With narrowed eyes I glared to my left in the direction the word had come from. For once, however, the hostile stares weren't aimed at me. Hissing laughter began to circulate the hallway, gradually growing over the sounds of slamming lockers and shuffling footsteps.
"Shit, man. That's nasty," came from the gathering crowd.
I finally spied the source of the commotion as someone shifted from the throng. Across the hall someone's locker had been covered in pictures. From the distance it was hard to tell what was going on in the grainy photos, but I got the gist of it as someone else shouted, "Damn, go home you fuckin' homo."
There was the sound of a body being shoved into the metal lockers and a pained grunt.
"Yeah, kick his pansy ass—"
"What the heck is going on here?! Why aren't you students in class. The bell rung a full minute ago."
I slid my gaze over to Mr. Fulridge, a tall balding man, with a gut and overly hairy arms, which he never covered. Brownie points for him. Confidence is supposedly a good quality.
Clutched in one of his massive hands were the wretched pink slips and he was already going for the pen in his plastic protected pocket.
"Everyone better be clear from here by the time I count to three or every single one of you will be in detention with me. Yeah, even you Stanley, so get your ass movin'," Fulridge growled clicking his pen threateningly.
The announcements had already started, and people hurriedly emptied the hallway.
Calmly, I turned back to my locker, knowing full well that Fulridge was on his way to the bathroom for his regular morning "stop" and wouldn't be waiting around. As I zipped up my bag, the sound of ripping paper tore through the suddenly silent hall behind me.
I glanced over my shoulder, wondering who had had the bright idea of pissing Them off.
It was a bit ridiculous really, this level of bullying in high school, but tradition was tradition, and it was just too fun for the mindless sheep to give up.
A short boy stood there, shoulders trembling as he crumpled the paper between his fists. He gasped in a breath and sniffled, tearing more of the pictures down, but even I could see that it was going to be nearly impossible for him to reach the ones at the top.
I recognized him. He was the new guy, from the city if I remembered right. An outsider.
They didn't like outsiders.
I wondered how long he would last. He sniffed loudly again. I didn't think it would be too long.
"How long are you gonna fucking stand there," he suddenly spat. "The show's over if you hadn't noticed."
I didn't know what to say. I had been casually watching the aftermath, but I didn't feel particularly sorry for him. It wasn't as if I joined in the games, either. The fact was that I happened to be one of the unwilling participants, and had been for a very long time. Now, apparently, I was getting boring. I should be after eleven years.
"Why are you still here?!" He yelled, spinning around and revealing his furious face.
He was small featured, and didn't look older than a middle schooler. But he had to be a senior to be in that bank of lockers. He really didn't have a chance.
At least I had an advantage. He was only human.
"You really shouldn't cry over this," I said, disdainfully.
I watched his face redden with embarrassment, and he angrily wiped the tears away.
"It's gonna get a lot worse."
I picked up my bag and spun the dial on my lock. Not that it really mattered. I stopped keeping anything I valued in there, but it kept them busy.
"What the fuck's the matter with this place," he hissed, and I heard the paper crunch under his tightening grip.
I gave him a smile before making my way to the rooftop. He had no idea.
First period was a bore, and it wasn't like algebra would ever save my life. Not with the enemies I had.
With a sigh, I laid back on the cool concrete bench, head pillowed by my bag and earphones already plugging my ears.
It was chilly with the October wind blowing across my arms and rattling the chain link fence, but it was still better than math. I scrunched my face just thinking about the existence of "imaginary numbers". It was too complicated for my blood.
"Burn back the sun/ Bring back the fire once/ Blazing inside this hollow cage/ Burn back the sun/ You were the only one/ To love me with passion's quiet rage…" I sang along with Decyfer Down, pushing my thoughts away from such a horrible topic.
"Ooh, that hurts my ears."
My eyes flung open as a hand descended over my mouth. I hardly had time to make sense of the face before I was roughly yanked up to a sitting position and crushed under a gigantic arm. I struggled feebly, trying to pull myself out of the tight grip, but laughter was the only response. It rumbled unpleasantly through the barrel chest behind me.
I breathed roughly through my nose and tried to open my jaws enough to bite down on the meaty flesh, but his fingers had them clamped tight.
"Damn, girl, don't you eat?" He growled into my neck, just below my ear. And I recognized, with some alarm, Matt Farkas—one of Them. "I feel like I could break you in half, Andy," he chuckled, tightening his arm around my diaphragm. The threat was evident.
I stopped moving, trying to calm my breathing before I passed out. It probably wasn't a great idea to be unconscious around him, if the heated breath on the back of my neck was any indication.
I squeaked when something hot and wet trailed over my vertebrae, my mind going blank and then into a panic. I felt his nose bury into my hair and a non-human growl shook my bones. Fear was sharp and I felt sweat prickle on my back and sides.
"For a witch," he panted, "You smell damn good."
My breath hitched as his tongue darted out again. His voice went an octave lower as he breathed, "You taste pretty good too."
Sweet Mother in Heaven, I thought closing my eyes as his arm roved, still holding me in place. I really don't want to be a hungry werewolf's breakfast.