The word echoed against Casey’s eardrums, making them ring as he made his way slowly down the school hallway. When he got to his locker he was met with the familiar sight of stickers and papers reading faggot, gay, kill yourself, covering the front. Instead of letting himself cry in front of his tormentors, who were very likely hiding around the corner, just waiting for their chance to jump him, he pushed the familiar feeling of despair to the very back of his mind. He lifted his hands and ripped the posters off, crumpling them before throwing them away and returning to his locker, putting his combination in as he thought about how his life had gotten so dark.
It all started when he came out to his parents and best friend. Unlike the hopefuls he’d heard from online, there was no sign of support or acceptance in his parent’s eyes. His best friend just laughed at him, and eventually stopped talking to him. His parents now stared at him in disgust, and his best friend had become one of his tormentors, following him around at times while screaming that terrible word, faggot, at him as he walked down the halls, head lowered in shame.
Two years, this had been going on. Two years of torture and torment filled school days, followed by judgmental and unsupportive nights and weekends. Everywhere he went people either made fun of him and laughed at him or just glared at him in disappointment. The teachers acted like nothing was happening, and completely turned their backs on poor Casey, and his parents had even started locking the door to the house before he got home. If he didn’t have a key, he’d never be able to get in.
Two weeks after suffering through the constant criticism and looks of poison, he found himself spiraling. He stopped eating, stopped sleeping, and stopped caring. He would cry at night, into his pillow so his parents wouldn’t hear, and began cutting. Of course, the first time had been out of desperation, after scrolling through some websites about being homosexual and finding an unfortunate case where one victim started cutting because of the bullies and judgmental statements. He eventually stopped, but Casey didn’t think that would be possible for him. Cutting had turned into the only relief he had. The razor, or any sharp object he could find, had become his best friend.
No one knew about his habit, not that they would care, and he went to great lengths to hide his cuts and scars. Long sleeved shirts, always, and sweaters, sweat-shirts, and hoodies with sleeves that stretched so far over his hands they hid his fingers, and had to be bunched up when he needed to write. No more did he attend physical education classes. Instead he hid in the library, or on the roof of the school, where no one would find him, so he wouldn’t have to change into the gym shorts, terrified that someone may see the scars on his thighs and calves.
He no longer spoke, even when spoken to, because everything he ended up saying was just laughed at and insulted by everyone around him. He never raised his head, never looked people in the eye, never stood straight with the posture of pride and confidence. He slumped his shoulders, hunched forward, and kept his head lowered as he walked, with his long bangs hiding his eyes from the view of others.
That was another thing. He had stopped caring about his appearance, and had allowed his untamable hair to grow out, so the bangs fell down to his cheek bones, and dipped to his shoulders at the back. No one could see his once lively, gorgeous violet eyes. Instead they saw a permanent frown pasted on his pale face. He wore his hood to hide his messy black hair, and always had headphones in, with his hands stuffed into his pockets, the fingers of his right moving idly across a bare razor he kept on hand, in case he felt the darkness overcome him at school.
His once stylish nature turned into baggy black jeans, black and red DC shoes, and black long sleeved shirts that complimented every black sweat-shirt and hoodie he wore. Most had band logos on them, like Pierce The Veil, Three Days Grace, or Bullet For My Valentine, but others were just black. He had even exchanged his old forest green backpack for one the color of a raven’s wings, with the zippers and pockets a blood red color. The straps had been pulled out so the bag hung loosely at his back, lazily, carelessly, and were a desperate stress reliever when Casey was making his way through the hallways of his hell-hole. He would clutch the straps with his hands until his knuckles turned white, and bite his bottom lip until there was a slight bruise.
Casey pulled open his locker and ignored the barrage of insulting scraps of paper that tumbled out as he collected his school books, setting them in his backpack before closing his locker and hurrying down the hall.
It was expected, of course, to find himself in the very back of the classroom, his backpack on his lap, his hood on his head, his headphones in his ears. He was hunched over his desk, sketching rapidly in his notebook, completely ignoring the lesson. By then the teachers had learned not to even bother telling him to pay attention, so they just let him be. He was a great student after all, with a high GPA of 3.87, and mostly A’s in each class, not including PE, which he was flunking; not that he cared.
One thing Casey had always been good at was drawing. He couldn’t draw things like comics, or landscape, or vases and fruit, but he had a strange eye for portraits, which he busied himself with most classes. Sometimes he’d look up during one of the lessons and jot down a few key notes on the board around his latest drawing, but besides that the only things in his notebooks were portraits. His mother, his father, and his best friend, before he told them he was gay, were in the first couple pages, but eventually just thinking about them made his chest tighten, so he switched over to drawing his teachers and other classmates, and sometimes he’d even draw a dog or cat he saw through the window. It was a hundred times better than paying attention to the notes and paper airplanes that constantly fell to his desk.
In the beginning he would read each and every one of them, but by now he barely pushed them off the desk. He knew all the insults already. There was nothing more the demons at this school could do to ruin his life even more.
After the second period ended, Casey walked slowly to the bathroom, where he locked himself in a stall and sighed, sitting on the back of the toilet as he looked over the graffiti and curse words painted, carved, or drawn onto the walls of the stall. He felt his muscles tense when he heard the door open, and pulled his backpack onto his lap as voices echoed in the bathroom.
“Lunchtime? No way,” one voice said, “I eat at lunchtime.”
“Alright, fine,” another voice said, “When do you want to do it?”
“Any time before lunch,” the first voice replied, irritated.
“Anytime, hm?” the first voice mused, footsteps leading to the door.
There was silence, then giggling as more footsteps hurried to the door. It opened, and Casey held his breath as it closed. He shuddered and hopped to the ground, clutching his backpack to his chest as he pushed his way out of the stall. He walked towards the bathroom door, but was stopped by two sets of hands that grabbed him from behind, pulling him back.
“Ah, ah!” one of the boys who had spoken before said, “Can’t get away from us now, can ya?!”
Casey bit his bottom lip as one of the two boys holding him laughed, the other remaining eerily silent.
“This worked out great!” the same boy said, “Now we don’t have to wait till lunchtime!”
“Yea! Let’s push him around a bit!” the second said, tossing Casey’s backpack aside before pushing him to the ground. He threw a foot into his side before the first stopped him.
“Hey now, we had a plan, right?”
“So let’s stick to it.”
“You sure it’ll be good enough?”
“Let’s just humiliate him, boys,” the boy chuckled, “Pull his hood off and make sure he can see.”
The two boys from before grabbed Casey and pulled him to his feet. The one who had spoken ripped the hood from his head and grabbed handfuls of his hair, making him wince from the pain. He then recognized the three boys. At one point they had been fun acquaintances whom he’d talk to during their shared math class, but after Casey’s friend had spread the word about his sexuality, they’d taken the lowest road, and both physically and mentally tormented him on a daily basis.
The boy at the front stepped forward and grabbed Casey’s face, smirking, “Hey, faggot, what’s the matter with your face? You look pale and ugly,” he released him and stepped back, setting his hands on his hips, “Hah! You’re such a hopeless gay! Did you really think someone would actually end up caring about you? Guy or otherwise! You’re just a horny faggot. I bet you think me and my buddies are hot, huh? Though we are, coming from you it would be an insult,” he stepped forward again and grabbed at Casey’s bangs, pulling them up and grinning madly at him, “Hey, does this turn you on, you perverted faggot? Do you like it when I hurt you?”
One of the two boy’s holding him from behind burst out laughing, “Oh god! That’s great! Lemme try!”
The first boy stepped back, letting his friend get up in Casey’s face. He laughed.
“He just went red! That’s soooo gross!”
“He likes you man!”
“Ewe! Sick!” the second boy sent his fist into Casey’s face, then laughed as he stumbled back several paces.
He lifted a hand and set it on his chin, catching the slowly falling drop of blood from his lip. He wiped the back of his hand across his mouth and stepped back as the two boys who had spoken stepped forward. They all froze when the bell rang and sighed, but the third boy, who had been silent the entire time, looked almost releived.
“Awe fuck, we got to get to class.”
“Oh well,” the silent one muttered.
“We can finish this later.”
Casey watched weakly as the three left, his vision shaky from the mild beating. He slumped against the wall behind him and slid to sit on the floor, fishing the razor from his right pocket. He pulled up his left sleeve and touched the top of his skin with the razor, shivering from the chill of the metal. He held his breath as he pushed down, and flinched slightly when he felt the bite of the razor breaking through the layers of skin. He took another shaky breath, and let it out slowly as he drew the blade over his arm, watching hypnotized as the skin split. When he pulled the razor away the skin seemed to suck apart and open wider. Blood filled the abyss-like cut and bubbled over the edge, sliding down his arm in a bead and falling to the ground, landing on the linoleum as a small red dot that grew into a puddle as the blood dripped from his arm. Casey inhaled and closed his eyes as the pain on his arm erased the constricting pain in his chest.
It was such a horrible habit to get sucked into. Cutting. It took away the pain, but for a price that was left on his body as scars and bleeding wounds.
He waited for the blood to dry on his arm before pulling his sleeve back over his hand. He stood and grabbed his backpack, walking to his next class, which he was obviously a few good minutes late to. Not that he even paid attention. The entire time he was sketching his arm and all the scars that littered his skin. At the same time he was digging the toe of his shoe into his calf, trying to re-open a week old cut.
After the bell rang, he pushed his notebook and pencils into his backpack, his eyes lowered as he stood and swung the strap of his bag over his shoulder. As he stepped out into the hallway he was met by the same three boys from the bathroom, who were standing off to the left side, laughing and chatting. There was no use in turning back into the room, because they’d already seen him, so Casey just stood, watching the three as they sneered at him.
“Hey faggot. Did you miss us?”
Instead of waiting patiently to be bullied, Casey turned and started running down the hall. The laughs of his tormentors followed along with their heavy rapid footfalls.
“Wait up gaylord!”
“Yea! We just wanna have some fun!”
Casey bit his lip as he ran faster, his lungs burning from his rapid inhale and exhaling.
As he was running, terrible thoughts passed through his mind. As he passed windows he considered jumping out them, and whenever he turned a corner he thought about stopping long enough to slit his wrist. But he didn’t. Instead he kept running, until he couldn’t breathe anymore.
He stopped with a start, his legs halting and his body lurching forward as if it was still in motion. He breathed heavily as he looked back and forth, unsure of where he was. The area looked so old, rundown, and unused. He swallowed, trying to wet his dry throat, and hurried over to a hallway off to the side. It was narrow, more so than the other hallways in the school, and very badly lit with flickering florescent light bulbs. Dust muffled his footsteps as he walked, and he had to hold his breath so he wouldn’t sneeze. He walked just a few feet until he reached a door, with an old, rusty plaque on it that said “13”. Room 13.
Casey had never heard of a room 13 in the school before. In all his time there he’d never heard of the room.
He lifted a hand and set it on the cold doorknob, then turned it. He wasn’t too shocked to find it locked, and he stood back with a sigh, deciding to just leave it be. That is, until he heard three sets of footsteps out in the main hallway.
Casey turned and backed against the door, thinking he was definitely dead. His foot bumped against something and pushed it back, making it scrape against the ground, a metallic sound echoing a little in the dusty narrow hallway. He looked down and stooped to the floor, picking up what turned out to be a key, and wiped his thumb over it before blowing the dust off to see the number 13 etched into it, then spun on his heel and stuck it into the key hole of the door, turning it until he heard a click. He grabbed the doorknob and turned it, pushing the door open and hurrying inside the room, then closed the door behind him and locked it, backing up slowly.
He heard the three boys stop at the door, and bumped into something when he saw the doorknob rattle.
“Shit,” a muffled voice cursed out, “Where’d he go? The damn door’s locked!”
“He probably hid around the corner! He obviously ran back!”
“Awe jeeze, this running around is such a hassle.”
The footsteps led away, and Casey let his breath out, sliding to sit on the ground.
After letting his heart rate settle, Casey pulled himself back to his feet, and let his bag fall to the ground as he looked around the room. It wasn’t big, but by the rows of desks and chalkboard on the front wall, he knew it was an old classroom. In front of the chalkboard was a large teachers desk, and, for some reason, there was an old fashioned love seat just to the teacher’s left, against the same wall where the door was located. Looking more, Casey saw an old counter in the back, and a faucet that looked like it was at least fifty years old.
He turned slowly on his heel, taking everything in. The wallpaper was ripped and discolored, and there were cracks in the ceiling. The lights flickered, and the windows were covered with old newspaper. The tile flooring was cracked and chipped, and it smelt musty and dirty. There were several bookshelves in the room, but most of them were empty, save a few books here and there, scattered around the bookshelf at random points, all caked in dust.
Casey found himself staring at an area of the wallpaper that looked strangely new. He walked over to it and put a hand on it, moving his fingers up until he’d found where the paper started. He dug his nails under the paper and pried a corner off the wall. He pried away another corner and gripped the paper with both hands, ripping it off the wall in one swift move. He dropped the wall paper to his feet and stared at what it had been hiding. A large, black stain was in its place. It looked like a splatter, like it had happened by force. Like someone throwing an egg or paintball.
Casey lifted a hand and set it on the stain, feeling over it slowly, curious as to what it was.
After several moments of staring at the stain, Casey stepped back, and walked to the front of the classroom. He stood in front of the teacher’s desk and turned, looking over the room from the teacher’s perspective. The couch was to his right, along with the door, and the stain was to the left of the door. To the right if you were just walking into the room.
Casey closed his eyes and tried to imagine the room like it was when it had been used. Bustling and loud, with teenage voices echoing. The teacher would call out for the students to be silent, because he could hear every word since the room was so small. Paper airplanes would fly, and wadded up pieces of paper would be balled up and thrown at a target that everyone took advantage of.....
Casey was frowning by then, staring blankly at a desk at the back, where he’d probably sit if he had been in the class. He walked down the aisle until he had reached the desk, then sat down and looked over the room from there. It was a dull view to him. So melancholy. Casey looked down at the top of the desk, feeling his heart beat quicken in his chest as he saw words carved into the wood. He lifted a shaky hand and traced the letters, swallowing a lump in his throat.
Go and die.
Casey couldn’t stop himself from wondering what hell the kid who’d sat there had to endure in this hell hole.
He gripped the desk and pushed the top up, revealing the cubby underneath the top. Surprisingly, there were papers there. Casey propped the top up with the metal bar at the side, and reached in, pulling out a photo. He blew dust from the face and looked at it, amazed at the black and white photo. He wondered how old it was as his eyes moved over the two faces, both smiling. Two boys, one several inches taller than the other. The tall one looked bold and outgoing, while the shorter one looked timid and meek.
Still, they looked happy, and Casey couldn’t help but feel a little jealous.
He set the photo back and picked up some of the papers. Reading them made his heart beat even faster, because every one of them looked like a suicide note, or a dark poem. Casey threw the papers back into the cubby and slammed the top of the desk down, then jumped to his feet and ran to the door, grabbing his bag before sprinting down the narrow hallway and away from room 13.
He didn’t know why it was there, or even if it had ever been used, but he knew one thing. It wasn’t being used now for a reason, and he wanted to find out what that reason was.