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while the worlds come tumbling down

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After Peter had left the bus, Ned and the other students settled back down with the driver’s coaxing. No one had yet noticed that Peter was gone yet. Ned mentally congratulated himself in a job well done. Then he plugged his earphones back into his ears and listened to the news. Tony Stark had been declared missing by his fiance Pepper Potts. We don’t quite know what has happened to the billionaire philanthropist, but…..

“Get up Leeds,” Michelle yanked out Ned’s earbuds, “We’re here.”

Ned jolted up from his seat where he had fallen asleep, and gave a nod of appreciation to Michelle before joining the line of kids hopping off the bus. When he glanced southwards, he had noticed that the alien spacecraft was no longer hovering above the city, which meant Spiderman had done his job. So where was Peter…? Ned didn’t have time to muse over it because the teacher walked up to him and told him to get a move on. She started passing out note taking pages. He partnered up with Michelle, and they got stuck in a conversation with the other students. Peter slipped from his mind when Ned managed to convince himself that Spiderman probably just ran into some trouble. He’ll come back soon enough Ned told himself, then resumed in his conversation.

Everyone started to realize that Peter wasn’t there during lunch when the teacher started a roll call. “Peter Parker? Peter Parker, are you here? Has anyone seen Peter?” All the students shook their head. Mr. Grace then paired them all of in groups of two and sent them around the museum to search for Peter. Ned got paired up with a worried looking Michelle.

“Wasn’t Peter on the bus? Why wasn’t he here when we got out of it?” They both searched most of the places in the museums, even though Ned knew it was pointless. After an hour, most of the students returned to Mr. Grace with no reports of seeing Peter. Mr. Grace put in a missing child report for the police, and sent them all back home in the bus.

Ned checked in with his parents before heading over to May Parker’s apartment to see maybe if Peter happened to bail on the field trip and went back to his aunt’s instead. He hastily knocked on the door, and it opened to a worried looking Aunt May. “Ned? Come in.”

After settling him down on the couch and bringing back some cookies and tea, May finally asked the question that’s been bothering her. “The school called in today. Peter got on the bus, and wasn’t there when everyone left it. What happened Ned?”

Ned stuffed a cookie in his mouth “Well Peter’s spidey-sense went off like crazy, and he found a crazy looking alien ship hovering over Manhattan, right? So he tells me to distract the class while he swings out to do the superheroing stuff. I thought he’d be back here when it was clear he wasn’t at the field trip”

May shook her head. “Not here, sweetie. You don’t think the aliens did something to him, do you?”

Ned took some time to think before answering. “Maybe. Tony Stark was pronounced missing, right? Well maybe Peter and Ironman went off to do some official superheroing business stuff.”

May frowned at the mention of the billionaire. “But then why would Ms. Potts report him in as missing? Maybe the aliens took them both.”

“I really hope not, Mrs. Parker. Thanks for your help, but my parents will be worried if I’m gone too long. If Peter comes back, tell him to give me a call.” May nodded, looking deep in worry, and Ned left for home.

School went off without a hitch the next day. Except for Ned. Ned was really worried about his buddy. What if Peter was dead somewhere cold and lonely, and they’d never know? Lunch became a bit lonelier, with the only conversation being with Michelle on updates with the investigation. The police had found nothing but his backpack dropped in the road the schoolbus had been going through. They couldn’t lead the case off of there, so they decided to drop it since there was much more important work to be done.

Then the weirdest thing in the day had happened after school when Ned was with the science club. Flash had been in the middle of reporting his essay for a project when he started turning to dust. The students let out horrified shrieks when others started to also turn into dust, until there was nobody left but Ned and two other students. They ran out of the school to find the world in mayhem, empty cars crashing the streets, and people calling out for their missing peers. It wouldn’t be until the next day that the governments would inform their countries that half the population was gone, that Tony Stark and Nebula would return from Titan, that Ned and Aunt May would find out what happened to Peter Parker. For now, Ned would stand in the empty front lot of the school and watch the world crash from devastation.