9.1 Chaos Has a Sound

by Matt P.

Chaos has a sound. It’s an amalgamation of other sounds, but it has its own distinct tenor and quality—and every human being knows it on an instinctual level. It plays its symphony when the orchestra of confusion and wariness join in not just with fear, but with a very good reason to be afraid. It is the sound of a group becoming a mob, and a mob becoming a roiling mass; and it was the sound beginning to be heard in the gym of Dwight D. Eisenhower High School.

Siobhan, Antigone, and Tania hit the gym in a dead run just as the chaos was beginning. Six men were coming out of apparently nowhere, each of them holding either a gun or a blade of some kind in hand. They looked like move hit men in dark suits and pony-tails, except each man had a different shade of inhumanly colored hair on their head. Siobhan didn’t think they were dye-jobs, either.

“Damn!” Tania muttered as she saw the men coming in to the room. The students were beginning to run, making a mad dash toward them. Soon they would either have to move or be crushed, and before either of those the men in the back would begin to kill. Siobhan still didn’t know why, but she reached into her purse to pull out her pocket knife, and knew it was laughably underarmed. She also wished, absurdly, that she was taller.

There was a frozen moment where the three women stared at the oncoming rush, and the mob of panicking students seemed to stare at them back. Through the shifting crowd they could see the men with their odd haircuts grinning wickedly, the lazy smiles of predators who knew there was nothing else with the teeth or the claws to stop them.

In that moment of crystal clarity Tania’s face turned into a snarl of anger, a mask of hatred etched across her lovely features. Her red hair blazed about her like the halo of an angry sun god, and she shook her head once. “No. Fuck this. That’s enough hiding.” Something…changed about her in that instant. It wasn’t that she stood up a little bit straighter, but it was like she did. Something different, as if she were letting the room see her truly for the first time.

Tania Summers raised both hands and spoke a single word toward the crowd, away from Siobhan and Antigone. “Sleep.” She didn’t raise her voice or shout, but the very air carried it through the crowd. She wasn’t sure how, it had to be part and parcel of magic or an essential bit of Tania-ness, because with the music still going and the screaming Siobhan herself could barely hear it from two feet away. But she felt it tickling at her ear, teasing a part of her mind that wanted to obey before dissipating like mental smoke.

It apparently did not dissipate so easy from the mob, because all at once they stumbled to a stop, and slowly collapsed down to the floor. The air seemed heavy with the command to slumber, as if the atmosphere itself wanted to obey, and in the span of a few moments they were staring across the room at the gunmen. Now it was the turn of the gunmen to look at them in dawning horror, as the growing darkness of terror writ its way across their features.

Tania began to advance slowly, walking her way carefully through the crowd of sleeping students. Antigone and Siobhan walked up to follow her, although their eyes were scarcely any smaller than the bad guys’.

“Jesus!” One of the gunmen cursed, as he brought up his own gun to point it at Tania, with a hand that she thought wouldn’t have wavered so much otherwise. “What are you? One of us, but…god!”

“Well.” Tania said as if she were considering that seriously. “Not quite. But close enough. Now you can have exactly one chance children, and only because she would want me to give you one. Guns and blades down, hands up, and you can be interrogated by the mortals. One idiot move, and we switch instead to ‘Look upon me and despair’ mode, and none of you are going to like that one squishy little bit. So what is it going to be?”

Most of the men looked on her with abject terror, but the lead gunman apparently thought he had a little bit more game. Or maybe he was insane, or a true believer. Regardless of the reason he looked right at Tania in all her fury and in the face of the power she had just shown, and spat. And then he moved his gun quickly to the side, and fired right at Siobhan’s head.