The last week of the observable universe started out much as any typical day of the week since the celestial wheels began spinning. There were no direct indications or warnings that anything would be amiss, starting today. Any higher beings watching the proceedings did so with cold indifference or worse gleeful anticipation. There were plenty of other universes in the grand scheme after all. It began with the apparent disappearance of Pluto-chan. One moment she was standing at her open locker, and seemingly the next moment she was gone. Earth-chan didn't actually see this happen. She lost sight of the short girl in the ebb of the crowd. She only noticed the sudden absence because she was about to walk over and ask Pluto-chan about something then, poof! The small planetoid was gone.
It was then that Earth-chan first felt someone staring at her. A creeping feeling like something nasty crawling over her flesh. Looking around quickly she met the far off gaze of a girl she didn't know. She was tall, with a large, yellow eye staring through matted reddish-brown bangs. "Luna-sempai." Earth-chan looked back, but the strange girl was gone as fast as Pluto-chan. "Luna-sempai, did you see where Pluto-chan, went?" The small moon girl was distracted. She had been half focused on whatever she had going on in her locker, and half on keeping people from getting too close to Earth-chan. Moon-chan only shook her head, her pale gray bangs swayed from side to side. "Is there a new student here at school?" Another quick head shake. Earth-chan slowly approached the open locker, but Pluto-chan wasn't coming back to close it and Earth-chan felt the alien, spooky sensation come over her again. But now Moon-chan was talking about something random, and drew Earth-chan's attention away so she didn't think about Pluto-chan or the strange new girl again that day.
The next day, however, Pluto-chan had still not appeared at the school. A fact some students didn't seem to notice, while others cruelly did not even care. Earth-chan and Moon-chan was walking to class when Neptune-chan ran between the duo, making Earth-chan jump in surprise. Neptune-chan was breathing in short, panicked gasps.
"Nep-chan!" Earth-chan tried to catch her arm, but the girl squealed and pulled away from the pair and ducked into an empty classroom. Earth-chan and Moon-chan shared a look of concerned confusion, before they slowly followed her.
The tall, blue-haired girl was huddled against the wall, hugging her knees to her heaving bosom. "Nep-chan?"
"AHHHH-oh. Earth-chan." Neptune-chan blushed, wiping at her tear-streaked face. "I'm sorry. I... I j-just..." Her eyes started watering up again, the tears freezing as they slide down her cheeks, and shattered like drops of glass on the tile floor. "Today has just been so weird."
"Where is your fan club?" Moon-chan deadpanned. Neptune was usually orbited by 14 moons, and here she was running through the school and hiding by herself.
"I don't know! Naiad was the last one to disappear! I-I-I can't stay stable by myself. I need people around me!" This brought on a fresh wave of icy tears.
Earth-chan felt that creepy chill go over her again. "What do you mean she disappeared?" Earth-chan thought back to Pluto-chan yesterday, and the strange new girl she had seen right after that.
"I mean, starting at lunchtime I noticed my friends just... not being around anymore, one by one, until only Naiad was left. I kept her close by my side, but then I turned a corner and we got separated somehow. When I looked back she was gone! And then I started seeing- No! Not me!" Neptune suddenly screeched, looking at something behind Earth-chan and Moon-chan.
The young planet and moon looked around, but didn't see anything. Despite this, Neptune-chan pushed between them again and ran back into the hallway crowd. "Nep-chan!" Earth-chan dove into the mass of space bodies without Moon-chan's protection, trying to catch up to Neptune-chan, but she had already disappeared into the school.
Despite the best efforts of Earth-chan and Moon-chan, neither the planet, nor her moons could be located after this incident. Moon-chan remained her stoic self during their amateur investigation, but the spooky sensation of something being very wrong would not leave Earth-chan. "Luna-sempai, I think we should find Ur-chan."
"Hm hm." Moon-chan nodded her understanding. "Dpn't worry, Earth-chan. We will, after next class."
"Ahh! I just realized I'm making us late! I'm sorry! I'm sorry!" But in truth class didn't feel as important as it should have. What was Nep-chan so scared of? What could she have possibly seen?
Luckily Ur-chan was not very hard to find after class, and she too had noticed the strangeness going on. "I saw Nep-chan running with a reduced crew, but I didn't think too much about it." She paused to examine her pale blue nails. Moon-chan could take a break while in Ur-chan's orbit, thanks to her mob of 27 satellites milling around them. It did make it hard to count them all, let alone keep track of them. "She seemed distracted, but she didn't mention any weird new girls. Can't say I have seen any either." She shrugged. Some people thought Ur-chan was an ice queen. In reality she was just kind of aloof from her social peers. "Although, do you remember seeing any of Pluto-chan's friends? You said she was alone, isn't that odd?"
Earth-chan started to reply, then stopped. Pluto-chan had been alone before she disappeared. "Ur-chan!" Earth-chan grabbed the other girl by the shoulders. "Keep track of your moons. I think they go missing before we do."
"Are you sure you aren't making something out of nothing?" Ur-chan shrugged. "Besides, I'd be more worried about you, little Earth-chan with your one moon."
Earth-chan visibly paled, then almost jumped out of her clothes as someone took her hand. "Don't worry, Earth-chan. Moon-chan will not leave you or let anything bad happen to you. I promise." Earth-chan nodded and squeezed her moon's hand.
"Aw, I'm sorry. There's nothing to be worried about, I'm sure. Tomorrow all our questions will be answered. Tomorrow things will be back to normal."
Things were not back to normal the next day, however. Nor the day after that. If anything there was an uncomfortable tension in the air. Students talked too much and laughed too loud, the levity being painfully forced. Earth-chan had spent restless nights with her mind spinning ever since Neptune-chan ran away. Her uneasiness only grew over the days as she heard nothing new about the missing students, eventually she could only pretend to pay attention to her teachers. And maybe it was her imagination but there seemed to be less students in the hallways between classes. Then she saw her. The tall, dark-haired girl up ahead of her. Earth-chan caught a glance of a wide, hateful eye!
Before she could begin her pursuit, she was roughly pulled away and down a side hall. "Luna-sempai" The young planet yelped in panic as someone slammed her against a wall. Moon-chan was on the attacker like a flash, pushing them away.
"You... brought a curse on our school, Earth-chan. You brought her to us. To my... my moons..." Ur-chan trailed off, staring at the floor, her fists clenched and trembling at her sides. "To me." Her eyes were bloodshot, her whisper was ragged.
"I didn't-" Earth-chan whimpered.
"You did. And she's worse than you even know. But you will. She'll come for you last, then you'll know where the other girls went. You'll know what happened to me." Ur-chan began to cry, her breath hitching in her throat.
"Ur-chan... What are you talking about? What happened to you? What's going on?"
Ur-chan didn't respond. Instead she looked at Moon-chan. "I would get far away from her if I was you." She said coldly, before she too disappeared into the seething crowds of the hallway. Though unlike Neptune-chan's panicked run, Ur-chan trudged off to whatever unknowable fate awaited her.
X X X
The next few days became a blur for Earth-chan. She would regularly catch glimpses of the strange girl in the distance, but could never make it to her before she vanished again. She was paranoid about any space between her and others, nearly clinging to Moon-chan. But she still tried to warn the others, despite the teachers refusing to acknowledge anything happening to students. Saturn-chan believed her but was optimistic that everything would be okay. Jupiter-chan somehow remained oblivious to the danger. Mars-sempai scoffed at the warning. And yet one by one they were suddenly gone, like a bizarre clock ticking down to a final dreadful confrontation.
"Should I bother warning Venus-chan?" Earth-chan whimpered. Moon-chan shrugged, characteristically stoic in spite of the... whatever was happening, The halls were nearly empty now. Few students left in the school now and the murmered conversations were eerie and heartbreaking. The school would be closing soon at this rate, but still, strangely no one wanted to talk about it. Earth-chan would have been frustrated if she wasn't terrified. "We could leave the-" The young planet spun around and gasped. Moon-chan was being dragged around the corner by the strange girl!
"No! Let her go!" Earth-chan took off at desperate sprint, but was soon froze in her tracks as she rounded the corner. The new girl was holding Moon-chan from behind, her mouth open as if to take a bite of the moon. One eye was hidden by her knotted, greasy hair. Her visible eyes was wide, bloodshot and screamed on madness and hatred. "Why are you doing this to us?"
"Earth-chan." Moon-chan's voice wavered slightly with emotion. "Run away. Run now. I will distract her."
"I... I'll get help!" Earth-chan turned and tried to run, though immediately she forgot her promise to Moon-chan and could only think of escape, a primordial terror gripping her heart. Any pretense of making it to safetywas quickly dashed as a hand, burning with heat, grabbed her shoulder and pulled her nearly off her feet. The small planet was spun around to face the monster, the hallways suddenly and mysteriously devoid of any other celestial students. "Why?" Earth-chan whispered, one last act of defiance.
"Why." The word slithered out of Hellstar Remina's mouth. A ropy, slimy tongue slid up Earth-chan's cheek, making the planet gag. She never got a reason why, only the horrifying sight of the monsters mouth opening wide, filled with the outer darkness of oblivion.
Earth-chan awoke from the nightmare with tears still in her eyes, her heart skipping. Of course it was a dream. The universe is strange place, yes. Full of mysteries that we'll never know or understand. But a monster planet that eats other planets? It wasn't that strange a universe, thankfully.