This story is by D.R.McElroy and was part of our 2018 Fall Writing Contest. You can find all the writing contest stories here.
Monsters Among Us
I don’t know why Clint Winters chose me to pick on. Maybe I was too quiet. Maybe he didn’t like the way I look. The first time he attacked me I didn’t even know he was there. I was walking down the hall, my buds in, listening to Super Junior, when suddenly someone shoved me from behind. I stumbled and fell hard, my phone flying away and my heavy pack slamming into my back. I was so shocked I didn’t even cry. I rolled over and Clint was towering over me. He was big for a seventh grader, heavily muscled and thick in the middle. He looked ten feet tall.
“Way to go, freak,” he said, “Trippin’ over your own feet.” His friends laughed, and like an idiot, I spoke,
“I didn’t trip, you
The laughter stopped; Clint’s neck turned red. He loomed over me and yanked the buds from my ears. As I started to say, “Hey—!” he began twirling the buds by their cord.
“Listen up, Four Eyes,” he snarled, “I didn’t touch you. You fell on your face. Just ask anyone, they’ll tell you.” I looked around at the faces of the small crowd gathered around us. I saw little sympathy, but a lot of fear mixed with what looked like anticipation. I think some of them wanted to see Clint beat me up. I felt fear crawl through my own skinny body. Clint leaned over me, his voice low. “So, what happened here, freak?”
I swallowed hard. “I tripped,” I mumbled. Clint barked a short laugh and walked away down the hall, twirling my buds.
From that day on, Clint was on me every day. He favored slamming me from behind—to the point where I began constantly looking over my shoulder. He’d trip me, slap my head, knock my lunch tray out of my hands—whatever stupid thing his tiny brain could think of.
Eventually, I told my mother, who went to talk to the principal. Mr. Kurtz assured her that he would take immediate action. I went back to my classroom just in time to hear the loudspeaker summon Clint to the principal’s office. I allowed a smile of satisfaction to cross my face as I took my seat—then looked over to see Clint glaring at me from the back of the room. I quickly looked away, but felt like I wanted to upchuck on my desk. Clint strolled up the aisle to the front of the room and out the door.
Mrs. Musgrave returned to the spelling lesson, but my mind could only spell one word: D-O-O-M-E-D.
Clint got three days suspension, and then it was the weekend.
I got off the bus Monday morning, my throat tight with anxiety. I remained on edge for the entire day but never saw Clint. When the final bell rang, I hurried to my locker then ran for the bus. I was just passing the boys’ bathroom when I felt a heavy pain in my back and found the floor hurtling towards my face. I stuck my arm out just in time to keep from breaking my nose on the tile, and felt a sharp pain in my wrist. Someone grabbed my ankles and pulled me into the bathroom.
“Did ya miss me, freak?” Clint’s gravel voice asked. “So, you had to be a tattle-tale, huh?” I rolled over slowly, mindful of the pain in my wrist. My stomach twisted with fear, and I realized that I was going to get hurt—bad.
“Nothing to say?” Clint continued. I tried to produce some kind of answer, but was only able to offer a croak. Clint kicked me hard then and I nearly threw up on the floor. I gasped for breath just as he reared back and kicked me twice more in the stomach. That was too much for me and helplessly I vomited.
I distantly heard Clint laughing. “What a goddamn baby! I ain’t even punched you yet!” I dimly thought I saw two others with him. “Get up, ya baby,” Clint snarled. “Get up and take what ya got comin’.” I knew that continuing to lie on the floor was making him angrier, but I was literally unable to stand.
Clint raised his foot over my head, looking like he meant to stomp my brains out right there. I glimpsed one of his friends grab his arm and pull him away. “That’s enough, Clint,” the friend said (I think his name might have been Josh?). Clint jerked away from Josh’s hold and turned on him.
“Whaddya think you’re doing?”
Josh’s voice was level and calm, like he was trying to tame a wild horse. “The freak can’t take anymore. Let it go. You’ve made your point.”
“I ain’t done yet, not by half,” Clint replied, turning back to me. I could hear the rage in his voice. Once more, Josh intervened.
“Come on, dude, lay off. If you go any further they’re going to put you in juvie.” Clint turned again to face Josh, but Josh stayed calm. “Dude, I mean it. You gotta stop now.” Clint shook with anger, but Josh’s steady gaze finally broke through to him.
Clint turned back to me one more time, but most of the fire was gone from him. He leaned over me and said, “You’re one lucky little shit, Four Eyes. I’ll let you go now, but watch your back.” Then, he and his friends left the bathroom.
I don’t know how long I laid there on the floor; no one came into the bathroom in all that time. I heard the school grow quiet as kids left. Carefully, I eased out of my pack and used my good arm to pull myself to my feet using one of the sinks. I staggered out of the bathroom and into the hall; the school office seemed a mile away. I began shuffling towards it, my broken wrist pulled in close to my bruised gut. The office turned out to still be open, and the school nurse caught me as I fell.
I’m pretty sure none of the adults bought my story that I fell down the stairs at school. Fortunately, my wrist was just sprained and not broken. I’m sure Mom would have put up a bigger stink if I broke something. I insisted over and over that it was my fault, I was a klutz, and Clint wasn’t involved. Mom let me stay home from school for several days, until I assured her that I felt much better and wanted to go back.
I’m out the door early this morning to walk the three miles to the school. When I get there, the doors are open, but none of the busses have arrived and only a couple of janitors roam the halls. I quietly make my way down the hall to the gym and slip inside. Afterwards, I hide in the bathroom until everyone else starts to arrive. I blend with the crowd and go to my locker. Almost immediately, Clint appears behind me.
“Ready for another beating, freak?” he murmurs in my ear. I tightly grip the handle of the baseball bat I took from the gym, take two steps back, and swing it as hard as I can at Clint’s head. Caught totally off guard, Clint’s left cheekbone collapses as the bat crushes his face. Blood gushes from his broken nose and he staggers backwards with a loud grunt. I swing the bat again and it cracks him across the back of the head. He stumbles and goes down on one knee. He tries to raise his head to look at me, but I don’t hesitate. I draw the bat back twice more and slam it across his skull. He flops on the floor like a hooked fish, and I hear kids around me screaming. I raise the bat high over my head to finish him when someone grabs me from behind, pinning my arms to my sides. I drop the bat and squirm and kick, shouting,
“Let me go, he’s still alive! Let me go! I have to make sure he can’t come after me again!” I am dragged away down the hall, still screaming.
So now I’m in the back of a police car. There’s a woman in the back seat with me, her arm around my shoulders, asking me questions.
“Are you okay, Elizabeth?” I hear the concern in her voice. “Do you want to talk about it?” I’m no fool; I know I don’t have to say a word. “Did that boy hurt you? Is that why you attacked him?”
I refuse to look at her, and feel a snake coil in my belly. I hope I killed him, was all I could think.