Who: The cast
Where: The Belfry's front yard and parking lot
What: A bus has arrived, empty, causing quite the stir.
The storm fell over the town like a pall, and with it came the fog.
It was a hungry, curious thing. So thick and wet it licked at your clothes and skin when you stepped out into it, tasting you, and stealing sight and color from the world, leaving it slick and oily. Shadows festered in its recesses, coiling and dancing beneath it like living things, greedy in the low light. Above was no better: the angry thunderheads hung mountainous over the city, spitting rain and blooming with lightning. Storms were fierce in Sinjoh, and this was no exception, booming and growling its discontent, threatening to shake the bones from bodies. The rain fell in heavy sheets, gutters and creeks swollen and fast with it. Little rivers streamed across Blackbell. It choked the city. It blinded it.
Maybe that's why no one noticed until it was too late.
Out of that grey, pitiless gloom rose the old (new) crooked Belfry, and beneath it, a mass of children and their beleaguered teachers, their rain slickers and jackets shiny in the rain, whispering and sharing glances among themselves -- those who weren't transfixed on the cloudbursts of red and blues in the fog and the occasional ghostlight that meandered clumsily through it. Police sirens chirped, sharp against the dull grey fog, and sometimes a walkie would crackle to life.
Worse still were the keen wails as whoever stumbled out of their car up to the police barricade were turned aside, told the news, and lost themselves.
Because everyone remembered the cargo ship.
Everyone remembered what washed up to shore, only a short few weeks ago. There were pictures all over the internet: strange, pale figures. Motionless. Their mouths toothless gapes. Their eyes worse. Empty. Nothing staring at nothing. They were human shaped, but too slack, too soggy, too translucent. They would burst if they tried to move. Some had when the authorities had gone to collect them.
The bus was submerged in the fog, its bright yellow coloring strange and forbidding now. Nearly twenty minutes ago it had lurched into the parking lot, and died. It went still, lights and engines snapping off, and no one had noticed anything amiss -- the steady beat of the rain and growl of thunder drowned out everything else the fog didn't cover -- until a few minutes had gone past and no one had stepped off. The door had remained shut. Eventually someone investigated. Called out and knocked on the side door, frowned into the empty inside. They managed the door open, and a gentle rush of fetid, dark water spilled out. Inside, the rows and rows of bus seats were empty. Just backpacks and toys, even a few pokeballs, sat lonely and abandoned.
When the authorities arrived, they found the teachers trying to shoo the children away from the bus, many of them lifting on to tiptoe to try and get a glance inside at the back door, or smashing their faces into the side door. The first cop car was soon joined by another, and another. EMTs were called: a child had fainted. A barricade was constructed, and some order was restored.
Until the first parent arrived.
And then the press.
The Belfry hunched over the small circus forming on its parking lot, bell toning with the start of the school day. Its crooked arches and spindly lengths, occasionally thrown into fierce shadows from a lightning strike, were skeletal in the gloom. School had been cancelled for the day. Parents were being called to pick up children. A line was queuing near the western port of the parking lot.