People had been disappearing everywhere.

For four years there had been an astounding number of people leaving the Earth. Missing cases shot through the roof, suicide hotlines were overrun with calls from desperate teens and children. Detectives had their hands full with countless homicide cases all over the nation. People started pointing blame at anything and anyone they could. They blamed terrorists first – when in doubt, blame those who have already harmed you. They moved on to blame things in their own society, lashing out against violent video games and the internet.

Parents who still had their children alive clung to them desperately, terrified of loosing their little ones. They restricted them from games, took away all television, and disconnected their internet service. Those who had lost their children grieved, and eventually lost themselves in a delusional world where they were still one big happy family.

Kids under the age of eighteen were disappearing all around the United States. The fact that no one had an answer to the reason why was driving the adult world into a mad frenzy. The crime rate skyrocketed, the law became even more abusive than before. No one played negotiations any more, every situation was point and shoot, no questions asked. If they survived, they'd be patched up and thrown in jail, if they died, then that was on less crook to worry about.

The nation was loosing its mind over the simple loss of children.

While adults couldn't seem to fathom the reasons as to why the child mortality rate had drastically changed for the worse, the children had their own ideas. Schools were more strict, security amped to make sure all children would only leave with their parents if under the age of eighteen. Classes however, were a different case. Teachers had become scarce, lessons even more so. The children could do what they wanted so long as they caused no other children any bodily harm and stayed in the classroom. Trips to bathrooms and lockers were taken one at a time with a security guard or the teacher.

The kids were getting tired of the adults smothering arms.

One particular girl who was fed up with her mother's clingy nature went by the name of Blair. Her mother smothered her with the powers of an overprotective mother when the whole thing started when she was thirteen. She had just barely turned seventeen, and her mother still wouldn't lay off the five-year-old-child treatment. She sat in her desk, attacking her blonde hair with a pair of scissors she kept in her bag. She hacked away at the light yellow tresses, reducing seventy-five percent of it into choppy jaw-length strips. It stood out in contrast to the long trail of hair that dropped from the back of her neck and stopped in the middle of her back. Blair pulled out a mirror, and held it up. Ignoring her boring brown eyes, she checked her hair, picking and lifting random strands.

No, it needed to look a little messier if it were to annoy her mother.

"Hey, Joshua," she called, still picking and teasing the short locks of her hair. "How does this look? Good enough for my final debut?

The brunet she spoke to turned, his blue eyes looking over her appearance as she requested. Joshua had been Blair's best friend since they entered high school. The two had ended up in three classes with each other, got to talking, and had been best friends ever since. He gave her his lazy, crooked smile – his recent trademark – and picked at Blair's hair a bit with her. "Well…I think it could use some hair spray…but other than that, looks great."

The two had spent their 'confinement years,' as they liked to call it, finding the most unusual and odd things to wear, ranging from abstract patterns to zebra print. On anyone else, their crazy combinations would look like crap, but they were the type who could put on a homeless person's wardrobe and still look like it was carefully planned.

At the moment, Joshua was wearing a black shirt spattered with blue paint under a plad flannel. That was paired with a tattered pair of jeans with a huge tear in the left knee and a pair of army boots. His brown hair was jaw length and messy, as if he had just got up in the morning and walked out the door. Knowing Joshua like she did, she wouldn't doubt it for a second if he said he did.

Blair wore a bright and childish Hello Kitty shirt with marker stains all over it with a black jacket covered in patches. Whether the patches were there to cover holes or just there to look out of place, no one but Joshua and Blair knew. Around her hips was a pair of low-rise jeans spotted with bleach stains and frayed at the bottom. On her feet she wore blue and pink checkered slip-on Vans.

Both were growing tired of the school scene, they glanced to each other for a moment, mouthing a conversation. It consisted of the usual, 'let's ditch this joint,' and 'right out the window.' Soon after, they started kicking at the desk in front of them. In that chair sat the total nerd of the class. He was constantly bullied before the total lockdown on all children, and Blair had struck a deal with him. In return for their word not to join the bullies when all this was over, he had to be their distraction whenever they felt like escaping.

The boy jumped from his chair and raised his hand, "M-Mrs. Jibril!"

The teacher turned to his call, a smile plastered on her stressed features, "Yes sweetheart?" Mrs. Jibril had lost her son two years back, and had become completely devoted to her 'teaching' career in an effort to replace the child she lost.

"I-I need to go to the bathroom."

The class erupted into a small storm of laughs and giggles. Everyone but Mrs. Jibil knew what that meant. The first few times people caught on, the some of the other trouble makers tried to get in on it and asked to go with Blair and Joshua, but after being turned down for a straight week, they gave up. The oblivious teacher held her hand out for the poor boy and led him from the room, locking it behind her. As soon as the footsteps faded, Blair and Joshua were out of their seats. Those sitting by the windows knew the drill by heart; open and move. Blair climbed out first and hugged the side of the building before she reached the tree. She grabbed onto the branch and swung herself up, locking her legs in place before she pulled herself up into a perch on the branch. Using the climbing skills she had developed from years of adventuring, she lowered herself carefully through the branches of the tree until she reached the ground.

Keeping close to the trunk, the blonde peeked around the wooden base for any sign of security. Seconds later, Joshua dropped down next to her. He didn't bother to brush the leaves from his hair as he waited for the okay to move, instead, he watched the windows Blair had her back to, making sure no 'teacher' was going to decide to look out the window for some strange reason that had nothing to do with the rustling in the tree outside.

"Okay, we're good, let's go."

Both teens broke into a run across the stretch of dead grass that had once been the school's beautiful football field. There were no shouts that trailed after them, no adults screaming at them to come back. The two reached the fence in no time and climbed. Joshua was the first over, his feet landing on the ground with a hard stomp on the pavement, followed by the slap of Blair's shoes kitting the sidewalk. They tapped fists before proceeding to stroll across the vacant streets and into the alleyway.

The world was nothing more than a junkyard to explore now that everything had submitted to chaos. There were abandon homes, bankrupt empty stores, empty lots and abandon playgrounds, all for the taking. Every day, Blair and Joshua explored another section of town, using any kind of transportation they could find aside from the pathetic public transportation they had recently.

"So, I heard the home schooled kid two doors down finally killed himself," Joshua voiced out of no where.

Death had become a casual conversation to the children recently. There wasn't a day that passed that a child heard of another kid dying in one way or another. It was in the news paper – that is, if no one stole it before their parents went outside to retrieve it. It littered the news every time it aired. This child died because of this, another child died because of that, blah, blah, blah. It was repeated so often that speaking about it was like discussing the latest episode of an anime among geeks.

"Really?" Blair questioned, "What's so interesting about that?"

"He left me a note."

The blonde turned to her friend, a smile splitting her lips, "No way! What did it say?"

"Here, I have it with me." Joshua fished into his pockets in an attempt to retrieve the item he claimed to have. After a moment, he produced a crumpled piece of paper and tossed it to Blair. "I had to hide it from my mom; she would have burned it on the spot. I think it's pretty cool."

Blair eagerly opened the letter and began to read. It was messily written, as if the kid had been in a hurry. The basics she managed to pick up from it was he thought he was being watched. Whenever his mother wasn't in the room, he felt a dark presence with him, whispering things in his ear. Sometimes he'd see a man walk through his room in the reflection of his mirror, but when he turned to look, there was no one there. He said there was a reason why other kids were dying, there was someone out there making them disappear and kill themselves. The last thing he said in the letter was the only way to find out what was going on was to die before turning eighteen.

"Wow…" she breathed, lifting her gaze from the letter to look at her friends. "Do you think it's true?"

Joshua shrugged, "I don't know…but there's only one way to find out."

Blair's eyes flashed with mischief, "You really want to do it then?"

The brunet was quiet a moment, pondering the choice. Death may be a topic thrown around loosely for their generation, but actually dying was another thing. It was a big step, there were no 'undo's when it came to the final step. "Well, I suppose it's 'do or die'."

Blair threw her hands into the air with a laugh, throwing the letter up as she did so. The paper fluttered down for a second before a gust of wind carried it away. "How do you think we should do it? Suicide? Provoke a gangster or a druggie?"

Joshua opened his mouth, prepared to state his opinion, when the distant sound of a train horn interrupted him. Both their faces lit with smiles at the same time.

The train.

On a silent signal, both seventeen-year-olds took off in a run. They jumped over any rubble that would slow them down as they took the quickest path they knew to the tracks. It was an easy death; all they had to do was stand there. Blair and Joshua soon came to a stop at the small hill that led to the tracks, both breathless from the run. They looked to each other once more before holding hands, lacing their fingers together in a symbol of friendship.

The two of them then climbed the hill and took their places on the tracks, waiting for the train to come into sight.

"What'll we do if there's nothing beyond this? What if that kid's letter is fake?" Joshua asked. There was nothing aside from his question that would signal his resentment towards their decision.

"Huh, how's this, if we die and there's nothing more than being ghosts, we'll go find that kid and kick his ghost ass."

Joshua laughed, "All right, sounds good enough to me."

"To our friendship," Blair declared, swinging their hands back and forth, "Truly friends 'til the end."

"To our friendship," Joshua echoed.

Both 'whooped' their excitement as the train's horn blared louder. The tracks they stood on began to shake with the approach of the metal beast. Still standing there, grinning like the mad teenagers they were, Blair and Joshua greeted the train together.

Author's Note: Okay! So in case you didnt catch on and are new to this idea, this is called The Living Void, and is the sequal to Death Child. If you haven't read Death Child, then I have no idea what you're doing here. To those of you who are moving on to the second book from the first one, Welcome!

Yes, this is the sequal. Yes, I know I'm cruel for how I ended the first book. And yes, Ion is in this one. Whoo hoo! (I'm happy about the Ion thing too.)

I hope this one is as popular as Death Child was.

Maybe more? (*hope hope*)


Mekena VerSluis