It was the day after the day that a name could not be put on. It was a simple word I guess; Prom. To me, all of the Juniors and the Seniors, it was important. Especially to me, even though I never would have felt so strongly about it had the past not happened as it turned out. A better time with better people could never have been asked for.
Somehow, through Hell’s very own flames, I constructed a firm friendship with Daniel. Even more surprising, and much more unexpected… and more… happy… was that fate made it so that I could be with the girl I had loved for all of my life. I always lived in a world in which it would never happen, but… it did.
Words could not describe how I felt about her, and how much she lit up my world. After witnessing her wonderful dress, I almost melted in my shoes. It was a wonder that I pulled my speech together instead of tripping over my words as I continued to gawk at the beautiful clothing. She had gone all-out for this, and it left me stunned.
The memories of the dance came rushing back. We had pulled out of the neighborhood, packing into Daniel’s car that he had cleaned so excessively for the occasion, even enlisting my help on the chore at one time. We had come to the point in our lives where we were able to even ask each other for favors; the tides didn’t change, they completely transformed and took another form.
Upon my request, and as payment for how I assisted him, Daniel even allowed me to put my own music in the radio; Elysium, the latest album by Stratovarius. Surprisingly, I got them to like it. Since it was a short ride, it didn’t play for long; only the first three songs, but those were really good ones, so it didn’t matter to me as much.
We exited our ride from an already-crowded parking lot, though we were able to capture a decent spot. We must have been the best-looking group, and that’s not me being selfish; we all just looked good. Daniel pointed out that we were certainly a center of attention when he showed me how many people were staring at us. We did have the best girls as our dates, so that might have assisted us a bit.
One nagging feeling fought me though. I looked to be left, where Charles usually followed me, but found that he was no longer there. I found no time to mourn the loss and continued on. Dwelling on bad memories had become a bad habit as of recently, and I bet that those thoughts caused all of those dreams that I’ve been having that tried to implant bad futures in my head.
Claudia and I had been holding hands since we exited the vehicle, not the tight, nervous type, but the relaxed type; the loving type. It was as though we had done this all before. She was standing for now, but her wheelchair was close by.
I never thought I Claudia would be able to walk again. But, as I looked over the past months, the hospital must have been wrong; she had the potential to make a full recovery. I could tell right off the bat that she planned to abuse that potential all night, though I found myself trusting her and not minding too much.
Daniel wandered off with Sarina quickly without a word, leaving Claudia and I alone. Of course, she forced me on the dance floor as fast as humanly possible. We danced for a long time; fast, frantic songs to very slow songs, including a love song I saw Stephanie request. I didn’t know what it was, but Forest, her date, did. They were really good friends to me, so I was happy to see they were getting along.
When Claudia went to get drinks and take a quick break in her wheelchair. During this time period, I stole a second to run over to the DJ and make an odd request that he actually was able to make. I knew how obsessed she was with Disney, so I took a chance to see how she’d react. It was cheesy, but if Disney was her thing, she might just love it.
So when Can You Feel The Love Tonight sounded over the speakers and mostly everybody vacated the dance floor, I held my breath. Claudia, who had been sitting in her wheelchair next to me, perked her head up. I waited for that sense of recognition. Before I knew it, she had leapt out of her position and pulled me to my feet.
“I can’t believe you” she said, laughing as we started to dance. She got so in to it she even started adding in her own lyrics. We were left exhausted and laughing so hard that it began to hurt.
We located the others after the dance ended, and we were just sitting down for a pretty long time. It seemed like Daniel was having a good time with Sarina. I hoped that what I said to him might have helped, since it didn’t sound all that inspiring to me… and I created it.
At one point, a group of students that had formed a band their freshmen year took the stage that was located behind the DJ stand; they had been requested by their Senior class friends. However, they were purely instrumental and didn’t have a lead singer. At the same time, everybody wanted them to have a strong vocalist to sing some songs.
It had been some time since I had been considered a great singer since the beginning of the year. People had often praised me for how incredible my range was, and that my voice could be very soft and melodic to very dark and deep. Most of the time, I dismissed this since I didn’t believe it.
Unfortunately, all of the people around me quickly put the vocal spotlight on me. It didn’t take long before I was forced onto forward towards the stage. I protested briefly, but soon I gave into the peer pressure and allowed myself to be driven up to the band. I was instantly nervous; I had no idea what they would play, and I was meant to sing it well and put on a good show. Two facts comforted me though: 1, the band obviously realized this, and 2/ they usually played rock songs.
I was reassured by the opening piano of When All Is Lost, another amazingly crafted Symphony X song. I felt as though I was as far from Russell Allen’s vocal range as I was from the moon though. A part of my mind began to make me feel confident, telling me to just go with it and see how the result came out.
It was autopilot time. Once the short intro ended, I took a deep breath.
I believe… nothing ever comes to light –
Chasing shadows in the night
In a starless sky
and I wonder why
I believe… we will never find our way –
The darkness lights the day
We never question why, still I wonder why?
I close my eyes lost in the memory
Like a candle in the wind
What could have been with just one kiss goodbye
You spread your wings to fly
Far away, somehow, someday, you will understand
I hope you’ll understand… someday
The audience was still with me, no faces of disgust displayed at me. In fact, many of them seemed surprised and into what I was doing. Claudia looked at me in an excited astonishment, and I guess I felt the same about me; shocked that I actually could sing, and happy that I was.
Silent pictures speak like ghosts in the machine
Haunting my reflection in the frame
Chasing down the hopeful child inside of me
Where'd it all go wrong and who's to blame
We pass the time away
With empty lives, the laughter dies
All this time, the music had been building up to the grand chorus. It was now or never…
Is this all we have to show?
Is this all they'll ever know? Can they find their way?
What went wrong? Where have all the heroes gone?
Trading futures for a song we gave away
When the song ended a few minutes later, I was immersed in a loud applause. Everyone was cheering… for my singing and the band that stood beside me. I never would have dreamt of being accepted in such a manner. I noticed Daniel whistling, and I laughed, grinning at him. Claudia was clapping the loudest, still shocked on what I had done. Truthfully, so was I.
I stepped down from the stage and a crowd surrounded me. As much as I enjoyed it, I only wanted to get back to the others. After some long time for taking in all of the praises, I made it over to Claudia, who ran up and kissed me right in front of everyone to see.
“That was beautiful” she said breathlessly.
Afterwards, once all of the excitement had worn off, we were left back at the table we started at. Daniel and Sarina had now joined us. After a mock argument, Daniel and I were forced to head to the drinks stand and pick up some sodas. It would be my fifth drink that night.
“So how’s your night going, hmm?” Daniel asked me.
I nodded in response. “I’ll be the first one to admit I had some serious doubts. But it’s not bad. Not bad at all. Maybe one of the better things I’ve done in my high school year. It helps that I have a wonderful date. As do you, of course” I finished, mentioning Sarina. “How have things been with that?”
It took a while for him to respond; the two of us weren’t always the best at being open with our romantic lives. “You were right… and I think if you didn’t say anything, I would have been all doom and gloom the whole time. I couldn’t ask for a better girl… I’m really having a good time”.
“Then I assume” I said, tossing him a Dr. Pepper, “you can handle one more, wimp?” Daniel had already consumed ten sodas, despite having been told on numerous occasions to take it easy.
We both laughed. It was really for no reason at all. There was a brief moment of silence, and then the eruption of random, happy emotions. This laughter we shared all the way back to our dates. When they asked us what the funny joke was, we simply replied with “Caffeine”.
The funny thing that we all were able to laugh at was the fact that we were the last ones to actually leave the school. A lot of the students decided to leave early to head out and do some night activities; appropriate or not. We stayed behind, and eventually we were asked to leave.
So we all headed back outside back to Daniel’s car. After some debate, Stratovarius was kept in the radio during our journey back. Daniel would be dropping Claudia and I off at our own house, while he continued to his own.
After getting my disk back, saying goodbye and departing from the vehicle, we rushed up to our house. Claudia’s parents weren’t home today, so we had planned on watching a movie, though this time I had my own choice.
“It’s only fair” I said.
Of course, I knew Claudia loved Disney. But she was also a sucker for action films, especially heroic ones. She’d never admit to anyone accept me, but she had gotten obsessed with comic books for a year or two in her life. So the obvious pick was what was currently the movie of the year.
When I pulled The Avengers out from where I had hid it, she definitely had a little fangirl moment. After we shared a laugh at that mannerism, we took a seat on the comfortable couch. She wanted to start as soon as possible. She even tried to snatch the remote for me when I was off-guard.
“Remember know, this was my pick” I said tauntingly, also making myself sound like a wise teacher. “And the man that chooses the movie is the man that manages it”.
“Well if that’s how your philosophy goes, I chose to have a relationship with you, so maybe I should start managing YOU” she replied, positioning herself closer to me on the furniture.
“Now that’s not entirely fair!” I responded.
She giggled. “I’m simply repeating what you said, but just in a different scenario”.
“Because… the circumstances are completely different. Using the remote will not cause you any harm. However, managing a human being, on the other hand, could be used for harmful activities”.
“You didn’t let me say how I would”. She leaned over to me and kissed me, and when she pulled back I said:
She laughed, putting on a fake pouting expression. “Now you’re just being mean”.
I kissed her back. “Play”. At the same time, the movie began to play.
It was a pretty long film, so we were up for most of the night until it had finally finished. I could tell that she really approved of it, and of course, I did too. We laughed when it was funny and cheered when it was awesome. She might have cried when Loki killed the agent Phil, but truthfully I almost did too. Time certainly does fly, and before we knew it the heroes had gathered for a final stand at New York.
There was not an action sequence quite like what is seen in this particular part of the film, though I knew Daniel would disagree and name some battle from a Star Wars movie. But it was hard to beat Iron Man racing around gunning down foes, Thor shooting lightning into the portal, Captain America saving a crowd of people… a bunch of stuff going down that was really intense.
After the intense scene, the movie slowly progressed until the final credits were rolling. For once, I was able to keep Claudia awake through a movie, though it wasn’t entirely her fault; the night just wasn’t something she had favored commonly. Both of us, however, we left yawning after the television was turned off and turned to black.
For the second time, we fell asleep in each other’s embrace. It had hard to explain how we did this without feeling awkward, but we did, and neither of us cared. Should I question this as going too fast in our relationship or being too inappropriate? I think we’d both know when we’d hit a boundary… but for now everything was fine between us… everything was great, and ten time more so than I could have ever imagined.
I began to review how the night went, much like how I did in this moment. A man could never ask for more if he received something as grand and beautiful as this night. It all started with the girl of my dreams and dancing with her until my legs were sore. I remember when I first set eyes on her all the way back to preschool. It’s amazing how far we’re come since that time in the… umm… Jurassic Era.
Stephanie was able to get good music on the speakers, and that was definitely a first. I even got to perform with a band, which I never could have imagined… ever. Not only that, but apparently, according to the reception I received… I nailed it. I succeeded in an endeavor I never would have been able to accomplish as the Loner. I was in a new crowd now, with a new confidence.
When I woke up to a temperate-weather Sunday, I got some feeling that I was going to have a good day. There was no real reason why, but just this odd feeling that infected me. I got up, making sure not to disturb Claudia, and made my way to the kitchen. I thought that since I was awake, I might as well make myself useful.
I decided to go all out and make something that everyone would enjoy. Claudia’s parents were home, so I began to make what would satisfy everyone. Once Claudia and the others got themselves out of bed, or the couch, they were surprised to see that I had cooked up food for everyone. The surprise soon turned into impressed, and the day felt much better.
However, since it had been a Sunday, and some homework assignments were due, the day started ti drag on ever so slowly as the day continued. Before anyone knew it, everyone was asleep waiting for Monday to come calling.
Unfortunately, I did not remember to set my alarm. Instead of hearing my radio suddenly blurt out a random song, I felt someone gently nudge me. With a groan, I opened my eyes and saw Claudia standing over me.
“Might want to set your alarm next time” she said in a mock-taunting manner.
Begrudgingly, I lifted myself out of bed and tried to gather up all of my supplies. A quick glance at the clock showed that I had almost run out of time! Muttering a curse word, I threw a cereal bar in my backpack after getting some clothes on. I felt bad since I had to drive Claudia to school every day, and currently I was holding her up.
When I dashed outside, I quickly realized that my shorts and T-shirt combo did not fit well with the freezing weather. I decided to bear with it and I practically leaped in my car. Claudia was already waiting inside of it for me, and when I got in she gave me a quick kiss.
“Relax” she said, laughing. After taking a few deep breaths and noticing that I had made up for my lost time, I got back on track and pulled out of the driveway. Unfortunately, she had an idea for what music would occupy us for the journey; Taylor Swift.
Of course, no matter what I said deterred her from her objective, so I complied, as usual. I never was a fan of country, but I was able to put up with it, though I commonly joked about how I really didn’t like it, and frequently made up my own lyrics. Today, I refrained for an unknown reason.
“No jokes today, Lionel? I’m surprised” she remarked, wearing that sweet smile I had gotten used to seeing.
I shrugged. “I’m not sure. I just don’t quite feel like it today. I thought you’d be happy”.
“Oh I am, but it just feels like you’re a little off your game”.
At this comment my eyebrows raised. “I can continue me reign of terror at any time, darling” I joked.
She raised her hands up in mock defeat. “Alright, my lordship, I am nothing but a peasant on her knees”.
I laughed at her comment, then pulled into the school’s parking lot. Whenever you got your driver’s license, you got to reserve a parking space. Luckily, since I was one of the older students at the school, I got a very good space close to the school’s main building, but at the same time it was near the exit, allowing me to skip by most of the traffic.
I exited the car and assisted getting Claudia out of it; she still used the wheelchair to maintain her overall health, and because I cared about her safety. Every time she started walking on her own, I always freaked out, though she always claimed this was simply an overreaction.
I guided her through the school entrance, having no trouble navigating through any students since I had actually arrived earlier and beat the bus rush that usually swallowed up any drivers. All along the way I was greeted by the multiple guests that had attended Saturday’s Prom. I was still being named as the man who had sang on the stage alongside a band.
While I liked being recognized, I never was one for all of the popularity and such, but it seemed as though I was slowly becoming, along with Claudia and the others, school icons. Daniel hypothesized one day that they’d make an anthem to the four of us; Sarina, Claudia, Daniel and I; about how awesome we were at turning the school around from its darkest days.
It was all in a jokingly manner though. We’d rather be unpopular and have each other than be super popular and with tons of friends. We were really just indifferent overall though. It didn’t matter all too much.
Claudia and I came before “The Slope” hallway that was in the same corridor as our homeroom. It had been nicknamed because of the steep incline it possessed and that many people had lost their footing on it.
However, Claudia had come up with a fun way to use the slope. As usual, I straightened her course, let go, and watched as she flew down the hallway. It was her only way of enjoying the rolling chair she was forced to sit in, though I think those days were numbered.
“Woooo!” she exclaimed in delight. She soon came to a stop and turned around to face me. I had been tagging along behind her the whole time to make sure she didn’t spin out of control.
“Again, again!” she said in the voice of a little child.
“Now daughter, some people such as you have to get into their classrooms now” I replied, acting as a fatherly figure.
By the time we entered home room, everyone was starting to pile in, signifying that the buses had arrived and were currently unloading. As usual, we took the two seats in the top right-hand corner, the very back of the room. Two more chairs would later join us, occupied by Daniel and Sarina. For now, it was just Claudia and I.
“So you enjoyed it?” she asked me, referring to Prom. It was probably the fiftieth time she had thrown this question at me as though my answer would change.
For today, I decided to switch things up. “Oh, the music was great, and I loved all of the people there, the drinks… all of that good stuff. It almost made up for the mediocre company”.
With a ‘hmph!” she replied “On the other hand, I thought that it was fun as well, aside from the weird guy that followed me around the whole time and claimed I was dating him. Ouch” she said, after I flinched from the remark, “that must have hurt”.
“Not as much as this” I responded, giving her a strong kiss.
“Aren’t you afraid people might be watching?” she said jokingly.
“Since when did we start caring?” I said, and then we shared a long kiss until we heard a lot of people heading down “The Slope”. It was easy to distinguish when civilization hit it due to the heavy footfalls that almost made one think that wooly mammoths had come back alive from extinction.
Daniel and Sarina were the first ones to come in, holding hands and such. For a brief second, I wondered what he thought when he saw Claudia and I doing the exact same thing. In my own eyes, I was questioning how I could be friends with him after all of those long months fighting and bickering, aiming to kill each other.
Because it couldn’t be any other way my mind said simply. It needed no justification; just that simple statement. Something about us engineered us to be friends even if a fire threatened to kill one of us. Speaking of fires, I took notice that the alarms we had disabled during Leeman’s rule of terror were still in disarray; he never did go around to fix those ‘useless devices’, unless he thought that we would have the decency to do so.
The duo soon joined us, dragging chairs over to sit in front of us. Sarina accidently let hers drag on the floor for a bit, and we all cringed at the horrible sound of metal scrapping the floor; almost as bad as the nails-on-a-chalkboard screech.
Daniel made a joke about it. “You know, if we’re going to make our group accommodate you and become big enough for four, we can’t have these mechanical failures anymore”.
“Yes sir!” Sarina said with a salute. They kissed, then sat down and turned to face us.
“It’s the big day after the big day after the big day!” Daniel began, leaving the rest of us in a state of confusion. After he too observed this, he simplified his previous statement. “You know… it’s the second day after Prom. It’s just as special, you know”.
“In who’s world?” Claudia teased.
He shrugged. “I don’t know. I guess I always thought people would be more cheerful around here, running around with high energy and such”.
“That’s what the weekends are for, and I have a feeling that this particular one had been abused for more than high energy and such” I replied, followed by the group laughing.
“Someone seems to have a high opinion of the world” Claudia said, nudging me.
I looked over at her. “Well, you set me up for it, so what choice did I have other than taking the golden opportunity to spread world happiness?” I raised my arms in the air as though in a mock prayer.
“You could have done a lot of things. Need I make a list?” she asked me jokingly, pulling out a piece of paper.
I snatched it off her desk, picked a pen from my backpack, and wrote on the paper. “You know, I think I shall make my own list that will instruct you on what you should do in the future”. I held up the paper which now said ‘Get a sense of humor, woman’.
Claudia giggled, and was about to make her reply when Daniel intervened. “Now, both of you behave, or I’ll feed you to Mr. Gregory” he said, mentioning the name of the principle in charge of student discipline and known to be a complete jerk.
He stood up after this. “I’ll be right back. I just gotta go to the bathroom quick”.
I called after him as he walked through the door. “I’m sure we all needed to know that”. From the laugh I heard, he had heard what I said.
Sarina, who had been quiet for most of the conversation, turned to face us. I couldn’t say much about her since she actually was kind of shy around people she didn’t know or just didn’t know all too well. Since we were Daniel’s friends, however, she was a lot more open.
So she started to speak. “Okay, so I was thinking about getting something for Daniel” she began in a hushed voice as though we could be heard by the friend in question. “I know he really likes Star Wars, and I have a chance to get this really rare movie poster of it”.
“That’s great, Sarina! He’d love that, being such a Star Wars freak… what episode is it of?” I inquired, wanting to know information.
She thought for a moment. “I’m not really sure. Does he really care about which one it depicts?”
I nodded, completely serious. “It’s got to be original trilogy, or to him it will have ‘no value whatsoever’. Trust me, I’ve gotten a very lengthy speech on the topic of that before”.
“You know… I think it was the one called, like, “New Hope” I think” she said, nodding when she started to believe in her statement more.
Claudia piped in the conversation. “Oh, if you get Episode Four, you will make his world light up like the sun” she said jokingly, yet what she did say was totally true.
Before we could continue, our teacher ran inside the classroom, panic strewn on his face. It had taken a while for our home room teacher to arrive at the classroom, so I had been slightly wondering what had been going on that was causing so much confusion. He looked like we was definitely in fear of something, and his running only served to demonstrate a sense of urgency.
What he said next was something that took my off-guard and then transferred all of the panic, fear, and urgency onto my shoulders. “There’s been a fire in the kitchen. A meal was left unattended to, and the flames quickly spread. The fire alarms do not seem to be working, so we must evacuate”.
The students immediately made a bolt for the door, including me, but our teacher’s words persisted over the clamor of the crowd. “Now, this doesn’t call for an unorganized rush! This is a moment in which you need to really pay attention, and stick together! Do not run off on your own or stray off course. We need to be able to exit the building without encountering any issues”.
On order from the adult figure in the room, we began to form a single-file line at the front of the door. Soon enough, we were marching down the hall. It wasn’t full of smoke, and didn’t appear as though there was a fire in this section of the school.
Now that I was moving and I had calmed down, my mind began to fully process what occurred. A fire… a freaking fire! There were flames somewhere in this structure that were slowly eating away at it. I had always heard stores of school kitchen fires that can be deadly and damaging to the complex… and now it seemed as though I had been thrown into one of those tales.
It was incredibly, extremely hard to comprehend the fact that this was happening. You never really know what’s going to happen to you one day, and most of the insane, improbable happenings are the ones that you generally dismiss, but eventually come back to haunt you. It was one of those situations. While I had calmed down, I was still in a panic.
I was pushing Claudia in the wheelchair while Sarina stood to my right. I took time to observe the faces of the other students that were a part of this giant movement towards the outside world, exiting the walls that surrounded s that I now feared could give away at any moment and crush us, or maybe even trap us and suffocate our life out.
After shaking my head a few times and realizing I was out of my mind, I focused back on my peers. They didn’t look like they were better off than me. People always fantasized and joked about the school experiencing a problem, forcing the students to take a considerable amount of time off to do whatever they wanted. But it was all never said in the intention that such an event would ever happen in real life, in our lives.
We soon came across the main lobby, and that was when all Hell broke loose. A bunch of other home rooms had met in this room on their way to get out of the school, and now a huge mass of humans were pushing forward to the doors that weren’t far off, yet they seemed miles away at the pace we were moving. Teachers ran about like army officers, calling for order and trying to thin out the traffic, but it was all done in vain.
Sarina almost lost us, but I was able to steer her back over to us; I wanted the three of us to stick together now that we were lost from the initial body that we had followed from the classroom that I know wondered would still be intact once this fire had finished with it.
Since Claudia was in a wheelchair, my progress was made slightly faster since she was a cripple and given the benefit of being set forward by society. I was glad she didn’t try and just get up and try walking out of here, because in a scenario like this, I could have lost her in the confusion.
Again my mind began blaring the same message over and over again. A freaking fire! Down in that cafeteria that you had always eaten in, there is now a party of rampaging flames laying waste to this structure that you had ventured in for more than three years, this structure that you were able to build a life in and out of.
Wherever it was now, the fire was not nearby our position, but for all I knew, it could be closing in. I tried to hurry my pace as though I would somehow be able to sprint like a track runner and make it through to the safety of the outdoors. Absent-mindedly, I wondering about giving camping another chance after this all cleared up.
There were huge windows at the entrance of the school that lit up the main lobby. When I saw I was approaching them, I could assure myself that the doors weren’t further off. In contrast to the dark interior the school, the exterior seemed to be set in an alternate dimension: the sun was shining down on the ground, while clouds that promised no storming today slowly drifted across a light blue sky.
My eagerness finally got the better of me, and I began to make way for the doors. Soon enough, I took a deep breath and exhaled as I was able to be out on the pavement that signified I had made it out of the building. Sarina was still by my side, Claudia stilled in her wheelchair. I could see that the panic had melted off of their faces now that were in now in the safe zone.
Even though I never thought I would be using the fire drill tips, I found myself rehearsing them in my mind, which had remembered them as though it knew this would happen someday. ‘Make sure to stay facing away from the building’ was the one I heard the most. Though my twisted curiosity begged me to turn around and see how the school looked from the exterior, I dared not one glance, preferring to wait until I was far from it.
Often, we were told to be organized into our home rooms when we came out of the school. Each class had a parking space assigned to it, but when I began to look for where my home room should be, I didn’t see anyone. Instead, there was just a giant group of students that were forming a line starting at the flagpole, which was a safe distance away from the complex. The teachers, after witnessing the chaotic, jumbled clump of teenagers, gave up any hope of putting people into controlled assemblies and just tried to make sure nobody ran off or came any closer to the school.
Having no better option, I ventured to join the line, feeling secure now that I was back in the midst of civilization, albeit an unstable and fearful one. The sight of seeing many people that I could have easily assumed as deceased comforted me, and I felt as though my inner-mind conflicts were coming to a halt.
So there had been a fire in the school somehow due to the neglect of the ‘lunch ladies’ that made our meals. Though I was still scared at the aspect of the fire, I didn’t care all too much anymore. I could only wonder how well this would go over in the student body that a bunch of old ladies literally cooked the school.
Now that I had joined the ranks of the students and my mind was at ease, I chose to spare a glance at what I had just gotten out of.
Panic threatened to bombard my tranquil mind once again after seeing the giant pillar of smoke that reached out into the sky. It seemed to originate from the cafeteria, but it also come from other sources throughout the school. I definitely became worrisome after noticing that some of the sources seemed to be moving, and closing in on the main lobby; the place where a ton of people were stuck in.
I couldn’t see the fire itself due to the lack of windows in the school, but I didn’t care all too much about that fact, and I rather was joyful that I couldn’t. I would have lost my sanity after witnessing such a sight.
I felt I could smile, however, just because I hadn’t been hit by tragedy. I looked all around me and saw that everyone else was starting to feel reassured. Soon, sirens blared, and a pack of fire trucks entered the scene. Nothing could possibly go-
I looked around me again, though I wasn’t sure why. I kept performing this act until I finally found the terrifying reason why. I ran forward a bit to get a better angle of both sides of the line. Claudia and Sarina looked at me strangely. I felt I was on the verge of tears and losing my saneness. I began to plow through students, running like a madman on an objective that began to feel hopeless. I looped back and tried to the other half of the assemblage… but all to no avail. I finally ended up in front of the others; right back where I started. He was nowhere to be seen…
“Lionel!” Claudia called to me, obviously concerned. “What’s wrong? Are you okay?”
I turned to face her… and I was forced to deliver the awful, yet truthful message. “Daniel’s not here”.
It took a moment for the tow individuals to have that information sink in. Sarina shook her head violently and approached me. “You don’t know that. There’s a ton of people out here. He could be anywhere!”
I didn’t want to tell them that this was a hard, cold fact… but if I didn’t, all would be made even worse if they continued to deny. “I looked up and down the line. I didn’t see him. I still can’t see him…” a tear came out of my eye, and then I snapped. “WHERE THE HELL IS HE?”
Claudia gasped, ready to cry, and Sarina looked the same. They were gulping down the urge to admit the reality I presented. Soon after…
I walked forward towards the firemen. There was a chief standing by his truck, giving out orders vocally and through a walkie-talkie. My friend was trapped in that building… my resolve was hardened. I wanted him to not be trapped in there. I wanted him out of there.
If only the fire alarms were on! I guaranteed that Daniel would be alive right night to me if Leeman hadn’t done as he did… with all of the policies and such. My mind persisted that we had done that, we dismantled the alarms.
The chief noticed my presence and pointed back towards the line. “Kid, you gotta stay back with all of the others. Things are getting dangerous up here, and we need to make sure everyone is in a safe position”.
“My friend is in there” I said with a voice of no emotion.
It did not faze the chief. “We’ve got men searching for stragglers, he’ll be-“
“MY FRIEND IS IN THERE” I exclaimed, pointing towards the school that was slowly becoming masked by black smoke. “I don’t want to know that men are looking. I want to know that men are looking specifically for him, and are going to get him no matter what!”
He took a while to respond, and all he did was deliver another excuse. “Listen, he’ll be okay. If you just… hey!”
I had dashed for the build with a sense of delirious abandonment. No longer did I care about safety, sanity… all of the above. Daniel was the best friend I ever, EVER could ask for, and I had to get him out of wherever he was trapped at. I needed to save him.
A number of people called after me, shouting at me, trying to deter me from my objective. It was too late; I was without fear or worry anymore… just the desire, the need to locate my friend and deliver him back to safety’s shore.
It wasn’t a run, either; it was a full-out sprint. My legs were flying me right back at the school that I had just wanted to exit so badly. Instead of going for the lobby, I saved time by making my way to the only window in the hallway that contained “The Slope”. Ignoring the voices that demanded me to return, I covered my head in my arms and sent all of my weight flying at the window.
I smashed the whole window from top to bottom. My body kept flying all the way until I hit the ground hard and rolled down the nicknamed incline. Groaning from the hard landing, I collected myself and went forward on my objective.
I recalled that the smoke had not congregated in the hallway yet, and neither had the fire. The thick, black stuff was present now, however, hovering on the ceiling. Among other fire drill tips, I remembered the ‘crawl on the floor one’ at this point, but in my urgency, I ignored it.
The last thing that Daniel did was go to the bathroom. It was only just around the corner. If he was anywhere, it would have to be here. If not… I would be stuck in this smoke-infested structure with fire advancing on all sides, with chances of survival dwindling by every second.
I turned the corner and went so fast I almost went into the Women’s Bathroom by mistake. After recovering from that, I entered the boy’s bathroom. That’s when I saw the true horror.
It was orange, with yellow in the tips and red at the bottom. It frequently flickered, followed by a dance of light or a leap that consumed where it landed. I had never encountered a fire. I was left breathless by the smoke and how it dominated the room, bearing death and destruction. It was as though I was flung in the past.
However, the sight of two shoes in one of the stalls sent me back into the present. Someone was in there! Not only that, but the stall was damaged in such a way that whoever was inside… was trapped. I peeked by head over the side, and there he was.
“Lionel!?” Daniel exclaimed in shock.
“No time to talk, I’m getting you out of here. Tell what I have to do”. I was all business, despite the fact that I was incredibly happy to see that my friend was still alive. We weren’t out of the woods yet, and I needed to get him out of here.
“The door is crooked, see if you can move it from the outside” came the reply.
I put my hands on the door and jerked, but it did nothing. I put myself into a better position, bracing myself, but nothing worked. The next attempt I had cut my hand, and I cursed. Daniel expressed his concern, wondering if I was okay, but I said nothing. Instead, I continued on my objective. I wiped my hands clean, then grabbed the door again.
An inhuman strength took over me. My feet were steadfast on the floor. My arms were shaking from the effort, moving with such brute strength that they began to shake. The door budged, slightly, then was thrown off completely, followed by a loud shout of a man who had just taking the weight of the world off of his shoulders.
Daniel sprinted out of the stall, not a thank-you given since a thank-you would definitely be out of place in a time like this. Instead, he grabbed my arm, shouting “Come on!” and guiding me back outside.
As soon as we exited, we were greeted by an explosion. A huge flame just leaped through the wall! The erection crumbled, collapsing right in front of our eyes, its pieces raining on the floor. In a cry of fear, we turned the other way, back in the direction of where I had come from.
The fire was hot on our heels, fueled by an unknown force that powered it, sending it at us with a fury unmatched by the fastest force of nature. There was not a problem ahead of us, however, and we appeared to be home free.
The opening in which had used to be a window, some sunlight pierced through the dense smoke as though beckoning to us, calling our names to salvation. I could see a light-blue sky out there, a promise to safety. It was a wonder that I survived…
I had ran through the flames for Daniel. I was willing to risk my life to save the friend that I had known since I entered preschool. It was in that moment I realized how much he meant to me, and I was willing to do beyond for him.
My thoughts were broken by shuddering above my head. The school was a two-story building, and I began to worry the fire was doing a much better job advancing upstairs. It could be possible that-
Part of the ceiling, nothing by a flaming mess, fell right from above my head! I screamed in agony is the piece of the structure landed right on my back, scarring my skin. The flames were eager to leap onto this new surface and began to singe my skin. I howled in pain, trying as hard as I could to release myself from what appeared to me Death’s very own hand.
Hands grabbed my shoulders and dragged me out of the rubble. I didn’t have the strength to turn and see who my savior was, but I knew that it was Daniel. I heard his voice, heard his pleas… one specific one rang in my skull.
“Lionel, you just saved me… and I cannot say how much I love you as a friend. And I swear to God you are getting out of here alive!”
His promise was fulfilled. I soon was out in the sun. The voices came back, followed by the sounds of people running in panic. Daniel gasped, taking in the outdoor air he had not immersed in. He was alive… but I didn’t know what to think of me.
The firemen carried me to the ambulance that was nearby. I passed right in front of Claudia and Sarina. Upon seeing me, Claudia leapt of her wheelchair and demanded that she follow me to the hospital. Miraculously, she was able to convince the men.
It was silence as the vehicle rolled on. Then Claudia spoke.
“You ran in there. You saved Daniel’s life” she began.
“He’s my friend. I wouldn’t leave him to die” was my simple reply.
“I love you” she said, giving me a little kiss, wary that I could be hurting all over my body.
“Are you… okay?” she asked me.
At this, I blacked out.
Bright lights, shining down on me from overhead.
There was movement all around me; people in white clothing busying themselves with tasks. I wasn’t sure what they were all about.
Two people stood out from the rest; normal civilians, I could tell. In my vision, which remained impaired, I could only fully recognize the black hair of Daniel and the red hair of my love.
Now my ears opened up to the noise. These men and women were certainly in a panic. Am I going to die? Am I lost case? What if this is just… all in vain…
“He’s stable for now. Hand me the monitor”.
“I’ve already checked”.
“Burns all over his back, including deep gashes by debris”.
“How can we clean it all?”
“That’s the question we’re wondering about”.
“We’ll take care of it. We’ve got some things in order for now, and it seems to be working”.
“Alright. That’s good”.
Now the voices were aimed directly at me.
“Are you awake?”
“Suppose so”. At least my voice worked, though it sounded raspy and was hard to decipher.
“Getting better. They’re starting to clear up”.
The conversation was interrupted by another voice; Daniel’s voice.
“We want a moment. To talk” he spoke up, standing up to face the doctor.
He obliged. The white-suited individuals exited the room, and I was greeted by the faces of Daniel and Claudia.
“You’ll be okay. I’ve been listening to the doctors, you’re going to be-“
“So have I” I gasped. My strength was weak, and I could feel my life escaping me, a leaf ready to fall from a tree.
“Lionel… don’t talk like that!” that was Claudia. “No matter what… you’ll be okay… we’ll all be okay”.
I looked over at the heart monitor; it looked just like the ones in the movies. I knew eventually it would run flat, as was also true in the films.
“Listen… I saved you Daniel. I only did that… so you can have a better life… because I know you can have one. Claudia… I love you. I want to spend all of my life with you”.
I gasped, suddenly feeling death creeping up on me. “It just… it all hurts. Everything hurts”.
“It all hurts…”
My head slammed back into the pillow, and everything went black.
Everything was black.
I guess I died then. Is this what it’s like to die? There’s not even anything here. At least be decent and put a chair here, a TV there…
I’m dead. I’ll never see Daniel again. I’ll never see… I’ll never see Claudia again.
No! I can’t live with that. I need to see her. I want to be with her… forever! I told her that right before… right before it happened. I can’t leave her.
I can’t leave Daniel, or Sarina, or any of my friends. But one fact… I cannot leave that girl. I just can’t.
Don’t worry, my love. I’m coming.
Down in a Coroner office in the bottom of the hospital, my eyes shot open and I gasped for breath, very much alive.