Sunday, June 15, 2014

End of the World, Part One

Sakura awoke with a sharp cry, twisting as she moved about on the floor, a cry on her lips that was quickly shushed by another student, Ben. Ben, the tall rugby player that had been Sakura’s longtime crush, was now holding her in a tight embrace, his hand muffling her voice. This would have been part of a dream come true, especially as they were in a broom closet, save for the fact she didn’t remember getting in here.

“Are you going to be quiet?” Ben whispered, slackening his hold on the smaller girl. “Because we are in some deep shit where noise could get us killed. You understand?”
Sakura nodded and was instantly released, falling back onto the gym pads with a slight thud, her plaid skirt riding a little high on the thigh and causing Ben to blush, looking away. Sakura adjusted her outfit, leaning forward with a finger at her mouth, scratching at the corner of her lips.
“Why do we have to be quiet?” She whispered, looking at Ben seriously.
“Because the school is overrun with ghosts, wraiths that are attracted to sound. They get close to you and you can see your life flash through your eyes as the paralyze you, slowly draining you of everything that is you.”
Sakura let out a tiny “eep!” at that explanation, but kept it quiet. Ben held a finger up to his lips and moved to the sliding door that led to the gym. “Take a look, there should be a few out there. Don’t make a sound, that’s how they track you.”
Ben slowly rolled the door open, allowing Sakura to look out into the lit gym, which was littered with pale, lifeless bodies. A volleyball net was set up in the middle and a game had obviously been in progress when something had interrupted. Half of the team seemed to have made a break for the locker rooms while the others ran for the exit outside.
The mounds of bodies showed that they never made it past a dozen feet.
Swirling high above in the rafters were creatures out of a horrible fairy tale, trailing black cloaks of tattered darkness, twin ebon arms extending from long sleeves ending in three long claws, no hands… just three stalks of sharpened shadows stretching forth from the limb. Their faces, shrouded by hoods, seemed to glisten in the darkness that pulsed around them, their very forms swallowing the light from all around them.
There were three of them, circling the lights, dimming the gymnasium to the point where one had to squint to see over the mounds of bodies. Sakura couldn’t believe what she was seeing, and had to stifle a gasp at the sight of the creatures. Leaning back into the closet, Ben rolled the door closed and looked at her.
“You saw them then?” He asked, seemingly serious.
“Of course I did! They’re horrible!” She whispered.
“Good, you can see them too. A lot of the students couldn’t see them and just ended up screaming as their classmates started to shrivel and dry up, leading to more and more death at the hands of the creatures.”
“So what are going to do?” Sakura asked, her voice hushed.
“We’re going to sneak out of here and try to get somewhere safe. Maybe go to the police, I don’t know.” Ben said, running his hand over his face and through his hair as he wracked his mind.
“I wonder what they are?” Sakura asked, looking at the doors as if she could see through them, peering at the creatures circling the lights above.
“Does it matter? They kill you if they get close to you… that doesn’t need a name.” Ben replied before motioning to the rest of the room. “Now we can’t turn on the lights in here for some reason, I think the bulb is out, but there’s a narrow window over here that leads to the grounds. I can’t fit through it, but you can.”
“I can?” Sakura repeated, not liking this line of thought.
“Yes, and when you go through, I want you to run to my car. It’s a red ford focus, in parking lot A.” He said, pressing a key into her hand. “Drive away from here and go to the police so they can come and rescue whoever is left in the school.”
“You really think I can do it?” Sakura asked, looking down at the key. She’d never driven a car before, but she knew the mechanics.
“You have to,” he said simply, rolling his shoulders. “Otherwise we’re going to have to wait for someone to notice that this has happened.”
“Alright… alright, I can do this.”
“I know you can Sakura,” Ben said, pulling her into a brief hug. “I’m depending on you. Don’t let me down.”
“I won’t,” Sakura whispered before moving beneath the window. “I need a boost.”
Ben moved over to her, cupping his hands together for her to step on, lifting her up to the window as she pressed against the wall for leverage. Looking out the window, Sakura noticed the orange haze of the sunset.
“It’s late already,” she said. Looking down at Ben, she smiled. “Hopefully somebody is already on the way. If not, I’ll get them.”
“Good girl!” Ben whispered.
Sakura fiddled with the latch until the window opened, slipping through it, her hips getting caught for a brief moment, forcing her to wiggle through the tight opening. Crawling on her hands and knees in the grass, she noted how grimy the normally soft lawn felt. Looking at her hands she found them to be covered in ash. Pushing herself to her feet, she found that her entire front was covered in ash, which she began to desperately wipe off, patting herself to clean herself, a cloud of ash billowing around her.
That was when she heard the first moan.
Looking to her right, around the gymnasium, she saw a student shuffling closer to her, his skin ashen and grey, his eyes white and hollow. Blood dribbled from his mouth as he reached plaintively for her, moaning as he did so. Several more students in similar condition came shuffling from around the same corner, causing Sakura to bite her lip to stifle a scream.
Turning, she ran towards parking lot A, staring in amazement at the low mist that seemed to permeate the air once you got away from the building. Looking back, past the students giving a slow, staggered chase, she saw that part of the gymnasium had collapsed, a large rock having struck it near the locker rooms. Looking up at the sky, Sakura slowed to a standstill as she stared up.
The orange wasn’t from a sunset, or even a sunrise. It was from hundreds of wide columns of flame coming down from the heavens, winged figures flying around them like seagulls at the aft of a fishing boat. The sky was an angry red, clouds swirling in great circles around the pillars of flame.

A low moan brought her attention back to the here and now, causing her to continue jogging, wondering what was going on. 

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