10 PM had rolled around in rural upstate New York. A very cold Autumn had surprised the town, bringing the temperatures to staggeringly low numbers for Mid-October as frost began to form on the hard earth. About a half mile out from the hustle and bustle of the small downtown area where most of the citizens resided in, there was a small neighborhood paved between two long stretching fields that eventually lead to pure forest. Most of the homes had the lights off at this point, looking to get an early sleep for the work day ahead (Whether it be a job or school the next morning). Peaceful silence had rested upon the neighborhood as dark clouds loomed, covering the crescent moon.
Then came a disturbance within the home at the end of the lonely street. A stunning woman with dark brown hair and deep blue eyes walked out of her door silently, breathing out a puff of warm air as she shivered and trekked to the car in her high heels. The coat wrapped around her curvaceous frame, apparently used as a means to keep herself warm, although it only covered the skimpy skirt and crop top she was wearing.
She unlocked the car with a shaky hand, stepping into the drivers seat and shedding the coat the moment she turned the car on. The woman glanced into the mirror, checking one more time on her eyeliner and lipstick, subtle enough to only accentuate her near flawless features. Then, she put on her seat belt with a heavy sigh. Work would be a tiresome act tonight, especially with her son once again being left home alone in the pitch black night.
Meanwhile, light from the upstairs window flooded into the outside as a teenage male peeked out between the curtains, watching as his mother drove down the street. He sucked his teeth watching the car move out of sight, shaking his head slowly and resting back on his bed situated in front of the window. He sat cross legged, looking to the television that played some sitcom he really didn't give a shit about. He ran a hand through his sandy blonde hair, his mind focusing on his mother. He appreciated her attempts, but he was intelligent enough to know that she wasn't just taking overtime at the restaurant. She didn't need to live that kind of life, though. Not for him.
Jeff Walters stared down at the ground of his cluttered room. Random books and clothes were strewn on the ground, along with a couple of action figures and video games. All of these were new things his mother bought for him, things he never really cared for (Although the clothes were nice). He wasn't the materialistic type of person, and he appreciated anything he could get. If only he could get the things he actually wanted for a change.
His thoughts were interrupted by the shrill sound of his cellphone as it vibrated in his pocket. He quickly took it out with excitement and glanced at the lit up screen, his hopes achieved as he glanced to the contact name. Pressing down on the green box he put the phone to his ear, speaking frantically, "Liu?"
A long silence followed on the other end as Jeff adjusted his position, sitting on his knees anxiously. He listened through the static, jagged breathing on the other end telling him that his older brother was still on the line. It seemed like forever had gone by before he heard his voice. "J--Jeff...?"
The grave tone in his voice caused Jeff's concern to grow like a tumor in his heart, his mouth becoming very suddenly dry as he spoke more slowly, "Liu...Liu, are you okay? What's wrong?"
Another silence, the phone pressed hard against the teen's ear as he awaited the response. He partially knew what he was going to say, but he wanted to hear it from Liu himself. A jagged exhale was heard on the other line.
"H--He hit me, Jeff...He hit me again," Liu replied timidly on the other line.
Jeff closed his eyes, head down, thinking for a couple of moments, "I'm gonna get you outta there, Liu."
"Tch..." Liu clicked his tongue and said somberly, "You've said that a hundred times already, Jeff."
"I don't care!" Jeff shot back, raising his voice, "I--I'm gonna do it! I just need more ti-"
On the other line, Liu gasped as a distinct crashing was heard in the distance. Jeff jumped at the sound, "Sh--Shit! Dad's home!"
Jeff moved to say something else, but was cut off by a click. He took the cell phone from his ear, staring at the glaring screen in dismay. Dammit! He debated calling back, but he knew that doing so would invoke further wrath from their father, something Liu didn't need. He cradled the phone in his palm, hoping for a call back from anyone, even his father, to be sure that Liu was okay. A million thoughts raced through his head about his father's abuse to his older brother, something he could barely tolerate. What if he had found out Liu had called him without permission? Would he inflict even more punishment?
He bit his bottom lip nervously as he waited for the phone to ring. However, even after placing the phone on the nightstand and staring at it, an hour went by and still nothing. Jeff stood, walking over and turning out the lights before stripping down to a shirt and boxers. He got under the covers and continued to stare at his phone, willing it to light up. Eventually, he conceded to the insurmountable fatigue he was feeling from the stress of the day, lying down on his back. He didn't want to be awake when his mother came home, anyhow.
"Just go to sleep..." He whispered softly to himself with his eyes tightly shut, "Just go to sleep, just go to sleep."
It became his mantra in the pitch black, and it eventually became a lullaby that eased him into an anxious slumber.
The bright sun cast its light onto the streets that next afternoon, granting a reprieve from the crippling night. A chill still ran through the air, cast by the thick breeze that whistled against the homes of the neighborhood. Jeff walked down the street of the neighborhood, a gray hoodie wrapped around his frame to shield him from the crisp afternoon air. The hood rested behind him on his shoulders, his head bowed down.
School had brought no peace from his anxiety, even as he spoke and joked with his "friends". In a general sense, he had a good day, however it was clouded by all sorts of different thoughts. Usually, school was the only thing that kept him going. He had given his all and gotten A's throughout his freshman year and so far through his sophomore, and he managed to be generally liked by everyone he met along the way. It was because of this praise that he was able to get through his days, for that, as artificial as it was, became enough love to get him by. He theorized that this was only because they didn't know about his family. Liu was only a few miles away, but their father had made it possible for him to change school districts so they couldn't see one another. The children and teachers knew nothing of his broken, separated family fallen apart by alcohol and and hatred.
Jeff grimaced at the sun in his face as he looked forward, placing a hand in front of his view. His pale skin rendered his body prone to sun burns, and he didn't feel like getting something like that in October. He immediately bowed his head back to the ground; He just wanted to go home, finish his homework, and ask his mother if Liu had called.
He rounded the corner to his street, however just as he did so he looked up to see a teenage girl at the curb a few feet in front of him. She placed her face into her hands which were covered by the sleeves of her Hollister sweater. Her multi-colored backpack was slung on the ground as she audibly sobbed into her palms. Now, Jeff was a nice guy when he wanted to be, but he didn't wanna get caught up with a stranger crying on the sidewalk. However, as he walked closer he noticed it was a girl from his class that he talked to regularly: Marie Williams. She was a really nice (and cute) girl who was always caught up with the wrong crowd...now he felt obligated to do something.
Slowly, Jeff knelt down and eventually sat fully on the sidewalk. The woman shifted, feeling his presence. The teenage boy tilted his head with concern on his face, "Marie...? What's wrong?"
Marie jerked her head up, looking to Jeff with a glare before her expression softened. Her eyes were red and puffy, dried tears on her cheeks, "Oh, Jeff, It's you," She brought her hands up, wiping the tears from her face slowly and readjusting her dyed red hair, "Sorry, I--I just was really upset. I thought you were somebody else."
Jeff looked her up and down with his baby blue eyes, a faint smiling crossing his thin lips, "Well, what happened?"
Marie took a moment to gather herself, exhaling slowly and shakily before looking at him again. Her face was flawless, fair skinned, and she had a few freckles on her cheeks. Her chocolate brown's glanced him over, "Well, uh--Randy...Randy, you know, Randy Graham," Jeff tried not to scoff in response to the name. Of course he knew the little bastard. He simply nodded to her and she continued, "Well, he and I were fighting, and--we said a lot of things, personal things, and then, uh..." Her voice cracked a bit and she put a hand over her mouth for a moment.
She took a deep inhale and wiped a tear welling in her eye, "He's cheating on me..." Jeff wrapped one of his pale arms around her shoulders. She leaned into his arm, sobbing once again. Jeff felt bad, truly. Sure, she shouldn't have gotten involved with a guy known for being a player, but that didn't make it any more fair that she was used.
"Marie," Jeff whispered softly, trying his best not to get too close to her even as she leaned into him, "You deserve better than Randy. He's not right for you, you're--You're so pretty, and he just uses people."
Jeff opened his mouth to comfort her further as Marie smiled to him, however it was then that he heard a loud huff. Marie's smile faded as a hard hand smacked against Jeff's shoulder. "Hey!" A raspy voice broke through Jeff's eardrums, "Get the hell away from her, freak!"
Jeff's pale white face suddenly flushed with the color red as he removed himself from Marie's grip, standing straight and alert as he looked in the face of the man responsible for the voice. He had stubble from his chin up to his cheeks, a beard that hadn't fully developed yet he swore was growing by the day. His hazel eyes were dulled from the alcohol he drank and drugs he took on an almost nightly basis. His dark grey sweatshirt was riddled with holes, both big and small, his calloused hands grimed with dirt. A devilish smirk was plastered on his face, and his bleach blonde hair was an absolute mess. Jeff wondered how a guy like this could possibly get the amount of women in bed that he did.
"Who do you think you ARE" Randy sneered, moving closer to Jeff as he shivered slightly, "You need to keep your hands to yourself...before I start using my hands too."
"Hey, leave him alone!" Marie shot back, clenching her fists before Randy shot a look of pure disgust her way. Her fists softened and she looked at the ground.
"Did I say you could speak?" He snarled.
"Don't talk to her like that!" Jeff retorted.
Randy slowly turned back to him. He scoffed, "Who are you again?" He pushed his large hand against Jeff's chest, sending the teenager stumbling backward. Randy rushed to Jeff, inches from his face as Jeff could smell the alcohol in his breath, "You better stay in your lane."
"Randy--" Marie exhaled heavily, "Just...Go to my house. I'll be there in a few minutes."
Randy looked between his girlfriend and Jeff for a few moments, before once again scoffing. He pushed his finger into Jeff's chest, "This isn't over," He whispered before turning on his heels and walking off.
Once the redneck bastard turned the corner, Marie eventually turned her attention to Jeff with a faint smile on her face. She placed a delicate hand on his shoulder, "Thank you--You made my afternoon."
Jeff, mildly shocked by the events of the last two minutes, awarded her with a half-hearted grin, "You're welcome," She eventually bent over, slinging her colored backpack over her shoulder and walking down the street to meet Randy. Jeff let forth a long sigh, running a hand through his blonde hair.
As morning made it's way through, Jeff went through the fields that lead to the school, ignoring the orange-red skies of the sunrise. He was still visibly shaken by the events of yesterday as he shivered against the morning chill. He hoped that he wouldn't have to run into that bastard Randy.
Jeff pushed past the double doors of Treymark High School, and was met with the bustling of teens running to their classrooms or chatting by the lockers. He sighed audibly, his Adidas shoes clomping against the dirty tile floor. Classes didn’t start for a few minutes, but Jeff liked to get there as early as he could. With his book bag slung over one shoulder, he slowly trotted down the crowded hallways.
A few kids that he knew acknowledged his presence, just like every other morning. Billy reached over and patted Jeff’s shoulder, “What was the English homework?” he asked almost frantically.
Shannon waved to him as he walked by, Joey walked with him for a few steps to talk about how much he had to work on the weekend before walking off at the sight of his girlfriend, and then all of a sudden three kids stood in Jeff’s way. He looked up to the tall teens, and suddenly his face grew paler than usual.
There, standing at the center was Randy Graham, sneering down at him. His odor was stronger than usual, and for a moment Jeff thought he was standing in a garbage dump. He cringed, recoiling from Randy's presence and stepping back a few inches. He looked to the other two that stood beside the bully, and remembered them: Randy's redneck crew.
There was the skinny kid in a torn red flannel shirt, a dirtied John Deere cap on his shaggy brown hair. He grinned at Jeff, his teeth blackened by overwhelming amounts of cavities. He had his hands in the pockets of his dusty blue jeans, his eyes ripe with malice, "Ey, look, it's the fresh meat you was tellin' us about," Keith McNelly said in an attempt at a southern accent, although it was obviously forced.
Troy Fitchett stood beside Keith, responding with a scoff. He was clearly overweight in his camouflage sweatshirt. His emerald green eyes sparkled against the dimming school lights, his hands at his sides. Jeff cringed visibly, remembering a time when Troy was the one consistently bullied. He had sold out and started bullying with Randy to save his own fat neck.
"You got balls, kid," Randy said, venom in his voice, "You thought I was just gonna forget that you were with My girl?"
"Nuh--No! Of course not, but she was sad and I wanted to help he-"
"The only person that's gonna help her is me, ya little chickenshit," Randy repeated the same mantra as yesterday, pressing his finger harshly into Jeff's chest. Jeff stumbled slightly this time, debating between standing his ground and escaping to class.
"I didn't do anything wrong!" Jeff shot back, having another rare moment of confidence, "She was upset about YOU."
Randy's expression darkened, a deep frown on his features, "You got a lotta nerve--! I heard you talkin' about me, saying I wasn't right for her!"
Jeff tried to get out words to defend himself, but he stuttered in response. As the bullies started to advance on him, he suddenly realized that all the kids had gone into their first period classes. The teachers of the broken school system were used to this kind of torture, and no longer do anything about it except continue teaching and hoping the victim is okay. Jeff exhaled slowly; he was by himself.
Randy stood in front of him for a moment, and eventually his frown turned into a sadistic grin as he scoffed, "No, no, we're not gonna beat ya. That'd be too [I]easy"
Troy stood slightly behind Randy, "Better watch yourself, kid," Troy said. Troy originated from South Carolina, so his accent was clearly authentic, hilariously in comparison to Keith's.
All three of them walked by, smacking their shoulder against Jeff as they trotted to their next class. Jeff stumbled, turning over his shoulder as the group faded away. His breathing had quickened, his heart rate completely through the roof...
What were they planning to do? Hold him down and beat him senseless when he wasn't suspecting it? Torment him mentally? There was something sadistic in Randy's eyes, like he was ready to eviscerate him. Randy was some kind of psychopath, and millions of ways Jeff could possibly escape this eventual torture went through his head, yet none of them logical/
He sighed. He turned forward again, walking toward his class: 203. He slowly opened the door and put on another smile. Another show for the school.
The dim lights shadowed Jeff's face as he sat down somberly in the plush red chair, its color worn from years and years of use. His slender frame sank into the cushion as he let out a sigh. He was wearing his school clothes still, his back pack tossed to the side of the seat. His eyes fixated upon the man in the swivel chair, using the toes of his feet to bounce the chair slowly up and down. He lifted a finger to the center of his glasses, pressing them closer to his face as his cold eyes seemed to look through Jeff. He cleared his throat.
"Jeff," The older man began, leaning over to his desk and looking through some of his notes, "You've barely said anything to me this whole session..."
Jeff said nothing, his gaze falling to the carpeted floor riddled with Legos from the man's previous appointment. Apparently he was great with kids, but Jeff wasn't a child. He stopped being a child years ago.
The man continued to prod, folding his arms, "Jeffrey, if there's something going on with you, it is imperative that you tell me so that I can help you. That is what therapists are for, right?"
Jeff continued his streak of silence, instead glancing up to the clock on the opposite side of the room. He began to watch the movement of the thin red line. The silence that grew within the small yet spacious environment caused the ticking to resonate within his eardrums. He was itching to finally get out of here.
The therapist clicked his tongue, glancing at the clock as well, "I guess...seeing as you really don't want to be here...and there's only 15 minutes left anyway," He exhaled sharply and smiled faintly, "Go ahead, you can leave."
A wave of relief washed over the teen as he stood upright with a quickness in his step, flinging his backpack over his shoulder and already turning to the closed door. He pulled the door open before the voice of the therapist stopped him cold, "I will be seeing you next week at the same time, Jeffrey," He said cheerfully.
"It's Jeff," He replied sharply, the first thing he'd said in at least half hour.
"My name," He looked over his shoulder to the man with a scowl, "Is Jeff."
Before the man could respond, Jeff shut the door and went down to the lobby. He opened the doors of the Mental Health building where he went to therapy weekly. He was given a new therapist this week, as the other had been moved to a different county. He never liked the original therapist as it was, but this new guy was ten times worse. He sighed, his warm breath forming like a billowing smoke in the late afternoon air. He had left school early today to meet the therapist, but now it was already 5. Even worse, he had to wait for his mother to pick him up. She had left in the middle of the session to go get the two of them dinner. He stood in the parking lot, shifting uncomfortably as he waited.
Jeff rubbed his hands together for warmth before sticking them in the pockets of his hoodie, looking back and forth along the dull blue skies. He found himself staring at the passing cars down the street next to him, and after a while he was met with a surprise--
Randy, Keith and Troy were walking in his direction down the street.
Jeff tried to force his eyes away from them, however he found himself making direct eye contact with Randy for a good couple of seconds. A sly grin formed on the bully's features, and from afar he could see him elbowing his two lackeys to look. A plethora of thoughts intruded into his brain as fear crept up his spine. "Don't come over here..." He muttered to himself.
The grueling seconds felt like an eternal standstill of time. Whatever they might have planned to do was cut short by the honking of a horn in front of him. Jeff's gaze fell to his mother; he hadn't even seen her car pull up. A wave of relief washed over him as time seemed to move at a normal pace again. He practically sprinted to the car, sliding into the passenger's seat. His mother gave him a perplexed look before backing up out of the parking lot and driving down the street.
As Jeff glanced out his window, he caught a glimpse of Randy. The grin had never left his dirt-grimed face.
And so the morning reared its ugly head once more, the growing moon slowly replacing itself with the rising sun, bearing its warm colored light unto the skies. The teen threw his hood over his head and glanced down at the concrete as he walked out of his home and down the street before him. The chill had reached an all-time low, yet he still refused to wear anything warmer. Jeff was stubborn sometimes.
The morning commute was the one part of the day Jeff truly loved. It allowed him time with his own thoughts, a few moments of clarity in the whirlwind called his life. However, on this day he had mixed feelings. He had the weekend to think about the events with Randy in the last week, and he continuously contemplated just what the bastard had planned for him. The grin he gave Jeff when he was standing in the parking lot...Satan himself had possessed him in that very moment. Keith and Troy were nothing but lackeys in the mind games, but the three to one handicap he faced was another thing that made Jeff nervous. It was an unbearable chill constantly running down his spine.
Yet, there was some good to the last few days. For one thing Jeff had been able to have a conversation with Liu. The situation with the bullies almost caused him to forget about the anxiety for his brother, which came back tenfold at the start of the weekend. However, Liu had answered the phone this time, and he seemed much more...calm. Jeff didn't have the nerve to tell Liu about the bullies, mostly because he didn't want to worry Liu...there wasn't anything he could do about it anyway.
Sunday night Jeff's mother came to him and told him that his dad was planning on bringing Liu over to visit in two week's time. Jeff knew getting his hopes up would be fatal to his psyche, and yet he found himself hoping and praying that he would be able to see his brother for the first time in two years. It was the first strand of hope he had felt in a long time--something he could genuinely smile about. His lips curled into a faint expression of happiness at the thought of it.
However, when Jeff arrived at the front of the school and pushed those yellow double doors open for the umpteenth time, his happiness faded away just as quickly as it had come.
When he entered the premises, Jeff immediately knew something was wrong. As he stepped into the hallways, the kids weren't quite as active as they usually were around him. When trotting down the hallway in his tired stupor, he was still alert enough to notice that absolutely nobody was making eye contact with him. Some of them shied away from his presence, while others glanced over at him and snickered under their breath. A scowl formed on Jeff's face; What the hell were they laughing about?
He looked around for Billy to ask him about the English homework, and eventually caught sight of Billy asking another one of the classmates across the hall. Shannon wasn't waving at him anymore, turning to the other girls. Joey was nowhere to be found. As Jeff moved to his first class, Room 203, he was completely perplexed. Everybody was either laughing at him or completely avoiding him with a concerned look in their eye.
This process continued all throughout the day, hindering the happiness he had felt in the morning. Slowly, Jeff began to grow paranoid, a feeling creeping over him that everyone was looking at him.
His eyes then fixated on Randy, who was approaching him down the hall along with the other two lackeys. He had that same, sly grin on his face. Jeff's eyes widened, and his blood froze. He leaned against the wall as his body trembled.
They knew. They all knew he was in mental health that day, getting out of therapy, and they probably were theorizing the reasons for it. All of them knew something was up with him...And now none of them wanted a thing to do with him.
"Well, well," Randy cooed, walking up to Jeff. He placed his hand on the wall right beside Jeff's head, enveloping Jeff's vision as his alcoholic breath intermingled with his already unsettled stomach, "If it isn't the mental case!"
Jeff felt his throat go completely dry as he pressed his back against the wall. He tried to say something in response, but his vocal chords wouldn't allow him to do so. As his words turned to stutters, the three bullies laughed viciously, "Look, Randy, the kid can't even talk right," Keith said with a grin in his shitty forced southern accent, trying to look cool in front of his leader.
"Heh, I wish you could see your face!" Randy said with a grin, "This is what you get, you fucker. You mess with my girlfriend, I mess up your life."
He stood upright again, spreading his arms out, "Now EVERYBODY knows about you! How does it feel to be the outcast, Jeffrey?"
Jeff stared at him with his blue eyes that had now gone dull. His body was still frozen in place, his mind unable to process what was going on. Because of these...bullies, spreading around the fact that he was some insane kid, everyone thought he was a psychopath. He felt tears welling in his eyes, however he refused to let them fall. He didn't want to give them the satisfaction.
The only love he had in his world filled with family broken apart by hate and alcohol, was his brother who he never saw, and the artificial love from the kids in this school...
And now, in his own broken mind, that was gone.
"You look a little pale!" Randy taunted and grinned. His cavity filled teeth were bared , "What's the matter? You gonna cry?"
"Randy--" Troy said, his smile faded away. Keith stared at Troy in a look of concern and mild terror, "You're going too far, man. The kid's really upset."
"Shut your mouth," Randy replied simply with a snarl, looking over his shoulder as he smirked to Troy, "Or you'll be next after Jeffrey here."
Troy pursed his lips shut, staring at the ground and stuffing his hands in his pockets. Jeff suddenly found a voice, "My name is Jeff."
Randy's head whipped to Jeff. He glared at him, the humor in his expression suddenly draining as he narrowed his eyes. The bully dug into his pocket, pulling out something in his hand and leaning closer to Jeff. His foul odor became even more evident with the close proximity, nauseating Jeff, "If you're so mental..."
He grabbed Jeff's wrist, pulling it out and placing the item into his hand before closing his hand into a fist, "Just kill yourself."
Randy turned on his heels and walked away, motioning for his boys to follow as he cackled loudly to himself. They did so, Troy looking over at Jeff one last time as if to say [I]I'm sorry. Jeff was still trembling; He looked back and forth to see kids laughing at him. In all reality, a lot of it had begun to seep into his head; Not all of the teens were shunning him, but it was enough for Jeff to believe that it was everybody. He sunk into his own shell, staring at his shoes. A safe haven within his school was now all but over.
He looked to his fist and opened his hand. While the find caused his stomach to turn on itself, he wasn't at all surprised by what was sitting on his palm.
It was a switchblade.
Days turned into weeks that the bullies consistently harassed Jeff. He acted as though he had grown numb to the situation, ignoring their voices in the hallways and his expression constantly stoic as he was shoved harshly into a wall. However, deep down inside, his mind was continuing to break from the huge amount of force being placed on it, his emotions being broken down into nothing but irreversible mush.
The constant insults of freak, mental case and psycho were now prominent in his every day school life. The faces of pity he would see on a daily basis caused his usual smile to fade into an eternal scowl. Everybody either felt sorry for him or laughed at him, the only in between being terror.
To make matters worse, the situation with Liu had gone completely downhill. Jeff had waited patiently for two weeks so he could finally see his brother. It would have made everything with the bullies seem like an afterthought. When two weeks went by, Jeff was upset to find that no call came from them. After a few days he tried to call Liu himself multiple times to no answer. After the tenth time he was met with a robotic voice on the phone informing him that the line had been disconnected. No contact had been made with Liu or their father since he had called about them coming over weeks before.
The switchblade that Randy gave him never left Jeff's pocket. He always felt for it every once in a while, to be sure it was still there. The thoughts of using it for what Randy had suggested festered in his head, going from a simple intrusive thought to something he fantasized about on a daily basis.
Even now as he walked to his home, he felt it within his palm, thinking of what he could do with it. It wasn't always about doing it to himself, no, sometimes it was to others; More specifically Randy. He smirked at the thought, although it was veiled by his hood. He opened the door to hear the enraged voice of his mother.
"--You promised, god damn it!" She had been saying in another room. As Jeff walked from the living room into the kitchen, he saw his mother, make up smeared and her hair a mess.
"No, fuck you, Brad! Go to hell!" She growled, hanging up the phone and slamming it on the counter furiously. She whipped her head to find Jeff standing awkwardly in front of her, when in which she jumped and her expression softened, but only slightly.
She exhaled heavily, closing her eyes and brushing an errant bang from her face, "Dad isn't going to be coming any time soon," she said simply.
"What else is new?" Jeff replied monotonously, placing his book bag on the stairs. He wasn't surprised at all; Dad always broke his promises, it was a tradition in this family.
"No--Jeff, you don't understand," She continued, moving closer to him, "Liu, he...He broke his leg."
Jeff's eyes turned to saucers. He didn't even turn to look at his mother as his hands began to instinctively clench into fists.
"I'm sorry, Jeff," She walked over, placing a hand on his shoulder, "I...wish there was something I could do about what dad does to Liu but I--"
Jeff shrugged her hand off of him. He snarled before she could speak, grabbing the backpack and trudging up the stairs with heavy feet. His mom opened her mouth to say something, but instead decided to keep it shut. "He needs time," She told herself reassuringly.
Jeff barged into his room and closed it tight, locking it. He sat down on his bed, stewing over all of his malevolent thoughts. Not even his mother was trying to help Liu! She just kept sitting by and letting him be abused, but why? Why was everyone betraying him?
As the sun went down and replaced itself with the half-moon, Jeff continued on with his thoughts. He heard the soft noise of tire on pavement as his mother pulled out from the driveway to go play with men for money. He didn't bother turning to watch her as he left, continuing to anxiously bounce the balls of his feet on the floor, sitting at the edge of his bed.
Slowly, Jeff lifted his head to look in his body-long mirror that was on the opposite side of the room. He saw himself, with dull blue eyes and unkempt blonde hair. There was a frown on his face, a direct contradiction to his usual demeanor. He stood upright, walking closer to the mirror until he was mere inches from it. He reached out, placing his pale hand onto the glass. "What have I become...?" He asked softly, eyes wide.
The switchblade held the weight of an anvil in his pocket, once again becoming the center influence regarding his recent life. Just kill yourself, rang within his brain over and over again, the voice of that bastard Randy taking hold of his mind. He took his hand off of the mirror, grabbing the switchblade in his pocket. He managed a good look at it for the first time; Really, it was beautifully crafted. There were a few rather intricate drawings on the black handle, and as he flipped open the blade, he realized just how clean the metal was. As if it had been untouched, saved for him to use.
Jeff once more lifted his gaze to the mirror, watching himself hold the weapon. He brought the beautiful blade close to his neck. Would slicing his throat end the suffering he was feeling?
He stood there, gathering the courage to finish the job, and yet there wasn't anything he could do but think of Liu. He couldn't leave his brother...it would be selfish of him to end it right here and leave his brother on his own.
It was in that moment that the mixed emotions finally got the best of Jeff. Nothing in his life was going correctly, in fact, it went the opposite of what he hoped it would. He watched tears roll from his own deep blue eyes, and his hands trembled as he held the blade in his tightened grasp. Silent tears gradually turned into uncontrolled sobs, his body heaving as he gasped for air. He crumpled to the ground in a sitting position, placing his head into his hands as he shivered.
His love in school was gone, Liu was gone, and now even his mother's love was gone, replaced by a false stretch of a smile as she left him by himself on a nightly basis. The catalyst for everything that was happening were those damn bullies. They were--They were sadistic assholes, especially Randy. Randy Graham deserved to get his throat sliced by the very knife he gave Jeff.
The thought caused a giggle to come out of his mouth.
He was surprised about it at first, but then it became commonplace. His giggles overcame his sobs, turning into chuckles, and then uncontrollable laughter. The very thought of stabbing Randy through the chest...What a rush it would be. And he could do it, too!
Jeff had come to a revelation. He could get rid of the man who gave him this sadness! Why would he need to kill himself when there were so many bad people to kill?
Jeff eventually took his head from his hands, glancing again at himself. The dullness of his blue eyes had grown to a malevolent twinkle as his frown was replaced with an ear to ear grin. The laughter coming from his mouth was now voluntary, he was a new person.
Glancing to the switchblade his eyes lit up, "Well a new person should mean a new look!" He said to himself with glee.
With the mirror constantly in front of him to stare at his handiwork, Jeff Walters brought the knife a few inches beside his right eye. Slowly but surely he pushed against the handle, the blade breaking the skin and sliding through his other layers of skin. Pain coursed through him wildly, but for him, it was a euphoric pain.
With excited, labored breaths, he meticulously slid the knife down his cheek, cutting through the skin as blood began to gush from the wound. Small stains of crimson blood formed on his carpet as he slowly brought the knife all the way down to his jawline. He kept the knife inside of his face for a moment, before slowly pulling it out. There, in all of the red, was a gargantuan gash in the side of his face, wide open and smooth. Warmth had spread across his face as half of his head was drenched in crimson. Drip, drip, drip went the blood upon the floor, as his smile never left his face.
"Don't I just look marvelous!" He said in a cheerful whisper.
He glared to the switchblade that was now sullied by blood. He reached it to his mouth, running his tongue across the blunt edges and lapping up the remainder of the crimson liquid. He swallowed it; Blood didn't taste that bad, either!
He took one more look at his face which had become marred with a gash, but to Jeff he was as handsome as he had ever been. His eyes were now wild and bloodshot, his blonde hair lifted up in strands in some areas. Now that he had become a new person, the people that caused him to change would have to be rewarded for their efforts.
His dear mother was gone, which meant Jeff didn't have to do much to sneak out. He flipped the cleaned knife back down, placing it in his pocket, and put his grey-white hoodie around himself. He flipped the hood up and ran down the stairs, into the night. The crisp cold brought a new sensation to his cut as wind blew into the deep wound, but adrenaline kept the burning pain at bay.
He was so excited to give Randy a taste of his new found peace, he almost ran down the street to his house.
Randy Graham slept soundly within his bed, tucked tight underneath the covers as he rested on his back. His parents had been going back and forth throughout the night, and it was a miracle that they had stopped before midnight and allowed him to sleep. His room was nearly pitch black save from the light that came from his loosely closed window, unlocked for the occasional girl to come in during the late night hours.
There was movement at the window that at first sounded like nothing more than a tree branch scraping against the home. Eventually, a large shadow emerged in front of the glass as its hands reached for the bottom. With ease, the hooded figure pushed the window up all the way before softly climbing inside.
Feet hit the ground without a sound while the man underneath the hood took a glance around the room. The door was closed and locked, the room rather desolate in terms of furniture except for the bed that Randy slept on. A sly grin appeared within the shadows; Perfect.
Jeff walked closer to the bully as he squirmed only slightly in his slumber. It was as if his brain was warning him, but he couldn't wake up. Jeff crept closer to his bed, gripping the switchblade tightly. He sat down at the edge of the mattress, staring at Randy for a few moments as he cringed at the radiating smell. Softly, Jeff brought his smooth, pale hand to Randy's mouth. He cupped his palm around the lower part of his face, and it was that movement that caused the boy to slowly open his eyes.
When his eyes met the culprit and looked through the shadows of his hood, he saw a man with matted blonde hair, bloodshot blue eyes, and a wide open gash that looked like a gargantuan pitch black mark on his face. The entire right half of his face was caked in drying blood. Yet, the figure was grinning wildly.
Randy moved to scream, but they were muffled by the hand on his mouth. He tried to move his arms to yank him off, but he was frozen in place by fear. Jeff's grin grew wider, "Remember this fear...It's what you've given me," He cooed.
Randy's eyes suddenly fixated at Jeff, lifting his arm into the air. He glared at the switchblade in his hand. Jeff?! he thought to himself.
"Rock-A-Bye RANDY--" Jeff's voice was first soft and silky smooth, but upon saying his name his tone grew deep and rough, filled with venom. As he spoke the man's name he thrust his knife into the chest of the bully, searing pain coursing through Randy's body. His terror stricken eyes glared into Jeff's as his voice grew soft again, "On the treetop..."
The screams were loud and shrill even as he yelled through the closed hand, pleading for help as tears rolled down his dirty face. The pain was the most immensely frightening sensation that he had ever felt. Meanwhile, Jeff blissfully hummed the rest of his tune, pulling the knife out and stabbing into his flesh again. Fresh blood soaked the bed sheets as brand new holes formed on his sweatshirt.
Eventually, as Jeff watched Randy's pain and screams closely, he realized that eventually someone might hear him. With an exhale, Jeff's smile grew more malevolent, "Hush now, Randy."
The killer softly lifted Randy's head, exposing his neck to him. Jeff lifted the bloodied knife into the moonlight, "Just go to sleep."
Before Randy could react, Jeff slipped the knife across his throat and into his jugular vein. He quickly pulled the knife back and stood, watching crimson liquid spurt from the wound as Randy choked, suddenly lifting his hands up, the adrenaline hitting him too late. He gagged on his own blood, pleading for help. The last thing he heard was a devious cackle in his ear as black dots filled his vision, eventually falling limp.
By the time Randy had passed, eyes glossed over and in a pool of his own blood, the window to his room had been left open as Jeff made a quick escape. Jeff started walking down the street in his grey-white hoodie splattered with dots of red, feeling much better about himself. He had given the sadistic bully what he deserved, and the other lackeys wouldn't do anything once Randy died. However, even with this new found happiness, there was still a nagging sensation in his head. He still needed to deal with one more person.
He needed to deal with his father, and take Liu away from that abusive environment. Only when Liu was safe would his mind settle.
As the chilling breeze brought forth the crisp smell of late autumn, Jeff's heavy feet clamped upon the fragile leaves. At first it was an accident, but now he purposefully did so, a fun game so he could hear the crunch from each multi-colored leaf that happened to be in his way. Liu's home wasn't too far away from Jeff's, only a couple of miles, but he had never garnered the courage to go out and take Liu away from his father. Jeff's words to Liu were filled with promises full of sincerity, but empty with reality.
Yet now, he stood in front of the two-story home, a genuine grin on his face. The time of the night had been lost, but the adrenaline pumping in and out of his veins made all of that meaningless. He looked to the steps that lead to the front door; no, too obvious. The window beside it was covered in black drapes, but Jeff knew that it was Liu's room; He had been to this house only once before, two years back. The teen slowly marched his way through the patches of brown grass and orange leaves, jumping slightly at the sound of a passing vehicle. It surprised him how much busier this street was than his own.
He went up to the window, grasping the bottom edge and pulling up with all his might. After a few seconds of manual labor, it still wouldn't budge. He scorned himself for thinking he could get in the same way in two different homes. He tried to look through the black drapes, but saw nothing but darkness. His grin turning into a faint scowl, he turned his back from the window, trying to formulate a different method of entry. He wanted to make it quiet and swift--
That is, until he heard a muffled scream from Liu's room.
His mind was quite suddenly overtaken by panic and fear for his only brother. Jeff turned on his heels, his eyes scanning the grasses until he found a moderately sized rock. Practically sprinting, he grabbed it and turned, throwing it at the closed window. A loud crack echoed across the general vicinity as the rock broke the window to pieces. Jeff wasted no time afterward, his mind racing with wonder. Had he broken Liu's other leg? An arm?
However, as he rammed himself through the window, scraping his skin and ripping his clothes on broken glass on his way to falling through the drapes and unto the floor, he was met with a sight he hadn't expected.
The first thing his eyes fixated on was his father. He was completely naked, standing awkwardly to the side of the bed, blue eyes dilated and bloodshot from the copious amount of drinking. Upon seeing the figure who had broken the window, fresh blood spilling from new wounds and his hood ripped off from his head, he was able to get a good look into his son's eyes. "Juh--Jeff.." He said before stumbling back.
Jeff's widened eyes turned to Liu's bed, where the sight of his older brother caused him to cringe and grip the knife he had managed to grab from the floor. Liu was also naked, on his knees with his body bent over. He was riddled with all types of gashes and various bruises, ranging from small dots to black and blue patches. His face was slightly swollen, a black eye evident. The tears from his eyes caused a small puddle on his sheets, his body spasming mildly as he stared at Jeff, simultaneously relieved and terrified. He wasn't able to speak as a sock was clumped up and stuff into his mouth.
It was only then that Jeff noticed the various liquid on the floor and the bed.
The widened eyes and shocked quiver of Jeff's lip transformed into a searing rage, the grip tightening on his bloodied knife as he slowly stumbled into an upright position. "You--" Jeff started to make his way toward his naked father, who put his hands in the air and tried his best to find the door. Jeff snarled, "You BASTARD!"
"Jeff--Don't even think about-"
Before his father could finish his sentence, Jeff was barreling into him, shoving his shoulder into the older man's torso. He gasped, but never had any time to react further as Jeff grabbed his father by the arm and, with the help of strength granted by pure adrenaline, thrust him into the wall beside them. He turned, thrusting his knife at his father, however his lack of precision in the stab caused it to dig into his gut. His father let forth a bloodcurdling scream as weakened hands tried to grab Jeff's shoulders.
Jeff pulled the knife out and allowed the blood to gush outward, however as he backed away his father shoved a firm hand on his shoulder. Jeff's reply was a swift swipe of the blade, scraping across his torso like a long paper cut. Another yelp from his father and Jeff pulled away.
Jeff went to stab again, but his father grabbed his arm, gripping harshly. When he looked up, his father's dilated blue eyes lit with a fire as he growled to his youngest son. For a moment, Jeff panicked at the sight of those same eyes that sent terror through his psyche. The same eyes that looked down on him as Jeff received a smack across the face. This was the man that had abused his mother and done terrible things to both him and Liu...
How could he go up against a man he feared?
Then, Jeff remembered something inherently important; He was the one with the knife.
Jeff shoved his knee into the man's bloody gut before pulling his arm back, aiming for the chest but instead ending up in the shoulder blade. He pulled it out and yelled in frustration as his father crumpled to the floor, crimson becoming his new color. After he recollected himself, Jeff shook his head free of the needless anger, turning to his father and walking toward him once again. He stomped down on the shoulder wound, causing a scream that eventually devolved into a whimper.
He tried once again, but his father managed to roll out of the way, crawling as fast as he could in a last ditch attempt to make it to the door. Jeff stomped his foot on the ground akin to a child experiencing a temper tantrum, "Stop STRUGGLING," He leaned over, grasping the man's foot and pulling him toward his body before quite literally stabbing him in the back, "LET ME KILL YOU!"
He turned his father over as labored breaths and whimpers became the man's only sound. Jeff thought he could hear Liu's voice, but he was too focused on the task at hand. His father reached his hands to his abdomen, putting them over the stab wound in an attempt to stop further bleeding, "Juh...Jeff," His father said slowly, drawing in a long gulp, "Wuh--Why are you...doing this?"
Jeff stared down at the man he had once called daddy. A man who he once loved, but now only acknowledged as the father who gave him life, as a man named Bradley. He looked at the terribly groomed beard, the bloodshot blue eyes, the unkempt, shoulder length hair. As he laid naked in his own blood, Jeff only felt a combination of pity and deep rooted anger. No remorse.
Jeff leaned closer to his father, his knife resting upon his chest, "Karma comes around," He whispered, "But I'm faster."
Jeff brought his knife to Bradley's head, committing an act that was a long time in the making. He shoved the tip of the knife through the man's temple until it stopped at the hilt, watching the life in his eyes flicker in and out as Jeff whispered with an ear to ear grin; "Just Go to sleep"
Jeff sat on his knees next to his father for a few moments, breathing in and out with pure, euphoric excitement. He giggled in those moments, rocking back and forth in glee. Eventually, Jeff stood upright and turned to his brother. He had gotten down from his position, instead sitting on the edge of the bed. Fresh tears were rolling down his face, Liu staring dumbfounded at his psychotic brother.
"I told you to stop!" He screamed, hugging himself and speaking again in almost a mumble, "I told you to stop..."
Jeff raised an eyebrow in confusion, "But...I saved you Liu."
"By killing our father?!"
"Liu--" Jeff's ears perked up at the distant sounds of sirens, "We have to go."
Jeff walked toward his brother, hand extended. Liu's eyes widened akin to saucers, scooting back and rolling off of the bed. He groaned slightly, but still continued to scoot backward as Jeff moved toward him, "I--I'm not going anywhere with you, Jeff!"
"You've turned into...something, I don't know, but it isn't you!"
The sirens in the background grew in volume, and he knew that the police would be coming down the street at any given moment. He looked back and forth, exhaling harshly and turning to his brother who was now naked, bruised, and curled up in the fetal position in the corner of the room.
"I'll come back for you," Jeff said, turning around and opening the door to Liu's room. A single tear rolled down his face as he ran through the expanse of the home until he opened the back door, running out into the back roads as the sounds of the sirens arrived at the home. He slipped into the shadows, running toward the woodlands.
"Two weeks have gone by, and the killer of Randy Graham and Bradley Walters has yet to be found. Liu has refused to speak to anyone following the incident, although it was clear that he was the victim of distinct rape and abuse from his father. Jeffrey Walters has gone missing since the time of the incident, according to his mother, Martha Walters. He remains the prime suspect in the crimes given his connection with both of the individuals. "
Jeff ripped the article out of the newspaper, along with the attached picture of a figure in a grey-white hoodie climbing through the broken open window of Liu's home.
Deep in the woodlands, he sat as a shadow among the overbearing trees. The ripped apart newspaper was laid out in front of him, accompanied by the cleaned switchblade he still carried as his personal weapon. His eyes fixated on his hoodie, messily sewn together in some areas to close the openings made from contact with the glass. The gash on his face had grown red and irritated, although Jeff had prevented infection by washing it in the river nearby. The pain in the right half of his face was staggering, but the reward made everything worth it. Looking into the water of the river, he realized just how terrifying he looked; It was beautiful.
Jeff's gaze fell back to the knife, his mind wandering to Liu. Liu was terrified around people, unable to speak at all from the trauma he had received from Bradley. There wasn't anything he could do about that, however Jeff soon realized after his retreat that Liu was just scared, confused. He wanted to go with Jeff, but his mind was clouded by terrified thoughts. Even still, it hurt to be rejected by his brother in that moment.
Jeff exhaled, his warm breath coalescing in front of him as puffs of smoke. Liu was now in protection of the police, and probably would be sent somewhere far away after the trauma; Jeff was smart enough to know that. It wouldn't be easy to find him, but Jeff had to go get him again. This time, he would surely convince him to walk off into the sunset with his younger brother, his guardian. The police or other guardians couldn't protect him from the horrors of the world like he could, and if he had to kill various people to find him, then so be it.
Plus, he found that killing was fun. An adrenaline rush.
Jeff grabbed the hilt of his knife, twisting it back and forth in his hand. His face was expressionless, lost in thought. He made himself a vow on that night. A vow to cause as much anarchy and despair as he could, until he could get his brother back.
"I will find him," He whispered softly to himself, staring at his disfigured reflection in the glinted metal, "I will find my Liu."