Ethan hid in a dark doorway, panting, while he considered his options.
No way Caulb and his felons in training would give up once they figured out he
outsmarted them. Shouts echoing in the cavernous hallway alerted him. Danger
was closer than he’d thought. Great. Weren’t schools supposed to be crawling with
staff members looking out for the welfare of the students? Yeah, right. Too bad,
he’d left his cell phone in Leah’s car. Not that it would have done him much good
since the school used a dampener to keep students from texting in class.
If high schools were a theme park, then tenth grade was the roller coaster. It
started uneventfully. The most stressful part had been fending off all the helpful
staff members, who wanted to redirect him to the middle school, assuming, since
he was shorter than a good portion of the girls, he wasn’t old enough for high
The voices veered off to the left, down the science corridor. A window of
opportunity opened up. Ethan shot up the hallway to the gym, where the wrestling
team practiced earlier. His father had nagged him to try out for the wrestling team.
Even the coach asked him to give it a go, because they needed someone in his
weight class. Most of his matches would forfeit due to not having anyone in his
class or he’d end up wrestling a girl, the coach said. No thanks. He already had
enough things to be teased about.
The dimly lit hallway stretched as if it were endless. Maybe this was a
dream and he’d wake up soon. Caulb’s voice filtered down the hallway. His bass
timber was menacing enough without the eerie quality of it bouncing off the
metal lockers and taking on an almost mechanical quality. Caulb was a deadly
droid, on the mission of annihilating anyone who didn’t conform to his standards.
Unfortunately, no tip sheet existed to specify what his standards were. All Ethan
knew was, he didn’t meet them.
The gym doors came into view. Sanctuary. He swung the door open with
a gasp, unsure what he was going to say. All he had to do was stick close to the
coach. Maybe he could say he needed to use the phone to call home. His eyes
darted around the empty gym. Where was everyone? An image of the wrestlers in
their spandex suits came to mind. They were dressed in their team apparel when
he’d seen them earlier, which meant they were probably at an away meet, and why
no one was in the gym. The lights illuminated the wooden floor and abandoned
He took a few steps into the gym, stopped, and turned slowly, seeing no
sign of following bullies, or an almost friend who stabbed him in the back. His lips
pulled down into a frown, remembering the different expectations he’d had for the
night, much different.