My Exploding Cat

Just stories and drawings really, no actual fissile felines.

Phoenix: Chapter 1

“Taaaaa—llieeeeeee…” Mark’s voice droned on the edge of my hearing before I started paying attention. “If you had to pick an animal to share some characteristics with, what animal would it be?” he asked, just as my eyebrows tightened and he knew he’d broken past my Book Shield. He must have been desperate to do so, because he was calling me by my normal name instead of my nickname, Lee.

What a weird question, I thought, finally lifting my eyes from the science textbook to glare at Mark. Mark was always chatty, so I answered without questioning his inquiry too much. He was a frenemy: nice, but way too chatty.

“Oh, I don’t know. A cat? A bird of some sort?” I thought a little more. “If it included mythical animals… A phoenix?”

“Which one do you like the most?” he asked eagerly.

“Phoenix. Definitely.”

“If you didn’t have to, would you still choose?”

I thought for a minute and said, “Uh, yeah. Why not?”

“Why a phoenix?” Mark asked, annoying as usual, but now he sounded less eager and more curious. I wasn’t paying any attention from there on out, focusing more on my science project, but it didn’t matter anyway since someone had mispronounced the word “organism” in the reading—in exactly the wrong way—and everybody had stopped to laugh and yell at him. He swore it was accidental, but nobody believed him.

When the bell rang, I left the class sarcastically promising myself I’d live to see the end of the school day.

How ironic.

I walked into the Spanish room and knew something was up. The entire class was quiet, obviously trying to listen in on the teacher’s phone conversation. Mrs. Oglen herself usually acts like she’s had seven too many coffees, but right now, she was hunched over the phone, face frozen.

“The entire school district has been ordered to lock down,” she said, when her conversation ended. “There’s been an intruder at two other schools who is suspected to have a gun. From his behavior, we think he’s on drugs of some sort. We don’t know his intentions, but we can assume that he won’t hesitate to shoot if he feels threatened.”

As if on cue, somebody yanked the power and the whole school went dark. Pitch dark. Cave dark. The heater went off; the projector and noisy computer quieted. Everyone was quiet but Mark, who was, of course, whispering to someone. Fortunately, it wasn’t me.

Then the teacher’s cell phone rang. We all glared at her as she answered it, unembarrassed. In the light of the phone, she mouthed, “Administrator.”

Five minutes later, she hung up. “A teacher was killed down at Buchanan. A substitute. Mark, stop whispering.” Then she was dimming her phone, hiding in a corner, and punching in numbers—probably calling her insurance agent.

Nothing happened for the next two hours. I hid behind the file cabinet and flicked my phone on, sending chain letters to everyone in my contacts. I ran out of ideas and started reading a book with its light. There was no way I was going to relinquish this last bit of sanity.

Then, in the quiet, we could hear a distant police siren.

Not that distant.

I don’t understand what happened, even now, but I swear I never heard any footsteps, any talking, any breathing, any life outside our room. Or inside, for that matter. The area brought new meaning to the term “dead silent.” Even Mark had stopped whispering, and Mark never shuts his trap.

I looked over the room. The cell phones were all off, and so were the other lights. That room was about as electric as an Amish farm. I wondered halfheartedly if the toilets still worked.

The police siren had gone, which meant that the cars were probably running silent as not to alert the kidnapper. The room was cold, all of a sudden, so cold…

…and then it got immediately colder as the door flung open and I heard gunfire a little too close, rapid gunfire—ten shots, probably the entire clip. Without knowing what had just happened, right then and there, I caught on fire.

I looked at my right arm. It was an arm—on fire, but an arm. My left arm was a wing, also on fire. I was burning up, not in pain, and not really sure whether I should freak or not. I decided that it would be a waste of time, and it would feel kind of unappreciative. I mean, technically, I was just shot and should be cursing a blue streak and falling over, dead.

I looked over at Mark and gave a satisfied grin, because a lot of stuff had just started to make sense. Unfortunately, I wouldn’t remember it, because just then… I died.

This entry was posted on Wednesday, June 29th, 2011 at 8:24 pm and is filed under Phoenix. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.

One Response to “Phoenix: Chapter 1”

    4:30 pm on January 31st, 2013

    nice writing, nice plot, kinda dumb story, but points for originality!(mabey im wrong, bit i just read this for the first time)

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