Faces Faces melted. Jaw lines narrowed and stretched. Teeth grew pointed and yellow. Eyes dropped into dark wells and foreheads grew into bony, ridged Neanderthal domes. I stood in the hall and watched, and the faces watched me. I stood in the hall waiting for someone, something to come out of the dusty light to eat my heart. Jaundiced strips waved in tatters, like bits of flesh pulled free of bone. Getting through the day was an impossible job. When the bell rang, it rang forever. Walls buzzed, and doors slammed. I was alone. I stood, frozen, scared, locked in place. I could not run or hide. These monsters knew how to hunt me. Mr. Skarey found me. He said something, my name maybe, a spell to tear out my throat. He came, and he put his face into mine. He smelled of coffee and donuts. His eyes rolled free of each other. This was it. I was dying. “Are you okay?” he asked. Somehow the words slithered through the panic. His words made sense but still all I could do was shudder. When he put his hand on my shoulder I screamed, and he jumped, and we circled each other, feral and fierce. Things changed again. The voices told me to hide. The voices told me to get out of the building. I felt sick. I tried to run, but Mr. Skarey was faster than me. “Stop,” he said. “Just stop. Please.” I found a window. It refused to open. It refused to move out of my way. A chair waited for me in the corner and I swung like a stick at Mr. Skarey. I swung it like a weapon at the window. These were super windows. They did not break. They just rattled and stood between me and life. I swung and swung and swung and then someone took me down. Someone grabbed my wrists and sat on my back.
“The baby! Jesus, the baby!” Somehow it stopped. Somehow the racket dimmed, and the faces settled back to human standard. People gathered around to watch. Some of them looked scared. Others looked amused. A few people recorded the whole thing. It would be online soon. Shame and disgust soured everything. Still, I could breathe. Mr. Skarey asked if I was okay. I choked a little on the words, but they eventually fell out. “Fine,” I said. “I need to go home. I’m sick.” Mr. Skarey pulled me to my feet. He walked me away from the people watching. We got to a corner and stopped. “Can you tell me about the baby?” Mr. Skarey asked. “What baby?” “You screamed about a baby,” he said. “There’s no baby.” “Is there something I should know?” “There’s always something everyone should know.” Mr. Skarey made a face. I’d seen it before. It was his you’re not playing nice face. I didn’t really care. I wasn’t going to play by his rules just because he felt bad.