The speaker crackled to life, startling all the students in the room to attention. Thesaurus actually gave a little squeak of surprise before Spiffy shushed her, holding up a hand to demand the girl's silence.
"All classes are canceled. Busses will be here shortly to take you home. These busses are otherwise occupied: 429, 308, 318, 419, and 348. For all the students who drove here, we ask you drive slowly and carefully home."
Even before the announcement ended, Boy was slumped in his chair. 429. He was stuck here until 429 came to get him and Thesis and-
The other girl was gone and he caught her sprinting into the adjoining art room to talk to Elaina, his neighbor. Maybe it was about a ride home; she lived near enough to them. He started to gather up his tools, careful of the sharp ones, putting them back into the modified tissue box that acted as a basket: the stupid thing was red and shiny with snowflakes and snowmen in Santa hats. He had hacked off the top with an Exacto knife.
When Thesis came back in, it was with Elaina, who had her coat already on. Boy supposed it was one of the advantages to carrying it around all day. That and the warmth. She made Elaina sit in her chair and then raced out of the room again, looking for someone else this time.
He kicked his chair into place and balanced his current piece carefully in his left hand, the hacked tissue box in his right; it was harder to hold and his left hand was a little more coordinated than his right. He dodged Michaela and Alisa as they huddled closer together to discuss getting rides home. It appeared that their bus had been announced too. Nudging the other door open with his toe, he slipped into the small hallway that connected room 107 with room 109: it was a hall because it held the drying room and the furnace room as well as the refrigerator that held the inks.
The only reason that he remembered that at all was because Ecks had told him and Thesaurus once, more talking to herself, about how they had to fight to keep the refrigerator here: all the others had been banned to save energy and stuff. These inks were soy-based and had to be kept in a cool place.
Ironic, he thought, that the fridge was right next to the furnace room. This was his space, he had his own shelves and everything to keep his pieces. Tucking the most current one on the top shelf, out of the reach of careless freshmen and peering eyes, he put the tools far out of reach as well. No telling what those little freshies would do if they got a hold of some of those.
When he came back into the art room, there was a boy sitting in Thesis' seat with Elaina hovering nearby. Thesaurus had her coat in one hand and her keys in the other, prepared to leave.
"Why can't we just go now?" The boy sulked and slumped in the chair.
"We will wait. I don't want to be caught in a rush of people trying to get out of the parking lot." She leaned against the counter and Boy decided to approach her.
"Hey, could I get a ride too? Elaina and I are neighbors, so I was hoping…"
Thesaurus gave him a strange look, confused as to why he was acting like he did not know her, like they did not spend their nights together busting dealers, like they had never even met each other before.
"Sure, Bo- Alex," she corrected when Spiffy gave her a stern look: there were two people there who did not know what they did. "Um, this is Curt, my little brother."
Curt did not move to say hello, obviously still mad at his sister for not leaving immediately like everyone else.
"Ecks offered to let us stay here for a few minutes while traffic died down."
"Okay, makes sense. I'm gonna get my coat, be right back," He said, waving a bit.
"I'll come with you."
Thesaurus was at his side before he could say yes or no, so he shrugged and let her fall into step beside her, slightly distracted by the bright blue of her jacket that reflected the fluorescent lights.
"Boy, we have a problem."
She chewed her lip before answering, meaning the news was not good and the situation was more complicated than he thought.
"Your street is closed off. A plow slipped on ice and flipped in the ditch. I was listening to the news on my iPod."
"Elaina and I can't get home?"
"Well, you'd have to walk. That is the issue. My parents are stuck in their respective businesses and I've already gotten the green light for Elaina to stay. Her parents are in England. She left a message. I'll have to check with my parents before I take you home."
He made a noise low in his throat. "So I'm stuck here for hours until the bus comes."
"If it comes at all."
"What?" He stopped walking, confused. Thesis turned to face him, about five steps ahead of him.
"It's getting bad out there, Boy. In an hour, pretty much everything will be closed off or not drivable. The school road especially. It's open space, the drifts make it dangerous."
"We'll be snowed in."
"Essentially, yes," she said softly, not meeting his eyes. "I also anticipate massive power failure and emergency warnings."
He began walking again and she did not speak anymore, keeping step with him until they reached the stairs, falling behind him by a few steps: he could audibly hear her knee click every time it straightened out and he slowed down so that she could make it up easier and relatively without pain.
The hallway upstairs was almost abandoned except for a few stray students, freshmen and sophomores who would probably be stuck here until the plows could clear the roads and make them relatively drivable. One of the physics teachers had a radio on, listening to the news. Everywhere, there was power failure and accidents on the roads. Thesaurus limped along, her knee hurting her enough to making walking painful. He slowed again.
"Why is your locker upstairs?"
"I came late, remember? The odd one in the alphabet," He added, stopping to count the numbers. When he came to his, Thesaurus turned away a bit, making it so she could not see the combination he was dialing in. "It's not like there's anything to steal in here."
"I know. But," she began as he twisted the knob to the right for the second time, "it's kind of like an invasion of privacy, you know?"
Boy shrugged and pulled his coat off the hook. "Let's go."
Thesaurus had set Curt to work scraping snow off her windshield, occasionally telling him to hack away at some ice. She and Boy and Elaina were working on getting the car to open: the handled had frozen into place and a thin layer of ice coated Thesis' door. If she could not get in, she could not drive.
"Goddamned son-of-a gun fucking mother of a CAR!" Thesis kicked the door hard but it did nothing except get some icicles off the bottom. "FUCK!"