18: Rejection

Twos, ones, parentheses, and what looked like a billion pi symbols blurred together.

I stared at the pop quiz, my mouth hanging open.

This is fucking ridiculous.

And it was too. I had just been through hell the night before. I shouldn’t have had to take a quiz.

I glanced around the class. Everyone was busy with their own quizzes. A deep resentment tightened in my chest. I felt like everyone should have known about the events that had taken place the night before. They should have known that I’d been nearly drowned to death in the school pool. They should have known that I’d been chased through the woods by a giant cloaked insect from another dimension. They should have known that I nearly had a panic attack in a coffin. I'd had sharp objects puncturing through my chest and hands and been burned alive!

High school’s supposed to suck, but not like that.

Pain. That’s all there’d been. An intense burning fire in my flesh, my lungs feeling like they’d been filled with nails, my muscles twisted to the side and immovable. It’d been overwhelming.

I’d caught fire and had blacked out. When I’d regained consciousness, there’d been nothing but darkness and intense pain. I could only assume by the intense pain that I was in hell. I always figured that if hell existed, that’s where I’d end up, and when I’d felt that swirling pain rippling through my body, splitting my muscles, I was confident that’s where I was.

It was so different from my original concepts of hell, as presented by my schooling. I had expected lots of people, fire, vivid colors, chains. What I had was my own screaming and pain and darkness. I figured that was so much worse than anything the nuns or priests had ever taught us. If they’d warned me that it was going to be like that, I would’ve worked harder to be a good person.

I was in this dark, painful state, contemplating spending an eternity there and horrified at the idea that the pain might never end, when my eyes burst open and were filled with a light so white and bright, I thought it could have only been heaven.

All the pain in my body had completely disappeared. There was only been me and this bright light. But why had I gone to hell first? For an instant, my notion of the afterlife underwent a radical transformation.

Then, I heard the most beautiful voice, like an angel. “Jason…Jason…”

My eyes quickly adjusted. Carrie was knelt over me, looking down calmly, certainly.

“Close your eyes again,” she said. “They won’t be able to adjust this quick.”

I didn't close them. I just kept on looking around. Everything felt so different. I felt light and eager and excited. And then, like I wanted to throw up. I shut my eyes quickly.

Carrie later explained that she’d dragged my body back into the church and used her super-healing powers or whatever to bring me back. She said that I hadn’t died but had just been really really close.

A part of me felt silly about all my divine revelations. Another part of me just felt sick. Regardless, Carrie told me I had to go to classes. I don’t remember why I'd listened. I guess because I’d been so confused and disoriented that I woulda pretty much listened to anyone.

So, there I was in Trig, struggling to think my way through a quiz that my bitch of a teacher, Miss Gray, had forced on us.

I wondered if Miss Ryder’s body had been found. I wondered if there were police swarming the clinic, trying to determine cause of death. Although, if they had discovered a body, I don’t know why we’d still be in school. Wouldn’t that be grounds for a day off? Like snow day? Only a murder day or something.

While all these thoughts swirled around inside my skull, I wondered what a zero on a pop quiz would do to my grade. Though, let’s be real, I wouldn’t have done that well on it anyway.

When class was almost over, and I had adequately failed the quiz, I decided after the bell rang I was going to skip the rest of school.

A voice came over the intercom. “Attention students and teachers.” I recognized that voice. It was that weirdo Father Daniels who’d "welcomed" me to St. Lawrence. “Due to a malfunction in the air conditioning, all students are excused from class immediately.” He repeated the message again.

“Fuck you,” I whispered to the cruel universe.

They released us from class. As I headed down the hall, watching the students bustle about, it looked like any other school. It reminded me a lot of St. Luke. It was funny. When I'd first arrived, I had thought this place was weird and noticed that everyone seemed to be overly concerned about the town serial killer. Now, it was like they weren’t concerned enough. I wanted to go up and shake everyone and tell them what I’d been through, but I knew that they’d all just think I was crazy. And that’s not a way to start the year at a new school. I could just imagine Megan hopping around the halls, her boobs shaking, mouth running: "Did you hear about Jason? He went totally psycho. You know he was kicked out of his last school. I hear he tried to kill a guy. Just sayin'..."

As I started toward the double doors, I wondered how awkward it was going to be to see Seth and Brad again. I wondered if they even knew why I’d been gone last night. I bet they did. Those bastards. I was still sure that they had somehow gotten the Slasher to come after me. It was just too coincidental that it had come for me, of all the students in the school. And I wasn’t in the mood for their supposed superpowers.

The bitch-of-a-universe must have read my mind, cause coming down the hall were Carrie, Seth, and Brad, side by side, gazing at me with looks of concern. They had good reason to be concerned. I was ready to just beat the shit out of all of ‘em—except Carrie, of course. I hated to admit it, but she was starting to get to me. She had been there for me when I hadn’t had anyone. She’d probably saved my life at least three times the night before, and had restored me to perfect health today--though I had to remind myself that she probably only did it because she felt partly responsible for why I’d been attacked.

They didn’t bother to act like we’d just sorta stumbled into each other. You know, like you do when you’re asking a girl out and you just sorta ‘happen’ to run into her by her locker. No. They came right to me with a fierce intent in their eyes.

I moved over to the lockers so that I wouldn’t get pounced by the hall traffic.

Seth was ahead of Brad and Carrie, and as he approached, he stopped about four feet from me, hesitation in his eyes. I hoped he had superpowers to see the images of me beating the shit out of him that were scrolling through my head.

“Hey Jase,” he said, trying to act friendly or condescending. I wasn’t sure which.

I cringed. I hate it when people call me that shit.

Seth didn’t seem nearly as tough as he had when I'd been pressed up against the wall. Even Brad, who right now looked twice Seth’s size, looked weak and uncertain.

“Hey,” I said nonchalantly.

“Listen,” he continued, “Carrie told us what happened, and we’re really sorry.”

“Really sorry,” Brad added.

“That took some real balls, though, and we just wanted to know if maybe you wanted to join us.”

Seth looked so pathetic. I wondered if this was how he asked girls out. At the same time, I figured that was a rarity if it did ever occur.

“Join you?” I asked, raising my eyebrow. Funny to think that it was singed off just the night before.

Seth’s dark eyes avoided mine completely, as Carrie’s had done when I’d first pinned her to the wall in the clinic. “The League. Carrie said she told you about it.”

“Did she?” I asked, looking to Carrie, who was staring at the lockers. What else had she told them about me? I hadn’t thought about it, but she was still their bitch, and her loyalty remained with Seth. Something about that pissed me off.

I looked back and forth between all three of them. I was the only one trying to make eye contact. What a bunch of pussies.

I rolled my eyes. “Yeah, she did,” I said. “But I’m not interested.”

Seth opened his mouth to continue, but I pushed between him and Brad. I wanted to make it clear that I had nothing to say to them, and they shouldn't have anything to say to me.

I may have been new to this school and the supernatural, but I knew my rats and I wasn’t about to team up with them. They were on their own, especially if releasing evil was their preferred extracurricular activity.

I headed back to the dorm, and went to sleep. I deserved it, and I figured I might stay in bed the rest of the week.