Panic reigns as I stare out the ravaged hallway. Teachers and students running wildly to their getaway cars. Not wanting to be amongst the chaos I just watch from a safe distance for anyone in need of help. I notice the school bus moving off with children running after it. I can plainly see that the bus isn’t full. The students on the bus are totally oblivious to the poor souls sprinting from behind. They are crying and waving their arms to try and catch the driver’s attention. I can see a few of the boys on the bus pointing towards the heavens. I turn to witness another wave of jets speeding their way towards the school.
The bus driver either can’t see the children pleading for him to stop or he doesn’t care. It doesn’t matter either way. Without thinking it through I start running after them. They just slump on the black top as the bus accelerates out the school’s gate. “Get off the road” I yell as I gesture them off the road. The battle cry of the jets and the panicked scream around me drown out my commands. The children must be afraid and exhausted as they just lie there motionless. I can hear the missiles screeching as they approach. I quickly pick up two of them, one under each arm and take refuge behind a parked car. The sound of the jets screaming over head is deafening.
The missiles must have made a direct hit as the car moves violently sideways and knocks the three of us over. The two boys start to cry hysterically and run off again in no particular direction. They obviously just want to get away from the confusion and noise. I take off after them as the jets disappear into the distance. “Boys! Boys!” I yell trying in vain to win their attention. They keep on running and screaming as if their pants were on fire. I’m starting to think that I will have to knock them out to save their lives. I guess desperate times do call for desperate measures.
I keep chasing them into the rugby field.O.k. this is my chance. Acting quickly I ankle tap one of the boys and then tackle the other to the ground.
“Calm down boys!” I say gruffly trying to gain their attention.
They both look tired out and are breathing heavily. At least now they are still and I have their attention. One of their mothers appears out of the blue. Picks her son up and starts back towards the car park without saying a word. I gather that she must be in shock too.The other boy gets up and starts walking unsteadily towards the school. It seems that he is still in a state of shock. His body in auto pilot mode.
I pick him up and throw him over my shoulder in a fireman’s carry and head back to the car park myself. I scan the area for someone who can take the boy home. I focus on Roger the woodwork teacher who is calmly fastening his seat belt and he appears to have no passengers. The fact that he is acting very calmly and has no passengers does come across a little odd but Roger has always come across as a little odd. He’s thirty something, has no kids and always keeps to himself. But this is no time to be analysing someone’s psyche and besides, Roger has lived in this town all his life and has never lifted a finger or raised his voice to anyone, that I am aware of. Besides I need someone to remove him from this hotspot immediately. All the other people fleeing the scene have full cars and are leaving without a chance of being stopped. There are people still spewing from the classrooms and I want to be able to help get every living soul to safety.
I pick up my speed trying to catch Roger before he takes off. Luckily he moves off slowly so I’m able to give his boot a whack with my hand to alert him. The car stops gently. There’s a moment’s pause and then the window winds down. With a sigh of relief I move up to the window with the boy in my arms. He’s curled into the foetal position and sucking his thumb. Roger peers at me through his over-sized glasses with a blank stare. His eyes give me the impression that perhaps he too is in shock. Trying to catch my breath, Roger pre-empts me before I can speak. I guess the desperate look on my face and the boy cradled in my arms communicates loud and clear to him of my intentions.
“Don’t worry Mr Harper. Put him in the back. I’ll make sure he gets home safely.”
I don’t question him, I just nod and muster up a shaky
I take a deep breath realising that I can’t hear the roar of the jets anymore. I ask the boy his name before I place him in the back of Roger’s car. He doesn’t answer. Putting him on the back seat I reassure him that he will be ok and the nice man will take him home to his Mum. I pat him compassionately on the back and close the door slowly but firmly. Before I can thank Roger the car moves off. I just stand there and watch as the car casually strolls off like it’s on a Sunday drive. Other cars weave around it as they race for the front gates and freedom.
Did Roger even know the boy? He said that he would get him home safely, so I assume that he knew him. I get a sick feeling in my gut that I have made a dire mistake sending the boy off with him. I can’t dwell on that right now, you have to have faith in the human spirit, and so I carry on my crusade to see everyone I possibly can to safety.
I then survey the surrounding area for my next rescue mission. Most of the cars have now exited the carpark and there are only a few teachers leading out, what looks like, the last of the students from the smouldering building. With all the excitement now dying down, I have a chance to reflect on what has taken place. It seems very unusual to me that the buildings are smouldering when the missiles have not exploded. It appears that the buildings are smouldering from the dust and debris still lingering in the air from the barrage of, what seems like, inactive missiles. What jet plane fires duds? I can’t really make sense of the scene at all. It’s bizarre. I pivot 360 degrees searching the skies for some evidence of the attack. It’s as if nothing out of the ordinary took place except for the panicked look on the peoples’ faces exiting the building.
I catch a glimpse of one of the missiles a short distance away and I approach it warily. There’s no smoke coming from it. That must be a good sign. I kneel down beside the black oblong object. I touch it sheepishly with the tips of my fingers. It feels warm, but not unusually so. It is black and has been sitting in the sun for a short while. I glide my hand along its glossy black surface and rap it with my knuckles. It feels and looks like plastic?! Why the hell would a jet plane be using plastic missiles? I pick it up and find that it is quite heavy. Solid plastic? Now I’m really confused.
If this is someone’s idea of a joke it’s pretty stupid and elaborate. I throw the hunk of plastic down in disgust. I’m going to call the police and find out what they know before someone gets hurt. HURT! Oh my God! I forgot about Sarah! If she’s hearing about this on the radio, she’ll be worried about me! I need to call her, maybe she’s heard something on the news. I feel my pockets for my cellphone. Damn! I must have left it on my desk. I feel a little more relaxed now that the jets are gone and the missiles they were using are plastic. Some sick prank. Someone’s going to be in a whole lot of trouble over this one.
I head towards my classroom with confidence realising that this whole thing may have been a scam. The school hallways seem to be evacuated now, even the headmaster seems to have left the sinking ship. I enter my empty classroom happy in the thought that no-one has been injured. I pick up my cellphone off the desk eager to make sure Sarah is ok and whether she has any insight into the events that have transpired. I start dialling Sarah’s number, but am sharply alerted by another unusual sound. It reminds me of the noise bombs make on those World War 2 movies as they plummet to earth on their unholy crusade. The sound is faint but easily recognisable as out of the ordinary once again. As I wait for Sarah to answer I stare out the window, ‘What this time?’ I look out onto the freshly cut playing fields, now potted with an array of black missiles from the pointless attack.
“Damn!” I say out loud as Sarah’s answerphone bleats out its message.
“Sorry, I’m either away from...”
I shut the cellphone without leaving a message and place it in my pocket, all the time keeping my eye on any movement outside. The sound is all encompassing and getting louder by the second. I raise my head and lift my eyelids, staring into space. “Oh no!” I say with a hint of panic. Tens, maybe hundreds of small black dots drop from the sky with trails of smoke behind them. I fumble around in my pocket and grab my cellphone again. This time when I call Sarah’s number there is an overloaded message coming through. My calmness turns to horror. If the cellular network is overloaded it means that this thing is wide-spread. Maybe the whole town is in danger. Hell, maybe the whole country’s in danger! “Sarah’s a clever woman, she’ll be ok” I lie to myself.
I feel completely powerless standing alone in this room with the sky falling down around me. The one I love is most definitely in trouble and I can’t do a damn thing about it! I block out my frustrations and focus on the present situation. I can’t help Sarah at all if I lose my head. “Ok, let’s think about this” I say out loud, pacing back and forward. How much time do I have, is the first question. I edge to the window and take another peak at the plummeting rocks. They’re twice the size now and twice as loud. I have to make a decision quickly – just not the wrong one.
Option 1: Drive like hell all the way to Sarah’s work, dodging the fiery balls as they hit the road. Problem: I won’t be able to see the rocks unless I turn my car into a convertible. No time for that, and besides I’m likely to lose control as I try to manoeuvre around the rocks as they smash into the road, either crashing into a tree or the next rock to fall. No! A car is too clumsy.
Option 2: Stay in the building and take cover under a door frame. Once again I won’t be able to see when and where they are coming from. I’d be a sitting duck.
Option 3: I go outside into the middle of the field and take my chances ducking and diving out of the way as they drop. At least this way I’ll be able to see what’s coming.
I’d rather take what’s going to kill me head on rather than hiding from it and crossing my fingers. Decision made. Time for some dodge ball! Winner gets to keep his life and save his damsel in distress. I quickly take one more look at the uninvited guests from above before I take to the playing fields. They’re looking angrier and closer than ever. Adrenaline starts to kick in, no time to warm up. I hope all that football practice in my younger days is going to pay off.
Without anymore delay I run confidently towards the classroom door. Clenching my fists and gritting my teeth, I try to release some of the nervous tension I’ve built up. Suddenly a familiar face appears at the door. Long wavy jet black hair, big brown eyes, skin as white as snow and full red lips most woman would kill for. Jasmine Penny, art teacher and local carnival psychic. She’s a sight for sore eyes in what’s possibly my final moments on earth in one piece. As I sail through the doorway I gently grasp her elbow. “Jasmine, we’ve got to get out of here. There’s a meteor shower about to hit this place and tear it apart!” I say urgently, looking her straight in the eyes.
“No Steve! You have to listen to me if you want to survive this!” She replies, her eyes sincere and truthful.