Lawndale, MD -- Today marks the first day back to school for the Lawndale Eight, those eight survivors of the freak blizzard which snowed in their Wilderness Adventure Club and left most of the students dead to exposure. "It's truly a miracle any of those students survived," said one rescue worker. In fact, the students' deaths were seemingly engineered by fate -- many of them were dressed for autumn weather, several bags of crucial supplies had been accidentally left behind with their buses, and the cabin itself was in a sorry state of repair. Indeed, were principal Angela Li not among the 23 dead and missing, charges would most likely have been filed against her.
Lawndale High itself nearly didn't reopen -- the county is undergoing a 'teacher crisis' and replacements for the three lost faculty members were hard to come by. Acting Principal Claire Defoe, however, reassured parents that school would open on time. "What this community needs right now is the assurance that life will go on," said Ms. Defoe in a press conference late yesterday. "We must mourn, yes, but we cannot forget to live ourselves."
Hardest hit will be the Lawndale Lions football team, due to the death of star quarterback Kevin Thompson. "Kevin was a real good football player," Coach Gibson said of the fallen teen. "I don't know how the expletive deleted we'll beat Oakwood without him." Kevin's parents, Doug and Charlene Thompson, were unavailable for comment.
Quinn felt odd walking through the halls of Lawndale High without makeup on. It felt even more odd seeing Sandi without makeup on, as she had earlier that day. She felt a little like a ghost, like she had died up there on that mountain and didn't yet know it.
She felt as if she should have died.
Like a coward, she had let poor dead Ms. Li take the blame for the deaths of her fellow classmates. It had not been Ms. Li who told Joey, Jeffy, and Jamie to help with her heavy bags, it had not been Ms. Li who had dropped the supplies and picked up her fashion...crap. She couldn't imagine reading another issue of Waif in her life.
And what they had done to survive...
Quinn clamped down on that line of thought like a bear trap. She would not think about it. That was what they had agreed on: Never talk about it.
She couldn't stop thinking about it entirely, though. It felt like a disease, one that felt like a tingle that began at her lips, and was most intense in her stomach.
She wondered if vampires felt this way. It filled her with disgust, yet...
She tried to stop thinking again. It used to be her strong suit, before she had watched Brittany strangle Kevin to death.
Daria had wondered why Quinn never actually used her brain. It was because thinking, to her, felt like an echo room. (Daria would probably have had a snide comment about that). Thinking too much had bothered her, so she was glad to be able to shut it off and immerse herself in popularity and trend-setting. Now, though, the echoes didn't go away. They seemed to be building up...and Quinn feared they would soon become so overwhelming, she would begin screaming and never stop, just to try to make the echoes go away.
She looked up and realized she was standing in front of her English classroom, had in fact been standing there for a minute. She saw some people looking at her and whispering to their friends, but she ignored them.
In the classroom, she took a seat next to Tiffany. Stacy was sitting in the front of the classroom, doodling idly in her notebook she usually used for Fashion Club meetings. Sandi sat in the far back of the classroom, avoiding eye contact.
In walked the substitute. Quinn wondered if they would ever find Mr. O'Neill's body.
"Hello, class, my name is Ken Edwards. Please, feel free to call me Ken."
Quinn made it through another hour without screaming.