David didn’t like Alaska. It was cold all the time, there were times when you didn’t see the sun for weeks at a time, and you had to use a snow mobile to get groceries. But worst of all was his school. The people there were strange, to say the least.
To David, it wasn’t unusual for any school to have at least one small group of people that thought life was pain. Those few misinformed teenagers would wear black all over, no matter the temperature, have at least eight piercings, a few tattoos, and long hair. They would separate themselves from the rest, and talk about death, and how it didn’t come fast enough. David was never bothered by this, but at his new school, there weren’t just a few of them. It was everyone.
It had made David very uncomfortable from the start. He was a Catholic from Southern California, and all of the kids in his new school carried pentagrams and had pale skin. Needless to say, David had a hard time making friends. After the first few days, someone finally spoke to him. Meredith had a surprisingly girly voice (for the way she dressed), and looked like she would be attractive if she chose to dress normally and maybe spend some time in the sun. David actually thought she was very interesting and intelligent for a sophomore.
As weeks went by, David and Meredith became fairly good friends. Everyone looked at them both as if they were an abomination when they ate lunch together, but neither cared. Eventually, Meredith thought it would be okay to introduce David to Drake. Drake wasn’t exactly like everyone else. He was actually muscular, rather than seemingly malnourished. He wore blood-red contacts, which made him look like some creature from Hell, and he always had an electric guitar on his back. David thought this was insignificant, compared to what happened when they shook hands.
It wasn’t like being shocked, but it was close. The moment David grasped Drake’s hand, he felt weak, as if he was going to faint. The feeling stopped as soon as he released, but David was still a little freaked out. He spent the rest of the day without saying much. David decided the next day, after some really terrible nightmares, to say something to Meredith. He seemed to have caught her off guard for a moment, but then Meredith quickly dismissed everything as David’s imagination. He gradually let it go, thinking maybe she was right, but kept his distance from Drake. As things returned to normal (or at least what was considered normal), David was preparing himself for the whole concept of not seeing the sun for almost a month. He really had trouble coping with the idea, but Meredith reassured him that he would adjust without a hitch.
Meredith did give David something to look forward too, despite his initial apprehension. She told him that it was sort of a tradition for Drake and his band to put on a rock concert in the gymnasium, during the fifteenth day of what she called “the darkness”. According to her, Drake played a couple dozen songs, everyone partied, and it was a great time. At first, David didn’t want to go. He hadn’t forgotten how he felt when he shook Drake’s hand. Surely, he thought, being around him in an exciting environment would be even worse. Even if it didn’t, David had some suspicion that the concert was secretly some kind of cult gathering. Meredith quickly convinced him otherwise.
Finally, the sun went down, and it didn’t come back. David had watched the last sunset, as if it would be his last. Meredith had convinced him to go to the concert, and he was slowly growing accustomed to his commitment, but something still didn’t sit quite right. Not just the kids, but the whole town seemed to be on the verge of generating its own thunderstorm. Everyone seemed to be excited about the concert. David didn’t think the adults would be interested in Drake’s style, but he was obviously wrong.
The fifteenth day finally arrived (someone kept track of when the sun was supposed to come up), and David had never seen Meredith so energized. She seemed to be ready to explode with anticipation, talking non-stop and explaining how well David would finally fit in once everyone realized that he wasn’t afraid of them. David wasn’t quite as excited, but he did somehow look forward to it.
The entrance to the school gymnasium was congested with all nine hundred of the town’s inhabitants (besides David’s parents) trying to get in. David could hear music being pumped over the loudspeaker to satisfy the waiting crowd until Drake and his band took the stage. He didn’t recognize the music, but whoever it was definitely popular with the locals. Everyone sang along. David and Meredith got in just as the lights dimmed, and a roar erupted from the crowd. The band took the stage one member at a time, all except for Drake. Then, as the drummer started to pound on his set, an electric guitar began sounding from back stage.
Drake walked slowly onto the stage, his hair hanging over his face as he watched his fingers pluck the strings. He was dressed in a solid black suit and tie, completely focused on his guitar. Despite his strange choice of wardrobe, David actually liked what he was hearing. It reminded him of Angus Young. David was enjoying himself, actually starting to follow the beat, on the edge of jumping up and down. Then things started getting weird. David stopped moving for a moment, taking a deep breath. He had started to feel a little loopy, similar to the time he tried marijuana in his uncle’s basement. He didn’t like the feeling, and decided to take a break. He started searching for Meredith, to tell her he was going to get some fresh air. He never found her.
The guitar solo picked up pace as David looked around. He found himself in a corner, and then turned around to face the crowd. What he saw was like something out of a horror film. Everyone had stopped dancing or moving at all. Each person was gazing at the stage like a werewolf at the full moon, their pupils turning cloudy and white, as if they were in a trance. At first, David thought it was a hallucination from something he had inhaled. But he couldn’t find anyone smoking, and he hadn’t consumed anything that could have been drugged. He stood there, dumb struck for a moment, as the realization of what was happening finally came to him. The entire event was definitely some kind of cult ritual, but on an entirely different level. The guitar’s rhythm changed again, and David looked up at Drake. Drake’s hair was covering his face, and his fingers were bleeding, smearing blood all over the guitar frets. Then, David noticed that unless Drake was standing on a glass plate, he was floating about an inch off of the ground. All of the other band members had stopped playing.
David had officially had enough. There was something supernatural going on, and it definitely wasn’t from the light end of the spectrum. David was probably some kind of sacrifice, or perhaps the next intended convert. Either way, he wanted neither. He ran for the door. As he stumbled out the way he had come in, he fell to his knees and vomited in the snow. Maybe it was the high he had experienced inside, but David felt like he needed to do something extreme and stop whatever was going on inside. He fumbled for his keys, and trudged his way back to his four wheel drive.
David got back to the gymnasium about an hour later, tears in his eyes. He had re-convinced himself to go through with what he was doing a thousand times on the slow drive back, and he knew he was sacrificing everything. He was worried about Meredith as well, but he deduced that she had most likely been setting the trap for him all along, pretending to like him. David knew that he was meant to stop it, even though he hadn’t noticed the dark clouds beginning to spiral overhead in the night. He thought about the life on the run he was about to commit to, as he poured gasoline around the buildings only entrances and exits. He pulled out his Zippo.