Out of breath. Running. Pain in my right leg. Why does this keep happening? I'd just left my house travelling to my school, when I heard footsteps behind me. I turned around but no one was there! So I carried on even though I was sure someone was behind me, breathing on me. I felt a cold wind on the right side of my neck, even though the weather is sunny with no wind. This isn't the first time I've felt like I'm being watched, it always happens. When I'm out; whether I'm at the park or walking home; heading to school-everywhere.
Things just keep getting more and more strange. It's not fun having absolutely no one to turn to. Everyone should have someone that they can go to in need of help or answers but for me, I'm on my own. I always have been, I always will be.
I wish my parents were here to help. I wish they were here just to say, “Hey.” But they're not, they're never here.
Whenever they go away, it's always been on business trips so they say. The longest they've been away before is five months, not ten! It's been ten months since I've seen them, nearly a whole year. They've always travelled but why bring a kid into that?
Some days I start to wonder if I'll ever see them again. I'm not so sure if they really do go away on business trips, or if it's just that they don't care. I haven't seen them, I don't know where they are and it's always my au pair and I at home alone. My au pair is really nice, her name's Vanessa. She's young, tall. Dark skinned, dark brown eyes, black straight hair and in her thirties. She's a friend of my parents actually. I've talked to her about them, she said that they met in school, my mum and Vanessa are best friends.
My legs are still in pain but I manage to arrive at school, feeling a little safer. My foot catches a newspaper, which I pick up to read the front cover stating;
'Bomb Spree continues'
People have been terrorizing London for weeks, but nobody knows who or why. My school is devastated by the news. My school Brooklayne Academy, is one of the hardest schools to get into around my area. You have to get in through either a sports test, or to be gifted and talented in something else. For me, I got in through science. I love science. It's a great subject, realizing how the world is made and how science can affect our everyday life. I just find every part of it amazing; atomic structures, measuring the earth's orbit around the sun, even about the digestive system. I find it all so interesting.
“Look everyone! It's Matt the prat!” I hear his voice mocking me, like he does every day.
Scott Duncan, the toughest most nastiest boy in school, is standing there with his little group of girls and followers, just staring. His look is quite charming. If he got rid of his crap personality then he'd actually be pretty cool. However, with Scott, you either need to be popular or well known for a good reason just to be 'worth his time'. His light blue eyes and dark blonde hair; short on the sides but with a thick fringe covering his forehead, jelled to the side; drives the girls in my school crazy. That doesn't matter to me though, the girls in my school aren't worth my time. In fact, I despise all of them because they believe that to be known as a good person, you have to be popular-which in my opinion, is completely ridiculous! That is why Scott hates me, because I'm just that 'science nerd' or 'freak'. I don't care what anyone here has to say. To be honest I'm only here for my education and because I have to be. My dad came to this school, so I need to do him proud, in all of my subjects. It's the one thing that has actually kept me on track to getting good grades.
I'm debating in my head whether to go over to him, throw a punch, and walk away swiftly...though if I do that I'll be put in isolation again. It's happened before, another reason why Scott hates me most of all. I can handle the everyday taunting that's now become normal, but when someone starts to talk about my parents; spreading rumours that they've left and are never coming back because they don't love me, that's where I draw the line. Scott said those things and...well...as soon as I found out I not only put my fist through a window, but I also put it around Scott's face. The teachers had to break us apart and I got put into isolation for a week, no one even listened to what I had to say!
I hate teachers like that, absolutely hate them. The ones who always put the blame on the people who are at the wrong place at the wrong time, or the person who did the 'crime' but had a good reason for it. I know I shouldn't of acted in that way but I can't deal with people talking about my parents, even I don't like to talk about them.
“Leave me alone Scott! Go back to your ignorance meetings! You and your little posse don't need to ruin my day!” I shout back.
I'm already late to registration so I decide to head over to the science lab early. I love having science first, it always brightens up my day for the hour. The science lab is located at the back of the school, behind the lake. It's not that far to walk, so I slump past the fellow students of my year and try to ignore the sneers they all give me.
I can't wait till I go to an all science college. With just another year to go I'll be done with this place. Science college is going to be different. People there don't bother about whether you're cool or not as they only care about the brains.
“And here comes my star pupil! Please, everybody welcome...Matt Carson!” My teacher Mr. Rontell, is practically the craziest teacher in my entire school.
He's tall and thin with a very defined face where big black glasses sit, matching his black hair. He claps as I enter first into class as usual, with a huge grin beaming from ear to ear. The science lab is big, with Bunsen burners already set out. Looks like we're going to be doing some practical things today. Great!
“How have you're holidays been, Matt?” Mr. Rontell asks.
I'm not quite sure what to say to that, I could go with the 'Yeah, I've been doing great!' or the long reply of 'Ummmmm' or maybe the truth. I've got nothing to hide from Mr. Rontell. If I was in some sort of trouble, I'd turn to him for help.
“Parents haven't been home in ten months now. What a nice life I have.” I sarcastically state.
Mr. Rontell is the only teacher in my school that I've told about my parents being away. Except for the head of years who have to know and the people at the office, he's the one person I can actually talk to about this.
It's funny really, Mr. Rontell is the only teacher who has actually given me a chance. It's not like I'm shy, just depressed. That sets you back a lot. Well, this is a typical fifteen year old life.
“Wouldn't you like to just go out and find them?” Mr. Rontell asks, leaning in a little and holding my gaze.
That thought has crossed my mind every day since they've been away, what if I just ran away to find them?
I probably couldn't do it. I don't know where they are, who they're with or even if they're in the same country as I am right now.
London. It's nice and big and I love it, but it just feels like it's missing something or that I'm missing something about it.
“Actually Sir, that thought has crossed my mind everyday so far. But come on, let's be honest-I wouldn't exactly get very far, they might not even be in this country for all I know.”
Students have started to fill the room, so Mr. Rontell moves away from me and stands in the front of the class. I find my seat and get out my books.
“Can everyone come around to the front of the room please?” Mr. Rontell asks, he must be showing us something, but he has nothing set up.
I slowly tread to the front of my table and sit, but of course no one else sits near me. In fact, I get a few glares from the bitches and bastards in my class. Suddenly a man walks in, through the door like he's been standing there the whole time. He's nicely built and tall, with slick black hair jelled nicely back from his head. He wears thick black glasses to match his bushy eyebrows, so remembering his face would be impossible.
“Everyone. Mr. Richen will be sitting in on this class today. Pay him no attention, just act as you normally would. He's accessing me, not you.”
I've never seen or heard of this teacher before. Who is he?
Taking his briefcase to the back of the class and setting himself out on an empty desk, he readies his notebook and pen.
Mr. Rontell has surprisingly given us book work today, everyone else moans as Scott hands out the books.
“One for you, one for you...” Scott says, going around to every person, except for me. “And, none for you.” He pauses at me and heads back with the books still left in his hand. If I was in my own little world, I'd have Scott locked up in a cage. Forever.
I get up and travel over to the place where Scott dumped the science textbooks, the man sitting in, Mr. Richen nudges me when I reach them.
“Doesn't that make you angry?” He casually asks, staring at me intensively.
“'Course it does. That bastard needs to learn how to shut his mouth.” I realize that I'm saying these things about another pupil in the same class, using these terms of language in front of a teacher. “Oh I'm sorry Sir, we don't talk like that at this school. Uh, Mr. Rontell's a fantastic teacher.” I babble.
“Oh no doubt he is, now get back to your seat.” Mr. Richen instructs. His tone is dark and shady, which matches his dark, piercing eyes and clearly dyed black hair as he takes off his glasses.
“Yes Sir.” I mutter, finding my seat once again and flipping to the page number Mr. Rontell has written on the board. I can't believe I'm going to be spending my hour of supposed happiness working through a book, in my favourite lesson. Damn this sucks. And everyone else sucks too. All except Mr. Rontell, and I suppose Mr. Richen seems all right too.
Ten minutes go by, and Scott's already snogging Michaela's face off, at the back of the class. Michaela his girlfriend, is quite frankly a bitch. She's on the cheer-leading team, the hockey and netball team and she's trying out for the cross-country team. She's gorgeous, even though I hate to admit it. She never used to be cold and mean, about three-years ago, at the start of year seven, she was the most nicest, caring person I've ever met. Me and her used to be really good friends, and then she started to get popular, really popular. Started to join all these clubs and fantasise over boys like Scott. They soon started to date, and now they can't keep their hands off each other, it's so disturbing.
Mr. Richen starts to walk around the tables, going through people's work, and Mr. Rontell is quietly humming at the front, hovering over his desk, like he usually does.
I gaze at the clock and let the minutes tick away.
Tick. Tick. Tick. Tick.
My mind starts to become heavy and I can faintly hear the sound of my heart, I think back to the time when Mum and Dad were last home, after a previous business trip. They were gone for three weeks and it was a surprise to arrive home from school and see Mum cooking some pancakes and Dad on the couch, watching the football.
I was tearing up by the time Mum came to say hi. I hate it when they leave. Vanessa isn't mean or rude, and we get on really well. She's the closest thing I have to a family right now, but she's not my family. Most days I feel like I'm just being baby-sat.
“What's your name son?” I jump as Mr. Richen peeks over my shoulder.
“Matt.” I vaguely answer.
“You like science?” He takes a seat next to me, just another thing that Scott can use to bully me, Matt the prat doesn't have any friends so Mr. Richen has to try and make an effort.
That's what they'll say.
“Yeah, I love it. Only thing I'm good at really.”
“Nah, that's not true. Anyway good work, keep it up son.” Mr. Richen praises.
He slowly wonders away to talk to Mr. Rontell at the front of the class. We've had visitors come to our lessons before, but never someone like Mr. Richen. He seems different, the way he walks and talks and how he kept calling me 'son'. I hate that word. It just points out the involvement of having a father.
Time starts to progress on and on, and I've already finished the work in the book. So I lean my head on the table and shut my eyes, ready to have a quick five-minute snooze. The voices around me are loud but soon enough I manage to block them out until everything is silent. A few pens are thrown at me but I just ignore them and think back to the good memories of Mum and Dad. My mind fades away and soon enough I'm in a vivid nightmare.
I'm back at home, sitting in my room, Mum and Dad burst through the door with presents and arms spread out wide. We're all laughing and Vanessa is holding a bag of flowers in her hands as she passes them over to Mum. They're hugging and smiling and everything seems great, but then we hear an explosion. The floor starts to rumble and then another explosion, and another! By this time I've dropped to the ground and Dad is lying over me, to keep me away from any harm.
“Dad! Dad what just happened?” I cough.
The house has swarmed with black smoke and it seems like the roof on one side of the room has caved in.
I'm waiting for a reply from Dad but I don't hear anything, he's silent.
“Dad?” I speak again, but there is no reply.
“Dad?!” I scream, but the words don't reach his ears.
I slide him off of me and look down at his pale, limp face. His eye is bleeding and blood is running down from his head.
“DAD?!?!” I scream again but there is no reply, so I check for a pulse. I'm desperately searching for a beat, but there is nothing. No pulse. No breath. Nothing.
Then suddenly I hear a shallow moan from the other side of the room, where the ceiling has collapsed. I can faintly see Mum's legs, trapped underneath a mass of wood and rubble.
“Mum!” I scream.
She pulls me close, her hands are fragile and shaking and her face is pale, just like Dad's was. “I love you, son. I love you.” She whispers.
My eye's start to flood with tears, dropping on her colour-less cheeks. “I love you too Mum. Just stay with me okay? I'm gonna get help.” I feel her drop beside me, she's not answering. Her eyes are still, and her head is heavy. “Mum?”
There is no reply.
“MUM!” I scream, only to find myself back in my science class, everyone laughing at me.
“Class dismissed! Get out of my classroom!” Mr. Rontell demands.
I sit there, head on the table, just thinking about how for the next few years of school I'm going to get even more bullied for screaming 'Mum' in front of my science class.
I feel a hand on my shoulder. Mr. Rontell has swayed beside me.
“Nightmares? I used to get them.” He confesses.
“I'm fine.” I state.
“Oh yeah? That your first time having that nightmare?” Mr. Richen croaks.
“No. Not it isn't”
Mr. Rontell takes a stool and sits on the other side of the table whilst Mr. Richen leans on the radiator.
“Is it the same dream each night?” Mr. Rontell wonders.
“Well no. They're always different dreams but in the end of all of them, my parents die.”
Mr. Richen wanders out of the classroom and Mr. Rontell is looking in to my eyes intently. He breaks his gaze and shakes his head a little. “You may go now.”
The rest of the day went smoothly, however all I could think about was Mr. Rontell and Mr. Richen. They were acting so strange. It was almost as if they both knew that I had nightmares and that they knew it was about my parents.
As I walk out to the front of the school, I hear Scott mocking me.
“MUM! MUM PLEASE?!? DON'T LEAVE ME OR I'LL WET THE BED AGAIN!!!” Scott jokes.
“Wet the bed? Stopped that years ago, too bad for you though, right Scott? You'll never stop cracking the mirrors in your house.” I sneer.
Scott leaves his followers and starts to walk up behind me, this isn't going to be good. “What did you just say to me?” He threatens.
I turn around quickly, Scott has puffed out his chest and chin, to look like he's a bigger man. He's got his hand in his pocket, like he's holding something. I turn back around and begin to walk away, but I can hear his footsteps following me.
“You heard me, leave me alone. I'm trying to go home and get out of your way.”
“Oh yeah, get out of my way like your bloody mother and father who wanted you out of their way. But where are they now, Pratty? They're dead. And you ain't never gonna see them again.”
I snap. I turn around fist at the ready, but then I see what Scott has taken out of his pocket. A knife. About four inches long. And he's holding it out towards me.
“Scott. Don't be stupid, that isn't a toy. Put it away.” I urge, but he doesn't listen, he just steps closer.
“Aw, you scared?” He mocks.
Someone behind Scott has rushed past him and accidentally knocked him towards me, he flies forward, still aiming the knife at my chest, I quickly dodge but Scott flies off the pavement and out in to the road ahead. A car hasn't noticed him so it keeps driving, gaining speed. Scott stares at the car in horror as it flies down towards him, only ten metres away now.
“Scott, get out of the road!” Someone shouts but he doesn't get up, the car is too close for him to get up.
I quickly rush out, grab him by his school shirt and throw him back on the pavement, the car's horn fills my ears and for a slight moment I'm almost certain I hear Mum's voice, telling me to get up. I just about manage to dive on to pavement on top of Scott, who is panting on the ground.
Luckily, no teachers are around to have seen that, I get off of Scott and stare down at him.
“Next time, I'll get a 'Thank you'.”
I arrive back home and Vanessa greets me with hot chocolate.
“So, how was school?” She asks, as I dump my bag down on the couch.
“Same old shit.” I reply.
I don't dare think about telling Vanessa about nearly getting in to a fight with Scott. She hates him. Like I said, Vanessa is quite young, or looks young for her age and Scott, he can be forward with older woman. At open evening, last year, he tried to make out with Vanessa, right in front of me and Michaela. Vanessa quickly turned away from him before Scott could press his lips on hers, and Michaela, well, she went ballistic. Started shouting at him in front of the parents and students. It was a little funny to see Michaela so embarrassed, Scott just standing there gawking at her, and Vanessa looking at him like he's a little kid who just wet himself.
If I told Vanessa about Scott, she'd be straight down to the principals office, especially since he had a knife.
“I think I'm gonna go park, space out for a bit.” I tell her.
“Be back before six!” She calls out to me, before I shut the door.
Scott pisses me off, why does he have to get in my head? I haven't even done anything to him, he just picks on me because he's a bully. I can't stop thinking about that dream in class. When my parents died, but I should be used to it by now, it happens every night, but different scenario's. One night, they drown. Another they die in a fire or maybe in another someone shoots them. Either way, they die.
I sit quietly on a park bench, shaded by a tree, when I feel like I'm being watched. The hairs on the back of my neck stand up and I suddenly feel nervous.
Should I run or just wait here?
I decide to stay at the park bench because every other time when I've heard footsteps or felt like someone's been watching me, I've ran. But not this time, if someone is following me, then why shouldn't I let them for a change? I can see what these bastards want then.
The park is filled with children and parents but at the bench where I am sitting, I am distant from them. My eyes scan the park to look for anyone staring at me, even a figure but I see nothing.
I was about to leave when I saw him.
A figure in the distance, leaning on a tree just staring at me.
For a minute I don't know what to do, whether to stare him out or not. Who is he?
I knew I wasn't wrong about people following me, I knew it. My phone starts to ring and as I check the time I'm not surprised that Vanessa is calling me, ready to ask me where I am. It's gone past six, nearly half past. Time must have gotten away from me whilst being here. I look back over to the tree, but the man has disappeared.
“Matt? Matt? Are you listening?” Vanessa speaks on the other end of the phone.
“Uhhh...Yeah. Yeah sorry, time got ahead of me. I'm on my way home now.”
When I reach home and walk through the door, Vanessa has dinner set up at the table already but I can't eat. I'm not hungry so I refuse her meal and travel straight to bed. I'm being stalked, and it's making me wonder why?
At half past nine at night my phone starts to vibrate. I barely ever get calls to my mobile, I have no friends so who would call me? The number says 'Unknown' and I quickly think back to the park, and this morning. Always feeling like I'm being watched. My hands shake a little as I press the cell phone to my ear.
“Uhh...Hello?” I stutter into the phone, waiting for a reply.
I can hear someone's shallow breath, as they listen to my voice.
“Matt. You don't know me,” The voice begins, “But I know you, and you're in danger.”
What danger could I possibly be in? Of all people me, I'm of no use to the world, why would anyone apart from Scott want to be a danger to me?
“What are you talking about?” I question, slightly worried.
“I know how you feel. I can see in to your brain. You need to tell Vanessa about these people you feel are watching you.” The mysterious voice breathes.
The thought has occurred to me that this is most probably a scam. Probably Scott or one of his mates trying to pull a prank on me, just so they can have another good laugh at me, so that they can post this call around the school and the whole school can laugh at me for it. Maybe even the teachers.
“Ha ha, very funny. Who is this? Go find something useful to do with your life please, instead of annoying me.” I blatantly urge.
“I knew you'd think this a joke. Please talk to Vanessa. Just, be on guard for the next week, please. For your own safety...and Vanessa's.” The voice cuts off, and I am left thinking about those last words.
Why should I tell Vanessa?
It's probably nothing, I bet it's just my mind being self-conscious of itself. I don't want Vanessa to worry about me, there is nothing to worry about. I'm not telling her, and I bet that was Scott. It didn't sound like him, but it was probably one of his mates. I hate them, and I hate my school and I hate my life. I flick the television on by remote on the crime watch side, and slowly let my thoughts consume me until my mind is resting.
I don't remember falling asleep, but it's gone past midnight and I've been woken up by the sound of floor boards creaking, getting louder, closer to my room. Vanessa isn't normally up this late.
My breath starts to get faster, as I start to panic. I'm hardly in appropriate wear, being shirtless with tacky, grey pyjama bottoms. My room is pitch black but the air feels colder, the creaking of the floor boards are getting louder, and my door slowly creaks open. I can only see a figure in the doorway slightly, but as my door shuts behind the figure that has just stepped inside my room, I shiver. Slowly reaching out for the baseball bat kept beside my bed..
“Who's there?” I ask, nervously.
No reply. The figure steps closer, so close that I can hear his shady breath and see the balaclava that he wears. “Vanessa!” I shout, out of panic, swinging for the intruders head, but he dodges.
The next thing I know, the figure has grabbed me and has put something over my head, so I can't see a thing. At first I start to freak out but then I feel a quick stabbing in the top half of my right arm, and slowly I start to black out.