High School Takeover

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Thrillers  |  House: Science Fiction
Harrison High School was hacked by a mysterious man with a gun, trapping every student and faculty member inside. Only Amber can free them.

Submitted: May 06, 2016

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Submitted: May 06, 2016

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She looked into Zane’s big beautiful blue eyes. For the past 8 years, all Amber wanted was to be alone in a room with him, but never in this scenario. He was the guy to be alone in a room with, but after today, she wasn’t sure she’d ever wanted to see his face again.

“You believe me, don’t you?” Zane asked, looking more upset than anything else.

“I don’t know what to believe,” Amber crossed her arms and looked away. “This sounds absolutely ridiculous.” Her hands were shaking uncontrollably.

“I know. That’s why I was reluctant to tell you, but you’re the only way we’re getting out of here alive.” He tried to put his hand on her forearm, but she jerked away.

They were sitting alone in the chemistry classroom. Along with the rest of the school, they were locked inside, except they knew why. Well, Amber didn’t know, but Zane did.

Amber stared at Zane’s worried face. Zane and Amber’s brother, Tom, had been inseparable since they were 10. Amber lovingly watched Zane grow up and date the cheerleading team, hating that she was two years younger than him. No, Amber thought to herself. These were not the things she should be thinking about right now. Her safety, and the rest of the high school’s safety, was her first priority.

Harrison Public High School was commonly known for their unnaturally intelligent students. Mostly everyone moved on to the top whether it was teaching at Yale, working for the NSA, CIA, etc. It wasn’t random that mostly all of the students were geniuses. When babies in the town of Fischer were born, their parents had the option of injecting a chemical that instantly increases a person’s memorization and abilities to learn. Fischer was the only town in the Western Hemisphere with this possibility because, well, they were the most scientifically advanced society in the Americas. And yet somehow, someone managed to hack the school’s security system.

The man wore a jet black bike helmet and a skin tight rubber suit. The sophomores that were in Amber’s class spoke rumours about the man holding up the office. All of the windows and all of the doors that lead outside had been sealed shut during school, preventing all 1,800 high schoolers from leaving.

About a half hour after they announced the lockdown on the loudspeaker, Zane had barged into Amber’s American History I classroom, demanding she be removed from the room effective immediately.

Zane, along with his other clique – Tom included – focused on neuroscience. Luckily, Tom had decided to fake sickness today so he could go sledding with his girlfriend.

After having pulled Amber into the chemistry classroom, Zane began ranting on and on about what the masked man wanted from the school. Amber couldn’t quite believe it because it had just been too absurd for her to comprehend.

“No, it’s past the dungeon,” Zane said, referring to the basement of the school. “The neuroscience and mechanical engineering teams have been working on this machine since I was in middle school and our teams this year made it work.”

“That’s not logical,” Amber sighed. “There’s no such thing has a machine that can see into the minds of dead people. There’s absolutely no way in the entire universe that someone could know exactly what a dead person is thinking because dead people don't think.”

“That’s not the way it works,” Zane argued Amber’s statement. “Dead people don’t think, but they still have memories stored in their mind after death. For example, they’ll remember the face of the person who killed them.”

Amber watched as Zane ran his hand through his light brown hair, something he did when he was stressed. She didn’t blame him for being stressed, she was stressed too, along with everyone else in the school.

After staring into Zane’s big blue eyes for far too long, Amber decided to go with the assumption that this machine he talked about existed as long as it got her the hell out of dodge. “Fine,” she mumbled. “But why me?”

Zane grabbed Amber’s hand and began running towards the office. On the way, he said, “Your brain scans and vitals consistently showed exactly the kind of person needed to sit in the chair. We’ve had other volunteers who prove it works, but their vision was always too blurry. Last month, we finally figures out what kind of brain we needed for the job. We searched the school’s database and found you.”

Every day, the metal machines surrounding the entrances to the school scanned everyone’s brains and vitals so that if something is wrong with a student, they can fix it. For example, if a person’s brain consistently shows signs of depression, the person is assigned a therapist.

But for now, Amber didn’t really care why her brain scans and vitals were “perfect for the job.” All she wanted to do was go home, drink tea, and maybe read a good book.

Zane knocked on the office door four times. The masked man opened the door. The rumours were right about the man’s choice of clothing: black helmet and a rubber and spandex sex suit. He was also sporting a black body bag that did not look empty.

Gross.

“Now let’s go,” the man said. He was holding a gun to the principal’s head. It didn’t look like anyone was injured, just frightened half to death.

Zane turned around and began walking. Amber followed closely beside him while the rest of the neuroscience and mechanical engineering teams walked behind them, followed by The Man and the principal.

Before they reached the elevator, Amber asked Zane, “Who is he?” She assumed we were too far for him to hear them, but she whispered anyways.

“He’s either a government worker or alumni that focused in our fields. The project is top secret so there’s no way he would have known about the machine otherwise,” Zane squeezed her shoulder as a way to comfort her, but it didn’t help that his hands were visibly shaking and he stuttered ever so slightly.

When they squeezed into the student elevator, one of the members of the mechanical engineering team, Aaryn, did an eye scan and said, “Take me to C6.”

Amber hadn’t known the school went further down than the maintenance room. The dungeon was floor A1 and the maintenance room was A2. The higher rooms were 1, 2, 3, etc.

Squeezed tightly into the elevator, Amber noticed a foul unmistakable odour that reminded her of her eighth grade forensics class when they had dissected a pig. Pigs have remarkably similar biological features to humans, which was why many places dissected those instead of frogs.

The Man wasn’t holding up the school because he wanted us to look into the mind of a pig.

When the elevator pinged, Aaryn did the eye scan once again to open the doors. The eye scan allowed people to go to floors they had clearance to go to. When Amber had class in the dungeon last semester, she had to do an eye scan when she went down the stairs or through the elevator. Since she doesn’t have that class anymore, her clearance has been taken away.

C6. The walls were painted a light blue and everything else inside was either white, black, pastel blue, or silver. There were electronic machines surrounding the centre of the room. In the middle, there was a two-step dip. In the dip, there was a white chair that reminded Amber of a dental chair that was inside what looked like a large fish tank with a blue liquid inside. Near that contraption was a thin metal tub with a glass top over it.

She tried her best to act normal which was very impossible considering there was a man with a gun behind her that had been able to hack into nearly unhackable technology and the fact that she was about to enter the mind of a dead person.

“Follow me,” Zane said and quickly began walking straight.

“Hold on!” The man yelled. “Where do you think you’re going?”

“She’s never done this before,” Zane pointed to Amber, who was frozen in place by the sound of the man’s deep voice. “There are specific things she needs to wear.” The man looked back and forth between Zane and Amber. To reassure him, Zane said, “The only way for us to escape is back through the elevator,” and the man nodded.

Amber knew that the elevator wasn’t the only way to get out of the school. Even though there were sprinklers spread out densely across the ceiling, every floor in the school had more than one exist – most likely stairs – in case of a fire. It wasn’t like they could escape anyways. They would be risking the lives of thousands of people if The Man was serious about firing his weapon.

“Here’s what you need,” Zane opened what looked like a gym locker and handed Amber a black skin-tight spandex suit. “It should be the right size. Tom ordered it after we learned about your brain scan.”

Amber took the suit and looked up at Zane. “Are we really going to do this?”

Amber’s jaw was shaking and she couldn’t quite grasp onto a single thought. She continuously thought of different ways she could disarm the man with the gun, but she just wasn’t physically equipped to do so.

“We have no other choice,” Zane’s voice quivered. He wrapped his arms tightly around her in an embrace. It was an uncomfortable position, but Amber enjoyed the warmth from his body.

Amber changed into the spandex suit and walked back out to where everyone else was standing. The man was standing beside the metal tub. Looking closer, Amber could see a little girl inside the tub. She couldn’t see the girl’s face, but her skin was drained of any colour and her hair was a dark brown, almost black.

Amber looked at The Man. She had decided he had to have attended the school before and not long ago. Tom had once told Amber when he had started working on secret experiments, he and his team had inherited some of the projects that older teams failed to get any results from or didn’t have the time to finish. This man had to have been one of those people.

“I’ll be talking to you the whole way through,” Zane said to Amber, standing at the biggest desk in the room. The other desks that surrounded the dip were occupied by other team members that had been forced down here.

Zane stepped down and helped Amber get into the chair. The water was warm and smelt faintly like watermelons. Taking her hand, he put a pulse oximeter sensor on her index finger and placed a wired strip with sensors attached around her head. Then, he handed her a patch. All these things had wires that lead far out of her eyesight. “This,” Zane motioned towards the patch in Amber’s hand, “This goes over your heart.”

Amber stuck the patch under the spandex suit and over her heart. She made her assumption as to why these things were needed, but it only stressed her out more and made her wonder what the health risks were.

“Just relax and you’ll be fine. Remember, I’ll be here with you the entire time. I won’t be able to see or hear what you do so you’re just going to have to tell me. Okay?”

“Okay,” Amber tried to sound confident, but it wasn’t working.

“Your conscious mind is going to be transferred inside Sara’s. Her brain had been mapped and while you’re in there, it’ll continue to be mapped. You’ll mostly see things that held some sort of importance to her, but your goal is to see who killed her and her mother.”

Who would murder such a young girl? And how in the world was this supposed to work? It still seemed fairly illogical to Amber, but the closer she got to being inside this girl’s mind, the more real it became.

Amber watched Zane walk back to his desk. She could see the shine of sweat on his face and wondered if it was because what he did next would help or harm the school, or if it was because this was potentially fatal for Amber.

Then, she looked at The Man. He was hunched over the girl in the tub and along with everyone else’s, his hands were shaking. Amber was sure that if he wasn’t wearing a helmet, his face would show signs of fear and anxiety. The little girl, Sara, had to be a between seven and ten years old judging by her height. Clearly, she was the man’s daughter or close family member.

“Oxperator,” Zane called out.

“Going good,” a student at a desk held his thumb up to Zane.

“Neuro sync?”

“Clear!” another student yelled.

“Engineering?”

“Go!” a third student yelled.

“Communications?”

“Yeah, we’re a go.”

“Medical?”

There was silence.

Everyone looked over to the only desk that had no one standing nearby.

“This can’t happen without a doctor on standby,” the principal stated.

Amber hadn’t noticed until that moment that he hadn’t said anything the entire time. Looking over at him, she saw that he had practically soaked his suit in sweat.

“Well someone’s going to have to be a doctor for a day,” The Man pointed shook his gun in the air.

“I’ll do it,” one of the girls from the engineering team said. “I took the AP science classes last year.” Without getting approved, she walked over to the medical desk and turned on the defibrillator along with some other medical machines.

Fear and anxiety radiated off of everyone as they waited for Zane to continue.

“Navigating Sara’s brain might be tricky since she’s so young, but we’ll continue to map it out as much as possible.” He paused. “Com check?” Another pause. “Amber, that’s you.”

“Oh,” her body tensed up. “Go?”

“Initiate neuro sync on my mark. Three. Two. One. Go.”

Before Amber could even think another thought, her mind was zapped out of her own head. At first, everything was black, but then everything began to clear up. As things got lighter, her blurred vision cleared.

“What do you see?” she heard Zane’s voice ask.

“I’m in a bedroom,” she looked at the pink walls and Barbie dolls. “It’s a girl’s bedroom.”

A little girl walked into the room. She had the same dark hair as the girl in the tub. Sara.

The image flashed out and Amber was somewhere new. She could hear the sound of waves hitting rocks. When she looked down, she saw sand beneath her feet. “I’m at the beach now.”

Amber walked around, looking for Sara.

She didn’t have to walk long before she heard a voice. “…and when we go home, we can get ice cream with Mommy. How does that sound?”

Amber jerked around to look at The Man. His hair was dark like Sara’s and just as long. He was much tanner than her, but she could see where his tan line met once unexposed skin which matched Sara’s.

“But, Daddy, I want it now!” Sara whined. She looked like she was around seven years old.

“What are you seeing?” Zane asked.

“They’re at the beach,” Amber called out. “Sara and her dad, they’re arguing about when to get ice cream.”

The image blurred and Amber was somewhere else. She was in a classroom. There was a projector playing a vibrantly coloured video about verbs and adverbs. Amber looked around for Sara and she found her amongst the group of kids who were talking.

“I’m in a classroom now,” she informed Zane.

“You’re not smart!” one of the small boys whisper-yelled at Sara.

“Shut up! Yes I am!” Sara retorted. She sniffled and rubbed her nose.

“I’m pulling you out of this memory and back to the beach, okay?” Zane said.

“Okay.”

Amber could feel herself being forced out of the memory. She was back at the beach with Sara and The Man. He no longer looked angry.

“Are you sure we can’t have ice cream two times today?” Sara asked her father. “Mommy wouldn’t mind!” she yelled cheerfully.

“Yes she would, honey. Mommy’s been looking forwards to seeing you all day and she’s going back on another work adventure after you fall asleep,” he picked Sara up and spun her around.

“Okay, Daddy.”

They got in the car and listened to old music, Sara and her father singing along to the song.

“They're on their way back now,” Amber stated.

“What else is there?”

“Nothing. We’re just in the car.”

There was a short moment of silence, then Zane asked, “Is her mother there yet?”

Amber shook her head, but realized that probably didn’t transfer through to the real world. “No. They’re on their way to pick her up and get ice cream.”

“Anything else?”

“No.”

“Okay, keep me updated.”

“Will do.”

Zane’s voice sounded calmer than it had before which put some of Amber’s nerves at ease.

When Sara and her father arrived at their house, Sara’s mother was waiting by the door with a smile on her face. Amber recognized the house. It was a large Victorian house on an even larger plot of land. When Amber first got her permit to drive, her and her friends drove around this area blasting music and screaming on megaphones to no one in particular.

Amber told Zane that they were home, but she left out the part about recognizing the house and describing The Man’s facial features. She didn’t want to run the risk of them recognizing who he was and him emptying the gun’s magazine on them.

Amber phased out of the car and watched The Man and his wife hug happily as Sara sat in the car. Her faced seemed to lighten up at the sight of her mother.

“Are you excited for ice cream?” Sara’s mother asked Sara while getting into the car.

“Yes!” Sara cheered. “I’m going to get…” she thought for a moment, “chocolate ice cream with sprinkles! And chocolate syrup! And whipped cream! With peanuts! And a cherry on top!”

Sara’s mother laughed. “You can’t get that much, honey. How about you pick two and Daddy and I will get the rest. All of us can share,” she said. Her voice was calm and soothing. Amber wouldn’t have been surprised if her job was making ASMR videos.

“Okay!” Sara cheered and continued singing along to the song that was playing on the radio.

The Man looked back through the rear view mirror at Sara. Their eyes met and Sara smiled.

The memory skipped to the family being on the highway. They sang along happily to a children’s song and laughed whenever one of them messed up the lyrics. Sara’s mom would look back at Sara and make funny faces.

And then there was a honking truck followed closely by the sound of the truck crashing into the car. Amber squeezed her eyes shut and covered her mouth. She expected to feel something but nothing happened.

“A truck,” she managed to say after a minute of silence. “It hit the car from the passenger’s side.”

“Are you okay?” Zane asked, his voice filled with concern.

“Yeah, I’m fine… Sara’s conscious. She’s awake. She can’t see her dad, but she can see her mom. She’s calling out to her. She’s scared. She doesn’t know what’s happening,” Amber told Zane what she was seeing.

Amber could feel her emotions being connected with Sara’s. She knew Sara’s hands were trembling because her hands were trembling.

“I’m scared,” Amber mumbled.

“Don’t be afraid,” Zane’s voice comforted her. “Nothing going to happen to you.”

“Her mom’s awake, coughing up blood. She’s trying to turn around and look at Sara.”

Amber felt the need to say everything she was seeing as a way to calm her nerves. Sara had been on the driver’s side in the back. She was bleeding, but not enough to kill her. The glass that shattered from impact didn’t hit any major arteries.

When her mom tried to reach out to grab Sara’s hand, Amber saw a large shard of glass imbedded in her forearm.

“Tobias,” Sara’s mom said, blood oozing out of her mouth. She was looking at The Man who seemed unharmed but unconscious from Sara’s view. “Wake up, Tobias.”

Amber’s vision started to blur, but she didn’t leave the memory. She tried to rub her eyes, but that did nothing to help her vision. After a few seconds vision cleared and she could see two dark figures walking towards the car.

“There are two men approaching. I-I can’t see what they look like yet,” Amber said, frantically trying to see what the men looked like. She could feel her heart beating, somehow knowing what was going to happen.

“Oh thank god,” Sara’s mother cried. “Call 9-1-1, please.”

As one man peered his head into the car through where the glass for the window had once been, Amber could see limited details in his face. “The first guy has short blonde hair and very dark circles under his eyes. His skin is light. I can’t see the colour of his eyes…”

“What about the second guy?” Zane asked.

Amber looked around, but she couldn’t see him. Then, she heard the door next to Sara open with a loud screech. All she could see was his silhouette.

“He has a gun,” Amber managed to choke out. She tried to unbuckle Sara’s seatbelt, but her hands went right through. “The second man has a gun. He’s just staring at Sara. I don’t know what to do. Tell me what to do. Oh god, I don’t want to see this.”

“Try to get a good look at his face,” Zane spoke slowly compared Amber, but he still spoke quickly. “You can’t be harmed here.”

The second man held the gun at Sara’s head. There was a loud bang that pierced Amber’s ears. She looked over at Sara. She was confused, crying. She didn’t know what a gun was, but she could clearly see the dark red blood flowing from her mother’s forehead down her face.

“…Dead. Her mom’s dead…”

Amber looked at the second man one last time. His hair looked dark, but she couldn’t be completely sure.

There wasn’t any more time for her to look at any of the second man’s features because she had been pulled out of the memory and Sara’s brain altogether.

Gasping for her breath, Amber jumped out of the fish tank as quickly as possible. Zane was quickly by her side, trying to ask her if she was okay. She couldn’t hold in her stomach contents or tears for a second longer.

When Amber stopped throwing up her lunch and caught her breath, she managed to answer Zane, telling him that she was fine.

Looking up at The Man, she said, “Tobias.”

Everyone turned their heads towards Tobias, their eyes wide and eyebrows raised.

“Tobias Shurley?” the principal asked.

Tobias took his helmet off, revealing the same man in Sara’s memory. She could see a beeping device inside the helmet, presumably altering his voice. The Tobias in front of her was much paler than in Sara’ memories and his eyes carried very heavy bags.

Amber had recognized the name Shurley. Tom had read a few published research papers by his name. There were a few other names too, but she couldn’t recall who they were off of the top of her head. Tom had always talked about how much he looked up to those guys and what they had been able to accomplish, having created a pill that allowed people replay their lives inside their mind right before they died. They went to Harrison High too except they graduated when Tom was in eighth grade.

And clearly everyone else knew who he was too.

“You have to understand,” Tobias cried. He fell to his knees, losing all confidence he had had before. “I had to know. I couldn’t go on not knowing.”

“You could have signed a formal request to use the machine,” the principal spoke.

Tobias shook his head. “No, no, no. They might be one of them. One of them that looks at the forms and judges if I can use it or not.”

“There had to have been another way,” Aaryn’s mumble had been echoed throughout the room.

“Now I know,” Tobias smiled, his eyes wide and filled with hatred. A thought came to his head and his eyes switched back and forth between the two teams and the principal. “But none of you can know who I am and why I was here.”

There was a long moment of silence. Everyone was frozen in their place.

And then there was a bang.

 


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