Why... why are they chasing me...?
Gotta run gotta run gotta run left, no right straight boulder dodge it run run run they'll catch me can't let them catch me don't know what they'll do gotta run run run I can hear them why are they chasing me...
A teenager ran through a strangely-colored forest, dodging branches that seemed to be alive, trying to keep going. Monstorous voices chased him, cackling raspy voices filling his ears and almost clouding his memories. A powerful wind blew, wiping his messy hair into his emerald green eyes, making him blink. He was afraid to blink. He might trip. And then all could be lost.
Will this forest ever end have to get out must escape run run run can't I loose them why are they still following I haven't done anything to them is anyone around could I call for help tree branch! hide I must hide where can I hide... A cave!
He dodged into a cave in the base of mountains that just seemed to appear out of thin air. He didn't question the help, he just ran in, afraid for his life, what those creatures are, what they might do to them. He hid behind a pile of stones, hunched down, trying to slow his heart and to not breath, but finding both hard to do. He shut his eyes, and covered his head with his hands, hearing the voices coming closer. He shivered a bit, trying to keep his body still now, as he heard the voices stop at the cave. Their cackles still rang, though now with a questioning tone. Were they not able to smell or hear him? Had it been luck on their part that he had not evaded them until now? They seemed confused. He stopped shaking for a micro-second. Was it possible that they were confused?
Please don't eat me...
Suddenly, the voices were gone. He heard nothing, except for the rustling of the multi-colored grass in the wind. He waited for what seemed like an eternity, praying that he was right and that they were gone. Finally he mustered up enough courage to peer over the rocks to see if what chased him lie in waiting. He rose slowly, awaiting whatever horror might be on the other side. He closed his eyes the second before they were over the ridge of the stones, and held his breath, waiting for an attack.
There was none. He opened his eyes.
They were gone. He released a sigh of relief, leaning against the cave wall. Where the hell was he? He knew this wasn't earth. Wasn't Japan. He wasn't in Tokyo. Not Tokyo. Definatly. He looked outside again, making sure nothing was out there, and then looked into the cave. It hadn't occured to him that some animal might be living in there when he hid. Luck was on his side, and there was no animal in there. However, there was a light source from inside.
Shoving off worries, figuring that if he ventured out that he would be attacked again, he walked toward the light. He rubbed his skin through his green pants and white shirt where he had been cut and scratched by rocks and trees. He stumbled a bit, weariness still upon him, and he tried to shrug that off as well. When he reached it, he realized that there was a stairwell in front of him. He choose to follow it, curiosity and some other sense proding him.
When he reached the top after a long walk, the view took away what breath he had. He was standing on a tall mountain, no less than 200 yards tall, staring over a large valley of lush trees, all different colors. Similar mountains jutted up all over. He blinked once, and could have sworn that a mountain had disappeared and another appeared farther off. He rubbed his eyes, and turned around to look at the flat he stood on. It was just that, relatively flat, except for piles of rocks. And one lone tree.
The boy found it odd that there was only one tree up there. No other grass, shrubs, or flora was up there. Except that tree. And it's delicious-looking red fruit. His stomach growled to remind him that he had been running for some time. Carefully, he walked toward the tree. Not ten feet from it, a voice rang out, freezing him in his tracks.
"Are you the one?" the voice asked, in a slightly raspy tone, yet high, somehow.
Did they find me?! The boy panicked. He looked around, something might be able to be used as a weapon. But whatever had chased him was fast, and he wouldn't be able to reach any of the big boulders around him, not to mention pick them up. There was only one thing to do. "One what?" he asked the voice.
"Silly," it said, "The one. My partner. Chosen. I have been waiting for him. Are you him?"

----====(| Digimon: Season Zero |)====----
- - = = (| [Episode 1] Almost Alpha, Part 1 |) = = - -

He woke up suddenly. He sat straight up in bed, taking in harsh, raspy breathes, as if his chest was being crushed. He moved his eyes frantically, trying to remember where he was, the fear from the dream still rushing through his system. He calmed down after a minute, realizing that he was in his own bed in his own house, not some fictisious forest. No voices, no cackling laughs, just home.
He sighed, and then realized that his covers and pillow were slightly damp. Sweat. He was still sweating, even though the dream was over. Something about the dream, it just... just... seemed so real. No, he corrected himself as he got out of bed, not a dream, a nightmare. And not for the first time, either. This must have been the tenth time he had the same dream in only two weeks. It was getting so he would wake up at night, not be able to go back to sleep, and then sleep in class.
He looked at the clock on the wall, and saw that it was only one in the morning. He rubbed his eyes and walked to the bathroom for some water. He stopped to look at himself in the mirror. Messy hair, sleepy eyes, ruffled pajamas. He should have expected this. But he wasn't. "Chad Miyamoto, what is wrong with you?" he asked the reflection in the mirror. Just like his own mind couldn't, the reflection didn't answer back.
He got his water and went back to his bed, hoping with all his might that he wouldn't have the nightmare again. And this time, it did not come.

* * *

"Chad?" He felt a poke at his shoulder. He brushed the hand away, and tried to sleep. "Chad." He was poked again. He was quickly becoming annoyed. Having had a bad night didn't help, either. He brushed the hand away, and muttered something that was meant to be 'go away', but turned out all wrong. "Chad. Get up, you lazy bird." Another poke. Chad whipped his head up, off his arms, ready to yell at the offender, not caring if it was a teacher or not. He snapped his head around to face whoever it was, but his voice got caught in his throat.
"You shouldn't sleep in class, Chad. You know how Mr. Yamauchi hates that. Don't want a detention, do you?" the female in front of him asked. Chad sighed, rubbed his eyes, and tried to blink away his weariness. He looked away, leaned back against his chair, then looked back with a less-then-coherent expression.
"Can I sleep in detention, Tanya?" Chad replied, looking at her face. He noticed the light blue relaxed pants and yellow t-shirt she was wearing. It fit her perfectly. Though Tanya never claimed it, everyone said she had a fashion sense to one up a goddess. He looked around the room and saw three other girls wearing the same types of clothes that she had worn yesterday. He chuckled a bit to himself.
"I don't think so. But don't ask me. I've never been there," Tanya replied, brushing back some of her red hair that seemed to annoy her. Her blue eyes stayed locked onto Chad, as if trying to draw out his soul, or at least search it. Truth be told, neither of them had ever had a detention. They weren't perfect goody-two-shoes, but they knew when to shut up and hang low.
"Yeah, well, if I can sleep in detention, and I can get a detention by sleeping in class, it looks like a win-win situation to me," he said, shaking his head a bit, the drowsiness returning. Tanya sighed, shook her head, and went off to her own desk. Chad laid his head back in his arms and was about to go back to sleep when he was awoken by another voice.
"Good morning, class!" Chad woke with a start, letting out a small gasp of surprise. He looked around to see his teacher walking to the front of the class. "I'm sorry, did I wake you, Mr. Shigeru?" he said.
"Uh... No, sir, Mr. Yamauchi. Just making sure I was well prepared for today's learning! Going through the last two chapters in my head, eh heh..." Chad replied, quickly wiping a small pool of drool, which had accumulated while he slept, off his desk.
Mr. Yamauchi stood for a few seconds, glaring at Chad. "I'm sure you were," he said, and set his books on his desk, and pulled out an attendace paper. Tanya couldn't help herself, and finally let out a little giggle. "Ms. Hitoshi, do you find Mr. Shigeru funny?" he asked her, setting the paper on his desk.
Tanya sat straight up, brushing her hair back, before replying. "No, sir."
"Does anyone else find Mr. Shigeru funny?" he asked the rest of the class. Some kids lifted their hands for a split second, then put them back down. This brought a few smiles from others, but no more noises. "Good" he said. "Now I hope you all did yesterday's assignment..." Chad's eyes felt listless as he tried to stay awake through the teacher's droning. He started to lean back over his desk when a sudden "slam" of a book hitting a tiled floor brought him to the world of the awakened. Mr. Yamauchi stooped over to get his book, and Chad smiled and waved at him as he stood back up.

* * *

"You know he hates sleeping kids in class," a black-haired boy said to Chad. He stared at a sandwhich that his mom had packed him for lunch. Bologna. Chad didn't like bologna. He looked back up at the boy, slightly annoyed.
"I know, I know. But it's not like I could help it. I mean, if I was able to sleep at night. But I can't, because of that da-" he was cut off by Tanya, approaching with another girl, lunch trays in hand.
"The dream? The dream is still keeping you awake?" she asked as she sat down. Her friend stared for a moment, then sat as well.
"Well, duh, Tanya. Maybe it was the boogyman..." the boy replied, making some claw motions with his hands as well as some unusual sounds.
"Shutup, Richy," Tanya remarked harshly, sending him into a state of silence. He looked at the girls with his brown eyes, who were sitting opposite of him, for a moment before he picked up his own sandwhich and took a big bite.
"So who's your friend?" Richy asked Tanya with a half-full mouth, motioning toward her friend who remained silent. At the mention of her being there, she blushed underneath her blue eyes, and hung her head, letting her red hair swing around her shoulders, trying to hide in some obscure way.
"What? Oh! Oh, man, I'm sorry! Guys, this is Ariel Kanzaki," she said, putting her hand on Ariel's shoulder. Ariel looked up slightly with a look that was either scared or shy. Maybe both. "She just transfered here, and I've been helping her around the school, since I seem to have a lot of classes with her. Ariel, this is Chad Miyamoto, and Richard Somanse." She pointed to each of the boys with their respective names.
"It's Richy," Richy said, glaring at Tanya. He looked over at Ariel with a softer expression. He studied her a bit longer, and got an odd look about his face. "Nice to meet you. Where'd you come from?" he asked her. Richy was then jabbed in the sides by Chad, which brought Richy out of his hormone-induced stuper.
"Hey. I think- hope- my gender-greating-challenged friend means what school did you come from," Chad said, explaining Richy. He gave Richy another soft jab, and Richy shut his mouth before saying anything more.
Ariel looked nervously at the both of them. She swung her head to Tanya, who just smiled, and Ariel turned back to Chad and Richy. "Um... A-a school in the United States. My parents are some sort of diplomat or something, I'm not exaclty sure, and we were over their for a year on some sort of abroad study or something. Before that I used to live in a mid-sized town about 30 kilometers south of Tokyo," she said. She opened her mouth, then closed it quickly, and blushed. She was afraid she was talking too much.
Richy stared at her for a few seconds, making her slightly uncomfortable. "Huh," he said finally, shaking his head. "You'll have to tell me about the Americans. I hear they have all these crazy things." He took another big bite out of his sanwhich. Chad looked at his again, and gave up on the notion of using brain power to change it. He took a bit of his, too.
"Oh, they're not that different," Ariel replied, picking up her fork and just shoving at whatever was on her plate. Tanya, meanwhile, had finished half of her lunch, content to listen to the other three at her table. The rest of lunch time was spent in relative silence.
Chad knew what Tanya was thinking about. Tanya was recalling what Chad had told her about his dream. She was trying to interpret it, as she always tried to do to things. Chad looked over at Richy who had his mouth open and his sandwhich half-way to his mouth, but it was just frozen in place. Chad jabbed Richy once more, and Richy quickly put his sandwhich all the way to his mouth. A bit too quickly. He missed the sandwhich, and bite the hand holding it.
"OW!" he cried, dropping his sandwhich. Ariel just blushed and tried to eat some of her food. Chad sighed and turned back to his thoughts. Tanya was staring at him, trying to conceal her eyes with her hair. She was kind of freaky like that, but Chad seemed to like that, though he didn't know why. What he did know that any second she was going to ask him-
"So how did your dream go again?" Tanya asked Chad, right on cue. Chad just smiled, looked at Richy, who just laughed softly. Richy was pretty good at judging other people, and could tell that subject would be brought up. Chad related his nightmare for what he though was the hundreth time, and Tanya sat quietly for a bit after hearing it, rubbing the side of her face. Ariel had stopped eating, trying to understand what they were talking about. "Odd," Tanya said. "The... whatever, must be some sort of symbol for a fear you have. The cave could be a shelter you're using now to cover the fear. The voice might be the answer or savior. But you have to find the answer yourself, so that's why you never see it." She rubbed her chin, thinking.
"I don't think the entire thing was a metaphore," Chad replied, giving her a quizzical look. "It seemed to real. As if I was experiencing it," he said, and stopped about what he was going to say. Something clicked. "Even with the nightmares, I still get about six hours of sleep a night. That should allow me to go throw school without being so tired. What if, when I'm sleeping, I'm not really sleeping, but am actually in this place?" That got weird stares from everyone.
"That's absurd," Richy said, swallowing the rest of his sandwhich. "Even on the impossible chance that you were somehow taken away to another place, you can't re-act the same events the same way that many times. It's mathematically impossible," he said, always the math brain. Richy was somewhat of a nerd around school, and had pride for that.
"What about some sort of time loop?" Chad asked. "All that quan-quanta-"
"Quantum physics? Not from the way you explain it. You would have encountered yourself five times over if that was so. And it can't be. That's impossible, too. Or have you gotten back into your old space journey books?"
Chad looked down at his own half-remaining sandwhich, the words excaping from his mouth. He knew this whole ordeal was stupid. He was making a fool of himself, in front of his friends. Quantum physics, indeed. "No...," he said, looking back at Richy, "I'm just trying to make sense of it, I guess." He was about to say more, but the bell rang. He ate what he could stuff in his mouth of his sandwhich, tossed the rest in the trash, and walked back to his locker.

* * *

Tanya watched Ariel as they walked to their lockers from lunch. Ariel had a slight blush about her, her head hanging a bit low. Tanya, being a people person, took a guess as to why. But she waited until they got to their lockers. The school had put Ariel next to Tanya, to make it more convienent for Tanya to show Ariel around.
"You like him, don't you?" Tanya asked Ariel in a conversational tone as she opened up her locker.
Ariel stopped dead in her movements, almost dropping her books. She collected those that started sliding, and opened her own locker. "Well, Chad is very nice, but I don't think he li-"
"I don't mean Chad."
Ariel was silent. In the short time she'd been here, she'd gotten to know Tanya a bit, but not very much. She had nevre guessed Tanya was an excellent judge of character and feelings. Ariel was coming to understand why some called Tanya 'the well-dressed therapist.' "Um... Richy is... alright. He seems to be a bit too girl crazy, though. Probably just staring at me because I'm a girl," she replied as she put what books she had into her locker and pulled out her phys ed clothes.
"Okay. Then why wasn't he staring at me? I know you think that I'm prettier than you are, even though I don't think so," she replied, switching her own books for her clothes. She was right. Ariel, in all her doubts, constantly put herself down. She wondered if the school had put her with someone much more pretty as an insult. But, accodring to those who had met her, she was off base. While she had hadn't much to boast about, her figure and face gave a soft feeling to many of the males in the high school they attended.
She knew Tanya was right about Richy, too. He hadn't even looked much at Tanya, even when speaking to her. To her, though, it seemed like he was playing, since he had made it too obvious. But, Tanya had told her that he, being a geek, had a bit of a social problem, especially around girls he was attracted to.
"So are you going to try to make a move or wait for him to?" Tanya asked Ariel as they walked toward the gym. The question caught her off guard, and she stumbled a bit.
"I, uh, I-" Ariel said, trying to think of what to say.
"I guess it doesn't matter right now. You both have some time ahead of you to work out a relationship," Tanya said, looking at Ariel and cocking an eye, a grin on her face. Ariel sighed inward, thankful that her friend had given her a way out. They continued to the gym without another word.

* * *

"You like her, don't you?" Chad asked Richy as they walked into the science classroom. Richy set his books down and turned around, making eye contact with Chad. Chad just smiled. He knew the answer, and Richy didn't have to answer. The question was actually more rehtorical.
"Yes," Richy answered anyway. The truth was that, yeah, he liked Ariel, but he wasn't quite sure why yet. Something about her just captivated him. That troubled the scientific part of his mind, who wanted a factual answer for everyting. But this was love, he reminded himself. What could he do about it? "So? You like Tanya. Not like there's anything to hide, really," he replied as he sat down.
"Maybe so," Chad replied as he took his seat. It was true. He did like Tanya, but he didn't know if she liked him back. He hoped she did.
"Hey, guys," another student said as he walked over. Nearly six feet tall, Kyle Hangata was all mucle, no fat. If he had cared, he could have been a sports star or the school bully, but neither appealed to him. He didn't have a great interest for sports, though he liked to work out, and didn't especially like violence, which kept him from being a school bully, which was all better to Chad and Richy, who were good friends of his, more the latter than the former. Though he wasn't a bully himself, Kyle made sure bullies stayed awat from his friends. Kyle's friendship with Richy worked both ways, as Kyle wasn't the smartest guy in school. Richy tutored him on many things, which helped Kyle immensly in school.
"Hey Kyle," Richy replied as Kyle took his own seat. "Ready for the test today?" It was nearing the end of school, so teachers were placing tests left and right to try to make up for what they may have missed by actually trying to have fun. This particular teacher just liked seeing kids squirm, and as such handed out tests and pop quizes frequently.
Kyle nodded. They had gone over all the information the night before, and he was pretty sure that Richy had explained it in such a way that he understood and hopefully remembered it all. He quickly ran through what he could remember in his head, and glanced at his notes to see if he was missing anything. "How about you, Chad?" he asked without looking up from his notes.
Chad just leaned back in his chair. Science had been no problem for him, which was a first, so he had no worries. "Easy A," he replied. "Or at least a B plus," he said as he leaned back farther. The door to their classroom opened, the teacher entered, and shouted "Good morning class!" over a megaphone. Chad and everyone who had leaned back far enough fell backwards. Their science teacher also liked to play his own jokes.

* * *

Tanya and Ariel waited back by the goal for the ball to come towards them. Tanya was a big fan of soccer, and loved it when they played it in phys ed, especially when it was indoors. On this particular day, their field had just been re-painted, and to let the paint stay on as long as possible they tried to keep people off the field, at least those who don't require it. And they could play soccer just as well indoors, though they had to make sure it didn't go too hard and too high, lest it hit a light.
Ariel wasn't as thrilled by sports, but she didn't mind a good game herself, either. She was glad that it was her and Tanya back there. She had made a friend in Tanya, and being one who gets shy easily, it worked to her benefit. She felt more relaxed when she was around Tanya. She valued friends among many other things.
"Get ready," Tanya said. Ariel wasn't paying attention, and turned her head toward Tanya to ask what Ariel wanted. Before she could ask, she felt the ball hit her in the arm. It richoched off her arm and towards the bleachers.
While she was shy, Ariel didn't like looking like a fool. After regaining her footing, she took off after the soccer ball. After slight hesitation and wondering whether she should stay with the goalie in case the ball came back faster then they could, Tanya took off towards the ball as well. The girls reached the ball well before any of the other players. Just as Ariel was about to kick it to the other side of the gym, the ground started shaking.
Tanya looked up and around. An earthquake? They didn't get those around here. She couldn't remember exactly, but she didn't recall a fault line being enarby, either. What was going on? She heard some screaming as the intensity increased, and turned around to see Ariel looking at the something with shocked horror. She turned more and saw what the fuss was about. Part of the ceiling was collapsing, causing some of the girls to freeze where they were and hope they weren't hit. But there was something else that caught her eye. A small vortex. That was quickly growing bigger.

Kyle was flying through the test. He decided that he had either absorbed the info really well, or was just putting down a lot of bull that sounded good. He was halfway through it, to the essay section, when he felt the ground shaking. Every student in the classroom looked up from their tests and around the room. Most stopped on the science teacher, who was just as confused. A second's delay, and then it clicked. An earthquake.
Richy echoed his thoughts. "Earthquake?" he asked out loud to no one in particular.
The shaking started getting more violent, and the teacher decided it was a good time for a field trip. "Okay, no one panic. We're all going to head outside for the moment, and wait this out outside." That way we don't have to worry about the ceiling crashing on us, he didn't add, though everyone was thinking something similar. Including, it seemed, the principle, who barked orders over the speakers, but with a heavier tone than their teacher had done.
The students all stood up, some calmer than others, and headed toward the door. As they did, the shaking got even worse, and panic started to overtake them. They went to the door, and started pushing their way through, joining students coming from other classes, wanting to get out, not to get hit or crushed.
Richy was one of the last ones able to get out, since his seat was closer to front and was calmer than the others. He was about to leave as well when he heard a small groan behind him. He turned to see Chad leaning over his desk, eyes shut tight.
"Common, Chad! You don't want to get buried, do you?" Richy said, moving towards Chad a bit.
Chad opened one eye slightly and turned it to look at Richy. "Of course not. But I can't... can't move. My head... it hurts...," he replied, and then closed his eye again, gritting his teeth, in pain somehow. Richy looked him over, but couldn't tell how he was in pain. He had no bruises that Richy could see, no cuts or anything else. Richy couldn't understand what was wrong, so he moved closer to Chad, momentarily forgetting the quake. "No...," Chad said again. Richy could hear his breathing; it was raspy and harsh. "Get out. If the ceiling falls, and crushes you... it's my fault. Go." Richy had started to take another step, but stopped at that last command. He hesitated for the moment, but the shaking grew more violent, and he went off with the rest of his class.

The vortex was bigger now. Much, much bigger. The teacher had panicked and ran out, leaving the all-female class to themselves. Some were trying to hurry others out, some just stood in place confused. Others stood in place and watched the vortex as it changed. Once just grey, they could now see a landscape with it. It was a forest, but the colors were all wrong. There were pink leaves with orange trunks. The grass seemed to change colors on it's own, and different patches were different colors. Tanya and Ariel, the two closest to it, just watched in amazement. Something screamed in the back of their minds of the danger all around and that the void could be dangerous, but they paid no head to the voice.
Those with stronger wills and determination had finally gotten the rest of the class to go into the hall and follow the steady stream of students making their way out. "Common!" one other girl said. She had hung back, making sure everyone had left. But no matter what, these two others wouldn't leave. She ran up and started grabbing them and pulling them, but they wouldn't budge. They weren't resisting her, but they just wouldn't move.
"Go," Tanya said to the other girl. She hesitated, then went and took off.
"Um... Tanya? We should get out of here...," Ariel said, looking side to side but never really removing her eyes from the vortex. It was mesmerizing. The scene suddenly changed to a vast desert. This scene wasn't as colorful as the forest had been, but odd structures stood out. They looked almost like telephone poles, though there were no wires attached. The scene changed again, this time to the base of a mountain. There was a forest here, but not with all the colors, and it suddenly just stopped and turned into a plain. A sudden jolt of the ground brought the girls back to their sences. The shook their heads clean of whatever had a hold of them, and looked around, just in time to see the ceiling start caving in. They both ran in the first direction that struct them; they ran straight into the vortex. The ceiling collapsed.

Chad sat at his desk, the ground still shaking. He couldn't move. He didn;t know why, and that scared him, but he couldn't move. There was a pain all through his body, but he hadn't been hit by anything. He just sat there, willing every muscle in his body to move, but none would respond. Suddenly a fog drifted through his mind, and he felt sleepy. He fought it. He knew that if he wanted to get out of this and escape whatever danger there might be, he had to stay awake, had to move, had to get out of there, run run run... But he lost. The last thing he heard or saw was the ceiling caving in as his body relaxed and his eyes closed.

* * *

Kyle and Richy stood outside, watching the buildings from an open hill where everyone had gathered. Most of the students just took this like a fire drill, and sat around and talked. They knew they were relatively safe in the open. Richy stood there and talked to Kyle, relating what had happened to Chad. Richy still couldn't understand why Chad couldn't come with him. He hoped Chad was alright.
The teacher from the gym class had regained control of herself, and was doing the same with her students. She was counting heads and making sure everyone got out. Richy wondered why his science teacher hadn't done the same, and started to turn to tell the teacher that Chad was still in there. He stopped when he heard one of the girls say that Tanya and Ariel were still inside. He turned, wanting to hear more. Just as he did, his eye caught movement in the school building. He turned that way. No, it wasn't movement in the building. It was movement of the building. And just like that, the roofs of the sceince room and gym collapsed. Richy froze, speechless. Now what would he do?

To be continued...