NOVEMBER 17th, 2116
“Akio. Akio Tenagi!”
A distorted voice in the back of my head called to me as someone sitting behind me shook me awake. I removed my headphones and rubbed my eyes. Our homeroom teacher, Miss Henning, was passing out name tags at the front of the classroom. She dangled mine above her desk and set her eyes on me.
“Come and get your name tag, Akio,” she said. “We have to wear these once we enter the art gallery. And no headphones in class,”
I had forgotten about our field trip to the art gallery today as I was more interested in hanging out with friends. The foreign exchange student program that I was participating in would be ending next week. I'd be heading back home to the Funiki Bikon Island Biomes of Japan. The other students took advantage of me being a brief distraction for Miss Henning. They spoke in low whispers and passed notes as I left my desk.
I ducked a paper ball on my way to the front of the classroom and received my name tag before returning to my seat.
“Okay, class, pay attention,” Miss Henning said.
We turned our attention to the teacher.
“Thank you. Now, in about fifteen minutes, our class and two others will begin boarding the buses. So, let me take these few minutes to go back over proper conduct,”
She paused at a faint sound.
“What is that,” she asked. “Is that someone's cell phone? Turn it off.”
Miss Henning scanned the room with her brows raised and sighed.
“Okay, I guess it may be another problem with the air conditioning,” she said. “It doesn't matter. Whatever it is, someone will take care of it eventually. Now, as I was saying,”
The sound still continued, a whistle growing louder. One person accused the next of being responsible, their voices raised to a murmur. I sat and listened closer. It didn't seem to be coming from anyone; maybe outside of the school?
Miss Henning paused, drumming her fingernails on the desk. She pardoned herself from the class and opened the door to look out into the halls. She stopped another teacher passing by and stepped out to speak with him about the noise, only taking a moment before she returned and opened the communication link built into the corner of her desk.
The whistling had gotten as loud as a passing jet, there was no doubt that it was coming from above us, a piercing whistle like something was cutting through the wind. More than a few students had cupped their hands over their ears.
“This is unacceptable,” she said.
Covering one ear to listen into the hand receiver, she had to raise her voice to be heard. The noise muted behind a muffled rumble, it was like distant thunder. The ground shook beneath us.
Miss Henning turned around to face us, eyebrows furrowed.
“What in the world was that?” she asked.
Again, the whistling returned. Starting faintly, quickly ascending to a shrill wail, cut short by another booming thud. The hologram of the museum we were to attend shook and flickered on the Blu-pane board behind Miss Henning's desk.
“Bear with me class,” she said. “I'll call the...”
A surge of dust and debris blew through the room in a deafening roar as a shock-wave forced everyone and everything into the air, sweeping us toward the back of the classroom. The impact with the wall knocked the air from my lungs, but I was lucky to had been missed by all the flying desks, books and other students. A moist, tingling sensation washed over my body as everything fell softly to the ground.
I raised my head, it was all a blur.
What had just happened?
A blood curdling scream pierced my ears from the front of the room. A shaft of light shone down through a large hole in the ceiling, illuminating a big, cylindrical shadow sitting in a crater as the dust parted from around Miss Henning's desk. It was a big, metallic pod.
A fluorescent light bulb swung from a wire and broke against the beveled top of it's glistening, black surface. I wobbled to my feet and checked myself for injuries.
I'm fine. I'm fine.
I moved to the front of the room, stumbling over scattered desks and Netebooks and passing by lurching, coughing silhouettes. I had almost made it a little closer to the pod before I tripped over something else. I lifted my face from the floor and froze.
Eye to eye with me, Miss Henning lay on her chin. Her eyes were bulging and bloodshot, obscured behind disheveled tufts of her long, black bangs. They were slicked to her forehead with the seepage of a deep gash in her temple. Her twitching fingers were locked in an intense, talon curl as blood from her eyes and nose bubbled up at her lips as she took hard, broken gasps through clenched teeth.
I scrambled back to my feet. The girl beside me screamed herself into a frenetic weeping. The loudspeaker crackled and a staff member shouted a garbled message through the intercom. I couldn't make out a word of it.
Then the fire alarm sounded.
More whistles ascended to wails and ended with thundering bangs. Students ran, screamed, pushed, shoved, and trampled each other to get out of the classroom. I was pin-balled between the rushing crowd. I tried to regain my balance but was bounced off of the flickering Blu-pane board.
I curled up on the floor and prayed that no one trampled my head, then I noticed that I was the only one who remained. I rushed to the door and stopped.
The halls were a sea of madness and I was small for my age. At fifteen, I stood only five feet and two inches at about a hundred and twenty pounds. Could I even hope to survive out there? Something clanged behind me and I whipped around to see what. Slats opened in three places around the bottom of that metallic pod, oozing a slick, brown fluid as it clanked and knocked from the inside out.
A heavy slab of metal flipped down from the front and banged against the floor. The liquid flooded out over Miss Henning's corpse, carrying a white lump across the gray tiles. It slid into a desk, hitting the legs with a thump, flipping it onto its side.
What was that? It was unlikely to be what I thought it was, but there had to be chance. I approached it slowly but I needed to get out of here. What was I doing? Fighting against my better judgment? Maybe, but I was the only one left in the classroom. What would everyone tell the police when they got here, that no one saw anything?
They all ran screaming from the room without even knowing what had killed our teacher, let alone had any idea that something was even inside of it. I had to know, at least a clue, but...
I was already standing over the desk, I couldn't turn around. I peeked over it and stared down at a slimy, white lump.
Slowly, it sprawled out. Arms and legs? Then a tentacle with two lobed ends whipped up and slapped my face...
I turned and bolted into the hectic hallways.
I was bumped against a locker and tripped over someone who was lying on the ground, bleeding from their head. As I regained my balance I was elbowed in the ribs by someone rushing passed me in the opposite direction. I slammed into someone else and they shoved me into a group of girls that were pulling a person from beneath a fallen trophy case; one of them put a foot to my chest and kicked me away before I fell into rest of them. I ended up lying on my side in another classroom.
I had to find a way to get control of the situation. I couldn't get out unless I waited but I couldn't afford to do that. Who knew what that thing was that came out of that pod, it attacked me, didn't it? How? How to get out of this?
Someone was sobbing.
A girl with a long, blue streaked bang in black hair was slumped in one corner of the room. It looked like she and I were stuck in the same situation.
She was bruised over her left eye. She was probably run over like I was when everyone else left the room. Standing up and rubbing the pain from my ribs, I called out to her.
“Hey.” I said.
The steadiness of my voice contradicted my shaken nerves and beaten body. She looked up at me, her green eyes wide open as Mascara ran down her cheeks. She parted her trembling lips to speak but another wail muffled out her voice.
A crash blew through this room, just as the one before. The shock-wave slid me across the floor, but I was unhurt. I got up searching for a way out before it was too late.
The pod clanged, clanked, banged, it let out a mechanical hiss and the girl in the corner began screaming. The slick, brown fluid washed over my shoes in a warm cascade as her cries morphed into gurgling, heaving and gagging.
Then there was silence.
I couldn't see what happened to her through all the lingering dust. I did not intend to find out. My heart pounded as I grabbed a chair, took a running start and hurled it through the single, long window at the end of the classroom. I leaped through it and took off.
As I ran by the school track and field, yet another pod crashed down in front of me. A blue wave burst from its edges, engulfing my body and skidding me across the ground in a vicious roll, sending dirt and grass into my eyes and mouth.
I sat up, panting for air, certain that I wasn't as lucky this time. There was no pain. If I found a broken arm or a dislocated joint I'd be finished. I sat sputtering, fruitlessly wiping my eyes with dirty hands. Someone yanked me by the hood on my fleece and dragged me to my feet.
By the time I cleared the dirt from my eyes, I had been led to the front of the school. My savior was a tall, brown-skinned, dark-haired girl, wearing gym attire under a half-zipped sports jacket.
“We have to move,” she shouted.
She pointed to a school bus. It had already began to depart before we rounded the corner. There were only a few electronic speed regulating stripes left for it to clear. Once it passed over the last one, the bus's computer would unlock the speed limiter and we'd be left behind.
“Come on!” She continued to pull me along.
We ran into the courtyard, all three schools on either side of the triangular campus had been damaged by the falling pods. The elementary school's connecting bridge was collapsed into the driveway, blocking the quickest vehicle exit.
Another pod dangled by a thick wire, stuck on a support beam protruding from the building, leaking that brown, oily fluid onto the ground beneath. Students from the middle school flooded from the doors, some being led by teachers and others in large groups. They scrambled for a second bus, stumbling over the rubble from a hole that yet another pod blew through the front of the school at an angle.
The girl dragging me to safety kept her eyes focused ahead. She picked up enough speed to bring us closer. My feet stumbled over each other as I struggled to match her pace. She shouted again at the back of the bus, but the screech of falling pods sounded like bombs plummeting from the sky.
She snatched the pair of headphones I was wearing from around my neck and connected the magnetic cups on the backs of the earphones. With a jerk of her arm, she hurled them, they sailed through the air like a disk and make contact with the emergency hatch.
It slid up and a chubby blonde boy in a windbreaker was standing there, motioning for us to come closer, to move faster. The bus cleared the last speed stripe. The boy turned around and shouted into the bus. It slowed but didn't stop. My sides stung like a chemical burn and a coppery taste filled my mouth.
However, the track girl gripped my hand tightly and brought us closer before letting me go. Her long, powerful legs pumped harder and harder. Her tennis shoes beat the asphalt as her strides became shorter and she sprang up into the back of the bus.
I, on the other hand, was losing steam. My lungs were about to burst, my brain pulsated against the inside of my skull and my legs cramped up. I wouldn't make it.
The blonde boy's eyes were turned up. He was looking at the sky. It may have been fear, maybe curiosity, or perhaps even stupidity, but I slowed my pace, turned around, and had a look for myself.
There were pods falling.
Lots of them, streaking orange trails against the cold, gray, November sky.
Story. Music. Art. Style.
I'm developing my own style from a fusion of traditional Seinen and Shounen manga with some kind of influence from Americanized art. I'm into my own type of thing, designing my own characters and building my own universe to write my own saga within.
That's my focus.