Author Topic: First Day of School  (Read 5125 times)

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on: 09:03:22 PM 10/01/13
I wasn't at all excited about the first day of school.

As I sat on the rusty, foul-smelling old yellow bus, all I could think about was how I wanted to go home. I thought about trying to get off that bus at the next stop, but I was too scared about what would happen if I tried.

I guess the thing that scared me the most was that I hardly knew anyone I was riding with. I walked the whole aisle, all the way to the back, before I found a completely empty seat. Something about the vacant, frightened looks everyone else wore made me want to sit by myself.

The only one I recognized was Harry, who lived a few houses down the street from me. He was smaller than I was, generally weaker, and when I passed him by he was crying pretty hard. He didn't even look up at me, so I kept walking to avoid getting involved.

It was a little comforting to know I wasn't the most scared rider on the bus that day.

Everyone was quiet for the most part. There was nothing to say, really... we all dreaded the first misstep... none of us wanted to be the one who got in trouble right away.

The exception to the rule, the only one who dared to speak over the din of roaring engine and crunching tires, was Peggy. I only learned her name because it was written across the back of her shirt over the number four. She was wearing a pink jersey.

"How much time until we get there?" she asked the Bus Driver. She was seated directly behind the hunched, hairy man at the wheel.

"Time enough." came the grunt of a reply.

"What's gonna happen?" Peggy continued her interrogation.

"Everyone gets off the bus." the Driver responded sarcastically.

"And then?" She wouldn't let up.

"Then you learn stuff. Lots of stuff. You'll learn all about everything, all the stuff you'll need for later on. Just remember to pay attention!"

"Is it a nice school, or..."

"Nice enough..." came another grunt, "So long as you do what you're told."

Seeming no less concerned than when she had started, Peggy collapsed in her seat with an anxious huff. She turned and looked down the length of the bus, catching my glance... more of a stare, really... before I quickly looked to the floor.

Before I knew it, she was standing over me.

"Who're you?" she demanded somewhat rudely.

"E-Ernie..." I mumbled.

Peggy threw herself down in the seat next to me. She was sitting a bit close, so I moved aside. As a result, she simply shifted closer until I was nearly pressed against the window.

"Ernie? Really?"

"Yeah, why?"

"I never met anyone named Ernie before, that's all."

I knew she wanted to make a Bert & Ernie crack. I'd heard them all my life. However, she resisted.

"Do you know what happens when we get to school?" Peggy asked with an aggravated sigh.

"Yeah, I heard the Bus Driver."

"No, I mean... what happens REALLY?" she looked me hard in the eyes, piercing green circles all but glowing beneath her platinum locks, "What if everyone there is really mean? What if we don't know what they want us to do? Are they going to hurt us or something?"

"I don't think so..." I furrowed my brown, giving an unintentional sign that I had no clue, "They wouldn't let that happen."

"They who?" she snapped back.

The bus came to a stop, and again I thought about fleeing from the awkward and terrifying situation. Instead, I looked through the thick window, toward the small suburban house a short distance away. I focused on the canary yellow paint and the white shutters. I read the number on the door and tried to figure out exactly how far I was from my safe, normal house.

The man in the front yard was mowing the grass with a push mower. He didn't really notice the bus right away... not until the tremendous, steel arm extended from the roof and scooped him up like a stuffed animal in one of those arcade claw machines.

When the roof hatch, the only way in or out of the vehicle, slid open, Harry jumped from his seat. Within seconds, he was hanging by his fingertips from the edge of the metal portal.

As the new arrival, the lawn-mowing man, was dropped into the bus, Harry did his best to haul himself up through the hatch.

In the split second before he pulled himself up, Harry's tear-soaked, red eyes caught mine and he finally recognized me. Then, he was gone... gone up to his waist, at least.

The hatch snapped closed with a metallic clank, cutting the man in half. His legs, still ridiculously dressed in jeans, belt, and tennis shoes, fell to the floor with a soft thud. Some stared out the side window as something fell to the street, but I resisted looking.

A few of us screamed, but most had gone into a sort of catatonic stupor as the lawn-mowing man walked the aisle, probably looking for somewhere to sit and gather his wits as I had done.

"If you get out of this, and I don't..." Peggy whispered as she put her hand on my shoulder and squeezed tightly, "You have to tell my Husband where I went, okay?"

"Yeah, I can do that. Just tell me who to look for."

The bus rolled to a stop again.

"Maybe we're the lucky ones," she said as we watched the metal claw extend once more, "Before you got on the bus, that thing reached into someone's window... all it managed to bring back was an arm."

Instead of watching helplessly while the elderly woman at her mailbox was reeled in, I shifted focus to the Bus Driver. There had to be some way to stop the ride... I figured that if we all acted together maybe we could hijack the exhaust-filled wreck.

Then again, I couldn't be sure... not sure enough to risk my life and the lives of everyone onboard.

After all, some of the Driver's limbs had hands, and on a few of those were talons. They'd be bad enough on their own, ignoring the branched, coral-like tentacle that spilled from his pant leg and worked its way from his shoe and across the floor.

"Almost there!" the Driver suddenly called out, as if he knew I'd been plotting his overthrow.

He turned to smile back at us, just a bloated and purple corpse visage with a series of fist-sized orange ticks embedded deep within the surface, legs dangling loose.

"Relax, folks. Everyone's nervous on their first day of school!"
If I should live until I wake, I pray the web my death to fake.