caseus: (aipom)
beginning & end ([personal profile] caseus) wrote2016-01-23 04:35 pm

WIP AMNESTY: SPBB

Soft R | Copious amounts of graphic violence/character death



Friday, 1:59PM

In Mr. Garrison's last period English class on Friday, Kyle Broflovski was trying not to fall asleep in class.

Kyle prided himself on not sleeping in class. It was a feat to not fall asleep in Mr. Garrison's class, most of all, and Kyle had a running bet with several of his other classmates (included, but not limited to: Eric Cartman, Clyde Donovan, Token Black, and Dog Poo) that "the first lil' bitch who falls asleep in Garrison's class has to eat his own shit." Kyle wouldn't have agreed to such an inane bet, but then Cartman had said, what, do we have a winner already? a lil' bitch already? and Kyle had said, fuck you, fatass, and signed his name down.

Some sadistic asshole had apparently decided to hire Herbert Garrison in the high school, given that he barely had the credentials to teach elementary school students, which he did for all of a decade. All Garrison ever did was talk about his boyfriends - boring and not gossip-worthy - and then assign them ten page long essays to write on Lord of the Flies. The thing is, high school grades actually mattered, for like, colleges and shit, so as much as his students wanted to complain, they couldn't exactly skip out on their assignments - unless they wanted to stay in this godforsaken town and spend the rest of their lives in Garrison's basement, waxing his leg hair.

Next to Kyle, his best friend, Stan Marsh, was already successfully asleep, snoring in increments and drooling slightly on the desk. He'd made the intelligent decision to not partake in Cartman's stupid bet ("it's five bucks, Kyle, really," "I'm not letting that asshole prove himself about anything!") and had the relief of not dying of boredom. His blue and red hat was perched precariously on his head, loose and cotton - one wrong move and it would fall off.

He snored, again, but didn't twitch. His hat remained stock still.

The only other person awake to suffer Garrison's droning-ons - and, incidentally, the smartest person in the room - was Wendy Testaburger, spine straight, eyes focused as Garrison went on and on about his latest beau. She was sitting in the front row and, every so often, liked to raise her hand and contribute with, "Mr. Garrison, I like to think that if you examine your actions, the avoidances based on your desire to hide the size of your penis could easily be misconstrued as sneaking around and cheating on your lover," to which Garrison would reply with some sort of misogynistic comment. Wendy didn't blink twice at those anymore. The half-asleep students sometimes wondered why Garrison bothered on calling on Wendy because she raised her hand, every damn time, but they figured that Garrison wouldn't ignore her in favor of being acknowledged.

Garrison's current tirade was about how you shouldn't trust men, or women, or not anyone, when any moment they could turn around and stab you in the back by breaking up with you and saying you're too clingy and how you don't clean behind your ears is gross. "I mean," said Garrison, "who does that?" Wendy, wide awake and surrounded by dead asleep students, shifted her arm on her desk, about to raise it.

It was then when the lights went out.

Someone screamed.

Wendy deduced that it had to be Garrison - he was the only other one in the room with his eyes open, after all, and none of her classmates would've noticed. It certainly wasn't her - it was just the power, there was nothing to scream about.

But after that, about twenty students in the room jerked awake, eyes blinking in the darkness. "What the hell?" mumbled Rebecca, who sat on Wendy's left side.

"The power went out," Wendy said, practically. "Someone screamed."

"The power's out?" said Stan. He sat a few rows behind her; despite being smarter than Kyle when it came to placing bets, he was not, by any means, smart. "The weather was fine earlier."

Kyle told him, "Sometimes it doesn't have to do with the weather." He was digging his hand into his pocket, searching for his phone. "Jesus Christ, it's dark."

The rest of the students were murmuring to themselves, lost and confused in the darkness. None of them made to get out of their desks - the lights would come back on, surely, and then they'd have to resume the rest of their uninteresting lesson for fifteen more minutes. Plus, if any of them tried to get out early when the lights turned back on, Garrison would get pissed and assign them a twenty page essay.

Wendy wondered, "Why did Mr. Garrison scream?"

"Maybe he's just scared of the dark." Nichole, who sat on Wendy's other side, already had her phone clicked on. It glowed in her face. "Is anyone else freaking out or is it just me?"

"I'm freaking out," said Rebecca. "God, I hope the power comes back on soon."

"Calm down, girls," said Wendy. "It's just electricity, it'll come back soon." Though it didn't absolve the question of why Mr. Garrison screamed, and - come to think of it, he hadn't said anything for a while.

Concerned, Wendy stood up from her desk.

And knocked her head straight into Kyle's.

"Ow," she said, wincing. She rubbed her forehead. Kyle had his phone out too, and shone it in her face, blue-white.

"Sorry," Wendy said. "Didn't see you there."

"It's cool," said Kyle, though he mumbled, "ow," again, as he righted himself. They navigated their way between the desks; Kyle said, "I was just going to see if we could get the light switch back on."

"I was going to check on Mr. Garrison," said Wendy, winding her way around to the front of the classroom. Her phone was in her locker, which she was beginning to regret now. She blindly made her way through the dark. "I think he might've fainted from the shock."

"You think?" In the glow of his phone's light, Kyle's eyes were wide. "You can use this to check on him," he said, offering his phone to her.

"Thanks," said Wendy gratefully.

As Kyle went to the classroom's light switch, Wendy went towards Mr. Garrison's desk - he liked to lean against it and talk. She panned the light of Kyle's phone over that space, lower and lower until it hit the floor.

Mr. Garrison's body lay there, in a pool of runny, scarlet red blood. There was a knife in his back, twisted and ugly like some sort of cruel irony.

Wendy pushed back the scream rising in her throat. "Oh my god," she whispered, not sure how she was still breathing. "He's dead."

 

Friday, 2:03PM

In the art wing, several students were facing the same issue - well not same, per se, as none of their teachers had dropped dead yet.

The power outage was an issue to some (like the ones in 15B, except for the Vampires, who claimed that they "thrived in darkness"), but not to others, who already had their lights off. Room 13C was painting with glow stick liquid using their fingers - "Isn't this, like, poisonous and really dangerous?" Craig had asked when their teacher gave them the assignment - and in the darkness, not much changed.

Bebe Stevens, pink diphenyl oxalate on her left index finger, blue on her right, paused for a second. She frowned.

"Does it feel like something weird just happened, or is that just me?" she asked.

Her neighbor, Butters, made happy glowing green circles on his canvas, unbothered. "I think it's just you, Bebe!" he said perkily. "Wanna borrow some of my paint?"

"No thanks, Butters." Bebe glanced around. The rest of her classmates were barely visible - the blinds were shut, to increase the effect, and outside the chicken wire-lined window on the door, she could see a peek of the grey-blue that was the first floor of their school, as they rarely turned the lights in this hallway, especially during the day.

Craig, who was on the other side of the room and drawing an impressive glowing yellow gerbil, said, "Maybe it's just the shock you got from how ugly your picture is."

"Oh, shut up, Craig," Bebe said easily, returning to her artwork. It was probably just the wind outside, or something. Who knew. It was probably nothing.

 

Friday, 2:04PM

"Oh my god." Kyle was not hyperventilating. He was trying not to hyperventilate. "Oh my god."

"Dude, holy shit," said Stan. He was standing next to Kyle. "What the fuck."

All of Garrison's students were crowded around his body. His dead body, specifically. His eyes were still wide open and the back of his shirt was stained with blood, like he'd been stabbed multiple times before he'd died properly.

"Oh my god," Kyle said again.

"This is bad," Nichole fretted. She was standing as far away from the body as possible; the sight of blood made her queasy. "What if someone comes in and thinks one of us killed him?"

"What if one of us did kill him?" said Rebecca.

Everyone in the room shivered.

Kyle said, "Jesus fuck," and then, "Someone close his eyes, please." When no one stepped forward to listen to him - Wendy was standing with Nichole, because dead bodies freaked her out - Kyle rushed forward and slid Garrison's eyelids shut, before running back into the fray where everyone was standing.

It wasn't much of a relief.

"What do we do?" said Stan.

Nichole spoke up. "We get out of here, that's what. We should - tell someone - "

"Or someone could think that one of us killed him," Rebecca pointed out.

Wendy snorted. "That's stupid, we were all here, when - " She paused. "Well we have an alibi, even though - " The power had gone out - that wasn't much of an alibi. "But why would we - " No, never mind, she could think of a number of reasons why anyone in this room would murder Garrison.

"The power's still not back," Kyle mused. "You think - maybe, it went out so whoever wanted to kill Garrison could do it without getting caught?"

"Then why hasn't it turned back on yet?" asked Stan.

"Let's," Nichole said again, "Let's just get out of here."

*

Friday, 2:04PM, at the same time

"Ow!" laughed Kenny, as Token pelted his side with a dodgeball. "Shit - who's playing dirty over there?"

"Not me," said Token.

"Jesus Christ, you guys, we shouldn't be playing dodgeball in the dark." In the back of the gym, Tweek was twitching to himself, rubbing his knuckles together. The rest of his classmates had continued on the game like nothing happened - what was wrong with them? "Someone could get hurt!"

"No one's gonna get hurt, you pussy," said Clyde, from somewhere on Kenny's side. (It wasn't a big gym.) "Ow - hey, who did that?"

"Not me," Token said again.

"It's totally Token," said Heidi Nelson. She had something akin to night vision that freaked her parents out whenever she got up in the middle of the night to go to the bathroom without turning the lights on. She was also the best at Halloween pranks - last year she made Eric Cartman pee his pants in fright. It was part of the reason he had a crush on her.

"Token, you asshole," Kenny laughed.

"You're the asshole, asshole," Token said intelligently, hitting Kenny in the shoulder again.

Clyde grumbled, throwing and missing by miles. "When are the lights gonna come back on so I can see again?"

"Hey, don't go blaming other people that your aim sucks," said Kenny.

Tweek watched - well, tried to watch. He was afraid of the dark only on the basis that someone - usually underwear gnomes - would sneak up on him and steal his underwear, or something as important as underwear. The bleachers against his back were a precaution and made him feel a bit safer from having his undies jacked.

Something crawled along his foot.

"Aah!" he shrieked, jumping back from the bleachers. The building was old, so they wobbled dangerously - not that he noticed.

"Tweek?" came Clyde's concerned voice. "What's wrong?"

"Th-The..."

Token rolled his eyes and went to where he'd heard Tweek yell, taking his phone out of his pocket. "It's just a rat, Tweek," he said, shining the light on the little rodent against the polished wood floors.

Tweek laughed nervously to himself. "Yeah, just a rat..."

Token waved his phone around, suddenly inspired. It wasn't a large gym by any means, but with the rest of them still playing, light from the phone would probably be some help. Their gym teacher always slept in his office and was old and fat and gave them A's, so they usually spent the entire period playing dodgeball and mauling each other to death. Token and Clyde's favorite sport was dodgeball; Tweek was always worried someone would get decapitated via dodgeball; Kenny was annoyingly good at dodging, which Token always cursed him out for. Kenny would remind him that it was called dodgeball for a reason.

He ran back to the flurry of kids and balls, a plush ball clutched in his own hand. "Take this, you assholes," he said, laughing, and getting ready to throw it.

He almost tripped over Heidi Nelson's body on the ground.

\r\nFriday, 2:06PM

"I'm going to call the police," Wendy said, heading toward the door. Behind her Nichole and most of the other students were following; a few were still standing by Garrison's body, entranced. "If there's a murderer in the school, they'll be able to catch them."

Nichole tapped on her phone. "Weird," she said. "I can't get any signal."

Wendy frowned at her friend. "Are you sure?" she said, getting her hand on the doorknob. "Maybe it's just this - "

She turned to face the door and screamed.

In the window of the door was a clown's face, bright white against the darkness of the room, crimson evil lips and orange tufts of hair protruding from the side of his face. He was glaring into the room, wide grin smeared across its face - Nichole screamed too, and then Kyle and Stan and everyone else who'd been following them also screamed, and everyone who looked to see what the chaos was and saw the clown in the window also screamed.

The door swung open without Wendy's help.

"Oh my god, you guys," said Cartman, laughing as he took the clown mask off. "You should've seen the looks on your faces - oh my god, Kahl, you totally screamed like a little girl - "

"Shut up, fatass!" Kyle retorted, mostly out of habit. He was clutching his chest hard; first Mr. Garrison and now Cartman's existence. He was going to die from too many heart palpitations.

"And, what, exactly," said Wendy, recovering, "is wrong with screaming like a little girl?"

"Nothing, you ho, just that Kahl's a wuss." Cartman snickered. He slipped the horrifying clown mask into his pocket.

Rebecca eyed it. Cartman was wearing his usual red overcoat that barely fit him. Had his pockets always been that big?

"What are you doing out of class?" she asked.

Cartman sneered. "Well the lights went out, so I did the normal thing and snuck out of class as soon as I could," he said. "Where are you assholes going? Did I interrupt your hippie ritual or whatever?"

"No, you dick," said Kyle, tightening his grip on his phone. "Mr. Garrison got stabbed, so we were gonna get help."

Cartman's eyes widened. "Garrison died?" he said gleefully. Pushing his way into the classroom, he demanded, "Move aside you hippies," (no one listened to him) before whipping out his own phone, making his way across the carpet till he came upon Garrison's dead body.

"Oh my god," said Cartman. "Garrison did get stabbed in the dark!"

"Would it kill you to have some tact?" Wendy said dryly.

Cartman turned to her, delight shining in his eyes. "It killed him!"

"I hate you so much," said Kyle.





South Park High School had four swatches that would trigger an all-building lockdown: one in the gym, one in the art room, one in the weird crevice in the Language hallway that smelled like smoke, and one in the English classroom, right next to Mr. Garrison's desk.

At 2:09PM this particular Friday afternoon, one of them was flipped on.





"Attention all students," came the mechanized voice from the overhead speakers. "The school building is going into lockdown. Due to unforeseen circumstances, we must shut down the school to prevent anyone from coming in or out of the building until the police arrive. They have been contacted and will arrive shortly."

"Oh, thank god," Tweek mumbled.





"The school's going into lockdown?" Bebe ran to the window and tugged the blinds open - metal walls were beginning to slide down, obscuring the bright afternoon sky outside. "What happened?"

"Geez," Butters mumbled, and then cursed himself for cursing. His green glow paint had smeared; now it was going to look like his octopus had a green tongue.

"Fuck this school," said Craig, wiping his hands on the paper towel next to him. He glanced at the clock on his phone - there were five minutes left until school was supposed to end. The rest of the kids in their class were murmuring to themselves; he just wanted to get out. They had five minutes left, and now the building was going to be impenetrable until the fucking police arrived.

Bebe came back to her canvas. Now that the building was in lockdown mode, the light from the hallway had dimmed significantly; shadows of nothing and everything were thrown on the wall, and into the classroom.

"Guys," she said, mostly to Butters, who had his tongue sticking out, trying to fix his painting. "You think something might've happened?"

"Who cares," said Craig. "I was gonna watch the new episode of Red Racer and now it's gonna be like, five years until I can."

"Oh golly," said Butters. His painting messed up again. The extra darkness was messing him up - or maybe it was the metal groaning against the glass windows of the classroom. "Where's Missus Johnson? I gotta start over."

"Mrs. Johnson!" Bebe exclaimed. "You're right, she'll know what to do."

Guided by her iPhone's flashlight, Bebe weaved around her classmates and their canvases and headed toward their teacher's office. She liked to stay in the back if they were working on an in-class project - everyone liked art too much, even Craig, to skip.

When Bebe got the door to her teacher's office open, she called, "Mrs. Johnson?" The dark was even worse here; there were no windows.

She shone the light at the desk. "Mrs. Johnson?" she said again - and, upon seeing her teacher's slumped over body, cried, "Mrs. Johnson!" She rushed over and shook her, but her teacher didn't stir. Bebe shone the light directly in her face - Mrs. Johnson's eyes were wide open, pallid and bloodshot. By her hand was her empty coffee mug, that she refilled in the teacher's lounge during lunch.

Mrs. Johnson did not wake, or speak, or move. Bebe inched away from her and then ran, trying to ignore the cold feeling of dread creeping up her spine.

"You guys," she said to her classmates, who were still mostly unbothered. "Mrs. Johnson's dead."

Most of the people in the room froze to look at her.

Craig said, "You've gotta be kidding me." He slipped off from his stool, whipped his own phone out (a Samsung Galaxy; people with iPhones were pretentious assholes, according to him), and marched into their teacher's room.

He came out less than a minute later. His face was pale in the glow of his phone.

"Yep," he said. "She's dead."





Kenny glanced down worriedly. "Are we just going to leave her there?" he asked. Heidi Nelson had been pummeled to death by a single dodgeball - how, no one knew, as they'd been mostly throwing and missing since the lights had gone out. After Token had found her body, Clyde and a few of their other students had dragged it under the bleachers so it wasn't a sight for sore eyes. Never mind that they couldn't actually see her, anyway.

Clyde glanced at where her arm was under the quivering benches. "What else would we do with it?" he said. "I mean, her."

Token elbowed him. "Wow, way to go."

Tweek came out from the back then - nobody even noticed that he'd disappeared. "G-Guys," he said, eyes shining with fear. "I went t-to ask teacher for help, but he - he - "

"He what?" Clyde asked. "C'mon, what is it, Tweek?"

Tweek bit his lip. "I think he's dead." He nearly had a heart attack just saying the words - dead, like he always dreamed of accidentally happening to him! Or on purpose, if the underwear gnomes murdered him in his sleep. He wouldn't put it past them.

"What the fuck," said Kenny, wrapping his arms around himself. "Are you sure, Tweek? Did you try to - "

"I tried everything!" Tweek burst. "And then I - I went to his coffee, 'cause I thought it could've help calm me down - "

"Stealing a dead man's coffee?" said Token. "That's messed up, Tweek."

" - b-but, it smelled weird! And then I smelled it and it was laced with cyanide!"

The three other boys blinked at him.

"Tweek," Token said slowly. "Why do you know what cyanide smells like?"

"I just do!" said Tweek. "And - And then I didn't drink it, obviously, but - oh god, I smelled it! Am I gonna die because I smelled it? Shit, I'm gonna die!"

He almost started crying, or peeing his pants on the spot, neither of which anyone in their class wanted to deal with.

Bradley Biggle, who despite being Mintberry Crunch was useless at everything else, went by Tweek's side and pat him on the back. "There, there, Tweek," he soothed.

Tweek snapped and whacked his hand away. "Don't touch me!" Unbothered, Bradley allowed himself to be smacked away and merely wriggled through his pockets, pulling out, not his Earth phone, but his galaxy phone.

"I'll take care of this, you guys," he said to anyone who cared. "Don't worry about it."

Kenny was looking up at the dark ceiling, ignoring him. "And now the school's under lockdown," he said, as Bradley struggled to get a signal on his galaxy phone. "Shit."





Nichole had told everyone to stay together when they'd gone to get help; but, as soon as they'd left the classroom and heard the lockdown announcement, Mark Cotswolds had said, "Screw this, I'm out," and attempted to leap through the window as the metal layer screeched down slowly.

The speed must've been faulty, though - as soon as he'd yanked the window open and leapt half out, it smoothly slipped down and cut him in half, cleanly.

"Well," said Dog Poo, wiping the blood (but not the dirt) from his face and staring at Mark Cotswolds's bottom half. "I'm gonna try to find another way out. Seeya."

And then after that the rest of them began panicking, because two dead people already, and they'd already been looking forward to going home. "I thought I said we were going to stay together," Nichole said helplessly, as they fled, or at least, did their best to. Mike had tried running and ran smack-dab into a wall, passing out on the ground. Timmy, at least, had ridden away on his motor wheelchair, calling out, "Timmeh!" in his own form of see you later, suckers.

"Boys are idiots," Wendy said wisely; she, Rebecca, and Nichole were the only girls in their class.

Stan fidgeted. Something was bothering him. "Hey, you know how the announcement said that the police were contacted?" he said. "But if we can't get a signal, then how..."

"Maybe the connection's just faulty down here." Rebecca still had her phone out, eyes on the top bars. "Dammit, I can't get back to the wifi. Does anyone have an internet connection?"

Five phones were brought out. The answer was a resounding no.

"Fuck, I hope the police come soon," muttered Stan. He shifted from foot to foot.

Kyle patted his shoulder. "Don't worry dude, it won't be long," he said. "Plus, Mr. Garrison's ex probably killed him and Mark died by accident. We're gonna be fine."

"They weren't exes yet," Wendy said absently. She was trying to get a better connection on her phone, too.

Cartman came back from where he'd been inspecting (stealing from) Mark's body. He stared at the five of them - the rest of their classmates had run off. "Where'd everyone go?"

Wendy sighed. "Who knows." She pocketed her phone. "Are you going to stay with us, Cartman?"

Cartman snorted. "I'm not staying with you black assholes. No offense, Nichole. I gotta find whoever murdered Garrison and give 'em a medal." His eyes glinted.

"I really, really hate you," said Kyle.

Cartman stuck his tongue out at him. "Find something original, Jew," he said, with an original insult of his own. "I'm gonna try to call the Coon to see if he can help us."

"You're the Coon," said Stan.

"Keep eating your Jew's ass, Stan," Cartman said, by way of goodbye. He walked off; one of their classmates was at his locker, recuperating his valuables. Cartman stole his piggy bank before running away, laughing.





Meanwhile, the art class in 13C hadn't even considered staying together, after finding their teacher's dead body. Everyone had left in a panic immediately, trying to find a way out despite the metal coating outside the building. Bebe had gone to the teacher's lounge for help - when she spotted Mrs. Smith (who taught pottery) and Mr. Deboix (who always claimed he was French and taught Spanish but had a terrible American accent when speaking either) dead and poisoned on the ground, it proved to be a useless attempt.

The rest of her classmates had scattered; she was left with Craig, struggling on his phone, and Butters, wide-eyed when she came back out. "Didja get help?" he asked.

Bebe shook her head. "No, they're also dead." She sighed. Murder wasn't as clean as it looked in the movies.

Butters jumped and twitched. He chewed on his nails. "Oh golly," he said. "We gotta - the teachers are dead! What're we gonna do?"

"It's just the idiots who drank the spiked coffee," said Craig, rolling his eyes. "I'm trying to tweet about it, but Twitter's not loading."

Bebe snatched the phone from his hands. Ignoring Craig's protest of, "hey!" she went to the phone app and dialed 911.

It loaded, but didn't ring. The bars on Craig's stupid Samsung phone were empty. Bebe threw it back at him.

"Well that was useless," she said, crossing her arms over her chest. "Do we know any teachers who didn't drink the coffee?"

"Probably not," Craig said dully. "They're all idiots."

Everyone in the school had the same lunch period, and there was only one teacher's lounge that most of the teachers crammed into during that time. It was hectic, but also easier for when Ms. Bai, the math teacher, made her coffee that everyone loved. (The secret was that she added bits of dried squid that melted easily, but no one needed to know that.)

The only teacher that thought himself to be better than the rest of the teachers at the school and didn't spend his lunch period with them was was -

"Mr. Garrison!" Bebe exclaimed. "He hates all of the teachers, he probably didn't drink the dumb coffee."

"Why do we care about Garrison?" said Craig, in deadpan. "He's stupider than the rest of them. Arguably stupider."

"Definitely stupider," Bebe agreed.

"He's a grownup, though!" said Butters, delighted by the revelation. "He'll protect us."

Craig snorted, looking up at him. Twitter was still being slow, though it wasn't really like Craig preferred looking at Butters' face in the dusk of the hallway than loading screen on his phone.

"Garrison, protecting us? Please." He rolled his eyes. "I'd rather get shot into the sun than trust him with my life."

Bebe shuddered. Not like anyone knew, but Craig's words echoed something that her best friend had confessed to her ages ago - something that Bebe preferred not to see her best friend as.

"Well," she said, bracing herself. "I think Wendy has class with him right now, so we'll be stronger in numbers. It's better than nothing."

That, Craig thought, depended on who you asked.



Friday, 4:13PM

Henrietta fucking hated Spanish. She hated it even more when they had a stupid test and their teacher wouldn't come back from the goddamn teacher's lounge and when she was done, had to suffer the stares of her classmates as she left to go out to smoke, never mind the assholes who had actually "studied" and were "doing their best" and regarded her like some fucking vampire. Henrietta wasn't a vampire.

Luckily, her Spanish woes were, as always, comforted when Michael came out from French and Pete had come downstairs from geography and Firkle, bless ( - curse, Henrietta didn't believe in blessings - ) him, walked all the way from the freshman side of the building to join them to smoke. "I can't stand those douchebags, anyway," he'd say nearly every time, "those douchebags" being the other snotty fourteen year olds.

It was Michael and Pete and Firkle who'd shouted, then, when some kids from the art hallway were crying or some shit, and a white-faced kid from the German classroom exclaimed, "My teacher just dropped dead!" and then suddenly it was like someone had decided to off the entire staff of the school. Good riddance, Henrietta had thought. Now she wouldn't need to care about the Spanish test she surely just bombed.

Pete began panicking when the school went on lockdown. He was always panicking. Meanwhile, Michael had deduced that there was no signal on their phones. Firkle said, "Yeah, no shit, whoever's doing this is gonna want to cut off our contact with the outside world." Henrietta had taken another drag of her cigarette and wanted to go home.

She offered Pete one to get him to shut up (it worked.) Michael had suggested for them to go into the German room, since it was "full of loud preps," though Henrietta was willing to bet he was just scared. Still, she agreed, though insisted that they sit next to the door - even though the windows were blocked down, even suggesting that she get anywhere close to today's disgustingly bright sunlight and she would rather die.

Metaphorically, of course.

There was a gerbil running in the corner, a class pet that Michael explained to them had been donated by the Tucker family, much to Craig Tucker's chagrin. It was the reason Craig Tucker not only didn't take German, but decided that he also hated German, and anything that had to do with Germany. (He was half-German.) Henrietta smoked and zoned out as Firkle complained about health class, where he'd just come from - they were learning about sex ed, and Firkle was gay, and highly affronted that they didn't offer gay sex education.

"I mean, like," said Firkle. "It's not like gay kids at this school don't exist."

Henrietta popped the cigarette out of her mouth and blew out a stream of smoke. "I'm pretty sure half the kids in our school are gay," she mused. "Fucking preps."

"Gay preps are the worst," Firkle agreed. "God, there's this one kid in my math class..."

He went on about the gay prep in his math class. Henrietta tuned in and out; she was glad that the school's windows were now shielded from the sun, though she wondered about the button she'd spotted on the wall when she'd come out to smoke today. She'd seen it before, but it never really registered until today, kind of like fire extinguishers and details on china plates and annoying brothers.

"I'm pretty sure you have a crush on that gay prep," Michael put in, catching Henrietta's attention again.

She and Pete and Michael laughed. Firkle flushed pink and said, "I do not!"

"You do, oh my god, you like a prep," Henrietta teased. She scrunched her face in disgust. "Gross, Firk."

"You're gross," Firkle huffed. "I do not have a crush on - "

BOOM!

The squeaking of the gerbil's wheel had stopped - well, everything about the gerbil had stopped. What hadn't been quite visible before but was very visible now was a small but deadly bomb underneath the running wheel, triggered by the little guy's rounds, set off to explode at the 69,000th round. The number flashed in red lights like a clown's laughter.

And Sam the gerbil had, of course, exploded and splattered in fur and blood all over the wall, in addition to the blackened burnt parts. The bomb had also demolished the two rows in front of the gerbil's cage, and anyone who'd been sitting at the desks, if anyone had been sitting at them.

Pete was wide-eyed. And Henrietta couldn't help it - she was, too.

"Holy shit," Michael whispered.

Firkle was the first to move. He jerked out of his seat, erratically nodding toward the door.

"Let's get outta here," he suggested.

Henrietta slid past him, determined to be the first out. "Good idea."

*

"We need to get help," said Wendy.