I don’t really fit in, at school that is. I don’t know why, I just don’t. People don’t talk to me, no one wants me on their team, and sometimes the teachers don’t even pay attention to me. I’ve done practically everything to get noticed. I listen to all the same music, watch the same shows, and play football… well played football. I got kicked off after I tackled our quarterback and broke his throwing arm, shattered I guess would be a better term considering I broke it in three places... I didn’t even use my whole body. After that no one ever really spoke to me. My hunch was that it wasn’t my destroying the quarterback that turned everyone off of me, but I think it was my looks. It wasn’t a deformity or anything. It was more of a rare; I mean extremely rare, set of physical features. I had silver hair, long silver hair and another thing was my eyes. They were blood red, a deep blood red. When people see something that’s not normal, they tend to freak out, especially when you’re in a small town. I have been called many names. Not by adults who know how to keep quiet, but I’ll tell you high school is cruel. I knew I was different I just didn’t know how much.
It was another day of school which meant another day of ridicule, and another day of being alone. Being alone didn’t bother me much. I ate lunch alone, walked home alone, and even did group work alone. I was used to it. But it was the insults that got to me. Most of them weren’t about my looks, more about my family. I had a brother but he looked nothing like me, neither did my mother or father. I was referred to as the “illegitimate” child, which really got to me. Every kid who made a remark about my family, I just wanted to hit them. Unfortunately my father told me never to fight for some reason. I never knew why he just said not to.
I usually ate lunch outside, away from the people that mocked me so relentlessly. No one bothered me on most days. Unfortunately this wasn’t like any other.
“Hey freak!” shouted someone.
I knew who it was, Tom Morris, the biggest jerk at school, not to mention the schools linebacker on the football team. I continued eating choosing not to acknowledge him. I figured if I ignored him he’d go away. He and his posse waltzed up to me nonetheless.
“Hey freak, he repeated reaching for my collar, I’m talking to you!”
I slapped his hand away and scooted away from his reach. I kept looking down at my lunch trying to avoid eye contact and conflict.
“My name, I said, is Shane...”
He contorted his face into a smirk and crouched down. I caught a glimpse of his red and blue Letterman jacket sleeve out of the corner of my eye. Then his face appeared in front of mine. His green eyes were staring at me, his face still smug.
“Well Shane, he said, who said you could eat out here? Last time I checked this was our area.”
“You never eat out here; I said smiling; only I do.”
“Are trying to be smart with me you little freak?”
“No, but I can dumb it down for you if you need me to.”
He picked me up by my collar and held me in the air. Even then our eyes never met.
“Hey you should be quiet”, said one of Tom’s groupies, “Tom could mess you up real good!”
“My friend is right you know”, Tom said arrogantly,”we wouldn’t want that would we?”
I didn’t respond.
“That’s what I thought”; he said putting me down roughly, “now pick up your crap and get.”
I wanted to hit him. Him and all of his crew, but I didn’t know how to fight. I picked up my sandwich and my paper sack and walked away.
“Ha, a wimp like his old man” said one of Tom’s crew.
“What do you mean old man? He doesn’t have one remember?”
That one stung, but still I kept my promise to my father and walked away sulking. I didn’t cry of course. Heck, I don’t think I ever have cried over much of anything, but still that last comment hurt. I wasn’t normal, I came to terms with that, but I’d never be happy until I knew why I was different.
The rest of the school day went accordingly. I went to English, then Algebra, then physical education. P.E. wasn’t my favorite class. I was good at it but it was too easy. While everyone else was struggling to do a pull up or finish the track I did exceptionally well. Gym was the class I scored highest in. I had better endurance than everyone else, and benched, squatted, and curled more than everyone else. I never worked out, I ate whatever but I was still fit and had a good physique. My only problem was with speed and lucky me, today we were doing a relay.
“Alright everyone”, droned the coach, “listen up. We will be running a lot today, so don’t forget to stretch…”
I found it rather ironic that a class that was about being physically fit and strong; we had the heaviest coach ever teaching us. He couldn’t even run for two minutes without stopping to gasp for breath. Either way he was the coach.
“Now team captains”, he continued, “pick your racers.”
No one picked me they chose everyone else first. I stood quietly in my space and awaited the ever imminent argument.
“I don’t want him”, said the first kid, “ you take him!”
“No way he’s so slow”, said the other, ”coach why don’t you just sit him out of this one?”
“Nope, everyone must participate. So who’s going to take him?”
Both teams stood silently not looking directly at me when the team on the left spoke out.
“Fine we’ll take him” I walked over and stood with my “team”.
We walked out to the track and lined up on the eight lanes. I went to the front of the line.
“Look ”, said the so called “captain”, ”run as fast as you can, then come up and…”
“I know what a relay is”, I said, ”I’m not stupid.”
He looked at me for a minute and then walked off. I took my position at the starting line and waited for coach to blow the whistle. But as I waited I felt something strange come over me. I felt myself growing stronger. My legs were on fire, pulsing with energy. Adrenaline was pulsing through every vain in my body. My heart was pounding; my hair was standing on end. Something in my mind told me win.
I waited for the whistle to blow. When it did I was the first one off. It didn’t feel like I was going fast, but that everything else was going slower. I looked around and it couldn’t have been more than thirty seconds and I was already back at the starting line. Everyone stopped in shock and awe. Even the other runners who were just coming around the second corner were looking at me. I wasn’t even winded. Coach approached me and in disbelief started talking.
“How… how did you do that”, he said, “could you run that fast all along?”
I was pretty shaken up myself. I didn’t know how I did that. One minute I was at the starting line, thirty seconds later I was back. I couldn’t believe it.
“Marxmen, how did you do that? You beat the track team’s record!”
“I… I don’t know coach. I just started running.”
He looked me in the eyes and said words that I’d been waiting to here, the words that were my gateway to popularity.
“How would like to be on our track team?”
My jaw dropped and my red eyes lit up.
“Yes”, I said excitement building inside me, “yes I would!”
“Good, he said smiling, come to my office later, pick up the forms and fill them out. You’ll also need a doctor’s note saying you’re safe to run. After that talk to Coach Martin and you’re in!”
I nodded, smile on my face. I couldn’t wait to sign up. Everyone would look at me as an equal, not just some freak… but I was. I could never run like that before. I remember it all so vividly. One second I’m at the starting line, and then all the muscles in my legs are pulsing, throbbing, aching to get started. My heart and mind are racing and then I’m running. It felt like I was going so fast that everything froze, but at the same time I felt I was going at a normal pace. It was too much to think about. All I cared about was the popularity and recognition I’d be getting.
“Oh by the way”, the coach added, “you will need a parent’s permission.”
I froze. My parents weren’t very supportive of me playing sports after the football incident. So speaking to them may be a problem.
“I’ll talk to them….”
Later on that night, at the dinner table I brought up the news.
“So”, I said, “coach wants me to join track…”
My father looked up, then back down at his plate.
“I don’t know about track”, he said pointing at me with his fork,” I did track in high school. Sprained ankles, pulled muscles, my friend broke his leg pole vaulting you know….”
I knew he was lying. He always said he was in the same sport I was interested in joining. He’d come up with some random story say something happened to him or a friend and then convince me I didn’t need to join a sport.
“But dad”, I said, “I’m good, really good! Coach says I’m the fastest he’s ever seen!”
My mom stopped eating for a minute then continued.
“I think we should let him…,” my mother said looking down at her meal.
My father looked up, almost puzzled. I was confused myself. She usually took his side but this time was different.
“Well I think he shouldn’t. This is my house and he won’t do it.”
“I think he should”, my mother repeated, “he’s getting older Jack, he needs to make his own decisions.”
It went on like this for a while. Even after I went to bed I could still hear the muffled argument.
The next morning I woke up with a note taped to my forehead. I am too heavy of a sleeper if someone can tape a note to my face without waking me. I took the note and read it.
“I wore your father down. You can run, just be careful. There is lunch money on the counter and a list of chores for you to do on the fridge. Love you, Mom”
I couldn’t help but smile.
I walked to school that morning. The one good thing about living out in the country is that almost everything is in walking distance, so school was pretty easy to get to. It was a cold morning and I found myself for the first time in many years smiling as I walked to school. I had the approval note so I could run track, and nothing could go wrong.
Scratch that… something always does.
I turned around though I didn’t really need to because I knew it was Tom, but I did and of course he was in the truck his dad had bought him. I kept walking and he began to drive beside me then he pulled in front of me cutting me off. He and two other guys stepped out of the truck.
“What’s up freak? I hear you’re trying to join track?”
“Coach says I am pretty fast…”
“Yeah I heard… but here’s the thing… you can’t join.”
I looked up confused.
“Yeah funny thing”, he said scratching his chin, “the guys on track don’t want you there.”
One of his crew stepped up.
“Actually it’s not that we don’t want you. Your good, fast and we would use you if you were someone else,” this guy was the track captain, Jack Forest.
“What does that mean,” I said taking offense .
They looked at each other and grinned.
“We don’t want some weirdo, freak on the team!”
Normally I’m a pretty cool guy. I have taken insults worse than just freak, or weirdo. I’ve put up with it for 15 years. But today I felt different like when I was running, except it wasn’t just my legs that were tingling and pulsing, but all my muscles and nerves were going crazy. My whole body felt like it was engulfed in flames.
I dropped my bag and began to walk forward but I wasn’t telling my legs to move, it was as though they had a mind of their own. Tom and his two friends looked confused, and then Tom started to grin.
“What are going to do Marxmen? You going to hit me”, he chuckled and put his fists up, “well let’s go. Come on I’ll give you a free hit.” He stuck his chin out.
I let my instincts do the rest.
I threw a quick right hook to his jaw. His eyes glazed over and he tried to fall to the ground. I didn’t let him. I grabbed him by his hair before he hit the ground, held him up level to my face and began pounding on his body. He began to wake up and started sputtering out saliva from his mouth and mucus from his nose. I stopped when I heard a rib crack then I let him fall to the ground. One of the other members of the crew from the truck rushed me. I threw a low kick to his knee and he fell to the ground like a rag doll. I think I shattered his knee. Jack stood still in his place. I glanced at him and he feel to his knees.
“Take your friends”, I said calmly, “get them to a hospital.”
He scrambled to his feet and took them to the truck. He jumped in the driver’s seat and drove off.
I walked over to my bag, picked it up and continued down the road. I had blood spattered on my shirt and shoes, and some streaked in my hair. But I had a huge grin on my face and felt content on what I had done.
I walked into school, blood still showing on my clothes. People stared at me as I walked in, which didn’t surprise me I was still a “freak” in their eyes. But in my mind I was the kid who just kicked the crap out of the biggest senior in school plus one of his friends. That was the last thing on my mind though. First was getting the letter to the head coach.
I walked up to a door in the athletics wing that read “Coach Reed, Head coach”. I was pretty nervous but nonetheless I began knocking on the door as soon as I got there. The head coach was supposed to be rather tall, in his late 40’s, with a mustache, and balding. But the man who answered the door was the exact opposite.
He was rather short and was clean shaven, with a full head of thick black hair. He looked to be in his early twenties and he was incredibly well built. I could already tell he was new and that he would be the talk of the school amongst the girls.
“Can I help you?”
“How did you know?”
“I read minds,” he smiled.
“Really,” I said with questioning amazement.
“No, of course not”, he said chuckling; “I got a note saying you would be stopping by.”
“Yeah, coach told me to come here and give you the forms for track.”
I was talking but it seemed that he wasn’t looking at my but at my eyes. Not like eye contact but staring deep into them. It was about five minutes into the conversation when he cut me off mid sentence.
“You have interesting eyes”
“Your eyes they’re red. Like blood.”
I was worried he’d think I was a freak like everyone else. He smiled a huge smile.
“I like ‘em! It’s like something out of an action movie!”
I smiled wide it was the first time anyone complimented me.
“In fact, he said moving his fingers towards his eyes; they’re just like mine….”
He removed his blue contacts (contacts how could I not notice that!!) to reveal two blood red eyes! I stood there for what seemed like hours wondering how it was that someone else had red eyes just like me.
“You’re probably wondering why we share this same odd trait, he said breaking the silence, and you’re also probably wondering why you were able to run as fast as you were and beat the crud out of those kids…”
He wasn’t at either of those events, I began thinking to myself. How does he know all this?
“Well the reason I know all these things is, one: I can read minds, that’s why I know all this. The answer to the rest of your questions is simple. You and I, Shane, we are vampires!!”
After hearing this I began to laugh, which must have insulted him.
“I’m totally serious,” he said with a stern look.
Just then he made a quick movement and snatched the papers out of my hand and was suddenly behind me….with a knife to my back!
“You need to listen very carefully, he said, because we ARE vampires.”
What else was I to say?
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