Book by: Tony Hart
The words spanned the entire board.
I half listened as Mr. Thoms babbled about one of the most devastating pandemics in human history. It's not that I didn't care much, it's just that Mr. Thoms was really boring.
I looked over to my right and noticed Charles was being all attentive, sitting there with his blue and white striped shirt tucked neatly in his black slacks and a contemplative look on his acne ridden face, just waiting to bombard Mr. Thoms with a million questions. He's such a kiss ass. I felt like kicking him in the nuts...again.
As if that wasn't bad enough, directly in front of me was Bitchany or "Brittany" as she loved to call herself. She sat there playing with her perfect blonde hair, running her fingers through it like she was in some stupid commercial. I just wanted to throw some gum in it.
I stared at the circular clock that was mounted on the beige wall, there was still half an hour left of class. Oh Great I thought as I let out a sigh. It must've been louder than I expected because most of the idiots in class looked in my direction. I shrugged.
"Miss Emory," Mr. Thoms' monotone voice called my name, "Am I boring you?"
"No." I quickly shook my head, not offering him any more words.
"Such a loser." Bitchany whispered loud enough for me to hear.
I stared directly at the back of her head and made a mental note to buy a pack of gum after school.
The last few minutes of class were torturous. It was almost as if someone tied me to a chair and forced me to watch My Little Pony over and over again.
The bell rung, signaling the end of class, I couldn't get out fast enough. I heard Mr. Thoms mentioning something about a quiz on Wednesday or Friday or someday.
As I pushed my way through the throng of baboons the school referred to as students, my stomach began to growl - my very own personal assistant reminding me that it's time to eat something.
I made my way to the noisy and congested cafeteria and saw my only friend, Deandra Fay, sitting at our regular table and eating her regular lunch, a tuna sandwich.
I took the sit across from her, "Hey Dee." I slouched.
"Hey Red Fire." She greeted me by the name she's always called me. I don't think she's ever called me by my first name, not even once. I first met Deandra during my Sophomore year, when the teacher made us lab partners. I remember just standing there for a few minutes in awkward silence, just staring at this girl who I didn't care to talk to.
"Hi, I'm Jaden." I offered an obvious fake smile with disinterest in my voice, just wishing she was a mute or something.
Her charcoal lined eyes slowly stared me up and down, somewhat of a smile parted her black painted lips, "I'm Deandra."
"Cool." I nodded, barely making eye contact.
"I like your hair." She reached to run her hand through my red locks.
I backed away while giving her the evil eye.
She snickered, "I'm gonna call you Red Fire from now on."
"You say that like we're going to talk outside of this class." I curled my lip.
A hint of sadness washed over her face and I felt kinda bad for her. I've always been a loner. An outcast. Never really fit in so I guess I didn't know how to talk to people. I softened, "Red Fire?" I nodded, "Why?"
She smiled a little as she fingered the spider pendant that hung from the silver chain around her neck. "Your hair is violently red."
I took a good look at her and for the first time noticed in a school where all girls cared about were their looks, Deandra - like me - didn't really fit in. Her hair was stark black with a few streaks of neon green. She wore black eye liner and black lipstick. She wore black gloves that ran up to her elbows. A tight, black shirt with the words "Sweet Death" written in what was supposed to look like blood and a black frilly skirt with skulls strewn throughout.
"Red Fire." I smiled, "I like that." I really did, and at that moment, I decided that I kinda liked Deandra too.
"Are you spacing out?" Deandra snapped her bony fingers in front of me.
"Sorry." I smiled, taking the lunch mom had packed out of my bag.
"What's for lunch?" Deandra stared at the blue Tupperware container I placed on the table.
"Shrimp." I stared Deandra dead in the eye, "Want some?" I offered, knowing that she was deathly allergic.
She stuck up her middle finger at me.
"Miss Fay!" A shrieking voice filled the air, it sounded like a cat getting its balls cut off with a broken glass bottle.
Both Deandra and I turned to see Mrs. Buncombe, our class counselor, with a disapproving look on her face and her hand firmly on her hip. Her hair actually looked good today, maybe she finally got laid.
"That is no way for a young lady to act!" She began yelling, and then went on and on about morals and virtues and whatever else. I tuned her out. I was wrong, she didn't get laid.
"I'm sorry, Mrs. Buncombe." Deandra apologized with a fake syrupy sweetness. "I won't do it again." She gave her best smile. That girl could be an actress.
Mrs. DUMBcombe must've bought it because her features softened and then she stared at me with a smile. Oh great.
"Miss Emory, you were supposed to come see me last week." She batted the eyes on her wrinkly face.
"I'm sorry. I forgot." I lied.
"Sure, after lunch." I didn't lie. I wanted to get out of fourth period.
I sat on the torn and tattered, mustard yellow couch that was in Mrs. Buncombe's small office. Her desk was cluttered with books and papers and pens and pencils and a whole bunch of office crap.
"I'm glad you came, Miss Emory." She smiled from behind her desk in that disgusting blue blazer she loved to wear.
"Me too." I stared at some stupid poster with the words 'The sky is the limit, so spread your wings and fly'. Great, now some stupid idiot is going to jump off their roof. Oh well.
"So, I know it's early," Her cheery disposition made me want to put her to sleep. "but have you decided on what college you're interested in?"
Is that what she wanted to see me about? "No, still thinking."
"Good." She smiled and nodded, as if there was something else lurking in that weird mind of hers. "So," she sighed.
Here it comes I thought.
"Some of your teachers have come to me with great concern."
"Ok.." I was nonchalant.
She sighed again, "Jaden, you're a smart girl, probably one of the smartest in the school."
Well of course I am, I'm surrounded by dumb jock and cheerleader wannabees.
"But you're not applying yourself..." she paused and gently clutched her chest, "I'm sorry." She apologized and cleared her throat. "Jaden, you..." she paused again and clutched her chest.
"Are you ok?" I asked, concerned.
"I'm fine." She sounded breathy, "Let's continue this later, ask Mr. Bryant for a pass."
So much for skipping fourth period. "I'll see you later then. You sure you're ok?" I asked.
I walked out of her office, closing the door behind me. I was almost to Mr. Bryant when I realized that stupid me forgot my bag. My IQ was dropping due to continued exposure to these idiots. "Mrs. Buncombe?" I lightly rapped on the door. No answer. She couldn't have gone anywhere. "Mrs. Buncombe?" I knocked louder. Something didn't feel right.
I twisted the knob and pushed the door open. My eyes widened and my mouth dropped as I saw Mrs. Buncombe lying on the ground, wide-eyed, with her hand on her chest. Without thinking, I flew to her side and checked for a pulse or any sign of life. It was faint but she was still alive.
"Mrs. Buncombe!?" My voice was flushed with panic and fear. My heart was racing. I was about to run out for help but something made me stay. I entwined my fingers with the ones she had clutched around her chest and suddenly I felt a rush. I felt something cold entering my body. I tried pulling away but couldn't. I wanted to scream but it was almost as if I had forgotten how.
Something was snaking its way up my arm. I looked at my arm and saw something moving under my skin. It was like a tiny worm slithering its way up my arm. Fear and pain enveloped me. Whatever it was continued working its way up my arm, went to my shoulders, and up my throat. I couldn't breathe. I needed to breathe.
Almost against my will, I opened my mouth and something was slowly trailing out, leaving behind an acrid taste in my mouth. Tears stung my eyes as I felt unconsciousness settling in from lack of oxygen. Out of my open mouth I saw black smoke filing out, twisting and turning slowly.
As soon as I was about to give into the unconsciousness that was threatening to overtake me, I felt the last bit of black smoke or whatever it was leave my body and oxygen rushed in. I quickly sucked in the sweet air of life.
"It's been reopened." I heard something eerie whispered.
I looked straight ahead to find myself staring into the tiny black mist that had exited my body. Did that thing just talk? No, I was hallucinating.
"Pandora's box has been reopened." The eerie whisper grew louder and the black shadow or mist or whatever the hell it was pulsated with every word.
I heard Mrs. Buncombe cough a few times as she came to but she wasn't my main priority at the time.
I knelt there, dumbfounded, staring at the black smoke until it disappeared.
What. The. Hell.
© Copyright 2017 Tony Hart. All rights reserved.