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The Boy Behind the Mask

Chapter Text

     The air around him seemed to be filled with millions of tiny lightning bugs in the dismal gray sky. Of course, it was just the way the headlights of the school bus shattered through the pouring rain, but Zacharie liked to think he was in a fantasy world all of his own. The nasty names being thrown around the hallways wherever he went were just drifting ghosts of the people they came from, but he was immune so long as he kept his eyes on the prize. Well... Zacharie wouldn't exactly be fond of assigning the materialistic term to another person, but, well, Hollywood has gotten the best of this generation.

     The fog around the school was so thick that it was difficult to see who it was with the unoriginal snide remarks this time. Zacharie found his way, though, and walked to his first class with a small sigh. The barren, pale landscape painting the room as an untarnished paradise sent shivers through Zacharie's spine. The cold and unforgiving classrooms were always his least favorite part of the day, aside from the exponentially unfunny comments strewn towards him.

     His next few classes weren't any more eventful. The storm outside didn't show any sign of rolling to a stop, and as the students hurried through the soaking rain, the school became in attitude as it was in the atmosphere-- dreary and dismal.

    Before Zacharie knew it, the day was almost through. The teacher he was supposed to be aiding preferred to run the class by himself, so he would let Zacharie do whatever he'd like so long as it didn't disrupt the class. So he'd sit towards the back end of the classroom, farthest away from any of the students as possible. For many reasons, almost too many to count, but the biggest reason was that it was a class of freshman, and he didn't want to get involved in the post-middle school drama that almost always occurred within such a group. The class had been passing by with such ease, surely the teacher wouldn't notice if Zacharie used his phone, at least for the purposes of filling up the mellow hum of class discussion with music.

     Before he found himself able to reach for his headphones, however, a siren began blaring through the school, echoing and bouncing from place to place. The teacher stood up and paused, counting the alarm's duration. Zacharie counted with him. A flurry of voices rose up in the class, some asking questions about the bell, others mumbling incoherently.

     The bell ceased ringing. A petrified look crossed the teacher's face.

     "Get under your desks," He hissed, scurrying for his keys. Panic fell upon the class as people rushed beneath their desks, whimpering and whispering anxiously. Zacharie followed suit, grabbing his backpack and taking shelter beneath the desk. The bell was ten seconds long, which meant that there was an armed intruder on campus, and the teacher only explained what was going on after the lights were off, the blinds were shut, and the door was locked. His terrified voice quivered as he spoke, letting the students of the class in on what Zacharie had deduced moments before.

     A hush fell over the classroom. The teacher hid beneath his own desk, and what seemed like hours but likely were only minutes went by before a shadow passed before the window. The anticipating air about the classroom quickly tensed to a fearful quiet. Zacharie looked up at the shaddow. It was human, and whoever it was was dragging something long and rounded behind him, metallic and uneven scraping taking the place of the silence. The figure's footsteps were staggered, unpredictable, leaving Zacharie in curious terror as he watched the intruder stop in front of their classroom.

     Zacharie braced himself as the door wobbled. There was a pause. He didn't dare look.

     A loud clash of metal was heard as the handle bent, and the door drifted open...