It is the final test of the year; in the class I dread most: Algebra. The teacher tells us to take our seats. I notice that the desks are arranged in an odd configuration. They are set up in rows of two, but each set of two is turned so that the person at the desk sharing your row is facing you. I guess this makes it a little harder to cheat because their paper is upside down, but I would think the teacher would separate the desks altogether.
The teacher hands out the exam. As he is doing so, he tells everyone not to start, until they are all handed out. I began writing my name, anyway.
Just after I finish doing so, another student, Josh, stands up. When standing, the fire alarm is within his reach. He pulls the handle down.
Our class files out of the classroom door, across the hallway, and down the long winding stairway. The lighting is eerily dim. I feel as though I’m traveling down an ancient tunnel. Everything is a dim yellow ochre; with a moldy green tinge.
I notice that Josh is right behind me. I turn slightly and whisper, “I don’t believe you.”
“Ssh, no one knows.”
“How can you be sure?”
“Everyone was busy.” He puts his hand on mine, as we walk and slide our hands down the railing. “No one was looking at me, except you.”
Admitting to myself that I’m attracted to him, I blush mildly. As embarrassed as I was, and as awkward as it was to walk this way, I still kept my hand beneath his.
When we reach the bottom of the staircase, everyone is crowded around the door. They are all staring out beyond it. When I look out, all I see is an ocean. An ocean that had not been there before. The only place we can go, is back up the stairs. Everyone else starts to panic; only Josh and I know we are safe from the fictitious fire.
As we ascend, the lights go out. The sudden darkness causes mass hysteria. Everyone, except me and Josh, begins screaming. In order to get everyone’s attention, the guidance counselor begins yelling above everyone. Once everyone is quiet, she says, “We have torches for light. If you are to be a torch bearer, I will come around to you. All torch bearers will be given black robes that they must wear. When someone comes to relieve you, give them both the torch and the robe.”
We proceed up the stairs. After a few moments, I am told to bear a torch and am given my supplies. Josh tries to stay behind with me, but he is commanded to continue on without me.
It isn’t too long before someone comes to take my place. I hand over the torch and robe; then continue up the stairs. I look for Josh as I go, but I cannot find him.
When I finally reach the top, I am very confused. Instead of a hallway of classrooms, there is a long road in front of me; there is a fence to the right and a forest to the left. The scenery is the same, all the way to the horizon. We all begin walking along this road. A road that seems to have no end.
After a little while, a group of horses charges out from the forest. The horses are ridden by what looks like medieval rogues. As they ride, the rogues pull students up onto their horses. I look closer at the rogues and I am astonished. Josh is one of them!
Once each rogue has pulled someone onto their horse, they vanish off into the forest. The rogues keep coming and going until everyone is gone. Everyone, except me. In the end, I find myself walking the long road alone.
I hear a bell ring. The road and the forest vanish from my sight. I am, once again, sitting at my desk and Josh is in his. I look down at my exam. I have not written a thing, and that bell means that class is over.