School for Heroes


This is my entry for the Writers Digest Prompt of the week.

It had started when the power went out, three days ago. Once the back-up generators ran out of fuel the pupils and teachers of Midvale High had begun to worry. Cell phones had lost charge, but in the final moments before they went dead it was clear to James Fergusson, school head, that things were worse on the outside; the screams and incoherent sobbing which had formed that final phone message were sufficient to draw that conclusion.

Food and water weren’t a problem. The school was small, 150 souls, the supplies would last a while yet. Supply cupboards had been raided, candles, torches, batteries and long forgotten bulbs rooted out of science lab corners, alongside boards and nails from the woodwork shop. The latter were used to close off windows and doors when the screaming and gunfire started somewhere in the distance.

It was one of the younger pupils, Ginny Davis, who first heard the sounds. On the second day, pretending to play cards whilst effecting deaf ears to the screams, explosions and mayhem beyond the school gates, she’d heard a scratching beneath the gym floorboards. She’d called for hush, a couple of teachers backing her with sharp reprimands when older kids made fun of the blushing kid.

Before too long everyone could hear the scratching, followed by a pause, then a low rumble, then more scratching. Fergusson had thought the gym, built in the basement with toilets and showers, the safest spot. He’d had his charge hole up with food, water and supplies. Only one entrance, but as the sounds continued, growing closer, uncomfortably near the surface, he was beginning to fear he’d made a mistake.

A low moan from Miss Clarke, closest to the wooden stairs, was the first indication something was wrong. Distracted by the under-floor sounds, no-one had heard the strange humming threading through the stairs. Watching in disbelief, they could do nothing as their only exit crumbled to dust, and a million tiny specks, like soot spots scattered under the flooring. To Daisy Childs, science teacher, they looked like the nano tech she’d read about in a recent science journal.

Day three had dawned, silent, but expectant; a brooding sense of impending action sat over the gathered souls in the gym, none of them surprised when the scraping, scratching sounds resumed, and the gym floor began to ripple and shudder as if in the grip of seismic shifts, concentrated in a strip which divided the gym neatly in half. Fergusson was not to be caught unprepared again. Splitting his people in two, they were stationed either side of the heaving, thrusting, growing schism in the floor, armed with craft knives, chalk and eraser slingshots, broken off chair legs, a couple of mops with kitchen cleavers duct taped to the ends, and a single flame-thrower Daisy had cobbled together from an aerosol and sundry science supplies.
The floor exploded up and out…

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