Tony peeled the rotten banana skin off his arm while pieces of unidentifiable litter trailed behind him as he stumbled towards the school building. Billy and his asshole friends had dumped him in the dumpster for the third time this week alone. People began to stare and whisper among themselves as Tony neared the school entrance. Someone shouted some profanity towards him along with something about chewing gum being for your mouth. Tony felt it like glue in his hair as he started to pull long pink threads of the sticky stuff out. His mum kept his brown hair so short he didn’t think it was even possible the gum could have gotten stuck but it held tight.
“Again?” Sam asked as Tony slumped next to him at the cafeteria table, clanking his metal tray onto the table. He didn’t feel like eating after his nose was filled with such stench, knowing he too probably smelled like that now.
“Screw those guys.” Tony said pathetically, embarrassment burning his ears.
“Dude, at least its Friday. Let’s meet at the lake tomorrow.” His friend said to him, trying to change the subject. Sam knew there was no point in telling the teachers, they had the first time it happened at the beginning of the school year and it had landed them both drinking toilet water as those dickheads held their faces under, flushing as they went. Nothing changed so they just kept their noses down and tried to be invisible. For some reason, since Billy and his buddies were grade six, and Tony and Sam were only grade five, they thought they were so much better than them and could treat them as personal punching bags.
The bell rang indicating the end of lunch and the beginning of last period. Tony stalked to class, wishing no one would pay him any attention or worse, actually smell him. Some children that sat behind him in class snickered as they pointed at the yogurt lid stuck to his back. Tony wished this day to be over but Sam had one thing right, at least it was Friday.
It rained hard as he walked home, Tony didn’t care as his book bag soaked through, probably damaging everything inside. His thin coat did nothing in protecting him and streams of cold water rolled down his body. Suddenly his foot was totally engulfed in water as he walked straight into a puddle. The icing on the cake to this terrible day. His key for the house was also wet and slipped out of his hands as he pulled it out of his pocket. He jammed the key in the door after picking it up and entered the house. He swung his bag off and hung it by the door on the hat rack, letting it drip onto the carpet thinking he would deal with that later. He locked the door behind him, double checking it. Tony hung up his coat next to his backpack and went to his room looking to dry off and get in some warm clothes. He discarded his stinking clothes in the laundry, finding some broken potato chips crumbled up in his socks. He swore at Billy and those mutts that he hangs around with and went to shower the smell away.
His mum and dad both worked evenings and his older sister was always out on Friday nights partying. Totally used to being alone, Tony went to the kitchen. He chose to have some sugary cereal rather than whatever his mum had left him in the fridge with a note with a smiley face on top. Tony felt fresh, warm in his pajamas, he sat on the weathered couch in front of the TV set. He toyed with the remote to bring the screen to life and flicked through the channels. He found a movie with crazy looking zombies stumbling around as he started to shovel cereal into his mouth.
The rain fell outside and wind roared loudly past, making nearby trees groan and creak as they bent. He covered his legs with the one and only blanket his mum had knitted after discovering her brand new ‘hobby’ which she has had no time for since. The lights flickered momentarily and the images of people running from zombies faltered. The weather must be causing outages, he thought as the whole house suddenly lost power. He went to find a candle to light, trying to swallow the fear bubbling up his throat from being totally alone in the dark.
“Crap” Tony said as he tripped, trying to move towards the cupboard with the candles. He ditched his bowl and tried to find his sense of location within the room when static filled the television screen. The houses power still appearing to be totally out. The lump of fear threatened to overtake Tony but he pushed it down again as he thought the TV might have a slightly different source of power, he didn’t understand those things. The noise of the static filled his ears as he stood quietly watching. His heart picked up the pace as he stood there frozen from what he was seeing. A hand made of total blackness appeared on the screen, still contained within the box but seemed to be reaching forward from within. Static noise rained down around the shadow hand as it loomed closer and closer to the screen. Another hand joined the first, seemingly unable to penetrate the glass. More and more shadow hands came forward, starting from far back and slithering forward like snakes, threatening to grasp whatever may lay in their wake. More hands than static now, they started to press against the glass of the TV. They squirmed together, pulsing and pressing into the screen. The glass started to bulge as Tony stood frozen in fear, mouth agape unable to make a sound.
Tony came to his senses and leapt onto the couch, throwing his mum’s knitted blanket over his head and pulled his arms and legs in tight as he could to his shaking body. He pressed himself hard into the couch, wishing he could disappear as he clutched the soft blanket. Tony heard a crack, a crunch, and then the sound of shattered glass littering the floor. Too terrified to look, he shut his eyes tight expecting to feel those shadow hands on him any moment.
Moments passed and light filtered in from above. Tony heard the groans and growls of zombies muttering about brains. His heart racing faster than it ever had, Tony pulled the blanket down passed his face, only peeking out slightly. The power had returned. He looked to the television expecting glass all over the carpeted floor but instead he saw an intact screen and odd-looking zombies chasing innocent people. What the hell had happened. He was totally alone in the room. The lights had returned and he willed his legs to move to get some candles out in case it happened again but instead slumped back against the couch. He laughed nervously as a zombie plucked the eye of a screaming woman in the movie. Tony grabbed the remote and changed the channel to infomercials, thinking his dad may have been right about all this rubbish TV getting to him.
Tony thought to ring Sam on the landline, to break the feeling of loneliness. He rocked forward ready to make for the one and only phone in the house when a spring loudly sprung within the couch. He didn’t realize how hard he had been pressing his body into it, Tony thought. He laughed again as his heart pulsed harder, trying to shake the feeling of his hair standing on end. That’s when he felt something shift below him, from within the couch. Something pushing upwards from under him.
Tony shot up, heart thumping in his ears. He quickly spun 180 degrees so he was facing towards the couch as he saw the cushion rise and fall only slightly. Again, Tony was frozen, flight or fight filled his being as adrenaline pumped in his veins but he did not move. The couch creaked and groaned from within. Each time it moved, rising and falling, seemed like it was breathing. The fabric of the arm rest came to a point at the seam. Snap… Snap… Snap, snap, snap. Slowly each seam split open, as a large talon emerged. Quicker now, the snapping seams opened three feet wide along the arm of the couch.
Tony’s eyes filled with tears as he willed his legs to carry him anywhere but where he currently stood. A scaly blackened green finger appeared, attached to the long sharp talon. A hand as large as a dinner plate followed, scales shining in the light. The hand soon extended into a large, armored arm, covered in scales so thick they clinked as it moved. Broad shoulders emerged next, heavy with spikes which clanked together as they tore through the remaining fabric of the couch arm. Finally, a large reptilian head popped out with bright yellow eyes which were immediately trained onto poor Tony. He stood there weeping as the creature pulled its long, thick legs out from the couch and moved towards him, clacking its claws and scales as it moved. Lastly, a long tail whipped out which appeared totally mismatched to the rest of the creature. The tail was smooth and scaly but it was flexible and moved fluidly, swinging back and forth like a cats.
With a snap, that long tail was around Tony’s torso and chest, wrapped around him tightly like a python. He gasped for air, only able to take small shallow breaths as that thing squeezed. It picked Tony totally up off the ground, hanging him midair as it lumbered towards him, yellow eyes glaring without blinking. Four thin sharp teeth emerged from its grinning mouth, just like snake fangs. Anxiety overwhelming Tony as he couldn’t get enough air in his lungs. Tony expected to see a snake tongue slither out but instead he was met with the sight of a scorpion style stinger sliding out from between its sharp fangs. The stinger was the size of a football and looked like it would easily crush somebodies head in between the spikes. The tail slithered tightly around him as he tried to kick his legs out but he didn’t budge.
The individual stingers on the tongue were shiny and sharp. Tony saw beads of liquid form at the tips of the stingers, which he thought to be venom. Sharp pain shouted from his neck and he tried to scream but had no air left in him to make any noise. The stringers dug deep, one point on either side of his throat. He felt warm liquid drip down from the stingers bites and tunnels began to enclose around his vision. Blackness claimed Tony as he passed out.
“Hey champ, pancakes are ready!” Tony heard his dad calling from the kitchen.
“Huh? What happened last night…” Tony groaned as he sat up in the comfort of his own bed. He felt cold sweat was soaked into his pillow. Was it all just a dream? He was stiff and sore as he touched his neck, it didn’t feel any different than usual other than feeling a bit cold.
“I’ll be out soon.” He called down to his parents as they waited for him to join them for breakfast before meeting Sam by the lake.
Tony stumbled to the bathroom and suddenly felt sickness rising through him as he leaned over the toilet and vomited violently. Groaning, he moved to the sick and washed the sick off his chin. Flashing yellow eyes caught him in the reflection before changing to their usual brown. He leaned closer to the mirror, seeing what he considered basically healed “bee stings” on either side of his neck. He rubbed them lightly noticing the bumps were a lot colder than the rest of his skin. While rubbing the healed bumps, he noticed his finger nails in the reflection. He pulled his hands to his face and saw blackening nail beds and his nails had formed a slight sharp spike as if they had been filed to a point. He tentatively stuck out his tongue but saw his own, soft pink tongue poking out at him. A weird feeling flushed through him and he wriggled his tongue left to right. He then noticed it splitting an about an inch down the middle. Tiny spikes broke the skin of each half of his tongue, shining brightly in the reflection as he moved his tongue around. He shook his head hard which made his tongue snap back together, stingers totally unnoticeable.
Monday morning came and Tony strutted confidently into the school.
“Haha, look at this boys.” Billy said to his friends as Tony walked past.
“Someone wants to go dumpster diving early this week!” Billy laughed as they circled like sharks. They grabbed Tony, one limb each. Tony pretended to beg and struggle against his attackers.
Once they were out the back of the school, alone by the dumpsters, Tony let his eyes shift to yellow. He used an elongated claw to slice Billy’s arm which was holding his wrist tightly. Billy shouted as blood dripped onto the ground. They all dropped Tony who quickly and effortlessly landed on his feet. He had spent the weekend practicing hiding his new super powers and in doing so learnt to control the change back and forth. His nails grew into small claws and scales formed around his nail beds. Not as impressive as the one who gifted these traits to Tony had been, but at least easy to hide when he needed to. The dickhead bullies all scattered around him, unable to hide the fear and uncertainty on their faces as they saw Tony. Billy shouted out for help from his friends who dared not move in case they met the same fate.
Tony exposed his tongue, letting each loser see what they could be facing.
“Are you scared?” Hissed Tony as he pointed a claw towards Billys pants which were quickly soaking in urine as he shook. None of the bullies made a peep.
“Go. If you tell anyone what you have seen, I’ll remind you what I can do. If you dare throw me in here again,” Tony pointed to the dumpster, “I’ll finish the job.”
The bullies scuttled off as fast as they could while Tony laughed behind them. Tony shook it out and returned to himself, fixing his hair and tidying his clothes before heading to class.
Tony sat down next to Sam for first period and started unloading his books.
“You look different today… Like you’re glowing? Dude that sounds so weird to say but I can’t think of another word for it.”
“Let’s just say those bullies won’t be bothering us again.” Tony winked a yellow eye at Sam as they smiled together.
Credit : Amelie Morris
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