This is for a contest on Gaia Online. The same one Where It's Led/Ain't that Unusual and Closer were written for. This time, the prompt was "the same M.O." and it couldn't be about crime in any way. I had a few ideas for it, but they all suck. This one--the one I actually wrote--sucks, too, but whatever. I'm in a major state of writer's block at the moment.

Anyway, the story had to be turned in by August 30th, at 11:59pm GMT. I'm in EST. GMT is England-ish. So on the night of the 29th, I get off this computer becauseit's my sister's turn, and eat dinner from 6-6:30. Then I get my disk and go up to my room to finish this story, because I figure I still have a few hours. I asked my dad what the time conversion to EST was so I knew exactly how long I had, and he says 11:59 GMT is 6:59 EST. Half an hour away. So I really quickly start freaking out and run to my room and practically bash the computer because it's slowly booting up. When it finally does boot up all the way, I ditch part of the plot in this story and just make it a one-day thing.

I had absolutely no ideas that I thought would work, until I started school Monday, the 28th. (Ugh.)There, I got to thinking: "The same M.O." And the idea of yet another school year came up. So I went with it.

Enjoy. It sucks, I know. More explanation at bottom.


It's the same as last year: The same rules, the same halls. Sure, the classes are all a level up from last year's, but they're still part of the same academic subjects. Yeah, there are different teachers, but they all try to say the same thing to motivate you, to get you to like them.

My sophomore year of high school begins with the bus ride from Hell. Along with having my route number changed over the summer, I find out the bus was overcrowded: Ninety-eight people to fit into forty-eight spaces. The rain that is falling outside like the world weeping for us poor students soaks through my light jacket as I stand outside my house waiting for the yellow vehicle to arrive, and what water forms droplets on my sleeves soaks through the sleeve of the boy I end up sitting next to on the ride to the high school.

After almost being late for my homeroom due to the bus's late arrival, I think my first day is going fine: My French teacher is back from retirement until the school can find a replacement for her, and for the first time in my life, I'm not shaking like a leaf with nervousness. When all the school papers are been handed out, the beginnings of the year's French class start, and I realize I haven't lost my spark for the language.

The long tone of the bell comes almost too quickly, and I hurry to my next class, passing frightened freshman in the wing we tenth graders share with them. History awaits like a tall mouth, waiting to chew me up and spit me out. It isn't a class I'm looking forward to, as I almost failed it last year, but I have no choice but to step through the door and take my seat.

When everyone is settled into their preliminary seats, the teacher steps into the room and closes the door behind him. With the silence in the room, the rumble of thunder and gaining winds outside fill the room. Not that it is anything bad toward the teacher, it's just really quiet as everyone takes in their new surroundings and educator.

"Hello, class," the teacher says, taking his spot at the front of the room. "My name is Mr. Cicotti, and I will be your History teacher this year." He seems flustered, nervous, and I guess he has every right to. The previous History teacher to occupy the room was one of the six teachers from the high school who retired last year, and Mr. Cicotti is his replacement. He looks awfully young, not possibly older than twenty-five, with nervous cobalt eyes and white-blond hair that hangs in such a way to give him a half-rocker look.

I'm obsessing, aren't I? I can't help that I'm attracted to him, whether it's wrong to think a teacher is cute or not. And I'm willing to bet I'm not the only one in the class with the problem.

Mr. Cicotti clears his throat nervously and looks at a paper on the table before him. "This is the tenth grade class, am I correct?"

Some students in the classroom nod. Mostly male, the ones that aren't still half-asleep after late wake-ups all summer long. The girls are all drooling on their desks. It's gross, but I'll admit, I'm almost one of them. But I want the year to start out right. Who knows? Maybe Mr. Cicotti will take a liking to me and curve my grades?

Yeah right. I can still dream, though.

Above, the lights flicker momentarily, another sign of the increasing intensity of the storm outside. Mr. Cicotti's staring up at them, probably wishing they won't go out on his first day teaching at our school. In an effort to calm himself, he begins calling roll. My name is first on the list, of course. "Lynlee Abbot." I try to give him a reassuring smile as I raise my hand, but I'm not sure how reassuring it looks.

He reads down through the list, calling every student's name but one, who he sends to the correct class to a chorus of snickers from the rest of the room. Then he assigns us seats in alphabetical order and passes out the introduction and syllabus for the course, as well as blank index cards.

Taking a seat on the table in the front of the room, he begins reading down the introduction paper. Mr. Chance Cicotti, it reads. Chance. I glance up at him as he reads down through the rules. In a way, he looks like a Chance. It isn't a normal name by any means, but at risk of obsessing again, I like it.

"This is my very first year of actually teaching," Mr. Cicotti is saying when I tune in again. "I student taught last year in two other schools in this state, so I have some idea of what I'm going. I would really appreciate it if you guys would cut me some slack and help me get used to this, at least for the first few months."

He wears a silver ring on his right ring finger, another one on each thumb.

"I won't be too hard on you if you won't be too hard on me." He looks around with those dark blue-green eyes as the lights flicker after another roll of thunder. "I hope this school has backup generators," he says, his eyes fixed on one of the lights and a grin on his face. As he gets down off the table and walks around it to the board, he says, "Before we go over the syllabus, I would like to get some information about you. If you would pull out the index card I gave you a few minutes ago and write the following information on it, starting with the first line."

I dig a pencil out of my backpack and do as he says, not wanting to disappoint the hot teacher. On the top line I write my name, then below it my parents' names, my address, and my E-mail address, in case he ever needs to get ahold of us. He writes his own E-mail address on the board, and I write that down, too.

There's something about his handwriting, something somewhere between being so neat it's feminine but just rough enough to be masculine. But at least it's legible, I tell myself, wanting to focus on my worst class instead of on the teacher's attractive qualities.

The lights go out as Mr. Cicotti collects the cards from us. I almost scream like a freshman because of the shock, but I manage to just look around. Once the backup generator kicks in, Mr. Cicotti finishes collecting the cards.

From the loudspeaker system comes the tone preceding an announcement. I think it's another introduction to the school year, or the first announcement of schedule changes. Instead, the principal's voice comes on, saying, "A tornado has been spotted in Loganton, and is heading this direction. Teachers and students, please follow severe storm procedures and remain calm."

My heart is pounding, my eyes are wide. Almost at once, everyone in the room gets up and starts for the door, but Mr. Cicotti yells stop before he goes on to explain. "Everyone remain calm," he says, but I can see the fear in his own eyes. "Go out into the hallway on the set of lockers on the left side of the door."

We all go out the door with the other students, all of us mortified. Mr. Cicotti then says, "Face the lockers, get on your knees, and put your hands on the back of your neck." My History class all assumes the position in front of the lockers. I can hear the wind whistling in my ears from outside. The tornado is getting closer. Hail begins pounding the roof and windows as Mr. Cicotti drops to his knees beside me and tucks his hands behind his neck.

All I can see is the beige locker in front of me. All I can hear is the pounding of rain and hail outside. The first day of school, which I had found myself excited about, is fast turning into one of the worst days I've ever lived. I keep wishing my parents are okay, wherever they are, that my pets are okay at home.

Mr. Cicotti is moving beside me, his shirt sleeve brushing my elbow as he repositions himself. Carefully opening my eyes, I look over at him. He's got his hands on the locker in front of him, and as he bows his head, his blond hair falls across his face. Still, though it, I can see him closing his eyes. All of my focus is on him and whatever he's doing, my subconscious's way of distracting me from the tornado.

His mouth begins to move, in silent words—or else words I can't hear through the crashing of noise still in my ears. The look on his face becomes tense, almost pained, and the first whooshing of the tornado can be heard outside. I want to call out to him to cover the back of his neck, but I'm so intrigued by what he's doing and so frightened by the tornado that I can't move.

Glass cracks, but doesn't break. I hear the tornado, now probably only a few hundred yards from the school grounds. The glass should have broken, I know that.

Beside me, Mr. Cicotti continues to chant the words, over and over again. The noise outside is almost deafening, and he looks to be yelling the words now, but I can't hear them.

The building shakes. Tiny pieces of rubble fall from the ceiling, but nothing big enough to hurt anyone. The tornado is probably going over it right now. Yet nothing is happening to compromise the structure of the building.

After what seems like hours, the noise and shaking begin to subside. The rubble stops falling, and I am aware of the screaming and crying around me.

I'm alive. Miraculously, we're all alive. I'm not even injured.

Beside me, Mr. Cicotti stands. I look up at him, dust in his hair and on his clothes. He's got this weird expression on his face, like he's not really in his body. Then he falls to the ground, unconscious. I want to go see if he's all right, but I still can't move.

The first day of school is supposed to be a bsic schedule: The same as the previous year. No drills, no assemblies, nothing but a normal schedule that will become the normal. Instead, my first day of tenth grade became a nightmare. While no one was hurt in the tornado, Mr. Cicotti's strange chant and actions are what I'm fascinated with. I know he had something to do with the school's stability and the cracking instead of breaking of the windows. When he wakes up, I'll have to ask him. Now, the clean-up of the tornado is beginning.

I can't wait to see my parents, if they're still alive. I know they're still alive, or at least it's what I want to believe. I have the strangest feeling Mr. Cicotti is the one who saved all of us, with whatever secret he's keeping. Maybe some miracle saved everyone else I know too?

The part where the girl's obsessed with the teacher was a bigger part of the plot I had before the half-hour rush occured. the end's also very confusing, which I'm not too fond of. Those of you who are very attentive will have noticed that Mr. Cicotti is from Kyoonyt. He's got a ring on his right ring finger, which is a sign of mourning for a loved one, as is mentioned in Monochrome. It also played a larger part in the original plot.

Right after the part about his handwriting is where the rush started.

Maybe I'll write it. Maybe I won't. I had a dream last night that I really, really loved, so I may write that up, and I still have to make a story out of the Goo Goo Dolls concert.

Please, leave a review.