After the Storm
Chapter 2: Rain of Fire

Preston's POV

Algebra II. It was almost as evil as something could possibly be. I hated Algebra II, and Algebra II hated me. We were born to be enemies; In my opinion, the entire subject was almost as evil as Hitler sacrificing live puppies in front of the cash register at Toys-R-Us. I guess you could say that Algebra II was the entire reason my life was turned completely upside down. After all, it was the reason I was in the library in the first place.

I sat there, hating life and mathematics, trying to make sense of the complex problems. They seemed to only get more complex as I stared at them, so I quickly gave up. At one point, the complex equations jumped off the page and started dancing and taunting me. I slammed my book closed; I would just have to beg my teacher for help later.

I looked around my empty study table and saw that it was the only table that wasn't full of chatting teenagers. The stuck-up rich kids here never talked to me any other time, and the reason could be summed up in two words: scholarship student. I wasn't as good as they were and every single one of them made the fact perfectly clear. It's not like I was lonely anyway...

The bell rang, signaling the beginning of lunch, and ever so slowly, all the overly chatty teenagers filed out of the library. I sat as they walked out, still ignoring me. I didn't care what they thought of me; I hated everyone that went to this stupid school anyway.

Well, that wasn't entirely true. There was one person that I liked, well probably even loved. Her name was AJ and she was the only reason that I didn't drop out of this lame-ass school. Sadly, it was a very creepy and unrequited love, if you could call it love in the first place. It didn't help that I knew for a fact that she didn't love me back, and probably never would.

I don't know how I fell in love with her, or when it happened. I always thought that falling in love with someone you barely knew was stupid and clichéd, and I had become an unfortunate victim; but no matter how pitiful I thought it was, and how much I hated myself for falling, it had happened. As stupid as it is, I became the walking cliché I hoped I never would become.

It probably stemmed from the fact that the moment I arrived; she treated me like an equal. To her I was just another student, and she treated me as such. It didn't help that she was the most beautiful being I had ever seen. Oh, and those eyes: I couldn't resist those beautiful blue eyes that would always see through my bull crap.

I was brought out of my stalker-ish thoughts by a gentle hand on my shoulder. Shocked, I looked up into the face of one of the librarians. I had never talked to the woman before now, and I realized how much she reminded me of my mother. I don't know if it was the gentle look in her brown eyes, or the way she dressed, but either way I was reminded of my mother.

"The bell rang a while ago, hon. I just wanted to make sure you knew." I nodded to her, but stayed seated. Her words only reminded me of my mother even more. Besides, I had no desire to join the masses in their midday meal.

"How long have you been sitting here?" she asked; I just shrugged. To be honest, I really had no clue how long I had been sitting there at that cheap laminate table. I didn't remember how I got to the library; now that I was thinking about it, I realized that I didn't remember getting up, or even going to bed last night. Honestly, I couldn't recall the last thing I remembered.

I shrugged it off; the entire incident could be chalked up to raging teenage hormones and my lack of sleep. The librarian stood there as I thought, but eventually she wandered away, giving me a weird look and leaving me by myself once again.

I sat there a while longer, watching people bustle in and out. One of AJ's friends, Todd, I believe, walked in and passed me like I was completely invisible. I watched him go to the farthest corner of the library, by that weird statue, and shove something into the vent. As far as I could tell, it was a black, medium-sized package with a red-blinking light on it.

He started to walk away, but then another one of AJ's friends, Xavier, appeared from behind a bookshelf to my right. He crossed his arms over his chest and blocked Todd's way. From my corner if the library, it looked like they were going to have a Mexican stand-off.

"Todd, you can't do this," he said sternly. "Do you have any idea how many people this will hurt, no, kill?"

"I'm doing this! They mean nothing to me! Can't you see?This school is full of spoiled, rich brats!" he snapped. "Let them all die!" There was a fiery gleam in his eyes and whatever was going on definitely wasn't a joke.

Then it hit me. These two weren't talking about some stupid prank. Todd was setting a bomb off in the school, and it could, no, it would kill a lot of the people in this school.

"I don't believe that! What about your sister? I know you love her! She could die if you do this!" The crazy Todd guy looked hurt for about a millisecond, but he quickly covered it. I could tell that Xavier had hit a chord. However, Todd wasn't going to let the potential death of his sister get in his way.

"That is a risk I have to take," he barely uttered. I was so close to them that even though they were whispering, I could still hear everything that they were saying clear as a bell.

I was surprised that they hadn't seen me yet. Through the course of their conversation, they had both glanced my way several times. I don't know if it was chance or simply luck, but I had not yet been discovered. I wanted to get up and leave, but Xavier's next words glued me to my seat.

"When that thing goes off and the school blows up, what happens to AJ? Who guarantees that she is safe? Who determines if she lives or dies? I've seen the way you look at her; I know how you really feel about her. How could you live with yourself if she died?

"I mean, this bomb probably wouldn't kill her if she is still in the cafeteria where I left her. AJ might be safe, but think of everyone else. These are your classmates! Todd, this just isn't you!"

Todd just stood there, gaping like a fish. For a second, I though he was rethinking the whole "Let's blow up the school with a bomb!" thing. I was wrong.

"AJ is in the cafeteria?" he asked, as white as a sheet.

"Yes, she is."

"There is a second bomb in the cafeteria. I planted another bomb in the cafeteria."

Xavier closed his eyes. It looked like he was going to cry or puke, or maybe do both at the same time. From the look on his face, I could tell he loved AJ as more than just a friend. This fact kind of ticked me off because, seriously, how many guys could love AJ? Then again, I barely knew her, so I was one to talk.

"How long?" Xavier asked as he opened his eyes. Just as he did, an annoying beeping noise started.

"That beeping is the countdown. It was set to go off when there was thirty seconds left."

That meant that there was probably about twenty-one seconds left. I had to do something.

"Everyone get down!" I screamed as I flipped my table over onto its side and scooted it next to another one, forming the best protection that I could find on short notice. I dove under them and then peeked out at the rest of the people in the library. Nobody even blinked. They didn't seem to acknowledge that I was even there.

"You have no idea what you are about to do."

Xavier's statement hung in the air. There was silence: then the beeping stopped.

Todd threw himself at Xavier, knocking him to the ground and covering Xavier with his own body. Then within seconds, everything went to hell.

With a wall of heat and sound, the entire library came down around me. I could see books, bricks, and bits of statue were thrown effortlessly across the room before I retreated to the safety of my tables.

I could feel every little piece as it hit the table. I felt myself scooting back from the sheer amount of force from the explosion. In that moment, I was extremely glad that I had the sense to fix up the tables when I did; they had just saved my life.

It seemed like forever as the rubble rained down around me. The thick smoke and dust made it impossible to breathe, and the debris was successfully closing me in on all sides. I felt like I was suffocating. Imagine being buried alive;that's how I felt for the duration of the explosion. Let's just say it is not a feeling I want to experience again.

When the world around me finally stopped crumbling down, there was silence. Soon after the silence, chaos ensued. Sirens started to approach, as did the hysterical screaming of anyone that managed to survive. Numbly, I wondered how many had died, and the thought made me feel sick. How could Todd do something so horrible?

The answer was probably simple, but I couldn't think about it. Besides, when I tried, a weird dream-like sensation came over me. I figured it was probably just a mix of shock and fear. Heck, it was probably a bit of hunger too, because I honestly can't tell you when the last time I ate was.

To take my mind off things, I decided it would be a great moment to see just how bad my situation really was.

Thanks to the tables, most of the rubble had missed me. The only downside was that now I was boxed in. On every side of me, there was either part of a table, or rubble. Everywhere there where fragments of brick and random pieces of books and their shelves. I wasn't getting out anytime soon.

I yawned. The rational part of my mind demanded that I started digging my way out. The irrational part of me begged for a nap. Sadly, rationality won the argument.

I tried to push my way through the rubble on the sides, but it soon proved to be pointless. I pushed on the tables, but only managed to move it a centimeter and get tons of dust in my eyes. I went back to trying to dig myself out, I even tried kicking the stuff, but nothing I did was helping. I had just managed to wear myself out. Finally, I just laid there, completely defeated.

I knew I had to keep myself awake, but I was quickly losing the battle. The blackness quickly overtook me, and for a fleeting second before I was lost, I wondered if AJ was alive and doing the same thing.

A/N: Hello, this is Fishe here! I hope that you like my chapter! I can not believe how happy I am to be working on this story! I really hope that you love it as much as I do! This is the first chapter that I have written for this story, and I hope that you like my writing style even though you have mainly seen Phoenix's thus far. Please review and tell me (us) what you think of the story so far! I love the reviews and I know that Phoenix does too. Any and all reviews are appreciated.

Also, on a sadder note, recently my band director passed away. I was close to this extremely amazing man, so this is quite a blow for me. Even though he has passed, band is still dominating my life right now, so I will do my best with getting the updates out on time. The one you really have to worry about is Phoenix ;)