Andy awoke early in a bright sunny morning, completely rejuvenated and refreshed. It had been the best sleep the boy had managed in quite some time, something that even he himself took note of. Then again, after the events of the previous night that made perfect sense. Andy had quite the past day after all, no matter the fact that no one had bothered to believe his tall tale. Try as he might to explain to his mother what had gone down that day, he could never make it as real to her as it had been for him and his dog. That was another thing, his dog Whiskey believed him -having been there by his side- which was good enough for him.
As Andy slouched over a bowl of off-brand cornflakes, he muddled over the events of the previous day. He wondered how his new friends the Amigos were doing, now that they no longer had to worry about the Master of Darkness and his horrible demons threatening life and limb of anyone who dared to go against him. The Amigos didn't seem very smart, and it was a wonder they had survived as long as they did, but Andy was sure now that everything was safe in the Darklands for them that they'd no longer struggle to find food and survive. Speaking of food, Andy's mother had noticed he'd hardly touched his cereal and was quick to reprimand him for it, making the age-old point of how growing boys wouldn't be strong and able to play without the most important meal of the day. So used to ignoring the same old chatter, Andy simply shrugged her off by repeating "Yeah, yeah" and "I get it." a dozen times before scarfing down his breakfast and grabbing his book bag to head off to school.
Andy didn't like school very much, which was probably attributed to the flat-out war he had with his teacher. Andy's teacher was very strict and didn't like him very much, mostly because Andy daydreamed and doodled in his class, something that he refused to tolerate. The feeling was mutual, but more so because Andy frequently received the brunt of his teacher's frustrations, often falling victim to being forced to sit in a corner, a yardstick to the back of the hand, or worst of all; locked in a dingy little cupboard at the back of the class. Since his teacher found out about his nyctophobia, that had been a regular thing and a favorite punishment for Andy, something that only made him fear going to school even more.
But Andy felt a little better about this. The night before today he had faced his nyctophobia and evidently, as far as he could tell, cured it. He had been able to sleep with his nightlight off for the first time, and had slept through the entire night which was a huge milestone. Not like that made him any less anxious to go to school though. Nyctophobia or not, he was assured that his teacher would think up some other punishment to embarrass him mercilessly with. Quickly donning his shoes and hat, Andy grabbed his bookbag and opened the front door, holding it as Whiskey bounded forward, ready and willing to accompany him to school just like every other day.
Upon arriving at school, Andy sat down next to Whiskey in the school yard and quietly petted and fussed over the dog, still relieved and thankful to have him back. When Whiskey was taken from him it was one of the most traumatic moments of his life, one that he wouldn't soon forget. Several of the other kids in his class came up behind him and one boy poked him with his foot to get Andy's attention.
"Hey Andy..." The boy said, frowning slightly. "You do remember the test we're having today right? Our teacher will probably be really angry with you if you fail it you know. Might make you go to detention and call your mother even." Andy froze, his eyes widening in a sudden realization and a sinking pit grew deep in his stomach.
"The... test... on..." he shuddered. "It was about the Eclipse?"
"Yep." His classmate said, looking back and forth from Andy to the other kids that accompanied him. "You forgot to study, didn't you?"
"No! I did!" Andy lashed out a bit too defensively, proving that this was in fact the case. The other kids backed off after that, whispering about Andy just out of earshot, leaving Andy worried sick before class would be in session. His mind struggled wildly to think of what to do, hands practically rubbing down Whiskey's head as the boy desperately petted his dog to give himself something to do as he panicked.
"Ohhhh... nooo... My teacher's gunna kiiiilllll meeeeee." He moaned, shutting his eyes tight and cringing with impending embarrassment. He'd go to detention for sure, and probably spend an entire lesson in the cupboard.
As if affirming his fears, the bell to signify the start of the school day rang, calling whatever straggling kids still remained outdoors into the building, meaning he would soon have to leave Whiskey behind as dogs were not allowed in the school. Whiskey whimpered, sensing his master's worry and bad predicament, nuzzling Andy's hand and licking it reassuring.
"At least you're back, safe and sound." Andy said, trying to be positive. "You'll be here right outside waiting for me when I come back, right?"
Whiskey barked an affirmative and sat down right outside in front of the school, his big long tongue hanging from his mouth and his tail wagging a mile a minute. Bringing himself to smile faintly, Andy entered the school, prepared for his horrible fate.
It was just Andy's luck to not only be the last of the kids to arrive in his classroom, but also show up after his teacher had started handing out the test to the other students. Even though Andy tried to sneak to the back of the class unnoticed, it was to no avail. A sharp grip on his arm made his heart sink as he stopped dead in his tracks and turned to face his teacher.
"Andy, you're late." His teacher said, angrily, towering over the boy gripping his arm tightly with one hand, a wooden yardstick in the other.
"I... I'm sorry... I was just..."
"Most likely fooling around with that filthy mutt of yours, as per usual." His teacher aggressively pushed the boy into an empty desk at the front of the class and thrust a copy of the test into his face. "I hope for your sake you've studied this time, otherwise I'm sending you straight to detention after school, and you'll be getting extra homework for the rest of the term." Andy's face fell, and he snuffled, trying not to cry as his teacher finally released his arm, revealing red marks from how tightly he had been gripped.
"You will have twenty minutes to complete the test before I will collect them back and mark them." His teacher announced to the entire class. "I know for a fact that the marking will be finished before the end of the day, and all of you who fail will be joining Andy in detention." The class hushed and many of the other kids looked at Andy with sour expressions, as if he was somehow the reason the teacher was strict to everyone. Andy only hung his head, his face burning red from embarrassment as he rubbed his arm, getting out a pencil and squirming slightly in his chair. The day was going just as bad as he thought.
It took several seconds for Andy to compose himself enough to so much as look at the test. The first question; "What causes an eclipse of the sun." 'Easy enough', thought Andy. He had gone to see the eclipse after all, and was there to see the moon pass across. So he wrote "The moon" in the blank spot, and moved on to the second question.
"How frequently is there a solar eclipse." Andy didn't know that one. he hadn't looked at his textbook at all and the small time before Whiskey had been taken had not given him any indication of how long ago the last solar eclipse had been, but something horrible occurred to him.
"Solar eclipses happen more than once?" he shivered, wondering if the Master of Darkness had ever succeeded in killing an earthling child. He wondered if he was the first to escape this fate, or maybe the first for the ruler of the Darklands to even take an interest in. Andy regretted not knowing more about solar eclipses, as this might provide more information on the strange other world he had traveled to. 'Just like blackholes.' Andy groaned and tapped his pencil on his desk trying to think of the answer to the second question whilst also wondering more about the Darklands. It didn't make a whole lot of sense, that was for sure. Andy certainly didn't know the answer to the second question either, so he doodled a picture of Amigo in the space which took a few minutes, and then moved on the the next question.
"How long does a solar eclipse go on for." Andy furrowed his brow and tapped his pencil again. He should have a vague idea, but he wasn't keeping track on how long it had been when he'd been watching. Andy guessed a couple minutes, writing it down as "a few minutes" and moved on to the fourth question.
Or at least he would have, if not for a sudden flash of white outside the classroom window catching his eye. Andy tried to ignore it at first, but it happened again and again. Finally looking over, Andy saw that it was Whiskey, jumping up and down outside to get his attention. Whiskey appeared to be barking too, but it couldn't be heard through the glass. Andy tried to silently signal for his dog to stop, in case his teacher saw and he got in trouble as a result. Dogs weren't even allowed on school grounds when class was in session, and Andy didn't want his mom being called and him not being allowed to let Whiskey accompany him. Whiskey didn't heed Andy's small hand gestured though, so the boy's arm movements desperately became wilder until he attracted attention, more specifically his teacher's.
"ANDY!" His teacher shouted at him, causing the boy to panic, squeaking a little and freezing in place, eyes wide. "Just what on earth do you think you are doing!?" Struggling to think up an excuse, Andy stammered and wrung his hands.
"I... I was..."
"Well, I just now decided I really don't care." His teacher cut him off, walking over to him and standing directly in front of his desk, glaring down at him. "I've had enough of your nonsense Andy. You're going to spend the remainder of the class in the cupboard, which means you won't be needing this then, will you?" He grabbed Andy's test before the boy could object and tore it in two right in front of him, then put the two pieces together and tore it again into four.
"HEY! That's my test!" Andy cried, tears springing to his eyes.
"Yes Andy, and now it's gone." His teacher slammed the pieces against his desk, grabbing the boy by his neckerchief and jerking him backward out of his seat so hard that he choked a little. "Because in the cupboard you'd never be able to finish it." Andy kicked and squirmed as he was dragged to the back of the class, the rest of the students just watching, not doing anything. Andy's struggles were in vain though, because his teacher opened the door with his free hand and flung the boy inside, slamming the door closed with a violent bang.
"Don't worry though, I'll make sure to let you out in time for your detention." His teacher said as he returned to the front of the class. "And don't cry too much when you're in there, fear of the dark or not I don't want to get a headache."
Despite everything Andy had been through the previous day, the cupboard being all cramped, musty, and devoid of light still made him shudder and cry. The little boy clutched his knees tightly against his chest, trying to stifle his crying for fear his teacher would further punish and humiliate him in front of all the other students. Biting his lip until it bled to keep silent, Andy's eyes remained tightly shut throughout his entire stay in the dreadful place. The rest of the school day was agonizing in the cupboard. Andy hardly had enough room to stretch his legs and they soon became cramped. Worse still, it trapped his body heat and the already warm day outside made it sweltering. it was difficult for Andy to tell what was going on in the classroom outside, but he distinctly heard when the bell for recess rang and all of the other kids were allowed to go out and play. Andy's eyes filled with fresh tears and he pressed his feet up against the cupboard, wishing he could be outside in the fresh air with Whiskey.
The classroom was eerily silent, and Andy wasn't even sure if his teacher was still there. He was probably eating in the staffroom with the other teachers was what Andy at first thought, until he heard the older man happily humming to himself as he went around the classroom doing whatever it was that teachers did when the kids were out for recess. Eventually he made his way to the cupboard and knocked on the door a few times, as if to remind Andy of his existence before going on to do other things. For the millionth time, Andy wished that he could somehow pick the lock from the inside and get out, leaning against the cupboard wall and rubbing his eyes.
After however long recess takes, Andy heard the bell ring once again and his classmates returned, filling up their desks to begin the second half of the school day. The teacher was no longer teaching science for the day, and had now moved on to social studies. It was very difficult for Andy to make out what was being said from the front of the class, but he heard snippets of words and phrases. Something about a people's revolt and of a toppling government. Whatever it was, his teacher was getting passionate about it and got angry whenever one of the students appeared to be tuned out. The mull of nearly intelligible voices was somewhat lulling and soothing to Andy, and despite his situation he had drifted off to sleep, curled up in an uncomfortable looking huddle in the cupboard.
An unidentified amount of time passed before Andy awoke at the sound of the school bell, which signified the end of the day. Groaning, he rubbed his eyes and tried his best to stretch in the small confines of the cupboard. He was relieved for it finally being time to be free from the cupboard, but also dreaded seeing his teacher again and having to go to detention. Andy awaited his teacher to come and open the cupboard, but he didn't come. The boy squirmed impatiently and banged on the door faintly, calling out in case his teacher had forgotten. The classroom was silent however, and no one answered his calls.
Sighing, Andy curled back up into a ball, praying that he wouldn't be trapped in the cupboard for the rest of the day and have his mother wonder where on earth he had gone. Andy tapped with his foot on the ceiling of the cupboard until he was alerted to a clicking sound, followed by loud sniffing. He squirmed himself upright and tapped on the door.
"Hello? Who's there?" Andy waited for a few seconds for a response and was just about to dismiss the noises as his imagination when the silence was broken with a sudden...
"Whiskey!" Andy exclaimed happily, instant relief flooding into him. "You came to me and you found me! Good boy!" He praised the dog through the cupboard as the animal bounded around outside, scratching his claws against the cupboard door and barking. "Who's a good boy!? You are!" Andy giggled, rocking back and forth inside the cupboard, now feeling a lot happier that his dog was here with him. That was until he remembered where they were.
"Nooo... You're not allowed in here... if someone sees you in the school we'll both be in trouble! You won't be allowed to come with me to school anymore Whiskey, you have to hide!" Andy exclaimed frantically, banging gently yet earnestly on the cupboard, trying to get his dog out of there before someone came across him. Whiskey didn't listen though, the dog continued to bark and scratch at the cupboard even as Andy desperately tried to shoo him away. Whiskey's barking was so loud that Andy didn't hear that someone else was in the classroom until it was too late. Whiskey's barking and scratching stopped as his attention turned to something else in the room, and immediately after Andy's stomach tightened up in knots at the sound of a familiar voice.
"Just what do you think YOU'RE doing here you stupid animal?!" Andy's teacher said maliciously, just outside the cupboard door, followed by the sickening sound of something striking flesh and a loud yelp. Andy's eyes were wide in horror, his heart leaping into his throat as the implications of what had happened hit him.
"STOP! WHAT ARE YOU DOING!? LEAVE WHISKEY ALONE!" The boy screamed, slamming his fists violently into the cupboard door. Andy frantically tried to break out of the cupboard as he heard his teacher grab Whiskey and drag him out of the classroom.
"YOU CAN'T HIT HIM! HE'S MY DOG LEAVE HIM ALONE!" Andy slammed his shoulder into the cupboard in desperation, tears streaming down his face. "You... you c-can't... p-please..." He weakened, breathing heavily as he realized the door wouldn't yield. Andy leaned against it and cried, shocked at what had just happened. Of all the things his teacher had done, this was the absolute worst. Even worse still, Andy had no idea what was happening now, only that his teacher was alone with Whiskey outside the classroom. Continuing to cry, Andy regained enough strength to continue banging on the door, hoping that someone would answer his pleading cries. Deciding to use his feet instead, Andy shifted himself inside the cupboard so his feet were against the door and began to kick and slam them against the wood, this didn't hurt or tire him as much as using his arms, so he was able to continue, until he heard his teacher come back into the classroom.
"Quiet! Or I won't let you out." He said angrily, but Andy heard the rattling of the handle which meant he was going to open the door anyways. When the door opened, Andy was practically blinded by how bright it was outside. As he sat there stunned, his teacher grabbed him by his shirt and dragged him out of the cupboard, setting him on his feet. "Now that I've taken care of everything, you'll be spending detention with me, and I'll be making sure you do all the work I give you otherwise you won't be going home until the sky is nice and dark outside. Got it?"
"What did you do with Whiskey!?" Andy demanded, glaring at his teacher, sadness and fear replaced with anger at how his pet had been mistreated.
"That does not matter now." His teacher said with a smirk. "But you should really have known that dogs are not allowed on school grounds. There are of course consequences for breaking rules young man."
"Where. Is. Whiskey." Andy repeated, clenching his fists and grimacing, shuddering slightly.
"Not here." His teacher laughed, walking back up to his desk and sitting down. "Now get to work before I change my mind and put you back in the cupboard." Before he really knew what was happening, Andy made a wild bolt for the door, startling both himself and his teacher.
"Not until I find my dog!" He shouted behind him, slamming the door back closed in his teacher's face as the man tried to pursue him.
"Get back here immediately! I will call your mother if you do not return at once! Andy, I have had enough of you and your nonsense!" His teacher snarled after him, but Andy did not care, on his mind was one thing and one thing only. Whiskey.
Andy's first thought was that Whiskey may be hurt or injured, or that he may be outside the school, so he immediately raced outside into the school yard, scanning the fields desperately looking for Whiskey.
Andy's heart sank as he didn't see his dog anywhere, until hearing barking he looked in the direction of the parking lot. Two men behind a black and grey van were loading an animal carrier into the back, and Andy recognized the barking as belonging to Whiskey. 'No... he must have called someone to take Whiskey away!' Andy thought desperately, believing his teacher to have phoned Animal Control Officers or other such people. The boy immediately broke into a sprint towards the men and the van, noting that the two had matching uniforms and the taller of the two had brown hair whilst the shorter had black. Andy called to them, desperately, believing that they would acknowledge this was all a big misunderstanding and that he could get Whiskey back.
"Please you guys. That's my dog Whiskey! My teacher got mad because he was in school but he's mine. Please don't take him away!" Andy was sure the two men had heard him, but they made no movements to acknowledge him, nor take Whiskey out of the carrier. Instead, they shut him inside the van and made their way to the drivers' and passengers' seats, causing Andy's anxiety to increase tenfold.
"NO! PLEASE! He's my dog! You can't steal my dog! No! STOP!" He sobbed, shaking all over. Andy hadn't even had Whiskey back for one day and already someone else was trying to take him away. The lack of fairness about the whole situation broke the boy's spirit and his crying grew in volume, resulting in one of the men actually turning back to look at him before climbing into the van and closing the door.
"Sorry kid, but we bought the dog, and it belongs to us now. So scram, got it?" He tossed out an empty beer can, narrowly missing Andy's head before starting the engine and pulling out of the parking lot, before Andy could even get to the van. Screaming in frustration, Andy chased after the men in the van, even as it pulled out into the road. Catching a glimpse of the side of the van, he read the words "Finstar Enterprises" emblazoned in easy to read, blocky lettering before he was directly behind the vehicle. Andy's running was nowhere near fast enough to match the speed of the van, but he was so desperate to catch up to it and save Whiskey that he kept running behind the van even as it grew further and further away from him, Whiskey's desperate barking becoming fainter and fainter.
Andy's eyes were so filled with tears, and he was so desperate to get Whiskey back that he failed to see an oncoming car, pulling onto the road behind him at a much faster speed than he was running. Unfortunately for Andy, the driver of the car didn't seem to notice him either as the car didn't break soon enough to prevent the small ginger-haired boy from colliding with the front bumper, blacking out Andy's vision and making his entire world go dark.