By Jada Diaz
It was bright spring day at John Buroughs High School. All was normal. The Cliques were all in perfect harmony. The Seven Quarter War between the Drama Club and the Cheerleaders had finally come to a truce, and no one had to worry about taking sides or alliances.
Until The Announcement was made. The principal’s overzealous voice came over the intercom, “Attention John Burroughs High, today is going to be a special day. To reward the students for finally ending The Seven Quarter War, Bohemian Outfitters is sponsoring a school wide game of Hot Lava2. There can be one winning Clique. But from that Clique, only one Ultimate Winner. The winning Clique will win a check for $5,000 to be used to improve whatever you want. Whether it be new ROTC uniforms, new stage lights, or new sports equipment. The Ultimate Winner will win a check for $10,000 to be used at the Winner’s discretion-” At this point there was haphazard screams as everyone started running to get to their Clique’s home base. I was looking everywhere for someone from my Clique, but of course I couldn’t find them. They were probably all out skipping.
“-One last thing students. Faculty is allowed to play as a Clique.” At that statement screams of outrage in every direction came. Even I couldn’t help but scream in frustration. This school is freaking huge. Like we have two three-story buildings, and they both have teachers. The students were already split up into Cliques, and now with all of the teachers in it together, it’d be even harder to win.
“Anyone not currently in either of our two buildings is not eligible to play,” the principal went on as chaos continued to explode around me. God I hoped my Clique was in the Projection Room. “There will be a two minute countdown for everyone to get to their home bases and that begins, now.” Well it’s a good thing I didn’t wear a dress today.
I sprint down the bridge connecting the new and old buildings.
I spot an office chair with wheels and grab for it.
Dean from the Lacrosse Team shoves me to the ground and wheels off in my office chair.
When I try to get up a pack of Softball Bitches come and trample me back down
I contemplate if I should even bother getting up at all.
What the fuck? Of course I should. It’s $10,000 with my name written on it.
I jump up, running as fast as my feet can take me to Stairwell E.
I leap up the stairs, skipping two or three at a time.
I burst through the doors of the top floor, racing towards the stage balcony doors.
I gently push the door open as quietly as I can.
I drop and army crawl to the staircase leading to the Old Projection Room.
“WHO GOETH UP OVER YONDER?” My heart stops. They’ve spotted me. Nerds.
I stand up and practically fly up the last flight of stairs.
I enter the room and lock the door behind me.
I whip my head around desperately looking for something with wheels.
I dive into the first office chair I see.
“Hello?” I ask timidly, praying I’ll hear the sound of my Clique bursting out to surprise me.
But no one answers.
I use my torso to turn my chair around to look for some type of oar to use to row myself across the room. I didn’t want to walk, just in case I wasn’t alone and they tried calling cheatsies.
I looked around until my eye caught sight of a broom. So I rowed across the room, passing the lumpy couch and an old dusty office with some of my Clique’s things. “Helloooooo?” I called out.
“Piper?” A hazy voice replies. Thank god, I wasn’t alone in this.
“Yah who’s there?” I ask, as Donny Shepard turns the corner on his own makeshift boat made up of an office chair and a mop.
“Dude where the hell is everyone?!” I ask desperately.
Donny replies in a weirdly calm tone for the situation we’re in, “Where else Piper? Did you really expect our full Clique of like six people to all be in the school during second period?”
“Well, no… But I didn’t think it’d only be you and me!”
“I did,” he states combing his hair out of his face, “I knew you’d be here because you’re the most moral of the group, and I knew something was up when I got to school today so I didn’t leave with the rest when they asked. But now I wish I had stopped them.”
“Not like you could have stopped them all.” I answer, dully.
“You really think that Pip?”
“Of course I do, we’re The Burnouts.”
It had been about two hours since the game started and already I was over it. Donny and I couldn’t leave, because outside of the Projection Room was Drama territory. And we couldn’t take them all by ourselves. So we decided to empty the contents of our bags and see if we could use anything to barter with.
“Alright what do you have, Pip?” Donny asked, leering over my shoulder.
“I’ve got a new pack of winter mint gum, my makeup bag, not up for trading-” I say harshly as he stares at my expensive burgundy lipstick, “um, I’ve got some textbooks that we could use as stepping stones, a couple of joints, two lighters, a city bus pass, and my wallet which has about $12, my license, a school ID, a fake ID, and my blood donor card.” I finish with a sigh.
“We could probably use the bus pass, the money, the fake, and of course the joints.” Donny responds.
“But…” I begin to protest. I don’t want to give away my joints, but I’d rather have $10,000.
“What about you?” I question, watching him empty his backpack on the school desk we’re sitting around.
“My bowl, a lighter, my sketchbook, my grinder,” he says fiddling through the pile.
“Anything in it?”
“Nah…but I have this homework pass for Mr. Woodlin’s class! I’ve also got a master key-”
“What!? You have a fucking master key and you forgot to tell me this?” I freak. We could have escaped through the vents by now. And as soon as I think it, I can tell Donny is thinking it too.
“We can take random crap and tape it together and throw it at people from the vents and they’ll never see us coming. We’ll just see them falling!” I squeal. We just may have a chance at
winning. Donny and I split up searching the area for anything we can use as canons. We only end up being able to make like seven, meaning we’d have to be really selective on when to use them.
“Ok let me get on your shoulders so I can get up and then I’ll pull you up,” I assert. So Donny rows over and faces his back to me and I carefully stand on my own chair before reaching my left leg over his left shoulder. He grabs my calf a little to forcefully and I nearly wobble out of my stance.
“Pip, chill out I got you!” He reassures me. Once sitting on his shoulders, Donny hands me the mop oar and we row over a bit closer to the vent opening.
“Dude the key!” I sigh, realizing I should have taken it before getting on his shoulders, but he doesn’t have too much of an issue handing it to me. I unlock the vent, only to be greeted with dust, since we’re in one of the only abandoned rooms in the whole school.
I reach up and plant my hand on either side of the threshold and heave myself up. The vents aren’t as small as I imagined them to be but still not spacious by any means. I look back down at Donny as he stands on his chair and passes me our backpacks, before reaching his hands for my own. It takes awhile to get him up since there’s hardly any space for me to lean back when I pull, but after about ten minutes we manage to both fit in the airways.
“We cannot be loud while in here, any noise could echo and someone could call a custodian to get us.” Donny whispers almost inaudibly.
I don’t even think we crawled for twenty minutes before our combined weight made the weak metal collapse beneath us. We had crashed on a couple of hard plastic tables. My vision blacked out for a moment and when it came back all I saw were Cheerleaders surrounding us.
“Well, well, well, looks like we’ve got a couple of Burnouts on our hands, girls,” said Rhonda, the psychotic head cheerleader. You could never tell if she was sweet Rhonda, or mean Rhonda, and that what scared me most about her. We both slowly sat up, noticing the elaborate maze of textbook stepping stones on the ground when I heard,
“Hi, Donny!” from some stringy sophomore with strawberry blonde hair and cystic acne. How unfortunate.
“Strap ’em to the stools” Rhonda ordered and before I could even blink, Donny and I were tied back to back on two stools. Great, this is exactly how I planned today going. Nothing like being held hostage by some psychotic Cheerbitches.
“Now don’t you girls think you’re being a tad over-dramatic. Open the backpacks, smoke a joint, untie us.” Donny insisted smoothly. All of the Non-Burnout girls in school loved the Burnout guys because they wanted to “fix” our “bad boys.” If only I could efficiently roll my eyes all the way back into my skull. Donny was the most popular, but I couldn’t blame these thirsty girls, because he really is attractive. 6’1, decently built, dark hair that’s long but not too long, light blue eyes, but his voice was his best feature. However, after being friends with him so long, I eventually just stopped fawning over him.
Rhonda’s second in command, India, walked back over to our bags and searched for the joints. I couldn’t help but internally sigh deeply. With how things were going it looked like I was losing the ten grand and my joints.
“Ooooooh! Look at this Nars lipstick!” India squealed.
“Please, put it down.” I beg as calmly as I can.
“Oh no. We will use this to mark our territory. I don’t know where you two have been, not that I care, but The Cheer Republic has made great advances in expanding our empire.” Rhonda explains.
“Wait, I’m confused are you an Empire or a Republic…” Donny trails off.
“Shut up Burnout, you are the only two players in Projectile Vomitville-”
“Rude, why are we Projectile Vomitville that doesn’t even have anything to do with our Clique!” I huff, cutting Rhonda off.
“Do you actually even care, you’re territory of which you were named for, has been claimed by the Drama Kids during the Battle of Stairwell E and Hallway 213.” Rhonda went on.
“What the fuck happened in the past two hours?!” Donny asks wildly.
India replies solemnly, “A lot Donny, a lot.”
“Ok so are you letting us join your ranks?” I ask,squirming in my stool. This was absurd, there was no need to tie us. But all I heard was their evil laughter. They were like robots with evil robot leaders.
“Absolutely not. We plan to keep you here until the very end and then kill you off, just so you feel like you’re close to winning, but you actually have no chance” India says wickedly.
“Ok but why?” Donny sighs.
“Because we know what really started The Seven Quarter War.”4 They all replied in perfect unison.
Yup, definitely robots.
“Please do enlighten us,” came Donny’s inevitable sarcastic response.
“Well, I suppose we could,” India says looking for Rhonda’s approval, “We do have at least another twelve minutes left to recuperate.”
“From?” I question. I feel like years have passed since The Announcement was made.
“Cutting down the last of the faculty.” Rhonda responds with an evil grin.
“The whole faculty is out???”
“Duh. The second the principal like said the faculty was a Clique the whole school turned on them first. I mean like it only makes sense. Like what kind of school would sponsor a game where the teachers get to like hit us.” Bursted another random Cheerleader sitting next to the one with cystic acne and strawberry blonde hair. As soon as she finished though, Rhonda and India both turned to her with sharp glares, and the girl went back to texting.
“Anyway, so we really want to win, obviously. So we decided to call in some back up schemers.” Rhonda continued.
“You can’t do that!” I interject.
Rhonda freaks, “Do you ever just shut up and let someone speak?”
“Nice going, you just woke up mean Rhonda.” Donny whispers to me. I shiver from a cold chill, probably.
“ANYWAY, we called last year’s leaders and after giving us the perfect plot to win this thing, they told us about what really went down. Apparently one of the Drama Kids was having a secret affair with one of last year’s leaders and it ended pretty messily and I’m sure you know the Drama kids aren’t the only ones with a flair for dramatics.”
“That’s it? That’s what sparked a war that would last seven school quarters?” Donny says, clearly dumbfounded.
“I don’t understand why you’re being so blasé about it. It was pretty serious” India retorts, now clearly offended.
“Not serious enough to create even more division in this school!” I say, agreeing with Donny.
“We had nothing to do with the rest of the school choosing sides” India counters, flicking her head up snobbishly.
“You guys literally held up the main office to announce over the intercom that the Cheerleaders would socially execute any Clique that tried ‘playing Switzerland’.” I retaliate.
“Whatever, it’s in the past now.” Rhonda dismisses the conversation, as she walks back over to get my joints and lighter.
“Just know that if you light those, the rest of our Clique will be able to find us.” Donny warns, as Rhonda lifts the lighter to meet the joint between her lips.
“HA!” She scoffs, “Yeah, because I totally believe that the rest of you’re pathetic excuse of a Clique is in the school right now.”
“They are!” I try.
“No they aren’t! I saw the rest of them leaving right before The Announcement was made.” Pipes yet another random Cheerleader. God, they have eyes literally everywhere.
“See, you guys are notoriously known for skipping to get high. And that’s what makes you Burnouts and us Cheerleaders that smoke.” Rhonda snickers.
Suddenly, something clearly heavy crashes against the door of the classroom we’re in.
“Maybe the rest of our Clique really did smell the lit joint.” Donny hopes, as the door comes crashing down in a cloud of smoke.
It’s hard to see exactly what is entering the room, all I know is I’m terrified because I have no way to escape since I’m still strapped to a stool.
Until I’m not.
“Take my hand I’ll explain when we get someplace safe” a voice says to me amidst the smoke, chaotic screams, and the sounds of bodies hitting the floor. I do as I’m told, and run with my mysterious hero.
“I can’t see where the stepping stones and floor differ!” I tell my rescuer, to which he immediately lifts me in his arms and hops over books and bodies to get to the hallway.
Once we get to the hallway I notice he’s wearing a bandanna covering his face, with the exception of his dark eyes.
“Who are you?” I ask.
The rogue hero uses a lasso made of glittery ties to yank over two school chairs, “No time doll, we still aren’t safe here.”
He puts me down on a chair, and and we inchworm our way down the hall. “Where did you get these ties…” I question, suspiciously.
“Seriously?” He stops and turns back to face me, “You need to stop talking before you wake up the Locker Legion.”
What on earth? The Locker Legion? I look up at a clock, but the second hand isn’t moving, letting me know that it’s broken. We continue to slowly inch our way around the school until we arrive at the cafeteria. But it’s a mess. The tables and chairs are all flipped and pushed together in one corner like a large fort.
The rogue hero knocks twice quickly, and three times slowly on what must be the entrance.
“Where are we?” I can’t help but wonder out loud.
“Someplace safe.” He says, as the lunch table gates divide to let us in.