Boyd McAuliffe hated Alexa Frey so much.
Well, it isn’t that he hated her so much that he regarded her as not worth the tiniest bit of consideration or compassion.
Actually, if you were to trace his bad attitude to her right back to the beginning, you’d discover that he envied her for having gotten into the gifted students class back in Grade 8, when he hadn’t.
Sure, that was a good enough reason to hate her.
That was a great reason to regard her as non-human.
That was all the reason he needed.
That was the best reason in the world…
Anyway, right now, in one of the science classrooms during lunch break, when Alexa was concentrating on a chess game with another, equally unpopular student named Sal Moon, Boyd was aiming a bottle-cap in his slingshot, right at her face.
And he had another excellent, perfectly honourable reason to be doing it.
He wanted to impress Denise Charlton, the pretty, shapely redhead who also happened to be one of the biggest troublemakers in St. Thomas More Catholic Secondary School, in Hamilton, Ontario.
Alexa was debating in her mind which move to make. Should she trade pawns? Doing so didn’t seem to serve any purpose, except that Sal was just going to trade with her anyway, and that would have opened up her castle and exposed her king. What to do?
Meanwhile, Boyd was taking aim from the other side of the room.
Alexa could have moved her white queen diagonally two spaces to the front and right to put Sal’s black king in check, but he could have just moved it one square to his left and out of danger. It would have been another useless move that wouldn’t have helped her at all.
Boyd was steadying his hands; his aim was just about perfect.
Her knights, side by side, to the left and behind the centre squares, and with three of her pawns in front of them, were also useless. Her rooks, on the back row, had nowhere to go, either.
Boyd’s aim was perfect. Ready to shoot. Take a few slow breaths in and out, and…
Alexa thought, I’ll bet Karpov could figure out a brilliant way to proceed. With my mediocre talents at the game, though, I–
The bottle cap smacked her just under the left eye. The sting burned.
“Oh, Jesus Christ!” she shouted.
“I didn’t do it,” Denise said with a smirk that showed she was nonetheless entertained by it.
“Oh, sure you didn’t, you fucking bitch!” Alexa spat back, remembering the many other times Denise had been the one who ‘did it.’
“What did you call me?” Denise said, getting up and approaching Alexa. “I’ll kick your ass.”
“You heard me,” Alexa said, though avoiding Denise’s eyes.
“C’mon, Alexa!” Denise said, saying the name with mocking contempt and balling her fists.
“Oh, don’t be such a suck! Miss Dish-it-out-but-can’t-take-it.”
“I didn’t do it, ya ugly dyke!”
“Then WHO DID?!”
Boyd looked back at her, smiled, and waved at her.
“You prick!” Alexa shouted. “What did I do to you to deserve that?”
“You stayed alive,” he said.
“And now, you can apologize to me!” Denise said.
“Alright,” Alexa said, “I’m sorry you’re alive.”
Denise stomped over to her, her fists ready to swing.
“You stay away from…!” Alexa began, before getting a fist on her chin, knocking her off her chair.
As Denise gave her kick after kick to the gut on the floor, Alexa lying in the foetal position, Boyd walked over to get a better look. As he saw Alexa writhing in pain, he smiled.
Sal, too scared to get involved and thus become their next victim, got up and left the room.
As Alexa continued receiving kicks from Denise, as well as getting her long, wavy blonde hair pulled by Denise, she looked up at that smiling prick who’d started it all. All she could think about was how badly she wanted to get revenge on the two of them.
She was sure that the stress was making her hear things, because she would otherwise have sworn she’d heard a voice whisper, I can help you get them.
Later that afternoon, in the halls, Megan Fourier was walking to her locker when she saw Lynne Hendricks, a pretty, curvy, and buxom brunette, but also one of the head mean girls in St. Thomas More, holding hands with Herman Schubert, one of the most handsome football players in their school, and also a guy Megan had had a crush on for years, though she was too shy to tell him or even hint at it.
Lynne knew how Megan felt, though. Megan had once confided in her about this.
The couple kissed before walking into art class together. Megan, frowning, followed them in.
As Megan walked through the doorway, she saw Lynne look back at her and grin, gloatingly.
Megan went red with rage.
“You bitch,” she hissed at Lynne. “You wrapped your legs around him on purpose.”
Lynne saw a big can full of green paint on a table. The lid was off. She picked up the can and turned to Megan.
“I can fix that red face of yours,” she said.
She threw the green all over Megan’s face and blouse.
Her eyes squinted shut from the paint; she heard a tidal wave of laughter all around her.
“She’s green with envy,” Lynne said.
The laughter continued. Megan opened her eyes.
Herman was laughing, too.
I wanna get that bitch soooooo badly, she thought. But what can I do?
A male voice whispered in her ear, I can help you get her…and him.
She looked to her left in surprise.
No one was standing there.
Tiffany Ferry was in math class at about the same time as when Megan’s misfortune had happened. A short, chubby brunette named Fay Oliphant was walking by Tiffany’s desk when she looked down and saw her calculator lying by the edge.
Fay brought her fist smashing down on the calculator; Tiffany was too shocked by the suddenness of Fay’s action to get mad. Knowing no one in class liked her, Tiffany felt she could do nothing other than cower in response.
Mocking an answer she’d heard Tiffany give, with what seemed far too much pride, in their previous physics class, Fay said, “Force equals mass times acceleration!”
Those half-dozen or so students who’d also been in that physics class laughed. Tiffany, of course, didn’t laugh at all.
She’d wanted…but didn’t have the guts…to say, And you have plenty of mass, don’t you, Fay?
George Kelly, a boy sitting in the row of seats in front of Tiffany’s, looked back at hers and said to the kids sitting by her, “I feel sorry for you guys, having to sit next to a wimp.”
The math teacher entered the classroom. After twenty minutes of teaching, and having given the students a set of math exercises to do, he walked out of the classroom: Tiffany’s protection was gone again.
Focused on writing her exercises, she never bothered to look up and see George aiming a triple-A battery with an elastic band at her face. He’d heard of Boyd’s glory with Alexa earlier that day, and had hoped to emulate it here; he got her in the shoulder.
“Oww!” Tiffany shouted.
“Shit,” George said. “I meant to get her in the face. Well, at least I hit her.”
She heard an explosion of laughter from all directions.
“I’ll get her,” Fay said from behind. She had her own elastic band, with a marble aimed at Tiffany. “Tiffany Ferry, which should be spelled F-A-I-R-Y, called me ‘Fay Elephant’ last week. She’s gonna get this upside the head.”
Having had enough, Tiffany looked back at Fay with a scowl. “You know,” she said, “I was wrong to have called you an elephant. You’re really a shithead.”
Fay scowled back and fired the marble, but Tiffany ducked out of the way.
“Oh, well,” Fay said, getting out of her seat. “I’ll just have to get you upside the head another way.”
Fay punched her hard in the shoulder several times, then gave her a punch in the back of the head, and then returned to her seat just in time before the teacher returned.
“Tiffany F-A-I-R-Y,” she said when she got to her seat, “if you squeal to the teacher, you’ll get it worse, I promise you.”
I can make it even worse for Fay and George, if you let me, that same voice whispered in Tiffany’s ear.
I’m going nuts, she thought. I’m hearing things.