Chapter 10 - Part 1

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Hypovolemic shock. It's what happens when the body experienced a sudden loss of massive amounts of blood. Organs couldn't get enough oxygen to function properly that eventually, they stopped working altogether, resulting in death. That's what Major Coleman told us when he broke down the news we were all expecting.

Aeris didn't make it.

When Major Coleman and his men arrived last night, they took Aeris away on a stretcher, her arms covered in bandage and all. They even give her a shot of something. He went with Aeris and instructed his men to take us back to the dorm. They can't really take us anywhere looking all bloody and half-dead.

"You want some more?" Darius asked.

"Yeah, thanks," I forked a couple of hotdogs on Darius' tray and add them to my plate of bacon, pancakes, and eggs. It was nine in the morning. We were having breakfast in the dining area, sharing the long, rectangular table made of three square ones pushed together. Darius, Scarlet, and Caprice were in charge of cooking again.

Now that the sun's up, we just saw the full extent of damage the Shade had caused last night to the dorm. All the windows were shattered. Major Coleman had the electricity shut off. It was a hazard, along with the broken lights. At the corner of the room was the heap of pieces of sharp glass that sparkles when sunlight touches it. It's a good thing the bodies had already been collected so we were spared from seeing any more grotesque spectacle before breakfast. But there were still dark stains on the carpet on the second floor. Same clean-up as with Kent's death.

But all is not grim for us. We told Major Coleman what happened and hand him our reports this morning. He was especially excited when we told him how the Shade never came back after we burned its body. I noted that it was important to burn all of it, hands, feet, everything, based on what everyone said. I reasoned that it's why the Shade never came back. There was nothing left of it. Nothing to grow back again. Of course, this is just wild speculation on my part, something I can never hope to prove but the rest agreed with my assessment. And with that, he left us in the safety of the dorm once again and stepped outside, saying that he had some phone calls to make.

After what just happened last night, you would imagine a group of traumatized kids that having a feast would be the last thing on their minds. But no, we were in high spirits. Plates of food and Soda bottles littered our table. We were celebrating the fact that we just killed the Shade last night.

It was Leo's idea. He gave a speech about how we should focus on the fact that the Shade can be killed and do our best to keep each other alive, saying that by doing so, Aeris' death would not be in vain.

"It's what she would have wanted," he said.

And so we did. No one wants to talk about what happened to Aeris, anyway. Whenever her name was brought up, we just changed the subject.

Even though Leo said that, it was clear the death of his best friend affected him deeply. He wasn't he's usual self. He was flirting with or bragging to the girls. Even if Indigo or Harmony initiated a conversation, he would just smile politely, maybe give a one-word reply and continue rolling his sausage with a fork. In fact, he barely joined in on any conversation. Or even eat anything. He just kept playing with his food.

A pang of guilt stabbed my heart. I tried convincing myself that I wasn't to blame. That it was one hundred percent Aeris' decision. But then again, she won't have to make that decision if it weren't for me.

The door swung open and Major Coleman joined us. "Sorry for interrupting your meal but I want to make sure that the information we have on this year's Shade is consistent. I can't believe fifty years' worth of information on the Shade is now useless," he sighed. "Anyway, last night confirmed that the Shade does possess a physical body. And we have Vergil to thank for that." There was round of applause but I didn't particularly feel proud at the moment.

He then proceeded to list down all the other details we had written down. Here's what we agreed on in the end. One, the Shade can transform into a solid being, and only then will it be able to affect physical stuff. Second, it can transform any part of its body into anything. Third, U.V lights are still harmful to the Shade, no other methods are known that hurt the Shade. And lastly, burn everything of the Shade's body and it will never come back. "Anything I miss?" Major Coleman asked. And we just shook our head.

"I hate to do this, especially when you just lost a friend, but I have to do my job. And that is to keep you kids alive. So I have to ask, are we sure the Shade is gone?"

The question had us stumped. I didn't even think of that. No, that's not true. I just didn't want to consider it. In the back of my mind, there was this voice, always fearful, always wondering if the Shade would return. But I chose to cling to our victory over the Shade last night. I want to believe that we did it. And judging at my friends' faces, I'm guessing they do too. But now, Major Coleman is taking that hopeful feeling away from us by slapping us with some harsh truth. We don't know what happened. We don't know why the Shade disappeared. And we don't know if it will come back.

"I guess we'll just have to find out tonight," Major Coleman said when the only answer he got was silence. "Another thing that worries me is that a lot of my guys and one civilian ended up being butchered."

"You're asking if the Shade kills just about anyone now," I said.

"It's a thought," Major Coleman said. "A troubling one."

"I don't think so," I said.

"And why is that?" he asked.

"Last night, when the Shade destroyed the searchlights, it didn't come after any of your men. I mean, sure, some got killed and hurt but it basically left them alone after the U.V. lights were busted and sprinted to the door."

I got everyone's eyes on me now.

"And when the Shade smashed through the walls and jumped off the second floor, you and your men chased it, but the Shade ignored you. It came after our truck immediately."

I turned to Cana. "You saw that, right?"

She nodded. "It's like it couldn't care less about your guys, Major."

"And what about my men who followed you up the stairs?" Major Coleman asked.

I thought that was strange too. The Shade was literally in our faces, only a few steps up and we would have been minced meat. But instead, it didn't come after us, allowing us time to run to our rooms.

"Maybe it wasn't fast enough, I mean, half of its body was gone," I suggested. "And your men got closer to the Shade than it was to us since we were already at our room by that time."

Still, why the sudden change? Why bother killing Major Coleman's men when it can get through our door the same time it would take Major Coleman's men came up the stairs.

"It's thinking," Cato provided an answer. "Major Coleman's men were right behind and it can't get to us fast enough, it must have felt cornered. It knows your men can stop it and we can't, we didn't have the lights."

"They were trying to protect us, like the night guard," I said.

"So it took care of them first?" Harmony asked.

"The Shade felt threatened. It felt scared for its life, is that what you're saying?" Major Coleman added.

"Maybe not for its life. But for its goal," Cato continued. "Your men, the night guard, they were obstacles to its mission. So the Shade removed them."

"Its mission?" Major Coleman asked.

"Us," Cato said. "Dead."

I sat down on my seat. No one spoke a word after and just let all that sink in. Then I realized this is exactly what people feared. This is what led to the paranoia that brought about the worst mass hysteria ever recorded. Except this time, it's real.

"Major Coleman, if Cato's right about this—" I started.

"This should be kept secret from the public," he said, reaching the same conclusion as I did.

"Wait," Cana said, "Are you talking about that?"

I nodded. "History repeating itself. The Dark Year." 

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