Timothy Meyers groaned as his alarm went off; he hated getting up early to go to school. He turned over and got out of bed, yawning loudly before he padded down the hallway into the bathroom.
He brushed his hair and washed his face quickly, ran back to his room to get dressed, and thumped down the stairs loudly to eat breakfast. His mother had prepared bacon, eggs, and oatmeal, which he shoved into his mouth before hugging her, grabbing his backpack, and running out the door. He enjoyed the solitary walk to school, enjoyed the quiet.
Halfway to school he felt like he was forgetting something, so he stopped and knelt down, shrugging his backpack off. He rifled through his books and papers. He had all of his homework, all of his books, the paper for his presentation in English class.
Timothy stopped to think; as he knelt on the ground, a cat slunk out of the shadows and approached him. It meowed loudly and purred as it rubbed against his bag. Timothy smiled and reached out, petting the small feline gently.
“Hey, there,” he said softly.
As he spoke, soupy green tendrils oozed from his mouth. They reached forward tentatively, like antennae on an insect searching for food. The cat hissed and growled, backing away quickly, but the tendrils shot forward and forced themselves into the cat's open mouth.
Timothy realized too late what he had forgotten and tried to close his mouth, but the tendrils kept it open. The cat writhed on the ground, its lungs constricting as the air was sucked from its body. It was still in a matter of seconds. The tendrils receded and Timothy clamped his mouth shut. He felt sick, but he was afraid to open his mouth. He looked regretfully at the cat and swung his backpack on, pushing to his feet. He checked his watch to decide whether he had enough time to go back and fix his mistake.
Walking faster, he tried to make it to school in time to go to the restroom, but he got to his class just as the bell rang and he had to take his seat. He sat right behind Abigail Polinski, the cute redhead he'd had a crush on since day one. He prayed she wouldn't come to class, but as he pulled his notebook out and set it on his desk, she came flouncing in cheerfully.
“Hey, Timothy!” she exclaimed, waving to him.
He didn't speak, only waved his fingers. She sat down. He tried to get her to leave by staring at the back of her head really hard, but she didn't budge.
“Timothy Meyers!” He was startled out of his attempt at telepathy by Ms. Matthews, the teacher.
She was a large woman with a booming voice and right now she was looking at him.
“Do you have your presentation ready?” she asked loudly. Timothy nodded and pulled it from his notebook. She gestured to the chalkboard at the front of the class.
“Please come up.”
His heart pounded in his chest as he trudged up to the front. His hands shook as he straightened his papers. He took one last look at Abigail Polinski who smiled at him. Then he opened his mouth to speak.
The tendrils oozed out, like they had earlier, and he tried to mask it from the class by holding his papers up in front of his face, but his teacher grasped his wrist and lowered his hands gently. She was looking at the class, didn't see the tendrils as they snaked their way up her arm to her shoulder.
Timothy watched in horror as they drove themselves up into her nose.
Ms. Matthews let out a strangled cry, grabbed at the tendrils, but in less than a minute her body crumpled to the ground.
Somebody screamed; Timothy shifted his gaze to the class and his stomach knotted painfully.
The tendrils had been slithering along the ground without anybody noticing until Abigail had looked down. She was the one who screamed, and was the first student to get tendrils in her airways. She convulsed violently and slumped over onto her desk. The class was a madhouse; students scrambled over each other to escape, some of them slipping on their papers and hitting their heads on the floor. Timothy tried again to close his mouth, but he couldn't. All he could do was close his eyes and wait for it to be over. Nobody escaped.
When he opened his eyes again, he was surprised to see his mother leaning over him. He was laying in his bed, and for a moment he was hopeful that the tendrils were just a bad dream. Then he realized his father was running around his room, throwing some clothes into a suitcase. He was still in his work clothes.
“Liz, we need to go, now,” his father warned, grabbing a pair of Timothy's shoes and shoving them into the suitcase. “We're already packed, I'll go start the car,” His father ran out of the room with the suitcase, his tie flapping over his shoulder.
“What's happening?” Timothy asked, sitting up. His mother looked relieved that he was awake.
“You fainted,” she said, “When they found you, everybody else was dead.” She patted his leg and helped him out of bed. “You forgot to brush your teeth this morning, didn't you?”
“What does that have to do with anything?” Timothy demanded, “What happened to everyone?”
His mother shook her head sadly.
“We never told you because we always made sure you did it,” she lamented, “I told your father you had a right to know, but he never listened. Nobody asked you this morning.”
“What are you talking about?!”
“Timothy… You have really really bad breath.”