Problem Child

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Young Adult  |  House: Booksie Classic

Inspired by real world schools for troubled kids, behavioral schools, whatever you want to call them. This story is about a boy named Ethaniel, a boy who just can't keep his nose out of trouble.

Here's a little personal rant. I've had the 'pleasure' of being in two behavioral schools in my life. These schools don't help most of the kids who walk in those doors. The majority of these kids turn into cruel animals and the others end up emotionally dead. I would be one of the latter. These schools are meant to change us, but who I am at my core never changed and I'm fortunate for that. I wrote this short story as a project for school (you know, a normal one) and it's one of my only short stories that I don't hate. Enjoy.

Problem Child

The two armed guards sat me down in a chair in front of Ellen. She was a witch of a woman. She had the beady eyes of one two, though the entire staff and even some of the student thought she was beautiful. That was the point.

“Good afternoon, Ethaniel,” she said.

I crossed my arms, refusing to answer her.

“I heard there was an incident in the laundry room. Would you like to talk about it?”

“No thanks, I’m good,” I said coldly.

“I think we should.”

“You go ahead and keep thinking that.”

“Is it true that you refused to do the laundry like you were told?”

I glared at her. “If you were going to talk about it anyway then why did you ask if I wanted to?”

“Let’s stay on the subject. I’ve told you many times, if you want to get out of here then you have to do what you’re told.”

“No one gets out of here.”

“That’s not true.”

“Name one example.”

“Let’s stay on subject.”

“Uh huh.”

“Do you understand what I’m saying about doing what you’re told?”

“Uh huh. Perfectly.”

“Good. Boys, could you please escort him to his room.”

The two guards, who were about my age, dragged me out of the chair and led me back to my room. They stopped me halfway there.

“Our clothes were in that laundry,” one of the boys said. “What are we gonna wear now, Ethan?”

“That’s your problem, not mine.”

The boy shoved me to the ground. I hit my head hard and the room spun for a moment. The other boy kicked me in the stomach as they both walked away. I got up, my face emotionless, and kept walking. The ‘teachers’ told me that if I stopped giving them a reaction then they would stop bugging me. Problem was I never gave them a reaction to begin with. They didn’t want a reaction. They wanted a punching bag.

I got back to my room. My roommate was sitting there, waiting for me. “Hey, Ethan,” he began.

“What is it?” I asked.

“Allowances were just distributed. Want to go take Randy’s?”

“What did Randy ever do to me?”

“Fine, be that way. I’m gonna go grab it, though.”

Once every couple weeks allowances were distributed. I didn’t get mine because I didn’t do my job. Last time I got an allowance it was just stolen from me anyway. Why bother?

I left the room to go for a walk. I looked up at the ceiling. The school was a giant metal bubble. We weren’t allowed out unless we behaved. I’d only ever seen kids coming in, never out. It made getting an allowance somewhat pointless, but some of the smarter kids had opened up shops or shady businesses. Michelle sold home-made boomerangs. Johnny would give someone a good beating if you paid him right.

I grabbed a few pieces of chalk I grabbed from the classroom and started throwing them off a ledge. They fell a few stories and smashed against the ground. The school rarely got new supplies so the chalk would be missed. I could sell them instead but I didn’t really want to give the other kids anything.

“Hey.” I turned around and saw one of the older boys leaning against the wall.

“Hey,” I said. The kid’s name was Denny. I’d never had any real problems with him. A bit of a scuffle here and there, but nothing serious. He wasn’t very popular but he was big so he didn’t get picked on much.

“Heard you didn’t get an allowance,” he said.

“Yeah, so?”

“What if I told you I knew a way to get you some?”

“I’m not interested in stealing.”

“Not even from the school?”

I do hate the school, I thought. “I’m listening.”

“In the basement there’s a control panel. It keeps track of all the allowance distributions.”


“I can get us into the basement.”

“Good for you. What do you need me for?”

“My hands are too big to work the control panel.”

“So you want to break into the basement and raise our allowances?”


I wasn’t interested in raising my allowance. Like I said before, mine just gets taken. However, if I raised and lowered a bunch of people’s allowances it could really mess with the school. I could send every cent that the school owned out in one day and watch them scramble to get everything under control.

“I’m in,” I said.


Denny and I stood at the elevator to the basement. There was a lock on the wall so that no one could get in.

“You have a key?” I asked.

“Of a sort.” He pulled some strange looking object out of his pocket. It kind of looked like a bobby pin. He pushed it into the lock and after a few moments of wiggling, the elevator doors opened.

“Cool,” I said.

“Yeah. Now c’mon, let’s go.”

The two of us stepped into the elevator. There was another lock inside. After Denny picked that one as well the doors closed and he hit the button for the basement.

The basement was dark. Denny turned on a flashlight and pointed it straight ahead at the ground so I couldn’t see the walls. It was awfully dusty down here and it smelled foul as death. I heard strange noises all around me.

We reached the control panel.

“Hurry up,” Denny said. “This place scares the hell out of me.”

That meant a lot coming from a big kid like Denny. The control panel was just a computer screen and a keyboard. I didn’t see why Denny couldn’t do this himself.

“Just raise our allowances,” he said.

I did. As well as every other kid in the school. “All done.”

“Good. Now let’s -” He was cut off by the sound of yelling. The teachers must have found out we were down here.

“Run!” Denny whispered. The two of us started to run down the hallway.

“Think we can outrun them?” I asked.

“Nope. That’s why you’re here.” Denny pushed me over. I grabbed his flashlight to try and stay up but I took it with me instead. I hit the cold floor hard, winding me. When I recovered my breath I looked around with the flashlight. I gasped. There were cages as far as I could see. Inside there were people, old, beaten. The sounds I heard were their groans. I realized with terror that I was right.

“It’s true,” I whispered. “Nobody ever leaves this school.”

I jumped to my feet and ran. I could hear the teachers getting closer.

My foot got caught on a burning hot pipe. I collapsed and clutched my foot. It was all over now. I was as trapped as the poor people in those cages.

Ellen, the teacher who had spoken to me earlier today, stood over me. In the dark she looked just like the witch I pictured her to be. “I wish you hadn’t come down here,” she said. “Now you’re going to have to join the others in the cages.”

The End

Submitted: June 08, 2014

© Copyright 2021 James Clawk. All rights reserved.

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Add Your Comments:



Wow that creepy and so sad! I was really rooting for the main character to make it through to the end when he got back up and started running I was like yes! And then bam he didn't make it that sucked! But either way this was another AMAZING piece by you! The description of Ethan getting bullied and questioning the system, that other guy screwing him over makes me believe that everyone of those kids fell for that vicious cycle of school hating, income raises, and cage traps. It also makes you wonder if anyone actually did ever make it out, it's interesting because we'll never know! The main guy did make it out, I'd like to have hope that someone did make it out! A.K.A me because I deserve a cameo XD And I'm super smart so BAM! AMAZING PIECE! great drama, suspense, cliffhanger ending and twist just ugggh YASSSSSSSS!

Sun, June 8th, 2014 7:56pm


That's what i was going for. Thank you very much. To be honest, I didn't even expect to get much of a response for this story. i don't consider myself much of a short-story teller, but maybe I'll look into some of my other ideas. Yeah, i was really trying to point out how being in this kind of school changes people. I'll message you in a minute about that cameo thing. Thanks for reading.

Sun, June 8th, 2014 3:15pm

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