Emmy Laybourne


Still for Sam


To whoever finds this:

Here’s a math problem for you.

Eight kids who cannot be exposed to the air for longer than 30–40 seconds without experiencing horrible, really psychotic consequences set out to travel 67 miles down a dark highway in a school bus that survived a freak hailstorm and crashing through the plate-glass window of a Greenway superstore. The kids are likely to be attacked or detained by an unknown quantity of obstacles including chemically deranged murderers, highway robbers, roadblocks, and other unforseen complications.

Calculate the odds of their arrival to the Denver International Airport, where, they believe, they will be rescued.

I know, you’re missing data so you cannot really calculate the odds properly. But if you know anything about math – even the most basic principles of odds and probability – you know this: Our odds suck.

That’s why I’m writing this letter. So when you find this, you will know who was here.

On the bus with me are:

Niko Mills – Our leader. He is (or was) a junior at Lewis Palmer High. He’s also a Boy Scout and has type A blood, which means that if he’s exposed to the air for more than a minute, he will start to blister and die.

Brayden Cutlass – Junior. Type AB, so will suffer from paranoid delusions but that hardly matters – he’s nearly unconscious. He’s the reason, well, one of the reasons, why we’re trying to get to Denver. He was shot in the shoulder by one of the two outsiders we allowed to enter the Greenway with us. The hospital in Monument is closed, but we have been told there are doctors at DIA, because that’s where the evacuations are taking place.

Josie Miller – Sophomore. Also type AB. One of the nicest girls I have ever met, not that that matters, but just in case someone reads this.

Sahalia Wenner – Only 13, but thinks she’s in high school. Type B, like me. We show no obvious visible effects but will suffer from ‘reproductive failure’ so that none of us can ever have a child. Big whoop.

Batiste Harrison – Second grade. Type B, like Sahalia and me. Can be a bit preachy sometimes. Definitely goes to church but I don’t know which one.

Ulysses Dominguez – First grade. Type AB. English not so good.

Max Skolnik – First grade. Type A. Has wild hair and tells wild stories. Not that you could see his hair or hear his stories now, since he’s bundled up in five layers of clothing and wearing an air mask. We all are.

That’s everyone on the bus. But some of us stayed behind. Like my stupid 16-year-old brother, Dean Grieder.

He stayed in the Greenway on Old Denver Highway in Monument, CO, with the following:

Astrid Heyman – Senior. Type O. Girl of my brother’s stupid dreams who, by the way, isn’t even nice and I don’t think even likes my brother as a friend, much less anything else.

Chloe (can’t remember her last name) – Third grader. Type O. Obnoxious.

Caroline McKinley – Kindergarten and

Henry McKinley – Kindergarten. They’re twins. Type AB.

If you have found this notebook, please, please go and rescue my brother and the others. They could still be waiting in the Greenway for help.

Dean says he stayed because he, Astrid, and Chloe are all type O and will turn into bloodthirsty monsters if they’re exposed to the chemicals, but we were going to tie them up and sedate them. They would have been fine.

There. Now there’s a record of my brother’s bad decision. Though I guess if you are fishing this out of the charred hulk of our bus and are about to go rescue him, then maybe he made the right choice after all.

I also want to mention Jake Simonsen. Senior. Type B. Though he abandoned our group while out on a reconnaissance mission, he deserves to be listed here, because he was one of the original Monument 14.

That’s it for now.

Alex Grieder – Age 13. Type B. September 28, 2024


IT WAS A LOVELY moment. Astrid hugging little Caroline and Henry. Luna barking and licking all the faces she could reach.

Of course, we were all wearing five layers of clothing to protect our skin from the compounds. And I had on my air mask. And Chloe was off to the side, masked and layered up and lying in a drugged sleep on an inflatable mattress. But for us, in the Greenway, it was a nice moment.

Seeing Astrid kiss them all over their little, dirty, freckled faces made me feel hopeful and happy. I guess seeing Astrid expressing love for them made my own feelings for her swell up. I felt like my heart would burst.

Then Astrid took in a deep breath.

And I saw her nostrils flare. She inhaled too long and I knew the rage was kicking in.

‘Why did you stay?’ she moaned. ‘You dumb, DUMB KIDS. WHY DID YOU STAY?’

She crushed the twins to her chest, holding one of their red-headed skulls in each hand.

And then I had to tackle her and hold her down.

So much for lovely Greenway moments.

Caroline and Henry were crying as I wrestled Astrid to the ground.

‘Get her mask,’ I yelled.

Astrid lashed out, pushing up against me.

Luna was barking her fluffy white head off.

‘Caroline,’ I hollered, my voice muffled by my mask. ‘Get her air mask! Bring it here.’

Astrid had let it fall to the ground when she saw the twins and started hugging and kissing them.

Caroline brought me the mask, as Astrid kicked and bucked. It took everything I had to keep her down.

‘Put it on her!’ I shouted.

Caroline, crying hard, pressed the mask over Astrid’s face. Henry came over and helped her hold it in place.

‘Stop fighting me!’ I yelled at Astrid. ‘You’re okay. You just got a hit of the compounds. Just breathe.’

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