first instinct was to go to the refrigerator and open it up. It looked half empty, but there was an unopened carton of orange juice on the top shelf. He popped it open, and drank from the container in heavy gulps, his massive thirst causing him to guzzle it down until it was running out of the sides of his mouths. He didn't even breathe again until the carton was almost half gone.
An orange colored cat jumped on the counter and meowed for some attention, but he just used his hand to push it off the counter and back down to the floor. "Fucking cats, man." He looked for something to eat, opening up the neatly stacked Tupperware containers one at a time. "Health food, health food, more health food...I don't even KNOW what this is? Don't old people ever get hungry for a fucking cheeseburger or something?" Dino checked up in the freezer, and found a small half pint of cookie dough ice cream...bringing a smirk to his face. "Jackpot. Better than nothing."
He moved over to the sink right in front of the kitchen window, still having to step over and practically 'kick' the moving horde of feline tenants, and he rinsed off a spoon to eat with. It wasn't until he had taken his first spoonful into his mouth, that his eyes peered through the window..and saw an elderly lady outside. Face down in the backyard, next to a clothesline that was full of burning sheets and linens...blowing in the wind. The lady was clearly dead, as rocks of ice had gone through her, head to toe, like giant bullets. And growing over her face and back...a rapidly thickening matt of black moss. Dino let the spoon drop from his fingers. "Not a 'happy happy day' for YOU, now was it?" He said to himself.
Meanwhile, still trapped down in the basement, both Kyle and Rusty continued to try pulling some of the heavy debris off of Janitor Foley's bottom half. Without much success. Foley could barely move his arms, much less anything else. And every time the boys got close to him, they'd put their weight down on something that would make his pain even worse. "AHHHH!!! Fuck! GET OFF OF THAT!!!" Foley shrieked, making the boys jump again.
Rusty was getting fed up with Foley's complaints, and stomped his way to the other side of the room. "You know what? Fuck you, then! Every time we try to help you, you YELL at us!"
"I'm not just gonna sit here and let you HURT me, you little brat! You goddamn kids..."
"STOP SAYING THAT!!!" Rusty shouted. "We're younger than you are! Jesus! WE GET it!" The boy sat down in a huff and folded his arms. "Just because we're teenagers doesn't mean we're STUPID, you know?" Foley rolled his eyes, hardly ready for THAT particular revelation.
Kyle's sore and wiry arms had gone almost limp from trying to move the giant rocks and bricks off of Foley's legs, and decided to take a seat next to his buddy across the room. He looked at the janitor and asked, "Why the hell would somebody, who hates kids, work in a friggin' HIGH SCHOOL, anyway? I mean, that's TOTALLY backwards, dude."
Foley coughed a bit, and with a wicked smirk, he replied, "Work here? Nah, I don't 'work' here. I bring children down to the basement, and I shove 'em in the furnace for kicks."
Kyle stared at him for a second, with his mouth partly open. Then Rusty gave Kyle a pat with his hand. "He's KIDDING, dude!"
"Oh...right. I knew that." Kyle lied.
Foley struggled again to move, but the wreckage had him pinned down to perfection. "Maybe...ugh...maybe I just crave your...adolescent 'babbling' so much....ungh...that I decided to stick around." He sneered. "If those pansy ass security guards had gotten down here any quicker when I called them, you two would be on your way to juvie right about now."
"Whatever." Kyle moaned. "Have another drink, Foley."
But that got Rusty's wheels spinning, and he got an idea. "Wait a minute..security!"
Kyle gave him a sideways look. "I'm pretty sure that security's DEAD, dude."
"No! No, I mean...Foley's walkie talkie! He was using it to call security when everything went nuts! It's gotta be down here somewhere under all this shit, right?" Rusty said, standing up. For the first time since impact, Foley's eyes brightened up a bit. "If we can find the walkie talkie, and it still works, we can call somebody for help. Or at least let 'em know we're alive!"
Foley looked up at the ceiling. "Hallelujah. At least SOMEBODY down here has half a brain."
Ignoring the insult, Rusty helped Kyle to his feet. "Ok, I'll check things out over here, and you look over there. It couldn't have flown too far from the steps."
The boys scrounged around through the rubble for almost ten minutes, when Kyle shouted out, "DUDE! I found it!!!"
"You got the walkie talkie???"
"Nope! Our bag of weed! I found it, man!" He grinned, and gave it a sniff. "Still fresh." Rusty gave him an angry look, and then punched Kyle hard in the arm. "OWWWW! What the hell was THAT for???"
"Can you PLEASE just focus?!?!"
"I AM 'focused'! I just happened to come across our stash, that's all..."
"Oh, GIVE me that!" Rusty said, snatching the bag and tossing it across the room.
"HEY! Ten dollars of that is MINE, ya know!"
"FIND the walkie talkie!" Rusty snarled.
"It's right THERE!" Kyle pouted.
"Right THERE!" Kyle had basically discovered it by accident, and neither boy realized at first. Then both of their eyes grew big, and they made a dash to dig it out of the debris.
On the second floor, Jake continued to breathe as shallow and as steady as he could manage, the weakening floor still trying hard to support him. Jake had never felt so heavy as he did kneeling on the cracked surface of the classroom floor. The sounds got louder, the building walls began to creak, and Jake looked towards the front of the classroom as an overhead projector was practically 'teetering' on the edge of a lopsided desk. The desk was sinking into the floor as well, one of its legs sitting on the outer rim of one of the meteor holes. If it fell in, and that overhead projector dropped...the floor would cave in for sure.
"We're coming, Jake!" Jason called down to him, his heart beating out of control as his dream boy lie just out of his reach. Martin made his way around the computer lab, pulling the extension cords and plugs out of the screens, and they began tying them together.
"If we can just get enough to reach down to Jake, then maybe everybody can pull him up from the door frame." Martin said.
"The door frame? Just...let me get him. I'll go..."
"You can't. If you, or any of us, get too close to that sinkhole, it'll pull us and the rest of the floor right down on top of him."
Jason was frantic, but he couldn't come up with a better plan, so he took his best friend's lead. He saw Martin tying the thick extension cords as tight as he could, and asked, "Are those knots gonna be strong enough to hold him?"
"Um...I don't know. What do you think?"
"What do *I* think??? I thought you knew what you were DOING!!!" Jason yelled.
"How could I POSSIBLY know what I'm doing???" Martin yelled back.
"Weren't you in the Boy Scouts or something?"
"The Boy Scouts don't have a fucking 'Killer Comet Apocalypse' merit badge!!!"
Jake Gordon felt the floor beginning to fold beneath him, and he kept his eye on that projector, praying that it would give him more time. "Hey guys??? Clock's ticking down here!" Jake called back up to his arguing friends. And they decided to just wing the whole 'rescue' before it was too late.
Martin shouted down, "We're sending a line down. Just try to grab it without moving too much. Ok?"
"Ok..." Jake said, just above a whisper. From the corner of his eye, he could see the feed of extension cords coming down through the hole. The floor was breaking up worse than before, and there was one long crack that started at Jake's fingertips and was quickly working its way to the weak leg of that desk. It moved only a few inches at a time, occasionally jumping forward a foot, and causing Jake to gasp out loud. The cord was still coming, slowly. Too slowly. And then, before he could even reach out for it, the final crack ran under the desk, the desk tilted...and the projector....
Fell to the floor.
The blow sent a shockwave through the entire floor, and Jake Gordon could only hold his breath as the floor, yet again, collapsed beneath him. The thunderous crash nearly deafened him on the way down, and this time he found himself rolling down a slanted surface, barreling out of control. He was being hit by falling dirt and rocks, light fixtures and school furniture, but he just kept rolling down into darkness. Until he found himself being thrown into a corner on the ground floor, a giant chunk of stone jammed up against his right side. Jake cried out in agony, but secretly thanked the stars that he was at least on stable ground.
There were screams from two floors up, calling his name, but Jake couldn't shout back to them. He was coughing and wheezing from the blinding dust, nearly having dry heaves from it. And that only made the massive bruise on his side ache with an intensity the he had never experienced before. He frantically tried to rub the dirt out of his eyes, trying hard not to cough to prevent the burning pain from overwhelming him. But when he looked up, he saw more of the ceiling ready to collapse. And this time...the heavy stuff was going to fall right on top of him.
He made an effort to shuffle to his feet, and hurry out of the room, just as the rest of the roof caved in, nearly smashing him flat! Jake got out into the hallway, and moved out of the way of the dust cloud pouring out of that room. The walls were still burning, with only a few remaining sprinklers working to put out the blaze. It took him a moment to figure out where he was...and noticed that he had pretty much landed himself right outside the entrance to the gym locker rooms. There was no going back in there, and certainly no way to yell loud enough for Jason and Martin to hear him from two floors down. So it looked like he was on his own for the time being. And where he goes from here...starts with a single step in, what he HOPES will be, the right direction.
Click Ten: "Witness...."
It was the sound of the collapsing second floor that made Geo jump and start crying again in the bathroom stall. The crash made Darwin open his eyes again, and he reached out to hold on to the sink as the walls began to shake from the destruction. Geo started whimpering to himself as the helplessness of the moment nearly drove him crazy. And when a loud boom caused the wall behind him to vibrate and drop pieces of drywall down on his head from the ceiling, he swiftly jumped down off of the toilet, ran over, and dove on the floor, to cower under Darwin's arm.
He hadn't expected the younger boy to confide in him at all. And Darwin was almost more comfortable with the idea that he wouldn't. What could Darwin really DO if the whole world were to suddenly come crashing down on their heads? Nothing. And yet, there was something about the trembling boy burying his face in Darwin's chest, his white knuckled fists clinging desperately to his shirt, that made Darwin realize that he was going to have to fake some kind of confidence if either one of them was going to survive the night.
"It's...it's ok..." Darwin said, his soft, almost girlish voice, failing to make much of a sound over the noise outside. "Shhh...it's just the building settling. We'll...be safe in here, you know?" He was lying, and part of Geo knew that. But he forced himself to believe it anyway.
"I wanna go home..." Geo sniffled, and then there were more crashes from outside, sounding like mini explosions.
"Me too." Darwin said. He felt the boy hugging him tighter, and then felt him loosen up as Geo felt Darwin's backpack between them. Something hard..like metal...was poking him in the stomach from the inside.
"What is that?" Geo asked.
Darwin looked down at his backpack, and nervously shifted to the other side where Geo couldn't reach it. "It's nothing."
"What's in there..."
"NOTHING!" He said, pushing the bag even further away. Then he tried to change the subject. "Look, I change my mind. It sounds like the ceilings are falling in on this side of the school. Maybe it's not so bad in one of the other wings. We should go there instead."
More tremors shook the bathroom walls, and more drywall fell from the ceiling. Geo curled up tight, still not wanting to leave the one place that he had come to know as some kind of safe haven from the horrors outside. But the vibrations were getting stronger, and both boys were getting worried that the next big collapse would be on top of them before they even had a chance to run. "Where do we go?" Geo whined.
"We'll try the cafeteria. Maybe things are a bit more sturdy where the kitchen is. Besides...we can raid the vending machines and get something to eat." The words 'raid the vending machines' definitely caught a hold of Geo's attention when he heard them, and he instantly lifted his head.
Darwin smiled. He didn't think it would be that easy to convince him. "Yeah, sure. Do you think you can help me walk? I twisted my ankle, pretty bad."
"Sure. I can help." Geo said happily, and was soon on his feet, lending a hand. The two boys made sure to peek outside to make sure everything was safe in the hallway, and then decided to trek out in search of a few snacks and a somewhat dependable shelter from the death above.
Not far away, Dino is still finding small snacks of his own to eat in the old house. Some crackers and cheese, lightly salted chips...not much by themselves, but put together they make for a nice combination. He walks back out into the living room, chewing his stolen food, and takes another long look at his car in the middle of the living room. And the gaping 'car shaped' hole behind it. He can't help but chuckle. "I don't care what anybody says, that's just never gonna stop being fucking funny." He sits down on the old lady's couch, after brushing a few cats aside to make room, and continues to eat. He sees an ancient TV Guide on the coffee table and picks it up, reading as he kicks up his feet. "Gee, what's on TV tonight? Hmmm...looks like lots of static and white noise, followed by the world premier of that new series, 'Big Ass Alien Space Rock That Fell Out Of The Fucking Sky'. Back to back marathons, starting now." He said. "And now...I'm talking to myself. Wonderful."
Dino continues to eat, having to basically bat away hungry cats with both hands as they try to purr and moan for a taste of what he's having. And that's when he notices more of the black mold growing out of a hole in the wall. The shit seemed to be everywhere, and he didn't understand how it even got there so fast. But something else struck him as even more odd.
He saw, what looked like, a big splash of blood on his car window. One that he knew wasn't there before. Or at least he didn't remember it. Dino put his feet down from the coffee table and sat up to examine it closer. Sure enough...it was blood. He checked himself all over, looking to see if maybe he had a wound or something that he wasn't aware of. But there was no blood on him anywhere. He stood up, and moved closer.
A few feet away, was more blood. And then a bit more...over by one of the windows. Dino put down the bag of chips, and followed the trail further. And eventually, it took him to a dark corner of the dining room, and he heard these...sounds coming from underneath the table cloth. Intrigued, Dino moved closer...and then got down on one knee. He pulled out on of the chairs close to him, and lifted up the tablecloth to see what it was. The first thing his eyes took in was the body of a dead cat. But 'not' just dead...it looked as if it had been...eaten. Almost...'hollowed' out inside. There was a dark crimson stain on the carpet where the cat's blood had soaked clear through to the floor, and when Dino looked again, he found three more cats under the same table. All practically ripped to shreds, each one in worse shape than the last one.
"What the fuck kinda sick place is this?" Dino mumbled to himself, and then he heard a low growl coming from on top of the dining room able He put the table cloth down, and peeked up over the edge, to see the same orange cat that he had seen in the kitchen earlier. But...it looked...'bigger'. Fatter. And in its mouth...was the skin of another cat, still dripping with blood. Dino was instantly shocked by the sight of it, and slowly....so slowly....rose to his feet. The cat growled again. Anger rolled in its tone, and it almost appeared to be...'moving' without moving. Dino felt a sickness rise up in his throat, as he saw the cats stomach pulsating and squirming from the inside. As if it had a belly full of snakes, or something. It was enough to further warp the already bloated shape of the animal, and Dino found himself afraid to move. Something in its eyes...
Something in its eyes...
"Well...you're a hungry fella, aren't ya?" Dino said, and that was the trigger.
The cat scrambled forward at lighting speed and jumped directly towards Dino in a fury! He could feel the claws digging into his flesh through his shirt as it climbed up and tried desperately to nuzzle its head into the nape of his neck. Sharp fangs pierced his skin as he tried to dislodge the cat's claws from his chest without taking half of his skin off with it Just as the cat hungrily went for blood, screeching and digging in even deeper...Dino yanked it away from him and tossed it to the floor. He expected all cats to land on their feet, but this one rolled over on its back, and the squirming in its stomach got even worse, the creatures in its belly getting agitated from the struggle. The animal twitched and went into a fit of seizures as the 'worms' threatened to tear it open at the seams. The cat managed to roll over again, it's whole body still trembling from the activity inside, and it lunged at Dino again. This time, with even more desperation than the last time.
He wrestled with it as much as he could, but those damn hooks were in him too deep for the cat to even drop to the ground, despite being swung around so violently. Dino was forced to fight for his very survival, and eventually got himself close enough to a hall closet to open the door It took every last bit of strength he had and his shirt was soaked with blood from the effort, but eventually, he took the angry little monster and pried it off of him long enough to THROW it in the closet and shut the damn door!
Oh how it shrieked! Dino had to hold his back against the door just to keep it inside. And even then i clawed at the door a if someone had set its fur on fire! It even swiped at his ankles from underneath, screaming and hissing with an unimaginable hunger. And soon...it backed off of the door, and more sounds came from within the closet. Shredding....and ripping...and tearing...whatever was going on in there...it had to have been disgusting. Dino held that door shut and didn't move. He couldn't let that thing out again. He just couldn't. He was already wet with blood, he wouldn't be able to make another few rounds.
Back at the school, Jake Gordon tried to brush the remaining dust out of his hair and keep moving forward. It hurt to move. His whole body had been banged up from that last drop to the first floor. Not that it hadn't been put through enough punishment from the initial impact of the comet. He held his side with both hands as he walked in through the gym locker rooms.
"Hello? Can anybody hear me?" He said, now feeling the fear of being alone in this mess creep up on him little by little. "HELLO??? Please! Somebody answer me! Hello?" But there was no answer. Just the echo of his voice, bouncing off of what walls were left standing. And a few bodies that littered the ground all around him. Jake didn't look down. He knew he would freak out if he recognized a single one of their faces. Right now, he just wanted to get to safety. He can deal with the nightmares later. "Hello?"
Walking a bit further, Jake heard something off in the distance. He perked his ears up, and followed the sound. It was like...a water spray or something. Jake moved closer, hearing the school showers still running. And he saw a collapsed pile of burning wreckage in the distance. Jake coughed a bit more, wincing from the pain in his side as his stomach contracted, and kept moving. "H-H-Hello?" He called out softly, and then he came around the corner to see a giant hole in the ceiling that went all the way up into the darkened skies above. There was a massive crater in the center of the floor, and around it, on all sides, was a thick covering of dark black fuzz. It had grown all over the floor, crept its way up the sides of some of the walls, there was even some on what was left of the ceiling. And then...as if in a dream...the steam from the hot showers shifted...and a nude figure became visible to Jake's eyes.
It was someone that he had been watching so closely...for so long. He knew every line, every curve, every gentle feature. And there he was, laid out naked on the shower floor. Dorian Flynn...the closest Jake had ever been to perfection. He couldn't help but stare at him, wondering if he had hit his head harder than he originally thought. But it was real. Dorian was real. And even though he was unconscious...he was definitely still breathing.
Elsewhere...Darwin and Geo were limping along the walls of the main hallway. It was such a disorienting experience. The school looked so different So 'broken'. It was hard for Darwin to even remember where the cafeteria was. But his initial instincts were right though, and one side of the building was a little better off than the other side. The fires weren't as bad, the air wasn't as thick, and there were some rooms that hardly looked damaged at all. It was definitely a good idea to stay around that side of the building until help arrived.
There were bodies all over the place. Many of them. Geo tried hard not to look, and Darwin was worried that if he brought any attention to the carnage that Geo would be running right back to hiding in that bathroom stall. Both boys put on a brave face for one another, and continued forward. But more and more, their attention was drawn towards black splotches appearing on the walls and floor. Especially in places where there was water. Either from the sprinklers, or from the melted ice from the comet. At one point, while Darwin was putting one hand on Geo's shoulder for support, and another on the lockers lining the wall...he almost touched some of it, and yanked his hand back.
Consumed by his curiosity, Geo asked, "What IS that stuff? It's like...everywhere."
Darwin shrugged his shoulders, hoping to still go get those snacks from the cafeteria, as he felt a rumbling inside. "I dunno. I've never seen it before."
Geo got closer to examine it. "Hmmm...it looks like a fungus of some sort Like...bread mold almost." But he looked at it again, "Strange. You said you've never seen this here."
"I've never seen that stuff anywhere." Darwin answered. "Why?"
"Well, it's just...this shouldn't be here. I mean, fungi like this...their symbionts. Like, to break down organic matter and stuff. But it's supposed to be attached to something 'organic', you know? But it's not. It's just...on the walls. And the floors. And the ceiling, look." The boy said, pointing up at more of the mysterious growth.
"I've seen mold grow on walls before. Plenty of times." Darwin told him, but Geo still had his doubts.
"No...not this kind of mold. I mean, this stuff would have had to have gone unnoticed for weeks, maybe even MONTHS, in order to get this bad. I mean...is that even possible?"
Darwin looked at it again. "Nah. Janitor Foley is bad, but he's not THAT bad."
Geo got extremely close to it, almost touching his nose to it. "It seems to be growing at an alarming rate. You could almost assume that all this happened in the last few hours. And...well, I don't know of any other molds that do that." He turned back to Darwin. "I mean, there are about 2 million different variations out there, but I don't remember anything acting like this. It's almost, like...'aggressive' or something, you know?"
"How do you know so much about this stuff?" Darwin asked.
"Science Project, two years back. I worked my butt off for that science fair, and I came in second. Stupid Danny Marshall and his solar powered house of the future. Lame."
Geo moved away from the wall, and Darwin had to ask. "Is this stuff, like..dangerous, or whatever?"
Geo shrugged his shoulders. "Um...I dunno. It shouldn't really hurt us. Not unless ya eat it or something." Darwin gave Geo a weird look. "Well...not US, of course. WE wouldn't eat it. But if, like, a hungry 'animal' or something were to ingest some of this stuff without knowing what it was...well, who knows what kinda crazy effects it might have on it?"
As Dino's breath began to relax a bit back at the house...he began to scan the whole room for any other household pets that might want to take a run at him. He was hardly one to be cruel to animals...but if one more of those fuckers jumped up and started digging their claws into him..it's fucking GO time!
The other cats in the room seemed to be pretty normal, but it didn't keep Dino from keeping his eye on them. And at that time, he noticed that the squeals and noises had ceased from inside the closet. He was still bracing the door with his back as though he expected a two ton rhino to come crashing through it at any minute, and his arms and legs were fatigued from the effort.
It took a few moments to build up the courage, but eventually, he eased up on the door. Dino's breath caught in his throat, as he was almost deafened by the silence. He reached out a shaky hand to open the door...JUST a crack...and see if he could figure out what happened.
The door creaked open...
A narrow sliver of light appeared on the floor where Dino saw the remains of the cat that had attacked him just moments before. It was like...it had been split in two. Completely burst open like a water balloon. But...there was hardly any 'mess'. No organs, no muscles...it was like...just skin and bones. Nothing else. And apparently as dead as it possibly could be. Dino opened the door a little wider, and reached up to turn on the closet light...
He pulled the string down, and something heavy fell on top of his hand. The light bulb flashed, and what he saw caused him to scream out in horror! Some...THING...black in color with bright green stripes was sitting on the back of his hand. The form of it was almost confusing in its design. Almost like a giant spider, but with a snake like tail, and a razor sharp stinger on the end. Or at least that's what his mind created as a picture in the second or two that it took him to shake it off! It didn't look like it had eyes, but it CERTAINLY had teeth! ROWS of teeth! And a high pitched screech left its mouth the second it hit the floor. And before Dino could back away...he saw several more crawling out from every side of the door!
"What the FUCK??? Oh shit! Oh shit! What the....?????" Dino tripped back over the sofa as the creatures poured out from the darkness, nearly fifteen of them at once! And it almost looked as if they were growing bigger right in front of him! Dino panicked as they moved forward, lowering themselves to the ground and tucking their legs in to quickly slither forward like an angry serpent. Their movements alone were terrifying, and Dino shouted as he rolled backwards to get away from them!
He had nowhere else to go, so he ran for his upside down car, and crawled in through the passenger side window as fast as he could! He saw some of the creatures quickly snap up a few cats, rolling them over and tearing into them with a rage as they took giant bites out of them, one at a time! But the others...they only had one meal in mind.
Dino backed up, and struggled to roll his window up to keep them out, but they struggled and snapped and screeched, some of them slipping into the car with him anyway. Despite his kicking and screaming, they flooded into his car, and while Dino fought valiantly to defend himself, an organism like this was not to be denied its meal. Their teeth ripped him to pieces in a matter of minutes, attacking him from many angles at once. And Dino, not even having enough room in the compact space to fight...found himself being eaten alive. His last waking memories were of the skin....being torn off of his face, while two other creatures dined savagely on his intestines.
While the car rocked to and fro, loud squeals being echoed throughout the entire house as Dino's last breaths were snatched from his partly devoured corpse...the other creatures looked toward the giant hole in the wall. Seeing a way out into the world. An open door. And as they headed out of the old lady's house and out into the cooling afternoon air...they began looking for another meal. Something to sustain them while they find a place to build a nest. A colony...where they can grow. And multiply.
And FEED...until they are satisfied.
With blood still staining their teeth, the unidentified creatures began to naturally move towards the places where the largest chunks of the 'Houdini 3' comet had landed. Somewhere close. Some kind of shelter. Some place where they can feed.
The high school, perhaps....