As per the usual, I was scrambling for ideas this week. Most of the things I’d like to do involve collaborating with other people and that takes planning and setup and lots of time.
So I called upon the internet people of the internet for help.
Meaning Instagram. I asked for help on Instagram.
And some people actually did help!!!
So the first prompt turned into a mega long story (sorry about that) but it was very fun to write! The second was also very fun but not as long, thankfully.
Hope you like ’em, and thank you to those who gave me ideas and prompts and such!
Kassie slung her backpack over one shoulder, adjusting her cute flowery mask. She was used to it by now. School was still kind of weird though.
It felt especially weird today; quieter than usual. Everyone was talking in hushed voices. Kassie walked up to Tucker, Lena, and Jenna. Usually they hung out together before first period and during lunch. They all seemed nervous.
“Hey guys,” Kassie chirped. “What’s going on?”
Tucker rubbed the back of his neck. “You haven’t heard yet? You know how Mia wasn’t here yesterday?”
Kassie nodded. “Yeah, but that’s not a big deal, right?”
“She isn’t back today,” Jenna said quietly, so quietly that Kassie could barely understand her through her mask. “The teachers haven’t told us why, they’re acting like she never was here in the first place.”
“I texted her last night.” Lena held out her phone to Kassie.
Lena: Hey did somthing happen? You sick? Missed you today.
Mia: Sorry. I can’t say.
Lena: what d you mean? are you in trouble?
Mia: I’m not allowed to say. Bye.
“She never texted me back.” Lena stuffed her phone back in her pocket and ran her hand through her bangs.
Tucker nodded towards another group of students. “They’re saying the same thing happened with two other girls and a boy.”
“Ellie Carson, Toby Green, and Sara McConnel. I have government with Toby.”
“So they’re just gone?” Kassie looked over her shoulder, as if she thought someone or something was sneaking up behind her.
“Some people are saying they tested positive and got sent home, and they don’t want anyone to know so school won’t be shut down,” Jenna said. “That’s what I think, honestly.”
The shrill of the bell ringing made Kassie flinch. As everybody began moving towards their classrooms, she felt a chill scurry down her spine. Her yellow Converse squeaked on the slick floor as she nearly bumped into the kid in front of her.
Pay attention, she told herself, sliding into her desk and pulling out the stuff she needed for algebra two. But paying attention was the last thing she wanted to do.
Sure, the missing kids could have been sent home because of the virus. That was the logical explanation. The most likely, too. In fact, it was almost definitely what had happened.
But what if it wasn’t?
Kassie read a lot of books. It was kind of her thing. One entire wall in her room was just bookshelves, arranged in the most aesthetic way possible of course. She had pins and posters and little figurines and was always going on about this or that series or this and that fictional crush.
In books, nothing is ever just the logical explanation. There’s always something going on behind the scenes. And people randomly disappearing for no real reason?
That never happened for an innocent reason like a virus.
The math teacher began talking, and Kassie forced herself to focus on his words. But every so often her eyes would drift to the two empty seats near the front. One of those was Mia’s; the other was a boy she didn’t know, but he wasn’t Toby Green. Were more kids missing today?
Mr. Barton avoided looking at those chairs, and he said nothing about anybody being absent. You could taste the tension in the room. Nobody was goofing off, but probably nobody was paying attention either. Kassie rested her chin on her hand.
I almost wish it WOULD be something, something exciting.
Next class, there were even more empty chairs. Five, to be exact. Lizzie Weber raised her hand and asked the English teacher where the kids were.
“They aren’t here today, don’t worry about it,” the teacher said a little snappishly, which was completely out of character for him. After that no one said anything.
Throughout the rest of her classes, Kassie imagined what could be happening. Maybe there were super-secret tests that only certain students were chosen to take. Maybe the missing students were actually undercover spies, or superheroes even, and they were on a secret mission.
Or maybe it was something more sinister. Maybe there was a secret lab in the basement, and students were being taken one by one to be experimented on. Maybe some creature lurked the school halls, waiting for unsuspecting kids to devour. Maybe it was some sort of government thing.
Maybe Kassie was next.
At lunch, she slid into her seat at a table with Lena, Tucker, Jenna, and her other friends Megan and Kate. Before Kassie could say anything, Lena subtly pointed to an empty table.
“That whole group, eight kids, gone,” she whispered.
“Nearly half the government class is just gone,” Tucker said, looking around nervously. “And Miss Becker said nothing about it, acted like nothing was wrong.”
“It’s probably just the virus,” Jenna said in a placating voice. But even she looked scared.
“But what if it isn’t?” A hint of excitement tinged Kassie’s voice. “It’s a mystery, guys, we could figure it out, we could . . .” She trailed off. Her friends looked at her like she was completely insane. She looked down at her sandwich. “I mean . . .”
“Stuff like that doesn’t happen in real life, Kass,” Megan said, popping an orange slice into her mouth. “And when it does, it’s serious. Like, actually serious. Not a fun adventure for kids to solve.”
“I know,” Kassie mumbled.
She spent the rest of lunch in relative silence. When the bell rang, she scooped up her backpack and headed to art class.
When she walked in, she noticed with a little sigh of relief that no one was missing. For the entire period, she tried not to worry, focusing on her project. Everything really was probably fine. Megan was right, this was real life. The logical explanation was the most likely in the real world.
After school, Kassie said goodbye to her friends and drove home, tapping her fingers on the steering wheel. Her mom wasn’t home; she’d forgotten her brother had football practice tonight. Kassie herself had to head to church in a bit, for worship practice.
Deciding to do some homework before she had to leave, she speedran her math work and found some sources for the government essay she needed to start. She grabbed some food and headed out the door at five.
Her friends Allie and Emma, both homeschoolers, were already waiting when she got there. Kassie decided to tell them about the situation.
“Bro,” Allie said with wide eyes. “Call in sick tomorrow or something.”
“I can’t. But, like, it’s probably just because of the virus. Right?” Kassie felt herself blushing.
“No way. That is EXTREMELY sus. Are you aware of how many books start like this? How many video games? And there’s no Nugget to save you.” Allie leaned back, tapping her fingers on her guitar.
“Nugget? What are you talking about?”
“Point is,” Emma interjected, “this is not good. Do you need bodyguards? We could sneak in.”
Kassie honestly couldn’t tell if she was joking or not. “No, no, I don’t need bodyguards.”
They talked for a while longer, discussing various different stories that began with strange disappearances and what the reasons for them were. Kassie started getting scared again. At school her friends were all convincing her that everything was okay; but now that other people were suspicious like her, it seemed much more possible that something sketchy really was going on.
After practice, Allie stopped Kassie on the way out to their cars. “Dude, if something happens . . . I don’t know, text me a smiley face.”
Kassie wrinkled her nose. “Okay? Why?”
“Just . . . trust me, okay?” Allie gave her a lopsided grin. “See you Sunday.” Then she ran off to her car.
The next morning Kassie didn’t want to go to school. She was nervous and jumpy, flinching when her brother plonked down a cereal bowl on the counter and when the dog barked. When she actually got to school, she found herself constantly looking over her shoulder. She was nearly late, as well, so there was no time to talk to her friends. She slid into her seat just as the second bell rang for first period.
The day passed quickly, and soon it was the last class before lunch, chemistry. Kassie walked quickly, trying to figure out if there had been more empty seats than yesterday. She thought there had been, but it may have just been her imagination. The missing aren’t missing, they’re only departed . . . why was that bouncing around her head? Was that from a book? She couldn’t think.
Just before she reached the classroom, a teacher stopped her. She didn’t know the teacher, but Kassie thought maybe she taught one of the other math classes.
“Kassie, you’ve been called to the principal’s office.” The woman spoke very quietly, and only when no other students were within earshot.
Kassie froze. “What? Why?” She hadn’t done anything that she knew of. And why the secrecy?
“Please follow me.” The teacher led her to the principal’s office.
Kassie exhaled quietly and followed, gripping the straps of her backpack tightly. She’d never been sent to the principal’s office. She’d met the principal a few times. Mrs. Lydia Myers. She seemed to be a nice enough woman, but Kassie had always been a little bit afraid of her.
When they entered the office, Mrs. Myers was on the phone. She gave a little wave as Kassie sat down and the teacher left, then continued her quiet conversation. Kassie looked around at the little figures and plants on the desk, at the shelves with pictures and the sort of collectible objects one usually sees in an office. She heard tapping, and looked down to realize that her foot was bouncing nervously. She made it stay still.
The principal finished her phone call. “Thank you for waiting,” she said, putting the phone on her desk. “And thank you for coming in. You aren’t in trouble, in case you were wondering.”
Kassie let out a relieved breath.
“Actually, I’m offering you a very special opportunity. You’re doing well in all of your classes, very well. And you’re an especially gifted artist.”
Kassie blushed a little. But something about the principal’s words made her nervous. Maybe it was the ‘special opportunity’ part. That was, as Allie would say, mega sus. Allie . . . she’d count this as something happening. Should she? This probably wasn’t anything dangerous or crazy, but . . . she carefully pulled her phone from her pocket. The principal was still going on, talking about how this was a once in a lifetime opportunity, how Kassie was very lucky to be chosen for something like this. Mrs. Myers never once said what the opportunity was.
At one point in her speech she leaned down to rifle through a drawer of files. Kassie quickly opened her phone and texted one singular smiley emoji to Allie. Then she put her phone away. That had probably been a bad idea.
“So? Will you accept?” Mrs. Myers smiled at Kassie, her magenta fingernails tapping on her desk.
“Um . . .” Kassie bit her lip, squishing her hands together. “Can I . . . think about it?”
“Of course,” the principal said, still smiling. “Would you mind waiting here for a moment?” She left the room.
Kassie stayed still, trying not to let her imagination get the best of her. this was fine. There was nothing sinister going on. She was getting offered a special opportunity, why would she be afraid of that?
A few minutes passed. Kassie’s hands were sweaty.
A few more minutes passed. Without warning, a section of the wall opposite her chair moved. It moved outwards. Like a door. Someone grunted, and the wall swung open to reveal none other than Allie, hair filled with cobwebs and dirt smudged over her face.
“Oh, hey,” was all she said, with a lopsided grin. Kassie stared, open mouthed, blinking hard. Was she really seeing this?
The door to the office opened. “Sorry about that, Kassie, you can head to –” Mrs. Myers froze, her eyes locked on Allie.
” . . . ah,” Kassie’s friend said. “So. Principal’s office. Shoulda known.”
“Young lady,” the principal said in a dangerous voice, stepping inside the office. “Just what are you doing?”
Allie shrugged, then darted out of the secret passageway. There was a secret passage, in the school. What!? Kassie didn’t have much time to think about it though because Allie grabbed her arm and pulled her past Mrs. Myers and out into the hallway.
“So you were right,” she said conversationally as they ran.
“About what!?” Kassie tried not to trip. Was she dreaming? This felt weird enough to be a dream. But she’d never had a dream involving algebra before.
“The whole thing.” Were those police cars outside!?
Allie dragged her right out the front door. Those were police cars. Why were those kids just standing around in the parking lot? They looked dazed. Why was Emma with them!?
“Oh hi Kassie,” Emma said brightly. The rest of the students began to flood outside, congregating in the parking lot, chattering in chaotic confusion.
After a while, one of the policemen announced that school was cancelled for the rest of the day and for everyone to go home. As kids hopped in their cars or called their parents, Kassie found Allie and Emma talking to one of the policemen.
“Please explain what just happened,” she begged after the policeman had walked off. “I am so confused.”
Allie grinned. “Well basically your principal’s a crazy person. Wanted to take over the world or some nonsense like that. Testing weird mind control on your classmates.”
“I know, right? Anyway she was being omega sus about it, people knew something was up but not what, and it was just a simple matter of finding the secret basement and sneaking in and breaking some stuff and getting people out and finding the passage and BOOM, problem solved.”
Emma rolled her eyes. “I did most of that, you know.”
“Course! I just provided the distraction.”
Kassie rubbed her eyes. “Are you guys like, in a secret agency or something? How did you get in? Who . . . I . . . I honestly don’t even want to know.”
Emma patted her shoulder. “Just go home, Kassie. It’s okay. This will all be okay by tomorrow.”
Well, one thing was for sure, Kassie thought as she drove home. She’d certainly had an adventure.
Oliver rolled over with a sleepy grunt. Something had woken him up . . . what time was it? His bleary eyes focused on the radio next to his bed.
There it was again; a clink, a whisper. Coming from the kitchen.
No one should be in his kitchen at 2:34 AM.
He rolled off his bed and landed in a silent crouch, all sleepiness instantly gone. Was it an assassin? Unlikely. Why would they be faffing about in the kitchen? A thief? Maybe. If so they were going to regret coming in his house, waking him up, after the day he’d had.
Oliver stealthily crept out of his bedroom and down the stairs, blinking in the near pitch-dark. There was light coming from under the kitchen door. What kind of burglars turned the lights on? Unless this was some sort of trap. He wouldn’t put it past them, though he did think they’d be more professional and decent about it than to just hang out in his kitchen at 2:36 AM.
He looked down at himself. Dressed in a ratty t-shirt, orange plaid pajama pants, and socks that a few toes poked through, he probably didn’t look very intimidating.
Oh well, he thought, reaching for the doorknob. Come at me, bro.
Light flooded into his eyes as he opened the door, way too bright. He blinked the purple blobs out of the way and saw not a burglar, but his friend Tiff, frozen with a jug of apple juice in her hand. But she wasn’t the only one in the room.
Sitting crosslegged on his kitchen table was a shaggy-haired, bloodstained, ragged looking man with a jar of Nutella in one hand and a spoon in the other.
Oliver blinked again. “What the heck is going on here?” he said in a low voice.
“Oh. Oli. Hi.” Tiff said nervously, putting the apple juice on the table. “Sorry, we tried not to wake you.”
“Hey Oliver,” the man said. His voice was barely more than a croak eking out of a wry grin.
“What are you doing in my house?” Oliver’s hand tightened on the doorknob.
Tiff stepped towards him, her head tilted in that way it always was when she was trying to convince him of something. “I’m really sorry, we just didn’t have anywhere else to go. Look, it’s just Blake. He comes over all the time!”
“Oh, I know, I’m just mildly surprised because, you know, he’s supposed to be dead.“
Blake’s grin faded. “Yeah, good to see you too.”
Oliver rubbed his eyes, sinking into one of the chairs. “Look, I’m sorry, I . . . dude I thought you were gone. I thought they killed you.”
Blake grunted and stuck a spoonful of Nutella in his mouth. “They got close,” he mumbled.
Tiff poured three glasses of apple juice and set one of them in front of each of the guys. “I’m telling you, Blake’s getting real good at faking his death. Seems so realistic every time.”
Oliver laughed harshly, downing his juice in one go. “He sure is.”
Blake’s mouth curved in a grim smile before he stuffed more of the chocolatey goodness in it.
Ta-da! Hope you enjoyed those. I’m very tired now. If you did enjoy, why not subscribe to the blog so you can see more stuff like it? You won’t get a bunch of spam emails or anything, just a notification every Monday for a quick link to the post for the week! And while you’re there, pushing buttons, you could push the star button and thereby leave a like! Not only does it help the blog a lot, it also makes me very happy.
And with that I guess I’m done. See you guys next week!