Simon and Mark walked into the school gym after the town had flooded it. Simon had to admit that the experience was an exciting one. The winds whipped at the windows, cracks had formed and outside the thunder rolled with incredible power. It was a storm unlike any he had experienced, so he wasn’t surprised to see most of the small town taking shelter in the gym.
“Never experienced this in a city before,” Simon murmured.
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“Neither have I, but a storm near this magnitude did occur in the early 1800s in this area,” Mark droned, his deadpan expression adding to the coldness of the facts. “It’s 1978 now, so that means a storm like this hasn’t occurred for a century and a half. It’s a once-in-a-lifetime experience.”
Mark, once more, showing why he is the smartest guy in the grade without meaning to do so. To him, stating these facts was as natural as ‘good morning’. Simon couldn’t help but smile.
“That long ago, huh?” Simon said, searching his mind for a somewhat intelligent reply, but something more questioning than insightful. “They must have thought it was the end-times as well.”
“Most likely,” Mark nodded. “While they strictly approach these recordings with an air of scientific professionalism, the common man, especially the religious man, must have thought the storm was a punishment sent by God.”
“What do you think?”
“Events like this have occurred throughout nature since the dawn of time. It stands to reason that they will continue to happen, frequently or infrequently. Incredible fluctuations in the weather or temperature can be considered as normal as a mild day in Autumn. If anything, we should continue these recordings and track their frequency, as it might help us better predict the next major event.”
“Until then, future generations are stuck with parents blaming it on foreign powers.”
Mark smiled at this comment, as they saw their parents near the basketball hoop discussing the ‘commies’ and the possibility of the storm being a test-fire of their weapon of mass destruction.
“C’mon, Donnie and Amy should be here somewhere,” Simon said.
Sure enough, Mark spotted Donnie’s short, round figure among the people. Amy was standing with him, as the two happily chatted with Amy’s grandmother. She was no doubt telling a ludicrous story that was peppered with her library of curse words. Something that all four enjoyed.
“...with the sharp kick aimed at his-” Simon heard before Amy’s grandmother noticed them. “Oh, hi, boys, you’re here too? I thought the wind would have caught you and blown you away.”
“Is that a comment on our size or wishful thinking?”
Amy’s grandmother laughed with great energy, getting some looks from the other families, just as the lights cut out. A peal of lightning lit the room, quickly followed by the crack of thunder. At that moment, Amy’s grandmother looked like a witch. However, she was by far the coolest adult in the room.
“And there go the lights,” Amy muttered. “C’mon, let’s go check the breakers.”
“You kids know where the school breaker is?” the grandmother asked, giving the four a sudden hard stare. “Just what do you four get up to?”
All the teenagers could provide was a wide-eyed look and a few ‘um’s. Once more, the old woman showed her quick understanding and shrugged.
“None of my business, just be careful.”
Her advice followed the four as they left the gym and entered the dark halls. There were few windows to help them see and what light they did provide wasn’t much. The clouds hanging over the town were thick and dark, giving everything they saw a cold grey tone.
“Donnie, lead the way,” Simon said. “You know the way from last time.”
“Yeah, but I don’t think it is necessary,” Donnie said nervously. “You’ve seen the storm out there, a substation must be broken, not the school system.”
“We don’t know that till we look,” Mark interjected. “It is most likely the school system, as it is far older than the substation.”
“Thanks, Mark,” Donnie sighed.
Simon, Mark and Amy exchanged looks and smiled. Donnie was nervous about bumping into the crazy janitor again. He was a harmless guy, but he babbled a lot about nonsensical things, from aliens to secret killers. At least Donnie would have his friends backing him up instead of braving the bowels of the school alone.
A few minutes later they were descending into the basement. All four withdrew flashlights from their backpacks, having since learnt to keep them on their person at all times. Stuff like this seemed to occur a lot more often since the decision to pursue every mystery that crossed their path.
“So, Don,” Simon said as they descended. “What did you and Frank talk about last time?”
Simon could practically hear Mark and Amy’s smile.
“Shut up, you know damn well-” Donnie began, his three friends already breaking into laughter. “-what he was ranting about. The next time we have to go to the basement, I’m electing you to chew the fat with crazy-”
Donnie turned the corner and bumped into something. His light immediately revealed the janitor.
-Frankie, how are you doing?” Donnie stuttered.
The friends gathered in front of Frank the Janitor, who seemed to be staring over them in a thousand-yard stare. Eventually, his eyes lowered to Donnie, drifted between the other friends, but returned to Donnie.
“The lights are out,” Frank said.
“We know, we came to check out what happened,” Amy said somewhat confidently. Simon could feel that everyone wasn’t matching the confidence of the old janitor. It was an uneasy feeling of waiting for something to happen, but not knowing what.
“It’s not the school,” Frank replied, his eyes still on Donnie who began to quiver. “It’s not the substation. It’s not the fault of the machine, but man. Sabotage, death amongst us.”
To the other friends, it was like Frank was trying to speak in code with Donnie, but Donnie just felt confused and scared. Simon saved the day.
“Okay then, we shall head back to the gym,” Simon told Frank, then turned to the others. “C’mon, let’s go.”
The others didn’t need another reason to go. Without hesitation, they turned and returned to the first floor. Donnie could feel Frank’s eyes watching them ascend before faded back into the shadows.
“I’m not going back there,” Donnie said once they reached the gym.
“Yeah, we got that,” Amy replied. “Simon is next.”
“Damn,” Simon grunted.
Even though they now spoke casually, they weren’t quite settled with what Frank told them. While the storm raged on, their eyes scanned the contents of the gym, wondering why someone would want the lights off.