Abigail, the girl with the vision. Nice and outgoing, but not very confident. Good friends with Jonah, Carolyn, Mikey, and Daniel.
Jonah, the genius. Boyfriend of Carolyn.
Carolyn, the kind girl you don't really notice.
Mikey, the class clown.
Daniel, the helpful and loyal friend.
Jacob, procrastinator and videogame fanatic. Friends with Courtney and Toby.
Courtney, a tomboy good at every sport except chess. Friends with Cassandra as well as Jacob.
Cassandra, a girl with a talent for singing and instruments like drums and the electric guitar.
Britney, Victoria, and Deana. The typical mean girl caricatures with no personality. Victoria is the leader, Britney gossips, and Deana backs them up.
Joseph "Josh", the bully. Serious rivalry with Courtney, Cassandra, and Jacob.
Mrs. Phase, the fun but strict chemistry teacher.
"Are you ready for the presentation?" Jonah—one of my best friends—asked me. He sat down next to me at lunch.
As our last project as Lakeview high schoolers, we had to do a presentation for our chemistry project. Each student had to choose an element and do experiments, such as mixing it with water, sugar, or leaving it in the heat. Then we have to put together many reports, then finally present what we found to the class, using videos or live demonstrations. It shouldn't be hard, but this project was worth a lot of our grade. 20% to be exact.
"No," I responded, "of course not. My legs are shaking, see?" My legs were jittering, and I was surprised the ground wasn't shaking along with me. My heart was beating so hard I could feel it pumping blood around our body. Lunch was going to be over in half an hour, then it was science class.
Jonah snorted. "Yeah, I can hear them. Well just relax, you'll do fine."
"You'd say that even if I've never practiced."
"No, I wouldn't. You've been practicing all week, and it's actually kind of annoying."
He tore off a piece of chicken with his teeth from his chicken leg, " 'S ok. Besides, I'm not worrying, and I have never even looked at my presentation more than twice."
"That's because you're the smartest person in high school, and you read textbooks for fun. You wouldn't need practice."
"It doesn't matter that I'm a genius and you're not. You're a genius in chemistry. Or just average. But average is enough to do good on this assignment. You're good at talking too."
"Jonah's right you know," Carolyn-Jonah's girlfriend-said to me. "You're a whiz at chemistry. While everyone's struggling to figure out what the question Mrs. Phase had just said meant-well except maybe Jonah-you're raising your hand. You've been practicing for weeks, you were the first to finish your essay, you've had much more practice than anyone else, you'll do fine."
"Okay, okay." I said. They had really helped me calm down a bit. My legs had stopped shaking so much, and it was now merely a few twitches now and then. My heart was still pumping like crazy though, but hopefully it'll stop soon.
I speared a chicken leg with my fork with shaking hands.
"I don't understand why you don't just use your hands," Daniel commented. He was eyeing my fork.
"Habit," I answered, "you know that." My mom and dad had taught me to use silverware for everything, and sometimes I eat chips with a spoon without even realizing it.
While Jonah and Carolyn started chatting about something that happened yesterday, I took out my laptop and opened my presentation.
"Hello," I muttered, "my name is A-Abigail Matherson and I-I am g-going to be t-talking ab-bout-" I cleared my throat, swallowed, and tried again. How was I going to be able to do a presentation when I could barely speak? Mrs. Phase was fun sometimes, but she allowed no exceptions. My presentation had to be perfect for me to get an A.
"Hello," I tried again, "my name is A-Abigail Matherson." I stopped. Who stumbles over their own name?
Then I tried something Carolyn had told me to do whenever there was a presentation or anything of that sort. I took three deep breaths and tried again.
Then I took a few more breaths.
I was perfectly fine at home, but now, with presenting only less than an hour left, I couldn't even say a full sentence of my presentation.
I started again, "Hello, my name is Abigail Matherson. I am going to be talking about what mercury can do to other substances."
Okay, that was good. I took another bite of chicken and continued practicing, getting calmer every time.
"Hey, check this out," Carolyn held out her light blue phone with a cartoon picture of Robin from Batman on the back. It was funny how he was her favourite character ever when she had a huge fear of birds.
"There was a shootout in a supermarket," Carolyn said, pursing her lips. "A day ago. From some terrorist."
"Lemme see," Mikey said. He took the phone.
"Not nice," Carolyn said, "give it back!"
"No, wait," he said, "I want to read this."
"Oh come on, I'll just read it to you."
"Guys, guys," Daniel said.
I ignored their bickering and continued practicing for the presentation.
By the end of the lunch period, I felt like I was ready. My heart wasn't beating so fast anymore.
In the hallway, I saw a textbook lying on the floor next to the sink, pages flipping rapidly in the wind.
It was a history textbook. I saw the Great Fire of London, the San Francisco Earthquake, and the 911 Twin Tower terrorist attack among the pages.
I picked it up and noticed numerous drawings all over it. Phone numbers, notes, x's over people's eyes, and random doodles all over it. I couldn't find the name at the front, since the first page was coloured completely black with a permanent marker.
"Wow," Daniel said looking at it, "that must've taken a lot of work."
"I thought you need to return it at the end of the year," Jonah said, looking concerned.
"I guess this person doesn't need to. Or care," Carolyn said. "They wrote phone numbers everywhere. It's like a phone book now."
"This person is so cool," Mikey said.
I looked ahead to find out who had dropped it. I spotted Cassandra up ahead and assumed it was hers.
"Hey! Cassandra!" I said.
"Is this yours?" I handed it to her.
She eyed it, "Oh. Yeah, I was planning to pretend I lost it. I'd have to pay for it, but at least no one would see what I've done to it. Thanks anyway. I knew that wasn't a great place to leave it." She looked around, then took the textbook and dumped it in the trash can.
Before we took our seats in chemistry class, Carolyn whispered to me, "Good luck, you've been doing great."
"Thanks," I said to her, "you ready?"
She shrugged, "Think so."
We sat down and Mrs. Phase stood up from her desk, "Attention everyone, as you'd probably remember, today is presentation day." She gestured to the blackboard, where she had written, "GET READY!" in ginormous letters. A fluffy orange cloud surrounded the words.
"I will give you five minutes to get yourself organized and to go to the restroom. sincerely advise you to use this time wisely," she gave a look to Jacob Chun, "instead of playing your video games."
"This project is worth a lot of your grade, and I expect you all to do well. Now," she eyed the class, "where is Mikey?"
Just then, Mikey Moody stumbled into the class, "Sorry! Sorry, I'm late. Really sorry Mrs. Phase. Someone knocked me over in the hallway." He sat down quickly and gathered all his papers into a neater pile.
"That's alright," Mrs. Phase said. "Five minutes starting now."
Jonah went to the restroom.
I took out my note cards and practiced one last time.
When the clock hit 1:08, Mrs. Phase said, "Five minutes up!" She had gotten the projector ready, "Who wants to volunteer to go first?"
Nobody raised their hand.
"Now now," Mrs. Phase said, "no brave volunteers? Alright then, time to pick a name!"
She picked up a hat with the words, "NAME HAT," written on it.
I didn't want to be first. I didn't want to be last though. The first and last are the ones where people actually listen and pay attention.
"Britney," Mrs. Phase called.
"What!" Britney cried from the back of the room.
"Britney," Mrs. Phase repeated.
"Ugh! My life sucks!" she muttered not-so-quietly.
Britney was your typical mean girl. She, along with Deana and Victoria were the worst female bullies in the school. Deana and Britney were in this class, Victoria took another class, I never bothered to know what.
Britney tripped along the way, probably on someone's leg. She gave Toby an annoyed look.
As Britney gathered her materials and set them on one of the tables at the front of the room, Mrs. Phase picked another name, "Daniel, you'll be going next. Please go get your materials and put them on that desk," she pointed to the desk beside the one Britney was using. "We'll save time that way. And everyone take out your notebooks and something to write with. You are going to take notes on everyone's presentation to prove you weren't asleep."
When they had both finished setting up their demonstration, Daniel sat back down.
The title slide of Britney's presentation showed up. She began her presentation, and I had to admit, she was pretty good.
Mrs. Phase sat at her desk, nodding and taking notes.
I took out my pen and took notes on her presentation.
Once Britney had finished, Mikey raised his hand.
"Yes Mikey?" Mrs. Phase said.
"It's hot in here." It was true, it was almost summer vacation, and the temperature had really started rising. Mrs. Phase was even fanning her face.
We nodded our heads in agreement.
Mrs. Phase turned on the air conditioner and the fan at the front of the room. The front row didn't get much cool air from the AC, so that's why the fan was there.
I was just finishing my notes when my pen ran out of ink. I had been using it for quite a while, so wasn't a surprise. I tried unzipping my pencil case, but found that it was jammed. I yanked on it, and it opened, but I had tugged it too hard, and my pencil case fell onto the ground. Pens, highlighters, and pencils scattered the floor.
Britney and Deana snickered.
I sighed and gathered my stuff, shoving them back in my pencil case. Josh (Joseph is his real name, but he prefers being called Josh) purposely kicked one farther away.
Courtney beside me helped pick up a few, including the one Josh kicked away.
Mikey slurped loudly from his smoothie, and blew bubbles into it. Deana glared at him and threw an eraser at his face.
"Thanks," I said to Courtney.
Mrs. Phase said, "Daniel, your turn." She drew another name, "After Daniel, Jonah."
Britney collected all her stuff and went back to her seat. Daniel connected his laptop to the projector while Jonah laid out his instruments. I flashed him a thumbs up.
Daniel was just starting his presentation and putting on his safety goggles when the first explosion rang out.
Everyone screamed at the enormous noise, and books and beakers of glass fell off the shelves.
The school was shaking. I could hear other classes screaming as well.
Another explosion, somewhere on the first floor, shook the building once more. Chemicals fell off the shelves as the cabinet flew open, and the lights flickered.
The lab burner and other beakers of chemicals tipped over on the desks at the front. And Jonah and Daniel backed away from them.
The clock fell off, and the glass shattered on the floor beside Emma, who shrieked and jumped out of her seat.
"Away from the windows!" Mrs. Phase yelled.
The people close to the windows jumped out of their seats and went to the middle. I was in the middle already, and didn't have to move.
What was happening?
Then, with horror, I saw the blackboard falling off the wall.
"JONAH!" Carolyn yelled.
"DANIEL!" I screamed.
"MOVE!" Mrs. Phase shouted.
Daniel and Jonah turned to see the board crashing down on them. They tried to move, but Daniel slipped on his safety goggles, which he had dropped, and he fell onto the ground, and Jonah tripped on Daniel and landed on top of him. The enormous blackboard fell down on top of them, pinning them to the ground.
"Move your...legs!" Daniel gasped. "Can't...breathe!" I realized Jonah's legs were probably on Daniel's stomach.
"Trying!" Jonah groaned.
As we went to help, another explosion ripped out the school.
"What's going on?!" Jacob yelled.
I looked out the window at the classroom on the other side of the hallway only to see it going up in flames, and collapsing into the floor under it. Our windows that were facing the hallway cracked and shattered. Glass sprayed into the class. We watched in horror as two chairs, some chunks of rock, a body, and a Spanish textbook flew out of the classroom and into ours.
Jenna was hit in the neck with the textbook and she fell to the ground.
Everyone screamed as one of the legs of the chair stabbed Jacob through the eye, and the other chair slammed into a desk and dropped to the floor.
Glass slit Carolyn's throat and blood spurted onto the ground. I ran over to her despite Mrs. Phase's protests and gasped at the horrifying sight and tried stopping the blood with someone's backpack.
The floor shook, and I realized that the floor was weakening. We were going to fall into the first floor. The hallway had risen, and the doors were jammed.
"BRACE YOURSELVES!" Mrs. Phase yelled.
The floor shook again. The floor at the front of the class crumbled, and Jonah and Daniel fell into the floor below us. The rest of the floor crumbled, and we all fell. Deana and Jesse had managed to make it out the windows, but the hallway crumbled as well, and they fell through screaming.
Another explosion ripped out in the classroom in front of the one we were in.
I saw flames burst through the wall and chunks of rock raining down.
The metal blade of the fan shot out and sliced off Britney's head.
Emma, Toby, and Courtney were thrown against the back wall.
Mrs. Phase was hit in the head with a flying desk.
Daniel wasn't moving, and Jonah wasn't either.
Flames washed over the people near the front.
I shielded my face from the flames and hid behind a chair.
I felt my hair getting singed, and I heard Josh and others screaming around me.
My clothes and hair were on fire, and so was everything else, I shrieked in pain.
Chunks of rock rained down from the ceiling.
I heard another explosion outside, somewhere near the volleyball courts.
Mikey was crushed by some rocks. I screamed as some lights dropped down, throwing sparks everywhere.
Josh was electrocuted, and I saw Deana and Jesse getting crushed by the ceiling above the hallway.
I looked up and cried as the entire ceiling crashed down on top of me.