“Check it out!” Rebecca 'Beckers' Mulligan says, motioning towards the pyramid of clear plastic cups like a Price Is Right model. She has spent the last twenty minutes stacking them next to the empty punch bowl while everyone else has been putting the folding chairs up around the old collapsible tables. The thin plastic tablecloths hide the worst of the old, scarred plywood tops, but they are still pretty ugly with all the lights turned on.
“That's great, can you help us get the rest of the chairs out? I'd like to go home sometime tonight,” Aaron Elleson replies as he struggles with the three folding chairs he had hanging from each of his forearms.
“I'm sure Coach Jack wants to leave to,” Arabel Singh adds as she slides a chair under one of the tables set up to create a border around the designated dance floor area.
“Coach is probably sleeping somewhere anyway,” Gunther Arcineaux says, his voice not sounding like he is at all struggling with the eight chairs he had his arms threaded through.
“Or passed out drunk,” Aaron adds as he leans his chairs up against one of the tables still lacking chairs.
“I still have to put the rest of these signs up,” Beckers explains, holding up the small stack of carefully painted signs, each one saying some variation on the theme of “Back to School Dance 2014!”
“That's too many signs,” Arabel says, looking around at the signs already posted all around the gymnasium, “I don't think there's enough open space left for them.”
“I will find room!” Beckers declares triumphantly.
“Or at least you'll look until all the heavy lifting is done,” Aaron complains.
Beckers gets an indignant look on her face, but before she could some up with a sharp reply, one of the gymnasium doors flies open so hard that it bangs loudly against the wall.
Two men and a woman run into the gym. They men look vaguely similar to each other; pale, short black hair, white t-shirts, and blue jeans. The woman looks different; her skin is pale, like the men, but looks more ashen. She is wearing a black jacket over a black shirt, and has her hair tucked up into a black ballcap. She is also holding a gun.
The trio of newcomers stop, surprised to find the small group of teenagers in what they were expecting to be an empty gym.
“Dax, they went in there!” a woman's voice yells from outside, and a second later the door bursts open again. This time a woman with curly red hair and a large dark skinned man, Dax, presumably, come in. They are both wearing dark grey suits. The woman slows only long enough to see the woman with the gun before lunging at her.
The redhead lands on the armed woman’s back, driving her forwards into one of the folding tables, tipping it and the bouquet of tissue paper flowers over onto the floor.
One of the black-haired men charges at Dax while the other backs away. The aggressive man doesn't so much try to punch the large man, and try to scratch him with his fingers bent like claws.
The big guy steps out of the smaller man's reach, and the attack misses him by mere inches. He then counters with a right handed punch. His longer arms cover the distance between him and the man in the white shirt, and the punch connects with the side of the smaller man's head. The man in the t-shirt is knocked off of his feet like he's been hit by a car.
All of this happens so fast that the recipient of the blow is already hitting the floor before any of the kids can even register that blows have been traded.
The other man with the black hair grabs one of the folding tables, and lifts it off the floor as if it were an inflatable pool toy. He throws the table at the man in the suit, its tablecloth momentarily twirling in the air as it sails across the gym like a Frisbee. Dax blocks it with his right arm, shrugging it off like he had been hit with a pillow. The table crashes loudly to the floor, splintering wood shredding the thin plastic of the tablecloth.
The kids all back across the dance floor until their backs bump up against the stage. They are too afraid to be any closer than necessary, but too interested to run. Aaron fishes his phone from his pocket without looking, and starts recording the brawl at the other end of the gymnasium.
The table thrower rushes Dax, slamming into his midsection, driving back into the now closed door to the outside. The door bends outward, but the hinges hold.
The gun the two women are fighting over skitters across the gym floor, sliding under tables and chairs. The woman in the hat has managed to get to her feet, and starts to run after the gun, but the redhead is right behind her. She grabs the running woman’s shoulder with her left hand, and spins her so that they face each other again.
The big man and the table-thrower grapple with each other, seeming to almost bounce off of the walls at front corner of the gym. Signs and streamers that adorn the wall are torn free during their struggle, and trampled underfoot.
The ginger woman punches the other woman square in the face with her right fist. The woman staggers back, her hat flying off of her head. Long hair cascades down over the woman’s shoulders; it is an unnaturally bright red, and seems to glow faintly. The ginger punches her a second time, but when she goes for a third strike, the woman with the glowing hair manages to get an arm up to block.
The ash-skinned woman swipes at her curly-haired opponent with her hand, and her nails shred cloth and flesh where they make contact. The ginger hisses in pain, and staggers back a step.
The second man, the one sent by flying by the initial punch from the man called Dax, looks back and forth between his struggling cohorts, and decides to go for the gun sticking out from under the tablecloth of one of the tables near him.
He aims the gun towards where the ginger and the woman with the glowing hair, but cannot get a clear shot. He moves closer, dodging around tables that have been overturned by the fighting.
Dax sees the gun-toting man trying to get behind his partner, and kicks his dance partner away from him, and turns to pursue. Unfortunately his opponent rebounds of the gym wall, and launches himself onto the big man’s back as he turns around. The momentum drives Dax off balance, and drops him to his knees.
“Adams,” the big man yells as an arm squeezes around his throat, “behind y-“
Adams pushes back from the woman with the glowing hair, falling into the man coming up behind her back; she can feel the barrel of the gun dig into her back. She turns quickly, grabbing the man’s wrist, and twists again, putting him in front of her like a human shield.
The ash-skinned woman can’t pull back her attack in time, and her nails shred the man’s shirt and skin, but no blood flows from his new wounds.
Adams slides her hand up the man’s wrist and covers his hand with hers. She makes him the pull the trigger, firing the gun at the woman with the glowing hair.
Beckers screams as the gun fires, and ducks behind Gunther as the shots ring out, one after another, at the woman in the black jacket.
Stomach, chest, chest, chest, throat, throat, right cheek, right eye, the bullets all strike the radiant-haired woman until the gun clicks empty. The woman staggers with each impact, but does not go down. The shot to the eye does cause her to clap her hands over the wound, and let out a whispery curse; the best she can manage with the holes in her neck.
“I’m getting tired of this,” Dax shouts, back on his feet again, but with the attacker still hanging from his neck. He grits his teeth, and propels himself backwards into the gymnasium wall. The cinder block walls of the gymnasium crack where the pair impact, showering them with paint and brick dust.
The man’s grip loosens, and Dax reaches back, grabbing the man’s hair in his large fist. He yanks the man off of his back, and slams him down to the floor hard enough to crack the polished wood of the basketball court.
Adams shoves her meat-shield forward into the injured woman, reaches into her jacket. “Enough,” she says, “This ends.”
From her jacket, Adams pulls out a small stun gun. The remaining eye of the woman with the glowing hair widens at the sight of it. She tries to cry out, but the air only whistles through her wounds. She shoves the man with the useless gun back at Adams, and turns to run.
Dax reaches behind his back, and pulls a combat knife from his waistband. He raises it over his fallen opponent.
The walls shake when Adams triggers the stun gun. Instead of a small arc of electricity between the points on the business end of the gun, a small ball of energy appears, launching towards the man with the shredded shirt and the empty gun.
The fallen man puts his hands up in self-defense as Dax brings the knife down. The blade slices through the man’s hands, pinning them to his chest and the knife is driven home.
The teenagers have to shield their eyes as twin volcanoes of light fill the room; erupting from the chests of the two men.
Dax is thrown up into the air by the lightshow. Arms flailing, he rips through streamers that had carefully been strung between the basketball hoop at the end of the gym out to the walls. He crashes down into an overturned folding table, snapping it in half.
Adams is tossed away from her target, bouncing off of a table and into the wall before dropping to the gymnasium floor.
When the light dies down, there are only piles of clothes and ash where the two men were, and Dax’s knife is sticking up from the gym floor. Most of the tables are knocked over, many of the signs and decorations that were affixed to the walls now litter the floor, and most of Beckers’ cup pyramid is rolling around the floor. As if in one final insult to the kids’ work, a large, hand-painted banner reading “Back 2 School Dance 2014!” that had been hung above the stage flutters down, landing on the floor in front of them.
“She’s gone, Dax,” Adams says, picking herself up, and tucking her stun gun back into its holster under her jacket, “She got away again!”
Dax shakes his head, and plucks his knife out of the floor, “ Come on, she can’t have gone far yet; she might still be in the school,” and with that he crosses the room, completely ignoring the shocked looking teenagers, and exits through the open doorway to the locker rooms.
Adams walks over to the kids, acknowledging them for the first time,” I’m sorry about the…” she motions to the ruined decorations around them, “It looked nice though.”
“What the hell just happened?” Gunther asks.
Adams smiles, “Closer than you know there, but nothing; nothing happened. We were never here, and you didn't see anything,” she says this last looking right into the lens of Aaron’s phone right before snatching the phone out of his hand, and slipping it into her jacket pocket.
“Hey,” Aaron protests, “That’s mine!”
“It is, and you will get it back just as soon as it has been cleared of any evidence of what didn't just happen,” Adams smiles, “Everyone gets what is coming to them eventually; everyone gets what they earn. It will all work out, just have some faith, okay?”
Adams strides away from the kids, following her partner. She hopes the clean-up crew arrives in time to get the gym back in shape for the kids’ dance.
“She took my phone,” Aaron says to others, “How can she do that?”
“You let her,” Arabel responded.
“D’you think they’re , like, men in black or something,” Beckers asks.
“I think we’d be best off never discussing this again,” Arabel says, “No one would believe us anyway.”