By Andi Lea
Someone was yelling in his ear, but Rowan was too shocked to move. The entire front quad of Wildwood High School was chaos. Emergency vehicles had pulled up onto the lawn. Students were running out of the building and climbing out of windows. Adults were directing people to safety. Rowan stood a few feet away from the front steps of the main entrance, which was engulfed in flames, staring at his own hands.
Less than ten minutes ago everything had been perfect. It was the first day of senior year. Rowan had been walking with Wayde to first period. They never made it inside the building. Something had gone wrong, terribly wrong. And it was his fault.
“The south side roof is collapsing!” A firefighter ran past, followed by several others.
A loud crack rent the air, windows shattered and glass littered the ground. A huge plume of black smoke billowed over the left side of the high school.
“Did everyone get out?”
Cries were swallowed by the noise. It was hard to tell what direction the voices were coming from.
“Back up is on the way.”
Where are the Gaeas? Why aren’t they helping? Rowan felt heat radiate from his hands, it was connected with something deep under the structure of the high school. The energy pulsing underground matched Rowan’s own. No, no, no.
“Clear the north side. Now!”
“Move, move, move. Go!”
The sound was deafening, like a heavy drumbeat in Rowan’s ears. He glanced up just in time to watch the historic tower above main hall tilt to one side and tumble into the building just before everything exploded. The blowback was intense. Rowan felt a rush of hot air flow over his body.
“This is Trish Roberts, channel thirteen news, live in Wildwood.”
An older man was barking orders. “Get those news people on the other side of the street.”
“I did this.” Rowan felt a familiar pulse of energy connect with his. The slow, steady drumbeat picked up again. This time it was drifting away, carried on a current of Air. Rowan watched the flames dance higher, spreading destruction further through the high school. He turned and stared at Wayde. “We did this.”
“What’s the four one one, hun?” Carson bumped Rowan’s shoulder. A shock of electricity ran down Rowan’s arm and the drumming sound stopped instantly.
“What?” Rowan felt like he should hide his hands, so he stuffed them into his jean’s pockets.
“Look at the British invasion!” Carson grinned. “Mr. Knight, you look fabulous!”
Rowan felt dizzy and closed his eyes.
“I’m here.” Wayde was whispering in Rowan’s ear. “We’re okay.”
“Oh-em-geezus, is that Burberry? Annos, I want to be your personal assistant. Shopper? Dresser?”
Rowan swallowed hard, afraid to open his eyes. “What just happened?” His voice was barely a whisper.
“Nothing yet, but the bell is about to ring a ding dong.” Carson sounded oddly cheerful.
“The bell?” Rowan opened his eyes and looked around. The sun was shining, students were walking to classes. Everything was the way it should be. The way it had been, before it wasn’t.
“Strike a pose.” Carson was holding his phone out, the sound of the camera startled Rowan. “This is so instagramiffic. Okay, celebutants it’s time to make an entrance.”
Carson took the steps so fast that Rowan couldn’t catch him. Heart pounding Rowan flinched when Carson pulled the front door open, but nothing happened. Three young girls, that Rowan didn’t recognize, rushed out the door and headed to the left toward the south building.
“Expect the unexpected.” Wayde grabbed Rowan’s hand and squeezed. I promise not to blow up the school if you don’t.
Agreed. Rowan glanced up at the tower and took a deep breath. He almost laughed, there was no way he and Wayde could blow up the school. Blow up a couple of bonfires, yes, but not a building.