The ground shook in waves. A scream echoed over the dark forest. The trees fell with a thunderous crash. Whatever was coming towards her, was coming fast, and it was big. It was too dark to see but she could hear people yelling. The trampling of feet came rushing towards her. She began to panic and ran. She ran, her arms outstretched in the darkness, careful not to run into a tree, but it felt like she wasn’t moving. People behind her shouted until they were muffled by the deep screams of whatever was chasing them. A few shrieks followed suit and what sounded like the crunching of bones.
“Maia!” The sound of her name made her bolt upright. The desk before her jumped as she did, causing a loud bang in the classroom. Without hesitation Maia wiped the drool off her pale chin and removed a few strands of her brown hair. As soon as she realized where she was, the class busted out with laughter. “Maia, if you spent more time paying attention in class and less time sleeping you wouldn’t be failing my science class!” The teacher, Mrs. Jones, scolded. Her arms were crossed over her chest and a stern look was plastered upon her face.
“Sorry...Mrs. Jones,” Maia mumbled as the students began to quiet down.
“Detention, Friday afternoon,” Mrs. Jones demanded. She walked back up the isle way, continuing her lecture on Newton’s Laws of Motion. It was all gibberish to Maia. Not one thing ever made sense to her in science. She felt that there was more to the world than what was already discovered. What joy was there learning about everything that was already there. It bored Maia to no end.
The bell rang and all the students jumped from their seats. Gathering their things, they began to rush out the door as Mrs. Jones yelled over them, “Don’t forget each of you must submit a paper on Newton’s Laws by Friday! Maia, can I see you?” Mrs. Jones stopped Maia from exiting the classroom. Maia nodded softly as the other students giggled and passed by her.
Once the last boy left with a snicker on his face, Mrs Jones shut the door behind him. It was the most dreadful silence Maia had ever encountered, but she knew what was coming. “I’m not suicidal,” She bluntly stated.
“Excuse me?” She asked. The look of shock on her face nearly confused Maia, but she saw through it.
“You were gonna ask me if I’m okay, if I needed help, tell me that you’re here for me if I need someone right?” Maia asked bluntly.
“Like I said, I’m not suicidal. I sleep in class because I have no interest in science. It’s not your fault and it’s not-”
“Okay, okay. I get it.” Mrs. Jones ushered to a seat and they both sat at the desks. “What I’m trying to figure out is why don’t you have an interest for science. To me, it’s almost as if you’ve never learned any of it. Yet when it comes to tests you make scores no less than a hundred.”
“It’s not hard to memorize stuff for a test and then forget it. Tell me,” Maia leaned on her desk, propping her head up on her elbow. “How do you learn things without doing them or discovering them yourself?”
“You have someone teach you, that’s what I’m here for,” Mrs. Jones now seemed more annoyed than normal. Her young face seemed weary and her blue eyes showed her sleepiness.
“So...if I asked you what you learned from your father growing up, how would that answer turn out? I bet he taught you a bunch of things but you never bothered to listen.” A pained look crossed her face. Bingo. “He died...didn’t he?”
“For someone so young you sure see the world in an odd way.”
“It’s something science has never taught me.” Mrs. Jones flinched. “I learned by watching those around me. I’m just sort of here. Memorizing things for test and by the end of the week I don’t remember any of it. Science is just one of those things I have no interest in, but I still want to graduate so I at least memorize for the tests.”
“What are you interested in? I haven’t seen you put forth effort into anything. You’re in no clubs, you have that one kid who follows you around but even he is like a ghost-”
“Damien. His name is Damien.” Maia’s words came off a litter harsher than she intended. “Also, I’m interested in many things...but none of them are taught in a classroom. I have to catch the bus, I’ll see you tomorrow.” She didn’t let Mrs. Jones respond. She quickly pushed her chair back, so hard that it fell over with a crash, and stormed from the room. Her anger had taken over too much and she could feel it rising within her.
It was one thing to laugh at her. Maia did not care what people thought about her. Although they poked fun of her weight, her teeth when she had braces, the glasses she was forced to wear, she didn’t care. Yet, no one was allowed to pick on Damien. It was absolutely out of the question. As she stomped down the hallway she thought about her scrawny black haired friend curled up in a corner in the fourth grade.
“I don’t understand why they pick on him….” She muttered to herself out loud. She stared off down the hallway at the exit doors, the yellow buses outside about to leave and Maia took off running. Panic coursed through her as she burst from the exit door, flailing her arms for the bus to wait, but it was already beginning to take off. It must have seen her since it abruptly halted and the door opened. “Thanks!” She panted as she rushed onto the bus. The bus driver was paying her no mind, he seemed to be looking around as if something were rolling under his chair.
The other seniors burst out laughing at the back of the rickety old bus. As the door shut behind her she found what they were laughing at, Damien. The four girls were taking his sketchbooks from his hands and ripping the papers out of them, sending them all over the floor. The bus began to move as Maia stomped to the back of the bus.
“Stop it!” Maia snapped, snatching the book from one of the girl’s hands. “Don’t you lowlifes have something better to joke about?”
“Nothing is better than picking on you two dweebs,” One of the girls smirked and they all burst out laughing.
“Fine, since you guys went for the first blow, I’ll go for the last. While you four think it’s funny to rip apart someone else’s hard work, I’ll rip yours apart. All four of you are working so hard to keep Tommy Johnson to yourselves but he’s been in all four of your pants within three days,” Maia sneered. The other seniors on the bus all burst out laughing with “whoops” and “ohhhs” spilling from a few. “It seems to be the only tidbit of information everyone else here knows that you don’t.”
The four girls fell back into their seats silently. Maia squeezed in between the quiet Damien and the seat before him to sit by the window. As the four girls began to argue amongst themselves Maia handed Damien back his sketchbook. Silently he took it and began to pick up the papers spread across the bus floor.
It was always like this. Damien never said thank you or even a nod. Once he gathered the pages, or whatever they had dumped on the floor, he blankly stared at the black bag in his lap. She could never tell what was going through his head. Once again, as always, Maia turned and looked out the window.
The sky was gray. It seemed like it was about to rain through the evening. The trees surrounded the empty road. Their leaves seemed to come alive as the rain began to fall. It didn’t just fall, it poured. Maia stared out into the trees, her eyes following the little black figure dancing it’s way through each and every trunk. Lights flashed through the bus, pulling Maia’s eyes from the trees. Maia looked around, curious like all the other students.
“Woah! It tipped!” One of the students shouted and pointed to the other side of the bus. The students toppled to look at the accident, Maia included.
The small four door vehicle was on it’s side, firemen surrounding it. They were hollering, pointing in all directions, attempting to get the person out of the vehicle. The students were quiet but the shouting outside the bus seeped through the windows. A person was screaming, begging for help. Yet Maia could only focus on the green scaled tail thrashing out the back window until it quickly disappeared inside the vehicle.
Wreckage was all over the road. It looked like something was hit that made the car swerve off the road. Maia’s eyes were still locked on the tail. A screech echoed over the roadway and then the car burst into flames. Maia covered her mouth and fell back into her seat. Damien had his head covered in his lap, and the students erupted with whispers.
“Stay in your seats!” The bus driver shouted as he pulled the bus over to the side of the road. He grabbed a fire extinguisher from under the driver seat and rushed off the bus, shutting the door behind him. The students watched him rush back towards the wreck, pulling the pin out and ready to spray.
Rain poured too thickly to see through. The flames still visible. Maia rested a hand on Damien’s shoulder. She peered at his face, expecting to see tears or squinted eyes, but all she saw was anger and hatred. Never before had Maia seen his face contorted in such a manner. He looked like he could kill with one finger. He blinked and his face went back to expressionless. Damien leaned back, startling Maia. He was odd. Even to her.
Maia looked back out her window and into the trees. The screaming of what she figured was a woman filled her mind. She was dead now, whoever she was. Yet, what was that thing in the back seat? Was it dead too? Did it cause the accident? Many different questions flooded her mind.
They waited, staring blankly into the pouring rain. Students became silent again, just waiting to go home, and had settled back into their seats. Maia glanced behind her. It didn’t seem like the flames had died down at all. The lights were still flashing and not one person was seen. They were only fifteen minutes from the school, another car should have passed by now. Maia pulled out her phone and checked the time, it was almost five.
Something scratched at the glass. Maia looked up into jagged teeth and a bone like face. A scream escaped her and all the students jumped from one side of the bus to the other. It was clearly visible even to them. Maia was frozen as it rammed it’s head into the glass, almost shattering it. The emergency exits above them ripped open and two more fell to the ground. The students were screaming, crawling over seats to get away from them.
Maia didn’t know what they were. Sharp claws dug into the metal and jagged teeth snarled at every student. They were almost like dogs, drooling all over the floor, but with bone covered face and bodies made from red and green scales. Horns spiked from their cheeks and the top of their skulls. One of the hellish dogs jumped onto a freshman, teeth seeping into his throat and ripping the skin apart. Silence flooded the bus as blood splattered onto the windows and roof. He never even had the chance to scream.
“Out the back door!” One student shouted in the silence and everyone began to panic. As soon as they reached for the emergency handle more of the dogs clambered onto the side of the bus. There was no denying it now, they were going to die here.
Maia began to jump up but Damien grabbed her arm and yanked her back into the seat. He was calm. She about threw up on him at the sight of the broken body but the bus began to shake. The students were screaming and yelling, toppling over the seats, while Damien and Maia sat in their seat.
“Damien!” Maia snapped. She wanted off the bus. Feeling like a sitting duck she just wanted to try and escape at least. “Move!”
“They’ll be here soon,” He said calmly. “As long as you remain touching this seat you’ll be fine.” Before Maia could ask one of the dogs leaped over them, aiming for one of the girls just behind Maia. Her hand clutched to Maia and Damien’s seat, tears streaming down her face, she watched as the dog shot backwards across the bus and into the front window. “I’m trying to expand the barrier….” Damien began to pant. “But I’m just an apprentice.”
A couple dogs leaped onto a few more students, some blocking with bags, and others were….not so fortunate. A shrill filled Maia’s ears from outside the yellow old bus. Maia looked outside the best she could through all the blood. Red, blue, green, yellow, pink, and purple flashes pounded against every one of the beast outside. They screamed again and fell off the side of the bus. The two dogs inside looked around, blood pouring from their faces, and let out an ear piercing shriek. They were mad.
“Back to which you came, demon!” A black mass fell through the emergency exit just by Maia and Damien. Green light flashed from it and at the two hounds. They fell to the ground with a pitiful yelp and their bodies turned to ash.
“Athanel, behind you!” A woman’s voice shouted through the other exit. The front glass shattered and three more hounds climbed in. A purple mass fell through the front exit, hurling large orbs of light at each one, obliterating them into ash.
“Thanks, Jen, you always got my back,” Athanel said over his shoulder at her. Maia couldn’t see either of their faces through their hoods.
“Of course. Now what to do with the children?”
“What we always do.” Athanel turned and looked right at Maia and Damien. His skin was lightly tanned and he had stubble on his chin. Long, blond, unwashed locks draped around his face. “Sleep.” With the one word every student fell asleep.