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The Field Trip- posted on 3/30/13

From the Journal of Kitty Pryde March 8, 2010

So, I never really expected the day that changed my whole life could start out so---normally?

My alarm started blaring its usual annoying tone used to wake me out of even the most peaceful of sleeps. I’d shut it off and typically begin my struggle to get out of the safe, warm bed, in order to get ready for the cold, cruel world outside the home known only as “school.” UGH---the mere thought was like a death sentence.

By the time a teen reaches high school, nothing just seems to matter. It’s all one big trap to keep kids under the age of twenty-one, in a building “learning” useless or customary traits we either already know, or never in our whole lives needed to know! However, the entire faculty board decided it might be a good idea to take the entire Ridgeway High School student body on a field trip to one of the most world-renown science centers in New York. It was some sort of “higher-learning-experience,” or something. Well, that’s why today wasn’t as dreary to me as any normal sir, today there will be no physics, no trig, no literature---just one whole (like seven hour) day of freedom away from books and using my brain!

I switched on my light to let in a little visibility, due to the fact the sun wasn’t even up yet. Why school had to start so early, was just another reason I believe the whole thing is like a cult for the American government. Either way, it never took me long to get ready, so I started with the basic teeth brushing, or the usual scrunching of the massively thick forest of curly brown hair. I think I’d finally (after fifteen years) come up with a perfect way to fix my hair easily and effectively; considering how it never really wanted to stylize the right way before, I take it as a growth in me and my hair's relationship.

By the time I’d gotten some mascara on, the sun had miraculously snuck itself into the sky, and a shrill voice echoed throughout the whole two story house of mine... "Katherine and Robert Pryde! You get out here right now or you're going to be late for school!"

Honestly, my mother could use a suicide bomber's full name to get him to come out of a building and surrender himself over to the police.

Now, my younger brother never once went out of his way to make the mornings easy; he had to be forcefully yanked out of bed nearly every day and yelled at with grounding-threats to get ready for school. I on the other hand did NOT gain amusement from aggravating my mother to the point of blind and brutal fury, so every morning I would just decide to respond with my innocent reply of, "Coming Mom!"

I quickly got dressed in some cute shirt and a plain pair of jeans, and took one last check-up look in the mirror. Long Brunette curls, un-frizzy for the next hour or two, check---a little make-up and eyeliner to make my Hazel eyes stand out, check---and then I’m wearing shoes of course so, check. Truthfully, I was pretty bland. I had one of those faces that just sunk into a common crowd with nothing special whatsoever to it. I wasn't ugly, but I wasn't completely "drop dead gorgeous" like some of the more “popular girls” at my school were. I honestly didn’t get how people would just openly swoon over them, when to be fair, they all looked the same, like clones (aside from mixed-matched colors of hair, tan lines, and their equally shallow morals, that is). With that in mind, I found myself a little more unique every day, and left my room with a yawn and a satisfactory grin.

Downstairs, my brother was half awake, his head stuck in a bowl of cereal. Mom was trying desperately to find her car keys, and Dad was missing, so I assume he wasn’t back from his business trip in the Andes yet. Why a board room style company takes an expensive trip like that was beyond me, but as long as Dad brought home the lower-to-middle-class bacon, who was I to argue? Other than Robert’s milky-drown snoring, the kitchen was quiet and empty. It has been this way ever since our dad went off on his big business trip. In some gland that Robert and I did not inherit, our mom was a pretty good morning person and always managed to strike a conversation with even a log as asleep as my brother---not that she'd want to because all he did was aggravate her at this time of day. Dad, he had to have been a morning person, or else he wouldn't work where he did at a company that consumes him almost 18 hours a day, seven days a week in work. I was starting to forget what he looks like in all honesty because I rarely caught more than glimpses of him due to his crazy schedule. Though, he did get to look forward to those expensive, swanky trips around the world with his work, so that had to be pretty fun, I suppose?

All I had to look forward to was Spring Break, but that wasn’t for another week! I still needed to live through this thrilling expedition to the Red River Science Facility, followed with a whole other four days of school, a weekend, and a whole nother’ week of school again before I get off for spring break. I honestly don't know how I'll survive!?

Mom drove us to school, but we had to leave home super early, not only to beat the rush of New York City traffic, but also because Robert’s middle school classes started like half an hour before mine at the high school. I really hated New York, which is weird because most people are absolutely in love with the big city. My family only moved here because of Dad’s job, and even as awesome as all the sights and shops were, I missed the simple life from my old town and all of my old friends that I was forced to leave behind. This job thing of my Dad's was an opportunity my parents said that they just couldn't pass up, thus here I am, off having lonely adventures in the big city all by my lonesome. Oh, and if you’d think that after almost a whole year of being stuck here in New York that I’d get used to the differences---No, I did not!

Though, I guess it isn’t all bad and I shouldn't complain. I’ve met a few nice friends that love getting me into trouble at school, and the school campus was huge, but moderately friendly, so fitting in under the radar was an easy task for me to do all this time.

"Robert, did you remember your wrestling gear; you have a game today you know---or a match---or, whatever those things are called?" my mother babbled, just as my little brother tried to escape the vehicle and flee to the safety of the school.

"Ugh! Yes Mom!" he replied, annoyed at the very question. Unfortunately, it was always like this in the mornings; just the common, back and forth war banter between mom and the emotionally confused pre-teen. Somehow or another, they would both come up with some new thing to argue randomly about for the enduring twenty minutes it took to get to the drop-off zone of the Middle School. I had to just sit there and endure this sort of thing, hoping as usual, that the fights ended eventually. There was no sense tangling myself up in one of their feuds, right?

"Don't get a tone with me, boy! You know what happened last time you forgot your---" She started before he interrupted her, sighing, "Yeah, Mom, I forgot my stuff ONE TIME! It won’t happen again; you should just chill out, and stay out of my business! Love you---I'll see you after school?" Robert had just saved himself the torment of a lecture once again. Mixing anger and kiss-uppery, was one of his specialties and it always worked on our mother. Still, she would be upset with his new attitude, and his poor grades, and don’t even get me started about his weird friends! Mom blamed the schools, but truthfully, I really didn’t care? Still, either way, I was going to have to hear about this for the rest of the car ride to my high school. It would have been a whole lot worse, if I’d said anything, so at least today’s rant wouldn’t be so bad... Yep, just another typical morning...

When I finally got to school, I was relieved to see my friend, Mikaela, was there just as equally early as I was. She was that trouble-making friend I’d mentioned earlier, the one who constantly got me into trouble. Mikaela and I met on my first day of school last year and she opened the welcome wagon to me, telling me which people were okay to befriend, and which ones would shank me if I spoke to them the wrong way. She really took me under her wing back when I was still the "new girl".

Every morning, Mikaela stands in the same spot by her locker, just slyly texting or listening to an I-Pod while chewing on some orange, citrusy gum that she always carried on her person. See, Mikaela was one of those girls that you would always find at a party---not wasted or anything, but that would make a lot more sense due to her already drunken, rebellious attitude, and completely fun, go-getter, cool-chick personality. She had her own set of rules and only followed the other authoritave figures’ rules that she claimed could work with her own set of laws. To be clear, Mikaela was practically insane, not to mention loud, but with a fun flair to her that just made her all that loveable! What can I say, that was the style of the most wild and random girl I'd ever met (or ever will meet), Mikaela Lainley.

Today, she was dressed in some wannabe 80’s look, you know with the striped green and black leggings, the punk style cut off shirts, and the massive amounts of jewelry on her arms. Surprisingly, Mikaela could pull of her own random sense of style, where as I wouldn’t even wear those clothes out of my mother’s car unless it was a dress up day for a fundraiser. Mikaela, she was taller than I was, but then again, so was pretty much everyone. She had trendy, short-cut, blonde hair with the side swiped bangs; and just to top of her eccentric appearance, she had these odd green eyes that were the color of electrified mint that pretty much just blared off her face in some intimidating glare she always wore.

"What’s sup Kandy?" she asked in the same way as every usual day; with a smile and a good, perky attitude no “normal person” could have at 8:15 in the morning.

"Why does school start so early!" I moaned dramatically.

"Poor Kandy," she pouted, drawing an invisible tear from her eye down her cheek. Mikaela always had a good, “jest full” sympathy, and I'd actually believe she was serious some of the time, if I didn't know any better. "Perk up!" she ushered, "We have that “super-cool” field trip to look forward to today."

Again with the sarcasm; Mikaela was very good at that.

"Hey, I'm actually kind of excited," I stated proudly.

"Yeah, sure, walking through a big, boring building, looking at all sorts of lame inventions, and sweaty, nerdy scientists---now, that’s what I call, a fun time."

"Wait, not all scientist are nerds, what about Tony Stark?" I corrected smugly.

"Yeah, Tony Stark is okay I guess, but he's a greasy-robot-billionaire, he’s not a real scienti---"

"What about, Wally West, Barry Allen, Bruce Banner---"

"Okay, OKAY! So, there's a handful of cute scientist, and Bruce Banners not even that hot! PLUS, it's not like a single one of those guys work at the science lab were going to anyway!"

I rolled my eyes, when thankfully (for me) Morgan got to school, and rescued me from Mikaela's awaiting prosecution. Morgan was one of my other friends that I made up here and she and Mikaela were friends long before I came around, so there was no NOT meeting, Morgan Moonstar.

She was taller than Mikaela was, which meant she might as well have been a totem pole to me. Needless to say that I had to look up to see the both of them talking everyday. She was hardcore Indian sort of girl, complete with the black braided pigtails, and leather headband strapped around her forehead. She claimed to take her "heritage" super seriously, although her hair had really bright red streaks dyed all throughout it, and she also wore really short, skimpy outfits that I don’t know how she doesn’t get sent home for what with our school’s strict dress code. To top her look off, Morgan had small, dark brown eyes that insinuated her tan-brown, seemingly flawless skin; and she always---always had on this sterling silver necklace, with a small little star on it. I never knew the significance of it, it might have been some sort of tribal thing because of her last name? But no matter what, not a day has gone by since I met the girl that she hasn't worn the necklace, Morgan always had it on.

The lucky girl, was old enough to drive to school whenever she needed, so she got here well---whenever she wanted and that was usually about five minutes before the first bell. Morgan would always meet us at this very spot just in time to hear Mikaela tease me about something else I did that was too “goody-two-shoes” for her style. (Just for the record, Mikaela was right around the corner from being sixteen and she could drive to school too; she had a permit and all, but with just her and her mom, and that massive apartment bill they paid, Mikaela just simply did not have a car to drive---and Mikaela was too lazy to work, save up, and earn this said: “car” by herself.)

"So, what’s up?" Morgan questioned.

"We were just talking about the trip today," I replied un-enthusiastically.

"Yeah, it’s totally lame huh?" she scoffed.

Great, I thought, not her too!

"Kandy's excited about it," Mikaela teased.

"Hey! It beats Trig’ any day!" I argued defensively.

"No Joke!" Morgan agreed. We were using choppy sentences the way we always seemed to in the mornings. Something about the hour, just made us talk this way, and I just now realized it, but for some other odd reason, we still all understood everything the other was trying to say.

Now, you could time your watch by him---at this same time every day, Wallace Allen walked into the picture and put his arms around all three of us. He was a senior jock, friendly to everyone, but he went to my new church and loved to pester me in the mornings more than anyone else.

"What’re we talking about today ladies?" he asked with a playful smile. Wally was the oddest, most random guy I knew. He was built pretty strong due to his track and wrestling workouts, but he was as short as I was, so he didn’t seem too terribly intimidating. Mostly, Wally only hung out with his sport friends, or the three of us during this tiny two minute window each morning. He would say some funny, flirty line and then just bolt out of our circle without so much as a blink. He was impatient and could be gone in one breath faster than the speed of light---and no matter how hard I tried, I could never understand just how he manages to do it!?

"We were just talking about this stupid field trip," Morgan answered; meanwhile, we were unsuccessfully trying to break free of his headlock around all three of our faces.

"Oh yeah? Ha, losers, I don't have to go," He bragged and released his grip. "I have a wrestling tournament today. Completely gets me out of that torture!" Mikaela and Morgan gruffed in annoyance, but he kept on talking a mile a minute with the attention span of a three year-old, "Your brothers' going isn't he, Kitty? The Junior Team?"

"Yeah I guess so?" I shrugged.

"He's cool---really small---but I like his curly Jew fro," Wallace stated randomly.

I wasn't sure how to respond to that. "Um, thank you???" I nodded, confused. Often in the mornings, I never know where our short sentences will take us. For example, we start talking about hot science-nerds and tech-labs, and then end on my baby brother going to wrestling matches!? This was 100% normal for us.

"Your brother is adorable, Kandy," Mikaela added in a baby-voice.

"Can we possibly talk about something other than my brother?" I wondered as the massive discussion grew even weirder.


The bell blasted through the halls, just as the mobs of students started rushing like a herd of cattle to their first hour classes. I used the opportunity to get the heck out of there as quickly as possible, and Wally was already two steps ahead of me like always, waving a goodbye as I covertly retreated into the rushing horde of students and vanished beneath their masses. Believe it or not, it was like this every normal day.

In homeroom, the first thing we were told, was that we had shortened classes---about thirty minutes each, and yes, we had to go and do basically nothing until the buses got here and prepped for this “big trip.” They were putting way too much stress on this, and okay, I know it must not have been an easy place to book, but seriously, the school just needed to cool out with science lab drama! In the meantime, I could handle half an hour of Music class, no problem. Mr. Howard, my music teacher, simply had us singing "Row, Row your Boat" backwards and forwards all hour long.

I'm an Alto II, which is the lowest octave a GIRL could sing, meaning I don't have to sing it glass-breaking-ly high like the Sopranos did---just the way I liked it. Though, Jane Cross, who was singing First Soprano, was drowning over the entire class like she does all the time. Jane was one of those “beautiful, popular girls” I was talking about earlier. She was flawless and had that look that drove all the guys in school wild. Her hair was a perfect wave of gold silk, and her eyes were emerald green and unlike her friends, she was never rude and she was actually always friendly to everyone.

Jane always---and I mean ALWAYS smiled. She was the nicest girl I’d ever met in my life, and she could sing like an angel to top it all off. Mikaela often called her “Little Miss Perfect,” and that’s honestly what she was---an absolute saint! Don’t get me wrong though, I never picked on her like Mikaela did, I just think that so much good in one person just nauseates Mikaela for some strange reason?

Jane was a very good singer, and always managed to be heard in class, no matter how loud the rest of us were. Boy, I wish I could sing half as well as she could, but no such luck; I have far too much stage-fright to even try if I’d wanted to. So naturally, I sang so softly that I barely heard myself, and the rest of us listened to Jane’s angelic singing voice for the whole ten minutes that was left of class.

Later, in Biology, things were pretty dull. Coach Lyford was one of those cool teacher/coaches, who would let you talk all hour when nothing was going on. My class was filled with either super-popular kids, or mega-nerds, so (being the division line between the two) I talked to whoever decided to address me first. Now if you want to know who ruled over the class, as well as the entire school, then look up the definition of a cool guy and you'd find his name written in the Dictionary with golden ink. He was this boy in my class named Thei Nguyen.

Thei was super, un-naturally smart, extremely cool, and not that bad looking considering his muscles and roguish, Asian man attitude. I sat right beside him and got to hear him brag about how much better his life was than the rest of ours; how his parents bought him that cool black corvette for his first car; or how he took a vacation to Venice for Christmas Break. It was like he was the prince of the universe and we were his peasant commoners. Though Thei was definitely the coolest kid in my school (that didn’t have an athletic background) he had the modesty gland of a rabbit in a turtle race, and he never knew when to shut up!

The only ones who didn’t seem interested in anything Thei had to showboat about, was me (of course) and then this other boy named Peter, who sat right in front of me in class, and never even acknowledges my existence. Peter and Thei were supposedly really good friends, due to the fact Pete was an exchange student and lived in Thei’s huge house with him. I guess that’s why Peter never really listened to any of Thei’s stories, maybe he’d already heard them a thousand times before at home?

Still, I could only bear so much of the wonderful world of Thei, and eventually started doodling pictures of his yacht getting stranded on a little stick-person island. I’m sure if that ever really happened, Thei could find a way to make being shipwrecked irresistible to anyone who brushes against the pencil-drawn sand though...

English class, and of course the teacher gave us work. She always overwhelmed us with writing and grammar related assignments, but when we quit complaining for twelve seconds and just did the work, we actually, miraculously got it done! Mikaela was in my third hour, and she's like the Einstein of English, so typically, she gets everything done in ten minutes flat, and then goes back to her usual rebellious self. It was too bad I sucked at English---I hardly got done before the bell rang and still I think that I put stray question marks where no question was actually due.

By the time our last and fourth hour came, we were all pretty pumped for that field trip. Mikaela and I had Basketball, so we walked there together after English. Needless to say, we didn't actually play, but we were the managers of the Varsity Boys’ team. We knew all the guys by name and number, and they knew us by the special nicknames we had gotten there at the beginning of the year. You see, the day we told them our names, they had thought I'd said "Candy" instead of my nickname, "Kitty". Our graves were dug then and there because now the guys call us Kandy and McKandy---though, we don't really mind all too much. Mikaela seems to like the whole "Kandy" thing much more than I do, strangely, thus she always calls me Kandy, ever since the first day I joined the team with her.

When we finally got to the gym, Coach said to just sit on the court or something until it was time to go. He really didn’t feel like a twelve minute practice, when it took the boys twenty-minutes to do their hair and make-up, and get dressed in the practice gear! Kindly, I held the door to the locker room open for the guys to leave like I always did, and they all stormed out of the locker rooms, all except for one boy Coach held back that I didn’t see, though I could hear him ferociously chewing the boy out for not playing his hardest in our last game---which was strange to me because Coach never did that a day after the fact, never once? I thought.

With that echoing out the door, I turned to catch up with Mikaela, but about half way down the court, I’d realized my purse and books were all still in the locker room, (thanks to the fact, Mikaela wouldn’t let me stop at my stupid locker before practice) and I gave her the one-minute gesture, as she tapped her foot impatiently for me to hurry up.

I rushed quickly back to the room to gather my junk, and as I reached for the heavy door handle, I caught a quick glimpse of red and--


It comes as no surprise to me that my danger-prone nature caused the heavy metal locker room door to swing right into my face just as I was about to open it. I heard the vicious THUD of me falling to the floor, alongside a couple of voices talking indistinctly, though everything gradually went black for a really, really long time. I was knocked out cold for who knows how long, but after a while, the color came back to me, and I noticed a blurry Coach David, Assistant Coach Hatch, one terrified Mikaela, and then one of the players, Peter Rasputin, all kneeling around me; the rest of the guys were standing above them, looking down at me with a fear-struck look as well. How all of them got back here so fast was strange, but I’m sure that loud clank between the bones in my head and the swinging 40 mph door would have attracted some attention echoing throughout an empty gymnasium...

"KANDY!?" Mikaela bellowed repeatedly, and by the sound of her worried tone, she was making it sound like I'd just gotten shot by Willy Wonka or something?

"Bozhe Moi! Katya, are you alright?" Peter asked, concerned as if I were going to sue him. He must have been the one who slammed the door open then? I guessed.

Peter was the boy who sat in front of me in our second hour who doesn’t know that I’m alive outside of the gym, yet in basketball, instead of calling me Kandy like the rest of the guys, he calls me Katya---kind of a lot actually, so I think that’s Russian for Kitty or Katherine or something?

Peter is an exchange student from Siberia, Russia, and just got here in New York about two years ago, I think---maybe about a year and a half before I came to the “Big Apple” anyway. His English was great for a new kid, but the accent was still pretty thick, and a few Russian words still managed to spill their way out, especially when he was upset, and right now, he was frantic!

Through the complete enigma of awkwardness I found myself tangled in, I grumbled the pain in my body away, and replied somewhat painfully, " was just a two ton door to the face---I'm good---I’m alright." I lay on the cold, dirty floor, unable to move, and couldn't help but chuckle at my situation. Eventually, they helped me up, and that’s when I noticed everything growing little dizzy; like the floors had tilted sideways under my feet, but the rest of the team acted as though it didn’t happen.

"Do you need to go to the nurse, Kitty?" Coach Hatch asked me imperatively.

"You can go home if you need to, kid," Coach David added slowly.

Well, Crap this was embarrassing! I mean, other than the fact that they all think I'm dying on the floor, when in retrospect, I can't really feel a thing, other than my head aching a little...It was humiliating!

"It was just a door!" I argued, my voice rising in anguish.

"Yeah, a door that has your head dented into it!" Mikaela thundered. Honestly, I didn't know whether or not she was exaggerating, so I looked. Low and behold, my hard head had cracked a dent into the steel rectangle door; I felt my legs go numb as someone luckily caught me before I lost the ability to stand.

I chuckled weakly, "Um, I think I'll go to the nurse now?"

"I will take her," Peter offered guiltily, and with that, Mikaela and Peter escorted me to the nurse's office; Peter, carrying me six feet off of the ground while I was in some drunken, half-dead state. He was like seven feet tall, and me being five foot two only ever reached up to about his lower-chest. Also, I should probably mention that I hated heights and was up kind of high, so I literally felt insulting squeezing against his neck, fearing that he would drop all one-hundred and ten pounds of me with his massive football-basketball player muscles.

Evidently, the only thing the school nurse could provide for me was a band aid for the small cut on my forehead and a good estimate, that I did not have a concussion. She said I could even go on the field trip if I still wanted to---that of course being the important thing here, not the fact that I nearly died? Never did anyone ask if I maybe wanted to call my parents or possibly a lawyer to discuss the low class healing that a school nurse can provide.

It was soon after I got to the office, that I regained the consciousness of my legs, and could stand well on my own without the aid of Peter or Mikaela. The final bell rang, and Mikaela and I were about go to her locker to meet up with Morgan, seeing as there was nothing the vaguely concerned nurse could do for me now. Before we left, Peter apologized to me, time after time for almost cracking my skull, and it was almost sweet how much he seemed to care.

"I am so sorry, Katya! I cannot stress my apology any more so than this---You will be alright, yes?" His blue, puppy-dog stare was full of pity, and before I could even respond to him, Mikaela shot in and cut me off.

"Yeah, you’d better be sorry ya big ox! You could’ve freaking killed her!" She repeated. For some odd reason, she was WAY more upset about all of this, than I was, and I was the one on the stretcher here? I looked over from Mikaela’s furious daggered eyes, and into Peter’s concerned, pale frown. He was beating himself up about this, but it was just an accident, no big deal, right? So badly, all I wanted was for this whole thing to just get buried alive and never resurface again! Maybe then Mikaela and Pete would forget it?

So, with the need to say something to break the nerving tension, we all walked through the office door, and I shrugged to Peter, smiling, "Don't worry about it---I'm tough, I'll get over it." I kept saying that, feeling a little stupid afterwards from repeating the words, "I'm tough", but it’s too late to take it back now. Oh, well...

Before I knew it, Mikaela and I were sitting on the bus, and Peter was nowhere to be found. This was all great, except Mikaela wouldn’t shut up about him---and it was kind of making it hard to forget that I had a headache. On the bus, Morgan and about a dozen other people asked me what happened to my face. Of course, I didn't specify on any names, but Mikaela sure did. I was trying to keep it a secret that Peter had clobbered me, but Mikaela was furious and she hastily told them ALL the story. Never before had a bus been so quiet, then when she had started talking!

"It’s not that big a deal!" I tried to explain, but, no one listened, they were too tangled into Mikaela’s exaggerated tales of the mighty, Soviet beast that likes to snap tiny girls in half with just a glance. Great! Now Peter’s reputation is toast because of me---well, technically because of Mikaela, but it’s kind of my fault anyway. One of the other basketball players on our bus, Bruce Stockman, said that Peter was mad at coach for yelling at him, and practically kicked the door down. Rumors amongst rumors were spread, and I sighed hopelessly, looking out the window to escape this discussion. It never ended though, not even after we left the bus, and that is when things started to take a turn for the weird.

When we finally got to the science lab, we were put into random buddy-groups---really scattered groups actually, there was no order in the system whatsoever!? I was told that mine was to be led by a scientist named Professor Todd Barkley, and so far the group consisted of: Mikaela; Jane Cross; Thei Nguyen; Warren Worthington (a rich down-to-earth Senior, who we all called, Shane); Peter Rasputin; and then me. Now, these were all people I knew, but I wasn't really close friends with (other than Mikaela). It was a random group, considering we weren’t in the same class, age range, GPA---we weren’t all even in the same grade---whatever happened to alphabetical order? I screamed to myself in my head. Now Peter and Mikaela are stuck in a small space together and knowing her, I bet she'll attack him on sight!

"Good afternoon, my name is Professor Todd Xavier Barkley, and I’m the lucky fellow who gets to show you all of the dangerous chemistry experiments made by the dorks who work here 24/7,” Professor Barkley greeted us kindly. We all did that half-laugh that kids do to break the ice with those “try-to-be” funny adults who attempt to crack jokes at us. Then with a wave of his hand, Professor Barkley led us through the labs.

While walking, Mikaela reached over to me and whispered, "Okay, so maybe they're not all nerds."

That was sure true. Prof. Barkley was a handsome man who was maybe only in his early thirties? He could be a model instead of a scientist by the way he looked! Todd was pale, but strong and defined; he had clean, light blonde hair, and really bright blue eyes, the color of ice; he was tall, just a little shorter than Peter, but tall nevertheless; and best of all, he seemed really nice, polite, and smart---It was a pleasant surprise considering how lousy my day had been going so far...I guess that I figured we’d get a sweaty, bald guy who smelled like B.O. and had a shutter personality.

"This is the genetics lab, it is where I spend most of my own time around here," he said with a strong voice that broke the silence, "As you all can plainly see, the scientists here are each working with numerous sorts of varied DNA. In time, we hope to cure cancer and many other diseases that could possibly be transferred genetically, rather than infectiously through our fragile human immune systems."

Wow, not even Mikaela minded learning from the tone of Todd Barkley. He seemed so smart, that we all absorbed everything he said like sponges, and even then, we were still intrigued by all he had to say. We walked through our tour rather quickly, Todd telling us about each new room, and what the scientists were doing. To my relief, Mikaela and Peter didn’t say a word to each other the entire time; and other than the occasional question from Shane or Thei, there was no talking that wasn’t from the calming, low voice of Professor Barkley.

The next room struck me with an odd vibe that completely drowned out Todd’s melty, warm voice. We were walking through the aisle to the next room, when the metal doors slid shut both behind and in front of us. One of the scientists wearing one of those hazard-proof, full-body suits dropped a green fizzing beaker right as he walked in front of our tour group. As it crashed, shards of broken glass filled the entire room along with a weird bluish-green smoke that was stealing away all of the fresh air. I heard even more glass shatter and suddenly, we were being bombarded in smoke and glass.

By now, a load of loud, red buzzers rang off, nearly making all of our mixed wheezing and coughing inaudible. Things all happened so fast, and within seconds all of the clear air had become this thick, swampy fog, and I was separated from Barkley and my group. Distantly, I heard Professor Barkley order, before coughing violently from the rotten fumes, "Cover your mouth and nose!"

It was too late. I had already breathed in the foul smell, and on top of that, I felt a sharp stinging pain in my leg that I couldn’t limp away from. I looked down, through the thick fog of gas, seeing my tattered jeans leg soaking in an odd dark-red liquid. There was a pointy shard of beaker glass wedged in my leg, and weakly I pulled it out and my hands shook as I dropped the bloody glass into the floor. My eyes went wide at the sight of all the blood, and I could no longer hold my breath. Gasping for air now, I choked in even more of the rancid fumes; and with all of my “bad-to-worse” luck, they were probably deadly. I couldn’t help myself and kept panicking as I tried to run, tried to breath in a little air through my anxiety-filled panting; it was as though I was suffocating in the dark clouds of air everywhere I turned and there was no way out of the chaos.

The scientists all had put gas masks on, and none of them were helping us. Soon, all seven of the people in my group eventually fell to the ground from lack of breath, including our tour-guide, Professor Barkley. By the time crawling was no longer an option, I reached out for someone, thinking we were going to die and looking for a little comfort. The fear was too great for me not to be crying around this time, as all the nerves in my body started slowly shutting down beyond my control. My legs went dead first, followed by the mid-section of my body, the arms, fingers, and finally my neck and mouth. My skin burned and my eyes watered, the smell of the fumes stung my nose and now my body was helpless and paralyzed as I lay in shards of broken beaker glass and blood. The previous fifteen years of my life couldn’t even flash before my eyes because I was too afraid to remember it as I wait helplessly to choke to death.

Then my frozen white hand was finally answered by another, a more violent grip than what I was expecting. Peering through the fog, I recognized it as one of the hazard suit scientists and felt an instant of relief, before my eyes flashed over and saw two more of them---their silhouettes knocking out (what looked like) Thei and Jane with these blunt, heavy tools that I couldn’t make out through the corner of my eye; yet by their equally pain filled groans, it told me that they were both knocked out cold and hard by whatever objects the scientist were using. Looking back up at the man who was now sinking his boney fingers into my wrist was only an effort that was answered by a quick glimpse of myself getting hit in the face with something hard and silver that hurt worse than the Locker Room door did this afternoon. That was all I could remember of my “supposed-to-be” normal day of school, before everything went painfully black and quiet.