Loner Chapter 4

It was clear to Byron that he was going to have the longest four years ever. Not only had he managed to piss off the biggest jerk in school, he was sure that he and his friends wouldn’t rest until they had gotten their revenge… Interesting…

It wasn’t that Byron enjoyed fighting or even hurting others, but he had to admit there was a certain thrill in it, especially when faced with opponents he had never met before. There was some validation in it, like that his nine years training in the martial arts was worth every penny.

And now he would pass on some of his knowledge to the clumbsy and frighteningly talkative Todd Muckleroy. It was one 2 hour phone call that resulted in Byron’s early departure on a Saturday morning towards the Muckleroy estate. It was only a mile walk from his house, so Byron thought he would get a little exercise before their training. He didn’t want his dad to drive him, knowing he would totally get the wrong idea, and it this would be a good chance to use his GPS app on his phone.

The end of August approached and the frigid morning told Byron that Fall wasn’t playing around. Wearing an outfit of shorts and a tank-top, Byron felt more than a little chilled… Byron focused. He was being followed… At least it felt like he was being followed. It was hard to explain; ever since he was a little boy he had a sense for these things, like a ripple in the air disturbing his personal space.

He smiled. ‘Well,’ he thought, ‘A little warm up would be fine before we got started. I can’t kick Todd around all day…’

“Turn right on Catharine Drive,” said his GPS. It startled Byron. He was almost there; only five more minutes. He kept right on the path until he came to a ridiculously large house.

“Whoa,” said Byron. It was huge. ‘What the heck does this kid’s family do for a living?’ thought Byron as he walked down the path to the front door.

The house popped in the morning sun, white and clean like fresh snow. The black tiled roof kept Byron’s eyes from burning as he shielded his eyes looking for the front door. ‘Holy schnikes!’ he thought, practically sprinting to it. He found the circular doorbell and pressed it

It didn’t take long for Todd to answer the door, and Byron couldn’t help but snicker as he saw, once again Todd in business attire.

“Hi,” he said, “Welcome Byron. May I offer you a cold beverage or a hearty snack before we begin?”

Byron groaned as he stepped through the doorway. “Don’t you have any workout clothes?”

“These are my workout clothes. I have a suit for every occasion.”

“Words fail me, Todd,” he said, admiring the sculpted owl guarding the steps to the second floor from its perch on the banister. “You’re parents must be rich!”

Todd adjusted his glasses, blushing, “My parents invest a lot of their money and, well, I guess they know what they’re doing.”

“Aside from being successful bank thieves,” he said, walking down the hallway to the kitchen, seeing granite counters and marble floors. Byron gave a low whistle.

“Well,” said Byron, clapping his hands together, “You get changed, and I ‘ll get ready to whip you into shape.”

“Uh, Byron?” said Todd still at the door, “Did she come with you?”

It was Charisa, head down, rubbing her hands together and twisting her foot into the concrete porch. ‘Ugh,’ thought Byron, ‘What now?’

“Hi,” said Todd, cheerfully, “Charisa, right? Come on in, I have cold drinks and snacks.”

“No, no, no, no,” said Byron, shaking his finger, “Don’t invite her in here! What the heck are you doing here, Charisa?”

“I, uh, followed you,” she said, eyes to the ground, “I wanted to thank you for last night.”

“You already thanked me,” said Byron, “There’s no need to follow me around. Though, I have to admit you did a pretty good job.”

Charisa blushed. “Th-thank you,” she said, “Can I still come in?”

“Of course,” said Todd, “The more the merrier!”

Byron shook his head and was about the protest when he heard Todd gasp.

“Oh golly,” said Todd, in a panic as he grabbed his underwear, “Don’t give me a wedgie!” He slammed the door and ran upstairs.

“Who was that?” said Byron.

“That was Howie Nelson,” said Charisa, “He-he’s a sophomore, like me. He’s on the football and track team.”

“Was that him?” said Byron smiling, “Well I hope he’s not here on my behalf.” Byron opened the door and saw Howie outside. He looked a little unsure of himself, rubbing the back of his neck looking towards the ground.

“Hi,” said Byron, “Can I help you?”

“I just wanted to apologize for yesterday,” he said, “I wanted to step in and stop what was happening…”

“And you didn’t,” said Byron, smiling.

“Well, I did run and get Mr. Flunderson,” said Howie, sheepishly.

“All the way upstairs, huh?”

“He was actually downstairs and… He was actually the first teacher I met,” he said, looking Byron straight in the eye.

“Why are you here?”

“I, I told you. I’m sorry. That’s all I wanted to say,” he said, “…Also that the guys are going to get back at you for what happened.”

“Thanks for the heads up,” said Byron, coldly, “Anything else?”

“They’re going after Mr. Flunderson too,” he said.

“Well? What am I supposed to do about it?”

“Don’t you help people?” asked Howie, “I mean, that’s what you do. You helped Tina, you helped her,” he pointed to Charisa, “Aren’t you going to help him?”

“Why don’t you?” said Byron, “Am I the only person with a moral compass around here? Have you all lost your senses? Why treat others horribly? Are you, are they, better than everyone else?

“I know Aaron Thompson is. He’s just so… neat!” said Byron, “People worship him, hang on every one of his words. Who am I to you? What the hell did you guys do before I came to town?

“When I came here, I was expecting what I always got: nothing! Nothing from you, her, him, sure as hell nothing from Aaron Thompson! I wanted to be left alone! I wanted peace and quiet. Now I have to drag wedgie boy out of his room and shape him up so you dumb-asses won’t bully him anymore!”

Charisa looked up for the first time and stared at Howie, who now had his head lowered. She could tell he was embarrassed. “I know. I know what we did,” she said, tears dripping from her eyes, “We just watched.”

Byron turned. She wasn’t stuttering. “We watched, because, we, we didn’t know what to do. We just let it happen because we… we aren’t strong like you. Please Byron, please shape me up too.”

She actually got on her knees and looked up at him, her eyes pleading. Looking down on her, he knew what choice he had to make. He didn’t want to—God knew he didn’t want to–but he had to.
“What about you, lanky?” said Byron, redirecting to Howie, “What are you going to do? Sit and watch?”

Howie also saw the choice in front of him. He knew what the right decision was; it was spelled out in front of him, but he couldn’t make that choice yet.

“I can’t,” he said, “I can’t, Byron. I’ll try to talk to the guys. That’s what I can do.”

“Go talk then,” said Byron, “Talk all you want. You want to be like them instead of who you are? Keep talking. Because that’s all it is: cheap talk!”

Byron slammed the door this time. He looked back at Charisa, who was still kneeling. She smiled for the first time. Byron rolled his eyes, a slight blush tinging his cheeks. “Come on,” he said, giving her his hand. “Let’s drag Todd out of his room.”

“Alright,” she said. They went up the stairs, all the way to the third floor, and found a shut door with a Yoda poster, with the words: READ, YOU SHOULD (because everyone listens when the caps lock is on).

“If this isn’t it,” said Byron, “His parents have some weird type of fetish.”

Charisa laughed. It brought a smile to Byron’s face. They knocked together.
“Todd,” said Byron, “Howie’s gone. He isn’t coming back. Well, I guess I can’t make that promise, but I can promise that there will be no wedgies. Not while I’m around.”

Todd cracked the door open to see if Howie was indeed gone. He sighed. “For a second there,” he said, “I thought I was going to have to use my wand of unicorn magic to…”

Byron took the wand from Todd’s hand and broke it.

“Hey,” said Todd, “It’s not real; it’s make believe.”

“Well now’s the time for real life,” said Byron, “You in?”

Todd looked at him and then at Charisa. “Affirmative,” he said smiling, “Where do we start?”

*******************************************************************************************

It started outside as the three of them began to run around the block. Todd huffed and puffed as he tried to keep up with Byron, who made the pace. Charisa, though light on her feet, still wasn’t very fast, but could keep up for the most part.

“Why… are… we… running?” said Todd as Byron slowed down to run with them.

“I want to know your breaking point,” said Byron.

“Come again?” said Todd panicking.

Byron smiled. “You see Todd, first I have to break you. Second, I rebuild you. You’ll still be your silly, annoying self, but a more lethal, annoying you.”

“Oh…” he said, “Cool!”

“Alright,” said Byron, “Now for this final lap I want you to sprint. Go as fast as you can back home. You got that Charisa?” She nodded. “Ok. Go!” Byron zoomed away and to his surprise Charisa zoomed past him. “Whoa!” said Byron.

Todd continued to push. “I am going as fast as I can!”

The rest of the afternoon went great. After the run, Byron had them stretch. Charisa was very limber. Todd was not. Then he brought out his punching pad. Todd had some great punches. Charisa’s were weak. Charisa could kick higher. Todd could kick harder. The results were pretty much what Byron had expected. They trained for six hours, until Todd and Charisa were barely able to move.

“Well,” said Byron, “That’s it.” he wiped the sweat off his face. “Next Saturday, Charisa, wear some workout clothes. I hope your skirt didn’t get too messed up.”

Charisa blushed. “Oh yes,” she said, “Yes, sure I-I’ll wear some workout clothes.”

“Next Saturday?” said Todd, “You mean all that work and we still have to keep working? Aren’t I as strong as you yet?”

Byron whacked him on the head. “I’ve been doing this since I was five years old, Todd. You’ve still got a long way to go, do you want to give up?”

“No,” he said, “I want to be strong.”

“Then next Saturday,” said Byron, “Right here. Same time. See you in school Todd, I’m going to walk Charisa home now.”

********************************************************************************************************************

The two walked in silence. It was getting late and the sun was sinking in the sky. Charisa wasn’t sure if she should talk or not. She wanted to, but she didn’t know what to say and also she thought that maybe Byron wanted quiet, so she just thought about what she wanted to say.

‘Lovely evening, Byron,’ thought Charisa.

‘Yes it is a rather lovely evening. It makes me think of a poem I wrote,’ thought make-believe-Byron.

‘You write poetry? So do I.’

‘I really like dark poetry. Death is so cool,’ thought make-believe-Byron.

“Me too!” said Charisa out loud.

“Huh?” said Byron.

“Oh,” said Charisa, blushing, “Sorry…”

“So Charisa,” said Byron, “You’re very flexible. Did you used to take gymnastics or something?”

Charisa froze. “Well… I, um, actually, used to be a cheerleader. A long time ago.”

“Really?” said Byron, “For what? peewee football?”

“Actually, yes,” she said.

“Why’d you quit?”

“I, uh,” she said, “I was…”

As she looked ahead she saw Aaron, Russell, Ted and Howie walking towards them. She gasped and Byron turned his head back, facing forward. The four of them stopped.

“Well hello, Lucas,” said Aaron, “Fancy meeting you here. We just wanted to talk to you.”

“Hey Charisa,” said Russell smiling.

Charisa leapt behind Byron, shaking as she grabbed his shoulder. “What do you guys want?” said Byron.

“We just want to talk,” said Aaron, “Isn’t that right guys?”

Howie looked uncomfortable.

Byron smiled. “What do you want to talk about?”

“How we’re going to kick your ass!” said Aaron, “Grab him!”

Ted and Russell grabbed Byron by the arms and pinned him to the ground. Charisa jumped on Russell’s back and began to beat on the back of his head, but Aaron grabbed her by the back of the neck and threw her at Howie.

“Hold her still, Howie,” said Aaron as he moved forward to where Byron was pinned. Ted and Russell grabbed Byron’s ankles and pinned them to the ground too. Aaron stood right between Byron’ legs.

“You know what, Lucas,” said Aaron, “I don’t like you. I don’t understand what you’re doing. What are you doing? It vexes me to no end. You stay quiet, we leave you alone, but you keep raising your head where it doesn’t belong.”

Charisa cried and struggled in Howie’s arms. ‘What am I doing?’ thought Howie, ‘We were just supposed to talk to Lucas not hurt him.’

Charisa looked up at him. His hand covered her mouth so she couldn’t speak, but Howie knew what she was thinking. He was thinking the same thing.

‘Am I really going to watch another horrible thing happen?’

He threw Charisa to the ground and walked up to Aaron.

“Tell you what I’m going to do, Lucas,” said Aaron, “I’m going to crush your sack all over the concrete. You’re never going to use it anyway, you freak!”

Howie tapped Aaron on the shoulder, “Aaron, please don’t.”

“Faggot!” he slapped Howie across the face, “I told you to hold the girl! Do your job!”

Byron smiled up at Aaron. He didn’t want to give him the satisfaction of seeing his fear. “You’re supposed to be scared,” said Aaron his face red and angry, “Cower!” he raised his right foot to smash Byron’s balls but just as he was going to, Howie kicked Aaron in the sack from behind.

“Oh,” said Aaron in falsetto. He nearly landed on top of Byron, but Howie grabbed his shoulder and threw him to the side. Ted let go of Byron to help Aaron.

“Ted!” said Russell, “You idiot!” Byron, with his free arm and leg, hit Russell in both temples knocking him out cold for the second time. As Ted saw what had happened, he went to punch Howie, but Howie blocked Ted’s fist, placed his foot behind Ted’s and palm striked him in the chest, toppling him over on top of Aaron as he grasped his throbbing sac.

“Get out of here, you guys!” said Howie, “Hurry!”

The three ran away from the scene and kept running till they made it to Charisa’s house. An awkward silence fell between them as they sat in Charisa’s living room. It wasn’t how Byron pictured it. He figured there would be black all around and maybe… some bats? Instead they were greeted by a happy, fat, black cat and Charisa’s normal-looking parents, Mr. and Mrs. Monroe.

Charisa told them about the three boys jumping them on the way home and just like a scene out of a Happy Days, Mrs. Monroe brought them some hot cocoa.

“It’s just nice to see Charisa bring home some normal friends for a change,” said Mrs. Monroe.
“Mom!” she said as she snuggled with Sleepy, her pudgy, black cat.

After saying good bye to Charisa, Mr. Monroe, took Byron and Howie home. “It’s safer this way,” he said.

“Why’d you do it?” whispered Byron, as they sat in the back seat of Mr. Monroe’s station wagon.

“I had to,” said Howie staring straight ahead, “I’m not that guy.”

Byron didn’t say a word. He just smiled as they drove away.

Loner Chapter 1
Loner Chapter 2
Loner Chapter 3

Loner Chapter 3

Friday came in a flash and Byron sat in his last class of the day: biology. His class had been studying human biology, something that Byron was very interested in, though not for the same reason as most of his classmates. Byron was interested in all the weak points of the body. Though he was strong for his size, he believed it was good to know everything about the enemy’s body in order to win.

Unfortunately, Mr. Flunderson, a bespectacled man with graying hair, didn’t think it was necessary to talk about those details. They spent most of their time in the large intestine, a place where Byron hoped he would never visit, and he spent most of class drawing in his notebook. This time he drew his classroom and himself sitting in the back row with his lab partner Ryan Sipple: the so called lazy kid.

He was called Lazy Kid because he slept through every class. It was interesting to Byron that he never saw this kid awake, always his head of long, sandy blonde hair spreading across the table like an octopus, covering his face from those pesky fluorescent bulbs. It didn’t bother Byron in the least; Ryan was one less kid to stare at him or talk to him, but he was a bit surprised that Mr. Flunderson didn’t have anything to say about it.

For whatever reason, Mr. Flunderson acted as if Ryan wasn’t even there, possibly another one of those teachers who just didn’t give a frak. All in all Byron considered Lazy Kid to be the bestest peer ever! One who didn’t talk or even acknowledge his existence. Sure he had to do all the work when they did experiments, but he preferred that anyway. He just kept his mouth shut, did the work and lazy kid would sleep and not bother him.

Byron drew throughout the rest of class. He drew Todd Muckleroy and Howie Nelson and Russell Brown and Tina Kurt… He found it interesting that he could draw them so well after only meeting them a couple of times.

Russell had challenged him to a rematch and Byron declined. It really pissed Russell off which suited Byron fine. He didn’t want to fight anyone for fighting’s sake anyway. He was only willing to do it if he needed to. And beating the tar out of Russell again didn’t appeal to him. All he wanted to do was finish up class and get the heck out of there.

“Hey save some for me…” said Lazy Kid in his sleep.

Byron laughed to himself. ‘I wonder what he’s dreaming about?’ he thought. Then the bell rang. Byron watched everyone run out of the classroom as Mr. Flunderson erased the chalk board.

“Hey, kid,” said Byron shaking Ryan awake, “It’s time to leave.”

“Huh?” he said wiping the sleep from his eyes, “Oh. Cool. Thanks man.”

They got up and put their things away and walked out the door, not saying a word, just the way Byron liked it.

Byron walked to his locker without being stopped, something rare this week, and rummaged through his locker looking for the books he would need for the weekend. He stopped once he felt the presence of yet another someone standing behind him. Byron groaned. He pulled his book bag out and turned around.

Feigning a smile, he said, “What can I do for you today?”

It was a goth girl or at least she could have been a goth girl. She was tall (taller than him) with long black hair that nearly covered her face except for the left side. She looked down, not because she was taller than Byron, but because she was looking at the floor.

“Hello?” said Byron, actually trying to be nice, “Can I help you?”

She looked into his eyes for a second, then back to the ground, “Um…” she said and paused, “I was wondering if you could maybe, if it’s not too much trouble, walk me home from school? It’s not a big deal if you can’t. I was just wondering.”

Byron could sense something was wrong. “Why?” he said a little too grisly.

“I, I,” she said looking at his face then to the floor, “I just thought, well, it would be nice to have someone with me. I’m always alone on my way home.”

“Well,” said Byron, not really wanting to go, “I’m really busy. I got to get home and talk to a friend of mine. We video chat online every Friday.”

“Oh,” she said, looking to the floor again, “Well… it’s ok. I’m… thank you anyway.”

She walked away. She seemed sad and closed off. Byron wasn’t sure what he should do. No, he knew what he should do, but it was going to ruin his Friday. He knew he had to follow her at least. See what was going on.

“Hey Byron,” said Todd slapping him hard on the back, “We still on for this weekend at my house?”

Regaining his balance, Byron turned and glared at him. “Uh yeah, Todd,” said Byron, “Excuse me.” Keeping his eyes on the back of the girl’s head, Byron pursued with Todd following after him. They had scheduled their first class for Saturday. Byron didn’t typically have anything to do on the weekends anyway.

“Where are we going?” Todd asked as they maneuvered around kid after kid.

“We aren’t going anywhere,” said Byron keeping pace.

“Can I come?” said Todd.

“Be my guest. Just don’t slow me down.”

“Is this like training?”

“Shh!” said Byron, “No talking, more walking.”

They followed the girl out the school doors and onto the sidewalk. She walked down the sidewalk towards the football field, her pace quickening. Byron looked towards the football field. There was practice tonight and the players were running a couple of drills. There was a little, metal fence that separated the sidewalk from the field and a break in the fence where bleachers were placed. The girl walked alone; it seemed that nobody else took this route home. The girl was closing in on the bleachers when Todd grabbed Byron on the shoulder.

“What are you doing? Are you stalking her?”

“No,” said Byron irritated, “Something’s going on. Keep moving.”

Then Byron and Todd saw someone jump over the fence and run up to the girl, grab her, and drag her under the bleachers. “Let’s go,” said Byron as he began to run.

“Affirmative,” said Todd.

“Please…” she said struggling in his arms, “Please let me go. I’m… I’m not going to do anything… just… please leave!”

“It’s been a long time Charisa,” said Russell soothingly, rubbing his hand against her inner thigh, “That’s what I want to hear; let me do all the work.”

Placing his hand over her mouth to keep her from screaming, he began to hike up her long, black skirt. “I know you want it,” he said, “You were looking at me all of Spanish.” Her eyes filled with terror, screaming into his hand all she could hear was a muffled sound and then a familiar, grisly voice.

“Hey! Asshole!” said Byron finally in front of them, “Really? Again? Let her go!”

“Lucas,” said Russell, “You stay out of this! She’s my slut!”

“Let her go!”

At that moment Todd arrived huffing. “Byron,” he panted, “The others… Are… Coming…”

Byron turned around to see the football team assembling beneath the bleachers. Aaron Thompson lead them.

“Well, well, Lucas,” said Aaron as he ran his fingers through his hair, “Looks like you are going to have a rematch, right?”

The other jocks began to circle them into the bleachers, chanting fight. It caught the attention of nearby students who hadn’t left school yet. They all came under the bleachers, shaking the metal frame as everyone shoved each other to get a better view of the action.

Byron looked around stunned. He didn’t think this many people would be left at school on a Friday. He felt cornered. Todd hid behind him. Russell finally let go of the girl; he too was stunned, his face red from being caught. The girl, Charisa, collapsed on the ground. She sobbed into her hands.
Byron saw her out of the corner of his eye and he regained his composure. ‘I have to stop this,’ he thought.

“I’m not going to fight,” he said, “I already decline the invitation for a rematch. I just want to walk this girl home.”

“That’s too bad,” said Aaron, “Because she isn’t leaving with you. She’s leaving with my friend Russ. Isn’t that right, Russ?”

Russell looked at Aaron, fear on his face. “It’s alright,” Russell said, “I’ve had enough of her anyways.”

“No no,” said Aaron, “Whoever wins the fight gets the girl.”

The students shouted in agreement. Howie Nelson, who was in the back, looked down and walked away. Tina, who was also in the back, jumped up and down to see over all the kids.

“I can’t see anything,” she said, “Are they fighting yet?”

Alice and Jennifer stared at her. They couldn’t believe Tina wasn’t more concerned about the other girl trapped in the middle of this whole thing.

As Charisa continued to cry, Aaron finally spoke again. He turned around to address the crowd, “Everyone. We are moving this fight to the field so everyone can see. Please move so we can get this rematch started!”

“What are you doing, ese?” said Hector, “You trying to make Russ look like an idiot in front of the whole school?”

“This is what Russ needs,” said Aaron as the students walked out from under the bleachers and onto the field, “With an audience, the pressure will be great, and Russ will do his best not to screw up.”
Hector and Ted grabbed the girl and took her to the field as Russell and Byron followed after.

“You’re not really going to fight on school property, are you?” Todd asked Byron.

“I have no choice,” said Byron, “Lesson 1, Todd: fight only the fights you have to, not the ones you can easily avoid.”

They marched to the field in silence. The football team created a circle on the field as the other students sat in the bleachers. The circle let the Charisa, Russell, Byron and Todd inside. Aaron grabbed a megaphone he found on the bleachers, “Hello students of Morrisville High! We are going to have an epic rematch between my best friend Russell Brown and the weird kid Byron Lucas.
There was cheering in the circle and on the bleachers. “The winner,” Aaron continued, “Gets the girl.” He walked over to her. She finally stopped crying. “What’s your name?” he asked.
“Char… Charisa Monroe,” she said.

“The winner gets Charisa Monroe,” he said, “The rules are simple: no leaving the circle, fight stops when someone taps out or if a teacher comes and stops us…”

“Boo,” went the audience.

“Lastly, it’s illegal to hit the balls on purpose or accident. If a fighter hits his opponent in the balls, everyone gets to kick him in the balls.”

“Yeah!” screamed the audience.

“So without further ado,” said Aaron, “Let’s get this fight started!”

The crowd cheered again. Byron knew he had to beat Russell again. But he also knew if he did the same combo as last time, he would be kicked in the balls, repeatedly. He had to figure out how to best take out Russell without any groin shots.

Russell faced Byron, his eyes narrowed. He couldn’t lose this fight. Not because of the girl, but because he had a reputation to uphold. He was a football player; he couldn’t lose to some runt.

They squared off. Russell anchored himself: his legs apart, his knees bent and his arms out to grab Byron if he came within that space. Byron studied his opponent, his hands changing to fists, his breath controlled. He kept his left leg in front, taking a fighting stance, his arms slightly raised, eyes narrowed, calculating his next step.

He had all the time in the world; it didn’t look like Russell was going to move an inch. Then it hit him. He remembered last week his talk with Alisa:

“You totally missed an awesome class on Thursday,” said Alisa online. Alisa had short, dark brown hair and dark, brown eyes.

“Really?” said Byron grinning, “What happened?”

“Master Kim showed us how to take down a fighter bigger than ourselves.”

“Are you serious?” said Byron, “I really would have loved that class.”

“I know,” said Alisa, “It totally sucks that you had to move, bonehead. You could have really used this class since you’re such a shrimp.”

“Whatever,” said Byron, irritated, “You’re not much taller. So can you show me?”

She sighed. “Ok, I guess I’ll show you. But I’m not showing you all of them, in case I have to use them on you some day,” she said.

“Yeah, sure,” he said, “just show me…”

‘Good thing I still have Alisa,’ thought Byron.

“Are you guys going to get started, or what?” said Aaron through the mega phone, “Fight, fight, fight…” The audience began to chant with him.

Russell was getting angry. He didn’t want to attack first; he didn’t know what would happen.

‘I can’t attack below the waist,’ thought Byron, ‘It could be too easily misconstrued as a groin kick. But I can hit the other points just as easily… “Hey, Russell! You afraid I’m going to kick your ass again? Come and get me!”‘

Russell looked to his team mates, they cheered for him to go. Then he looked to the cheerleaders, they averted their gazes. And lastly he looked at the bleachers, they stood up and encouraged him to begin. Russell roared and charged at Byron, sprinting.

‘He’s pretty fast,’ thought Byron, ‘Got to time this right…’

Russell was about five feet away… ‘Now!’ thought Byron. He jumped into the air, turned and did a back side kick right in the solar plexus. It stopped Russell. He fell down on his hands and knees as he tried to regain his breath.

Aaron blinked. The crowd was silent as Aaron ran towards Russell and knelt down to his ear. “What happened?” he asked.

“He… got me… right in the bread basket,” said Russell trying to catch his breath.

“Pretend,” said Aaron, “He hit you in the balls.”

“What?” said Russell.

Aaron got on the megaphone, “Byron Lucas has committed a foul and kicked Russell Brown in the balls. He shall now be punished.”

The crowd was shocked. Most of them knew Byron didn’t kick Russell in the balls. The players down below knew too, but they went along with it. They went to grab Byron.

“I don’t think so,” said Mr. Flunderson. He marched onto the field with his own megaphone, “You all better clear out of here, or it’s detention for all of you.”

Mr. Flunderson was now face to face with Aaron. “Great showmanship, Mr. Thompson,” said Mr. Flunderson through the megaphone, “However the rest of the staff can hear you. Not very smart at all.”

Aaron blushed.

“Do I need to tell the coach about how his team is not practicing for the game tonight? Where is he anyway?” said Mr. Flunderson.

“He left me in charge, sir,” said Aaron.

“Right… Clear out now, or it’s Saturday school for all of you!” he said, then he marched over to Byron, Todd and Charisa while Russell writhed on the ground. “You kids ok?” he asked.

“Yeah,” said Byron, “We’re good. Thanks.”

“You’re welcome,” said Mr. Flunderson, “Now get along home.” He turned and walked back towards the school. The rest of the student body left. The jocks and the cheerleaders went to one end of the field as Byron, Todd and Charisa stood stationary.

“You didn’t hit him in the balls,” said Todd finally.

“I know, Todd,” said Byron, “I know. Hey, Charisa, right? Do you still want us to walk you home?”

“Um,” she said her face still looking downward, “That… That would be… fine.”

She led the way down the path as the three walked over the hill and out of sight.

****************************************************************************

On the other side under the goal post, Aaron fumed. “I can’t believe that ******* teacher came in and stopped the fight.” Russell finally joined the others at the post, rubbing his chest.

“I think,” said Russell, “That it’s for the best. That ******* hurt!”

“Yeah, he hit you in the balls,” said Ted, “Of course it hurt.”

“He didn’t hit him in the balls, Ted,” said Aaron, “He hit him in the solar plexus.”

“But you said…” said Ted.

“Forget it, Ted! Ok?” said Aaron, “We need to get back at that teacher and that Lucas kid. It’s humiliating!

Howie was silent. Russell and Hector looked at each other. “What should we do, holmes?” said Hector.

“Leave it to me, boys,” said Aaron, “Leave it to me.”

Alice, Jennifer and the other cheerleaders were worried. They didn’t think this was a good idea at all.

“Yeah,” said Tina, “And Aaron if you need the cheer squad for anything, you just let me know.”

“Ok, sweetie,” said Aaron smiling as he and the other players went back to practice.

“What are you doing?” Alice asked Tina, “Don’t get us mixed up in this feud!”

“Silly Alice,” said Tina, “This isn’t a game show.” She walked off to talk to Aaron some more.

“What the hell is wrong with that girl,” said Tanisha, “She must be out of her damn mind.”

“Yes,” said Jennifer, a smile spreading on her face, “Yes she is.”

Loner Chapter 1
Loner Chapter 2
Loner Chapter 4

Loner Chapter 2

The cafeteria clamored with murmurs and chair scraping as students settled in for their lunch, laughter and voices regaling the events of the morning, as well as smiles, and grimaces alike, at the food about to be eaten, all while sitting at large, round tables, encircling various clicks.

Tina Kurt settled in with her fellow cheerleaders, glancing this way and that, she had yet to glimpse the boy who saved her the previous weekend. Not that Tina wanted to see him, he was regular, extremely regular and remarkably unremarkable… looks anyways, but she still found it weird that he rescued her without even trying to cop a feel.

Though she meant to keep the whole incident to herself, the very next day she managed to tell her two best friends, Alice and Jennifer (also cheerleaders), who she made swear to secrecy, and soon after that she started to tell everyone and by the end of the week everybody from the cheerleaders to the mathletes knew what happened.

It was all she could talk about; she could not keep her mouth shut about the short, scrawny, pale kid who saved her life and didn’t even try to get to first base with her.

“I’m beginning to think you want him to make a move on you,” said Alice, a girl with short, dark brown hair, a coy smile spreading across her face.

“Of course I don’t!” said Tina, incredulously, “I’m way out of his league! I’m the hottest girl in school and captain of the cheer squad! I have higher standards than that.”

“All I know is,” said Jennifer, a pale girl with dark eye-liner and long, dirty blond hair, “If some guy saved me from some pervert, I’d have put out right there.”

Alice and Jennifer laughed. “I hope you wouldn’t, Jennifer,” said Tina, “You’re a cheerleader; you can do better than that.”

The two rolled their eyes. Tina was a good friend, but she was really clueless about the real world.

“You should look for a guy like Aaron Thompson. He’s the coolest, smartest, most athletic, most popular guy in school,” said Tina, “Notice I said like Jennifer, like! Aaron Thompson is mine!”

“I don’t know,” said Jennifer, giggling, “He’s always checking me out in math class.”

“Well, I’m not worried,” said Tina, “A boy like Aaron needs the hottest girl in school… and that’s me.”

Once again, they rolled their eyes. She meant well. “Tina,” said Alice, “Aaron is a senior. There are plenty of attractive senior girls. Just because you somehow got the captain position of the cheer squad, doesn’t make you the hottest girl in school.”

“Sounds like someone is jealous,” said Tina.

“Speaking of jealous,” interrupted Jennifer, trying to avoid an argument, “It looks like your plan to make Aaron jealous by flirting with his best friend didn’t work.”

“Yeah,” said Alice, “It only worked against you. You’re lucky that Byron kid was around to help you.”

Tina fell silent. Alice was right, as always. What would have happened if Byron wasn’t there? She would have been raped. It wouldn’t have changed anything; most kids thought cheerleaders were sluts anyway, but she wasn’t. She couldn’t speak for anyone else, but she wasn’t!

“It seems,” said Jennifer, “that you’ll have to come up with another plan.”

**********************************************************************

Meanwhile Russell sulked at his table of football friends. “I can’t believe you got beat up by that kid,” said Hector, a dark eyed, dark haired boy with a tiny dark moustache, “What is he? A buck ten?”

“Shut up, Hector,” said Russell, “He took me by surprise, and I got dirt in my eyes.”

“That rhymed,” said Ted, a tall brunette boy, smiling at his latest discovery.

“Yeah, yeah,” said Aaron as he combed his fingers though his dark, brown hair, “It’s alright man. It could have happened to anyone.”

“What are you talking about?” said Russell, “I got beat up by a little kid… A little kid!”

“It really is amazing, isn’t it,” said Howie Nelson, a tall boy with sandy-brown hair,  “A little kid like him taking on a goliath like you. It’s poetic… disarming really.”

“Don’t start, Nelson,” said Russell.

“You know what you have to do, right?” said Hector, “You have to have a rematch. Your reputation is on the line. If anyone from anywhere else hears about this, the team will be a laughing stock.”

“You know we could always just ask him to join the team,” said Aaron, jokingly.

“Don’t be ridiculous,” said Russell, “He’d get murdered.”

“I doubt there’s any chance of that,” said Howie.

“Well tell you what, tall freak,” said Russell, (Howie was 6’6”) “You go ask him and if he says yes, I’m going to break him in half.”

“Yes,” said Aaron, “Go talk to him, Howie. Tell him about the rematch after school on Friday at the flag pole. Tell him he can back out if he doesn’t think he can do it. I don’t think there is any way he can beat Russell again. This time.”

“Are you serious?” said Howie.

“Of course I am,” said Aaron running his fingers through hair again, “Go tell him. Either way, things will be as they should be.”

Howie nodded.

***********************************************************************************************************************

Byron sat at his own table, alone. He could feel the eyes of everyone upon him, but it was different than any other time; though there were always eyes on him, the feeling of these eyes was different. He could feel fear, anger, hatred, sadness, admiration, jealousy and so many other feelings that he was sure he had never felt before—from the eyes of peers anyway. It was certainly different than the usual feelings of apathy he had grown accustomed to. He longed for those feelings to return, these other ones made him sick.

He closed his eyes like he typically did at lunch and shoveled down his food. Sometimes he would take his pencil and jot a note down in his notebook if he thought of something funny or just draw after he ate, but now he felt like getting out of the cafeteria as fast as he could. However, before he could stand up, toss his trash, and set his tray on the washer carousel, he was interrupted by some… idiot.

“Hi,” said a large boy with glasses. “My name’s Todd Muckleroy,” he extended his hand to shake Byron’s.
Byron glared at him. Todd was a chubby kid who looked like he just got out of a very important meeting. Dressed in a blazer and tie, with pleated dress pants, he made Byron cringe, mostly at the thought of this kid trying to have a normal school day.

Aside from the business attire, he had a thick pair of glasses and a bowl cut of shiny, brown hair that added to his awkwardly, nerdy appearance.

It was highly irregular for anyone to approach Byron in school; no one talked to him and, personally, he wanted it to stay that way.

“You are Byron Lucas right?” Todd asked sheepishly.

Not wanting to be friendly, Byron raised an eyebrow and said, “How do you know who I am?”

“I heard you beat the snot out of Russell Brown. Is that true?”

Byron was silent. He hadn’t told anyone. He was certain Russell wasn’t bragging about it, so… “What did you hear?” Byron asked.

“Only that you beat the snot out of Brown. What happened? Did he give you a wedgie?”

Byron laughed. Everyone turned to see the face of this kid, who moved to their town over the summer, who never spoke or smiled; this kid was laughing. No one had ever given him a wedgie; he was surprised they even existed. “Nope,” said Byron smiling, “Did he give you a wedgie?”

Todd glanced around the cafeteria. It was too late; everyone in the cafeteria was staring at them now, listening. “Well,” said Todd, “Yes, but it’s not just him. It’s all the jocks. They pick on me and my friends all the time.”

“Why?” said Byron, “Other than being kind of goofy and a little overweight.”

Todd blushed as he adjusted his glasses. “Because I’m a nerd slash geek slash dork. I guess the things that come out of my mouth often go over everyone’s heads.”

“Sounds to me,” said Byron, “You bring this on yourself. Now I’m going to leave this very awkward situation. Bye.” Byron grabbed his belongings and tray and headed towards the washer carousel.

“Wait,” said Todd, “I want to ask you something.”

Byron winced and turned around. “What?” he said, trying not to lose his temper.

“Will you teach me how to defend myself?” Todd asked.

Byron’s face softened. What was this? Feeling sorry for someone? Byron didn’t teach anyone anything. He didn’t talk to anyone. He liked his life simple, without people.

“I think you got the wrong guy,” said Byron, “I don’t know if you know this, but I’m not a big fan of people?”

“Well, everyone needs friends,” said Todd, adjusting his glasses, “I know I’m not the coolest guy, but if we can take anything from the Space Files episode 77 when Gerald and Makison have to set aside there differences and defeat a squad of Leathamites in a small shed on the planet Wardorf, that you can’t always be choosy on who you pick as an ally.”

Byron and everyone in the cafeteria stared at Todd. “This is exactly why you get wedgies,” said Byron, “Go talk to the emos if you want a shoulder to cry on.” He pointed to a table full of kids wearing black and chains.

“Um,” said Todd with a nervous laugh, “Those are the punks. The emo table is over there.”

Sure enough the table where Todd was pointing had a lot of students crying because Byron hadn’t known who they were.

“I can’t believe you don’t know who we are!” one cried.

On the flip side, the punks were giving him the finger, and the Goths, who were in between the two tables, hissed at Byron and Todd.

“We should probably leave now,” said Todd, his expression turning apprehensive.

“Whatever,” said Byron, “They’re lucky I was on my way out anyway.”

The two walked towards the staircase. Byron was walking to his locker; he didn’t know why Todd was following him. “Is there a reason why you’re still following me?” said Byron, not bothering to turn around.

“Well,” said Todd sheepishly, “You never answered my question.”

“Oh,” said Byron, “I guess I thought it was obvious. No.”

He continued on his way. “Wait,” said Todd, “I want you to take my card. It has my cell, my home number, my email, my student email, my blog email, my screen name and my fax number on it.”

“You have a fax?” said Byron, “Rewind that. You have a card?”

“Well,” said Todd adjusting his glasses again, “I am going to be a splendid business man someday, so I think it’s good to start now, you know, get used to doing things like that.”

Byron smiled. And his smile turned into a laugh. “You know what kid?” said Byron.

“It’s Todd,” said Todd interrupting.

“Whatever,” said Byron, “I am going to teach you how to defend yourself. You’re going to need it, if you keep doing stuff like this.”

Todd blushed. “Thanks,” said Todd, “Call me when you want to start!”

“Sure,” said Byron as Todd walked away. “What. A. Freak,” he said.

Byron finally made it to his locker. As he shuffled through his notebooks and papers, he felt another new person standing behind him.

“Hello,” said Byron as he pulled out a novel from the bottom of his locker, “What do you want?”

“Hi,” said Howie, “You are Byron Lucas, correct?”

“Pretty formal for a jock, don’t you think?” said Byron, not turning around, “Shouldn’t you say something like ‘Hey dude, you’re Lucas right?’”

Howie was caught off guard. “Oh… uh… well, Russell wants to have a rematch after school on Friday at the flag pole,” he said.

“Uh huh,” said Byron, “And if I say no?”

“Well…” said Howie, “It’s ok if you say no; they actually expect you to.”

“Well,” said Byron, “If Russell wants a rematch, he should come and get it, not ask someone who doesn’t agree with him to ask for it.”

“What do you mean?” said Howie.

“Correct me if I’m wrong, but you’re not like those guys,” said Byron, “You want to be; you act like them, talk like them, but you’re not like them. You’re different. I feel that about you.”

Howie was silent. Then he said, “That sounds kind of gay, dude.”

Byron smiled, “It does, doesn’t it? Well, I have somewhere I’d rather be. So like I said, if Brown wants a rematch, tell him to come get it.”

Howie turned and walked away. Byron thought to himself, ‘There sure are a couple of weirdoes at this school. I guess this could get interesting. Something to tell Alisa later… We’ll see what happens.’

Loner Chapter 1
Loner Chapter 3
Loner Chapter 4

Loner Chapter 1

Save the Cheerleader, Get Yelled At

Tina Kurt, dressed in only a pink bikini, sat on the swing set in the small park inside her home subdivision, Morris Lake. It was the last day of summer break and Tina was determined to make it the best of all. She rocked back and forth on the swing set, her hands loosely gripping the plastic-covered chains, her bare feet digging into the warm gravel and her blond pigtails floating in the wind as it breathed a warm August breath.

She tilted her head back and watched the sky as the sun sank slowly into the earth. She was getting a little worried. She expected him to come looking for her by now. She’d been hitting on him all day; didn’t he notice? Though Aaron was the most popular, most athletic, most intelligent guy at Morrisville High School, he seemed also to be the most shy.

Aaron had never had a girlfriend, but that wouldn’t last for long. Tina was going to be his first and he was going to come here today and make her a woman.

She’d been planning this all summer, however things had been very hectic. There was cheer camp where she accomplished her first goal of becoming the cheer captain this upcoming school year–a very difficult task. She had to do a lot to get there. But this was necessary to accomplish her next goal of becoming Aaron Thompson’s girlfriend.

Aaron, being the best boy in Morrisville High School, deserved the best and she was now the best.

Today was the day. She and her fellow cheerleaders had arranged a pool party at her house, and with her wearing her favorite, skimpy, pink bikini showing off her goods, she knew she got Aaron all hot. It was hard to tell at first. She flirted with him explicitly, but he seemed to shrug her off. But when she flirted with his best friend Russell, he seemed to get a little jealous. She told her guests to make themselves at home while she went for a walk. Any minute he would be here to take her to ecstasy.

She heard him. The shuffling of the gravel behind her made her gasp. Her face flushed as she thought about Aaron’s strong arms as he took her away from the park and back to his car to make her a woman and his girlfriend for his senior year, her freshman year. She would be the most popular and most envied girls at Morrisville… giggle.

She whispered, “Take me Aaron. I’m all yours.” As she turned around she was startled to see it wasn’t Aaron at all. It was Russell Brown, Aaron’s best friend.

“Sorry babe, I’m not Aaron,” he said as he grabbed her and pulled her off the swing, “But I’m just as good.”

Tina tried to scream, but Russell covered her mouth with one of his large hands and began to slip the other down the front of her bikini bottom. Tina’s eyes grew wide as she kicked and flung her arms, trying to knock Russell off balance. It worked, but he threw her to the ground so hard that he knocked the wind out of her and also ripped off her bikini bottom.

She gasped for breath as she felt the heat from the blood rushing to her face. Her voice would not come out. Russell positioned himself behind her, pinned her arms behind her back and spread her legs.

Tina was really scared now. Instead of starting high school as the youngest cheer captain in history and as Aaron’s girlfriend, she was going to start it as a slut. Her eyes began to water as she whimpered into the gravel, trying to bury herself to drown out the feelings…

“Shut up bitch!” he said, caressing her thighs, “You’ve been getting me so hot today. All that flirting, you can’t tell me you don’t want this!”

Her sobs got a little louder. “Please get off of me,” she said, “This is a big misunderstanding! Just get off of me and I won’t say a word!”

“I don’t care if you tell anybody,” he said, “You said it yourself, ‘take me…’ sounds like a slutty thing to say to me.” He smiled and snickered at his own joke as Tina buried her face back in the gravel. She wished she could suffocate herself right there and die, that way she couldn’t feel it… any of it.

Russell undid his trunks and pulled out his penis. “Don’t worry, baby. This is going to feel great.” He was about to penetrate, when something hit him in the back of the head. It was a rock.

He turned his head around to see the palest kid he had ever seen in his life. This kid had curly red hair, freckles and was so short that he looked like he was in middle school. His eyes were narrowed and he had a serious glare that seemed to paralyze Russell where he sat.

He had a rock in his hand, that he tossed up and caught. The rhythm mesmerized Russell for a moment, but then he remembered where he was and who he was.

“Beat it kid,” said Russell as he turned back to Tina, “You don’t want any of this. I’d break you in half.”

The next rock flew and hit Russell in the same exact spot. He turned back around, “I said leave kid! You don’t want to fight me!”

“No, I don’t want to fight you,” said the kid, “I have to fight you.”

Russell stood up. He wiped the gravel off his knees and sized up the kid. “What are you 4 foot 10 inches?”

“4 foot 11 inches,” said the kid. “But that is neither here nor there. Girl?” said the kid, calling around Russell, “Get up and run.”

“Tina,” shouted Russell, turning around, “You stay right there! After I kick his ass, I’m making you a woman.”

He turned back to face the kid to see that he was right in front him. “Hi!” said the kid, as he jumped up six feet in the air and kicked Russell in the head. The kick knocked Russell sideways as the kid turned in mid air and back-sided Russell in the chest before landing back on the ground.

Russell flew back a couple of paces in front of Tina, who was now watching. With the wind knocked out of him, Russell doubled over, grabbing his chest, trying to recapture his breath when the kid delivered a final kick square in the balls. Russell’s eyes bugged out and his knees gave way to the pain as his hands moved down to clutch his aching sack.

Gravity did the rest as Russell fell forward, the kid delivered an uppercut right between his eyes, knocking him out.

Tina’s eyes popped open wide. She hadn’t run. She froze. Shocked and amazed, she completely forgot that she didn‘t have her bikini bottom on anymore. She stood up and stared at this boy, this scrawny, pale, freckled-faced boy who came to her rescue. Why? They had never even met before. In fact, she was positive he was brand new. She remembered seeing some moving vans coming and going for the past week. Was he from that new family?

She looked down to see Russell, her assailant, on the ground. It dawned on her: Russell Brown was unconscious. One of the school’s best players was unconscious. What if he couldn’t play this season? Their team would be screwed! All because of this loser…

“Hey, you!” said Tina, “What the hell are you doing? He’s one of our best… guard guys. What were you thinking?” But as soon as she had finished, stood up, and dusted herself off, the kid was walking away.

“Where are you going?” she shouted.

“Home,” he said.

“You’re just going to leave me here alone? What if he wakes up?”

“Well,” said the kid, “If he wakes up, all your problems are solved.”

“Well,” she said chasing after him, “Then how did you just happen to save me? Are you following me? Are you some kind of pervert?”

He stopped and turned around. “I live just around the corner,” he said, pointing in the direction he was walking, “And for the record, you’re of no interest to me.” He turned back around and walked away.

“What do you mean you have no interest in me?” She caught back up to him. “I’m the hottest girl in school, the head cheerleader,” she said, “You have no interest in me? I have no interest in you!”

“And here I thought you were stalking me,” he said, letting go a small smile.

“I’d never!” she said, “But could you just walk me home? I’m still a little shaken up. I don’t want him following me home.” She turned around to see if he was following them.

Byron sighed. “Sure. I guess it’s not that big of a deal. But this is a one time thing. I can’t come to your rescue all the time.”

“Shut up!” she said.

“And also…” he started, looking downward.

“What?” she asked, looking down to realize she was still naked.

She screamed and quickly ran back to grab her bottom, while the boy blushed, suppressing a smile.

Tina led the way, down the street towards her house. The road curved and whipped around, leading to stop signs and crosswalks. It wasn’t until they heard the thumping of bass from a two story house did the two slow down a bit.

Tina stopped abruptly, causing the boy to nearly run into her, but he stopped and sidestepped to avoid collision, ending up in front of her. Started, she spoke, “So this is where I live. I can make it from here… So… Thanks for stopping that guy from…”

“Don’t worry about it,” said the boy, “…Are you going to tell someone?”

“No. Like I said, I don’t want to cause any trouble for our team. How would it look if our team lost our first homecoming game?”

The kid stared at her and shrugged. “As long as your priorities are in order…” He turned around and started to head home.

“I’m Tina,” she called back to him.

“I know.”

“…What’s your name?”

“…It’s… Byron… nice to meet you… I guess.”

“You don’t talk to pretty girls much, huh?” she said blushing.

“Sure, whatever… I got to go. Gotta get ready for school tomorrow.”

“Morrisville High?”

“Yeah,” he said, walking away.

**************************************************************************************

From Tina’s front porch stood a tall, young man with dark, brown hair. A cold beer can in his hand, he stood watching from the screen door, wondering who this mysterious boy was. His brows furrowed when he saw Tina call back to him… ‘Morrisville High?’ he thought, ‘So I’ll get to meet this boy?’

He watched as Tina walked up the drive, turning her head this way and that to see if anyone saw her. Their eyes met, and he forced a smile as it met her joyful one.

“Who was that, Tina?” he asked, playfully.

“Oh,” she said, “He’s just some guy that I met at the park. He was nice enough to walk me home.”

“Oh?” he said, “Where’s Russell?”

“Oh?” she said, “Is he not here? I don’t know, did he leave?”

“He said he was going to follow you,” he said, “I assumed you two would meet up. He must have gotten himself lost.”

“Well, he’ll be alright, Aaron,” she said, “How about we go back to the party. Are you feeling tipsy, at all?”

**************************************************************************************

Byron walked around the block. The two had passed by his house, and it would have been faster to go back the way they came, but he didn’t want Tina having any idea where he lived. He liked things quiet. He was happy living alone with his father, little brother and computer. It was his life; high school was an unfortunate, full-time job for now and then… who knew?

It was the last day of summer vacation and Byron wasn’t ready to start school again. It wasn’t going to be any different. Byron would stayed away from everyone and they would stay away from him. His father worried about him because of this. When he, his father, was in school, he and his friends would go out and screw around the town, having adventures and getting into trouble.

Byron suspected he was more mature than his father ever was, because his father was still getting into trouble with his friends. Some weekends Byron wouldn’t see him. There would be a note with money in it and he and his brother would rent a movie and order a pizza.

Tad was Byron’s 8-year-old brother. He was a handful; he had almost as much energy as his dad, but with a tad more responsibility. Byron was Tad’s best friend and Byron tried to be a good brother to him.

Byron finished the loop and ended up at his house. He saw that the car was in the garage, so he knew his father was home and hopefully had some simple dinner prepared. His dad couldn’t cook and though he loved to try new recipes, they never turned out like they did in the magazines.

Byron opened the fence gate and walked toward the front door, but then he felt someone behind him.

“Hey, kid,” said a voice, “I’m going to break your face.”

It was Russell again. He was standing on the other side of the fence, his fists up. Byron stared at him, his expression blank. “Don’t you have a party to get to?” said Byron.

“It won’t take long,” said Russell smirking, “Now that I know you know that karate crap, I can take you down easy.”

Byron smiled. “I guess I should enjoy this. I don’t get very many visitors.”

Then, suddenly, his dad came out. “Byron, you didn’t tell me you were inviting a friend over tonight.” Out the front door came Byron’s dad, wearing a pink apron and rubber cleaning gloves.

“What’s your name, sport?” said Byron’s dad, as he reached the gate, then turning to Byron, “I knew you would make friends here. I knew you couldn’t be completely alone forever.”

Russell began to laugh. “Your dad is such a dork!” he said.

“Oh?” said Byron’s dad… “I’m gonna kick your ass, you little snot!” Byron grabbed him and held him back. “Hold me back, Byron,” he yelled “Hold me back! I don’t want to go to jail for assaulting a minor! Hold me back!”

Terrified, Russell ran away. Byron shook his head. ‘Maybe later,’ he thought.

“I hope that wasn’t a friend of yours,” said his dad, “He’s a jerk. You can do so much better!”

“No dad,” said Byron, smiling, “You know I don’t have any friends.”

The two walked into the house. “I really wish you would give friendship a chance,” his father continued, “I had so much fun when I was your age.”

“Yeah, yeah,” said Byron, “You raised hell around your neighborhood. Dad most of the stuff you did was illegal.”

Is illegal,” said his father, smiling maniacally, “Not that I’m promoting criminal activity, but that’s what makes it so much fun.”

“Dad!” said Byron, “Geez! You’re not being a very good example for us kids.”

“Byron!” said Tad, running up to him, “How was your walk?”

“It was adequate,” said Byron as he rubbed Tad’s head, “How was Tetramon 4?”

“It’s ad-equate,” he said smiling, then going back to he game-man 3D.

“That’s what I like to hear,” said Byron smiling.

“Alright you two,” said their father, “I hope you’re ready for dinner. Tonight, I’m making lasagna!”

“Dad!” said Byron, worried, “When are you going to figure out you can’t use an oven?”

Byron’s father stared at him. “When I’ve given up on life, my boy! When I’ve given up on life!”

“I’ll be upstairs, drama queen,” said Byron, “Queue me for my next big scene, ok?”

Byron went upstairs to his room and closed the door. It was dark, he took a deep sigh as he stared at his tidy room. Nothing out of place; everything had a place. He saw his backpack hanging from his desk chair and remembered his first day of school. ‘Only four more years of this,’ he thought, ‘…And then what?’

He crossed the room to his window and looked into the dimming light. The stars were peaking out of the bluish, black sky and the concrete and asphalt looked so pleasant in the budding darkness. The street lights were on and the lightning bugs flashed their green bottoms below.

He couldn’t help but laugh. ‘That Tina girl… lost her bottom…’

He started thinking about his old hometown. His old dojang back in Blainesburg. And his old rival, Alisa. She was the best at their school, and she kicked his butt every class. It was true that Byron didn’t have any friends; nobody cared when he moved, but her. He remembered that last class he had. She beat him extra hard that day, not that he didn’t get some good shots in himself…

He remembered her last words to him when he left with his dad that night: “Hey, bonehead! Here’s my screenname, you better keep in touch with me. I’m online nearly every Friday night.”

Byron smiled. Maybe she was on right now. He walked over to his computer and turned it on, hoping to catch her online.

Loner Chapter 2
Loner Chapter 3
Loner Chapter 4

The Curse of Spring-Heeled Jack Part 3

Bartholomew went to bed early that night, with an unshakeable, eerie feeling. There was something strange about that day after leaving Ms. Berkley’s garden. He couldn’t shake the feeling that something was watching him from the corners of his eyes, and when he turned to look, no one was there, like a ghost forever haunting his blind spot.

Bartholomew still lived with his parents in a little house in a little London suburb called Hollowfield. And after light supper, Bartholomew wished them goodnight and went to bed to ease his worried mind.

But even under the safety of his covers, in his bed, he felt the eyes of some invisible demon watching him from the darkest corner of his room. Bartholomew focused his eyes, afraid to shut them in case the whatever was to be right in his face the immediate moment he opened his eyes again.

But as the night wore on, he found his eyes neglecting their midnight duties, and like tired soldiers they drifted off to sleep in the silence of the dark room…

Bartholomew woke up, startled, struggling to inhale a decent breath for his lungs, as he felt the weight of something heavy on his chest. His window, which was closed before he snuggled into bed that night, was wide open with a deadly cold wind blowing in, but that wasn’t what made Bartholomew quiver in his bed. Sitting on his chest was a man, or what looked like a man. It wore a white ceramic mask with a cocky smirk drawn on and devil horns poking out of the forehead, and in the openings where the eyes were supposed to be, were two red glowing lights.

Barty couldn’t breath. It might have been because he had a man sitting on his chest, but he believed it was the crippling fear that emanated from the man that left him paralyzed.

A moment after his stunned awakening, the figure levitated upward, floating above him, uncrossing his arms and extending them towards the ceiling. They looked like metal, shining with silver claws–they were gloves.

Desperately wanted to scream, but the best he could do was little squeaks. The figure stared down from its position. It seemed to be examining him.

It continued to stare until it finally hissed out a word, “Es vos vultus mihi?”

Bartholomew shivered so hard that the springs of the mattress could be heard.

“Es vos vultus mihi?” it repeated.

Bartholomew didn’t understand. He couldn’t even place the language. Had he been able to, he would have answered any question he could, just to get rid of this monster.

The creature paused, as if comprehending Bartholomew’s ignorance. It took off its mask and Barty nearly fainted. Underneath the mask was a horrible face, a skeletal head with hanging skin and empty eye sockets, its mouth missing teeth and its tongue green with a decaying breath panting out.

A purple haze breathed out of the creature’s mouth, encapsulating Bartholomew’s head. He fell unconscious, waking up in an empty meadow with nothing but a tale and two chairs, Bartholomew sitting in one of them. There was a lovely tea set of silver on the table and a platter of biscuits in the middle.Bartholomew was tempted to grab one, but when he saw the figure appear in the chair in front of him, he thought better of it.

He appeared with skin and old, Victorian style clothing, looking like a proper gentlemen of the time. Giving a nod, he spoke. “Greetings,” he said, his voice gentle and refined, like one who was groomed with all the advantages of the noble elite.

Bartholomew was astonished, but he managed to utter a reply. “Hello,” he said, “Where am I? And who are you?”

“I’m the one you were looking for. I hold the title of Spring-Heeled Jack.”

“Title?” said Bartholomew, as he shifted uncomfortably in his chair.

“Come now, Bart,” said Jack, “I know you saw me that day in the garden of my mistress. I also saw the way you were looking at her.”

Bartholomew blushed. “I’m, sss, sorry, sir,” he said, “I didn’t mean anything by it. I was…”

“Only caught off guard by her exquisite beauty? Yes, I know. Just as I was so very long ago…”

“Long ago?”

“I have held the title of Jack for a long time now. Way before you, your parent, your parent’s parents… You get the idea, I’m sure,” he continued as he poured two cups of tea. “One lump or two?”

“Err, two,” said Barty, as Jack put two sugar cubes in Bartholomew’s cup before handing it to him.

“The title, Jack, is one not lightly carried. To be Jack means surrendering to a more chaotic personality. A trickster, wrong-doer, scoundrel, ect… But also it entails serving the mistress, as she is the one who gave the title in the first place.” He sipped his tea after giving it a stir.

“So…” said Bartholomew, beginning to feel more comfortable, “Why are you telling me all this?”

“Well,” said Jack, setting down his tea, “I am no longer the hansom, young rascal you see before you. I am old and

decayed and well to put it bluntly, dead.”

“OK?” said Bartholomew

“I have grown tired of this preoccupation, capturing young people to satisfy my mistress so she can eat them and maintain her youth, it started out as good sport until the last fifty years. It is all meaningless, you know? I’ve been trapped for approximately 108 years as Jack. I do not recall my original name, nor do I have any faith that I deserve my old name. I have done a lot of bad things, Bart, and I am ready to see my place in Hell. Though I cannot leave unless someone takes my mantle as Jack.”

“I’m sorry, sir,” said Mark, “But I don’t want to be Jack.”

“I’m afraid you don’t have a choice,” said Jack, “My mistress chose you. You will be her pleasure as well as her hunter, until she grows sick of your face. I’ve delayed my duties for far too long. It is now time for you, Bart, to take my place.”

And with that, he placed his palm on Barty’s head and said, “Nunc detur tibi nomen Jack.”

It burned. Barty cried out as he felt a hot blade etch into his skin.It twisted and turned and went on for what seemed like hours, searing his skin, cutting deep, deep till he felt the scratches on his skull itself.

“Barty! Barty!” shouted his father, shaking him awake. “Wake up, Barty,” he said, “You’re having a bad dream!”

Bartholomew woke up and rose so quickly that he head butted his father in the jaw. He rubbed his head to feel the sweat pouring out of every pore, hot, while the rest of his body felt cold and clammy. He panted as he apologized to his father, who was still rubbing his bearded chin.

“Are you alright, love?” said his mother; she looked like she had been crying.

“I saw Jack, dad,” said Barty.

His dad sighed. “It was all just a bad dream Bart,” said his father, “There is no Jack; he’s just a fairy tale.”

Bart’s mother tried to grin, but she couldn’t stop wiping her face. “I’m alright, mother,” said Bart, “It was just a dream, a really horrible dream. I’m fine now.” He smiled and tried to give his mother some courage as he desperately tried to find his own.

“That’s my boy,” said his father.

“Don’t hesitate to call us,” said his mother, “If you can’t sleep.”

“He’ll be alright, honey,” said his father, “He’s my son after all.”

“Yes, of course,” said his mother, still wiping her eyes, “Sleep well dear.” Bart’s parents left his room, their trepidations lingering with Bartholomew as they closed the door behind them.

‘Was it all just a dream?’ Bartholomew asked himself. He looked at the mirror that hung on his bedroom door and he could see something on his forehead that looked like a star. He jumped out of bed and got a closer look. On his forehead was the the satanic pentagram.

Spring-Heeled Jack Part 1
Spring-Heeled Jack Part 2

The Curse of Spring-Heeled Jack Part 2

“Thank you for allowing me to come over, Ms. Berkley,” said Bartholomew as the two sipped tea on her garden porch. Ms. Berkley smiled, the few wrinkles on her face betraying her age, however her young, blue eyes, so captivating, dispelled any discomfort of his own attraction for her.

“Well, I so glad that you would be honest enough to come by and fix any mistake you made last time you were here,” she said, winking at him. He had that uncomfortable feeling again. Maybe it was because he was so young and she was so much older, but if he wasn’t so preoccupied with his monster hunt, he would be easily persuaded to stay a while longer and inch his way to her upstairs room.

She was extraordinarily lovely, her light blond hair teased and flowing like a willows branches down to her shoulders, and her light green sun dress, with its low-cut front made her look like a dryad from the fantasy novels he used to read as a child.

He blushed, as he felt hotter and hotter from the conversation and he couldn’t help but think she was looking to get a little lucky herself, but surely a beautiful woman such as herself didn’t have trouble finding a man to sleep with.

“Wow, that sun is beating down, isn’t it?” he asked, trying to find a more innocent subject to dwell on.

“It is,” she said, “Maybe we should go inside where it’s cooler.” Her suggestion was well received, but Barty’s conscience calmed his animalistic appetites saying, “Sorry, but I should really get to work. I have a lot of other houses to hit this afternoon.”

Ms. Berkley smiled. “Well, I hope we get to do this again sometime.” She batted her eyes and leaned forward as she stood up from her seat.

Her cleavage was nice…

“Yes,” said Barty, “I’d like that.” He shook her hand, picked up his tool bag, and walked silently to the spot he saw the legendary myth, kicking himself the whole way there.

She was begging for it. She wanted it worse than I did.

But I’m not that guy. I’m really looking for Ms. Right.

But what about Ms. Right-Now?

I did the right thing. That’s all that matters…

Bartholomew looked down at the ground at the edge of the hedges. It was dark green with grass, except for a muddy imprint of a boot. It was deep, as if the figure was very heavy, but as Barty remembered it, he looked no more than 170 lbs. ‘There’s no way that that man made this print…’

Dropping his bag, he ran around the hedge to the other side, but there was no landing print. He didn’t find one for another hundred feet near the end of the block. He looked towards the other side. He could have jumped over this street, I think.’ He was about to cross when he felt a hand on his shoulder.

He jumped at the touch, warm and inviting as it was. “Are you alright, Bart?” asked the familiar voice of Ms. Berkley. Relieved, Bartholomew sighed. “Yes, I’m fine,” said Barty, “I, I guess I didn’t make any mistake after all,” he said.

“Oh? Well I hope next time you don’t need to fix a mistake the next time you come over.” She winked and strutted away.

Damn… that ass…

Oh stop that, said Barty’s conscience.

Spring-Heeled Jack Part 1
Spring-Heeled Jack Part 3

The Curse of Spring-Heeled Jack Part 1

The name had been scarcely heard for generations, only a murmur of the rumoured scoundrel survived after the first attacks, but every once in a while a new story would perk up, as it happened to Bartholomew Craig not so long ago.

Bartholomew, a young man who just graduated high school, spent the bulk of his time working landscape in the suburbs of London. Mowing grass, raking mulch, trimming hedges, it all kept Barty quite busy, so busy it left him with little time to spend with his friends during this last summer before university.

It was quite lonely; the most interaction he had was with his clients who had hired him to look after their yards. One, in particular, Ms. Berkley, a retired socialite and rather easy on the eyes for a woman her age, was his favorite, for not only was she pretty but she gave him the most generous tips.

It was in her yard that he saw an unknown man, or what he supposed was a man until it leaped clear over Ms. Berkley’s six-foot high hedges. Barty couldn’t forget his jet black hair and exquisitely, shiny black suit; he was obviously a suitor of the woman of the house, but what Barty found most peculiar (besides his ability to jump over the hedge, of course) was this white, ceramic mask he was wearing.

It had devil horns protruding from the forehead and a cocky smirk drawn on the face. There were holes for eyes and nostrils, but Barty was sure he didn’t notice any eyes behind it, but that was overshadowed by his incredible agility and anything beyond that seemed inconsequential besides.

He related this to his parents, who chuckled and said, “It sound like you had an encounter with Spring-heeled Jack.”

‘Spring-heeled Jack?’ Barty thought. ‘Spring-heeled Jack was only a fairy tale, wasn’t he?’

There was only one way to find out: he would have to make his own investigation.

Spring-Heeled Jack Part 2
Spring-Heeled Jack Part 3

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