When we stepped outside, Erik was about to storm towards the school, but I stopped him.
From afar, I noticed the dark silhouettes of the students still searching the school grounds and pointed at them.
“Who in the hell?” Erik asked in a whisper.
“Other students, they’re searching for me, I think.”
Erik nodded, but said nothing. I’d never seen him this serious before, but I was happy he understood how wrong this whole situation was.
We inched forward alongside the dorm until we reached the front corner. When we looked at the school, we could see someone moving in front of the building.
I cursed to myself. Dammit, Kim, why’d you have to act on your own!?
‘Where are you?’ I asked her via text.
‘Inside, second floor. Are you coming?’
There was no time to waste. I waited a bit to make sure none of the strange students were close by, then I signaled Erik. We rushed from the dorm towards the school and reached the school building after a minute or two.
From our position, we could see the front door. Whoever had been there had moved on. I could tell that they wouldn’t think I’d make my way into the school.
At night the building looked different. The windows were dark, and everything seemed so empty. It gave the place an almost eerie atmosphere.
“Damn, never thought I’d be going to school at night,” Erik whispered to me.
I nudged him and gave him an angry stare to make him drop the jokes.
The moment we reached the front door, we found it unlocked. Why the hell was it even open?
With as little noise as possible, I cracked the heavy door and peeked inside while Erik kept a lookout. There was no sign that anyone else was around.
Once we were inside, we moved away from the door and listened for a while. We heard nothing.
We tiptoed down the hallway to our left, but it wasn’t long when noises erupted ahead of us. Shit, so someone was there.
We snuck into an empty classroom to our right and waited. A dark figure moved down past the door, continuing on past our room.
“What was that?”
“Teachers,” I answered matter-of-factly.
He gave me a confused look before he nodded.
We soon made it to the stairs at the back and continued on to the second floor. Darkness shrouded the whole building, transforming the long, empty hallways into ghastly tunnels.
Knowing that we weren’t alone in the building didn’t help, not at all. Every door we passed seemed like a trap, and I could already see some angry, twisted teacher storming out to get us. We inched forward, step by step, almost jumping past each door.
Where the hell was Kim? I asked her again, and a reply arrived after a few seconds.
‘The construction area. Near the principal’s office.’
All right, I thought, we had to get to the end of this hallway, then past the main staircase and down another hallway.
As we moved on, we suddenly heard a voice nearby. We both pushed ourselves against the wall and listened. The blood was rushing through my veins, and my heart pounded in my chest. Yet, the voice didn’t come closer.
After a long minute had passed, we continued on. The voice grew louder, but we soon realized it was coming from a classroom. What the hell was going on?
The moment we looked past the cracked door, we saw Mr. Wolfram, the biology teacher inside. He stood motionless behind his desk in the dark classroom. At first, I didn’t get what he was doing and thought he was talking to himself.
“… and so the mitochondrion is responsible for the…”
When I saw the textbook he was holding, I realized what he was doing. He was rehearsing class, all by himself, a dark classroom in the middle of the night. Every once in a while, his voice cracked, becoming distorted. When that happened, he’d stop and start the sentence anew.
I shivered as I watched. Erik, who stood next to me, froze in a mixture of fascination and horror. When I tipped his shoulder, he jerked and stared at me with wide eyes before we moved on.
We soon reached the main stair case. There was no one there, so we hurried past it and continued on down another hallway.
Suddenly, a figure stepped out of a room ahead of us. We both froze.
I recognized the face. It was our history teacher, Mr. Mann.
The moment he saw us, his eyes focused on us.
“… thus the Roman Empire,” he started. His voice didn’t seem to work, though. It trailed off, coming out high-pitched and distorted before he stopped again.
His face became empty, the skin almost sagging as he stared right past us. Then it contorted from a mixture of concentration and puzzlement.
Erik and I just stood there, about to run, but Mr. Mann didn’t move at all and said nothing. It was as if he’d stopped and forgot how to function.
We inched past him, afraid he’d reach out for us, but he didn’t move, didn’t even speak.
We’d already crossed half the hallway when we he spoke again.
“… The Roman Empire started an invasion,” he continued on, reciting his lecture as he vanished down the stairs.
“Dude,” Erik pressed out, staring after him.
“No clue, maybe he’s broken or something?”
Erik said nothing, but I saw him shudder.
After a few more seconds, we reached the end of the hallway and the starting point of the construction area. Materials and tools had been placed haphazardly next to the sturdy metal door that led to the west wing.
We saw a small figure standing near the door.
“Kim,” I called out in a hushed whisper.
She gave us a short nod, and Erik and I hurried towards her. For a moment, she looked at us before she focused on the heavy metal door ahead. Right behind it was the principal’s office, the only room in the west wing that was still in use these days.
“Dammit Kim, let’s get out of here! What the hell were you thinking?!”
“We need evidence,” she said in a low voice.
I turned towards her. How could she be so calm in this situation?
“Shit! It won’t open!” Erik cursed in a low voice.
I watched as he pushed himself against the heavy door while twisting the handle.
“Dude, it’s not moving! We should-“
His eyes grew wide, and he broke up, staring at something behind me.
When I turned, I saw a tall figure standing behind Kim. Terror flooded over me when I noticed the twisted face of Mrs. Wolf.
“Kim, watch out!” I called out, but the small Asian girl didn’t move at all. I took one step forward, but stopped when I could make out her face for the first time. It was devoid of any emotion, her eyes empty, and her mouth hanging half-open.
My hands dropped to my side, and my legs almost gave way as all strength left my body. That wasn’t Kim, I realized. We’d been had.
I started to think. When was the last time I’d spoken to her face to face? When had I last seen her? Yesterday? The day before? God, how long ago had they taken her? They must’ve noticed that I’d texted with her and used that to lure me here. How the hell had I not thought about that? How the hell could I’ve been that stupid!?
Mrs. Wolf stepped right past Kim, and with two more enormous steps, she stood right in front of me. She was huge, had become a hulking, twisted abomination, even worse than the one Mrs. Thomas had turned into.
“I’m here to help you, Steven,” the creature said in a mocking, distorted voice of my homeroom teacher’s voice.
Her huge hands reached out for me, but right at that moment, Erik’s backpack hit her straight in the face.
“What the hell’s that thing!?” Erik screamed.
“We’ve got to get away from,” he screamed, but his voice was cut off when one of Mrs. Wolf’s giant hands closed around his head. She yanked him back, holding him up like a child would a doll. He dangled from her grip, beating against the elongated arm of the creature, but Mrs. Wolf didn’t even to notice. She pushed her head forward, bringing it right in front of Erik’s and started giggling.
I was frozen, staring at the horrific creature in front of me. My consciousness was pushed back, and my survival instincts took over. I turned away, started running, but I’d barely taken a step when something jumped me.
It was Kim! She was right on top of me, pushing me to the ground. I twisted, struggled, and clawed at her, but it had no effect. I should’ve been able to push her off, but the girl’s small body was much stronger than should’ve been possible. For a few more moments, I struggled before she restrained me. There was nothing I could do, nothing but look at Mrs. Wolf and Erik.
She was still holding him in her grasp as she stepped forward towards the heavy, sturdy metal door. With her one remaining hand, she pushed it open as if it took no effort at all.
There should’ve been a hallway behind that door. I knew the school building continued on, construction or not.
What I saw instead was something else, something I didn’t understand. It was shifting and pushing itself around in the darkness ahead.
It was flesh, liquid, gooey flesh, a giant pulsating thing, no, a giant mess of flesh that filled out the entire hallway. I stared at it in utter disbelief and terror. In the darkness, I thought I saw pores and gashes open and close on the surface.
My mouth hung open, and a short laugh escaped me as my sanity slipped away. I felt something, a hand, cover my mouth, but I didn’t even react. Instead, I stared at the unbelievable, surrealistic horror in front of me. My mind had stopped working and was nothing but a blank.
As Mrs. Wolf pushed her giant hand into one of the crevices on the thing’s surface, it glowed in a low purplish light.
I watched as something pushed itself outward. There was a head, then an upper body, and I realized I was looking at the principal. I saw more bodies, though, and faces, all below the surface in that gooey mass. Limbs too, some moving, some twitching, others dangling lifelessly before they were swallowed up again.
Her other arm surged forward, throwing Erik at the principal. In an instant, he opened his mouth, and countless, small, fleshy tentacles erupted from it. More and more of them pushed from the unhinged jaw of the principal. They entwined him like vines, searching and probing his body.
Erik screamed in pure terror, started tearing them off himself, but there had to be hundreds of them. Moments later, one of them tore into his body, and soon others followed. Erik’s mouth was still open, but there were no more screams now. Instead, his body twitched and convulsed.
I’d expected the thing to pull him forward and swallow him. Instead, I saw his body wither away as the tentacles sucked him dry.
At the same time, I saw how something new formed below the fleshy surface. At first, it was nothing but a twitching thing, but then I saw a head, a body, then arms and legs. Moments later, I stared at a complete replica of Erik’s face that pushed itself forward from the pulsating mess.
I heard, no, almost felt a voice reverberating from around me.
“First ones were all wrong, not working. We learned. We improved. We are better now. Much better.”
I tried to figure out who was speaking, but Mrs. Wolf’s mouth was closed, and so was Kim’s. No, what I was hearing was the fleshy mess in front of me, speaking from the dozens of faces incorporated inside of its body. The organism was musing on, mocking me.
Erik’s copy pushed itself outside from one of the many crevices and slumped down to the floor. For a moment, the disgusting, wet body twitched and shock itself as if it was learning how to function. Legs began moving, then arms, and finally, its eyes opened. At first, nothing but a click escaped the thing’s mouth before it spoke in a distorted version of Erik’s voice.
“Hey dude, hey dude, hey dude,” it repeated, testing its voice until it seemed to have gotten it right. Then it picked up the clothes still dangling from the withered, bony remains of my friend and put them on.
Right at this moment, I Kim’s weight on top of me shifted. I used all my remaining strength and pushed myself upward. Escape was impossible, but it gave me enough room to rip her hand from my mouth. It was only for a moment, but at that moment, I screamed at the top of my lungs.
It was over after only a few seconds. She pushed me to the ground once more and with such force that it sent my world spinning. For a moment, my vision went dark before I was dragged forward.
Erik, no, his copy, was gone, but Mrs. Wolf was still there. The creature pushed her twisted visage close to my face and grinned at me before I heard footsteps from the staircase.
Mrs. Wolf’s face retreated as she twisted her head around to stare down the hallway. Her body collapse into itself, and she returned to her human form. In a second, she’d stepped towards the heavy metal door and threw it.
“Now what’s going on over there? Is that you, Schmidt? Brandt? I know you’re there! I saw you get in and-“
He broke up when he saw Kim, Mrs. Wolf, and me. I was still on the ground, twisting against Kim and trying to get free.
“Mr. Siegert, good to see you. This student snuck into the school to cause havoc. You know who he is, right? When he saw me, he tried to sneak up on me and attack me! We were lucky enough to restrain him!”
The old man stared at Mrs. Wolf and Kim in utter bewilderment.
“It’s the middle of the night. Why are you here, Mrs. Wolf? And why’s that girl here?”
“Should you be worried about those things? That boy here has been causing trouble for days now, so-“
“Then let the boy speak, dammit! I haven’t gotten the slightest clue what’s going on anymore. Hell, I saw Mr. Wolfram and Mr. Mann down there. What’s up with all this?”
For a moment, everyone was quiet, and no one moved.
Then Kim released me and jumped the old man. In confusion, he screamed up, and with speed, no one thought possible, he pushed the girl off himself.
“What the hell’s wrong with you!?”
He screamed at her as he tried to restrain her. Kim was much stronger than he’d expected, and in a moment, she got free and jumped him again, going for his neck. In shock and surprise, he tore her off himself again and threw her to the ground.
She came to a rest, her head twisted in a strange angle. I saw the disbelief on the old man’s face, then the panic.
“No, dammit, I didn’t mean to,” he said in a shaky voice.
I was up again, rushed to his side, and pulled at his arm.
“Mr. Siegert! We’ve got to get out of here! They will kill us!”
For a moment, he just stared at me before he got a grip of himself. It was too late, though. Mrs. Wolf’s body twisted and changed, and in a second, she was upon Mrs. Siegert. The old man could barely get a hold of his radio. He screamed, called something indistinguishable into it before Mrs. Wolf overpowered him and tore the device off him.
As Mrs. Wolf threw the old man towards the heavy metal door, I ran off. Pain shot through my whole body as I rushed down the stairs.
I turned right, towards the front door, but I saw someone ahead of me. It had to be one of the other teachers, or hell a student. They were coming for me! In a panic, I turned right and entered one of the classrooms. Windows, there are windows, I remembered. I reached one, and as I twisted the handle, a thundering, twisted teacher entered the room. The creature screamed up, but I was already on the windowsill and a moment later outside.
The landing pushed the air from my lungs, but I fought myself back to my feet. I tasted blood in my mouth, my lungs were burning, and I almost collapsed.
Still, I stumbled onward and screamed at the top of my lungs, hoping to wake people asleep in the dorms.
After a few more steps, I crashed to the ground, exhausted. I fought myself back up and dragged myself forward. Out, I had to get out of here. Each new step was a fight, each scream a tremendous effort. I saw someone else rushing from the school behind me.
“Now, now, Steven, where are you going? Shouldn’t you be in your dorm room?”
It was Mr. Wolfram, leisurely coming after me. I screamed again, and by now, I saw lights turning on in one of the dorm buildings. Yes, someone must’ve heard me, I thought. Please, oh god, please come outside!
I didn’t see anyone, though, and after a few more steps, I fell to the ground. This time I didn’t have the energy to go on anymore.
A few moments later, Mr. Wolfram reached me. A mocking grin distorted his face as he stared down at me. With his massive hands, he pulled me upwards. He was about to lead me, no, to drag me back towards the school building when I heard the sounds of police sirens.
Mr. Wolfram let go of me when he saw a police car stopping at the get to the school.
The two police officers unlocked the gate and entered the school grounds. Alerted by the sirens, students streamed from the dorms, trying to see what was happening.
The officers made their way towards Mr. Wolfram and me. I quickly freed myself from the teacher’s hands and stumbled towards them. Just before I reached them, I heard a voice from behind.
“Now what brings you here tonight, officers?” a female voice said.
When I turned around, my eyes grew wide. It was Mrs. Wolf. In tow with her was the security guard Mr. Siegert, or a copy of him, I thought.
“Siegert, what’s the problem here? You tried to contact us via the radio, but all we heard was chaos,” one of the officers spoke up.
“There was a break-in at the school building. I thought it might have been a trespasser and was going to call for backup, but this thing here,” he pointed at his radio, “started malfunctioning. Turns out, it was this boy here, trying to cause some trouble. Sorry, you made the trip all the way here.”
No, this was wrong.
“Well, guess that’s it. You better get that radio of yours fixed. All we heard was a distortion. It sounded like someone was screaming. You want us to take the boy in?”
“No, it wasn’t anything serious. Guess he wanted to pull a prank on some of the teachers.”
“No!” I screamed up with a cracking voice.
“There’s something at the school! It’s some sort of monster, and they are killing people and-“
“Oh, be quiet, Steven! Enough of your pranks already! This is not a game anymore!” Mrs. Wolf cut in.
I stumbled towards the officer. “It’s true! They murdered my friend!”
“Hey man, let’s go back already, I don’t want to get into more trouble,” I heard Erik’s voice.
My eyes grew wide as I stared at his copy.
“You should listen to your friend, Steven,” Mr. Siegert chimed in.
The police officers eyed me for a moment before they sighed.
“Well, we’ll be going. Next time you lie to an officer, there’ll be consequences, boy. Now go back to sleep. You can handle the rest, right, Siegert?”
“Yeah, no problem.”
No, don’t leave me. They will kill me, too. No.
I stared at them and watched as they turned around and walked back to the police car. Mrs. Wolf and Mr. Siegert were already coming towards me.
“Well, boy, time to get back,” Mr. Siegert said, and I felt a cold, hard hand on my shoulder. His eyes were wide, his mouth twisted and grinning. With each second, his fingers dug deeper into my shoulder.
“Let go of me!” I screamed and threw myself forward. I rushed one of the police officers and reached for his gun, but I didn’t get to touch it. The man pushed me to the ground and restrained me in an instant, twisting my arm behind my back.
“You crazy, boy?”
“Fuck you, you piece of shit!” I screamed at him and spat in his face.
“Now you’ve done it,” he said, his face hard.
I watched as he took out his handcuffs and put them on me.
“You’ve just earned yourself a night at the station,” he said in a hard voice as he pulled me upward.
As he said this, I smiled and grinned back at the gathered group of twisted beings and fakes behind me.
“Now, now, is this really necessary? He’s just a boy,” Mr. Siegert started again.
“This boy attacked a police officer and tried to take his gun. This is no damned prank anymore, Siegert!”
I couldn’t help but laugh when they pushed me into the police car. They frowned, their faces contorted by a mixture of anger and confusion. Yet, I couldn’t stop. I’d made it! I got away! The only thing that mattered was that I was alive. I didn’t care about anything else. All I could do was to laugh out of sheer relief.
As they drove off, I could finally calm down and relaxed in the back of the car.
“Now what the hell’s wrong with you, boy?” one of them asked.
Before I could say anything, his colleague spoke up.
“Kid’s probably on drugs or something, no reason to talk to him right now.”
As he said this, he eyed me in the back of the car. When he saw my beaming expression, his frown deepened.
At the station, they lead me to a cell in the back. By now, I’d calmed down.
They opened the cuffs, set me down, and one of the officers took a seat opposite me.
“So, what did you take, kid?”
The cop grinned. “We’ll have a blood test anyway, so you might as well come clean now.”
“I swear, nothing.”
“All right, why the hell would you attack us and try to get a hand of officer Schuster’s gun?”
For a moment, I almost burst out about the thing in the west wing and the copies of teachers and students, but I stopped myself. There was no way they, or anyone else for the matter, would believe me. I had to be smart about this. Think, Steven, think dammit.
“They’d have murdered me if I didn’t.”
“Who are they?”
“Mrs. Wolf, the teacher and Mr. Siegert, the night guard.”
“Now tell me, boy, why’d they do something like that?”
Think, Steven, think. The cop stared me down, his face growing angrier by the second. He opened his mouth to say something, but before he could, I spoke up again.
“Drugs,” I almost yelled.
“They’re hiding drugs at the school! I wasn’t able to sleep, so I went out for a walk and saw Mrs. Wolf, Mr. Siegert, and the principal enter the school. They had money and a package or something with them. It looked weird, so I followed them. I heard them talk about drugs, about the money they needed, and how they would sell ‘the stuff.’ When they saw me, they-“
I was cut off as the man brought his fist down on the table.
“Bullshit! Drugs? Are you fucking kidding me?”
His partner, who was standing outside, spoke up.
“What are you trying to pull here, kid?”
“Why do you think those teachers were there in the middle of the night? Why do you think I’m all beaten up, and they said they’d handle it by themselves? Why would I lie about something like that? No one would believe me!”
“Hah, you’ve got that right,” the officer sitting opposite me said, laughing.
“You’ll stay here for the night. Don’t cause any more trouble, you got that?”
With that, the two of them left the cell and locked it behind me.
As I laid down on the bed, I listened to them.
“The hell kind of bullshit story was that?” of them asked the other.
“No clue, kid’s crazy, all right, but there might be something about it.”
“God dammit Robert, you think there’s something to the kid’s story?”
“Nah, doubt it, but something about his story rubbed me the wrong way.”
As they walked off, their voices faded, and I wasn’t able to make out what they said anymore.
Only I lay down on the bed I felt the pain all over my body and noticed the countless bruises. I didn’t get to think about them much because I fell asleep instantly.
I woke up when someone in front of the cell yelled my name. I opened my eyes and pushed myself up. After blinking a few times, I recognized the figure. It was dad, and he was furious.
“Couldn’t believe it when they called me! Thought it was some kind of joke, but here you are, Steven. This time you’ve outdone yourself!”
“Dad! What are you doing here?”
“What do you think, dammit? They called me right in the morning, telling me my son’s locked up here! Because he attacked a police officer of all things. What the hell’s wrong with you?”
“Dad, there was-“
“Quiet! We’ll talk once we’re out of here!”
An officer walked up next to him and opened the cell.
“Well, Mr. Schmidt, your son can leave for now. He’s still a minor, but attacking an officer’s still no laughing matter. There will be consequences for what he did.”
As he said this, his eyes wandered from dad to me and back to him. Dad nodded and gave me an angry, frustrated stare.
He led me from the station without saying another word, we made our way to his car.
“Dad, I’m sorry,” I said as he started the car.
Dad didn’t react. Instead, he just stared ahead as he drove from the station.
I settled into my seat, thinking about how to explain to him what had happened. Well, or better, what I should tell him.
My head wandered to the car’s clock, and I saw that it was already past ten in the morning. I wondered if the police would investigate the school. If they did, would it mean they’d find that thing, and it would all be over? What the hell was that thing?
In my mind, the events from last night replayed, and I shuddered. How could something like that be real?
Multiple times I opened my mouth to tell dad what had happened, to tell him something, but I just couldn’t.
It was only after we’d driven for a good ten minutes that I wondered where we were going. Our home was in a different direction.
“Dad, aren’t we going home?”
Once again, he didn’t say a thing.
“Dad, where are we going?”
At that moment, I noticed the street we were on and the direction we were going in. Don’t tell me…
“You’re going back to school, Steven,” dad answered matter-of-factly, still staring straight ahead.
“What!? No, we can’t! Dad, there’s something weird going on there, people are dying and-“
“I talked to the principal in person this morning, son. Nothing is going on there.”
At that moment, I saw how his face distorted into a grin, and his eyes grew wider and wider with each passing moment.
Dear god, no. “Dad?” I brought out in a low voice.
Nothing. His hands closed around the steering wheel as he sped up.
Panic washed over me again. No, I couldn’t go back there. In a moment, I removed my seat belt and reached for the door. One of my dad’s hands jerked over and pushed me back into my seat.
“We’re going back, son,” he said, and right away, I heard the distortion in his voice. With an insane amount of strength he pushed me back to the seat. When he turned towards me, his face had grown long, changed into a twisted caricature of my dad’s.
I struggled, tore at the hand and fingers, but I couldn’t get them off me. I twisted my body, lifted my feet, and kicked the thing next to me with all the force I could muster.
There was no reaction, no sound of pain, nothing. I did it again, a third time, and finally, the hand released me to get a hold of my legs. I screamed in pain as the creature twisted my legs, but this time I kept struggling. I frantically tore at the car door, got it open for a moment, but was pulled back in an instant.
I saw the school coming up ahead. In an act of sheer desperation, I could free one of my legs and kicked the steering wheel as hard as I could. The thing’s one hand wasn’t enough to hold it steady. The car swerved to the left and crashed against a small tree.
My head collided with the dashboard of the car. I saw stars, tasted blood, and for a moment, my vision turned dark. As I drifted off, I screamed at myself to stay awake and fought against the dark haze that filled my mind.
I jerked up.
The car wasn’t moving anymore. The thing next to me was though its hand was still on my leg, twisting it, the fingers digging into skin and flesh. I screamed and started beating against the hand that held on to me.
Metal twisted and churn, and I saw that the creature broken and trapped behind the steering wheel. Strange liquids were leaking from its body. His mouth was wide open, and it let out a distorted scream.
I continued to beat down on the hand. Its fingers dug into my flesh as I kept at it. Beating it again and again and finally something gave way, and the mangled and broken fingers slip off.
In an instant, I opened the car door and pushed myself outside. I fell to the ground and crawled a few paces before I felt safe enough to catch my breath. The thing in the car was still moving, still trying to break free, and once more, I heard the churning of meat. I knew it wouldn’t be long. With its strength, it was only a matter of time before it would get free. And, I knew it would come after me again.
As I got to my feet, I saw the police cars in front of the school.
“Yes!” I screamed up in excitement. They’d gone after all!
I already saw a police officer approaching me. Others had turned towards the accident, too. I started running, but then slowed down before I stopped.
The way the man was walking was all wrong. The way the others did as well. The faces that had turned towards me were devoid of all emotions.
“That’s the boy,” one of them said.
I ran right away. I threw myself forward and rushed towards the forest surrounding the school grounds. I didn’t turn, and I didn’t listen. My body should’ve been in sheer pain, but I felt nothing. It had to be the adrenalin, the shock, I thought.
I reached the first trees, then I was between them, and then I ran deeper into the forest. My vision got blurry again, but I pushed myself on and on, past the dark silhouettes the trees had become.
I ran until my legs gave way and I crashed to the forest floor. For long moments I could do nothing but lay there before I pushed myself back up and continued crawling forward.
From where I was, I saw a small ditch below a fallen tree. I clawed at the ground with my remaining strength, pulled myself forward, and eventually slid inside.
For long minutes I lay there, shaking with pain and exhaustion. I’d have screamed up, but I didn’t even have the energy left to do so.
I don’t know how long it took me to move again. When I could, I turned my head slightly to look outside.
At first, there was nothing, but soon I saw that the police was searching for me.
They weren’t looking human at all, though. It looked as if someone had put random limbs together into weird, twisted creatures. They were moving faster, quicker than humans, I thought. Some were rushing forward, jumping between trees. Others walked on all fours, almost like primates. There were no words, all I could hear were strange, inhuman clicking noises.
For hours, I lay there in that small ditch, and for hours the clicking noises and sounds of movement were all around me. Multiple times I thought they had left only for them to come back.
Only once night descended, silence return to the forest, and I passed out from exhaustion and injury.
When I woke up, my whole body was hurting. Pushing myself from the small ditch was a painful ordeal. When I was out, I looked around, but I did not understand where I was. I stumbled through the forest haphazardly. It was by pure chance that I found a small hiking trail.
I didn’t care where I was going. I just wanted to get away as far from here as possible. Away from the school and away from those damned things.
After a while, I noticed that the trail led me up into the hills that surrounded the school. Good, I thought.
My body was aching, and when I noticed a small resting area, I approached it instantly. I sank down on a bench to catch my breath but forced myself not to lie down.
It took me a while to realize how far I’d made it. From where I was, I could look over the area below. I saw the hills, the road, the distant town and the school.
As I scanned it, I saw the strange purplish hue coming from the west wing. I could see the scaffold moving. No, I realized, it wasn’t the scaffold, it was the thing below.
For the first time, I saw the many holes and burrows in the construction area. I wondered why they were there, but soon I knew. That thing, they must’ve come upon it during their construction. By now, there was no construction going on anymore, no there was an excavation. They were laying this thing, whatever it was, bare so it could free itself from the ground. I saw countless dark figures moving around the area.
As I watched them, the sun dawned, and I noticed the handful of buses that had arrived in front of the school.
I saw groups of students leaving the dorms and lining up next to them. I couldn’t be sure, but from a distance, it seemed as if they were all still, diligently waiting to get on.
The field trips. Oh, god, all those students, I thought. They were all copies, all part of this thing.
I’d thought those field trips were nothing but a ploy or a trick to get rid of anyone who’d figured out what was going on, but they were actually happening.
And I realized why. To spread it. To get this thing or parts of it out of here. So it could get to universities and other schools nearby. So it could learn, could spread and create new clusters.
I tore myself from the view and continued on, following the various hiking tracks of the area. It must’ve been hours before I made it to a normal road.
I didn’t have a clear plan, hell, I didn’t even have an idea. All I could do was walk on.
It was by sheer chance that I stumbled upon a small roadside diner.
The owner stared at me in a mixture of confusion and worry.
“You all right, boy? Need me to call you an ambulance?”
I stared at him, probing his face and his behavior, but the mixture of emotions on his face told me he had to be normal.
“My phone, I need to charge it. I’ve got to call my parents,” I said.
The man nodded, and after a while, he handed me a charger and pointed me towards a power outlet.
As my phone charged, I started writing this. I left soon after. I’ve been on my way for days now, writing this out.
I’ve tried to find help and thought about going to the police. But wherever I go, I see the same emotionless faces, the same empty eyes and hear the same monotonous voice.
I don’t know what to do anymore. There’s no way I can stop this, no way I could do anything. So please, if you read this, be careful where you go and who you talk to. If you notice anything, inform the authorities.
There’s an invasion underway. And there’s one thing I know. The further this thing spreads, the more it learns, and the more it will know how to act like us.
But by now, it might already be too late. By now, these things might very well be indiscernible from normal humans.
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