An excerpt chapter from my debut novel Loading: Life. Please Enjoy.
LUNCH was almost over when Hero stepped into the classroom. No teacher in sight. Only a few students reading their tablets or chewing on the last of their food.
He walked up the platform steps to his spot in the back of the auditorium-style classroom as the glares bore into him. Though none of his classmates said anything, he knew they were cursing him. His existence ruined their day. They could suck it for all he cared.
He sat down in the top row. He swung back and forth in the chair, which was attached to the long, curved table at its base. He swung one way and propped his feet up on the other chair beside him. Hunched down, he closed his eyes and tried to block out everything around him.
While the sun shone down through the giant windows behind him, Hero thought of how he would sneak out before last period. He knew Caz would not come here directly, but that didn’t mean he wanted to stay here more than he had to. All he had to do was slip away and hide his stash before–
A glob of slime smacked into his face, jarring him out of his thoughts. He peeled off a gooey fish from his cheek.
“Kissing a fish, eh? That’s seriously weird. Even for you!”
The students roared with laughter. He glared down at Gari, who had one of his hands up in a peace sign, an orange glow encasing the two fingers. Hero eyed the lunch box that was opened on the teen’s desk.
“It goes well with your uniform. Well, if you can call that torn mess a uniform.”
“What? Can’t take a little joke?” Gari flashed a grin twice as big as his own face. “Or is it that you can’t fight back?”
Hero stood, clawing the table before he jumped on it. He wasn’t going to let that jerk get away again.
He charged at Gari, jumping from one table to another, his fist ready to punch the idiot right in the face. He was a table away when a large gust of wind threw him back against the windows. Laughter turned to cheers.
Hero slumped down from the thick glass, the cracks already filling back up. A great shadow fell over him. He looked up to see Samson hovering over him, wind swirling around both of them. Swirling blue eyes peered down at Hero.
“Don’t cause a ruckus in here.” Samson’s low voice sent involuntary shivers down Hero’s spine.
“And what are you gonna do about it?” Hero couldn’t help but grin. He was shaking, but he was getting excited.
Samson inhaled deeply, dark muscles bulging. Hero tensed. The teen shot whirlwinds right down at him, the excess shaking the windows and rattling the tables and chairs.
Hero didn’t feel any of it, though. He looked up to see a bluish crystallized shield hovering above him. He peeked behind Samson to see a small shadow jump up and kick the other in the back of the head. Samson stopped his attack, turning to meet another shield that pushed him across the back of the classroom.
Hero looked up at Reut, the boy’s face still buried in his blue hoodie, only two electric blue orbs visible.
“Don’t you think you’re taking this a little too far, Sammy?” Reut kept his palm opened towards the larger student, forcing his shield against the other, his stamina bar a light red.
“Stay out of this.” Samson sucked in more air and pushed his bulged up arms against the shield, the stamina bar above his head shifting back and forth.
“Or what? You’re going to attack me?” Reut snorted. “Like you could.”
The shield around Hero dissipated, allowing him to stand up. He grinned down at Reut. “Nice to see ya’.”
“Not now.” The teen’s stamina bar sparked a fierce blue. “Trying to concentrate–”
Another fish flew, smacking Reut in the head. The two turned, seeing Gari take aim.
Pencils flew through the air like bullets. Reut jumped in front of Hero, moving his shield away from Samson and in front of them. The pencils bounced off.
“Samson could crush you, midget! You have nothing on him!” Gari grabbed some pens.
“At least I don’t need to pay someone to fight my battles, Girly.” Reut spun his shield around, stopping Samson’s wind from hitting him and Hero.
“Your ears not working today?”
Gari ran up, pens glowing orange between his fingers. He threw the knife-sharp objects, aiming for Reut’s side. Hero shot his arm out in front of Reut. Pens pierced through skin.
“An idiot for a friend!” Gari searched around for something else to throw.
“Better than a pig like you!” Reut held his ground as Samson pounded away at his shield.
“You think just because your defense is high, you can play around with us big boys?”
“You’re the ones playing around. I’m just making sure you don’t destroy our classroom. Unlike you, I don’t like living in a pigsty.”
“That coming from a slop-eater like you!” Gari yelled, hurling a handful of paper clips.
Reut expanded his shield over him and Hero, one-half taking the abuse from Samson’s pounding to stop the projectiles.
The shield was cracking. Reut hissed.
Samson was breaking through.
“What in the world is going on in here?!”
The students froze. Wind died down. The shield faded away. Projectiles fell limp on the floor. All four boys stiffly turned their heads towards Kirk, whose face was beet red. If the man had control over fire, Hero knew he would see steam shooting out of his ears right then.
“You students do understand the no fighting rule, do you not? How dare you turn my classroom into a cage match!”
Gari scrambled to his feet. “But, sir, it wasn’t me! Hero and Reut attacked us when we were only studying. We were just trying to defend ourselves.”
Kirk crossed his arms. “I’m sure they did. Though why would Samson be on the attack, then?” He nodded to Samson’s stamina bar that had popped up earlier. “Why is it red if he was defending himself? Or have you forgotten it’s supposed to be blue?”
Hero stifled a laugh.
Kirk glared up at him. Hero hid his arm behind his back.
“Enough. I want all of you to clean this classroom back up. Wind-blown papers, slimy fish and all. Class will start in ten minutes.”
As the teacher left, the students melted in relief, health and stamina bars disappearing.
Reut scooted away from Samson, who walked down to pick up some of Gari’s school supplies.
“Thanks, man.” Hero peeled off the fish that had slipped down Reut’s hoodie.
“No problem. Just coming to get my book when I saw you about to face your doom.”
“I was perfectly capable of taking him on.” He grinned.
“Sure you were.” Reut pulled off his hoodie, his black school jacket trying to come off with it. Some of his blue hair stuck to his cheek. He tried to wipe off the slime but just pulled his hand back in disgust. “Could we go wash up before class starts? This is kind of gross.”
“What? Don’t like fish?” Hero picked up the other one that had hit him, grabbing his inventory from the table.
They walked down the steps, Hero throwing Gari’s food back into his lunch box.
“Hope you like idiot-covered, floor-battered filet.”
Gari sneered at him, Samson holding him back from attacking again.
Hero stuck out his tongue before leaving the room behind Reut.
“So how did you know I was in trouble this time? You weren’t even in the room when Gari started fighting.”
Reut shrugged. “Like I said, I was retrieving my book. Happened to see you getting owned and decided to step in.”
“I was not getting owned! Just trying to decide whether I should give Samson the old one-two, or release my secret weapon on him!”
“A secret one of course. Can’t go telling people what it is if it’s a secret.”
“No offense, but you’re stupid.”
Hero pouted, making Reut laugh. “Dude. Not cool.”
The small smile slipped off of Reut’s face, the boy eyeing the pens still embedded in his skin. “Just be careful, okay? You only have your fists to protect you.”
“What? Not gonna count my brains?”
“You have brains?”
“Just don’t get yourself killed. Or else I won’t have anyone to talk to.”
“Yeesh. Getting the same lecture from my friend that I got from my teacher this morning? My life must be pathetic.”
“Yeah. I was doing some errands and was chased by Mr. Sadist, then caught by the captain.”
“Sadist? You mean Caz?”
“What’d you do now?”
“Who says it’s my fault?”
“It usually is.”
“You got me there.”
The two entered the boys’ restroom. As the door slid shut, Hero looked under the stalls to make sure no one was in there.
Satisfied, he began cleaning the slime off at the sink, Reut by his side doing the same.
“Wish we had some paper towels in here,” he grumbled, pulling the pens from his arm.
“I’m sure Kirkland could heal that easily.”
“I’ve been his patient once today,” he said, grabbing some toilet paper and wrapping it around his arm. “Besides, I heal quickly. It’ll be good as new by the end of the day.”
Reut stuck his hood under the water, wiping away the rest of the slime. “So why was Caz chasing you?”
“I didn’t get caught.”
Hero wiped his hands on his pants, before lifting up his bag. “He was after me because of this.” He tapped the side twice before a keypad hologram popped up. He typed in the code and let it open, showing Reut its contents.
Reut’s eyes shot up. “Why’d you bring them to school? If a teacher catches you–”
“They won’t.” Hero closed the bag, locking it. “Kirk got to me before I could dump them off.”
“But that type of drug . . . how’d you get past the security gates?”
“He dragged me through the teachers’ entrance on the side.”
“You dodged a bullet there.”
“You going to sell them off or keep them?” Reut turned back to his hoodie, wringing it out the best he could.
“I’m gonna go by Thompson’s tomorrow. Got a buyer named Mib wanting them. But I’ll need to hide them tonight. Just in case they do a dorm check.”
“Going to the apartments then?”
“You know it. Want to come with?”
“I guess.” Reut put his hoodie back on. “Someone needs to make sure you stay out of trouble.”
Bells chimed throughout the halls.
“Man, I hate that music. Why can’t they just have a buzzer like other schools?” Hero followed Reut out into the bustling hall.
“That wouldn’t be proper, though.”
“By the way, did something happen at home again?”
“We’ll be late for class if you keep on wasting energy on talking.”
“Like you even care about class.”
“More than you do.”
“Got that right.” Hero followed Reut through the crowds, holding his inventory tightly to his side.
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(c) E.N. Chaffin. 2017. All rights reserved.
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