Dexter got up and sat by the side of his bed, burying his face in his hands while the alarm continued to blare on the bedside table. The sun was already up and shining through the window adjacent to his bed.
“Alarm off,” he grumbled with a hoarse voice and the blaring stopped.
He pushed himself out of bed and shuffled across the square room to the bathroom on the opposite side with a raging erection underneath his loose blue boxers.
The rectangle bathroom was smaller than the one near the kitchen. To the right was the shower area with a simple shower head connected to a cheap looking water heater. There was no cubicle or even a screen except for the slanted floor to ensure water flows towards the drain. If not for that slanted floor, his bedroom would flood every time he took a shower. To the left was a circular sink with the rectangular medicine cabinet nailed to the wall above. Beside the sink and below the only window was the toilet bowl that looked like it hadn’t been cleaned in years. The flush mechanism wasn’t even working properly half the time.
He tried urinating into the toilet bowl but with that erection his urine landed everywhere except the toilet bowl. He sighed heavily, I hate puberty. He masturbated until he reached orgasm. He didn’t even bother to clean up the mess. As soon as the erection subsided, he emptied his bladder. He tried the flushing mechanism and was surprised it worked this time.
He went over to the sink and studied himself in the mirror. He had a mop of brown hair that hadn’t been trimmed in more than two months. It was in a complete mess and was covering a quarter of his face. That hair made his oval-shaped face look small. He moved some of the hair away from his face to reveal two fresh cuts above his right eyebrow though the bleeding has since stopped. Unlike his friends of his age, he still looked like a young boy but had brown eyes that were too tired to open fully. There were a few fresh and old bruises all over his naked, narrow shoulders, and untoned chest.
He rinsed his mouth with some water from his filled cup and drank the rest before making his way out of his bedroom to the living room where he found his mom, Hayley, sleeping on the couch. He went over and was careful not to step on any of the empty bottles on the ground. He pulled the blanket that was around her waist up to her chest, making sure she’s well covered. The autumn had been particularly cold this time, he didn’t want his mom to fall ill.
He made his way to the kitchen and thought he had just stepped into the kitchen of an old abandoned house from those twentieth century horror movies. The only light in the kitchen, nailed to the ceiling above the dinning table, was flickering. The smell was unbearable. The dishes from yesterday’s dinner were still in the sink undone. There were food scraps on the table with flies everywhere.
A growling sound made Dexter realised just how hungry he was but he couldn’t bring himself to eat breakfast in such a mess. With two and a half hours to spare before he needs to go to school, he went about doing up the dishes and cleaned the table. It took him more than an hour to finish cleaning up and restore the kitchen to a bare usable state.
He searched the cabinets for something to eat and found a box of pre-made pancakes. He found a bottle of maple syrup, a bottle of milk past its expiry date but drinkable, and an egg too. He fired up the stove and dropped two slices of pancakes in. Once those were done and set aside, he made himself a sunny side-up egg.
He spent the next few minutes finishing up his breakfast before cleaning up the kitchen again. He was on the way back to his room to get ready for school when he saw his mom up and about.
“Morning mom,” Dexter greeted with a smile.
His mom hugged him and kissed him on the cheek, “Morning baby.”
Being so close to his mom, Dexter could smell the alcohol in her breath but he had since gotten used to it. He returned the kiss and wriggled out of his mom’s embrace.
“I’m late for school.”
“Go,” his mom playfully slapped his butt as he went. The moment she stepped into the kitchen, tears of joy rolled down her face. Despite all they have been through, her son was still very diligent when it comes to helping around the house. That was heartwarming. It inspired her to clean up those empty bottles around the couch and on the coffee table. She even tidy up the couch.
Dexter had a quick shower. He put on a pair of blue skinny jeans, a white t-shirt, and a wind-proof jacket to shield him from the cold. He also took the chance to comb his hair to achieve some level of tidiness. He took his backpack containing just a tablet computer and a water bottle for school, and left the house after bidding his mom goodbye. He would spend the next fifteen minutes to walk to the bus stop where he would get on a public bus for a ten minutes ride to school.
The moment he walked through those grey double doors, students loitering in the hallway turned their heads to look at him. Those who liked him nodded their heads to acknowledge his presence or greet him as he walked past them. Even those who hated him to the core couldn’t ignore that air of confidence he seemed to emit everywhere he went. Instead of greeting him or acknowledging him, they used it to their advantage and avoided him like plague.
He was the school’s star basketball player, capable of playing both defense and offense equally well. His legendary skill with three-pointer had helped the school win multiple championships against other schools or turn the tide around if the school team was losing. He was also equally good with mathematics and physics.
Not only he had the skills, he was good looking. He was one of the taller students around at six feet four inches with broad shoulders and well-toned body, all from the training he underwent as part of the basketball team. He had a head-turning oblong face that was part-adult and part-teenager with olive skin, which scarcely need shaving. His blue eyes and well-maintained blonde crew-cut hair greatly enhanced his already good looks. The guys aspired to be him and the girls loved him.
Shane was everything the academia type in school wasn’t that made them jealous. His family was also rich. His parents had been donating millions to the school every year since he joined the school to ensure their son got the best. However, some wondered why Shane didn’t go to a boarding or private school since his family could very well afford the school fees but never quite questioned him about it. As the bulk of the salaries for school’s management team and teachers relied on that donation, they gave him special treatments and attentions that made other less well-off people resent him even more.
While he was mingling with students in the hallway, Shane saw the back of one scrawny student making his way to class in a hurried manner. He knew right away who that was.
The student was in tenth grade, kept mostly to himself, had no disciplinary issues, and didn’t have many friends. According to classmates in the same class, he’s really smart, scoring ‘A’ no matter the subject.
“I’ll be right back,” Shane told the students whom had gathered around him. He jogged over to the student and slapped his right hand on the student’s right shoulder causing him to grimace in pain, “Hey Dexter.”
Dexter knew who that was. He swallowed a lump of saliva and slowly turned around, “Shane.” There was just no way he could go anywhere as Shane was so much stronger and faster. Not to mention Shane was at least three-quarter of a foot taller.
“Where do you think you are going?” Shane placed both his hands on Dexter’s shoulder to stop him from running away.
“Class,” Dexter whispered.
“It doesn’t start until I say so,” Shane tightened his grip around Dexter’s shoulders until they hurt.
“You are hurting me,” Dexter whined.
Shane leaned closer, so close that Dexter could hear his breathing, and whispered, “I won’t stop until you give me what I want.”
“I don’t have any now. I will get it by today. Please just let me go,” Dexter pleaded. The school bell rang a moment later as though on cue.
The students started making their way to class. Shane smirked, “Saved by the bell.” He let go of Dexter and walked around him. Just when Dexter thought it was over, Shane took the chance to shove him to the ground, “Oops, sorry.”
He walked away laughing. The rest his friends joined up and ignored Dexter. The other students were equally nonchalant about the whole situation and went on their way to class.
As Dexter was skinnier than most, he didn’t have much flesh in his butt to absorb the impact, allowing his pelvis to take brunt of it. He yelped. Tears start forming along the edge of his eyelids and he wiped them away. No one even bothered to help him up. Soon, he was all by himself. He waited until the pain subsided before getting up but even that was hard. He tried to walk only to fall again onto his knees and hurt equally much. But he didn’t give up. He tried to get up again and when he did, someone came to his side to support him.
He tilted his head to see who it was and recognized her immediately. “Mrs. Don,” he mumbled.
“Can you walk?” she asked with a frown that indicated concern.
Dexter put a foot out then the next, “I can try.” He tried to hide the fact that every action sent searing pain up his back. He bore with the pain in silence.
It took fifteen long minutes before they arrived at the infirmary, located on the first floor of the school at the northeast corner. She led him to one of the benches and helped him sit before getting the doctor.
Due to the generous donation by Shane’s parents, the infirmary was as advanced as any other private clinics outside. It had a wide variety of medical equipment that could allow the doctor to perform even minor surgeries. A recent renovation saw it expanding its patient wing to have sufficient bed for eight people.
Mrs. Don came out from the consultation room with the doctor and nurse trailing behind. Dexter tried to stand up but his legs decided to give way and he fell back down on the bench, causing him to cry out in pain.
Upon seeing how badly injured Dexter was, the doctor and nurse rushed over to help him up into the consultation room and had him lay on his stomach on the bed.
“What happened to you, kid?” the doctor asked. He was Doctor Steward, the school’s resident doctor who spent the last fifteen years taking care of the students. He treated all their ailments ranging from minor cuts to fractures. He also offered counseling services for students who had too much going on.
“I was clumsy and fell,” Dexter offered weakly.
“I see,” Steward looked at Mrs. Don who could only shrugged. They both knew the truth but didn’t really have the power to do anything. “I will take a look now to see how badly hurt you are, ok?”
Dexter gave a meek nod and buried his face in the pillow while Mrs. Don stepped out of the examination room and waited outside.
“Could you lower your pants?”
“Not really… it’s too painful for me to move. Can you help me with that?”
Steward slid off Dexter’s pants and underwear together in a slow, deliberate manner, not wanting to exacerbate the injury but it didn’t stop the kid from whimpering in the process. It was that painful. Steward, having kids of his own, felt an aching sensation in his chest.
The lower half of Dexter’s body was almost bony with parts of the pelvis visible through the skin. There were bruises all over his inner thighs and both butt cheeks were blue-blackish. A light press with the finger caused him to cry out.
Steward looked at his nurse who looked back. Both of them knew what each other were thinking.
“Dexter, is there anything you want to tell us?” Steward asked.
Dexter’s face remained buried in the pillow, “No. Why?”
“There are some bruises here that don’t look like you got them from a fall. We just had to make sure of the facts.”
“I do skate from time to time.” Dexter had lied so many times to people around him until it was natural for him and most people would take him at his word. Sometimes, he even believed his own lies.
“If you say so. But I will have to examine further to make sure you are all ok.”
With the aid of medical diagnostic tools, Steward spent the next half an hour discovering a myriad of issues that were consistent with abuse and bully. There were also signs of malnutrition. The good news was there weren’t any broken bones. He went ahead and treat all the bruises and cuts after they had been sanitised with the medical wand, which relied on sonic and light waves to accelerate healing of most injuries. He also prescribed multi-vitamins and minerals for Dexter to take.
It was almost noon when Dexter came out of the infirmary. He felt much better and went back to class. His classmates didn’t even ask where he was and lessons went on as usual. During lunch, he ordered some food from the vending machine so that he could have it in one of the classrooms instead of sitting in the school canteen. He didn’t want anymore confrontation with Shane and his group of hooligans.
The rest of the day was uneventful with history and literature lessons. He left for home as soon as the clock struck four in the afternoon.
The next three hours after lessons was Shane’s favorite part of the day, everyday.
He beelined to the changing room and got into his basketball attire. The rest of the basketball team started streaming moments later in batches. They too didn’t waste any time either and started changing.
Shane and a few of his close friends went out first to do warmup consisting of a quick jog around the basketball court, two sets of twenty jumping jacks and two sets of twenty pushups. Once they were done, they loitered around the side of the court until the rest finished their warmup.
The coach, Harvey Fornite, came into the court pushing a cart of basketballs with his assistant and son, Christian Fornite. Christian was a fellow student from ninth grade and didn’t do sport. Instead he was on the school debate team and had won several district-level debates. He only helped out his dad when he doesn’t have to go for practice.
Harvey waited until the last member of team had finished his warmup before blowing his whistle, “Everyone gather up!” Without hesitation, the team members gathered around in front of him and waited for instruction.
“Ok, listen up! Today’s training will be shorter than usual as the school needed this court to host a night gala for the city’s elites. So we will be focusing on your three-pointers and then teamwork. We will use both side of the court to play Around the World for an hour. So spread yourself evenly. After the hour is up, we will play a quick, two rounds of five-versus-five match to see which side can score twenty points first in twelve minutes. The only caveat for this match is nobody is allow to form a group with your own cliques. You are to mix it up amongst yourself. Am I clear?”
The basketball players were unanimous, “Yes coach!”
Everyone scattered and rearranged themselves along the three-pointer line on both side of the court. Christian took out the ball from the cart and passed a ball to each side. Once the players got their ball, Mr. Fornite blew his whistle.
Shane consistently put his ball through the hoop without fail. It didn’t take much for him to win every round. His teammates on his side of the court struggled and found themselves having to restart from the beginning. Not wanting this teammates to feel left out from winning the game, he took himself out of the game to let them compete amongst themselves.
Another whistle blow and it was time for the five-versus-five match. Shane partnered up with Johnson, Rick, Aaron, and Toby, all of whom didn’t hang out with each other either. They each have their own clique of friends, some were not even on the basketball team.
The match was at first uneventful until Shane’s group scored twelve points in under eight minutes despite the opposing group’s best effort. Tensions started rising amongst members of the other group and one of players, whom Shane knew as Dominic, grew aggressive.
Dominic was about the same height as Shane but much bigger in size due to his weightlifting hobby in addition basketball. Because of his size, his group had picked him to be the defense, which he used to his advantage. The only person who dare to come close to him was Shane.
Shane was dribbling the ball halfway through the opposing group’s court when Dominic came up beside him from the right in an attempt to grab the ball but failed. Shane was faster, more agile. He directed the ball away to his other hand and back in a swift continuous movement. It frustrated Dominic. He tried one more time and failed. When he saw an opportunity, he placed his right foot in a way that caused Shane to trip over yet obscured enough not to trigger a penalty. Due to his momentum, Shane fell to the ground hard and landed on his face, breaking his nose in the process. Dominic took the chance, grabbed the ball and attempted to continue with the game.
Harvey blew his whistle to call a timeout after seeing Shane getting up with a bloodied nose.
Knowing what Dominic did was intentional, Shane approached him during the timeout and his right hand connected to the side of Dominic’s face. Dominic spun around and stumbled before managing to right himself.
“What the fuck was that?” Shane demanded.
“Why the hell you hit me for? It was an accident.”
“We both know that’s not true.”
“You can only blame yourself for being such a clumsy showoff.”
Shane grimaced, “What did you say?”
“You heard me!”
The two of them went at each other with fists flying. The rest of the team had to pull them apart and keep them that way.
Harvey went over fuming, “What the hell are you guys doing? This is supposed to be a friendly match and we are be a team here!”
With a raised voice and finger pointing at Dominic, “He intentionally tripped me up.”
“No. He was too clumsy for his own good. All he could is shoot three-pointers.”
Harvey’s face turned red, “Alright, enough! Both of you are done for the day. Go home and cool it off.”
Both Dominic and Shane kept their distance from each other as they walked out of the court, heading straight for the changing room. In the distance, Harvey called for the game to resume.
After the two were done with their showers and changed to their original clothes, they left the school without even saying a single word.
Shane went up the steps leading to a single story, flat roof rectangular house within a town called Dunk, located six kilometers south of the school. It was one of the poorest towns, where the wealthiest families were living paycheque to paycheque while the poorest had to rely on donations or go hungry for days. The house he was approaching was at least twenty years old judging from the decrepit exterior and moldy steps. Even the main door looked like it could fall apart any time.
He gave the door a quick double knock and waited. No one answered. He tried again and waited. The door opened with a gap wide enough to see who was it. A chain lock remained on the door to prevent anyone from bursting in without warning.
“Shh! My dad is in. He will kill us both.”
“Fine. Where is it?”
“Here,” Dexter put his hand out and revealed a tiny packet containing a mix of green and white powder. “Take it and go.”
“That’s it?” Shane raised an eyebrow, “I thought I told you I want two.”
“That’s all I could get. Now please. Just take it and go.”
“Who’s that at the door?” a male voice yelled from somewhere in the house.
“Just a salesperson. He’s just leaving,” Dexter yelled back.
Not wanting to get into trouble, Shane grabbed the packet, shoved it into the front pocket of his jeans and leave. Dexter’s dad hasn’t been known to be a very nice person to even talk to and had once threatened to blow off his head with a shotgun. Dexter closed the door gently and locked it before creeping back to his room, turning in for the night.
But before he got into bed, he made sure the double bolt sliding lock on his door was in the lock position.
Click here for Chapter 2.
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