All Nonfiction Bullying Books Academic Author Interviews Celebrity interviews College Articles College Essays Educator of the Year Heroes Interviews Memoir Personal Experience Sports Travel & CultureAll Opinions Bullying Current Events / Politics Discrimination Drugs / Alcohol / Smoking Entertainment / Celebrities Environment Love / Relationships Movies / Music / TV Pop Culture / Trends School / College Social Issues / Civics Spirituality / Religion Sports / Hobbies
- Summer Guide
- College Guide
- Author Interviews
- Celebrity interviews
- College Articles
- College Essays
- Educator of the Year
- Personal Experience
- Travel & Culture
- Current Events / Politics
- Drugs / Alcohol / Smoking
- Entertainment / Celebrities
- Love / Relationships
- Movies / Music / TV
- Pop Culture / Trends
- School / College
- Social Issues / Civics
- Spirituality / Religion
- Sports / Hobbies
- Community Service
- Letters to the Editor
- Pride & Prejudice
- What Matters
In The Dark
The intercom speaker screeches loudly, the sharp noise piercing my ears. We hear Mr. Raymundo's muffled voice from the other end of the receiver.
“Who are you –?”
He's silenced by a deafening noise that a human could not possibly produce. A loud shrill torturing buzz that is so horrendous that kids are collapsing onto the floor, some passed out, some flailing around, shaking uncontrollably. My gaze flicks to the poor kids on the floor, their hands covering their ears, moaning in pain. I want to help them, but I find my own pain is too much to handle. It feels like a laser penetrating, burning a hole in my head, paralyzing me. My head is slamming around in my skull, and I squeeze my eyes shut, trying to halt the agony. I press my hands to my ears, aware of nothing but the high-pitch screech, burying my face into my stomach, sobbing for it to stop. The screech goes on forever, or so it seems, and when it slowly comes to an end, my ears are still ringing. I sigh a big breath of relief, not even wondering what will come after, just so freaking thankful that the torture is over. I take a deep breath slowly, trying to stop my shaking hands and shivering body.
It's over, I think, breathing heavily, not realizing it has only just begun.
“Class!” Mr. Frank calls, trying to lead us, but looking just as terrified.
“Immediately,” he demands, “Go in the corner. We're having a lock down,” he says seriously, and I know that it is not a drill.
I'm about push out of my desk, scramble into the corner like a coward and cry into my jacket, but a silencing voice penetrates me, stopping me from going any further. Everyone else remains still, too.
The voice is coming from the intercom, and I stare up at the ceiling, transfixed.
“You will remain calm,” are the first words we hear, a deep, rumbling voice. I'm suddenly glued to my seat with fear, interest. Both wanting to listen, and not at the same time. My curiosity – or maybe it's the terror – takes over, keeping me from moving an inch.
The voice we hear is strangely clam, but alerting at the same time. Menacing.
“This is a new world.”
The voice gives up time to absorb this. After all, it is kinda a big deal. But what does it even mean?
“What is this some sort of joke?” asks the kid that sits next to me, looking my way for some sign of recognition. But all I can give him is a mirror of what he looks like – shocked, confused, and a little scared.
“A fresh start, if I may,” the voice protrudes, amusement hinting to the stern voice.
“We command you to listen to us, and if you step out of line – well, let's just say don't step out of line.”
“What is that supposed to mean?” I mutter, my head racing, thoughts jumbled.
“Unless you want to be terminated, of course.”
The voice chuckles deeply, laughing at his own joke. Joke? In what kind of sick world are people being “terminated” funny?
“Is this the senior prank?” calls out a kid from across the room, laughing nervously, even though it's really not funny. At all.
We know it's not a joke, or prank – that for a fact it must be reality when two husky, bald, not-so-friendly looking men emerge from the doorway, with their guns loaded.
I'd like to say that I am brave. Fearless. That I'd go to any extent to stand up for what I believe in. Afraid of nothing and nobody.
But now? Not so much.
I have to say I'm petrified. The terror I feel coursing through my body, is none like any other dismay I've experienced before. My bones are statues, afraid the slightest movements could cost me my life. The men are eying the kids on the floor, their faces drained of all emotion, their eyes cold, distant. They glance at the shaking kids, see the terror in their eyes, and they look unmoved by all of this, like they see it every day.
I feel distant, as if I'm not really here, just watching the scene play on as one of the guards walks casually up to my quivering teacher, takes his finger, and merely presses it on the base of Mr. Frank's neck, and he suddenly collapses to the ground with a thud.
Staring down at Mr. Frank in a heap down at his feet, the guard laughs.
“Don't worry guys,” the he explains, peering around the room at us, “He's not dead.”
“Yeah,” the second man says, as if he's doing us a favor, “We'll spare him,” he tells us, smiling sweetly.
The sickly grin is still plastered on his face when he says, “For now.”
Who are these people?
Our attention is drawn back to the intercom as the voice begins again.
“Soon, you will find two Regulators at your classroom door,” he announces, and he sounds kind of bored, as if he's done this a million times. Just breaking into schools and threatening to kill the kids as a hobby. A fun little “past time”.
“You will do as they say. Please do not resist. Because it won't get you anywhere. Remember, we're not afraid to do what is necessary.”
What is necessary?
“We are very sorry you will not get to say good bye to your parents. But we must move fast and productively,” the voice continues, and though he's saying he's sorry, he doesn't sound it.
“That is all,” he ends abruptly, “Good day.”
The intercom speaker buzzes and the voice is gone. The heavy silence is even louder than before, if that makes any sense.
Just the horrified eyes of kids, peeking around the room, petrified.
“What do you want us to do?” whimpers Gordon suddenly, the school's quarter-back, a nice, sweet kid with big brown eyes and sprinkles of freckles. He's never looked as helpless as he does now, huddled in the corner, begging for some sort of guidance.
Shut up Gordon. Please. Now is not the time to fire off your motor-mouth.
“Anything,” he pleads, “We'll do anything you – .”
There is an incredibly loud noise and it shakes the walls, echoing around in the small room. I don't realize what just happened until I see the blood. Flowing into the cracks of the floor tile, leaking into the concrete.
“Don't be like this idiot,” the “Regulator” speaks for the first time, not even flinching at the horrifying sight of Gordon, poor Gordon, holding his stomach, ggasping air, grgasping life.
“Keep your mouth shut and you'll be fine.”
“Unless we just decide that we don't like you,” chuckles the other one, superiorly. They walk around the room slowly, feeding themselves of off the terrified gazes of the kids, eyes locked on them as they travel from row to row.
“Hmmm. . .” Regulator 1 muses, twirling a piece of my friend Elizabeth's hair in his hand, “A beautiful mane, you've got,” he snickers, stroking the smooth purple layers gently. I sneak a glance at Elizabeth's face. Her tan skin is now a dull pale, sweat falling like a waterfall of off her frozen, petrified face.
“It can't be natural, can it?” Regulator 1 asks with fake interest.
Elizabeth is silent, probably thinking that if she speaks, like Gordon did, then she'll end up like he did.
“Answer me when I speak to you,” Regulator 1 demands, tugging on her hair violently, her head snapping back and hitting the desk behind her.
“No,” Elizabeth stutters, “Its dye,” she shakes, swallowing nervously.
Suddenly Regulator 1 jerks his hand and puts his gun flat on Elizabeth's face, the trigger pointing to the side. In one swift motion he fires off three bullets, aiming at the window. The glass breaks, creating an ear-shattering noise – but it is nothing compared to the screech from earlier.
The shards fly around the classroom, landing on the floor nearby my desk.
Elizabeth's eyes are squeezed shut tightly, probably praying for her life. When she realizes the guard has not shot her, but the window, she looks even more scared and confused than ever.
“Gotcha!” Regulator 2 exclaims, going off into a fit of big, hearty laughs as if he's watching Comedy Central.
Regulator 1 abruptly drops Elizabeth's hair and moves on to the next victim, skipping a few lucky kids, his gaze landing on a very small, frail boy in the front row, towards the middle. I think his name is Aaron, but I'm not positive – no one ever really talks to him.
“Why, hello there,” he chirps brightly, stalking over to the poor boy.
“Are you the class loser?” he asks sadly.
Without waiting for an answer he nods, “I can tell. You, know, back when I was in high school,” he gazes off as if remembering a distant memory, “I was pretty popular. Just remember,” he says sweetly, but you can hear the evil edge to his voice, “If you need someone to talk to about your problems...I'm right here.”
He smiles and the boy looks utterly confused. I can't blame him – I'm puzzled myself.
“But you're not here.”
Regulator 1 pulls out a bright light out of his pants pocket, and shining it into Aaron's dark eyes, he holds his head in place, unwilling him to move, forcing him to look directly into the light.
I watch in horror as Aaron's eyes drip out of his head and roll onto the floor. He doesn't even make a sound as this is happening, though the guard is cackling like crazy.
When the guard shines the light up and down Aaron's body slowly, the rest of him melts away, too. And, while this is all happening, all I can think about is those Sponge Bob Popsicle with the black gum ball eyes and when you leave them out in the sun for too long. Melting, melting, melting.
But then I realize that this is real. That this kid is not a freaking Popsicle – he's a person.
And – “class loser” or not – he did absolutely nothing to deserve this. Neither did Gordon. And although part of me is screaming to stay seated, to keep my mouth shut, I just...can't. I can't watch one more innocent kid slip away, their lives spiraling into nothing, when they could've done so much.
“Who are you?” I speak up, and all heads turn to me, the fellow students looking sorry for me, the Regulator's amused.
“What did I say about talking?” Regulator 1 asks, coming toward me, hitting his gun against his hand threateningly.
“You said, if we need some one to talk to, you're right here,” I sass bravely, quivering on the inside with fear, outrage, and who knows what else, but showing none of it on the outside.
“So talk to me,” I say, eyebrows raised, “What is going on?”
The Regulators are momentarily silent, and for a second, I think they are planning my death and I curse myself for being so stupid.
“A very brave one,” quips Regulator 2 coming toward me, “We haven't seen many like you.”
I narrow my brown eyes at him suspiciously, “What are you talking about? What do you mean?”
The guards ignore me and seem to be consulting something with their eyes.
“Come with me,” Regulator 2 demands suddenly, motioning me with his pointer finger.
“Why?” I test haughtily, pursing my lips. The only reason I'm pushing his buttons is because, I figure, he can't hit me. I'm a fourteen year old girl and this guy's like – what? Fifty? His muscles are bulging through his tight shirt intimidatingly, while I can barely win an arm wrestle with my seventy year old grandmother.
I smirk with slight victory, thinking that I've won for now – that he can't hurt me because I'm a girl.
But when the guard whips out the light he used to kill Aaron, and points it my way, I think that maybe – just maybe – this rule doesn't apply in this “new world”. Before I can blink – or hide under the desk like a coward – he shines it toward my shoulder, and I feel my skin set ablaze. It's like my shoulder is burning off, the pain is terrible.
“Owww...” I cry, eyes closed tightly, tears streaming down my pained face.
I grab my arm and squeeze it tightly, not surprised to find that cradling it only makes in hurt ten times worse.
“I said come with me!” the guard yells fiercely, glaring at me with his glassy, beady eyes.
“That ought to teach you to listen to me,” he sneers, grinning triumphantly at my pain.
He stands by the door, waiting for me to follow.
When I recover from the agony and am able to speak again, I stand up from my desk slowly, and, despite the “lesson” he was trying to teach me, I mutter, “You really had to burn my freaking shoulder off?”
I guess I should be grateful that I'm still in one peace – that I didn't just melt away like Aaron did – but still, I'm definitely expecting that to leave a mark.
He shoots me another threatening glare, but does nothing as he leads me out into the hallway.
As we saunter down the blue-tiled floor, I feel like I'm in a movie, and I'm wondering if my gruesome death is the scene that comes next.
I stare at the gun in my hand, terrified beyond belief. Sweat pours of off my head, blinding my vision as my hand wanders over the trigger.
One little click. That's all it takes to end someone's life. And I just cannot do it.
I don't even know the kid well, but a life's as life. And standing here, watching the boy as he loses hope, as he gives up, no longer begging for mercy – figuring his life is already over – I can't do it.
“Shoot him,” the first Regulator threatens sharply, “Or I shoot you.”
I close my eyes with fear, but determination too, determination to live my last moments as peaceful as I possibly can. Considering that our school has just been invaded by horrible, cold-hearted criminals.
“Shoot me then,” I tell him, unwilling to let my voice waver.
The guard certainly wasn't expecting that. He squints, shocked and confused, but then his frowns replaces itself with a pleased smile.
“Noble,” he muses about me, walking closer, the gun still loaded and ready in his hands, “Very noble.”
I can't move. I'm paralyzed with fear, terror, suspense. I peel my eyes apart slowly, wondering why they spared my life. So far.
“We can't afford to kill one like you,” the other Regulator, who I have not heard one word from, says matter-a-factually.
“Like me?” I ask quietly, but loud enough for them to hear. They stare at me for a long time, no one saying a word.
“Yes,” he says, smirking pleasantly, “You passed.”
I passed. I passed.
“Passed?” I ask, my voice rising, not thinking about the consequences, just outraged, incredulous.
“Passed? You made me choose between killing someone and dying as a test?”
I'm disgusted by these monsters, and the thought that makes me most angry, is that they don't even seem to care.
“How sick are you?” I question, shaking my head, not believing any of this. Maybe it isn't real.
“Very,” Regulator 2 chuckles, smiling proudly.
“You make me sad to be a part of the same species as you,” I spit out, glaring at them harshly, “If you could even call yourselves human.”
I don't know these people, and I don't have a clue to what is going on, but I know it's incredibly horrendous. And as long as I'm alive, I will do everything to stop it.
Question is: how long will I be alive for?
Regulator 1 smirks, nodding, as if he's been expecting me to lash out like this, all along. He motions me to follow him, and I do – but only out of courage. If my life is going to end, I'm going to be standing up for what I believe in until I breathe my last breath.
So, how long will I be alive for?
I think I'm about to find out.
The second I see two humongous men, who looks like clones of freaking Santa come into the class room, I know that this is not going to be an average school day. They bound in, their heavy military books scuffing the squeaky clean floor, that Mrs. Brander is so strict about keeping clean.
I'm so petrified that my mind isn't processing anything. I just keep thinking, Mrs. Brander's not gonna like that these guys are ruining her floors, over and over again; She's not gonna like it at all.
The men are walking around the room, studying the shivering kids with amusement.
My brain seems to slowly clear from the fog, and I am able function somewhat normally again.
My mind wanders back to the horrifying scream that came from the intercom earlier, and then a light bulb flickers on in my head.
The world is ending. These strange people are from another planet, and they're here to eliminate Earth – and everything on it.
But then I realize that my “logic” actually makes no sense. I shake my head, getting rid of the horrible thought, but the worry that something just as terrible is going on remains.
“Alright!” one man barks loudly, laughing when our attention flicks up to him obediently, out of fear.
He takes in all of the terrified faces, and chuckles at how scared and cowardly we all look.
“You will do as we say. If you follow our orders,” he says simply, “No one gets hurt.”
“But if you don't...” the other man grins.
They both make a cutting motion at their throat, weirdly in sync. Then they burst out into a fit of explosive laughs that I swear shakes the walls.
How the heck is that funny?
Everybody is even more scared now, knowing that these sick human beings find committing murder to be hilarious.
The two men then go into the corner of the room, and seem to be communicating silently.
The taller one nods and stalks out of the room with purpose.
Where's he going?
The one who is still in the room scurries to the door, closes it, and then locks it with finality.
“Alright kids,” he says, his voice quivering with fear, “I'm on your side. We won't be able to save everyone else,” he tells us, breathing heavily, “but if you listen to me, I can get you guys out of here.”
He rushes over to the window and unlatches it. He opens it aggressively and motions for us to follow. Everyone looks so relieved as they scurry after him, climbing through the window as fast as their shaking bodies will allow. They are all so happy to be rescued, that no one stops to think that maybe it's a little weird that this guy was just talking about killing us, and suddenly, he's now on our side.
I squint my eyes at him suspiciously, rooted in my seat, unsure of his true motives.
“Aren't you coming, kid?” he whispers urgently.
“Why should I trust you?” I ask, narrowing my eyes.
He smiles, seemingly satisfied, and then he pulls the gun from his pocket, holds it up, and shoot three bullets in a row at the group of kid, not aiming at anyone specific, just shooting carelessly.
“You shouldn’t,” he says, and grins at me. “A smart one,” he muses, looking me up and down, “The Headmaster could use someone like you.”
“Who?” is all I can manage to speak out. I’m trying to keep my eyes from wandering to the floor, where a girl named Cassie is lying, grasping her head. She is, or maybe I should say was, as I see the blood seeping from her temple, such a show off. Nobody liked her – she was always competing with everyone about everything – but I’m sure no one really wanted her to end up like this.
“The Headmaster – you’ll meet him soon enough.”
I narrow my eyes at the guard suspiciously, “So what was that? The whole ‘I’m on your side’ bit?”
“That,” the guard quips, grinning, “was a test. Congrats – you got an A.”
My first one in a while, I think, and then mentally smack myself for thinking about something as irrelevant as grades at a time like this.
“So that means you not gonna kill me?” I ask, praying that the answer is yes.
The guard’s eyes gleam with amusement, “Not just yet,” he says, admiringly. “That is up to the Headmaster.”
I get beat up a lot. Too many times per day to count. It’s not because I’m a nerd – I hate school as much as the next guy. It’s merely that fact that I’m really skinny. Like, scary, anorexic skinny. And I also may not be the most coordinated person you’ll ever meet. Okay, I suck at any sport that requires throwing, catching, or kicking. But – hey! – I’m really good at foosball.
The point is, just because I’m frail, and tiny, and don’t look like freaking a body builder, like Gordon and Trey and all the other guys on the football team do, doesn’t mean I’m not just as tough as them. I mean, maybe from the outside, it looks like they could get hit with a freaking freight train and still be standing, and I could fall to pieces from a simple tap on the shoulder, but whatever – it’s the inside that counts.
And now, as I sit in my seat, Trey – the kicker for the football team – sitting behind me and flicking the back of my head repeatedly, I really want to turn around and punch him in the face. I don’t though, for the mere knowledge that I’d, somehow, end up being the one with a broken hand.
“Quit it!” I exclaim, ducking out of his way.
“What are you gonna do if I don’t? You gonna go cry to your mommy?” he asks, forging sympathy.
So I sigh, and turn around, knowing there is no way to stop him, being defeated once again. He continues, snickering meanly, relentless to stop, which is why I’m so surprised when he does.
His hand drops slowly, and I can hear him gulp nervously.
My first thought is: Did I finally intimidate him?!?
I’m really happy, ecstatic even, at the thought of this. That is, until I realize that it wasn’t me who has intimidated him – that it, with no doubt, was the men standing in the doorway, with their guns pointed at me.
It’s all I can do not to scream like a little girl, and I’m actually surprised when I don’t.
My eyes are wide, and the men laugh at everyone’s terrified expressions, and I’m thinking: maybe this is just a dream.
I know it’s not though, when the head man, in the front and center, steadies the gun and – boom! – finds his target, and shoots.
His target, after all, turns out not to be me. I’m so grateful, yet so horrified, all at once. I turn around slowly, knowing what to expect, yet still not prepared when I see it – Trey, a gaping hole in his neck, blood pouring out of it endlessly.
All those years of him torturing me, and he finally gets to feel what it’s like to be in my shoes. I never, of course, got shot at, but maybe now he feels what it’s like to be the under-dog once in his life. If he is still alive, anyway.
I hear my teacher from where she lay on the ground; hear her quivering voice as she speaks to someone – the cops – on her cell phone. The men do not like this, though – they don’t like it at all. So – boom! – they pull the trigger once again, this time aiming the gun right at Miss. Potter.
And, as one of the men catches my eye from across the room, staring at me as if I’m prey, I wonder if I’m next.