(An alien invasion story)
The school bell rings at 8:55 a.m. bringing a long-awaited end to first period. Hundreds of thankful students slide their chairs back and rush towards classroom doors before spilling into the halls of Rossville High. In one instance, a male instructor shouts over the clatter of opening locker doors to warn of the consequences of long-overdue homework. Just a few feet away from him, a girl can be seen shouldering her backpack and then pulling back the tab on a can of Diet Pepsi. Two sweethearts brush past her shoulder and sneak off to a hidden corner to share a passionate kiss. Still others frantically dig through pockets and purses, desperately searching for their blackberries as they hurry along towards the main quad. Second period will start in just four minutes and the clock is already ticking…
Before long, students begin to separate from the herd. They huddle off to the sides in their own little groupings as their peers continue to pass by. Even the non-morning types have joined in the foray; they sleepily glare through oncoming traffic, longing for home and the warmth of their cozy beds.
Hurrying among the masses is a slightly shy and rather awkward young man by the name of Nathan Freeman. The sophomore twists and weaves his way through the oncoming crowd as he struggles to get to his locker. Making it to class on time is enough of a challenge for Nate as it is, but making the trip from the western wing to the eastern wing —in under four minutes —is an all-out endurance test!
“Excuse me!…Sorry!” apologizes the boy, as his gangly frame continues to zigzag through the crush.
Gratefully, some of the crowd falls off to the side. But as they do, Nathan’s need to get to class is momentarily forgotten; a petite brunette has just appeared up ahead. The sophomore finds himself momentarily entranced by the twist of her hips and the casual sway of her tightly packed jeans. Even from behind, he easily recognizes her as Shawn Nichols, a cute junior from his own neighborhood.
…The brunette turns a corner a moment later, completely unaware of her admirer behind her. Nathan breathes a sigh of relief, the urge to say hello being temporarily averted.
The shy sophomore forges ahead, lurching through the steady din of mass chatter and slamming locker doors. Then another lovely girl approaches; this one a statuesque blonde with wavy blonde hair. Nathan’s eyes trace over the attractive features of her face, taking note of the wistful smile on her lips. She holds her head high when she passes him, her heeled sandals falling sure and steady. The boy catches a wisp of the trailing vapors of her strawberry scented perfume before turning in front of his locker...
Nathan reaches for the number dial, spins the appropriate combination, and then listens for the familiar click! before yanking his locker open. He nearly grabs the textbooks for his next class, when another stack of books drop to the floor with a resounding thud! The boy glances down at the polished floor to see several textbooks strewn at his feet…
A feminine voice that’s soft and melodious half-heartedly complains, “Well that’s just my luck!”
Nathan partially closes his locker door, only to find the “new girl” looking down at the scattered books...
“I’ll get those,” says the sophomore before swiftly kneeling to gather them up.
The new girl smiles down at him and replies with an appreciative, “Well thank you.”
Nathan’s heart skips a beat as he quickly scoops up the books. The boy glances at a copy of ‘Romeo and Juliet’ and recalls seeing the girl in the back of his English class. He remembers her name is Willow, a foreign exchange student who recently moved in with the Bundy family.
As Nathan slowly rises to his feet, his eyes glide over the girl’s white tights; secretly admiring the way the nylon material hugs the gradual curves of her legs. Continuing upward, he notices the faint scent of her perfume and breaths it in. She smells like Jasmine and reminds him of all things fresh and young. …It’s such an alluring scent, that he can’t help but blush.
Noticing the guy’s awkward reaction, the girl suspiciously asks, “What’s the matter?”
(Giggling) …“So why are you blushing?”
As the boy hands over the books he nervously stutters, “It’s just that…well…you smell very lovely, that’s all.”
“Ohh . . . well that’s very sweet of you to say,” returns the girl before she politely introduces herself. “I’m Willow, by the way; I believe we’re in the same English class.”
“Yeah, I heard you moved in with the Bundy’s over on Clay Drive,” the boy replies. “I’m uh… Nathan.”
“Yes…I know,” says the girl with an underlying hint of mystique. The attractive stranger gazes back at Nathan, her turquoise eyes studying the boy with an intensity that brings yet another flush of warmth to his reddening cheeks.
Somehow the sophomore finds the courage to ask, “Umm, so how do you like our school so far?”
Willow barely gets the chance to answer, when the boy gets shoved from the side. Nathan’s books scatter across the floor, as his shoulder impacts hard into the opened door of his locker…
“Nate ole’ buddy, got my shit done yet?”
A befuddled Nathan attempts to gather up his bearings as he reaches for the burning pain in his shoulder. The attacker is his high school nemesis, Roy Stalin. Roy is your typical super jock; the kind of guy that spends most of his time in the weight room and then checking out the results in the locker-room mirror. The senior never studied, and in fact spent more time skipping school than actually being there. But that didn’t matter; the district superintendent would always insure that their star player got passing grades, and Rossville would continue to win their coveted football championships...
As a leery Nathan continues to wince in pain, he sees two of Roy’s buddies stepping in behind him. They were local bullies who thrived on terrorizing “the nobodies” - just like their fearless leader. The sophomore knows that he must tread softly…
“Ah…hey there Roy. I got it right here.”
Roy threatens, “Yeah, you better limp-dick. It’ll be kinda hard to pull your pud with two broken hands!”
…The two goons standing behind Roy bump fists in approval of their leader’s clever jab.
As Nathan is carefully removing the freshly printed, two-weeks-long-to-complete Theme Paper, Roy gives Willow’s trim frame the once-over…
The suave jock flashes his bleached-white smile and curiously probes, “Sooo, you must be the new chick in town, eh?”
“That I am.”
“What a shame.”
“Mmm, what do you mean by that?”
“It’s a shame that such a pretty girl like you would be socializing with such a total dweeb.”
“I’m sure I’ll get over it.”
Roy makes a psssht! sound and shakes his head in disbelief. He then leans towards his buds and purposely mumbles within earshot, “Heh! …Looks like we got us a nerd-ette on our hands, boys.”
When Nathan finally turns to hand the completed work over, an impatient Roy yanks it greedily from his hands. He briefly studies the cover page before eagerly rifling through the contents beyond…
“Hmmm, looks like some nice work —as usual.”
“Well thanks. It actually took me two whole-”
“—Save it, dork!”
Suddenly, Nathan’s sensitive nose picks up the scent of a different perfume. Another female is in their presence...
“High honey!” greets a velvety voice from behind. A tall beauty with silky-black hair appears on the scene. She reaches around Roy’s thick neck and grants him a playful kiss. It’s Jennifer Fox; the super jock’s steady girlfriend.
The quarterback returns a, “Hey babe,” as his meaty forearm wraps around the sculpted curves of her slim waist.
Jennifer Fox looks just like her name implies. Captain of the cheerleading squad two years running and a bona fide shoo-in for this year’s prom queen, Jenny is known for her endless collection of tight-fitting sweaters. Today’s choice is no exception; it’s the fuzzy pink one with a V-neck, which allows a fleeting glimpse of the upper swells of her tanned breasts. The senior’s voluminous black locks are pulled back with a simple Alice band, fully revealing her cute facial features and look-at-me beauty mark. All in all, she’s a splendid manifestation of every schoolboy’s dream; your typical girl next door with an angelic facade —and a hidden wild side.
Nathan has always adored the way Jenny’s sweaters hug her trim little waist. The way they cinch in at the back, bringing further attention to the magnificent profile of her athletic ass. He often daydreamed of putting his arms around the girl and telling her how much he wanted her. Imagined her wanting him back, and insuring that he was her perfect ideal. Now caught up in one of these fantasies, the boy unintentionally leans in towards the girl. She smells good too; like a freshly picked rose, so rich and so pure...
Jennifer turns her head and gives her admirer a thoroughly disgusted look.
“Do you mind?”
Nathan turns red beneath her critical stare and takes a quick step backward. Roy is too busy flexing his jaw and cracking his neck to notice the nerd’s misstep…
Two more babes show up at the scene. Marcie Stevens and Julie Lane are also with the cheerleading squad. Both are arguably as pretty as Jennifer, but neither commands the attention and popularity that their mentor does. And like the football players beside them, they demand their respect by terrorizing and humiliating the less fortunate ones.
Marcie grants a, “Hi guys,” in her annoyingly high-pitched voice. She beams in her usual ditzy way, until she notices Willow standing nearby. Her contagious smile quickly morphs into a frown of discontent, as she sizes-up the competition. Julie Lane stands just behind Marcie’s shoulder with her usual blasé expression…
Satisfied that the new girl couldn’t possibly pose a threat, Marcie goes on to ask, “So Roy, when’s the next beer-bash?”
“My dad’s got a business meeting down in Miami next week, so the parents will be outta town for a bit. I’m thinkin’ a couple kegs, a half-dozen pizzas or so, mix-up some kickass Jägerbombs. —Pretty much the usual routine…”
Jenny jumps in to excitedly add, “…And be sure to bring your bikinis girls, ‘cause the heated pool and the hot tub will definitely be open!”
“Sweet!” Marcie exclaims, “A hot tub; free food; tons of alcohol and plenty of gorgeous guys; you bet we’ll be there!”
Roy pushes his sturdy fingers hard into Nathan’s boney chest, making a pronounced ‘thump’ that everyone could hear...
“Say, why don’t cha bring the nerd-ette around… Maybe I’ll hook her up with one of my boys here, so she can see what a real man feels like!”
Somebody yells out, “Hook her up with Bruno!”
Stalin sneers, “Yeah, I’ll hook her up with Bruno here.” …(Roy grabs the defensive lineman by his varsity jacket and yanks him forward). “This guy’s hung like a stallion!”
The guy named Bruno laughs heartily. He’s a brutish ape of a man, whose low husky voice matches his physical appearance…
The group of seniors breaks into exaggerated laughter before turning to walk away. As they do, the guy named Bruno grabs Nathan by the shirt and casually lifts him up off the floor...
“Hey douche bag,” says the goon, (now holding the defenseless sophomore up like some dog’s pathetic play toy). He continues to taunt, “If she’s any good, maybe youse 'kin have my sloppy seconds! HA-HA-HA!”
The ape slams Nathan back into his locker and growls beneath his breath, “…Frickin’ jack-off.”
Satisfied that he’s proved his manliness, the bully finally turns away to join the others. As he lumbers off, there’s a noted cockiness to his step...
“What a bunch of creeps!” Willow observes before fussing over Nathan’s twisted shirt. She then asks with noted concern, “Jeez, are you ok?”
A defeated Nathan mumbles, “Yeah, I’ll be fine…”
Willow brushes an errant lock of hair away from Nathan’s face and observes, “Funny how jerks always seem to travel in a pack, huh?”
“Unfortunately, I always seem to get in their way…”
Willow suggests, “Well look, maybe we can get together sometime…Maybe study or something.”
Nathan raises his head in total surprise. “For real?”
“Sure, why not?”
The stunned boy quickly crouches to fumble with his books, completely caught up in the unusual turn of events…
“Er - um - yeah, I guess.”
Nathan slams his locker shut and the couple takes their very first walk together. There’s less than a minute before the bell will ring…
As the pair slowly walk along, a vague trembling sensation begins beneath their feet. It could be likened to experiencing the mild tremors of an earthquake, or even the faint concussion of industrial equipment repeatedly hitting the ground. This is rather odd, considering there aren’t many earthquakes in Kansas…
Willow questions, “Do you feel that?”
“Yeah… Almost sounds like a low-flying commercial jet,” offers the boy before reasoning, “But then again, the nearest airport is in Topeka, and that’s over a half-an-hour away.”
“Are you sure it’s not a tornado?”
“Nah, they would have sounded the alarm for that.”
What started as a droning rumble has steadily grown to the point where the vibrations are actually making the lights flicker. The chatter of concerned students and teachers alike can be heard coming from opened doorways and those few left in the hallway…
Willow turns to look at the enclosed fire extinguisher beside her, noticing the glass that’s vibrating within its framework. The worried girl reaches for Nathan’s hand and it shocks her…
Nathan jumps at the tiny jolt too. He looks at the fine hairs on the back of his free hand and they’re standing on end…
“Jesus, what the hell is going on?”
Suddenly, all of the lights dim down low, as if there’s some massive draw on the power. A nearby ‘EXIT’ sign begins to smolder and darken, its plastic red lens distorting within…
The persistent noise has grown so intense that it nearly drowns out the panicking voices of the other students. And with one final effort, the hallway lights strain brightly before going out completely. There’s a brief moment where the skylights in the lobby offer the only source of light, but those too begin to darken. …It’s as if a giant storm cloud is slowly creeping overhead and settling right above the school.
Willow pauses, hesitant to walk any further. She manually interlocks her fingers within Nathan’s as a sign not to leave her...
“I’m so scared, Nathan! What’s going to happen?”
“Shsssh, just wait…”
The menacing rumble suddenly lowers to a persistent drone, but one can still feel its presence in the tiled floors. The voices of the terrified quickly lower to infrequent murmurs of total confusion. Everyone in the classrooms are literally inching forward to the edge of their seats now; waiting, listening and judging the unidentified humming sound in the darkness.
A few restless students rush to their classroom windows to have a look at the darkness outside. The voice of a male teacher is heard to yell out, “Please remain calm and stay in your seats, people! …The emergency generator should kick in at any moment!”
…There’s a strange sense of static electricity still hanging in the air; it tingles the skin and teases one’s senses. It’s like some distant alarm that’s warning of the terror yet to come, but nobody seems to be able to pull themselves away...
Out in the hall, Willow and Nate remain still in the darkness, their palms sweaty, hearts pounding at their chests. The building around them continues to hum, but to an even higher degree than before.
Within one of the classrooms a student yells out, “Holy shit! …Look at the size of that spaceship!”
But before the rest of the students can react, a sudden light brightens the sky. It fans outward to cover the entire width of the school, before growing with an intensity so fierce, that it entirely illuminates the darkened classrooms. The atmosphere inside the building suddenly crackles with unseen energy...
—And then it hits.
The powerful light penetrates the top and then lower floors of the west wing, gradually reaching a crescendo that rivals that of a spinning turbine engine. It surges ahead, snaking it’s way through corridors and down hallways until it storms into classrooms, the library and bathroom stalls; freezing everything —and everyone within it’s path.
Willow and Nate turn in the near-darkness of the east wing to see an extreme source of light fast approaching from the far end of the building. It roars down the hallway like a steaming locomotive, silencing the cries of terror from students and faculty alike.
Nathan quickly likens the horrible vision to a clip he’d seen on the news as a child: the dreadful image of that tsunami hitting the beach in Sri Lanka, and of all those unfortunate ones who couldn’t outrun the giant wave. The boy watches; half-horrified, half-amazed - but completely rooted to the spot and directly in the path of this incredible anomaly!
Willow suddenly screams out, “Oh my god! It’s going to overtake us, Nathan! - RUN!”
…But the warning is far too late. The massive wave of light-energy blows right through them like a football team charging through a paper banner. It continues rolling onward through the length of the hall until all is still…
The wave of energy crackles and pops as brilliant rings of light continue to ripple and flow throughout the halls of Rossville. The school’s staff -along with the entire student population, (all 701 of them), are now suspended in place. The lobby itself resembles an impromptu flash mob at a mall, or possibly a busy market in the lost city of Pompeii...
At the last millisecond, Nathan Freeman had tried to scream in fear at the frightening reality before them. Now the boy’s mouth hangs open, his uvula already drying out from being exposed to the unfettered air. But the sophomore doesn’t mind; a deep sense of calmness had come over him just after he was frozen. He’s already starting to feel drowsy and soon will drift off into a very tranquil sleep with his eyes still open...
* * * *
End of Part One - continued...