Everyone, naturally, panicked and Helga had the feeling of déjà vu.
In elementary school, the students were held after school by their teacher Mr. Simmons, and a flash flood quickly determined the state of the classroom: the students, reduced to savagery, were all too ready to fight with one another and the class ensued into chaos.
Back then they were but nine-years-old, and nearly a decade later, Helga was sure that the same effect would occur if no one calmed down the masses. Of course, that person won't be me, thought Helga, it's a cruel world out there and it's every awkwardly fashioned teen for herself.
Helga made sure to grab her friend Phoebe before shoving her way through the panicked masses.
The water was rising fast and the chaotic rush of students as they ran from the doors leading outside resembled a stampede. Tables and chairs were knocked over, punch was spilt into the tide of street water coloring it red as blood, and the lights continued to flash to the screams and thuds of the crowd, despite the fact that the DJ had bailed for safety and thus no music was playing. The inappropriateness of the situation would have made Helga laugh if it wasn't so eerily like a horror film. At least she got her wish, the dance turned out to be less cheesy and more gory than she thought it would be.
Franticly pushing open the doors that led further into the school, Helga was greeted by a fresh tide of water and darkness. The school was oddly creepy when it was flooded and unlit, which Helga never before experienced since during the day it felt more like a prison than a haunted house.
Helga continued down the hallway, waist deep in chilling water. The last strands of voices were heard through the open door behind them and Helga imagined that she heard Arnold's voice, his smooth voice, even now still a composed soothing deep tone, vying for attention, telling people to calm down.
"Shouldn't we go back? Helga, don't you think that it's safer to be with other people right now? Someone could call for help." Phoebe looked back at the doorway. Even if it had flashing strobe lights, it did look safer than the near pitch darkness of the rest of the school.
"Don't you remember, Phoebe? The phone lines will be down due to the flood and even if someone did manage to call, they won't be able to send help right away. It's much too dangerous, probably worse than last time. If we get to higher ground, at least we can wait it out. Besides if we're farther away from the crowd we won't worry about fat boy dragging us down as he blubbers for his mommy." Helga said humorlessly. She was referring, of course, to Harold, who was known for his weight and panicking in these kind of situations. It wasn't exactly correct to call him fat still. He kind of grew in proportion to his gut so he was now a hulking, tall guy with muscles, however the crying for his momma part was still true enough. Considering his weight, he could probably drown his whole fourth grade class then and could swallow the juniors underneath to our watery deaths now.
It was quiet as both Phoebe and Helga strained their eyes for the doors leading upstairs and they worked in silence, each covering one side of the hallway, occasionally making a sarcastic comment about how fun the dance was turning out to be (Helga) or to express concern for the other students (Phoebe).
Helga wasn't worrying about the other students. She was sure that in time, Arnold with his reassuring voice would gain control over the crazy situation and lead people to a reasonable solution. She was sure that due to his experience he would come to the same conclusion as her and search for higher ground, but it might just be as likely that someone crazier had suggested that they build a boat and that through like-minded individuals and mob-like agreement, they had set to building a make-shift raft. Whatever happened, Helga couldn't say, not that she even cared, that given unless it ended up hurting her Arnold (but whatever, she hated that guy! Er, maybe not that much…or at all.).
As they were nearing the end of the passage, Helga looked upon the rippling waters and noticed something strange.
"Pheebs, hold up a second."
Phoebe stopped, expecting that her friend was just getting tired from all the walking and needed a break. However instead she found Helga eyes pinned on the rippling water. The taller blonde haired girl shifted her gaze towards the direction of the ripples and felt the hair on the back of her neck rise.
"Someone's following us."
Helga didn't know who said it, if it was her or something that she just thought, all she knew was that she wanted to run. Whoever was following them probably had come from the dance, but with the onset of the flood, who knows who also decided to take shelter within the school. It could be any creep off the streets and since they were trying so hard to stay hidden from them (the water soon stopped rippling as they stopped), it could only mean a stalker.
"C'mon, Pheebs. What are your waiting for, a tsunami?"
And without saying anymore they both ran.
After leaving Helga to her own, Brainy made sure to skirt around the bustling masses of people to the other side of the room, his eyes never leaving his target.
Some unwanted guests have arrived at the dance. Clad in cheap black sport jackets, greased back hair, and black fedoras, the group of surly wild eyed young men didn't even look like they were making an attempt to blend in, looking instead like a group of thugs from some mafia.
Their eyes were dark and formidable as probably were their intentions. He watched them, there were three, all six eyes scoping the dance floor, the muscles in their arms taunt with animal like readiness, searching for someone and it seemed as if they were going to split up.
Brainy narrowed his eyes and tightened his jaw. No matter what, Brainy knew, he wasn't going to let them find what they came for.
One of them was coming his way and Brainy quickly blended in the darker corners as he awaited his prey. Admittedly, he was out of his element. There were too many people around and definitely not enough places to hide discreetly on the open dance floor.
Back pressed against the emergency exit Brainy waited as soon as the delinquent passed, then with a fast movement lurched forward, arms reaching out and grabbing the guy for balance, coolly apologizing as he tripped the guy closer to the exit. The dark-haired fiend glared at him, both hands reaching out to shove the nerd off and continue on his way, however Brainy's white knuckled grip on the guy's jacket collar kept a firm hold. Lifting the guy he slammed the goon through the double doors leading outside with a harsh crash. As Brainy stepped out into the rain, the guy struggled to quickly get back onto his feet.
A boot quickly met the boy's attempts. It seemed cruel to not give him a fair chance in this fight, but no one ever said that Brainy played by the rules. He wasn't Arnold and for a reason. He was being realistic here, and this guy had to go.
Brainy grimaced as he hauled the groaning teen into the nearest dumpster, smiling without humor at the irony of it all; usually it was the nerd being tossed in there, not the bully. Maybe a bit of Helga had rubbed off on him.
He made his way back to the dance, but caught the sight of something from the periphery of his vision: a surge of water racing in from the east. Heart beating fast Brainy slammed the door shut, but knew it was futile. The weather had gotten worse.
Deafening shrieks rang out from wall to wall, and Brainy looked at the partially flooded chaotic dance floor with no surprise as he sloshed through purposefully, no longer trying to hide and eyes determined on tracking the rest of the nuisances. One side of the grey eyed boy's lip twitched upward; Got you. With great power Brainy launched himself at the thug across from him brutally, and before the guy knew what was happening, he was knocked over, his feet no longer in contact with the ground, and his face dunked straight into the punch flavored water.
The guy was surprisingly strong though. After a moment's shock he got back into his senses and retaliated with a muscle thick arm around Brainy's neck, squeezing the breath out of him as the water surrounding them both rose higher and higher, almost covering Brainy's face as they grappled in the water. Eyes getting blurred as the rush of water thundered against his ears Brainy kneed the boy in the stomach until his grip loosened in which he kicked the guy off and into a table so hard that the table threatened to break under the force of impact. Gasping and for a moment while massaging his bruised neck, Brainy then strode to the boy picked him up by the front of his shirt only to find the guy passed out (in which he then dropped him without a care on the floor).
Brainy's eyes searched for more prey before suddenly being slammed into the water and hitting the floor, both tasting punch, dirt, and a little bit of his own blood. Brainy struggled to keep his head up from the rising water, this thug that was supposedly passed out on the table, was intent on either drowning Brainy or strangling him.
If he didn't do something quick, it'd be both.
The water was rising, and it couldn't have been more than a couple of feet of water, but Brainy was having trouble keeping himself from breathing like a fish. His hands clawed at his assailant's tight grip round his throat, thrashing around (again), and tried to get into a position for the maximum amount of leverage away from the guy. He pushed himself up with his elbows, and tried twisting out from under the weight. He nearly succeeded, but the man's fist came down hard on his chest, and he went under.
A rush of water rose up around his head, and all Brainy could do was release his own grip and try and haul himself out of the water. Water was in his lungs, and he wanted to cough it back out and replace with life-bringing air, but he was held under a strong unmoving grip. He was finding his efforts more and more desperate as the seconds ticked by without air.
Panic was closing in as the horror of the situation seemed to sink in. In a few minutes, he'd be dead. An image flashed into his mind then. His blonde haired, blue eyed, beauty with tears, bruised, and cut. Brainy could not die now. Not now when his Helga was in danger!
A white-knuckled fist shot out, his own, striking the guy with a hard snap across the face. It was a clumsy blow, but it was enough for the thug to loosen his grip on Brainy.
Brainy gasped for air, but the assailant's hands rushed to sink him once again. Brainy's arms chained themselves around the guy's own, fighting off the larger man's gravity. In the tussle, Brainy's mask was torn off his face. He barely noticed it's disappearance in the dark waters.
Brainy's stormy grey eyes locked with the bloodshot brown of the hoodlum's, their faces close enough to spit on one another as the two struggled for destruction. The room filled with such chaos and disorder barely seemed to notice their intense conflict; they were in a world all their own.
Time passed slowly, slowing even more so as Brainy's grip slackened, his head tilting back, the brown-eyed assailant's smirk widening. It sped up unexpectedly as Brainy's head snapped forward at an alarming rate, crashing into the thug's own skull, the smirk transforming several microseconds later into a look of pain and shock from the blow. The eyes closed and he fell back off of Brainy.
Standing up, Brainy watched as the guy's head went underwater, a small stream of blood diffusing on the dark surface.
He didn't kill him, but leaving the guy out there all alone was as close to a murder that he could hope for.
Sloshing at an unexplained accelerated pace was probably not their best idea, because now Helga and Phoebe were not only being followed but now they were being outright chased.
It didn't help that they were being so noisy and causing so much disturbance upon the waters that the waves could sink a small ship (for mice).
"What do we do, Helga? He's gaining on us!"
"I say we stand and fight! Two against one, it shouldn't be too hard!"
"HELGA! Are you crazy! We don't know who he is or why he's following us…"
"So after we beat him up we ask him."
Worse, it seemed that whoever was following was faster, and so after reaching the end of the hallway, both Phoebe and Helga dove for the nearest door they could find: a girl's bathroom.
Great, these doors don't exactly barricade well do they? Helga thought as the door swung open with ease and just as easily remained open as they rushed to keep it shut. Instead it swung back out the opposite way, broken in that it failed in it's one simple purpose: to stay locked!
In seconds the guy was upon them.
The water was still rippling in the wake of the girls' hasty run. It made it extremely hard for the two to remain quiet in one of the stalls when their lungs were struggling for air, and the drops of water on their clothes dripping noisily as if they didn't care whether they caused the girls' demise or not.
In any case, it didn't take much for him to wade confidently through the darkness to their stall, and Helga was just about to get ready to run when she heard Phoebe's stall door open and an alarming crack to sound.
Helga hurriedly pushed out her stall to help her friend, only to find the guy knocked to the ground, dazed. Phoebe was shaking, and the heel of her shoe was broken, having been cracked against the side of the guys face.
"Well, what should we do now?" Phoebe said. Helga eyed her and interpreted the high-pitched and trembling voice as meaning 'Oh jeez, I'm really freaked out now." and tried to think of something assuring.
"…Don't worry 'bout it, I'll take care of this." She dragged him over to the nearest stall. "You just need to improvise." Helga kicked the guy and then tossed him into a toilet. He was wedged in there tighter than Bob's belt on Meat Night. She didn't need kickboxing to know how to keep a kid from following you.
"Helga, I think we should go back." Typical Phoebe, always wanted to be on the safe side.
"Are you kidding me? This weirdo probably came from the dance, and you want to go back there? Who knows what stupid, rapist wannabes are there? I say we continue upstairs to safety."
Phoebe looked doubtful, but it wasn't like they could really do much about anything. It seemed like either way was dangerous and that they'd just have to settle this somehow.
"Maybe now would be a good time to interrogate that one guy." Both turned and stared at said guy, but they knew that wouldn't work; he looked like he was in too much pain from the blow to the head to cooperate, but maybe it was their fear of realizing some of their fears that really stopped them from trying. So they left and found some stairs.
On the second floor of the school it was cold, dark, and empty. The dry air met with wet skin and clothes, chilling them with its touch. Helga actually felt like maybe it was better to just wait in the water rather than die of pneumonia. Besides that, now that they were up here, where should they go?
She voiced this to Phoebe, whispering it. It was just so quiet that they didn't want to disturb the silence.
Phoebe said that they should look for a bathroom not submerged in water so that they could dry off. Since they were already in the dry part of the school, it shouldn't be hard to find one.
They walked once again in silence, quieter without the constant splashing of water. Only the puddles of water they left behind marked their presence.
It was strange, but it could be just paranoia, it felt like there were other people here. Like how walking around an abandoned insane asylum at night, Helga thought she heard ghosts. Crazy ones. And it was getting louder.
Up ahead was there was light streaming from underneath a door, and each step that brought them closer brought icy pinpricks through Helga's skin, and she wondered why she didn't stop, or voice her concerns to Phoebe, or why she was just so mesmerized by this unknown danger.
It was familiar.
She couldn't put her finger on it, and yet she dreaded it. She glanced over to Phoebe, who didn't seem to be affected at all by this disturbing light. They passed by the door and continued to the girls bathroom at the end of the hall and Helga couldn't help but breathe a sigh of relief at every step that was placed between her and the threat.
They flicked on the light in the bathroom, illuminating just how disheveled and smeary their persons had gotten since before the flash flood. Helga's hair was an absolute mess, and as Phoebe dried off her glasses using a nearby stall's toilet paper, Helga was left relatively alone in front of the mirror as she pulled damp, tangled strands of hair from the ties holding her hair up. With her blonde hair down, she looked wild. She combed through the mess of her hair with her fingers, trying to straighten it out.
She brought her focus briefly to the ties left on the sink, preparing to put her hair back up, when her eyes caught the reflection of another's in the mirror.
She screamed, Phoebe ran out of the bathroom stall, but couldn't do anything as she was quickly surrounded. There were five of them, and they were already dragging Helga out of the bathroom and down the hall to the creepy door of light.
Helga struggled, her arms elbowing and her legs kicking, but they were too many, they were much too strong. She felt like screaming more, but a strong fear and certain hysteria conflicted such that she couldn't say anything, only to resist harder and harder in the hopes of escape.
They were at the door, it opened, and the familiar classroom look of boredom and learning was marred by the familiar menacing appearance of one guy- Damien…something…didn't matter, he was just that demon kid from elementary school!
She was thrown forward, and she landed painfully on one knee as both hands came up to prevent her face from denting the freezing white tiled floors. A cold sweat broke out, she could hear her friend Phoebe struggling in the background, and she wanted to get up and face Demon boy like a man but she was too paralyzed with fear to do anything more than watch as the of black leather clad boots of the dark brown haired guy approached and loomed in front of her.
"Thought you could get rid of me that easily, huh Pataki?"
She gritted her teeth, refusing to look up at him and just told him to fuck off.
She yelped in pain as rough hands yanked her up by her hair, and she was forced to meet sordid brown locks framing sinister dark green eyes. He smirked at her pained expression and dropped her so that he could circle her like a predator.
Helga's hands went up to her head, and she was definitely afraid now, but contact with him just seemed to spark some resistance in her, some stubborn will to not be dominated by others. She rose to her feet, wincing as flares of pain shot up from her bruised knee.
"What the hell are you doing here, Demon?" She smiled slightly at his reaction, his face tight at hearing the old nickname, "Aren't you still supposed to be in juvie' from your last mishap at school?"
He growled at her, "Of course, you'd say that, Pataki, I always did like how you ruled the fifth grade with an iron fist. You had guts, but if I didn't know better, you deserved to be jailed just as much as me, except you know how double standards are. They don't send the bossy bitch to juvie when there's the crazy bastard running an operation underneath their noses. Too bad they didn't realize that you and I are much too similar, and that you probably would have ruined the school too if you hadn't be institutionalized yourself."
"I went to a therapist, my grades were fine, and I was a perfectly functioning human being. You're the one who was dealing drugs after school and telling your goons to shank people."
"Like if you didn't have the means, your life would be any different!" He said with his green eyes darkening, he knew that the two of them were similar; that they were both kids who weren't raised right and shouldn't be blamed for society screwing them over. Perhaps in a different life, he'd be getting A's, doing community service because he wanted to, and have a loving family that he could go home to that would support him. But no, he found his niche in gang life, and was sent to jail at an early age because of it.
"Y'know, I respected you back then. Sure you were hard as hell to get along with, but at least I can respect your unwillingness to be put down by others, especially when everyone was comparing you to your perfect sister." He smiled at her before sending her a nasty glare as he finished, "but you had to challenge me, and I had to say that I was so admiring you before you decided to rat me out."
"You were going to burn the school down because some teacher flunked you, again!"
"It was more than that! That dumb bitch was gonna' take away everything that I had, I didn't have much chance to walk the straight path, but at least a high school or heck, a middle school diploma could have made life easier for me. So all I had was gang (at this he jerked a thumb at the croonies standing round the room), and you had it easy, and yet you still had to try and get in the way of my 'bullying'."
Without thinking, Helga said, "Get over it. You only got what was coming to you."
She was immediately knocked back, Damien's angry face filling her view as he shoved her hard to a chair. He growled and gnashed out a threat on her life. Helga's arms went up to defend herself, and she felt as if Bob's training was kicking in, her fist coming up to uppercut him only to be blocked by an arm.
Oh yeah, that's right. He's got bodyguards. She thought as two other guys worked to restrain her, rope from seemingly nowhere wrapping round her legs and arms, binding her to the chair.
"This is my revenge, Pataki." He spit the name out like it was foul-tasting. "And you are going to pay." He nodded to his accomplices, and they opened the nearest window before getting ready to toss her out.
"YOU LITTLE SHIT! YOU BELONG IN A LOONEY BIN!" She screamed hysterically as they lugged her chair to the window. It was better than getting stabbed to death or even being shot, but a fall from a two story building into people-drowning-waters below did not seem like a fair way to end things. She never got the chance to be loved by anyone, to tell someone that she loved them too, and never will because some fruit basket tied her into a chair and threw her out the window!
Her chair was being tilted backward, and the rain and wind howled furiously as if ready for the sacrifice. Helga squeezed her eyes shut, the rain pelting her head like searing icicles as her chair leaned dangerously backward, and she thought she could hear Phoebe sobbing and begging for some mercy, when gravity took hold.
At that instant, the door burst open, a newcomer forcing his way pass the surprised occupants. In slow motion, Helga's eyes opened and her head tilted up in time to see, through rain blurred vision, someone lean out of the window, before rushing wind yanked her hair forward, obscuring her view. It was seconds, but felt like whole minutes of terrifying stomach lurching falling when she finally hit the water.
It was deep, more than six feet of water at least, and the shock of cold caused Helga to gasp, water rushing into her mouth instead of air. Her arms jerked violently in their bindings, waiting to be released from this watery grave. She opened her eyes wildly, looked to what she thought was up, but couldn't see anything in the dark and swirling waters. The chair finally hit bottom, and she could feel the strong current rock her so that she continued to tumble through debris filled waters at the bottom.
She frantically tried to wiggle out of her bindings, or to at least stop herself from being tossed about in the currents. As it was, her chair was lying flat on its side, and she couldn't move her arm out from underneath her. Realizing that she couldn't escape death suddenly hit her as the pain of suffocation permeated her whole body.
Then she remembered the last thing she saw before she went under, the somber grey eyes of her mystery dance partner as they watched her fall. She could remember those eyes as clear as if he was right there next to her, but they were getting….fuzzier…fainter. Her chest felt tight with the lack of air and a pressure was building in her head. Her lungs screamed at her to breathe, but she resisted, knowing that it wouldn't help since she wasn't….those things….those things….that have…..gills? She couldn't think what they were called, only that she couldn't breathe and she needed to soon. She felt extremely tired all of a sudden and she felt her body go limp.
She wanted to sleep, but her body wouldn't let her. It was too busy screaming murder, and pain, and death at her for her to rest, and she thought she remembered something, or someone, but she couldn't think of his name. Her eyes were open, or were they closed? All they could see was darkness, but then like a screen that made a homemade movie look grainy and old, the darkness changed and it was more opaque and dull. And all Helga could think of was something stupid like how she couldn't turn in her homework assignment for fifth hour because she'd be dead. She still couldn't believe that this was the end….
Something was bothering her. It was telling her, wake the hell up already, not to give up, and for some reason cursing as it was it was telling her so. She wanted to tell it to shut up and leave her alone but it persisted. The sound got louder, until it no longer was just a distinct booming, but a clear voice over the waves. Someone was holding her against a flat surface, warm lips on her cold lifeless pink ones. It was breathing air into her lungs, and she felt like she was being forced back into life, especially when she had already decided that she'd given it up already and would die alone. She felt much too alive now, her body reacting to the water in her lungs like it was a virus, and suddenly she was leaning forward, hacking it up, taking in beautiful, crisp breathes of air greedily in its place.
After her heavy breathing subsided, she opened her eyes only to find the same distinct cloudy grey eyes that she'd thought about not too long ago when she thought she was dying. Her hands twitched before she weakly brought it to the warm hands that held both sides of her face. Her eyebrows furrowed confusedly at the familiarity of his face. Then softly she slid her delicate hands from his callous ones upon her face, down his muscular arms, to study his own, and traced the line of his jaw, his unmasked cheeks, the look of his mysterious grey eyes, the feel of his sandy hair. It was only until that moment where she could almost feel the pieces suddenly clicked into place.
"You're," Helga rasped, still searchingly. "You're… Br-" Suddenly Helga's blue eyes widened in recognition and almost fell back from trying to stagger away.
Brainy caught her from collapsing back and tucked one arm firmly but gently behind her waist. He knew that she distinguished his identity then and only sent her a sorry smile.
"Yes, Helga. Yes I am."