Zee's history classroom felt oddly empty and oddly isolated, which was strange, because it was wasn't empty or isolated at all. It was right in the middle of a busy, locker-lined hallway, and twenty-two of the twenty-four desks were occupied. One of these empty desks was usually filled by an imaginary ghost that Zee had dubbed Phillip, and the other, directly to her left, was where Jacob sat. This was probably why the humid room felt empty to Zee. She just had no one to talk to, which resulted in the peculiar feeling of being lonely in the midst of a horde of people.
The isolation was due to the fact that it was pouring down rain outside. The drone of rain pounding on the roof and the walls and the windows like it's all around you has this funny effect where the surrounding white noise makes you feel cut off and enveloped by the white noise. Zee felt this way.
It didn't help that it was a boring day. Another video about the Revolutionary War, yay, how exciting. Reenactments and awful medical care and bleeding feet, which Zee might have found interesting if the narrator didn't have the most annoying southern accent and monotone way of speaking in the known universe. He sounded like one might imagine a stoned cowboy to sound. Just imagine that for a moment. This, understandably, made Zee want to shoot herself. She didn't. Instead, she tried to focus on surviving long enough to eat the nearly-edible chicken nuggets that were going to be for lunch, but this didn’t work very well, so she ended up staring at some indefinite point in the air between her and the projector screen.
Eventually, though, she had something interesting to observe when the fire alarms went off and approximately five hundred people got incredibly annoyed, and some, rather scared.
When the blaring screech cut off the movie narrator in the middle of a beautiful (not) anecdote about Valley Forge, the teacher looked up from the book she was reading and looked confused, then serious, which was probably the worst possible thing she could have done, because it told everyone that this wasn't a planned drill and therefore made some of them panic and some of them disregard anything they learned in any fire drill ever and some of them run out of the room screaming like hysterical prairie dogs.
Apparently something similar to this happened in nearly every classroom in the school because the halls were in a state of mutiny. Teachers yelling, alarms alarming, students running, crying, shouting, being confused, pushing, shoving...it was insanity. You would think they would listen, but no, apparently not.
Among the chaos, Zee walked calmly, hands in her pockets, behind her teacher. She didn’t smell any smoke or anything, so figured she was fairly safe and didn’t have much of a reason to panic, so she didn’t. Why other people didn’t have this sense, she didn’t know. When she approached the doors, she pulled up the hood of her black hoodie to prepare for the sheets of rain cascading down from the sky. Everywhere, people were complaining about their hair, their makeup, their clothes, etc. Zee rolled her eyes. They should have work hoodies. Some teachers had grabbed umbrellas on their way out, and they used them to beckon their classes towards them. Instead of making everyone stand outside in the rain, some students were herded towards the city hall, just across the parking lot, and others to the elementary school across the baseball fields. At least it wasn’t dark. It was cloudy, and it was raining like someone was literally dumping down buckets of water at a time, but the sky was a rolling combination of light greys.
Zee’s teacher had an umbrella with skinny, horizontal, rainbow stripes, so it was easy to follow, and eventually she and the rest of her class were all crowded into someone’s office. They were told to quiet down, and Ms Hill called roll. Zee stood in the corner, idly playing a game on her iPod after she figured out the password for the wifi (it was the same as the network name. Whoever had come up with that idea was an idiot, they may as well just leave it unprotected). After calling everyone’s name, she ordered them all to be quiet, and went out in the hall to talk to the guidance counselor and principal, who were in charge and communicating with all the other important people in charge via walkie talkie.
As it turned out, they were stuck there for about twenty five minutes before they were dismissed to go back through the pouring rain to their classes. About ten minutes later, the principal came over the intercom to announce that it had been a kitchen accident and only smoke, no actual fire. So basically, everyone got drenched and cold for nothing.
Everybody felt a bit damp for the rest of the day. On a more unfortunate note than the school nearly burning down, Zee’s chicken nuggets were slightly singed and required a large amount of ketchup to cover up the taste. She decided the fire must have been a conspiracy by the lunch ladies to try to burn all the chicken nuggets in an attempt to spark a rebellion against the school district’s food so they wouldn’t have had to serve it anymore and the kids wouldn’t have had to eat it anymore. Unfortunately, this dastardly plan failed. Unless, of course, the goal was to run out of ketchup, in which case they did a spectacular job.