By AllyTrish34, inspired by the FantasTeen novel of the same name.
We run. Run. Run.
This isn't the first time that school corridors seem like an endless labyrinth. One or two people lie on the floor every three feet we run across — we happen to be the only ones who are still up and running!
Devin comes to a halt without warning. I stop, too, almost crashing into him. Thank goodness we don't pile upon each other. The security guard stands in front of us, holding a metal cut-off bo staff (did he take martial arts?) and an LED flashlight in his other hand. This time, his head is attached to his neck. His neck is strangely not bleeding.
We shy away, spinning around, shrieking, running in opposite ways. Suddenly, a figure free-falls from the ceiling. She stops a good few inches from us both. The girl from the music room, hanging herself with a rope in midair. Her big, swollen reddish eyes — clearly caused by too much crying — glowers at us from the high, seemingly filled with hatred and vengeance. She is trying to set her other hand free, and when she does, her veins on her hand split. Red blood gushes from the split. Gushing, and gushing, until she spots her wrist bone, looking quite fragile.
We scream loudly, spinning around again, but the security guard begins to twirl his bo staff, almost hitting us. Devin shoves me that I fall onto the floor, ducking. The security takes a step closer; one of the girl's hands drops low, and she floats close to us. We're stuck between two apparitions: it's a dead end! There's no way out!
In midair, the girl floats, swinging her sword at me. She's still glowering. "Please hurt my hand... Please hurt my hand..."
"PLEASE HURT MY HAND!"
I wail earsplittingly — wailing louder than I ever did before; wailing as if opening my mouth were painful due to horizontal wounds; wailing that oxygen in my lungs run out, wailing — as if it saves my soul. I feel a familiar, yet painful, squeeze on my left arm. I stop wailing. Devin gapes at me. Looks at me like I'm nuts. His eyes questions me.
He swallows, shivering. "Lower your head. We run all the way to there; flee past the security guard. If you're fast enough, I know you can."
I shake my head. "I don't really know if I can. My legs are weak."
"There's no other blasted way, Yolanda," Devin snaps impatiently. From the corner of his eyes, he sees the security guard twirling his bo staff again. The girl's eyes — in midair, reddens, and she trembles — in pain? Aggravatedly? — and like an epileptic, her mouth spews white foam. She cries out.
"HURT ME! HURT ME! I WANT TO FEEL PAIN!"
She lifts her sword up high — but not at herself — at us! Devin pushes me aside with all his might. I slide all the way to the cupboard, face crashing onto the closed cupboard doors. He rolls his eyes at me. "Run, Yolanda!" he spits.
The security guard twirls his bo staff and the girl lifts her sword — the air reeks of the pungent smell of blood. My heart skips a beat. With the remaining oxygen in my lungs, I let out an earsplitting cry.
I think I may just see a gray wolf battling two different wraiths wielded with different weapons. But the sword and the bo staff stop dead just a few inches from him — a gray wolf. Devin must have relied upon his wolf-shifting for battles. Combined with his enhanced strength and speed, that's pretty awesome. Slowly, Devin shifts back, opens his eyes, panting, cold-sweating. Then I eventually see it: faint brown swirls in the air, then his oxfords, and, finally, a hat landing at my feet. I lift my face, Admiral Eraser, standing in front of Devin, appears about his height due to his stocky build. He holds the sword and the bo staff with his hands.
Admiral Eraser — my great-grandfather — cackles heavily as he nods. His whole body trembles as he laughs. He winks at Devin. "Not many people fight like knights and protect women like gentlemen; not many. Not many. Go, kid. Only Grandpa can help you this time."
Devin zips through my great-grandfather, picks up the hat, and tosses it to my great-grandfather.
He laughs again deeply. "Thank you, kid." He looks over his shoulder, then looks at Devin. "Don't lose to them. This is your life. Don't let them take over it."
Devin nods, then pulling my hand, running across the hallway, heading to the cafeteria.
I stare at Devin quizzically. "What was it all about?"
Devin frowns. "You can hear your great-g-pa?"
I nod. "Yeah, And can see him, too. Recently, I hear a bunch of sounds, since Rhett Austin. If I ask you, what did my great-grandpa mean?"
He shrugs, accelerating. "How do I know? I simply nodded. Let's get out of here. Hey, if you have time, thank your great-g-pa. He saved me — saved us collectively." I stop dead, pulling Devin closer so that he stops his steps and turns to face me. "This could be the answer, Dev. Answer key. Lose to who? Taken by who? Who on earth wants to take over your life?"
Devin sighs, plunks himself onto the floor; between two bruised dudes — must've bumped into something. He closes his eyes, thinking deeply, looking exhausted. "I don't know," he says limply. "I don't know. The lunch lady, maybe? I'm not surprised, all this time, someone's been striving to take over my life to live again. Tennyson said, No living human really wishes to go to a better place, ever."
"This ain't the time to quote!" I bemoan. I squat in front of him, staring at him sternly. ""Holy moley, this is your life crisis. Look all around you. People lie down, all weak and unconscious! This is a serious problem, Devin! A crisis! Why you? Why are you targeted? Why not me, why not everyone else? There's a zillion people in this high school, but why are you targeted?"
Devin remains quiet. He stares at me for a long time. Something is odd about his stare. He looks as if questioning, looking like he is observing me; looks as if miffed, but disappointed and sorrowful, too. Sorrowful — I've never seen anyone's eyes deeply in grief, as if losing all their family members before their very eyes, unable to do anything, freezing in place. Eyes, which look like they've wept way too much and too often, that tear glands run out of tears to express his heartache. Only the sheen of his eyes tells it all.
Slowly, he opens his mouth, gulping. "We'll figure it out, sooner or later," Devin murmurs. His lips curl into thin smile, which looks as if it were forced, like two tractors were tugging at his lips and doing anything so that he would smile.
He stands up, tapping my shoulder. "C'mon, Yolanda. Let's head to the cafeteria. There might be some people there, waiting to be rescued. It's so shouty there."
I nod, almost forgetting our initial destination. We glance at the hallways backward. If we ace this, I'll bet my great-grandfather succeeds in banishing both ghosts. That way, we could walk down the stairs and out the gate, and escape this nightmare.
For some reason, I start to rack my brain, trying to figure out today's date. "Hey, by any chance, what date is today?" I breathe.
Devin clears his throat, not facing me. "July the sixteenth," he answers matter-of-factly. "Anyway, actually, today's my birthday."
"Really?" I raise an eyebrow. "Hap —"
"Save it," he sputters. "Don't happy-birthday me."
I giggle lightly. "Is that sarcasm?"
"No, I'm straightforward. I hate my birthday sixteen years ago, you weren't there." He laughs, holding my hand as we alertly walk through hallways, inching toward the cafeteria. "Instead of 'happy birthday', just say, 'Thank God, you're here'."
"Why?" I ask.
He grins, eyes straight to the front, so I'm not really sure if he's talking to me. Finally, he looks at me. Devin smiles like he did in our first encounter in our classroom: very wide, as if it can cure cancer; the ends of his eyes curl up. He says, "You know, I seize these days more than when I hadn't known you."
Fear still haunts me. School hallways send off freezing cold air; colder than I already felt, like we're entrapped in a humongous refrigerator. Pressure weighs in my chest, and my cowardly side keeps screaming bloody murder to get the heck out of here. But, when I look into Devin's gleaming green eyes, holding my hand, afraid I would disappear if he doesn't take good care of me for just a jiffy. I shake my head, going through this waking nightmare until the end.
"Devin," I say, right before we set our feet on the cafeteria. Windows have shattered into glass projectiles of different shapes and sizes, a bunch of kids lie unconsciously outside. Devin's hands tremble, hard, so are mine, hidden in my jean pockets. I smile thinly, "Thank God. Hallelujah. You're here. Happy sixteenth birthday."
Devin smiles. Slowly, we inch closer toward the creepy cafeteria, to a nightmare waiting to be awoken.