I counted the minutes. Then I counted the hours. Chase had been at the nurse’s office for forever. Did he just get sent home early because he was in such bad shape? Or had he died because all of his skin peeled off which caused him to perish from internal bleeding? I shuddered at the latter, which actually was closer to the truth than any of my other theories.
Why did I care so much about him and the sickness that had gotten a hold of him? Was it curiosity or fear? Either way, some force compelled me to research about him. During science class, I had skimmed through my textbook and even did online searches. Nothing came up.
The rest of my classes following science didn’t have any interesting action. My schedule had me going to Social Studies, then English, then Creative Writing. Other than a gigantic amount of homework, the classes were as boring as usual. However, there was something noteworthy to mention in Social Studies with Mr. Groffe.
When I entered the class and the bell rung, I looked around the room to see that Chase, who also had this particular course, was nowhere to be seen. It was a relief; I assumed he had been sent home. There was absolutely nothing to fear.
A kid in front of me, Michael Laney, was talking emphatically to a student next to him, whose name I didn’t know.
“I saw how Paul looked, man. If the world starts crumbling, I’m telling you, I’m ready for it.”
“Bullshit. Like what would you do if something happened right now?” his friend replied, laughing.
“Football lockers. The door to it can easily be locked, lots of places to hide. It’s the safest place to go.”
“Stop fucking around,” the student laughed once more.
“I’m going straight there and hunkering down. You have my word.”
The hairs on the back of my neck stood up on end. It sounded as though Chase didn’t have a unique disorder after all. Could it be possible the area around me was on the brink of an epidemic?
“What are you talking about?” I asked Michael. I wasn’t compelled by interest at this point; I was beginning to get scared of the whole idea of an infection running rampant through the school.
Michael turned around, still visibly annoyed after his friend shot down his statements. “All I’m saying is if something horrible happens in this school, I will be ready. I’ve seen some sick people today. I’ve been all alone on this, no one else is looking around!”
“That’s because there’s nothing to notice!” his friend chipped in. “Stop worrying about it.”
I wanted to agree with Michael; to tell him about Chase, and how I was encountering the same thoughts as he was. But I held back. Perhaps it was all just a bunch of hysteria. No need to add fuel to the fire.
My God, I needed to get a hold of myself! I had been panicking all day, and it wasn’t going anywhere except driving me slowly insane. I was so spaced out that I felt like I wasn’t even on the Earth anymore.
At 11:30, my lunch period began. I exited Creative Writing, which was on the first floor, and traveled down the hall, took a right, and then there was the entrance.
What can be said about the cafeteria? It’s a gigantic rectangle full of tables, with a stage for theatre performances to the right of the entrance. At the far end of the room were the lunch lines and the kitchen, and to the left of them the doors that led into the gym hallway.
I walked to one of the circular tables near the gym hallway doors and sat down; it had been my usual spot for freshmen year, so I guess it was kind of a tradition to sit there.
Trent and Harry joined me later. Hannah stepped out of the lunch line soon afterwards. I looked at her, silently asking her to take a seat over at my table, but Carson walked over and took her to his table, while holding hands. I shouldn’t have expected anything different in retrospect.
My mind was screaming at me at this point. Let it go… forget about Chase and Carson. Don’t let them mess with your life like this. Let them be and let them go on with their lives.
“Man, that guy Carson is the slime of the world,” Harry said, shaking his head. “The future of our society.”
I looked over at him. “That’s a little depressing of a thought, don’t you think?”
He shrugged. “I’ve seen a lot of airheads around this school. They don’t set my hopes high.”
Trent laughed. “Harry, you might wanna stop, your acting too serious.”
Harry turned towards Trent, ready to make a witty response, but refrained from making one. I guess he was going to make a comment about his parents but thought against it. Trent looked like he knew it too, and grinned.
“Are you going soft on me, Harry?” he said, lightly punching him on the shoulder.
Harry shook his head. “My comment was too deadly for you to handle.” He made a gun with his hands and made shooting noises.
After a bit of silence, I spoke up. “Anyways, what the hell was up with Science today?”
Trent laughed. “I know! The whole freaking Periodic Table. Was that really necessary?”
“Learn to not take Honors classes, guys,” Harry said, grinning. He was pretty smart, but he took a ton of easy classes just because he could coast through them.
“Learn to try in school,” I retorted.
“I do try, but I choose not to try too much.”
“Well, not everyone has the luxury of easy studies,” Trent added.
“You could if you wanted, for no price at all!”
I heard a banging on the entrance to the cafeteria. I dismissed it at first; the doors here were loud and heavy, it wasn’t too uncommon for them to slam during the day.
“Dude, let’s trade places,” I commented. “You can play soccer for me!”
“Thanks, but no thanks. I think I’ll pass.”
Then another bang came. This time, I wasn’t the only one who heard it; some other heads were aimed at the door. It sounded like someone was furiously pounding at the metal entrance over and over again.
A third bang, and everyone began staring at the entrance. This was starting to get unusual.