I hate sunlight. I always have. It's way too bright and burns my eyes, especially on cloudless days like these. Strands of my shoulder-length thick black hair fall over my eyes. It helps some, but it not quite enough. I hiss at it as I push my pitch-dark sunglasses over my sockets that leave me almost totally blind as I sit in the passenger seat of my mother's Mercedes. My head rests lazily against the glass of the car door window, acting as if asleep as Mom drives me to school.
This town is like a regular rainforest. Being smack in the middle of the forest, the town is filled with mile-high trees and dozens of other exotic plants you could only see in a rainforest. A regular nature-lover's paradise.
In about five minutes, we finally make it to my two-story institute-looking school. I would know all about institutes.
My mother gently nudges my shoulder with her fingers, trying to wake me as if I was asleep, which I'm not, but with the pitch-black glasses, who could tell the difference?
"We're here honey." she tells me, her voice soft.
I straighten up and stretch my jaw in a faux yawn.
"You remembered to take your medicine this morning, didn't you?" she asks before I can escape.
"Yeah mom." My eyes roll behind my glasses as I lie to her. I hate taking my morning medication, especially first thing. Those pills make me all fuzzy, which I don't need when I'm already half-asleep. I'll wait until later when I actually start to need them. "I'll see you soon."
"See you soon darling. Love you."
"Love you too." With that, I step out of the car and walk up to the doors of my school, making sure to remove and fold my sunglasses, hanging them from the collar of my black sweatshirt so I don't get in any trouble with the school "authorities".
The walls inside are decorated with tacky decorations: fake cobwebs and stickers of white ghosts with screaming faces and black cats with arched backs. Halloween is only a day away, and they waited until now to show it.
The other thousand-plus students crowd the halls, ducking into classes, chatting with their friends or girlfriends, or just plain taking up space. Some of them stop to stare at me as I pass. At least those whom already know me well enough. I kind of got a reputation around here.
I quickly get my geometry textbook out of my locker before ducking between kids into class. Most of everyone is already in their seats, making a total ruckus while the teacher, Mr. Curdiss, sits behind his desk in his leather wheeled chair, staring down at his papers and cleaning his glasses as he waits for the bell to ring.
Speaking of glasses. My friend, Kevin, is seated in his desk in the second row from the front, sitting upright with his hands folded over the surface of his desk. His sitting position, added to his apparel of a tucked in polo shirt, gelled hair, black-head speckled face, and square-rimmed glasses, makes him look like a regular cliche teacher's pet. A regular target for all kinds of harassment, which he got plenty of. But, as dorky as he is, he's my best, and only, friend here. The only one who's not too scared to get near me.
His smiling face turns to me as soon as I take my seat in the desk to the right of his. "Hey, Luke" he greets me, "So, you going to the Halloween dance tomorrow night?"
My arms go up, like a magician saying "nothing in my hands, nothing up my sleeves". "No date." I answer, shrugging my shoulders, "Besides, I wouldn't go anyway."
"Why don't you take each other?" Bradley interjects, "You two make such a cute couple!" A wave a guffawing laughter soon follows from the other sheep in the room from Bradley, a.k.a., the school douche bag. Football star, straight A student who earned it from copying the real A students' papers, ladies man, regular dreamboat. Not to mention: total jerk-wad.
Kevin does nothing but gulp and stare down at his hands, totally powerless to do anything about it. Most everyone's convinced that he is gay, even though the only proof is that he doesn't have any girlfriend. If they knew of the illustrious stash of magazines he had hidden in his bed and what kind of thoughts he has about girls, they would realize how straight he really is. But he can't help that he's so damned nervous around girls.
But Bradley, being the jerk he is, strides over to Kevin and slams his hands down on the surface of his desk. Kevin jumps, sinking down into his chair, his face going sickly pale as Bradley gets right up in it.
"Or how about I take you, huh?" he sneers down at Kevin, his mouth a wicked, toothy grin, "I could meet you at the dumpster around back. I got five dollars and a cock with your name on it. How much will that get me?"
"Fuck off Bradley." Bradley turns to face me momentarily when I interrupt him, but he just turns back to Kevin and keeps talking.
"You need your boyfriend to fight for you? Fags of a feather stick together, huh?"
"I said fuck! Off!" My voice raises to a growl through my clenched teeth.
At that moment, the school bell rings, cutting through Bradley's little confrontation, and Mr. Curdiss finally decides to take the reins. "Alright, class is now in session," he announces, "Everyone in their seats. That means you Bradley."
Bradley gave Kevin a smug little smirk, then walked away. As he did, his hand slid across Kevin's desk, throwing his books to the floor, while making it all appear like some sort of an accident. Some of the other kids laugh, even as Kevin sullenly bends to scoop his papers back up off the floor.
My eyes glare up through my hair at Bradley as he cockily saunters back over to his desk in the far back row of the room. A couple of his teammates give him high-fives as he strides by them. I freaking hate that guy sometimes. The way he acts so big, like he's some kind of god or something.
The whispers start to rustle through my eardrums, like wind brushing dried leaves together in autumn, as my eyes stay fixed on Bradley, on his legs, and the too-cool-for-school way he likes to walk. Oh how I would love to see that guy trip and break his stupid bones. Get that cocky little son of a-
Something flashes before my eyes, and a scream erupts from Bradley's mouth as he suddenly is sent soaring. His body hurls forward and he falls face-down to the floor. His arms shoot above his head, probably in an attempt to catch himself, but the move comes all too soon and he lands on the tile flat on his front.
The room becomes a chorus of unanimous gasps and squeals when Bradley hits the floor. Everyone cranes their neck, some even standing right on top of their desks to get a view of the school football star laying face-down on the floor. Mr. Curdiss dashes around the desks and crouches over him. We hear a groan come from Bradley. He tries pushing himself up off the floor, but growls a loud curse and drops back down. "Oww, FUCK! My fucking ribs!"
My back straightens and my neck stretches so that I can get a look. I can't believe it! The guy actually got his bones broken. I couldn't help but smile and laugh to myself. Ask and you shall receive.
Mr. Curdiss calls Bradley's friend Trevor over. "Pick him up under his arms, gently, and take him to the nurse's office. He may have a broken rib."
Trevor carefully scooped his hands under Bradley's armpits. Bradley growled another curse as Trevor slowly peeled his body up off the floor onto his feet, then draped Bradley's arm around his shoulder for support as the two hobbled out of the room.
"Okay now everyone, show's over," Mr. Curdiss announced as he shooed all the curious students poking their heads through the doorframe into the hallway to watch the two boys go down the hall back into the room, "Back to your seats. Let's go."
All the kids reluctantly move away from the door and back to their seats. Several eyes turn towards me while their heads remain face front. There's that reputation of mine again. Bad things have a way of happening around me. Sometimes, people even get hurt. It's happened my whole life, like I'm some kind of jinx or something. Which is why Kevin is my only friend; other people are too scared to be around me, as if it's all my fault.
I hear them again, the whispers. They laugh in my ears, coming in short, sharp hisses, like the sound of snakes. Oh god, time for my meds already. While everybody is too busy doing their work to notice, I reach my hand down into my bag, my fingers feeling the smooth surface of the tiny bottle at the bottom. I pop off the lid and take out a pill, then slide the cap back on before discreetly slipping the capsule between my lips. I haven't got anything to drink, so I have to swallow it dry. It hurts my throat, and it takes about three gulps before it goes down, but it's necessary. Being diagnosed with schizophrenia really sucks sometimes.
It's only a couple minutes before the drug takes effect, and the whispers fade away. I haven't seen any shadows though. Before the pill fully kicks in and my brain starts to get cloudy, I suddenly do remember one, when Bradley had fallen. One of those transparent shadows I always see had appeared, soaring through the air like a rocket, crashing into his back and shoving him down to the floor before vanishing again.