I tapped my feet on the audotorium floor. I would give anything to be at home.
Tap. Tap. Tap. Tap.
The kid sitting next to me shot me a dirty look. He seemed to be taking this seriously, along with half of the people in here.
You really don't realize how many crazies there are till you go to a school with over a thousand of them. I was sitting in a audotorium, listening to a person tell me how to survive a ZOMBIE APOCALYPSE. Really? Did anyone in the world think that there was actually going to be a killer medeorite, or zombies, or a killer disease, or... or... an earthquake that destroyed half the world? Aliens?
The woman droned on. "If you should encounter radioactivity...."
I sat there. Think happy thoughts, Jenna. Harry Potter. LOTR. Star trek... I was tempted to go to sleep. This was one of the most boring things that had happened to me. Ever. "If you should be abducted by aliens...." The woman said. They'll probably do weird experiments on you and then kill you. Obviously. What else would an alien do? I glanced down at my watch. Only five more minutes till lunch, which basically meant that we had five minutes till we went to eat "food". The food they had at this acadamy was more like roadkill masquerading as compost. The pork chops made you sick. At least, that was what the twins had said. I wondered if they had just been lying to me, but I wouldn't be suprised. Eating in this place was like eating airplane meals. One time, I had a muffin that was soggy on one side and frozen solid on the other. I mean, HOW IS THAT POSSIBLE?!?!?! They had messed up spaghetti. Even I couldn't mess up spaghetti. I thought it was weird that this place had recived eight awards and they still had at least ten cases of food poisoning a year. Somehow they managed to keep themselves in buissness.
The bell rang and we all left the building and ran through the snow to the first-year cafetiria. I tripped over a rock and manadged to faceplant in the snow. I pushed myself to my feet and ran in. The warm, oddly scented caf was medium sized, but could hold all of us easily. I lined up with my tray and took some meat nd a bit of salad. I went over to my table and sat down. Soon the regular crowd joined me. Nicole, Simon and Simone, Jack and Nick. No one could pronounce Jack's real name, which was a long, sophisticated sounding french name, so he became Jack. I still didn't get how a German kid could get a French name. Simone and Simon were twins. They were Japanese-Canadian, and I thought it was kind of weird that their parents would give them such simaler names. Nicole was Irish, and she was the only one of us who actually came her to train for the apocalypse. Nick was from somewhere in Britan. He complained the most about the food here and was the only one who was here because he failed the year before.
Our little group populated the unofficial loser table.
Life was generally pretty crappy for us.
A few of the newcomers still bounced around between the tables, looking for a place to sit, always avoiding our table.
Maybe I should have just put "KEEP AWAY. LOSERS. PLEASE DO NOT TOUCH" on the table and get it over with. "Why did you get pork chops?" Nick asked me. "They give you food poisoning. You're going to spend the next week throwing up if you eat one."
I sighed and replaced the pork chop on the table. Ugh. I was incredibly hungry, but food poisoning was worse than going hungry for one meal. "I heard that we are doing a Simulation today," Jack said, excited. He spoke excellent English for someone who had lived in Germany his entire life. I looked around the cafetiria. Maybe there was some way to get out of here. There had to be an empty seat. I finally spotted one next to a pretty girl with dark ( )own hair. Nick followed my gaze and looked at the girl. "You are not thinking of sitting next to her. Please tell me you are not thinking of sitting next to her." "What is so bad about her?" "She is a total you-know-what. She manipulates people into doing her bidding. She is evil." I wasn't too worried about some bitchy schoolgirl. These people were nice, but I was sick of being a loser. I had been a loser my entire life. I was sick of it. "Why should I be so worried about her?" I asked Nick. "Jenna, listen to me. Please. This girl chooses one person to destroy and then moves on to the next. She humiliates you. She tries to destroy your life. She's nasty. She obliterates girls with strong spirits and she specializes in destroying male competition."
Maybe it was not such a good idea to sit next to her.
The final member of our group had joined us while Nick had been lecturing me over why I shouldn't sit there. I called the final member silent kid. He hadn't said a word in the first two days we had been here.
I finnished my salad in silence. The bell signaling end of class rang and the kids flooded out of the building. "Simulation," Nick whispered. I ignored him. The class of beginners (newbies and failures) stood in the centre of the camp. It was the middle of winter high in the rocky mountains, so it was freezing. I shivered even though I had a heavy parka on. "Okay," The teacher, a small woman with cinamon skin and hair in cornrows, yelled. "We're going to head over to the simulation building now. Be careful to stay on the path, as it is very slippery." We walked down a small path towards the building.
The path was terrifying. I thought I was going to die as we walked down it. It was literally on the very edge, and coated in ice and snow. Oh god, I thought. "We're all going to die," Simone whispered. I shuddered. We stumbled along and after what felt like hours, arrived at the simulation. Simone grabbed my arm. "Oh, god. I thought I was going to die," she murmered. We walked slowly into the building. The snow was coming down thick and fast. The woman walked to the front of the room we were in. "You will all enter your own room, wherupon your simulation will begin. Your simulation will end when you die, or when everyone but you dies. Since its the first time most of you are here, you'd better learn fast or get kicked out fast. At the end of each month, we kick out three students, until at the final, twenty five are left. We then kick out five to ten, leaving them to go on to the next level. We have two full classes this year, with both containing forty nine children. You are class two." She numbered us off. "We have fifty rooms, so I will be a part of the simulation. In this one, you are solo, but you can make and ( )eak alliances as you please. In this one, you will spawn one half kilometer away from any other person, or farther. You will be the only ones in the simulation. Several of these are based off of books and movies." The woman smiled. "I'm kind of a fan of the zombie ones, so you might get a couple of 'em. When I'm sick or doing my own training, you might get another person for a couple of days. We will repeat simulations, as coming up with them is kind of difficult. Procced to a simulation room." We all ran to find our own simulation room. I found my own near the middle of the hall, ducking into it quietly. I locked the door behind me. I slid quietly into the human shaped mould in the wall. Then the simulation started, and I blacked out.
I woke up, feeling dizzy. The sun was ( )ight, and it took a minute to adjust to the light. As I moved my hand, I could see a bit of pixelation around my hand. That was one of the issues with simulations. There was sometimes pixelation around hands and legs as you moved, loading problems and glitches. I began to walk, and memories began to flow into my ( )ain. Simulation memories were weird-you remembered past events, but you knew they were fake. This was actually one of the best simulations I had been in. I could almost feel the sunlight on my arm. I could almost smell the dust. I felt the memories flow into my head. It was a gouvernment-collapse-world-war-three type one. Over two-thirds of the population had been killed in the following war, but most of the cities and towns were only shells. I began to walk slowly down the road, looking for weapons and shelter. I should probably get off the road, I thought. This is really... exposed. I'm an easy target, and some of the diehards might already have weapons. I walked to the side of the road, thinking it over. Most of the kids were new- forty of us. Their instinct would most likely be to flee, or make an alliance. Very few of them knew how to do karate or judo or whatever. At least, I assumed that. I heard someone yell, but it was distant. I mean, I wasn't an expert, but I assumed that it was a couple of kilometers off. I figured that it was an idiot yelling to a friend, or someone yelling "keep away, I have a gun" or "there is a guy with a gun over here, watch out for him". Very helpful of them. I was glad I was walking in the other direction. I kept walking until I arrived at the foot of a tall hill. It was in a really hilly area, but I could see a small goat trail leading up the largest hill in the area. I crept up it, walking slowly, being careful not to fall. The trail took me up past bushes and dying plants. This place needed rain really, really badly. The grass was dry and ( )own, and the stalks ( )ushed against one another in the slight ( )eeze. I looked down across the town. It proved to be reasonably large, but someone could walk across it in an hour, easy. A couple of tall buildings clustered around what had to be downtown. A lake or an ocean marked the edge of one end, while mountains marked the others. I could see two highways linking down into the town. I decided to walk to the ocean. I walked down the mountain and around the edge of the town. It took a while; I figured about half an hour before I finally arrived at the edge of town. I heard someone scream and a shot ring out. I checked my watch. 11:30 am. 43 kids left. This was like the freaking hunger games, but way cooler and way better. I mean, you didn't die, there wasn't that weird coconut corpia thing, and everyone was on the same level. No one had the upper hand. Plus, this end-of-the-world scenario was way better cooler than a bunch of kids trying to club you to death in a forest. Made more sense, too. I mean, if you're trying to kill one another, why wouldn't you just hide inside the coconut thing?
Maybe this place wouldn't be so lame after all. I walked faster. I wanted to come out on top. I looked around, looking for weapons. Even a shard of glass would be better than just running around and trying to not get killed. I heard a scream- a scream that was too close to me. I didn't want to come out at the bottom of the list. I finally reached the coast. Boats floated in the lake, half-rusted and sinking. I walked quickly out of the shade of the building and into the blinding sun, towards the sinkning boat. Then a strange crackling noise began, like ( )eaking concrete. I blinked slowly, and two worlds slowly bled together. One world was this world, a creation of the woman who had ( )ought us here, and second was the real world. The world where my real body was.
Something was wrong. Something was very, very wrong. I struggled to pull out of it, but there was something holding me back. Then I thought of it.
I had to kill myself in this world. I ran into the building and up the stairs, my ( )eathing fast and the worlds mixing and dividing. I shot onto the roof and stood on the edge. I stood there, staring at the ground that had begun to warp and change. I threw myself over the edge, hearing my bones crunch against the stone pavement, seeing my blood trail across the ground...
Then the other world came crashing back. I yanked myself out of the chair and fell onto the ground as another shudder rocked the building. I screamed as I was thrown through the air and into a wall. My shoulder ached, but not enough to be ( )oken. I pulled myself to my feet and sprinted into the hallway, my feet jumping lightly from un( )oken patch to un( )oken patch, trying not to fall into one of the gaping holes in the concrete. What had happened? What was going on?
I half stumbled, half ran out of the building and onto the snowy ground outside. My heart was pounding. I stared down at the valley below where the school lay. A gaping pit had replaced it, a maw that looked like it lead deep into the earth.