Friday, November 7, 2014

Prologue: Things That Every Schoolboy Knows

The author is deeply apologetic. He found out on Thursday that he had to attend a funeral, and did not get to this in time. Real pity, too, as he's had this ready for several days. Please forgive the very, very early draft, he doesn't have time to edit right now. Enjoy the first known major divergence point in between our universe and the Awesome Normal one.


Once, there was a school. And in that school, there were often many people. Each gathered into their little cliques, and most were satisfied, although few were happy. But one day, one group went too far, and pushed someone they should not have. This was not so uncommon, but the reaction was. And that reaction changed history, to a greater degree than one might have predicted. She nuked her high school, with herself, and her tormentors, inside.
Of the footage that she broadcast of the event, very little made it out. She had acquired a full ton of chemical explosives, and although she had mined sufficient uranium from near the foundations of her house, her setup did not have the precision required to make it go critical. She merely detonated the building and a nearby gas line, spreading radioactive waste across several neighborhoods, and probably causing the chemical leak in a local factory with the shockwave. The factory had been shut down for remodeling, and half of the earthquake measures were down as a result. One of the smoke drums, mandatory thanks to the factory’s proximity to the suburbs, was nearly full when it came loose from its moorings. Further safety measures failed due to its tap being open for draining at the time, and the resulting toxic gas cloud incited a rapid evacuation and contributed to the entire district being condemned and walled off. What little video was transmitted to the police department is transcribed as follows:
(Several seconds of blackness. The words Chem Lab B Cam 4 are faintly visible in white in the upper right corner. A cloth is pulled away from the lense, revealing a girl, tentatively identified as eighth grader Robin Underwood, already turning away. She is wearing a labcoat, and in her right hand is a small gray box with a large red button and a long black cord which leads under the table behind her. Faintly visible on the button is the word STOP in white block capitals, presumably taken from an emergency shutoff. There are large black bags against all visible edges of the room, although they don’t look terribly out of place on first viewing. There is unusually clear audio, seemingly because she is using a microphone plugged into the local sound system, although she does not appear to be holding one. The doors open, and four girls walk in, then stop.)
Centermost Girl (believed to be Brianna Callen, a popular girl and apparent leader of the group): Why are you here? I thought you’d learned your lesson.
Robin: You made it clear that you wanted me gone. “If it were me, I’d have killed myself,” was it? I decided to do it with a bit more… Heh. Flare. (She holds up the repurposed emergency shutoff, and gestures to the bags.)
Leftmost Girl, closest to the camera (probably Claire Vermont, a known compatriot of Brianna’s): Hey, hold on, don’t do anything hasty!
Robin (ignoring her): You hear about all those school shootings, and it all seems so stupid, you know? Small scale. Only work because people are idiots. I always told myself I could do better. That if things got to that point, I would make it impressive. Always wanted to see if I could make a nuke. Probably can’t, but there’s enough explosives here to wipe the school off the map, at least. A small victory. And I got to see your face. Any last words?
Brianna: Stop it. This was a pretty good prank, I’ll admit. But it’s time to stop. Go home.
(Robin grins and shakes her head.)
Robin: Bye.
(Brianna lunges at her. Robin presses the Big Red Button. One of the bags starts to explode, and the screen shudders and goes static, then dark.)

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