The abrupt end of the video woke Reagan.
The somber tones of Extraordinarily Old Extraterrestrials had intertwined with her dreams, leaving her surprised to not see a humanoid form at the foot of her bed when she opened her eyes. On the other side of the thin wall, the local FUS affiliate was airing an infomercial.
Reagan's browser window advised her that the connection to the server had been lost. That happened sometimes, Reagan knew. Keeping her can antenna aligned with her transmitter a quarter mile away atop the gymnasium wasn't easy. She closed her browser window and opened her signal meter program.
The meter was maxed out.
Puzzled, Reagan exited the meter program and opened it again. The signal level shot straight to the limit again. Not expecting to see anything but lacking a better idea, Reagan stood to look out her window. All was dark and still, the sliver of moon having long since set.
Reagan sat down again to think, watching the lines describing her wireless signal scroll across her screen. Suddenly, the lines dropped down from the max. They stayed higher than normal, but she tried to connect to a speed test server to see if her pirated wifi was back. It was.
A few moments of frantic typing later, Reagan was into the school district's computer system accessing the security camera feeds. Maybe whatever was broadcasting such an overpowering signal would show up on a camera. The principal's office was empty and dark. She checked each hall of lockers in turn: nothing but lonely rows of metal boxes waiting for students to return in the fall. The interior of the gymnasium was shrouded in shadows.
The last camera in the high school was in the cafeteria. The tables and chairs were stacked around the edge of the large room on either side of the camera's view. The doors to the kitchen were in the center of the screen, directly opposite the security camera. One of the doors was open.
Reagan cursed the school board for not approving cameras that could be controlled remotely. Unable to zoom, she pressed her face to the laptop screen. A shadow shaped vaguely like a human moved into the doorway from the kitchen. Reagan realized it was almost as tall as the door, with bulges on the top of its head. Whatever it was, it carried two enormous cans of the vegetables the school served for lunches in one arm--or at least what Reagan assumed was an arm. The other arm held some kind of long tube like it was a flashlight.
Reagan switched to the camera in the freshman hallway outside the cafeteria. The dim security light in the hallway revealed a gray, long limbed creature entering the gymnasium.
Reagan switched the camera again. The lights in the gymnasium were dim, but Reagan could just make out an exterior door opening on the end of the gym below her transmitter.
Then her signal meter maxed out again.
Ready for the next part? Here's Chapter 10(ish)
Need to catch up? Here's Chapter 8(ish)