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Presented by State Library Victoria

CHAPTER - 1

CHAPTER – 1

Before anything else is said, I want to get something off my chest; I never wanted any of this. I never wanted to be what I am today, never wanted to cause all the misery and pain that I have. Sometimes I wish I had never been born, what the world would have been like had I not.
Then again, that could just as easily be the depression, anxiety, or teen-angst talking. It hasn’t always been doom & gloom though, there have been some sunshine & rainbows; My new friends, my new family, some other things that I’ll go into more detail about later on.
The book you now hold in your hands is the first in a series I hope to soon make public, provided I manage to get permission from the Chiefs. It contains the adventures of yours truly and associates. There may be some artistic license used at times, but then it wouldn’t be very interesting otherwise, now would it?
My name is Callum Merritt, and this is the story of how I lived, how I died, how I came back to life, and everything in-between.

—————————————-

I feel the cold winter’s breeze blow against me as I stand alone at my bus-stop. I burrow myself deeper into my jacket, the smell of leather and sheep’s wool filling my nose.
After a few more minutes of waiting for the bus to pull up or my fingers to fall off, the thing finally arrives.
The bus makes its way down the street, pushing the freshly fallen snow into trash-cans, tipping them over in the process. At one point, the bus veers right off the road completely, knocking one of the bins over itself.
‘Perfect,’ I think, barely hearing myself over chattering teeth. ‘He’s hungover again.’
After some more bumbling about, the bus finally pulls up for me to hop on. As I get on, I look over at the driver. Same big, bloated, ass that’s been driving me to school for the past couple weeks, this time with an even redder nose.
“Mornin’ Chuck,” I say, beating the snow off my shoes, as I step onto the bus.
Chuck rubs his eyes and mutters a greeting before taking a sip from his coffee. I walk past him and down the aisle of the bus, coming to a stop once I find Harvey, slumped against the window.
I met Harvey around a week or two into the start of school year. It’d been around lunch when the idiot had jumped up on the table and declared a food-fight, throwing a hotdog at me. After the tossing around of a few more items of the lunch menu, namely some milk cartons and uneaten vegetables, we both ended up in the principal’s office.
Needless to say, we both wound up with two weeks’ worth of lunch and after-school detention. But you got to understand that once you spend that much time with a person, you grow somewhat close, to the point where you don’t want to throw plastic utensils at them.
“Need a kiss to wake you up, laddie?” I say, dropping down beside him.
“Hmm? Oh, shut up you,” He mumbles, beginning to wake up, wiping the sleep from his eyes.
I chuckle and ease back into the seat. Harvey nods off after a minute, nestling himself back up against the frosted window, which must have been something close to freezing, not that he appears to be showing any discomfort about it. Harvey might not be the sharpest tool in the shed, I’ve heard he’s been charged with shop-lifting, but right now he’s the closest thing to a friend that I’ve got. Of course, by close I mean about a mile away, but still closer than some people. My new foster family for example.
I’m not saying they’re the worst ones I’ve had, but they are for from the best. The fact is that it’s not what they are doing, more what they aren’t doing. Thing is that they already have two other foster kids, and are expecting their own soon, so it’s not as if I can really blame them when they forget the little things, my birthday for example. No presents, no cake, no decorations, nothing, not even a ‘Happy Birthday’.
It takes us all of twenty-five minutes to get to school; Yancy High School. A great big pile of bricks, concrete, and mediocrity.
Once off the bus, we make our way towards our separate lockers.
“I got bad news,” grumbles Harvey once we find each other again.
“Do I really want to know?” I reply, cutting through the crowd.
“Maybe,” he continues. “Maybe no-”
“Just tell me already.”
“I heard we’ve got a pop-quiz today,” he says, grumbling.
“Bloody…” I stopping just outside our first class. “Which class, dammit?”
“Math, Algebra. Mr Keller, the prick,” He says, seething.
I sigh as we walk into class and take our seats. “Okay, we’ve got Math right after Lunch, Period 5. All we got to do check over our class-notes before then.”
“Right, just got survive till then,” says Harvey, a hint of doubt in his voice. I think he heard the doubt in mine.

Once we get to Lunch we eat then bring out our class-notes, and spend the rest of our time figuring out X equals, when suddenly the bell goes off overhead. We pack up our stuff and leave. A sense of dread settling in my stomach. I’m fairly certain Harvey’s is filled with a cold rage.
Walking into the room, I can see the same sort of emotions plastered over everyone’s faces. Apparently we weren’t the only ones who heard about the surprise test. Guess it’s no-longer a surprise.
Mr Keller’s sitting behind his desk, along with a stack of papers. He’s not even bothering to spring the trap from behind the bushes. He knows that we know, and he’s loving every minute of it. I’ve met a lot of teachers, and while some of them could just be called strict or a little tough, I swear that this one is something close to downright evil, and creepy. He’s balding, forty, always wears tweed jackets with dumb shirts, and the only time I’ve seen him in anything other than khakis was when he had to participate in the ‘Student-Teacher Olympics’. He gives the harshest grades, the most detentions, and the worst vibes. The entire class hates him, and he knows.
“Alright people, no use in hiding it, fairly certain you’ve already found out one way or another,” says Mr Keller, relishing every word in a ridiculous accent that no-one has managed to place on the globe. “We have a pop-quiz today.”
Mr Keller grabs the papers off the desk, and begins going around the room, placing one on everyone’s desks, before returning to the front of the room.
“Seeing as we’re already a month into the school, I’ve decided that it’s about time for us to put our knowledge of algebra to the test. You will have the entire lesson to work on it. There are thirty-five questions. Finish early and you can do as you please. Seeing as we’ve wasted about seven minutes already, and knowing that our lessons usually last fifty, you now have forty-three minutes, sorry, forty-two minutes to complete the quiz. Begin.”
I start writing. Questions one through to eleven are fairly easy. Twelve to twenty-three are a little harder. I check the clock at the front of the room; Sixteen minutes to go. The rest of the class is burrowed deep in concentration over their own tests as well, not even bothering to check the time or who’s finished, who at this point is no-one.
I pull my attention back to the test and continue. Twenty-four to thirty-two take a little longer. I feel myself start sweating as I write down the answers for thirty-three and thirty-four. Then I reach question thirty-five.

Question 35

Answer: a) (iv) LHS < RHS; (v) LHS < RHS.

In (iv) put a = 1, b = –2.
Note that a + b = 1 – 2 < 0.
LHS = |a + b| = 1.
RHS =|a| + |b| = 1 + 2 = 3.
Therefore LHS 0.
LHS = |a + b| = 1.
RHS = |a| + |b| = 2 + 1 = 3.
Therefore LHS < RHS.
In (v) put a = 2, b = –2.
Note that a + b = 2 – 2 = 0.
LHS = |a + b| = 0. RHS = |a| + |b| = 2 + 2 = 4.

As I finish reading it all, I feel the inside of my mouth turn to sandpaper; Dry and scratchy. I check around the room once more to see that still no-one is finished. Everyone is either is struggling through the rest of the questions, or staring blankly at the last one.
I feel my leg bounce against the table as I try to remember when this was covered. I try to remember me and Harvey’s class-notes.
A thought pops into my head; ‘Harvey.’
I swivel around in my sit to look at Harvey.
Harvey is sitting right behind me at his desk as usual, but instead of lounging across his chair like usual, he’s stock. Upon first glance at least. Looking closer, I can see the muscles in his hands and jaw clenching and unclenching. He’s about as stressed as I am.
He suddenly looks up at me. We lock eyes. His gaze then drifts upwards, and he begins to go pale, what little colour that had already been in his face draining away.
I follow his gaze up towards the clock at the front of the room. Four minutes left. Deep in my gut, I feel a ball snap from its chain, and plummet downwards.
I fumble for my pencil, and start scribbling out numbers.
All too suddenly, I hear the school bell go ringing through the room. Everyone is pulled up from there tests, all with the look of people who know that they’ve failed. Mr Keller on the other hand, looks sufficiently smug, as he begins weaving through the tables, collecting everyone’s sheets of paper.
I hang my head in shame as I see Mr Keller start collecting from my row. Looking down at my sheet, I see his stubby, sausage looking hands grab my test, and move downward.
“I’ll be collecting your test, thank you Harvey,” I hear from behind.
“You cheated.”
Silence falls over the class. Everyone turns round in their chairs to see the student who just dared defy a teacher. I look back to see Harvey stone-faced and gripping his paper.
“What was that?” Mr Keller now looks a mixture of anger and quite possibly fear.
“You. Cheated.” Says Harvey, remaining completely still, but sounding like he’s prepared to jump right out the window.
Mr Keller chuckles, not in a humorous fashion though. “Now how could I have cheated? Hmm? How, Harvey?”
Harvey continues to grip the paper, his knuckles turning bone white. “We didn’t know the last question. You cheated.”
The whole room is now focused solely on the conversation happening right behind me. Mr Keller is looking like he’s about to begin yelling at Harvey. But instead, he simply repeats him, not even caring to take the disdain and disgust out of his voice. “You didn’t know the last question?”
Harvey now looks sick; His skin looks like it’s been covered with sand, his hair mangled and long, his hands still gripping the test, practically tearing it apart.
“You never taught it to us. We didn’t know it. You. Cheated.”
“Harvey, I have no idea what you’re ta—”
“You cheated!” Roars Harvey, throwing himself out of his desk, right into the face of Mr Keller. “You cheated, dammit!”
I stare at Harvey’s wild looking eyes, in disbelief and amazement.
Out of the blue, Mr Keller’s hand whips from his side to Harvey’s face, slapping a red mark right across his cheek.
Harvey stumbles backwards, startled but twice as angry. He turns back to Mr Keller, looks him dead in the eye.
And then starts growling.

2 comments

inky State Library Victoria

Such an intriguing opening! And you've nailed voice and tone. Can't wait for the next chapter!

21st Oct, 19
callumortiem

Thank you, it should be on its way soon.

21st Oct, 19