Into Thin Air

Michael is sitting by the curb, waiting for his mother to pick him up. She should have been there nearly an hour ago. Actually, ALL of the kids' parents should have been there to pick them up nearly an hour ago. As if that weren't bad enough, he can't seem to find the teachers and his cell phone is telling him it's out of the service area. Then they find the abandoned, crashed cars all along the highway. In most cases, crashes people couldn't have walked away from.

"But he wasn't nearly as good last night!" a blond haired boy was arguing with the two other 6'th grade boys. "So? It was an off night, he'll do better next time." the taller, darkest haired of the three said calmly.

Michael watched on in amusement, a lopsided grin spread over his face. He wondered idly what they were talking about, but mostly his thoughts were elsewhere. Where is she?

He looked down at his watch once more; class had ended nearly forty-five minutes ago. She's never been this late before. Scratching the back of his neck, he looked around again.

The three boys were still talking, but in a much more subdued voice. He couldn't make anything out. A girl who looked about fourteen was sitting by the curb with another, younger girl he assumed was her sister. Two more boys, 7'th graders from the looks of it, were fighting on the small patch of grass between the pick-up lane and the side of the brick wall of the school.

He was about to go over and break it up - or at least get them to move away from the road - when a boy, about his age, went over and did just that. Michael decided instead to sit right where he was, boredom stretching the time exponentially.

He had a strange feeling that something wasn't right, but he couldn't put his finger on it. He looked around again. The two boys that had been fighting, still were. Though, now they were safely away from the road. The kid that had moved them was talking to the girl sitting by the curb, and the three boys were mostly keeping to themselves.

Then it dawned on him. He counted all of the kids around him. There were eight, nine counting himself. There were only ever that many kids that got picked up by their parents. So nobody had come yet? And more importantly, where were the teachers? Their cars were still there, but no one was out by the road with them.

What if one of them got hurt? It would be the schools fault, wouldn't it? It may have mainly been a high school, but it was also a middle school. What if those two boys had been hit by a car?

He stood up slowly, but even in the short amount of time it took him to stand, he realized he was probably way overreacting. But still...

He headed off toward the door, which was still unlocked. It swung closed behind him and he made his way to the teachers lounge. He hesitated with his hand raised. Then he knocked. He waited for a while, standing patiently in his spot. When no one came he knocked again. Still nothing.

He knocked louder this time. "Hello?" he called. "Hello?"

He touched the door handle with all the care someone might pick up a live grenade with. Slowly turning the knob, the door swung open. "Well I guess that's why no one said anything." he said to the empty room.

He closed the door and continued on to the next room. Again he knocked, and again he got no answer. "Hello?" he called down the halls. He looked back at his watch, for the first time realizing it was entirely possible his parents could have come already.

He started making his way back to the pick-up area, abandoning his search. But when he opened the door, he saw that not only were his parents not there waiting for him, but that all eight kids were still out there. But as he started heading back towards his original spot, he overheard what the three boys were talking about.

"Do you think there's some kind of accident that's blocked off the road?" the blond haired boy asked.

"Either way, I'm sure someone's gonna pick us up soon." the taller boy said.

"I'm getting hungry." the third boy complained.

An accident? Michael wondered. I guess it's possible. And it would explain why no one's come to pick us up yet. It kind of makes sense.

"Hey?" The sound made him jump, but he turned to see one of the two boys that had been fighting behind him. "Do you know what's going on? I'm going to be late to karate class if I don't leave soon."

"Sorry kid, just as clueless here." Michael says. "There's a phone in the office if you want to call your parents."

"Oh, ok. Thanks." the kid says, and trudges up the three steps to the door before disappearing inside. That's actually not a bad idea. he thought.

He slipped open his phone, a red display in the corner catching his eye. No service?

He shut the phone and opened it again, but to no avail. The red light still blinked, taunting him. He slipped it back in his pocket just as the only other older boy stood up. The girl grabbed his arm, but he didn't even turn to look at her. He suddenly took off around the corner of the school, out of Michael's line of sight.

The End

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