Chapter Three: Adapting and Changing

Derek left right after the bell rang at the end of lunch. He exited the game and grabbed his backpack and soared out of the room waving, “See you later!”

At least the rest of my classes were not so bad. I did not make a fool out of myself.

On my way to the bus, I didn’t see him or his crummy truck in the parking lot.

I came home with a headache and a little humiliated. It was a long day and I did not make any of it better. I was being rude to the only friend I made in school so far. I was lucky he did not just kick me out in the middle of the road. Or even let me sit by him during lunch. Derek was nothing but nice to me all day.

Rubbing my eyes, I walked over to the fridge and took out a bottled water and chugged the bottle dry. It really had been a long day.

My parents decided to go out for dinner and Steve was in his room listening to loud music in his room with the door shut. It was going to be one of those lonely nights.

I have decided to tell my mom that I am going to give this school one month before I decide if I want to stay. So far, I wasn’t liking the idea of school. I was thinking about being homeschooled from now on. People drop out and get homeschooled around their junior year anyway, well, back in the city.

I didn’t like how quiet it was here. The town was quiet, a little too quiet that the sound of the wind was loud as the music coming from my little brother’s room downstairs. The rooms had high ceilings that cause noises to echo with an amplifying effect.

I went over to the couch and threw my legs over the armrest as I laid down turning on the television. There was nothing on but exercise videos and paid programming. I could have gone and grabbed one of my documentaries off my movie shelf, but I have seen all of them over a hundred times and I don’t want to do reruns again.

I was getting annoyed about how much I had to scroll through the menu guide to find a decent thing to watch when my doorbell rang.

I accidentally dropped the control on to the ground and grunted, the doorbell had made me jolt.

I went to the door and found a Derek Straton looking at me with a crooked smile.

“What are you doing here?” My heart started to race. How did Derek find my house?

He reached into his black leather jacket and pulled out my cell phone and stuck his arm out to me, “I borrowed this from you and I wanted to give it back.”

I stood there looking at my phone in his hands debating if I should shut the door and call the police or grab the phone and throw it at his face.

“I tried to climb the tree in your backyard to get into your room, but I didn’t know what room was yours,” Derek said it like if it was the most normal thing in the world. He then stopped smiling and sighed, “I am sorry I took your phone, okay? I needed it though and I was going to call you about it and it turns out you don’t have any house number to your house and I wasn’t going to call your parents- which is the only numbers you have on this phone…which was totally weird…”

I felt a twinge of embarrassment and snapped out of the fight or flight thinking mode, “Why would you take my phone?”

Derek then looked embarrassed himself, scratching the back of his neck, “I needed to get a hold of a phone and I was going to ask you, but you seemed to be bossy and a bit of a jerk and I didn’t want to ask. But I can promise you that I didn’t mean any harm and I wanted to return it as soon as I finished using it.” He looked down to the ground, “Look, just take the phone and I will bring you breakfast in the morning or something. I owe you one.”

I stood there for what seemed like a whole hour and slowly took the phone away from his hands. I never broke eye contact with him and slowly started to close the door.

“Thanks,” he muttered and started to turn when I saw big black splotches on his pants.

“Are you okay? Did you fall off my tree?”

He turned around and looked at me with wide eyes that shrunk down and a smile flew back on his face, “No.”

I then closed the door.

The next morning I woke up pretty late and didn’t bother to put on makeup. I just threw on an oversized black shirt with a picture of a skull and some worn out jeans. I put on my pea coat and boots when I hear my mother shouting at me to come down and eat some breakfast. I wasn’t hungry or did I ever think I would be today.

I stayed up all night looking through my phone trying to find a trace of Derek anywhere, but I saw nothing. He only changed my wallpaper to Elmo smoking a cigarette and wearing sunglasses, but that was it. He couldn’t do much anyway because it was a new phone with no contacts or anything useful in it. There was no credit card information, passwords to my social media accounts. Nothing.

I was a bit relieved but mostly ticked off. If this had happened earlier this year I would have a whole web history of murderer documentaries in there which would look suspicious and creepy to anyone who came across it.

Remembering the way he said “and I was going to call you about it and it turns out you don’t have any house number to your house and I wasn’t going to call your parents- which is the only numbers you have on this phone…which was totally weird…” made me swell of embarrassment in my chest. I shook my head and hand trying to cool myself down, but I wanted to dig a hole of six feet and bury myself in it.

“Gwenyth Livingston, you better get down here and eat these scrambled eggs!”

I grabbed my bag and started to go out of my room when I heard a knock on my window.

I look up and see Derek there smiling at me while he waved at me to open the window.I blushed and dropped my bag to the floor as I rushed over and shut the curtains.

“C’mon Gwen! Open up!” He started knocking on the glass again.

I couldn’t stand it. I wanted to scream at the top of my lungs and maybe even shove him off the tree to his death. My body was shaking with anger and fear wondering how much he saw.

“Open up! I won’t hurt you, promise!” Derek knocked, “I have something for you!”

I opened the curtains and crossed my arms over my chest and I gave him the meanest look I could muster. But he still smiled at me holding a brown paper bag. He had no sweater and he had on a white button up shirt that wasn’t buttoned with a black shirt underneath. His jeans a dark grey/ army green colored with designer tears in them with his nice old beat up shoes. He looked like he had no care in the world.

“Are you going to open the window? If not, I can go ring the doorbell again and ask if you are home?” Derek put the bag to his mouth and started to climb down.

“NO! Wait!” I opened the window and held my hand out to help him over.

“Gwenyth? Are you coming down?” I heard my mother start walking up the steps.

“Yeah! Yeah, I will be right there! Hold on! I am still changing!” I hollered back at her and the sounds of the steps stopped.

“Okay, but hurry up!” The footsteps descended back into the kitchen.

Derek managed to climb through lazily and jumped off the branch right onto my bed that was right next to the window. “Ta-da!” He shot his hands up into a cheerful pose.

“Get the fuck off my bed!” I shoved him off to the floor. Derek fell gracefully, I had no idea people could do that, but he did. He stood and then grumbled the word ‘bitch’. “What do you want?”

“Here,” he said, handing me the brown paper bag.

“What is it?”

“Just open the damn bag,” he then flung it at me.

I caught it and it felt heavy in my hands. I opened it and saw two mashed up donuts and a small carton of milk. I gave him a face and started to hand it back, “This isn’t going to excuse what you did last night. You owe me, big time.”

Derek shoved my hand back, “Take the damn donuts and be grateful you got anything.”

“Why should I be grateful, you owe me, remember?”

“I wasn’t even going to give you diddley-squat, but you made such a big deal over a phone, that didn’t have anything of value in it, I had to give you some donuts!”

I threw the paper bag at him, “Get out of my room!”

He shot his hands up defensively and started to back away, “Okay, fine. Don’t take the donuts.” He picked up the bag, “I will see you at school then.”

I started to shove him out when I heard my mother start walking up the steps again. There was no time for Derek to open the window and climb down without my mother noticing him. I grabbed his shirt and threw him to the floor. He fell with a grunt that was loud enough for my mother to hear.

“Gwenyth? Are you all right?” She started to turn the doorknob.

I kicked Derek as a signal to go under my bed and he did immediately before my mother opened the door all the way. “Downstairs. Food. Now.” She gave me one of those evil mom looks.

I said okay and picked up my bag and headed downstairs with her to the kitchen where my family sat eating. My dad had his phone out and emailing his coworkers about business stuff while my brother finished up his scrambled eggs while he picked up his skateboard and gave a little wave as he ran out the door. There was an empty seat with a full plate next to my dad where I assumed I was going to eat.

My mother has been making us eat together lately and it has not been going well so far. We were all used to having busy schedules and we all ate at different times. I should say that my mother and father had busy work schedules and my brother always made friends and joined the school baseball teams. I had no life. I went to school to learn a thing or two and I came home to an empty house and ate dinner alone until everyone came home late at night. That was the kind of life I was used to, but lately, my mother has wanted us all to make time together.

My mother wanted to go as far as to quit her job so she could be home more for all of us, but I reassured her that I was doing okay and everyone else said she didn’t have to. My mom liked working anyway and she went crazy if she had nothing productive to do.

She gestured for me to sit at the table and sat down across from me. “How is school going, Gwen?”

“Okay, I guess. But I am not changing my mind. If I don’t like it, I will get homeschooled no matter what you say.” I picked up my fork and started to eat my now cold scrambled eggs.

My mother just nodded and didn’t say anything else for a while. It put me on edge, Derek was in my bedroom under my bed.

My dad looked up from his phone and smiled at me. He looked at mom and looked at me again, “What are we talking about?”

“Gwen wants to quit school, Cam.” My mom says dryly.

I put my fork down and looked at her in disbelief, “NO, I said I wanted to get homeschooled. That is totally different!”

“You don’t like your new school?” my dad pressed on.

“Not really,” I shook my head, I wasn’t even hungry anymore. “Can I be excused?”

“You will not be excused until those eggs are done Missy,” My mother snapped.

Her outburst took me aback, but I kept eating my eggs pretending she didn’t say anything. I looked down at the cold yellow food and I forcefully put forkfuls in my mouth until a minute later the table started rattling.

My mother didn’t seem to notice but my father and I did and looked at each other.

“Is there earthquakes here?” My dad asked as he pushed his chair back.

I shook my head and scanned the room to see if anything else was rattling. The room was still, even the wind chimes my mother had in the front didn’t rattle. The table rattle started to diminish.

My dad looked at the table with one eyebrow sticking up and whispered, “That was creepy.”

My mother just kept on eating away at her eggs, “There are no earthquakes here honey, only hurricanes.”

“You didn’t just see the table move?”

As a reply, my mother shrugged and kept at it with her eggs.

“I am going to be late for school, I have to go now if I am going to make the bus,” I started for my bedroom.

I found Derek sitting there with my bra in his hands and smiled up at me when I entered the room, “This was under the bed, and my face was shoved inside it. I like your boob smell.”

I flushed and ran to him snatching it out of his hand, “You are a sick bastard!”

“What? It smelled nice!” He started to get up off the floor.

“That’s it! Get out!” I pointed at the window.

Derek jokingly lifted his hands in surrender and defeat and started to climb out, “It was a compliment.”

“Get out!” I shoved him away and closed the window behind him.

I grabbed my bag again and ran out the door before my mother had a chance to yell at me about breakfast.

My classes flew by in a blur. The math teacher gave me such a hard time that I decided not to go to my other classes.

I didn’t want to be in Annadale anymore. I couldn’t care less about it and how not going to this school will ruin my future.

I decided to stay behind and listen to music while I sat in the dugout and waited for class to be out. I just a had a few more hours before school let out and I was free to go home and forget that I ever came to this school.

Once I really thought about it, I really did want to go home and never come back. For real this time. When I got home I would tell my mom to sign me up to homeschool- I didn’t care. I kicked up my chucks to the fence that separated the dugout and the field and leaned back onto the wall.

The music was the only thing now that was helping me keep my sanity. Or so I thought.

I started to overthink about all the people at the school and how many of them could find out my terrible secret. How I would just freak out and accidentally kill someone else like I did before. Was it accidental? Did I really kill my classmates because I wanted to? Was it because I hated them so much that I really did want them dead and blamed it on insanity?

My finger clenched, my heart started to race. The beat of my heart roared like drums from a battle song. Sweat started to form and slide down my forehead to my cheeks. I started to tremble.

Not again. Please not again.

I pulled off my earbuds and shut my eyes and started the breathing exercises when I heard someone call out to me, “Are you okay?”

I snapped my head up and a guy with curly hair sticking out of his baseball cap was staring down at me with a worried face. “Do you need to go to the nurse?” He asked while he grabbed the fence that separated us and leaned against it. “Do you have asthma?”

I shook my head while I gasped for air and my heart started to hammer against my chest. I clutched it in pain and looked down while I shook my head again.

“You don’t look so good,” he started to walk into the dugout when a mini earthquake started.

“WHAT THE-“the guy fell to the ground while I lost grip and hit my head on the back wall hard. “What is going on?!” he dropped his baseball bat that I didn’t realize he was holding earlier and reached for the fence again while it was shaking viscously.

I kept shaking my head not knowing what to say. The fear was consuming me.

“Run!” I yelled at him. “Get out of here! Go!”

He ignored me while he held the fence still keeping his eyes on me the whole time.

In less than thirty seconds later the earthquake stopped and everything was silent once again. The bell rang off in the distance and the students started to walk to their next class not knowing what just happened. None of this made sense. They should have felt something. The earthquake wasn’t a big one but it was one you couldn’t miss. I didn’t understand what was going on. Someone must have felt that. I was sure the guy was thinking the same thing because he was also looking across the field to the school where the students kept walking wish no realization on what just happened.

“Did that just happen? What the hell is going on?” He asked and I shook my head once again as a reply. I couldn’t believe it either. He closed in watching me breathe heavily, “Are you okay?”

I didn’t respond this time, I wasn’t so sure I should tell him I was having a panic attack for no apparent reason. There was no reason for me to have one and I am sure he is going to ask why.

“Look, I know there is something wrong, I could just take you to the nurse.” He moved closer and sat right next to me. “Or you could just tell me what’s wrong then, I am all ears.”

I stared at him wide-eyed not knowing what to say to him. “I am okay, it was nothing really. I was just scared about the mini-earthquake.”

“Ahh,” he said as if that was indeed the reason for my problem. “Well, that was pretty freaky. I am still shaken up about it right now. Look, I have goosebumps!” He showed me his arm and sure enough, he had hair sticking up everywhere with little bumps. “My name is Duke.” He stuck his arm out for me to shake it, but my hands were not responding. I was still clutching my chest.

“I don’t bite, promise,” he whispered.

It made me crack a small smile and shook his hand feebly.

“See? I knew you could feel better,” Duke smiled back. He then stood and offered to take my hand. “Let’s take you to the nurse.”

“No, I am fine,” I gasped and started to breathe deeper and slower to keep a steady pace.

“You don’t look fine,” his eyebrows furrowed. “Why are you way out here? Aren’t you supposed to be going to class?”

“Aren’t you?”

“Good point.” Duke pointed over to his bat, “I have to practice for preseason, and I want to win state this year.”

“My brother plays baseball,” I offered.

“Really? What position?”

“Third baseman,” I smiled. “He isn’t the best, but he’s okay.”

“I play catcher, first baseman, and pitcher,” he smiled a big toothy grin at me.  “I want to play professionally.”

“You won’t get there cutting class.”

“It is all orientation anyway, what grade are you in?” Duke urged.

“Junior,” I said glumly.

“It isn’t so bad,” he started to kick the rocks under the bench.

“What grade are you in?”

“Senior,” he looked up at me. “Is that a problem?”

“No, its fine,” I looked up at him. “I was just asking because you asked.”

Duke did look like a good-looking guy. His shirt was tight on him, his muscles peeking right through it. His baseball pants were also tight and he was a good six feet, I was sure. He had the bluest eyes I have ever seen, almost baby blue like the sky. He had a little mole on his right cheek that looked pretty cute on him…

I had to stop checking him out. He was a senior. He probably had a girlfriend. We had no chance to be together. He was an athlete, he was probably popular too. Duke had a killer smile that could kill a good girl.

“You don’t look like a Junior,” he commented. “That’s a compliment.”

“Do I look younger?”

“No, a little older.”

Falling into his gaze, I melted a little.

Duke then stood up and started to walk out of the dugout, “Nice to meet you…what’s your name?”

“Gwenyth. Gwenyth Livingston,” my voice fell flat.

He grinned at me anyway as he started to run back into the field taking his bat with him.

It took me a couple seconds to wake from the trance I had on him and found that my earbuds were on the floor and my shirt hung a little too low. Embarrassed, I fixed my cleavage and hugged my jacket closer.

I flushed a little because I knew I already missed talking to him.

On the bus ride home there was a girl that was getting car sick and started to barf into a plastic bag. Her name was Kylie and she was hardcore in her studies. She was big in the classroom as far as I could tell because she always had the answer to everything and took her time on her assignments and was probably on the top of her class. Right now she looked so small. She sat by herself in the middle of the bus and was barfing in a bag. No one cared that she barfed and no one seemed to notice that she was. She seemed so big in class, although she was small here. There was one thing we both had in common. We were small. But the difference was she was big in class, I wasn’t. She has something going for her and I don’t. She could go to Harvard and I don’t even have the chance.

I pressed my forehead into the cold glass window trying to zone out her puking noises and it wasn’t working. There was nothing to see for miles, it was all just a big empty field aside from little farm houses. The bus was loud apart from the puking, but it sounded so loud as if she were puking right next to me. The aroma was also strong making me sick to my stomach. I rubbed my temples and sighed.

It was going to be a long bus ride home.

Then the bus started to shake, but not the mini earthquake shake. It was a monstrous shake that felt as if a giant had picked it up and shook it. There was backpacks, loose paper, and books flying everywhere. The students tried to hold on to their seats as tight as they could. Puke started to also splatter on everyone that others started to puke too causing a never-ending disgusting cycle. Kids were shouting and screaming not making sense of what was going on. I myself held on to my seat as tight as I could until puke fell into my mouth and I let go sending me to hit the window on the other side of the bus and then every which way. The bus driver was unconscious and as well as some of the other kids. Windows were shattering and glass flew about the bus cutting most of us as we were being tossed around.

There was a screech and the bus stopped suddenly. The students fell from the air and landed right on the floor. Some students started to scream, some lay still on the floor and there were a few people sobbing. I picked myself off the floor and scanned the bus, everything was in shambles and about everyone on the bus was hurt.

“Are you alright?” a voice behind me asked. I turn around to see Duke with a hurt arm and a bloody knee next to me.

“Duke? You go on this bus?” was all I could ask.

“You’re bleeding from your fore-”

But before he could finish his sentence, the door to the bus flew open. Everyone looked up. “Please, somebody help us!” a girl started to yell from the back of the bus and it started an uproar of pleas for help. They started to try to sit up and walk towards the door and then there were hard footsteps coming from the door. What we saw next we couldn’t believe.

A limping deformed looking thing started his way towards the inside of the bus. He had two large round yellow eyes and three arms. His body was steaming and had a giant beer belly look going on with boils with puss leaking from them. He had no nose but he had a long jagged mouth with piranha looking teeth and he started to chatter his teeth at us while his two melted looking legs dragged him closer to us. His stench was foul and disgusting, it smelled like burned flesh and a mixture of manure. Girls screamed and the guys stayed in shock or tried to hide for cover.

“What is that?” Duke looked horrified.

“I don’t know,” was all I could say back.

The thing started to shake and stagger its way towards the middle of the bus breathing heavily. There was something unearthly about him. Not just because we have never seen anything like him or that he was definitely apart of this earth, but like he was not from this physical world. There was that off feeling people get before something bad happens. It stopped in the middle of the bus while its yellow eyes met ours. We were pretty sure most of the students were holding their breath because when the monstrous looking thing screeched, people screamed from the bottom of their lungs.

It started to run. It ran up to three girls and with its three arms, it smashed their heads into the floor with a bloodcurdling crunch of their skulls. The rest of us started to get up and run in all directions trying to get out of the bus from the windows and emergency exits. The thing was faster. It ran right into one of the students at the end of the bus trying to unhitch the back emergency exit. He hit the glass hard but the glass didn’t give way, it just cracked in a spiderweb figure. The boy quickly got right back up and started to try to kick the door in while the creature was preoccupied ripping the limbs off his buddies beside him.

“Gwen, let’s get the hell out of here!” Duke whispered loudly as we were still in hiding after we ran to the front of the bus. The moment we got there, there was so many of them that we knew there was no way that Duke and I were going to make it out in time before the thing caught up to us. We hid under the two front seats as the other students pushed and shoved their way out of the little door opening.

“Where? There is no way we could get out in time,” I looked at his injured arm. He was bleeding pretty badly. His clothes were drenched in scarlet, his face turning paler by the second.

“We can try to open the windows at the side here,” he jerked his head to the direction of the window next to us. I searched for the creature and found him hitting a group with a severed arm in the left of the bus close to the back.

“Okay,” I kept my eyes on the thing before I nodded for a definite “yes”.

“Okay, you hold onto this,” he reached into a duffle bag that he was holding onto and brought out his bat. “If he gets near, swing as hard as you can.”

I glance back at the demon. “I don’t know if I can do that!” I whisper back but he was gone when I turned back around. I tried to find him but I couldn’t through all the commotion. He was not at the window where he said he would be and a lump formed in my throat. I started to think what if the creature got to him and he is dead somewhere on the bus. My mind started to race with all the “What if’s” that I didn’t see the girl next to me who was in shock with a missing leg. She was reaching out to me asking me to help her. Her fingers outstretched and shaking like if there was a blizzard outside.

“Help me, please,” she said so faintly that I couldn’t really make out the words.

She kept her eyes on me and I had to look away. She had a giant gash that took a large portion of her cheek and face. Her eyes were bulging out of there sockets.

“Gwen! Look out!” was all I heard when I was hit from the side. I fell over and hit my head on the seat legs of the bus seats before I went all the way down.

The creature was on me and then turned to the girl next to me. The creature picked her up by her long blonde hair and started to smash her head in with his other two hands. She let out no scream or sequel, she hung limped and defeated, like she welcomed her untimely death. I looked away and I was frantically thinking what I should do next.

“Lay still, don’t move,” whispered a boy next to me. The same boy who was trying to kick the back exit window. I don’t know how he got there and why he came from the back all the way to the front, but he had a point. “Play dead.”

My legs started to feel warm and wet at the same time. My instinct was to try to brush off what was on me but the boy reached his arm out and looked at me in the eye and mouthed the word “no”. He closed his eyes and loosened his grip just as he mouthed the word. My heart skipped a beat and I closed my eyes. The creature must be looking this way. I could feel the vibration of his footsteps getting closer to me by the second and his stench was very overwhelming. My nose burned and my throat started to sting by his stink. There was a moment where I thought I was going to gag, but I sucked in a breath and held it. The steps stopped in front of me and felt a very hot breath blow across my cheek.

“Gwen!” I heard Duke from the other side of the bus.

The air grew cooler and the steps and the stench started to get fainter. The creature was on his way towards Duke. I let out the breath I was holding in and opened my eyes to see blood oozing its way towards me and the boy looking straight at me from his angle and shook his head in the slightest he could. He gripped my arm as to tell me to stay, but I know I should help Duke.

“Sorry,” I gave him an apologetic look before I brushed his arm away and started to get up. I lazily looked around looking for the bat I had dropped from the impact and found it right next to the girl who had no leg and now no head. Her blood was building a puddle where I was laying moments before, my jeans soaked in it. I reached out and grabbed hold of it as I finally stood. Students were still running out of the bus and there were about four to five others standing in the back of the bus where the demon was headed trying frantically find a way out themselves. A few have been fortunate enough to break or crack open some of the windows on the side of the bus and are out running or long gone from the bus.

My head was throbbing, but I started to make my way down the center of the bus going where Duke stood next to the now broken back glass emergency exit window. At that moment I was thinking about why Duke never left the bus and the reason why he stayed. He had all this time to go from the front of the bus to the back with a broken leg. Even if I was with him, his broken leg would have prevented him from running away from the creature and would have been doomed for sure if it decided to follow us out. But a scream from the back of the bus woke me from the questions running in my head and back to reality where the creature was almost right on Duke. He stood his ground, ready for anything the creature had for him. He looked tired and very ghostly pale, but his confidence still held. Duke stood there with his right arm tucked under his left and standing on his right leg as if he had seven more to spare.

My heart quickened the more he got closer to the end of the bus that I started to feebly jog the rest of the way, bat in hand. Once I was upon the creature, I brought the bat back as far as I could and with all the force I had and brought it on to the back of his gray head. The creature screeched and black liquid started to pour out of him in rapid squirts in all directions. His one hand came over and held his open wound while he spun like a cat and was ready to counter an attack.

I froze on the spot. I didn’t have enough time to think about swinging the bat again. I picked up my hands in defense at the last second before he had a chance to strike me on the head with his claw-like hand.

The mysterious green fire emerged from my hands once again, but blazing unlike it did before and scorched the creature’s outstretched hand. The creature’s hand started to turn black and disintegrate right before our eyes all while he was crying out in a bird-like squawk in all directions.

Duke started to grab my hand from the side, “Come on!” He shouted at me as he tugged towards the back of the bus. The students were almost all out to safety when I was about to jump from the window.

And that is where I saw him.

In his yellow truck a couple yards away from the bus was Derek. He was frantically opening the truck door and left it ajar before he started to run towards us.

“Derek!?!” I called out to him, but he seemed too distracted for him to see me. He ran straight to the side of the bus and jumped up to one of the windows and held on while trying to climb through. I was perplexed on why he was trying to make his way onto the bus. “Don’t come in here! Runaway, Derek! Run away!”

“Let’s go!” Duke gave me a little shove towards the opening of the bus, but I stood there seeing if Derek took my warning. But he didn’t.

He worked his way inside and looked over to where the creature was bellowing out in pain and cracked his knuckles, “Didn’t they tell you to stay away from this area?”

I was taken aback by his assertiveness.

The creature doesn’t hear him, it was still thrashing around holding his stump. Derek then made a puzzled face at the creature, looking at him with a lifted brow.

“Let’s go!” Duke said once again. Duke didn’t look so good anymore, he was rapidly losing blood.

“You go, I’ll catch up,” I told him while I shifted out of the way and started to help him over.

“Wh-what? No,” Duke shook his head, “I am not leaving without you.” My heart skipped a beat the way he looked down at me and held my arm tight. “I am not leaving without you.” He repeated again a little more quietly.

“You are going to have to,” I looked at him sadly.

“No,” he held me tighter.

“Duke, I will be right behind you. Promise,” I looked at him with the best optimistic look I could give.

He hesitated for a moment and then sighed and looked away, “I’ll try to be fast. Stay behind me.” And with that, he started to climb down with one arm and leg. With some of my help, he made it to the bottom. “Are you coming down?!”

“In a bit!” I smiled. “Go get help! Or hide! Go! Go!” I shooed him away.

He hopped away towards the open field of tall yellow grass where all the other students who were lucky enough dispersed into.

I turn to find Derek take off his leather jacket and roll up his long sleeves, “Who sent you?” The creature looked over at him and let out a cry. It crouched and started to speak in tongues, his mouth moving at high speeds.

At first, the creature made no sense to me what-so-ever, but once it looked over at me he started speaking in English, clear as day. “-this girl burned my hand off! My hand! Filthy human! I should cut off her HEAD! But don’t worry, we will be ba-”

The creature started to speak in tongues again when he faced Derek. I was in complete shock, looking over at the creature, my head throbbed and I was a little dazed. I kept telling myself at that moment. You were imagining it. It isn’t real. This isn’t real. You fell asleep on the bus. Wake up, Gwen! Wake up!

But I didn’t wake up. I was watching Derek talking to a creature, people were dead all over the bus floor, and there was the horrible stench in the air. It felt real. It looked real. This was real.

My heart started to race again. My body shaking, the sweats.

No. This isn’t happening. NO!

Derek looked over at me in astonishment and back at the creature and then back to me. “Gwenyth?”

I started to shake my head for no apparent reason. I just really wanted to hurl, but nothing came up from my throat.

“What are you still doing here, get out of here! Now!”

But my legs wouldn’t move and I shook my head again.

Derek then turned over to the creature, “That can’t be, she has been dead over twenty years!” The creature started to speak in tongues, but louder that I could have sworn the bus was shaking. It looked at me, “-t’s her. I recognize her anywhere. SHE IS WHAT WE ARE LOOKING FO-” the creature turned back to Derek.

Derek looked me over again and now shook his head, “It can’t be. There is no way.”

By now, the students that could still walk or move have gotten off the bus safely and it was just the dead left with us on the bus.

My adrenaline was rushing and my vision started to get a bit hazy that I decided to start to follow Duke. I was making my way down when I heard the creature speak to me this time, “Where do YOU think YOU’RE GOING!” I turn to find the creature rushing towards me, but Derek was quicker and grabbed hold of his third arm and flung him down onto the ground.

“This is between you and me!” Derek spat at it. He knelt down and raised his other arm. I was stunned to see he had a gray/ black fire burning from his hand as he punched the creature in the face. The creature bellowed. I stopped climbing down and watched as Derek punched him again. “Leave this plane. You killed so many people!”

The creature’s face didn’t disintegrate like his hand did with me, but he had black burn marks where Derek punched him. It seemed to hurt the creature but it sure didn’t cry out like it did with whatever I did to it. All while he was trying to break free from Derek, the creature kept speaking in tongues. Derek raised his fist again, “Who sent you?”

The creature didn’t speak to that and just lay there, unmoving. I thought he was dead at first but he then moved his head towards the right and started coughing out a black substance. The liquid was thick and bubbly, melted tar looking, pouring out of him like lava.

Derek asked again but more hastily, “Who sent you!?”But the creature now lay limp on the floor. “Dammit!” He let go of the creature’s arm and looked over at me.

I tried to duck away but he called out to me, “Are you okay? Are you hurt?”

I shook my head no.

“How many people were in here?” Derek asked. I didn’t understand the question and he knew because he then asked, “How many students escaped the bus?”

“I d-don’t know,” I said quietly.

He sighed again and rubbed his temples. He then ran his hand through his hair, “It has been a long day for me.”

I could imagine. Punching a nasty creature on a bus wasn’t an everyday thing. “What the hell is going on?”

“I get asked that at least once a day!” Derek chuckled and his gaze fell onto the front of the bus where the driver lay dead. “I narrowed it down to tell people that there are demons and they like to escape their plane to cause mischief because they are simply bored.” He said all in one breath as if it was said millions of times.

“What?” was my intelligent answer.

Derek sighed again, “Look, it doesn’t matter, but I need you to go back to where you sat. Can you do that?”

“Can you tell me what the hell that thing is!?” I still couldn’t understand.

“A demon,” Derek said while he picked up some of the bodies and started to sit them on the seats.

“WHAT ARE YOU DOING?!” Horrified I got back onto the middle aisle of the bus. “PUT THEM DOWN!”

“You are very annoying, doll face,” He put down a girl with a big hole in the middle of her chest onto a seat and rose his hands to me.

He started to whisper a few words and was interrupted by Duke who hopped his way back onto the bus from the front entrance. “What the hell, Gwen!? I thought you would be right behind me!”

Duke looked like he was going to pass out at any second, sweat was beading down his face and drenching his shirt with sweat mixing with his blood. Derek walked over and rose his hands towards Duke and started to whisper feverishly and Duke stood at attention and started to hop off the bus.

“Duke!?” I pushed passed Derek to see if he was alright, but when I reached outside he sat there looking blankly at the bus. “Duke! Are you okay?” I knelt beside him massaging his back, “Derek! Get your truck! We have to take him to the hospital! He is losing it!” Derek took a moment to emerge from the bus and looked at Duke rather sadly and shook his head. “Wait here.”

Derek walked over to the edge of the road facing the tall grass and rose his hands over his head and started to feverishly whisper again.

“Can you please help him!?” I called out to him again, but he kept on doing what he was doing. “PLEASE!”

He ignored me and started to speak louder and I could only understand a few words like “contain” and “towards” when I saw groups of students coming from the grass towards the bus as if in a trance. Some were limping and others were dragging themselves towards the bus.

Derek didn’t say much then. He kept waving his hands and gave a sigh, “Just try to stop the bleeding Gwen, put a splint on him. He’ll be fine.”

I quickly took off my coat and shirt and ripped it in half, “Duke you are going to be okay.” I found a strong looking branch nearby and started to wrap his leg. Duke didn’t look up or give me anything more than a glance.

The process looked painful, but Duke didn’t fidget or nudge, it scared me a bit about how still he sat. Duke kept staring off into space like I wasn’t there. It was odd, but I kept at it.

I was trembling wanting to hug myself. I just couldn’t believe this was happening again…

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