It was the fourth night in a row Olivia had come over after dark. The first time she'd come over was two weeks ago, and they'd been getting together "secretly" at least every second night.
They still hadn't realized for a moment that I was awake every time. I felt a little bit bad for denying them of their privacy, but you couldn't expect me to just pretend two of my best friends were not talking and laughing next to where I was sleeping.
I was really proud of Danny for the way he was settling in with my group. He'd been hanging around with me and the guys ever since that day I'd walked to our room with him after lessons, and the others had all really grown to like him.
A few of them actually told me that they were surprised, as they were so used to thinking nothing of him. I could relate…
Olivia was definitely the closest to Danny out of all my friends, but there was no surprise there.
That night, the two of them were in the middle of a pillow fight, which was a first. Usually they at least attempted to keep the noise down. I didn't catch who started it, but I'll tell you this. I'll never forget who ended it. I never knew Danny had the courage in him, but just after he'd chucked his pillow at Olivia, who dodged it, he leaned forward and kissed her.
I swear my mouth dropped open at that moment, as I watched them. Olivia seemed to hesitate, and then wrapped her arms around his neck slowly, giving herself into the kiss, and I could practically feel the passion between them from my bed, no joke! After they'd pulled apart, they just stared at each other. I think the both of them were as shocked as I was.
I woke up feeling like shit. My throat was rough and sore, and my head was burning. What a way to feel on a Saturday morning! I stumbled out of bed and changed into a t-shirt and jeans, before I shuffled downstairs.
As soon as I entered the lounge room, Emma approached me excitedly.
"Danny and Olivia are going out! Isn't that so cute?" I forced a smile; despite how shit I was feeling, I truly was happy for them.
"I thought they would in the end," I said in a croaky voice.
Emma looked concerned. "Are you alright? Maybe you should go to the nurse…" I agreed with her, and promptly turned around to climb the stairs again. I was cursing myself for not getting sick on a school day, that's the only time that it's actually alright to be throwing up!
"That faggot's going out with your ex, did you hear?" Bill sauntered up to Adam, who was watching TV fixedly, deeply immersed in the football game.
"Course I did," snapped Adam unhappily, not drawing his eyes away.
"You don't think he planned it?" suggested Bill, raising an eyebrow.
"What do you mean?" Adam demanded, glancing at his friend.
"Think about it," Bill ordered. "Why did she dump you? Cause poor little Colt can't defend himself. Next thing we know, he's asked her out! As far as you know, he's been planning this all year."
Adam shook his head, returning his attention to the game.
"He's not smart enough for that," he argued. Bill pressed on.
"You know he's had it in for us for ages, and he knows how much you liked her. Best way to get at you, don't you think?"
Adam still didn't look convinced.
"He reckons he's way better than you, you know," Bill said suddenly. "He's been bragging to all his mates about it. He said he could get her off of you in a second. He's just going to get a few good fucks out of her, then dump her. He's just doing it to tick you off. I wouldn't let him get away with it if I were you… I don't know how far this guy could go…"
Adam's eyes began to narrow, and Bill knew he'd succeeded.
Danny sat in his room, bored stiff. Mark had the flu, and he had to spend a couple of days overnight in the sick room, so he had no one to talk to even before ten o'clock when Mark would usually go to sleep.
Danny decided to send Olivia a text; he just hoped she was awake. Usually she would have invited herself over by now if she was having trouble sleeping.
Please tell me you're awake, I'm bored as hell over here! Mark's sick… he's in the sick room and there is NOTHING for me to do! You can't see right now but my eyes are really big and I'm looking a bit like a puppy… probably a pretty retarded looking puppy… but still a puppy! Ok… off subject… come over!
Once he clicked the send button, he sighed again; the momentary distraction was over. Unexpectedly, he felt a wave of tiredness wash over him. He let out a yawn and sank down under the covers. Before he knew it, he was asleep.
Danny's eyes flew open as someone clapped a hand over his mouth. He began to struggle, but arms held him down tight. He couldn't see a thing, the room was pitch black. I've got to make noise somehow and wake Mark, he thought desperately, before realizing Mark wasn't even there.
Suddenly, the light turned on, and Danny gasped in pain and squeezed his eyes shut. "What's the matter, can't handle a little light?" teased a menacing voice. Danny slowly opened his eyes and saw Adam, Robert, Bill and Jeff standing beside his bed.
It was Adam who had his hand over his hand over his mouth, and then Danny noticed with horror that he was holding a knife to his throat. Danny felt his body go limp and his heart begin to race.
"Listen here, cunt," hissed Adam in a low voice. "You try anything and get your neck slit. You're gonna get up, and, without making a sound, go to the lounge. Got it?"
Danny didn't want to nod, for fear of the knife, which was too close to his skin for comfort. The boys seemed to get the message, however, and they pulled him out of his bed. He walked silently, and the only sound he could hear was the beating of his own heart. He kept hoping that any minute now, he'd wake up and it would all be a dream.
"Be careful of the first step, it creaks," warned Bill. Danny forced himself to step over it, though he wanted more than anything to attract attention. When they reached the lounge room, Jeff flicked on the light, which, to the other boys' disappointment, had seemingly no affect on Danny.
Adam grinned and faced him. "Now, you little emo faggot, you're probably wondering why we brought you down here."
Danny said nothing, but kept eye contact with him. He knew he mustn't let on how scared he was.
"You see, we've decided to let this whole "enemies" thing go," added Bill. "We've realized that you're actually a pretty cool guy. Adam," he said, nodding towards the blonde boy, who smiled even harder, "knew there was one way to make this up to you."
Adam took over, and Danny came to the sick conclusion that they must have rehearsed this.
"You love cutting yourself, don't you Colt?" he sneered. "You do it a fair bit, so me and the guys were thinking. You must not be able to do that much by yourself, so tonight we're going to do you a favour by doing it for you." Adam smiled, twirling the knife in his fingers.
Danny stared, trying to digest what he'd just heard.
"You're crazy," he breathed, taking a step backwards, but Robert and Jeff held him tight.
"Help," Danny whispered. "Help!" He was trying to scream, but his throat had closed over, and he could barely force himself to make any sound at all.
He's going to kill me, Danny thought wildly, struggling, as Adam advanced on him.
Olivia's eyes opened slowly. Her phone was alight, indicating she'd received a message. She stretched slowly, and picked up the phone. She scanned the writing quickly, smiled and read the time she'd received the message. She'd gotten it over twenty minutes before.
I must have slept through the ringing, she realized in surprise. Feeling wide awake by then, she climbed out of bed and ran a brush through her hair, observing her reflection in the mirror by the light of her mobile. When she was satisfied, she proceeded to tiptoe down the hallways to Danny and Mark's room.
When she reached it, she was surprised to find that the light was on at its full brightness. Danny usually hated bright light, and insisted the knob be turned up no more than halfway.
Deciding he must have gone to the bathroom or something, she settled herself down on the bed. She had been waiting for a few minutes, when a faint crash from downstairs caught her attention. A bad feeling in the pit of her stomach caused her to rise, and head towards the stairs
She was so distracted; she forgot to jump the first step, and the creak that followed made her heart skip a beat. She'd forgotten how loud things like that could sound against silence. She kept her hand on the banister of the staircase as she cautiously made her way down, waiting for her eyes to get used to the darkness.
The light from the lounge room soon came into her sight, and she approached it curiously. She entered through the door, and scanned the room. At first, she couldn't see anything unusual, but then she froze in her tracks.
Her breath caught in her throat for a few second, before she let out a shrill, bloodcurdling scream. She screamed until several students came down to see what the matter was.
She screamed until the teachers, including Mr. Glassman, clad in only boxers, ran in to find the source of the scream. She screamed so loud that she woke me up from where I lay in the sick room on the second story of the building.
The teachers forced the students back out of the lounge room, before too many of them could catch sight of Danny's mutilated body.
Epilogue – Mark
Olivia, though unintentionally, saved Danny's life for the second time, that night. For you to understand this, I'm going to have to tell you the small amount of information I got from the newspaper about the scene that took place that night.
Apparently, Danny decided that, contrary to the way he'd felt only a short time before, that he wasn't going to give up his life without a fight. Despite the fact that he was up against four boys much bigger and stronger than him, he managed to get in quite a good fight.
Apparently they'd tried to pin him down, but he'd dodged them and got in a few good punches of his own. Their number ensured the boys that, while Danny could avoid them, he couldn't escape the room. Quite a bit of furniture was knocked over in the fight that followed.
In the end, Jeff, the eldest of the group, grabbed Danny and slammed him into the wall. In Jeff's own words, "The smack of his head hitting the wall was enough to make you feel sick, you know."
Danny was knocked unconscious instantly.
Adam then proceeded to slash every bit of his body he could get to, which was a fair bit, as Danny had only worn pyjama pants to bed. Robert reported, (this bit made sent a chill through my body) that Adam was just about to slit his neck, when the stair creaked loudly. Thankyou Olivia!
The boys obviously knew someone was near, and they scattered. Somehow, miraculously, Adam's cuts were pretty poorly aimed, and while Danny lost a hell of a lot of blood, not one of his vital organs was directly damaged.
Unfortunately, that wasn't enough. The injuries, loss of blood, and the "bang on the head", (understatement of the – well, the last hundred years) had a pretty badeffect on Danny.
If he doesn't make it, I know I'm going to miss Danny a lot, and I think a lot of others will too. In some odd sort of way, this hasn't affected me the way it should, but I simply think I haven't quite come to terms with what has happened to… Well, I could say pretty honestly, that by the end of it all, he was my best friend. I don't know what Olivia would do without him, either. She told me that he's changed her life, and I would have to agree with her.
He's one of those guys you can spend a day with, and realize at least five things about life you never thought of before. It's almost impossible to believe that he's the same guy that I saw yesterday, lying in his bed at the hospital, motionless and scarred.
He's been in a coma for over two weeks now. The doctors don't think he's going to survive. Olivia, however, is determined he will, but maybe that's just wishful thinking. You see, she was visiting him a few days ago, and he opened his eyes to look at her for a full ten seconds, before slipping back into a coma.
The doctors still think that, even though this improves his chances of surviving by ten per cent, the scaled are still tipped in favour of him dying. Danny's strong emotionally, he's been through enough to tell us all that, but I can only hope he doesn't lose the will to live. After all, he has before.
I guess only time will tell.
Mark Loard, age fourteen