Do you listen to that voice inside your head?
"Hey, Asshat!", he said as he approached Adam, malice in his smile. "Those books sure look heavy, so you'd better put them down!" He slapped Adam's Biology work to the floor. Adam backed away in intimidation. Andrew towered above him at six foot two, someone he would not want to mess with.
"Ugly and nerdy? God must've hated you!" Andrew said. Adam flinched from his words.
The late bell for eighth period rang and Andrew and his group rushed off to class. Adam picked up his work quickly and ran to Algebra. This would be the third time this week that Adam was late to Algebra, but that wasn't on his concern. The end of eighth period signaled the end of the day and Adam walked out of school, followed by other hoards of kids.
Walking home, Adam was alone. He had no friends to accompany him or even jerks to harass him. It was utter solitude. His house was in a nice neighborhood. Clean streets, gay and colorful houses, and friendly neighbors. When Adam walked into his house, he laid his head down on his dining table, blocking out the world.
"Did anything interesting happen in school today, honey?" asked his mom, from the kitchen.
"No, mom", he replied.
"Oh really? Your principal just called. She said something about a 'fight' with some boy!" Adam was silent.
"Come here and give mommy a hug," his mom said to him. He got up and embraced her. "It's OK, sweetie, it's only seventh grade drama. I promise things will get better."
"I'm turning 13 in a week!" Adam said, shedding tears. "I just wish that things would change."
"I wish your father was here. He would know what to say." They both were silent.
"Dinner is almost ready, so go upstairs and wash up." Adam dragged himself upstairs and into the bathroom. He turned on the light and looked in the mirror, at his reflection.
"I just want someone to guide me, someone to tell me how to solve my problems," he thought to himself. As he washed his face, he heard a slight chuckle.
"Hello?" he said. No reply. He looked around the bathroom. "Hello?" he called again. No response.
"Are you alright, hun?" his mom called.
"Um...yeah!" he yelled back.
"Well come down! Your food is getting cold."
Adam headed for the door. He looked back, affirming that no one was in the bathroom. After a brief pause, he rushed downstairs.
The next day was hardly better than the last. Right on schedule, after Biology, Andrew was knocking the books out of Adam's hands.
"Better be less clumsy next time, Asshat!" Andrew jeered as Adam stumbled to the ground to pick up his work.
"No you don't!" Andrew said, stepping on Adam's hand. Adam yelled out in pain.
"Hey!", someone yelled out from the group surrounding Andrew. "Why don't you pick on someone your own IQ?!"
Adam didn't bother to look up.
"And just who the hell are you?" Andrew said.
A girl stepped out of the crowd.
"It doesn’t matter to you!" she said. "Mrs. Conclin saw the whole thing. She has a few words for you."
The intercom buzzed. "Andrew Grown, please report to the detention room."
Andrew dragged himself to the room and the hall quickly cleared out. Adam resumed collecting his books. The girl bent down to help him. He finally looked up to see her, but could only see her blonde hair, covering her face. She noticed Adam had stopped and looked up.
"I'm sorry." she said. Adam didn't respond.
"I'm Emily." she said, holding out her hand. He shook it.
She proceeded. "I just moved here, so I'm new to this school."
"Thank you." he finally said.
"It was nothing. Just trying to be nice." The bell rang and Emily rushed off to class.
"See you later." she said. Adam picked up the last of his papers and ran to class. That was the fourth time Adam was late this week.
After the bell, Adam rushed home. He was happier than usual. Suddenly, all of his optimism vanished.
"Hey, Asshat!" yelled Andrew from behind him. "We didn't get to finish our conversation earlier."
Adam glared Andrew in the eyes.
"You got something to say, Asshat?" Andrew said, grabbing Adam by the shirt.
Adam looked away.
"Look at me when I’m talking to you!" Andrew yelled. Adam looked back at Andrew.
"That's better you bitch."
Adam spit into Andrew's eye. He dropped Adam and staggered back. Adam began to sprint away, but Andrew reoriented himself and caught up to Adam. Andrew punched Adam in the gut and he fell to the ground. Andrew punched again in the face. Adam was gasping for breath. Before Andrew could do more harm, a cop yelled from the distance.
Andrew and his crew ran away.
"Are you OK?" the cop asked.
Adam didn't respond. He stumbled to his feet and ran to his house. Immediately, he stormed past his mom and into his room, locking his door.
His mother knocked on the door.
"Sweetie? Sweetie? Open up! Are you okay?"
"Go away!" Adam screamed. After five minutes of continuous knocking, she finally stopped.
The next morning, Adam and his mom had breakfast together. She didn't bring up yesterday. She knew that Adam needed space.
"I'm off to work. Don't be late for school." she said. He nodded as she left. Adam went to the bathroom to wash his face. He began to sob.
"Why do people hurt me?" he said. "Why can't it stop?"
"But it can..."
"It can all end." repeated a voice. Adam looked around the bathroom once again. Still no one. He stared into a mirror to make sure he was sane.
"You can stop it all."
Adam stepped back, glaring at the reflection of himself, that just spoke.
"What's going on? " Adam said nervously. "Who are you?"
His reflection spoke.
"How is this happening?"
His reflection ignored him, saying "don't you want it to stop?"
Adam paused...and then nodded.
"I can help you."
"How? " Adam asked. His reflection looked down at a scalpel that was lying on the sink. Adam eyed it too.
"I can't." Adam said, "It's not right."
"But you can protect yourself. You can end your bullying." said his reflection. "It could hurt him...I can't."
The reflection began to smile, a light and cheery smirk.
"You don't need to hurt him. Just take it out to show him that you mean business." Adam silently looked at the tool. He heard the bus stop outside his house. Adam reluctantly grabbed the scalpel and stuffed it into his back pocket.
The school day continued without incident. The walk home, however, was Hell.
"Hey, Asshat! I'm gonna kill you for spitting in my face!" Adam's hands trailed to his back pocket, but didn't pull out the scalpel. He was frozen in fear as Andrew made a dash toward him. Snapping out of his immense fear, the best Adam could manage was to run as fast as he could. Andrew was too fast and threw Adam to the ground.
"Let's see how you like my foot on your face! " Andrew said, as he lifted up his foot.
"Please! Don't!", Adam pleaded. Andrew mocked him.
"Please! Don't! You can tell everyone how much of a pussy you are when you're in the hospital!" Adam panicked, kicking Andrew in his shin. When Andrew hit the ground, Adam got on top of his chest. He pulled out the scalpel and held it to Andrew's neck.
"Chill out, man! " Andrew yelled with quivering eyes. Adam's hand was shaking at first, but then he steadied it.
"Don't ever mess with me again or...or..." Adam stammered. Andrew started to regain confidence.
"Or you'll what?", he said with a smirk.
"I don't know." Adam thought to himself. Suddenly, a voice spoke in his head.
"You'll kill him. You'll cut him open...", the voice egged on.
Andrew laughed. "You don’t have the ba--"
Adam placed his hand over Andrew's mouth and the scalpel closer to his neck.
"...or I'll murder you!"
Andrew crawled away from Adam. he stumbled to his feet and ran as fast as he could in the other direction. Adam put the scalpel back into his pocket, hands shivering. He sprinted home and rushed into the bathroom, locking the door. Adam stared in the mirror.
"Good..." his reflection said.
"It felt wrong.", said Adam, still shaking.
His reflection repeated.
"It felt good. It felt really good, right?"
"It felt good?"
Adam repeated "It felt...good!" affirmingly.
His reflection continued. "And they will never bother you again."
"Never?", asked Adam.
The reflection grinned. "Never."
His mother called Adam down for dinner.
"It's meatloaf!" she yelled.
"Coming! " he replied. To Adam, meatloaf never tasted so good that night.
For the following days and weeks, Adam had no problem with Andrew or anybody else. He began to get to know Emily better, her interests and hobbies. They were the best of friends. Adam and Emily were walking down the hall one day when Adam heard a voice all too familiar.
"Hey, Asshat!", Adam and Emily froze.
"Why don’t I have some fun with your girlfriend?" said Andrew, push Emily to the floor.
"Emily!", Adam yelled. He rushed to help her but was pushed to the ground by three members of Andrew's crew. Andrew was kicking Emily in her chest repeatedly. Adam started to tear up, yelling,
"Stop it! Stop!"
"Don't worry about me. I'll be okay.", said Emily, starting to cough. Adam couldn't watch anymore. He ran out the school and straight home, locking himself in the bathroom.
He yelled at his reflection. "What do I do!? There are too many people! I'm scared!"
"Don't be", said his reflection, "Don't be scared. You have to fight! Show them your power! Show them that you can kill them!"
"What about Andrew? I want to help Emily." said Adam.
"Injure his head, damage his brain! Hurt him where it will NEVER heal!"
Adam looked down and thought. "Won't that hurt him too much?", he said.
"Just think about all the pain he caused you...he caused us!" Adam fell silent but his reflection continued. "Think about the pain he caused Emily, the pain of not being able to save her, the pain of helplessness. Andrew needs, no...he deserves to feel her pain! It is your job, as her friend, to avenge Emily!"
Adam left the bathroom and laid on the bed in his room, still deep in indecision. He thought "He has a point.", ran through his mind over and over. Adam didn't sleep well that night.
The following day, Adam saw Emily in the hall and flooded her with questions.
"Are you alright?" "Did he break anything?" "Does it still hurt?'
She answered him. "I'm fine! just a couple of bruises." Adam grew silent.
"I'm sorry for running away." He looked at his feet.
Immediately he responded, "It'll be different next time! I swear I'll protect you!"
"So I see you can still walk...", said Andrew from behind them.
"I'll change that!", he sneered, pushing Emily to the floor again. Determined, Adam lunged in to help Emily, but was again blocked by the three other meat bags. The other boys began to throw fists at Adam and he dropped, curling into a ball. Being assaulted by flying fists and kicks, the only thing that ran through Adam's mind was, "What do I do?"
The voice in his head reappeared, chanting, "Fight back! Fight back!" Adam tried to will himself to move and fight but he was too scared to budge. The voice became louder, more demanding. "Fight back, Fight Back! FIGHT BACK!!" Suddenly, he grabbed the leg of one of the assailants and bit it. The boy fell like a brick as Adam mounted him and took him out with a blow to the face. Adam sprung up and tackled another bully, also being knocked out as his head hit the floor. Adam rammed the third in the gut. He fell to the ground. Adam turned to stare at Andrew, who seemed to take no concern with Adam at all. as he watched Andrew kicking Emily again, he froze. "What now? Andrew is a lot stronger than me.", he thought to himself. Hundreds upon hundreds of ideas and actions clouded his mind until the voice spoke again.
"Slam it! Slam his head against those lockers!" Adam hesitated. "Do it..." Adam didn't move. "Do It!" Adam twitched a little. "DO IT!!" Adam lunged forward toward Andrew at full force, slamming his temple into the raised lock on the locker door behind them. Andrew fell to the floor instantly, unmoving. Adam went to help Emily up.
"Is he OK? We should tell a nurse", Emily said. both of them rushed to the school nurse.
"Andrew is in the hallway! He looks hurt!", yelled Adam in a panicked voice.
"What happened?" Adam and Emily were silent. "He tripped on the wax I had in my locker. I was um...using it for...an art project!"
The nurse was too concerned to pick out Adam's lie. She rushed to help him. Due to the incident, school had to be closed early. Adam walked back to his house and up to his bathroom.
"I feel...bad!", Adam confided in the mirror.
"Why?", asked his reflection, "You saved Emily from Andrew."
"I saved Emily...", Adam repeated.
"You're a hero! You did good!", said his reflection, with a big grin on its face, "Hero". Adam had sweet dreams that night.
The next day, Adam met up with Emily.
"Did you hear about Andrew?", she asked, with a nonchalant "No" as Adam's response.
"He has a serious concussion. He's in a coma." Adam stepped back, shocked, as she continued. "He should be OK in a while, though. Even if the equipment is poor and run down, those doctors in the hospital down the street are experts!"
This consoled Adam a little bit, but not enough to mask the look on his face.
"Are you OK?", she asked.
"Yeah, I just need to cool off." Adam walked to the nearest school restroom. After splashing his face, he looked into one of the walled mirrors.
"Are you there?", he said. "I'm here." "He's in a coma! This is bad!", Adam said, pacing back and forth. "Yes...yes it is.", uttered his reflection.
"What do I do?", asked Adam, "Help me!" His reflection spoke, causing Adam to back away, processing. "You want me to..." Adam was silent.
"Yes.", his reflection confirmed. "I can't! It's horrible! No, I won't!" Adam continued to tirade.
"Listen!", demanded his reflection. "When Andrew wakes up, he will be angry. Angry at you!"
"But!", Adam interjected, but his reflection continued on. "He will want revenge! he will hurt Emily again, he could KILL her and take her away from you! He wont stop! He'll hurt other people, make more people feel like YOU felt bad then. If you do it, you can be everyone's hero. This isn’t wrong...it's right! "
Adam looked down. The reflection had a point, it made sense. "Do it for every person Andrew could hurt, for you, for Emily!" Adam didn't speak, but the reflection waited. "OK", Adam said faintly.
After school, Adam walked down the street to the hospital, St. Terminal Hospital. He walked up to the desk.
"Um....can I..." Adam hesitated. "I’m here to see Andrew...Andrew Grown."
"Right this way.", she said in a cheery tone. She lead Adam down the hall to a small white room. The room was pretty empty, other than a small garbage can, a technical-looking box of medical tools and machinery, and a bland circular mirror above the single bed that Andrew was lying on, unconscious. There was an unusually thick wire running across the floor, close to the bed, that caught Adam's attention.
"What is that wire for?", he asked.
"It's connected to the life support machine over there." She pointed at the beeping box beside the bed. "It's the only thing keeping his lungs moving. The damage to his medulla is considerably severe." Adam stared at Andrew.
"I have to go. You two are friends, correct?", the lady asked. Adam nodded. "Well I'll leave you two alone." She left the room. Adam approached the bed, pulling his scalpel out from his back pocket. His body was shaking as he hovered over Andrew's body. Andrew looked peaceful. Adam backed away. He looked into the mirror above the bed.
"I can't do it," he said.
"He could hurt Emily again!" his reflection reminded him.
"I know," said Adam, "But I can't do it. He doesn't deserve this, no matter how awful the person." His reflection was silent, contemplating, scheming. After a long pause, it finally spoke.
"Look how peaceful Andrew looks..." Adam looked at Andrew's face as his reflection continued. "Everyone deserves that kind of peace." Adam nodded. "You have to be the bigger man. Let him keep his peace, that peaceful look. He is in bliss right now, with no cares or bothers in the world. If he wakes up, that all changes. Let him keep his peace...forever." It made sense to Adam. His reflection was right. He bent down over the wire, close to the bed, where the wire was in shadow. He started cutting the wire. Cutting and cutting turned to fraying and fraying until, finally, the wire snapped. The machines' flashing lights and fancy beeps died. Adam backed up to look at his work. He waited a full five minutes until he ran for help. The doctors tried to save him, but it was too late. Andrew was gone. Adam was allowed leave after a light interrogation. He skipped to his house and ran into the kitchen as soon as he got home. His mom wasn't home, but she left a note. "Gonna be working late all week, Mom" Adam put the note down and made himself some cereal. He ate it in total bliss.
The next day, news about Andrew had spread. The whole school was in a state of mourning. Adam, however, whistled as he walked. He saw Emily in the hall and greeted her.
"Did you hear about what happened to Andrew?", she asked Adam.
"Yup! Hey, wanna come over to my house?", he replied in an almost cheery voice. Emily was taken back by his apathy.
"Did you hear what I said?", she responded, "He's dead!"
"I know.", he responded, but immediately continued his tangent. "We can play a few video games. Sound cool?" Before she could respond, the eighth period bell rang.
"Come to my house at three o' clock!", he said as he ran to his next class. After school, Adam ran home to prepare for Emily's arrival, tidying up his house. He made a trip to his bathroom to wash his face. "You seem happy"
"I am, very happy actually!", Adam replied.
"Does she know about it?", his reflection said. "Nope", Adam responded quickly.
"Tell her.", it told him. Adam agreed without fuss. The reflection did always know what was best, after all. Sure enough, at three o' clock, the doorbell rang. Adam went to pull out his Xbox from out of his room but, before he could, Emily got inquisitive, asking questions.
"Aren't you the least bit sad that Andrew is dead?"
He stopped and turned toward her. "I have something to tell you." He confessed.
At first, she thought it was a joke, but reality slowly started to sink in. "I did it for you, for everyone! He can't hurt anyone ever again! Isn't this great?" He saw her disgust. "Aren't you...happy?"
"I need to sit down.", she said, falling to her knees. Adam excused himself and ran upstairs into his bathroom.
"She didn't react well.", Adam said. The two were silent. The reflection frowned.
"Well...", he started. "...I guess we have to kill her too." Adam backed away.
"Never!", he yelled.
"If she escapes, you will rot in prison!", the reflection said.
"I don't care! I won't hurt her! I won't! I won't!" Even though Adam mumbled those words, his reflection pressed on.
"Who will protect Emily if you go to jail?" Adam stopped murmuring, causing the reflection to smile. "What if another Andrew comes along?" Adam looked to his feet.
"But, if she's dea--", Adam proceeded to say, but was cut off. "If she's dead, she will be safe...Forever! No one can hurt her. you can protect her, bring her peace with the angels." Adam didn't speak. It made perfect sense. It was the best option.
"Do it for Emily! Do it for me! Me!" The reflection's smile grew sinister. "Have I ever been wrong?" Adam grabbed his scalpel and crept downstairs, Emily still on the coach. He snuck behind her, fearlessly, and wrapped his hand over Emily's mouth. He positioned the scalpel on one side of her neck and slid it to the other side, end to end. The fear in her eyes soon faded and her muffled screams soon ceased.
"Sleep with the angels.", were his final words to her, as he lifted his crimson hand off of her mouth. He went upstairs to wash up, but to know avail. he looked into the mirror, at his blood-covered attire, and stopped. he backed away from the mirror, breathing heavy, quivering eyes.
"What have I done?", he whispered. "WHAT HAVE I DONE!!"
His reflection smiled, not a smirk, but a huge evil smile.
"You saved her.", it said.
"Who...who are you?", Adam said.
"I'm you.", it said. "I'm a part of you, inside of you, inside of everyone. I'm that voice in your head, telling you what's right and what's wrong...guiding you and dictating your every thought. I am...your voice of reason." Adam fell to the tile floor.
"What now?", he asked. The reflection spoke.
"We go around and do what is right, protecting everyone we see. We will bring happiness to people who need it, giving them the gift of happiness....for eternity." Adam nodded in agreement. "Have I ever been wrong?"
From a young age, kids are taught what is right and what is wrong. Good guardians do not fail to teach their children the basics of justice and it is even known to kids that have no parental figure. "Stealing is wrong and so is violence." When, then, do kids begin to break these rules? What causes kids to ignore basic justice laws and commit acts of violence? What reasons do they have in their minds? What goes on in their heads? is it some sort of twisted logic in a person's mind that causes them to snap? These people look normal, undetectable in their motives. Those are the people you must look out for, the people that could be right under your nose...