"Hey you, you freak! How would you like it if I shoved that backpack of yours straight up your ass?" Tobias Cartwright stood silently watching them. They were the typical kids you would find in any high school. 'Jocks' as they were commonly known; the boys that played any sport they could get into. At this school, football, was the only option. It was apparent that the jocks here have nothing better to do, other than bullying and harassing the new kid. But only if that kid was male and not on the football team. The cheerleaders took care of the females, in that eloquent way they had of degrading almost all young women that were not one of them. Hell, they sometimes even degraded their own people. A mark was still a mark. Not all jocks and cheerleaders behaved in that manner. But in the small town of Appleton, near Orchid Hills, Texas, there was nothing else to do. Appleton High was the only high school in the area. The population of Appleton was around 5,000 but the student body was made up of 1500 students. Overcrowded, doesn't begin to describe the conditions in the small school. There was hope on the horizon in the manner of a new high school being built. Sadly, that was still 2 years out before completion. The framing had not yet been completed. So for now, all the students were crammed into the already over flowing classrooms. Teachers, as well as students, were having to deal with large classes.This put everyone on edge. The only thing that seemed to easethe tension were the football games. This particular high school actually had a good football team. At this time they were 5 - 0. Which thrilled the entire town and helped to releasethe hostility. Of course the enjoyment of the gamescould actually come from watching two teams trying to seemingly dismember each other on a field. This was a legal form of violence and in this town it was as close as it got to any excitement. The news itself was rather boring. The crime rate was significantly low too. There was a time that Texans had all been rumored to have a gun. Well, in Appleton, they didn't just have a gun. They all had several guns and rifles and other types of firearms, some of which were probably illegal to even own. Both homeowners and store owners exercised their right to bear arms. Every household had a minimum of five guns, not including shotguns, of course. The storefronts usually had more hiding about, and backups for the backups. Now the good news about this many firearms, was that there wasn't any gang activity. At all. There were also never any break-ins or home invasions. A state law declared, that a homeowner had the right to protect any part of their property; this included to shoot-on-site a trespasser. Most states at least require a robber to be within the household. But not, Appleton. In this wonderful town, if your car breaks down and you have to walk up to a random door to get help, you better hope they take the time to answer the door and talk to you...before they blow your head off. In this town they have that right, will do it, and not even get a ticket nor have to appear in court for it. The law makes things interesting; but at least it helps with entertainment.
It's sad to say that becausesome of the laws and the lack of entertainment, the citizens have to invent things to do. Sometimes the amusement does involve some poor unsuspecting, door-to-door salesman, running back to his car, with buckshot in his rear end. A few Jehovah Witnesseshave gotten closer to the Almighty than they ever imagined possible. Now granted it was while staring down the business end of a shotgun. The Jehovah Witnessesnever got shot though. Though the preferred religion was Baptist in the town, religion was still religion. And you respected it, no matter what it was. Though it's always kinda funny watching knees shake and faces turn ghost white. Luckily for the salesmen and Jehovah Witnesses,there is one other form of entertainment; football. Without that, there's no telling what would happen. Neighbors might begin to shoot cans down from fences. But they would eventually move on to shooting each other. The teens had started a new game with the local wild life. Coyotes tend not to venture near Appleton anymore. But at least the kids didn't take guns to school. No, instead they preferred to use words and fists for their pastime. Tobias, noticed the leader of this small militia, was a tall broad shouldered blonde boy. He was lean in the waist and thick in the thighs. His football jersey covered black jeans and cowboy boots. The boy was the captain of the football team and also the biggest jerk of the school. Tobias didn't know at the time, but the contemptuous sneer that was greeting him, was the constant expression on this boy's face. His piercing blue-eyed gaze seemed to be looking right through him. Tobias, shifted his glance to the shortest boy in the militia. He was about five foot ten; only a few inches shorter than himself. He wore typical shorts and a t-shirt, but his shaved head and deep brown eyes made him appear more like a teacher than a teenager. Tobias couldn't help but wonder if the boy had been held back a few times. He honestly looked like he was in his mid-twenties. Maybe if he had facial hair that would make him look younger? He quickly dismissed the thought and focused himself on the last boy. The last boy was taller than, Tobias, but shorter than the blonde boy, with wide shoulders and a thick gut. His dark crew cut styled hair and dark eyes combined with the plug of tobacco in his mouth, made him look like a Doberman chewing a yellow jacket. The image of which appeared in Tobias' mind, causing him to stifle a laugh. "Did you hear me you little bitch?" the tallest one instigates. He was the leader on and off the field, in every sport the team participated in. This just happened to be one of their favorite things to do. And my how he loved every second of it. Tobias, held the boy's gaze. He backed up placing his backpack in between himself and the locker behind him. He had heard the boy clearly and he got the message. It was always the same story. New school, new faces, new bullies, but the same problems. Some things were consistent and being tormented was one of them. Although, Tobias, was shocked at his present predicament. He had, after all, been in the school for almost a full ten minutes before he had become a mark. Normally he is lucky if he can walk in the door before he is ridiculed or tripped or even thrown down. It was bad enough being a teenage boy in a new school, but Tobias had two other things against him. For one, he was a junior this year; too young for seniority and too old for benefits. The teachers
expected you to act like an adult, but yelled at you when you acted your age. For the other, he was Roma. Or the better known derogatory word would be, gypsy. The Roma from his clan didn't go to school, let alone public school. But his casewas very different. It was becauseof his family he went to school. It was becauseof his family secret he was there...now...dealing with his current situation. A sudden slap to the face gets an unmistakable point across to Tobias. "I think the little bitch is gonna cry," the shaved head boy taunted. He always enjoyed it when they cried. Sorrow from others always made him chuckle. Tobias could hear them laughing. He could see them pointing their fingers in his face and he could see their mouths moving. No doubt with more taunting words. As he did see them, he chose to tune them out. He didn't need to get into trouble his first day. If that happened he knew he would be placed on a list. The same list with the trouble makers. The same list with the behavioral disorder students. That same list that always sent guidance consolers to watch you in your classesand come to evaluate you in your home. That was a list he couldn't afford to be on. Tobias looked past the three jocks. He could see the school colors blend together on the wall. They formed a giant tribalistic style panther. Most of the design had a blue outline around a burnt orange body on white walls. The head of the beast was pure blue though, and sat above the beginning of a grey locker row. There was one paw that was solid orange. The paw was held up in front of the creatures body. It signified the schools motto, 'Rise Above the Rest'. There was a wall clock ticking away next to high paw. Tobias looked just to the right of the tallest boy. There was a long hallway that seemed to spill into the hall he was in. Everything in fact seemed to meet at the juncture Tobias was in. He vaguely remembered passing two other halls, to both the right and left, after he entered the main building. It was becoming obvious, that the structure seemed to be constructed around a giant invisible 'H' and all the halls were connected to the inverted 'H'. At least now that he has figured out the design of the school he has a better idea of escaperoutes, should he need them. Tobias looked to the left of the boys and noticed several kids nearby all stopped what they were doing. He saw them whispering to each other and watching him in anticipation. He knew what they were waiting for. He knew that one of them was just waiting to yell that timefreezing word. The word that causesevery student to drop what they are doing, so they can watch, and every teacher comes running to put a stop to it. Tobias had no intentions of fighting. Not only could he not afford the consequencesof it, but he was also fighting a battle of his own. A migraine was starting to rear its ugly head. No doubt caused from the annoying fluorescent lights above him. He never understood why someone thought it would be a good
idea to put those types of lights in a drop ceiling. Who would want to illuminate and accentuate a dirt and dust covered ceiling? Out of the corner of his eye he saw a hand go up. He turned toward the hand knowing full well what was coming next. Bracing himself for the pain that was sure to follow, he watched as the hand started towards his face. But then, it suddenly stopped as though it had collided with a wall. Tobias traced down the hand to an opposing hand that held the boy's wrist. He followed the hand up to see the face that belonged to it. It was a blonde girl around sixteen or seventeen. She wasn't very tall; maybe just under 5 feet. Her amazing eyes is what really caught his attention though. It was like peering into a perfectly cut sapphire. She was also rather petite to be breaking up a fight. Tobias and his aggressors all towered over her. But it was then, that Tobias, noticed the five boys standing behind her.