Freak – Part One
He was cold as he always was and starving in the only way he knew how. He had dwindling supplies so the next few days would be rough as his body cried out for nutrients. Everyone was gone — the world was over, the good guys lost, and the bad ones destroyed everything. For all he knew, he was the last person left alive — or at least the only one still sane.
He sat in a dank cement room a nauseating aroma of mildew and decay, littered around were torn-up boxes with a mustachioed man’s smiling face plastered on the top. How did I let things get so out of control? I shouldn’t have let him push me….now she’s gone.
Inside his little room all he had was a sorry excuse for a bed, a withering bonfire, cans once filled with beans, and a tiny red bag that held the rest of his consumables. He had holed up in this location for only a few days but he already sensed that it would be his crypt. The urge to relieve himself came and he forced himself to get up from his sitting position. He placed his dominant hand against the slimy wall and lifted himself up. His left leg that had never healed and was still plagued by a past injury. He was resigned to walk with a limp the rest of his life.
He strode to the front door but as his left leg swung through the doorway he pulled it back into the light. He wondered, not for the first time, how he still happened to be alive when he was always making such idiotic blunders. He unzipped the front of his trousers and began to urinate on the cement just outside the front door. The patter of urine was a deafening clatter amongst the silence. He allowed himself a moment to relax, months of constant anxiety had been a heavy burden on his mind. Not normal to begin with — he knew that he was only a short while away from losing it completely. He was close to finishing, the stream coming out in drops when he heard a scatter of footsteps. No! In confusion and fright he fell to the floor, his pants around his ankles. Like it had for so many before, he closed his eyes and waited for the slaughter.
Freak was only 15 years old when the incident occurred. At school, he was paying strong attention to the girl’s hair in front of him as the teacher rambled on about plate tectonics. Her hair was a wonderful golden brown, resembling to him a perfectly-roasted marshmallow. It flowed beautifully down her head and rested onto his desk. He found it a technical nuisance but allowed it because her hair was perfect. Her face left a little to be desired but as long as she still had her brilliant hair he would commit himself to her in a moment. He was always tempted to just reach out and touch it; all he wanted was to feel that what he found to be so glorious but he could not. This girl had no idea he even existed, so he kept quiet in all of his classes, jealous of those around him.
They all led perfect lives in enormous mansions, their complaints trivial. Guess what, Jonathan? My Father didn’t buy me a $1,000,000 car but instead gave me his old Lamborghini. Wow, Bell, your father is so cheap. They were never happy — they always wanted, needed to have the newest things and those who didn’t were ridiculed and made outcasts. He found them all to be so disgusting, yet for how much he loathed those around him in school, they were leagues ahead of the people he would find at home.
His Mo’ms teeth were purple from the gallons of wine she seemed to consume every day, her temper high, her wits low. She had the characteristics of a visible landmine, safe from a distance but once you tempted fate to get a better look you found yourself with a pair of bloody stumps. He had an older sister and one younger brother. The sister was a vile and cruel creature. As kids, she would torment him for her own amusement. He still had scars from the worst of their sessions but the memories were what hurt the most. You would think he would have some companionship in a younger brother. Brothers always get along well, but unfortunately, this was far from the case, as he was as big a fool as any of them. He smoked, he drank, and he did drugs. His younger brother was a lowlife who was leading it to an early grave, almost like he couldn’t stop even if he wanted to stop. He was so consumed by it all that it was a rare occurrence to find him sober in the least bit, as he spent most of his days in his room with the cracks in the door stuffed with bathroom towels.
Freak often found himself wondering where his Dad was located. He had abandoned them shortly after his younger brother had been born. His Dad had been a nice man but he was plagued by trouble. The most likely prospect was that his father had finally messed with the wrong person and was now rotting in a shallow grave, a decaying bullet-riddled corpse. It was a sad thought, but he couldn’t allow himself to think optimistically — he knew too much about how the world worked at this point.
Aside from the stress that he was forced to wallow in, everywhere he went there also was the war. It wasn’t on his country’s soil but it might soon be. Tensions were as high as they ever were, promises now replaced threats, and the country was making steps to prepare itself for the inevitable. Yet in some way, he had found some solace in the fact that he would soon be drafted into a fight that he didn’t start. It would be a new beginning. He would get away from his devastated family and the rich snobs of the school (because you’ve got to believe their parent’s money would get them out of it). He would find a new purpose in life — surely he would most likely be killed but it would be a better death than his brother was sure to have.
Now as he laid quietly amongst the rubble, stomach growling as he recalled just how crushed he had felt when he first heard the loud moan of the siren. The teacher was still going on about something called Pangea and the girl’s hair was excellent but then everything changed. Besides the ear-piercing ringing of the alarm, the world went quiet and nobody made a move — maybe it was a test and they weren’t truly in any danger at all. This theory was quickly put to rest as his teacher’s face went pale with fear and she promptly wet herself in front of the entire class. All at once all of the children understood the circumstances: they were under immediate attack, and they didn’t have a lot of time. They had to get to the vault.
The vaults were the first things the government built when war was determined to happen. They weren’t all finished yet, though — only a select few were done by now but luckily the place he lived was granted one,which was constructed about five miles away from the school. Nobody but those who helped build them knew what to expect to find in those vaults but one thing everyone knew about them was that they meant sanctuary — if you wanted to avoid a horrifying death, you got yourself to a vault. The vaults were built to withstand anything that was thrown at them and they were heavily stocked with enough food to provide for the full capacity for years upon years. At least that’s what they said.
The screams of children now began a mad frenzy in his classroom and the rest of the school. It had taken all that he had to keep the bitter sharp taste of vomit at the back of his throat and swallow it so it didn’t make a special appearance. Everyone now had gotten up in a mad flurry to get out but he kept where he was sitting. He couldn’t move, the intensity of the fear he now felt turned his body into a statue — no matter how much he willed his limbs to move, they refused. He could only watch as his teacher’s body went limp and her head slammed on a desk corner. Her neck cracked back violently and something began to spill out her right eye — and whatever it was, Freak was not prepared to ponder. He didn’t have much time and it was this thought that brought him back into motion.
He jumped to his feet and made a mad dash toward the door but, to his dismay, his classmates already clogged it up with their pretentious bodies. He had to think quickly as the bombs or whatever was coming wasn’t going to wait patiently for him to reach safety. The desks! The desks were the answer, his quick thinking mind came up with. In one swift swoop, he made a grab toward one of his classmate’s desks and lifted it above his head. At this point he was still a large and relatively healthy young man for his age so it hadn’t been that great of a task to do. The window that he would glance out toward every now and then thinking about a better life formed a thin but sharp crack as the desk made impact with it. The other children at the back of the mad frenzy to get out saw what he was doing and also lifted up desks to throw at the windows. It had been a strange sensation to work with those he despised so much, but without their cooperation, he would have taken too long lingering on bashing the windows open.
It was at this point that the ear-piercing shriek of the alarm and the helpless screams of those being crushed by their own friends consumed him once again. His body was petrified to the degree that he didn’t even hear the loud crash of a window being smashed outward. An observant and cool-thinking person might have suggested that they just unlock the latch and open all the windows so everyone could get out safely but either that person didn’t exist or their cries were smothered in the fray. The kids standing closest to the window were rewarded for their Darwinian stupidity as shards of piercing glass fell upon them they added their moans to the already deafening babel. The sight of their blood had brought him back to reality again this time, the warmth in his limbs returned to him.
It was only one window that they opened and it was the one window that everyone wanted to get out through. Damn with the rest of the windows — they wanted out, and they wanted out now. And it was his damn them! attitude that gave him the strength and the grit to do what he had to do — to get out first. He saw his opportunity and shoved a smaller boy to the side, then another and another. The blood in the air reached his nostrils and added to the aggression that he was subjecting the people around him. The last kid he shoved was sent flying into a girl already laying prone on the ground, blood spilling from a vertical wound on her left wrist, a red piece of glass held meekly in her right hand. The school was composed of three stories but, luckily, this classroom happened to be on the ground level so he didn’t have to worry about a great distance of height to discourage him from his freedom. His efforts were rewarded as he was the first person to step a tentative foot out of the window onto the grass below. He had been seconds away from lifting his left leg up and out of the window and starting a mad sprint to the road when he experienced an agonizing pain in his left thigh. A strong push on the base of his neck and he found himself lying on the ground outside. He was only allowed a glimpse of the window he was thrown from before a heavy boot found itself on his skull and he knew no more.
next: Freak – Part Two
more by FRANCISCO LEYVA
photograph by Carlos Martinez