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I knew I was nowhere familiar the instant I awoke, before I even looked around me; it felt wrong. Something that buzzed against my skin told me it was wrong, and empty—a long-time kind of empty, an empty that felt like abandonment. I felt it in that instant between waking and opening your eyes, but I didn't realize it until I stood and found that I was unsurprised to have woken up in a dirty, empty classroom. Empty desks sat scattered around me, a few still with papers left sitting out, and posters on the walls explained the parts of speech, basic multiplication tables, and the cursive alphabet. A short bookshelf sat beneath the dirt-smeared window, its books toppled over and a handful lying out on the floor. Against one wall was a larger desk, probably belonging to the classroom's teacher, with a computer, a phone, a small stack of books, and a myriad of other office supplies.

I went to the computer first, tapping first the mouse and then the keyboard. Neither had any effect. I crouched down to see the cords chewed through and hanging loose, making the machine useless. The phone was just as dead.

The only thing in the room that hadn't apparently been left abruptly long ago was a long paper rolled like a poster might be, left sitting neatly on a desk. No dust marred its perfect white surface, and a notebook had been left open in front of it, a message scrawled across the page.


Watch your step, and don't lose this.

Again, I was unsurprised. Everything felt surreal, like it was a dream, and I wasn't going to challenge anything that happened in a dream. I unrolled the paper and leaned over it, studying its odd curves and lines. It meant nothing to me, aside from the signature scribbled in the corner—SAM—but I rolled it again and took it with me anyway. Just in case.

My stomach demanded food before anything else, so I grabbed a heavy stapler off the teacher's desk and tested the door. It was unlocked and swung open easily—thank god for standardized safety regulations. Judging by the windows I was on the second story, so I made my way down the hall in search of a staircase. The school's cafeteria would most likely be on the lower floor. The rooms I passed seemed as silent and empty as the one I'd woken up in

With no idea of the school's layout, I wandered in circles for a good fifteen minutes even after I found my way downstairs. I saw no sign of anybody, much less somebody I would need to wield my makeshift weapon against, but I still clung to the stapler. With my luck today I would put it down and as soon as I walked into the next room be attacked. But when I crossed through the double doors that led to the cafeteria no gun-wielding intruders or zombies or other monsters jumped out at me. My footsteps were eerily loud in the silence.

The kitchen held not more than a couple days' worth of old but still technically safe to eat food, which worried me. Without food, I couldn't last long—I'd have to find another source, or catch my own. Surely there were animals somewhere around that I could hunt. Hell, I'd probably settle for rats once this supply started to run low. I turned the knobs on the sink but got nothing out of the faucet, so I dug through the remaining cabinets, coming up with only a single jug of lukewarm water. I took my find back to the classroom to make a temporary camp.

With the strange drawing taped up on the wall between a poster of color words in Spanish and the typical hang in there! image of a cat in a tree, and a growing pile of classroom-objects-turned-weapons beside me, I could relax. Whether I was in danger I didn't know. What had happened to my shadowy memory I didn't know. I didn't know much of anything at this point, and yet things seemed clear. This place was empty; I wasn't going to get anywhere looking for somebody to give me my answers. I would have to find them myself. And SAM, whoever they were, was key to that. I didn't know if they had anything to do with my lack of memory about even myself, or whether that little detail of my being here had been purposeful or accidental, but I didn't particularly care either way. I only wanted to know why. This was no dream, I knew, and I was going to find whoever could explain this all to me.

I retrieved the notebook that had been left for me, rereading the note. It was addressed to Griffin, a name that was both familiar and not, and meant as much to me as SAM did. Something in the words spoke of a danger I wasn't understanding, and it sent a chill through me.

I stood, digging through drawers in search of something more useful than staples, pens, and tape dispensers. Finding nothing, I finally looked up. A plastic-covered florescent light hung right above me, dead and dark. Dragging a chair closer, I climbed up onto it and pried off the cheap covering. It held two long, thin bulbs, which would surely cause some damage if struck against somebody. I pulled one out, holding it in both hands like a bat as I sat back down across from SAM's drawing.

Whatever danger I was being warned of, I wasn't going to let it find me before I got my answers.

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