5: A Good Swim

I wasn’t an idiot. I knew what was going to happen if I stuck a knife into an electric socket. But that wasn’t going to keep me from doing it.

“Have you heard about Seth?” I asked the brunette from P.E.

Evidently, she was in my American Lit class. I’d seen her as I’d walked into the class, sitting with one of her girlfriends in the back corner. They were dressed in those goddamn black uniform blazers that cover up girls' chests. They made the brunette’s girlfriend, with a bowl cut and bizarrely large nostrils, look even more flat-chested than she probably already was. Even with the constraint, the brunette’s boobs were fine. They pushed her blazer forward, making a nice curve. I’d been fortunate enough to have seen her in gym clothes the day before, strutting her girls, so I knew what they were capable of. But it was a shame that uniforms had to ruin perfectly wonderful breasts. And boobs weren’t the only thing uniforms ruined. I had to keep doing an awkward crotch pull-down whenever my slacks decided to ride up on me.

As I’d approached the brunette, I’d heard her giving her flat-chested girlfriend the scoop about what had gone down in P.E. the day before. I had wisely cut in. With all the gossipy circles the brunette must have been a part of, I was sure she knew Seth was okay, but she was the kind of girl that was open to any new perspectives on the latest, most exciting topic. Her on and on voice had come to a quick halt, and she’d turned right to me. Even under that blazer, I could tell her boobs were doing a nice little jiggle.

“No. What?!” she sped-asked. Her big, brown eyes lit up with a false concern and a very real excitement.

She’d taken my bait.

Sucker.

“He’s fine. Evidently, he’s double jointed or somethin’. Came back to the dorm last night.”

Her eyes dulled. She was incredibly disappointed by my lack of intel.

“But hey,” I said in my least cunning of ways. “You don’t happen to know that girl who was the goalie for Brad and Seth’s team, do ya?”

Her eyes lit up again. I’d seen that look before. It’s that look girls get when they think they have dirt on you. Claire, the counselor at St. Luke, used to get it all the time after every sentence I said.

Why?” she asked in an eager, melodic voice. Something about the way she said it and that awkward gleam in her eyes made it clear that she thought I was trying to hook up with that girl. And that was fine by me. It was better for her to think that than know the truth.

I felt my pants riding up, but bit my lip. Now was not the time for an adjustment. “I dunno,” I played, acting like she’d caught me in my interest for the mousy goalie girl. “Just curious.”

She grinned. “Her name is Carrie Morgan. I could totally talk to her for you, if you wanted.” She was a pro at this game. She must have been trying for Class Matchmaker.

“No, no, no,” I insisted. If that got back to Brad and Seth, I was a dead man.

She was caught off guard by my insistence. By the look she gave me, I figured I might as well have reached down and made my adjustment.

“I mean…I would rather do this myself,” I said, covering up my motive.

She bought it. She straightened her neck. Her head and boobs gave nods of approval, as if they were pleased to see a guy who was willing to be bold.

“My name’s Megan, by the way.”

“Jason,” I replied, not really in the mood for introductions. I just wanted to get to my desk and wiggle my pants down.

She smiled. It was a radical transformation from the stone-cold glare she’d given me the day before when she’d caught me eavesdropping on her gossip about the Lawrenceville Slasher.

“Nice to meet you, Jason.”

So…the mousy girl’s name was Carrie Morgan. Why was this so important? Because I had a plan. I was going to get to the bottom of this whole Seth and Brad having superpowers thing, but I couldn’t just snoop around right after they’d kicked my butt. They’d know something was up. So I made the mousy girl my target. She knew what was going on, and maybe she could lead me to answers. What I was going to do with those answers was another subject altogether. At the least, I was going to find a way to keep Seth and Brad from being douches to me for the rest of the school year. At the most, I was going to kick their asses and make them pay. But I wasn’t going to be stupid about it.

Clearly by this point, my rational mind had lost the battle about what had happened the night before. I’d been up all night, tossing and turning, and trying to make sense of it. But I’d given up trying to pretend it was all some illusion or a figment of my imagination. I was crazy, but not like that.

****


The whispers about the Lawrenceville Slasher had died down, and St. Lawrence was starting to seem just like any other school. Everyone was trying to figure out who liked who, make it to class before the bell, and get an A in Trig (except those guys who’d settle for a C). I would have preferred if things had just stayed weird. At least then I knew there was a reason why Seth and Brad were freaks. Now it was starting to seem like they were the anomaly.

That afternoon, after P.E., I followed Carrie to her locker. I stalked the fountain across the hall. A few guys passed like they were about to get some water, but then noticed me, got very concerned looks on their faces, and moved right along. They must have thought it was odd how peculiarly close I was to the fountain without any interest in taking a drink. I was going to have to be less obvious.

Carrie wasn’t that much to look at. She was pretty plain. Her long hair covered the sides of her face, and her oversized blazer amplified her tiny figure. She organized her books in her backpack, and then headed off.

I tailed her to the school clinic. She went in and didn’t come out for a while. I figured she either had a debilitating disease, was doing an afterschool program, or had figured out I was following her and had gone there for safety. Although, I didn’t really think it was the last one. If I had, I woulda been outta there.

After about ten minutes, I realized I couldn’t just mosey around the hall till she came out. First off, she would recognize me and tell Seth and Brad. Second off, if a teacher saw me, they’d think I was up to no good (which was pretty much the truth). About two halls down was a door that led out to the main courtyard. Hoping it would be the one she would use when she left, I went out, found a corner that was concealed by two overgrown Leyland cypresses. Behind the cypresses, a flat bench made of concrete rested against the stone wall. I sat and pretended to do homework, while staying out of anyone’s view. All the work I was doing to avoid being caught made me feel like a detective.

It was two hours before Carrie came out. She looked over some papers as she made her way through the courtyard.

Damn!

She was a lot cuter than she’d been before she’d gone in. She’d tied her dirty blond hair in a ponytail, so now I could see her face. Her big green eyes were placed perfectly apart on either side of her mousy little nose. And her lips were longer than I’d noticed. She’d taken off her uniform and was wearing a blue long-sleeved shirt and jeans, both which accentuated her curves. She didn’t have much of a rack, but with hips like hers, she didn’t need it.

Uniforms are the devil!

I followed her to the girl’s dormitory. Now that she looked so good, I felt less like a detective and more like a stalker.

I found another concealed bench in the much smaller courtyard outside the girl’s dormitory. I figured St. Lawrence must have a pretty high rape stat, considering the multitude of hiding places and the lack of security.

Another two hours passed. And then another hour before I realized she probably wasn’t coming outta there. I went back to my room. Brad and Seth were off doing whatever, and I was asleep before they came back.

The weekend came and went, and then the next week I continued following Carrie. She went to the clinic every day. I found out from Megan that she volunteered there. Evidently, Megan was going to be a lot more useful than I’d given her credit.

By the third day of stalking Carrie to the clinic and then to the girl’s dormitory, I realized that it just wasn’t working. Her two locales of interest were not going to help me figure out what she, Seth, and Brad were up to. And at that point, it wasn’t such a big deal. Even Brad and Seth were starting to normalize. They were too preoccupied with their own lives to have time to bother me, except Brad’s occasionally harassing me in P.E or saying something snarky when he first came into our room. I guess they figured I wasn’t going to mess with them after they’d shown me they were in charge. We didn’t talk, kept to ourselves, and stayed the hell away from our room as much as possible. We were just like normal roomies.

It was dark out by the time I’d decided to call it a night. I’d hidden behind some bushes after sunset. I knew if I got caught, I was going to look like some kinda rapist, but no one was out.

I pulled my phone out of my bag. It was 9:30—the latest I’d staked out to date and well passed curfew. Carrie wasn’t going anywhere this late. No one was. There weren’t even night watchmen or curfew-Nazi faculty members snooping around for rule breakers. That suddenly reawakened the oddness of St. Lawrence. Even at St. Luke’s, which was a step down from the prissiness of St. Lawrence, had high security when it came to keeping curfew. Why was no one checking to make sure everyone was staying in? And if no one really was checking, why the hell were the girls and guys not just walking back and forth between the dorms?

I wondered if it had something to do with the Lawrenceville Slasher. Maybe no one was dumb enough to go outside. No one but me, of course.

The air was cool. For once, my uniform blazer proved to be useful.

I looked around to make sure no one would see, then hopped up from behind the bushes.

CLICK!

I ducked back down, peered through the bush's leaves.

A high lamp on the other side of the courtyard revealed the silhouette of a girl climbing out a window on the first floor. She jumped down. Even with just her shadowy figure, I recognized that adorable little ponytail.

Now we’re getting somewhere.

She looked around uneasily, clinging to her necklace. She mumbled to herself.

A noise startled me from behind, made my heart race. My head instinctively jolted to it.

Holy shit.

A chipmunk scurried through a patch of ivy. What a letdown. I held my hand to my chest as I tried to regulate my heart rate back to normal.

I turned as quickly as I could back to Carrie. But she was already gone. My mouth hung open.

That was fast.

I rushed out from the bushes, looking every way. No sign of Carrie. But where could she have run off to that quickly?

It was weird, but it didn’t help me. I headed back to the boy’s dormitory and found the 'secret entrance.' In case you’re wondering, it exists at every private school. It’s the common area that everyone uses to sneak in and out through. For the boy’s dormitory, it was a broken lock on a window to a storage room on the first floor. I’d been a little worried on account that I hadn’t seen anyone else sneaking around. But fortunately, some things never change.

****


Coach Williams blew the whistle, and a game of indoor volleyball began.

I had accidentally been on the wrong half of the huddle when Coach Williams had made the teams, so I’d ended up on Brad and Seth’s side of the net. Brad thought it’d be real funny to be an ass. He knocked into me and jammed his elbow into my shoulder every chance he got. The further I got from him, the more out of his way he went to slam into me. He was wearing his pit-stained shirt and what looked like a pair of daisy duke sweat shorts. They probably would have looked normal sized on me, but for Brad they were tiny by no accident. He was strutting those cleverly sculpted, massive thigh muscles of his. God, I wanted to kick his ass.

Most of the other guys and girls were in shorts too. Me and Seth were the only ones wearing jeans. I didn’t know Seth’s logic, but I just liked wearing pants that weren’t those crotch hugging regulation slacks.

Megan was on the other team. Her assets gave me a little show while she jumped around the court. Every once in a while, she’d look over and smile at me like I was her new bff.

Carrie moved around a bit, trying to at least act like she cared. Other than Megan’s boobs, Carrie’s legs were the only other good part of the game. I thought it was funny that I had gone from not really giving a shit about her to steadily becoming more and more interested. Claire wouldn’t have liked it. She would have said it had something to do with following her. That I was making her more of an object than a person, or some psycho-bullshit like that. On second thought, when did I become such a creep?

While Brad harassed me and played a good game, he managed to send a few smiles and a not-so-subtle wink to this guy on the other team—Max, or Matt, or Mark. I didn’t remember, but he was in a few of my other classes. He had short dark-brown hair and was athletic looking, but not as much as Brad. Max or whatever couldn’t help but smile back. I shivered. The thought that someone could actually like that douche was unbelievable.

As the game ensued, I not-so-cleverly evaded wherever I thought the ball was going to be, which kept Brad away because he wanted to be in the middle of the game.

Megan got a good shot and hit the ball right over the net. It came at me. I was ready to give it a pop back over, and I figured I could get it pretty fast. Just as I was about to, I caught a glimpse of Brad’s massive body out of the corner of my eye. Next thing I knew, my nose felt like it was going to explode, and I fell on my back.

My hands instinctively rushed to my face’s aid. Blood poured down my fingers.

Dammit.

That asshole had elbowed me.

Blood spewed out my nostrils.

The game stopped. Everyone surrounded me. By the look on Megan’s face, you woulda thought what had happened to Seth a few days earlier had just happened to me. Seth stood next to her, his lips curling upward, like he was holding back a very pleased grin. I wanted to give him a bloody nose.

Coach Williams hobbled over, his hands on his gorged waist, his eyes wincing.

Brad stepped before me, breathing hard. A thick mess of sweat rushed down his face. “Dude, are you okay? I’m sorry,” he mocked with a wink very different from the one he’d given Matt or whoever.

“It’s alright,” Coach Williams insisted. “These things happen.”

Yeah, I thought, Whenever Brad’s around.

“West, come on. Bradley! Watch the hell where you’re going!”

Coach Williams took me to his office. He left me there and went back to the gym to finish up class. It took at least thirty minutes and two boxes of tissues before the bleeding started to slow down. When Coach Williams came back, he looked at me through his still winced eyes. I wondered if his eyes had ended up that way from being in the sun so much and having to wince to see what was happening on the field. If so, I was going to start wearing sunglasses more often.

“Yep, you and Seth need to watch out for the big kids like Bradley,” he said in a gruff, bark-of-a-voice.

For so many other reasons than you know.

“Now, I’m gonna go ahead and get to soccer practice. You get showered up and head outta here when you’re done.”

Class had been over for a while, so I was the only one in the showers, or the gym for that matter. Two fluorescent lights were out. One was starting to flicker. My solitary stream of water clapped against the tile floor. I’d never noticed how eerily quiet and dark the showers were till then.

I’d been in the shower for about three minutes, and the water was still fairly cold. Normally I woulda been pissed that it wasn’t warming up. Not today. The chill rush across my back and down my legs was nice. I moved my head in circles, letting the water massage each part of my face.

From my nose out to my cheeks, I felt sore.

Asshole.

As if having awesome powers wasn’t enough, Brad and Seth had to be regular bullies too. I fantasized about how nice it was going to be to get back at them, but I knew that was all it was…a fantasy. Stalking Carrie around school wasn’t getting me anything except maybe a little crush. It would be easier to get Dad to transfer me to another school. But that was a joke. There was no way he was going to transfer me just cause I didn’t like it here or even because I wasn’t getting along with some of the guys. And there wasn’t a chance in hell I was going to tell him what was really going on. Yeah, then I’d be transferred straight to the asylum in Milledgeville.

CLICK!

A distinct noise came from the locker room. It startled me, but I figured the guy in charge of the lights and the guy in charge of maintenance were one and the same, so there were probably a lot of creaks in the building.

Disregarding it, I rubbed some soap on my face, scrubbing it in good to make sure to get off all the blood. A quick pain tore into my eye, like a wasp sting right in the corner.

“Fuck!”

I dropped the soap and pressed the back of my hand against my eyelid. It burned like hell. I put my eye in the path of the water, trying to rinse the soap out, but I must’ve gotten a lot in, cause the burning was too intense for me to open it.

SLAM!

I jumped out of the shower, turned to the door.

It sounded like someone had slammed a locker shut. But wasn’t I the only one there?

The janitor?

Or maybe Coach Williams had come back for something. Of course, my real worry was that it was Brad wanting another round. I couldn’t continue my shower without a quick investigation.

With my eye sealed shut, a nagging stinging sensation covering my face and now also in my eye, I threw on my jeans, and headed out the door, into the locker room.

The lingering cold water from my chill shower amplified the already freezing air.

Who the hell turned the air down?

My hairs stood on end. The cement floor was like ice. It was weird how cold it was, but I was more concerned about someone being in there with me, especially if that someone was Seth or Brad. I looked around. No one.

Out of the peripheral of my working eye, I caught a shadow. I turned, hoping to catch whoever or whatever it was. Just a closed door that led to the restroom.

I walked through the locker room, my teeth chattering. I went in the restroom and checked the stalls to see if anyone was hiding in them. They were empty.

Everything was fine. I was about to head back to the showers, but before I did, I gave myself a quick check in the mirror.

Water dripped from my wet, black hair. My hair was normally dark-brown, but it always looked black when it was wet. I brushed my hand through it. One of those vain moves that I do whenever I pass a mirror, just to get it moving to the direction I like.

The dripping water moved down my forehead, through my bushy eyebrows, which were just as dark as my hair. It scattered down my round, baby-face. I envied guys like Brad who had nice, sharp edges. They looked so intense, where I still looked like a kid.

Standing in just my jeans, all wet and shiny, I felt sorta like one of those jean models that you see on posters. Well, not a real one obviously. I was no muscle-bound Brad, but I liked my body. Contrary to my face, my pecks were squared off with sharp edges. My biceps were arched with clear lines dividing them from my triceps and the rest of my arm. I guess I was naturally muscular, cause I sure as hell didn’t do anything to get them...unless opening doors and getting dressed counted as exercise.

I had a flat stomach with smooth lines indicating where my abs were. I figured if I had done some sit-ups, I would have easily had a six pack but that wasn’t going to happen. A spread of black hair covered my chest and stomach. Wasn’t much. And it added to the whole me feeling like a kid thing, cause it made me look like I was still going through puberty.

My nipples were hard from the chill air. As I breathed, my square pecks pushed out and my flat stomach pulled in. The top of my jeans were soaked from having collected all the water that was dripping down my body.

I started to head back into the showers, but stopped.

A faint jingling sound had caught my attention. Like rattling metal. I looked around uneasily. It was softer than the sounds before, and as I tried to trace where it was coming from, it stopped.

I had checked everywhere else, so the pool was the only other option. I went to the door leading out of the restrooms, swung it open slightly, and peered down the angled hall. Outside the hall, daylight shone through large windows under the ceiling, lighting up the pool. There was something very reassuring about the sunlight.

“Coach Williams?!” I called out.

I waited. No answer.

As I took a breath, I saw the misty air leaving my mouth. I’d known it was cold, but not that cold.

I walked out to the pool, scanning the scene. I could just imagine Seth and Brad popping out from around the corner and kicking my ass.

No one was around the pool, but an uneasiness lingered in my chest.

I’m getting the hell out of here.

I turned to make a quick run back to the showers for my clothes.

A black mass came at me and slammed into my face. I dropped to the floor.

By the intensity of the blow, I knew it had to be Brad. He must have been hiding in the locker rooms. Before I had a chance to get a look at him, my legs were pulled into the air and something gripped around my ankle.

Next, I was being dragged across the floor. I felt the cement tear into my back as I was forced across it.

“FUCK!” I screamed.

I grabbed around for something to hold onto when—

SPLASH!I was pulled right into the pool. It wasn’t that cold, considering how freezing my shower and the locker room had been. But it was still a hell of a shock.

Fuckin’ asshole!

I was going to kill Brad for this.

As I was being forced through the water, I paddled hard to keep my head from going under.

The grip on my leg loosened, and my body came to a halt. I whipped my head around.

My attacker was at the edge of the pool, in a black cloak with a hood—the classic Death look that all the killers in the movies do. I figured it was a lame-ass costume but one of the only ones someone as big as Brad could fit into.

He knelt by one of the ladders on the side of the pool. A long chain was coiled around his shoulder. The end of it hung down into the water. My eyes flashed to my ankle, which I realized was wrapped in the same chain.

“Shit,” I said. This was a lot more serious than bullying. Brad was crazy!

He hopped to his feet and yanked the chain with a force that ripped me underwater. I went flying to the edge of the pool. I’d gone fishing a few times when I was little, and for the first time, I knew what it felt like to be the fish being torn to shore.

My shoulder slammed against the ladder.

I grabbed onto the ladder rungs and raced up. As my head came above the water, I took a deep breath of air. My eyes struggled to adjust. One was still burning from soap, and the other was now filled with pool chemicals.

I felt the curve of the top of the ladder and had a moment of relief, when a hand grabbed me by the hair.

Brad pushed me back down, slamming my forehead into a rung on the way under. I could feel my head starting to swell. I was sure my entire face was going to be in severe pain by the end of the day.

He held me underwater. I struggled uselessly as hundreds of bubbles shot out my nose. A dark shadow flashed by, then the chain went passed my face and behind my ear. The chain slipped down and tightened around my throat. Brad’s hand pulled my hair till my head was back against the side of the ladder. I could feel the chain tightening.

Brad was tying my neck to the ladder!

I’m gonna drown!

My mind raced nearly as fast as my heart. I wondered what it was going to be like for Dad to be told that I’d been murdered at the school he’d shipped me off to. I hoped he’d feel like shit and wished that he’d spent more time with me. I hoped that he’d give a damn, but I doubted it. Then I wondered why Brad was trying to kill me. Didn’t take me long to figure that one out. They must have known that I was following Carrie around after school. Fuck me and my awful snooping. That bitch had probably seen me and told them. That’s why they’d been such asses in P.E. Damn her for telling them. And damn Brad for killing me!

After having this moment of reflection, all the while flailing about desperately, I stopped struggling. My chest tightened as my body demanded air. My head felt like it was being inflated. I didn’t have much time before I went unconscious. I rest my head against the ladder. Was this really going to be how I was going to die?