Chapter 2: Ostriches

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Status: In Progress  |  Genre: Science Fiction  |  House: Science Fiction

Reads: 152


The topic of the day was, of course, the spaceship. The science teacher legitimately canceled the lesson for the day and replaced it with us watching news reports on the S.T.S. Euphoria. NASA and SpaceX both held press conferences on the subject. NASA said they had never created anything that large in the history of their company. They had never heard of the S.T.S. Euphoria until yesterday. Elon Musk's exact words were: "I would never name a spaceship something like that. I would have called a ship that big something along the lines of 'Mammoth 4000.' S.T.S. Euphoria? That's ridiculous."

The science teacher then went on a lecture on rocket science that I completely zoned out for.

I looked up Euphoria in the dictionary because I was bored. It means "a feeling or state of intense excitement and happiness," which was interesting, but really not that important. I also ended up discovering words I didn't know existed! Did you know that bandoline is basically another word for hair gel? And struthious means ostrich-like? I'm using that word all the time now!

"Tanner!" Zach slapped me in the face. He has a bad habit of doing that.

I jumped, shaken out of my trance. I had been staring out the window, thinking about ostriches and the like. "What?"

Zach gave me the classic "How dumb are you?" look.

I then realized the classroom was completely empty except for Zach, the science teacher, and me.

"Aliens on the brain?" Zach taunted.

"Nope, ostriches."

Zach raised an eyebrow. "You're insane."

I shrugged as I threw my backpack on and started out the door. "I try."

My English teacher is a saint. She didn't mention space or the Euphoria once during the entire class period. Not once! I would have kissed her had she not been forty years older than me. She was in the middle of a lecture on how to write the perfect conclusion to an argumentative essay, -which, for the record, I did pay attention to- when it happened.

I was startled by the sound of shattered glass and a Wham!

I looked up from my writing to see Mrs. McHanes slumped over on her desk. Blood was seeping from her now broken nose.

A girl ran up to Mrs. McHanes and gently placed two fingers on her neck. Everyone was silent. After an agonizing couple of seconds, she looked up. Tears welling in her eyes.

"She's dead," she choked out.

You would've thought she had screamed "EVERYONE PANIC!" because that's exactly what everyone did, including me.

Someone was finally sensible enough to ask if anybody knew CPR. The answer, sadly, was no. I vaguely remember learning it in boy scouts, but the specifics were long gone.

We heard even more windows shattering from other classrooms. What was going on?

We were jolted from our sudden panic by a prolonged moan coming from the corpse of Mrs. McHanes.

"ZOMBIE!" Someone shouted.

Why are people so stupid?

The girl who had checked her pulse rushed to her side. "Are you alright?"

Mrs. McHanes clutched her head. "What happened? I remember teaching and then blacking out. Now I have a splitting headache."

The girl helped her stand up, and walk out the door. "You need to see a doctor," she said as they left.

Bryce, a friend of mine, laid a hand on my shoulder. "What is going on?"

I shrugged. "I honestly have no idea."

"Do you think it's got something to do with that spaceship?"

That stupid spaceship again. Can't coincidences happen sometimes? Just because your pet ostrich gave birth the day after the news says that a new breed of chicken has been created, doesn't mean that they have any correlation whatsoever. I shoved all colorful and naughty words out of my head. "I don't know. I'll ask Halley after class."

We were startled by the loudspeaker suddenly blaring in our ears. "Attention all students and teachers! The school is officially on lockout. No one is permitted to leave the building until further notice. We apologize for any inconvenience this may have caused. Thank you and have a nice day."

I love how after an announcement, no matter how grim or foreboding, the TA always says "Have a nice day!" I swear she could have said, "Armageddon has officially started, and we're all going to die. Just wanted to bring this to your attention! Have a nice day!" That's just absurd!

"Lockout?" Someone wailed. "I was supposed to have a volleyball competition after this!"

I rolled my eyes at that ridiculous comment. "Your teacher just died and came back to life, and you're worried about volleyball?"

The girl stamped her foot. "Yeah! Got a problem with that?"

I laughed, despite the bleak situation. "Nope, not a problem, just confirming."

The girl glared at me and continued talking with her friends.

"Tanner!" Zach shouted as he sprinted through the door. "You've gotta see this!"

Interested, I ran out of the classroom and followed Zach to the front desk. There were teachers and students forming a ring around something. I couldn't quite see what it was though.

Zach pushed through the crowd to reveal a grim sight. Maya, the girl he'd secretly liked since he moved, was lying on the floor, unconscious, blood seeping from her nose. The principal was on the phone, presumably calling 911.

I looked to Zach, who had a tear trickling down his cheek.

I hooked an arm around his shoulder. "Hey, it's fine, she's not dead, they'll take care of her."

"But what if . . ." Zach said shakily.

I grabbed his shoulders. "She's not dead, got that?"

Zach nodded as paramedics rushed through the front doors of the school with a stretcher.

They loaded Maya onto the stretcher and wheeled her out the doors into an ambulance.

Things were only getting started. I consider the moment the turning point of my story. Maya could be dead. I still don't know as of right now.

I know it seems like I'm making light of the situation. I'm trying to be funny and all that, but people are dying.

Trust me, what I've gone through so far has sucked. I try to be funny to help myself feel, you know, not scarred for life. Wouldn't you do the same?

I finally got home. My mom was worried sick about me. The same thing was happening all over the world, and she was scared it had happened to me.

I explained that I was fine, but my teacher and Maya got hurt. My mom had always had a soft spot for Zach, and she knew about Maya. Her first thought was to go take Zach a plate of cookies, but I assured her that he was fine. I seriously love my mom.

As I was sitting on the couch, watching the news, I got a call, most likely from Halley. I answered.

"It's got something to do with the Euphoria," she nearly yelled into the phone.

"The attacks?" I asked, already knowing the answer.

"Yes. We detected colossal amounts of radiation emanating from the Euphoria at the time of the attacks. The idea was proposed that it could be a bizarre coincidence, but it's highly unlikely."

I groaned internally. "So, suppose this does have something to do with the Euphoria. What exactly is it planning to do?"

"There's always the possibility of invasion. They could just be flying by, but due to the fact that they fired on earth, that's highly unlikely."

"So you think the 'aliens' are invading us?"

"We don't want to jump to conclusions, but yes."

I let out a long sigh. "Fantastic. Alright, I gotta go. Seeya Halley. Love you."

I hung up, thinking about what Halley had said. Aliens, which still don't exist, were invading our planet. I refused to believe it was actually happening.


"Tanner," Halley said. She sounded concerned. "Tanner, what's going on?"

I grabbed Halley's hand, which was breaking out in purple hives. They were spreading quickly up her arms.

"Tanner!" She screamed. "What's. HAPPENING?"

"I don't know!" I shouted. "You're going to be fine!"

The hives had traveled down her legs and were starting up her neck. They started bursting, spewing blue liquid everywhere. Halley started to say something but was interrupted by more of the blue liquid spewing out of her mouth. Her eyes glazed over, and she grabbed my neck, her slimy, boiling, fingers burning it.

"Tanner," the creature that used to be Halley gargled. She threw me to the ground, placing a foot on my neck and blocking my windpipe. I clawed at her ankle, but it was useless. She raised a hand, and sharp claws came out of where her fingernails would normally be. Just before she clawed my face off, I woke up in a cold sweat.

Another alien nightmare? Come on Tanner! What the heck is wrong with you?

My phone was buzzing on my nightstand. I looked at my alarm clock. It was two in the morning! Who would be calling this early? I realized how stupid of a question that was. Zach would call me in the middle of a test in school if he was bored. I picked up my phone and, lo' and behold, it was Zach.

"Hello?" I said groggily.

"Any news?" Zach answered.

I sighed. Zach had been worried sick about Maya for days. "Zach, listen," I said. "Maya is probably fine, you've gotta chill."

"Did you even hear yourself? You said probably! Probably! What if she's not okay? I never said anything to her! She doesn't even know I exist! This is killing me Tanner!"

I could hear the sobbing in his voice. "Zach, I'm your best friend. You've gotta trust me. Maya. Is. Fine."

"Fine," I could still hear some doubt in Zach's voice.

"I'll see you tomorrow. Get some sleep," I ended the call.

I was absolutely sick of this whole alien thing. It was tearing everything apart. I was having nightmares, Halley was totally disconnected from me, Zach was being mentally tormented by the thought of Maya. I wanted it all to be over and done with. I wished the Euphoria would just disappear. It all felt like a bad dream. I was going to wake up the next day and everything was going to go back to normal.


Submitted: December 12, 2018

© Copyright 2021 Ethan Crandall. All rights reserved.


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