Quantum Ghost

Fool

Blood was one thing that never bothered him. The fact it was his own was hardly surprising. He lowered the tissue from his face, looking down at the face of his attacker. The short man flashed a sadistic grin with his yellow teeth.

"Get away from me, you fag!" the short junior shouted as he relished the injury he had just inflicted.

The larger and taller Jason O'Connor pinched his bloodied nose and continued gathering his books. He had no need to start another incident. After what happened last time, there was no need to continue drawing the ire of the faculty. Jason watched Brian Mccarthy collect the anime playing cards he had dropped on the floor. A bloody nose was a small price to pay for piece of mind and avoiding detention.

All of this because he was in a rush to change classes. He had been descending a set of stairs when Brian had cut in front of him, holding his deck of anime character merchandise playing cards. He had accidently bumped into him, causing him to drop his deck of cards. Apologizing and dropping his books to help pick them up, Brian punched him in the nose.

Around them, the schoolmates that had seen the incident began chuckling, and a few laughed out loud, but most continued on their way to their lockers or class. The students of Saint Barbara Catholic School enjoyed schadenfreude just as much as the parents that made them attend. After ignoring yet another instance of it, Jason returned to his locker and went to lunch.

He opened the brown paper bagged lunch that had been prepared the night before. Eating a can of fruit, a plain turkey sandwich, and a few homemade cookies, he looked around. The table he ate at was normally deserted, except when Bill or Nate had free time. Sadly, both of them must have gotten out early. They both had cars, and nothing after seventh period. While Jason had a car and license, he was not allowed to drive it to school, let alone anywhere else. That meant he was stuck here until the end of the school day. He was not allowed to take off his uniform sweater, despite the fact the cafeteria was crowded, stuffy, and packed well beyond the maximum occupancy load. Instead, he opened his backpack and began to do his homework.

It would be a forty-five minute bus ride home, at least. The irritating music that the seniors always played made concentration difficult. Opening his AP Biology textbook, Jason began to write a paper about the anatomy of a marine lifeform of his choice. Deciding between a Moray eel and horseshoe crab had been the most difficult part of it. Able to recall several details about both from his memory, he began to draft two possible papers. He recalled more about horseshoe crabs, so he considered making his paper a study into the evolution of horseshoe crabs and their extinct relatives, the trilobites. The book that he had cited his information from had been read over a year ago, so tracking down the exact title and citation info would definitely be annoying.

Working on the biology paper consumed the rest of his lunch and free period. Tomorrow, he had mandatory meeting for the one "elective" he had been forced to take, dramatic arts. Since the school had an auditorium-basketball court-theater stage, the different classes and clubs had to work around each other to take their turns with it. He was unfortunate enough to be railroaded into it due to a clerical error that took him out of computer science and into that waste of time. Jason decided to ignore it, like he did to most of his classmates and peers. When the final bell rung, he headed to his locker for his things.

He saw a familiar pair of peroxide blondes walk by and laugh at him as he filled his backpack. The locker itself was a haphazard pile of books, ripped brown paper bag covers, and broken pencils. Slamming the locker door on the mess of academic detritus, he walked out to the waiting bus. Jason nodded to the driver, and forced his best smile and wave. The driver was reading a book that he had recommended to him, Sun Tzu's "The Art of War." Jason himself had finished that long ago, and considered what to read. Opening a side compartment, the disheartened teenager saw the only book he had with him was Frank Herbert's "The Jesus Incident," which he had finished that morning.

Instead of reading, Jason determined he would draw and brainstorm a bit. He sketched out a few monsters that he had come up with during religion class that day. Having already done a week's worth of religion work in advance, he had spent the period brainstorming for a sci-fi horror novel he would write. He drew a few more vaguely asymmetric creatures, as well as the equally strange weapons the main characters would use to dispatch them with. One particular sketch he paid extra attention to was the Leviathan. Even an untrained observer could discern the details of the sketch. The titular sea serpent vaguely resembled an enlarged Moray eel with the midsection of its body hidden in the wreckage of a largely intact World War II battleship. Presumably, the serpent would be strong enough to move the warship along with it, and perhaps even control the massive cannons on it. Upon further reflection, he considered that it might be more suitable for a fantasy horror story than for a science fiction novel. While he sketched it, he ignored the hip-hop and pop on the radio and the driver, freshmen, and upperclassmen engaging in their daily shouting match over the volume of the radio.

After completing his sketch, Jason was dropped off a block away from his house. Walking down the suburban block, he considered what homework assignments and tests were due and when. After arriving home, he got changed, checked his computer for email, and finished his work. Afterwards, he did a light regimen of stretching and weights that would approximate the closest thing he had to a workout. As he prepared his lunch for the following day, his father came home, as well as little brother in baseball uniform. Jason returned to his room to ensure his favored possessions would not be lying out in the open. Quickly throwing his airsoft Glock-replica pistol into his desk and rubber martial arts weapons into his closet, he returned to pretending to work.

As his brother and father entered, his father raised the tone of his voice and locked his gaze at the PC monitor's desktop background. "What is that symbol of violence doing on my computer in my house?" he spoke as he glared down at Jason.

"Not your computer," Jason replied. "And it's just a character."

"I'm getting worried about this obsession of yours with violence," his father said as Jason broke off eye contact.

"It's fiction, Dad," Jason answered. "It's a character for a sci-fi story I wrote, and he goes around fighting evil monsters."

Jason looked quickly at the unlucky protagonist. The gun in his hands was probably what set off his father's ire.

"It's just fiction, dear," came the unexpected voice of his mother. "Now come downstairs. The game's coming on."

"Change that when I get back," his father ordered before leaving the room.

His little brother said nothing as he entered the room. Don threw his bag and baseball gear on his bed and then ran downstairs. Jason sighed, and considered another course of action. He didn't want to get into a debate over the subjectivity of symbols of violence. The infamous AK-47 was seen as a tool of liberation in African countries, while a baseball bat was a weapon of gang violence in areas where baseball was not too popular. The same thing had happened with a poster of anime characters holding swords, computer wallpapers of campy science fiction monsters, and similar things.

Not wanting to draw his father's ire or rely any more on his mother's timing, Jason prepared to call it a night. After dinner, he brushed his teeth, showered, and watched a documentary before turning in. He would have a strange dream, but would have forgotten it by the time he was awakened by his alarm clock. He then prepared for another day of school, unaware things would be different today.