"Alex. Wake up!" exclaimed a whispered voice. He felt a slight nudge to his shoulder. Alex's eyes fluttered and he groaned as he strained to open them. Alex let out a long yawn and his vision became blurred with tears. He rubbed his eyes and as his surroundings became clearer, he was sure he could hear snickers from the other students.

"I see you've returned to us Mr. Lock. Perhaps you'd be so kind as to answer problem I have on the board for us" Alex looked up to see it was his math teacher Mr. Stuart who was talking to him. The snickers became louder. He glanced over to the kid beside him who woke him up. He only shrugged.

Slowly, Alex pushed himself away from his desk and stood up. " Come on now Alex, I haven't got all day, you know," said Mr. Stuart condescendingly. Alex could see a smirk growing on his face. Alex made his way sleepily to the front of the classroom where Mr. Stuart awaited him with chalk in hand. "Here," he said as he hand it to Alex, "Find 'X' for us." Alex took the chalk out of his sweaty palm and looked up at the chalkboard. Drawn on it were several numbers and triangles. One of the sides was labeled with an 'X'. Alex closed his eyes and yawned even longer and louder than before. He could feel his teacher's eyes burning a hole in the back of his head.

Bringing the chalk upwards, Alex drew a large circle around the 'X'.

"Aha!" he shouted with a big grin, "There it is Mr. Stuart, I found it for you! I'm surprised you couldn't figure that one out yourself, y'know, with you being the teacher and all…" The entire room went silent. Mr. Stuart's smirk quickly became a look of confusion, and then exchanged for a grimace.

"Get out!" he yelled. "I'm not going to have a smartass like you disrupting my class."

Alex grabbed his backpack and headed for the door. "Well I wasn't disrupting anything until somebody interrupted my morning nap."

As soon as he shut the door he could hear the classroom erupt with laughter. The sounds of Mr. Stuart trying to regain control of the other students faded away as he walked down the hall.

The entire hallway was completely empty except for Alex. He enjoyed the silence of it. It was only when he suddenly came out of his trance that he realized that whilst Mr. Stuart was throwing his tantrum, had never specifically sent him to the office. He grinned as he looked through one of the classroom door windows, to sneak a glance at the clock. It was getting close to lunch time.

Alex reached into his pocket, and felt what he was looking for. A shim. Taking the tool he popped open the combination lock attached to one of the lockers next to him. Upon opening the door, he found a backpack. Alex unzipped it and took out the food inside it. Alex's stomach grumbled as he looked at the meal. He only took the apple out of the bag and put the rest back. It had never felt right to leave someone else without a lunch when he knew how it felt. Besides that apple would probably never get eaten anyways.

As he closed the door and put the lock back into place, he couldn't help but think what his mother would say about what he was doing. Actually, Alex knew exactly what she would say, but he couldn't help himself. With his mom working most of the day, just so they could live in their crappy apartment, he had to find other ways to get a meal. As far as his mom was concerned, he just shared with his large circle of friends he had at school. Little did she know, that 'large' circle of friends was a non-existent one.

Taking another bite out of his newly acquired apple, he wished something would change all of that somehow. He sighed, wiping juice from his chin. Alex reached the end of the hallway and took a right, down the stair to the first floor. As he took his last step off of the stairwell, he heard the echo bounce all the way down the hall. There was nobody to be seen. Unusual, because there was usually at least one nosy hall monitor poking his way into other people's business. He walked a few paces towards the exit doors and then flung them open. Stepping outside, it was difficult to see because his eyes had grown unaccustomed to the sunlight. Squinting, he walked down his normal route to town. It's too beautiful of a day to be cooped up inside that place. I'm just going to skip the rest of school today.

Alex followed the dirt trail, which was now compressed because of all the feet trampling on it, that led through a small wooded area. He could hear the birds chirping happily, and Alex joined them. He tried to put the thought of his mom's nagging that was sure to come when she found out he skipped school again, at the back of his mind. Instead, he focused on the scent of the pine trees as a small gust of wind blew past him, Alex yawned again and stretched up towards the sky. He exhaled and felt a wave of relaxation wash over him. It was only when the wind stop blowing that he became aware that the birds had stopped singing. Alex thought nothing of it and continued walking. He knew he was only about a minute from the main street of town. Maybe I'll go that new movie….

A strange noise from behind him interrupted his thoughts. It sounded like a grunt or moan of some kind. As he turned around, he saw some figure running towards him at an alarming speed. At a closer look Alex could tell it was a person, except he looked strange. The stranger's once white dress shirt was now caked in blood. The man had a large gash in his throat, and yet he continued sprinting forward. Dropping his unfinished apple core on the ground, Alex yelled at the man.

"Sir! Are you alright?!"

The man then released an awful gurgled yell from his mangled throat. The stranger outstretched his arm as if to grab Alex. Instantly, Alex realized that something was wrong with the injured man. He didn't know if the guy was on drugs or what, but he knew he was probably dangerous. Pivoting on his on the balls of his feet, Alex ran as a fast as his legs would carry him. Adrenaline surged through him every time the crazed man let out one of those gurgled howls. Alex saw the break of the trees into town. He just hoped that he could make it there, because the man was getting dangerously close.