Chapter 4:

The Descent

Ludicy - Reaching Out

He woke up, but seeing he was sleeping alone on his bedroom floor, the emptiness began building up in his heart once again. It was 7am, and he had to get ready for school. Daniel went downstairs and turned on the living room TV as background noise to drown out the loneliness. He got to school around 7:30, but there were barely any people there. Something felt off. There were a lot of teachers who called in sick for the day. That meant he didn't have to work for almost half the school day, which made him happy. Still, there was suspicion lingering at the back of his mind, but he accepted the situation and sat down. The dreaded English teacher entered the classroom and started explaining: "This morning, a large number of both faculty members and students called in sick. We are aware of the situation and are discussing what our next course of action should be. For now, the school will keep working in case any of our students need assistance. As you may have already heard, it is strongly advised not to exit your homes more than necessary to contain the spread. There is also some good news. Kyle's parents were called, and his attendance was lowered as a penalty for what he did to Jeniffer yesterday during class. There is a chance of him repeating the year since his attendance record was already fairly low." Everyone chuckled a bit, even in this dire situation. After that, the classes started. Finally, it was time for recess. Daniel, as per usual, went to the cafeteria just to loiter around. For a while, everything was the same as it had always been. Then something wondrous happened. Alex walked in. Daniel was surprised when she started walking toward him. "How've you been?" she asked. He didn't answer. Instead, he asked: "Why are you here?" Her answer didn't make sense to him; "What do you mean? I came to get you. We need to talk." She took him behind the school building. Without giving him time to say anything, she said: "I'm sorry for the past year. I know you may not believe anything I say, but please listen to me. I'm sorry for shutting you out without any explanation. I'm also sorry for making you think I was dating Jake." Tears started filling Daniel's eyes as he struggled to respond: "Why are you apologizing to me? I must've done something that made you angry, and that's why you went away. I may have wanted to know why, but I'm not even sure I deserve an explanation. The only thing I want to know right now is the reason you brought me here and apologized." Alex didn't say anything and hugged him. The flustered Daniel didn't realize what was going on, but he hugged her. When he did, he felt her hold tighten. Daniel felt at ease and stroked her long, chestnut hair that had the scent of coconut shampoo. He was glad she apologized, even though he never wished for it. His tears dripped on her hair, but Daniel couldn't stop himself from crying. He was just so happy. They stayed like that for a while. What made them come back to reality was the cursed bell of doom and salvation. They had to go back to classes. Before they did, Alex asked if she could come over. Without thinking, Daniel agreed. He spent the rest of the school day staring out the window, eagerly awaiting something interesting to happen. In the end, nothing interesting ended up happening. That was disappointing, but at least he still had something to look forward to. The bell rang for the last time, and Daniel headed home. Once again, he saw weird people on the street. There was a man who reeked of alcohol and was covered in something that looked a lot like ripped pieces of fur. Daniel also saw a young woman walking along the street, seemingly walking her pet. When he took a closer look, what was on the leash was a goliath bird-eater. He muttered: "Why would you take a spider on a walk? Do those even need to exercise? Also, why would you have that thing as a pet? Just the thought of it is enough to make me want to burn the entire planet." Walking by the park, he caught a glimpse of some weirdo in a T-rex costume attempting a backflip. "This world is going to shit," was the only thing he could think of. When he got home, it was 2 pm. He had an hour before Alex came by. There was a lot of cleaning to do and not a lot of time to do it. His room was like the city of Pripyat. There wasn't much junk, but it was all over the place. Under his bed, he found a laser pointer he had lost years ago, not working. Behind his TV, there was a sock. Around 2 months ago, he had spent 2 hours looking for that sock. There was a deflated party balloon from his 10th birthday. How that got there and why it stayed until now was beyond what his brain could handle. The only part of his room he didn't have to touch was his jigsaw desk, next to his work desk. With that, the hour passed quickly. The doorbell rings, the moment of truth is here.