Maggie recollects her run-in with Michael and disaster strikes!
Maggie’s alarm buzzed loudly, startling her awake. She caught her breath and turned off her alarm with a groping arm and a groan. ‘It’s too early,’ she thought. She turned over slowly, causing a soft ruffling in her bed sheets that invited her back to sleep, and pulled the digital clock over so she could see it through her sleepy eyes. It was past eight thirty. Now Maggie remembered that she had pressed the “snooze” button a few times.
She pulled herself out of bed. The mattress rose underneath her as she rose, trying to pull her back. Maggie nearly fell back into it under the strain of getting up. Her yellow sheets radiated warmth and comfort as she looked back at them forlornly. The tan carpet felt cold underneath her feet as Maggie went to her window and opened it wide to let in the fresh, cool air and the warm sunlight. ‘Maybe that will wake me up a bit,’ she thought as the autumn air breezed through her pajamas and her long, dark hair. She closed her eyes for a moment and imagined that she was flying, but the feeling passed too soon and so she stretched the rest of the sleepiness from her body, but she felt like her brain was still foggy.
She gazed out from her second-floor window. Her room faced Ottawa. She could just see a few of the taller buildings on the horizon. Behind the buildings was a large gray mass of clouds. Suddenly a gust of exceptionally cold wind hit her and she felt a brief sense of … something. ‘Foreboding? Is that what its called?’ she thought. Maggie quickly shut the window and cut off the wind. Now her skin was a bit too cool and she shivered, so she decided she would take her shower now. As she looked into the bathroom mirror with her dark, brown eyes, she saw that her was in a bit of a mess so she brushed it a bit before getting into the shower.
Even as she dressed into her favorite black and blue outfit, a low-cut blue t-shirt with a thin, loose black blouse buttoned up with one button and a pair of black pants, and did her hair back into a ponytail, that sense of foreboding was still with her. When she sat down for breakfast, which was bacon, eggs, and toast, she was still a bit disturbed. Her two sisters came into the kitchen and said good morning to her, then sat at their places at the table. “Morning,” Maggie said off-handedly and continued to eat her food.
“What are you thinking about Maggie?” her younger sister asked, intuitively sensing her sister’s distraction.
Maggie sat up, snapping out of her reverie. ‘What was I thinking about?’ she wondered. She had not been thinking of anything, but yet she seemed distracted. ‘It must be that odd feeling I’m having today.’ Maggie had been staring at her waiting sister as she considered this and her sister misinterpreted it as a stare of annoyance..
“Jeez, Maggie. Never mind,” she said and went back to cutting her eggs. Suddenly, Maggie’s mother, who was preparing other meals for those who had yet to come downstairs, dropped a plate. It smashed into hundreds of pieces on the hard floor. The sudden sound of breaking glass brought the memories back.
Michael had asked her out. ‘God, he’s such a nice guy,’ she thought, ‘but he knows that I can’t. Why does he do this to himself?’ She told him that she couldn’t because she had a boyfriend. She felt a bit of pity for Michael and the disappointed look that he gave her. She touched his shoulder as some sort of consolation. ‘I think I said goodbye to him,’ she thought, as she tried to remember the events. Then she left and walked away of the room in a haste to forget about it.
She felt a bit guilty for letting him down, but she knew that it just could not be. ‘He’ll just have to deal with it,’ she had thought. She had just walked around the corner in the hall when she heard a terrible breaking sound, like glass smashing. Later, she had learned that Michael had smashed a cabinet with glass windows, but at that moment, she only knew that it had come from the room she had been in. She ran back towards the room to see what had happened and if Michael was okay. Just then, she saw Michael barge out and, pushing people aside, went in the opposite direction from her. To her, he looked really angry. ‘I bet he’s mad at me,’ Maggie had thought. Maggie went down to her locker to get her next period’s books and put the ones in her arms back.
On the way there, she said “Hello” to some of the people she knew. Already feeling better about it and becoming her usually pleasant self, but not quite, the idea of Michael hating her, even when he didn’t need to, and even for something so irrational, was disturbing. She decided that she would try to clear it up with him. She wanted to make everything the way it was before.
At her locker, some of her friends met her there and they chatted together like normal. Maggie didn’t remember what had been said there, but what happened next stayed in her mind for a while. Michael was walking quickly down the hallway in her direction. Maggie was a bit startled by the expression on his face. Michael’s eyes were blazing; his face was a solid mask of rage like she had never seen before and his body shook a bit as he walked. His fists were clenched tighter then anyone she had ever seen. Maggie had never seen anyone so furious. Maggie looked away and pretended to listen to her friends, but his face was burned into her vision and she looked back at him. Michael was almost to where she stood, but his eyes looked so distant that he didn’t see her for a moment before their eyes locked. His features softened slightly, but he kept on walking. She saw what looked like hurt and blame in his eyes, but maybe it was just her imagination. She stepped forward, in his way, and meant to say, “Michael, I’m sorry” and go from there, but he didn’t give her the chance. He continued walking and slammed into her with his shoulder, knocking her backward and into the lockers. Maggie saw a bright white light as her head hit the locker hard. Her friends helped her up. The back of her head throbbed.
Through the pain, she saw Michael walking away even faster than before. Some of the people who saw the incident and most of her friends yelled after him in anger and a few people even ran after him. Even as Michael bolted, one of Maggie’s friends said, “Don’t worry about it. Forget him.”
‘She’s right,’ Maggie thought, ‘Michael was being a jerk. He hurt my head and my feelings.’
The rest of the day went normally, aside from the sore skull and the usual chatter of her friends and others about Michael and what he did. Later that afternoon heard she heard someone say, “Yeah, did you hear that Michael Alder’s parents are divorced or something? You think that could make him snap like that? Jeez, I know when my parents quit I drank myself stupid! But I never did anything like that.” The girl who spoke laughed and the other joined in. Maggie had never known that about Michael.
‘I really don’t know much about him at all,’ she thought. She was still mad at him for what happened, but she couldn’t help but feel a bit sorry for him and understanding about his situation. ‘I’ll call him tonight,’ she thought, making up her mind. ‘We’ll get this all straightened out. He’s probably having a hard time with his parents. But I’ll make him apologize for hitting me. Hopefully, tomorrow will be like any other day.’
For the rest of the afternoon, Maggie was preoccupied with what she was going to say to Michael. Would he still be angry with her? ‘I hope not,’ she though, ‘He ought to have cooled down by now.’ She paused in her thought for a moment. She didn’t want to have to talk to him. ‘He makes me so angry sometimes; his being so nice to me in a way that’s completely wrong for both him and me’. She wished that she could just ignore it, but she knew that later, when she sees him, she’ll know that Michael despises her for not saying “yes” and that was neither fair to her nor him. ‘Why should I feel hated by someone who didn’t feel any shame?” Maggie thought. ‘He’s the one who should feel bad and I don’t deserve to be hated for being loyal to my boyfriend.’
On the way home after school, Maggie considered what to say, but could not decide on any script in her mind. Instead, she figured that she would just go with it as she went along.
As Maggie walked, under the weight of her backpack and her own thoughts, she hoped that tomorrow was a sunny and bright day. Today had started that way, but now it was dark and shadowless. The sun was hidden and Maggie cast almost no shadow. Nothing in her world here was black and white. Just like her thoughts. She didn’t know what to say to the poor, lost boy. It just wasn’t simple. It was all a mess of gray. And that gray seemed to get darker, and Maggie had a feeling of foreboding again. ‘I’m just anxious,’ she thought, ‘and the darkness is the sun setting.’
Just then she turned the corner and saw her home. It was much nicer looking in better weather, and the blue and white of the two-floor house looked a bit dull under the steel colored clouds. Maggie could see her window from where she was and wished she could walk faster. The houses around hers were also nice mostly because it was near a very nice park where trees grew in groves that Maggie liked to visit from time to time in the spring and summer. Unfortunately, Maggie’s room didn’t face the park; rather it looked in the direction of the city, which wasn’t nearly as great.
Maggie went inside her home and took off her shoes and hung her jacket up in the closet. She gave her usually cheerful “hi!” to her parents in the living room as she raced to her room.
Her room was her favorite part of the house. She had her own phone so she could call anyone without being bothered by her little sister and there was also a lock on the door. The walls were a plain white, so Maggie had put up a lot of posters to give the room more character. There were movie posters and music related posters and some she “borrowed” from her sisters who didn’t want them. All in all, it was home. In fact, the mess on her floor made her feel that much more comfortable. There were clothes and CD jewel cases and more clothes. She knew she should have cleaned it up a while ago, but what Maggie was going to do was much more important than a messy room.
She locked the door behind her and sat at her desk, which was at the foot of her bed, and picked up her phone. Maggie was very nervous about what she was going to say and thought about just forgetting about it. ‘Let him suffer alone at home; sulking,’ she thought, but then, ‘What the hell!’ her mind said. Maggie decided to just do it. She didn’t have anything to lose.
She dialed Michael’s number and heard the ringing sound on the other end. She let the other end ring five times before giving up. ‘Maybe he’s not home yet,’ she thought. She looked at the clock near her bed and saw that it was nearly four o’clock. ‘Michael lives closer than me and so he must walk home, so he would be home before me,’ she thought. Maggie tried a few more times to get Michael on the phone, but there was still no answer.
Finally, she gave up and went down-stairs to watch TV.
“Maggie? Maggie? Anyone home?” Maggie’s thoughts returned to the present. She realized that she had just been staring into her breakfast for a few minutes. She looked up and saw that her older sister was at the table and so was her father. Her little sister was the talkative one who was always chatting with her. Maggie’s parents were cleaning up the pieces of the dish.
“Yeah, I’m here,” Maggie replied to her waiting sister, “Just thinking about something.”
“What about?” she said in a little sister sort of tone in a way that implied that Maggie had been thinking about a boy, which was true, except he wasn’t her boyfriend.
“I was thinking about school and how to avoid you!” Maggie said teasingly. Her sister got the message and smiled at Maggie and went about finishing her toast and draining her glass of juice.
In a few minutes, Maggie finished her breakfast. She cleaned up her plates and out them into the sink. Maggie went back upstairs to her room to get her book and put them into her backpack.
As she quickly gathered the textbooks and notebook she’d used the previous night, she considered Michael again. “I’ll see how he’s taking it and if he still wants to be a jerk, I have a talk with him,” she decided. She picked up her blue backpack and carried it through the hallway from her room to the stairs.
Suddenly, as she started descending the stairs, the floor beneath Maggie’s feet shook with tremendous violence. Maggie lost her footing and tumbled down the steps, her backpack crashing after her. For a terrifying moment, the world was a swirl before it stopped.
Maggie’s head was throbbing as yesterday’s bump was aggravated. She felt slightly bruised, but otherwise she felt okay. The ground was still vibrating though, but it was seemed to be stopping. When at last the shaking ended, her older sister found her. “Oh my God Maggie! Are you alright?” she yelled, seeing that she had fallen. Maggie told her that she was fine, though her head was aching. She helped Maggie up. Maggie noticed that all the lights were off. “The power is out, Maggie,” her sister said automatically.
Maggie and her sister rushed into the living room and found their parents and little sister. They were putting a few items back that had fallen from the shelves.
“Was that an earthquake?” the little girl asked.
“Yes,” said Maggie’s father, “But we don’t get earthquakes around here. I wonder what’s going on.”
“It’s probably nothing,” her mother said, “It’s probably just an aftershock of a quake farther away.”
They cleaned and argued about the earthquake for a few minutes before the lights came back on and the TV turned on . Everyone stopped to look at it. It’s talking about the earthquake. “…An earthquake has just struck our Ottawa and surrounding areas! But I’m told that it was not caused by any natural force,” he said, then putting his hand to the ear piece he continues, “We have a camera crew on site and we’ll keep you informed with up-to-the-date news…” The anchorman was cut off and now the view was from outside, in the streets. A serious looking reporter is at the center of the screen, holding a microphone. People can be seen running behind him.
“I’m John Stathem on BBG news. I’m in the middle of the business district of our city and the cause of the earthquake experienced moments ago. Okay pan up.” The cameraperson is shaking a bit and the camera is not very steady. The view tilts up and above the tops of the tallest buildings looms a massive black thing. It glistened in the in the sunlight like glass and seems to be getting taller as the reporter spoke, “This giant crystal erupted from a massive crack the appeared in the middle of Hunter Street just minutes ago. The appearance of the crack caused the tremors and the giant crystal arose from it. In fact, as it very in width, surrounding buildings toppled from the unstoppable expansion. Many are presumed killed or missing under the rubble.”
Maggie and her family ignored their previous task and sat in front of the television. Maggie couldn’t say anything. This was a horrible disaster.
The crystal appeared to the cameraman to have stopped rising. He followed the tower back down to its base. “The object appears to have stopped moving now,” the reporter said, “It looks to be at least twice as tall as any building in the city! I’d estimate it to be over eight hundred meters tall!”
Suddenly a loud humming sound filled the air. The reporter, only partly visible in the picture, turned around to see the source of the noise. The cameraman looked up too. A swarm of black shapes were being shed from the black stone of the crystal like a swarm of locusts. Some flew; others fell off and slid down the side of the crystal.
“I can see dark objects falling from the crystal. It’s like insects being shaken from a tree! Oh my God!” the reporter yelled over the buzzing noise. A portion of the swarm was headed in their direction. “They look like giant black locusts, but with bodies shaped like men! Others look like gigantic beetles with massive jaws!” The reporter yelled. The camera was shaking wildly, but it was obvious what the reporter saw was true. Black men and women with massive claws were flying on loudly buzzing wings. Some other black objects had huge insect wings and buzzed louder than all the others. Their white and black jaws were wide.
The cameraman was terrified, but managed to keep shooting. A group of six insect people landed down on street where the reporter was. “They seem to be standing on hind legs. My God, they’re over three meters tall and over five meters long. They are moving in this direction with astonishing speed!” the reporter said. As the cameraman zoomed in on them the monsters were even more horrific. They had giant ant-like lower torsos that were black, shiny, and disgustingly hairy. The upper torso was that of a muscular man who was equally black colored and hairy. Each monster had gigantic scorpion claws instead of arms that were as sharp as razors yet as wicked as a serrated knife. Their mouths were disproportionate to the rest of their head and were filled with massive rotting teeth and horrible mandibles.
As Maggie and her family watched in horror, the black insect things marched down the road, killing panicking humans and destroying cars as they walked. People who were in their way were split in two by the monster’s claws. One unfortunate man was picked up and devoured whole by a topless female insect. It was a disgusting sight. Maggie’s attention was broken for a moment as her younger sister, her face a deathly white, ran to the washroom. Maggie was too shocked to feel sick.
The reporter was yelling something, but the sound of ripping metal and the screams of panicking citizens drowned out his voice. However, his message was clear. The horrible insects were getting much closer now and the reporter wanted to get out of there now. The cameraman was frozen to the spot and shaking with fear, as could be seen from the wildly moving picture.
“Turn that thing off and let’s go!” the reporter yelled as he ran passed the camera. The picture went fuzzy for a moment, and then cleared. The scene is receding as the cameraman runs. His breathing and his footfalls could be heard clearly.
“Is the camera off?” the reporter asked off screen, his voice barely audible.
“Yeah,” said the cameraman as he ran.
Suddenly a deafening roar filled the air. A giant black beetle landed in view of the camera. It looked like an eight meter-long stag beetle with a massive obsidian horn and a double set of two-meter long steel colored jaws that the insect swung together like a pair of horrible plowshares. The sound they made when they slid together and apart was like rusty scissors opening and closing.
The disgusting beetle folded its tremendous wings into its shining black carapace. Bits of debris falling form the surrounding building bounced harmlessly off the shell. The black beetle emitted another loud roar of chattering croaks and charged. The reporter and the cameraman screamed and the picture shook so much that nothing could be seen except the giant blackness of the quickly approaching brute.
The camera jolted to the left as the cameraman fell. The picture was a colorful static for a moment. Then it showed the cameraman, a young man wearing a blue T-shirt and a black jacket with the news logo on the breast pocket. He was holding his head as he tried to get up. He never made it to his feet. The beetle’s body was now over the camera and only the man’s feet could be seen. A metal-sliding-on-metal sound was heard and the quivering man’s feet were seen before a splash of blood landed on the pavement. As the beetle moved on, one of its legs crushed the camera.
The picture turned to static. Now Maggie feels sick. Her head starts spinning as the blood drained from her head. Maggie rose as quickly as she could and ran to the washroom. She nearly knocked over her little sister, who was returning to her parents, in her haste. Maggie became very sick in the washroom, with those horrible images still burned into her sight, for a few minutes before she felt better.
Her mouth tasted acidic and her mind was in shock. She walked slowly, feeling weak, into the TV room. The television was still nothing but noise. Her family was sitting in silence in their seats. They were as bewildered as she was. Maggie just stood there, waiting to see what would happen.
“My God,” her father finally said. “Is this the end of the world?”
Maggie’s family was pretty religious. They went to church and all that, which was why she and her sisters are in Catholic schools. Maggie considered what her father had said. Maybe it was the end of the world. Demons just don’t come from the ground for no reason. ‘Why is God angry? Why is He allowing this? I don’t want them to kill me! I don’t want to go to Hell!’ she thought. She sat with her mother as they all began to weep for the people who died and for their own souls. Maggie felt as if she had known the people who died; indeed, she did know people in the overrun city. Her brain was swamped with thoughts and emotions to recall any of them. Her sister and she wept into their mother’s arms that did her best to comfort them, though she was crying too.
Suddenly, through all of the sorrow and feeling of loss, came an overwhelming feeling that she was being watched. Watched by a dark eye; and evilness that she couldn’t explain. She opened her red, tearful eyes and looked out the window across from her couch where she felt the black gaze come from. The window stared in the direction of the city. Where, now, a dark cloud amassed over it. In the storm cloud’s middle, Maggie saw a shape of absolute blackness. Maggie knew that it was where the gaze came from.
Her blood ran cold as the feeling of being watched by the tower grew. Maggie feared loosing to the relentless view that seemed to see into her soul and hid her eyes in her mother’s shoulder. She shivered and feared for the fate of humankind and, most of all, her family. Maggie would not let this evil consume them. Compelled for a reason she did not understand, she looked again. She saw a flash of bright light, like a diamond’s glitter, from the tower. Then the cloud began to expand, reaching out to its surroundings, like sickly, retched arms. “The end is coming,” Maggie thought. “It’s the apocalypse.”