Once a Geek, Always a Geek?
The last class had been dismissed and Edison Bates walked down the hallway slowly, hoping to avoid Carter. The other kids eyed him with curious looks or snickers because he was the head nerd of Meadow Ridge High School. He wore glasses, preppy clothes, and a shy demeanor. As he was jostled and pushed past in the crowd of kids eager to start their Friday night, he kept a wary eye out.
A few minutes later he paused in a corner of the hallway, where the line of lockers began. When the crowd of kids had thinned, and seeing Carter nowhere in sight, he went to his locker, opened it, and pulled out his books. As he closed the door he felt a tap on his back and heard the familiar voice.
“Glad you’re still here.”
Edison gritted his teeth and turned around to see Carter towering over him.
Carter Townsend fit the cliche of the handsome, popular high school guy who dated whomever he wanted. He used girls for only one thing and then coldly threw them away like used Kleenex. Some girls lasted longer than others. Even though girls knew his reputation, they still seemed drawn to him as if under some hypnotic spell. He had an on and off-again relationship with Anna, the most popular girl in school. His incredible arrogance mixed with a cruel streak made him an absolute jerk in Edison’s eyes.
Now, during their last year at Meadow Ridge, Edison had still allowed himself to be bullied into being Carter’s puppet. He did Carter’s homework on a regular basis. Better to suffer through that than be harassed daily by Carter and his entourage.
His thoughts quickly flashed back to the night of the party before senior year started. God knows why he and Nora had been at the party. It wasn’t their thing but they’d been invited and had gone, thinking they might have fun, but it hadn’t been fun; it’d been weird. He and Nora were still the outsiders and had quickly left after the party had turned into some weird seance with Anna Devereaux pretending to channel spirits.
Edison believed in and had great faith in God. Nora wasn’t sure God existed but she hoped He did. Ever since the party, Edison had experienced strange things. One was the text message that he’d woken up to that very morning.
“Edison, starting this afternoon, you no longer have to take orders from anyone, ever.”
The weird thing was that there wasn’t a number to go along with the text, and his phone showed no incoming calls. He didn’t feel too worried about it though. Reading the texts had given him some kind of magical confidence. He felt different. Maybe God was helping him to stand up for himself by giving him more friends.
Or maybe it was that shy girl in science class that always smiled at him. Her father worked for some fancy IT company that made secure and encrypted messaging apps for businesses. It could easily be her, but then again, she didn’t seem the type to be so assertive.
“Where do you think you’re going?” Carter demanded as he blocked Edison.
“Home,” Edison replied, looking straight ahead. It was better to not give too much eye contact. Out of the corner of his eye, he noticed Carter’s best friend and school basketball star Alexander Vance, standing nearby.
“You can go home after you give me my English homework that’s due tomorrow.” He crossed his arms and stared at Edison.
“I don’t have it.”
“What?” Carter looked surprised.
“I said I don’t have it.”
“What’s up with you, Bates?” Carter’s eyes narrowed.
Edison turned away from Carter but now Alex blocked him.
“Stay. Good dog,” Alex said with his creepy grin.
Carter looked a little nervous. He couldn’t afford a fail. “I need my homework,” he hissed.
“Then do it yourself.”
The shocked look on both of their faces made Edison smile and it felt so good.
“What the friggin’ hell did you just say?” Alex got in his face.
“I said, find some other sucker to do your homework.”
Carter glanced around to make sure the hallway was empty before he grabbed Edison by his windbreaker collar and shoved him hard against the locker. Edison didn’t flinch.
“Something is different about you, Bates,” Carter said, looking confused.
Carter was never confused. Interesting, Edison thought, as he smiled a little.
Carter tightened his grip on Edison’s jacket collar. “I want my fucking homework before school tomorrow. I’ll come by in the morning to pick it up.” He let Edison go.
Edison straightened his glasses and picked up his backpack.
“Hey,” a feminine voice interrupted them.
They all turned to see Nora Slater walking up to them. She wore her favorite “Nirvana” long-sleeved t-shirt and jeans. They hugged her curves. Nora wasn’t considered beautiful in traditional terms but she was striking with her freckles, perfect teeth, and flowing auburn hair. She pushed back her bangs as she glanced at Edison.
“Hey,” Edison’s face lit up when he saw her.
If she lost a little weight, she’d be a knockout - or at least, that’s what Carter had told her last year after she’d rejected a date with him.
Carter hated her for that because she’d said no in front of his friends, embarrassing him. He never thought she’d say no to him. He gave her a cold glance before he turned and started walking down the hallway with Alex.
“Have it tomorrow or you’re dead,” Alex called behind him.
“They’re harassing you again?” Nora asked, adjusting her backpack over her shoulder.
“I told them I’m never doing their homework again.”
“Finally. I’m so proud of you, Edison!” Nora surprised him by hugging him tightly.
“Why are you still here?” Edison asked her as she let him go.
“I was getting things organized for the art fair.”
“Oh yeah. Everyone will get to see your talent. How cool is that?”
They started down the hallway, not too far behind Carter and Alex.
“Hey, want a ride home?” Edison said.
“Sure,” Nora smiled.
They were some length behind Carter and Alex but not too far. Suddenly, Carter let out a piercing cry.
Edison and Nora watched as Carter was slammed up against the wall next to the exit doors. They couldn’t see who had pushed him. Alex was whimpering in the corner.
Edison froze for a moment. Electric flashes flowed through his body, followed by the sensation of icy fingers touching his skin. Disembodied silver eyes blinked at him then vanished. He gasped as he felt a warmness curl around his mind and body.
The hallway lights flickered a few times then went out. Five seconds later they came back on and they watched Carter as he was slammed to the floor by the unseen force. He got up on his hands and knees. Blood streamed from his nose. Slam. Back down he went. He struggled but was held in place. “Oomph.”
"What the hell is going on?!" Alex whined.
“We need to help them,” Nora said as she tried to slip her hand from Edison’s but it was locked in his grip. Edison stared down at Carter.
“How’d you do this, Bates? Some voodoo-like shit?”
“You really believe in that, Carter?”
Carter held his hand to his nose. “I don’t know what the hell happened but I’ll find out.”
Let’s go,” he said to Nora and pulled her out the exit door. They stepped out into the late afternoon sun.
Back inside the school, Carter snapped at Alex. “Damn it, you coward! Get over here and help me.”
Outside in Edison’s car, Nora pulled on her seatbelt as icy chills ran down her spine.
“Don’t ask me to explain what just happened in there, but it was fantastical! Our lives will never be the same.” Edison grinned at her as he backed out of the parking space.