The System :

I woke up to the all-too familiar beeping of my alarm clock on my night table. I made the mistake of staying up till 4:00am the night before, so the only thing in the world that I wanted was to just stay in bed and sleep. But it was a school day. The weekend was over and it was time to start getting up early again. I reached over and groped for the button that would silence this annoying wake up call. I pressed it and took a few seconds to enjoy the silence. I tossed the blankets aside and dragged myself out of bed, and over to my window. I threw open the curtains and was blinded by the sunlight that flooded my room.
I would have turned to walk to the bathroom, but I was far too busy staring outside. I couldn’t believe what my eyes were staring at. Actually, it wasn’t really what I was staring at that caught my attention, but rather the lack of it: people. The parking lot behind my house was empty. No cars, nothing. It’s usually packed! It’s been packed every day for as long as I can remember! Maybe they already left. Maybe I just woke up late. I looked at my alarm clock. Nope, 7:30. Same time I always wake up. Oh well, they probably just left early. I shrugged it off as just that, and went to take a shower.
The warm water felt so nice and always helped to wake me up. It was my favorite part of the morning. Without my morning shower, my day just wouldn’t be complete. I dried myself off and got dressed. I picked out a pretty casual outfit; I’m not one for being the center of attention. Blue jeans, white shirt, black jacket. You can’t get much more casual than that. I glanced out my window and my heart skipped a beat. Every car that was usually there, was now there, and their drivers were preparing to leave. All I could do was stare in disbelief. I know for a fact that parking lot was void of anything just a few minutes ago. Maybe they all pulled in while I was in the shower… Yeah, that’s what happened. Cars don’t appear out of thin air. My thoughts were shattered, however when I heard the familiar, “Hunter, time for breakfast!”
I came downstairs and saw my mom standing there with a huge smile on her face. She always made my morning happy with her bright personality. She was a nice lady, the nicest I’ve ever known. She’s always been this happy, even though my dad passed away when I was only 3. I felt bad for her. It’s hard having a tragedy so great shake up your life, and not let it change you. With a big smile, I said, “Good morning mom!” “Bacon and eggs?” She asked. I’ve had bacon and eggs every day for who knows how long; I don’t think I could stand to look at them anymore. “I think I’ll switch it up today,” I replied, “How about I just have cereal?” I smiled and looked out the window at the men and women leaving for work. I looked for a while, then my heart stopped when I turned back to see my mother staring directly at me with an absolutely dead serious look on her face, almost angry. “Mom…?” I said, feeling a little creeped out. She kept looking at me for the next ten seconds, and then her look instantly turned into a bright smile. “Ok!” she said, “Cereal it is then!” She got me milk and the box of cereal, and I poured myself a bowl. What the hell was that… was all I could think for the next two minutes while I ate.
When I was finished, I slowly got up and turned to leave. I said, “Thanks mom,” and proceeded to walk out the door. I was almost out when I heard, “Aren’t you forgetting something?” in the most disturbing tone I’ve ever heard from my mother. She might as well have growled it at me. I turned around to see her holding my backpack up. I took it and said, “Oh… thanks,” and left. She shouted out after me “Have a great day, hunny,” In her usual happy-go-lucky tone. I smiled and started my walk to school.
I decided to take a different route to school today. I’ve never taken this one before, might as well try it out; I’m in no rush anyway. My walk was particularly weird. You know that strange feeling you get sometimes, like someone’s watching you? Well that’s what I felt on my entire walk to school… because that was actually the case. I mean, it’s hard not to feel this way when every person you pass stops and gives you a dead serious stare until you get a considerable distance away from them. I walked faster. Was this some sort of joke? Why me? Why was I the victim of this grand prank?
I arrived at my bustling school and decided to talk with my friends for a bit before going to class. I was disappointed when I didn’t see my best friend, Owen, there. Oh well, he was probably sick. “Hey Hunter,” one of my friends said, “I didn’t see you on the walk to school today, where were you?” I usually walk with my friends to school, and since I picked a different route today, they must have been wondering what happened. “Oh yeah, I decided to take another route today, sorry we couldn’t walk together.” As soon as I said this, the entire area went silent. I turned around and my heart skipped a beat once again, when I saw the hundreds of people around me were staring directly at me, with that same creepy-serious look. Not a sound was heard. I looked back at my friends. They were silent too, just staring. Then the noise resumed, and everyone went back to what they were doing. I looked at my friends and laughed. It was a nervous laugh, but I tried to make it sound like this was funny. “Uh, well I have to go to class now, I’ll see you guys later,” I said as I turned and briskly walked towards my classroom. Seriously, what the hell is going on…? I thought as I entered my classroom.
Most of my classmates had already arrived, and I took a seat at the back of the room. I usually sit near the front, but I guess I just felt like sitting at the back for a change. I quietly took out my books and set them on my desk. The last of the students finally filed into the room, and the latecomers shortly after that. Once everyone was inside and seated, our teacher, Ms. Randal, closed the door. She started writing notes on the board for us to take down, so I took out a paper and started busily writing. The room was filled with the sound of pencil against paper. I was only halfway finished when the class went silent. Is everyone done already? I thought to myself as I kept writing. The teacher wasn’t talking. I didn’t want her to wait for me; as I said before, I’m not one to draw attention to myself. I finally finished and looked up to see everyone – including the Ms. Randal, turned around, and staring at me with that look. They were all dead silent. I remained still in my seat as I tried to avoid eye contact with any of them. After about 20 very painful seconds, they turned back to face the front, and Ms. Randal continued her lecture as if nothing happened. This wasn’t a joke, it couldn’t be. If it was, it sure wasn’t funny. I got up out of my chair and went to leave the room. I heard Ms. Randal say, “Where are you going, Hunter?” Her tone made me speed up my pace. It was the same angry tone that my mother had used this morning. Everyone in the halls stared at me as I passed. I broke into a run, then a sprint. I had to get out of here. I had to go to somewhere safe, to someone I trusted. Owen. He’s my best friend and always has been. I trust him with my life.
I ran down the many streets, ignoring the stares that everyone I passed was giving me. I arrived at his house and knocked on the door. His mother answered and asked, “Hi Hunter! Why aren’t you in school?” I ignored her question and asked, “Is Owen here? I didn’t see him at school, I presumed he was sick.” “Owen is sleeping right now. He’s very tired. He needs his rest,” She replied. The way she said it was… unnatural, like she was lying… “I need to see him,” I said as I went to go upstairs. I stopped when I heard, “Don’t do that. Why aren’t you in school today?” she said this with a disturbingly sinister tone. “I had to leave to come see Owen,” I said as I ran upstairs. I got to his door and tried to open it, only to find that it was locked. I knocked on the door and whipped around to see his mother standing at the end of the hallway, staring at me with a needle in her hand. She started to approach me. I frantically banged on the door and shouted, “Owen! OWEN!!!” No reply. “You strayed from the system,” I heard from behind me, “never, ever stray from the system.” I felt a sharp pain in my neck as something sunk into it. I collapsed to the ground, extremely dizzy. My vision started fading and I slowly slipped out of consciousness.
I wake up to the all-too familiar beeping of my alarm clock on my night table. I feel well rested and ready to go to school. Man, I could go for some bacon and eggs right now. Today is going to be a great day, I just know it.


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