It was a simple but classic plan: split up to cover more ground. Although even Yuri acknowledged that such a plan would be the most efficient, she still hesitated as she accepted her assignments: the kindergarten rooms and the music room.
She rollerbladed down the school hall alone, Kumi having taken the fourth through sixth-grade rooms, the library, and the gym and Kasumi having taken the first through third-grade rooms, the art room, and the lavatories. The sun spilled pink and red through the windows as Yuri made her way from classroom to classroom; classes ended a couple of hours before Kumi made the plan in desperation. After all, Miss Hisakawa threatened to send the Alien Party hunting first thing in the morning if they didn't find the alien before dark.
Yuri knelt down to check another kindergardener's desk. She saw nothing unusual and sighed as she stood, wheels of her rollerblades clicking against the tiled floor. 'Borg grunted but offered no sympathy other than the warmth of his body and a squeeze to reassure his partner that he was, in fact, still there. With a frown, Yuri rolled out of the classroom.
It would have helped if she remembered what the alien looked like. She refused to admit that she forgot, however, as that would mean that she failed, and she certainly would never want to return to Kumi admitting that she failed. The thought of Kumi's frustrated glance flitted through Yuri's mind as she approached the next room, the music room.
She hesitated before her hand touched the door. A strange feeling of dread settled in her chest, and she rolled back a small distance.
Yuri moved her eyes, trying to look at the thing perched on her head. Borg frowned, exposing his baleen-filled mouth as his large, dark eyes narrowed.
"Go in, Yuri," he said.
With a deep breath and a nod, Yuri closed her eyes and reached forward to open the door.
Everybody, everybody is an alien…
Yuri's eyes opened abruptly. Her gaze scanned the interior of the room quickly. Several chairs were arranged in a semicircle in the middle of the room, facing a piano near the far wall. Nothing moved.
At first, Yuri simply stood there and blinked. She could have sworn she heard a voice, but there was nothing in the room that would have made the sound. Cautiously, she looked down the hall and then up it, but the entire hallway was just as devoid of life as the music room seemed to be.
Yuri rolled forward.
Everyone will become an alien…
Yuri stopped a few feet into the room. A strange shudder went down her spine as the gentle, sweet voice caressed her mind. Borg reacted, pupils constricting into X's and mouth opening just slightly. He extended his wings, each muscle tensing to prepare for a strike.
But there was nothing. Yuri looked behind her and towards the corners of the room she hadn't seen yet. Cork boards covered with music-themed posters lined almost all of the walls except the chalkboard on the wall adjacent to the door and a closet at the chalkboard's end.
It was to that closet that Yuri began to skate. She passed by the semi-circle of chairs with her hand grazing the chalkboard's ledge. Her mind was already fleeing to a more pleasant place – the field of flowers, namely – though she tried to remain focused. After all, if she remained focused, she could make Kumi proud of her.
Everybody, everybody will become one…
Yuri stopped. She felt Borg stiffen. Part of her wanted to complain that he was hurting her, but the unexplainable terror in her heart stopped her from doing much more than whimpering.
With a shake of her head, Yuri firmly set her mind to her task. The quicker she got it done, the sooner she would be at home with a nice cup of cocoa and the television playing one of her favorite shows.
She forced herself to smile as she reached towards the knob to open the door. Her mind tried to remember her favorite cartoon episodes over and over again. It was a resistance to the message.
All the kids will graduate…
She shut her eyes tightly, as if that would silence the voice. Her hand acted by itself to throw open the door.
The silence that followed fell on Yuri with a musky, stale scent. Slowly, she opened one eye to look at the contents of the closet. Then, the other eye followed.
Nothing was in the closet except a pile of instruments. A drum shifted at the sudden wind of the door opening, and it eventually fell from its stack of percussion instruments to clatter loudly to the wooden floor at Yuri's feet. The girl shrieked and pushed herself backwards until her back slammed against the side of the piano. A shock of pain spread quickly through her nerves and spine.
That did it. Yuri turned away from the piano and the closet. She sniffled once as she rolled towards the center of the room. Then, with a whine, she burst into tears. The hot, salty droplets rolled down her plump cheeks and cascaded to the floor.
"I hate this," she said as she knelt in the center of the room, surrounded by the semicircle of chairs. "I hate this. I hate this. I hate this."
"Yuri," Borg said.
Their bodies will change…
"Leave me alone!" she screamed, more to the voice in her head than to her partner on top of it. "I hate this!"
She sobbed into her knees as her hands clutched the sides of her head (and, therefore, Borg's). A deep, cold hurt slashed at her insides. She wanted nothing more than to curl up on the floor and stay there forever – or even better, to turn time back a year and forget about being forced into the Alien Party. Anything else would be better than to be stuck there, a sixth grader on the verge of graduating elementary school with an alien on her head and a missing one somewhere in the building.
Unfortunately, anything else wasn't an option anymore.
"I hate this," she muttered. "I don't want this. I don't want to do this anymore. I… I…"
They will become adults…
"I'm scared. Go away."
And everybody, everybody is an alien.
As Yuri descended into her mental field of flowers, the singing voice probing her mind finally stopped. She barely noticed.
In the next instant, something dropped from the ceiling and grabbed her.