Day 001 Week 01

It was a chilly, breezy October day when it all started. That morning I was sitting in isolation in what had become "my" hallway. At one end on my right, stood a group of girls who were giggling and talking with each other. At the other, a bunch of "popular" jerks glanced at me, probably talking crap. But my iPod blasted out those various conversations in this building that I'm through dealing with. I'm so glad I'm a senior.

High school: I hate it. It's full of immaturity, disrespect, and clingy, ignorant jerks who don't ever seem to grow up. Everyone has to be with a clique of people who like the same things, dress the same way, and talk about their lives and other "important" topics. They all cling to the media's standards and disapprove or misunderstand anyone who dares to keep themselves out of a stereotype. They all think and care about stupid things like having a "special someone," social networking via the Internet, various evanescent technology and other material objects, sports statistics, parties, and being "popular." When in the "real world" most of those luxuries have a chance of disappearing or fading in value.

The rest of the world has been under attack. Slowly nations have succumbed to the super-totalitarian government known as the Henzhouten as they strive for world domination. Throughout the past three months they've come out of hiding and taken over various "strong" nations in the world. More recently, the threat has come close to our country of Cambria, in our neighboring country to the north Epirstet and other neighbor to our south Nirsceva. Epirstet has already surrendered, and Nirsceva is thinking of doing the same, even though they haven't been formally threatened yet.

My father who is the senate majority leader – Russell Walker – felt the same way as our neighbors when he's been questioned what Cambria will do when the time comes. Five of my six older brothers agreed with him, which I was in disbelief over. If they took over, he'd be out of a job: for one. Two: he's willing to sacrifice this country's history and beliefs by acting like a coward? What kind of a patriot was he? Why did anyone elect him?

Meanwhile, my mother, Jack – my year older brother –, and I obviously disagree. Both of us want to fight, but our mother had reservations on sending her youngest, especially since I'm only seventeen. The others in our family didn't support the idea either. But I was used to being shot down, especially by my father.

I'll just say he's never appreciated what I accomplish no matter if I surpass my brothers. I can always do better. I always have to prove myself to him, show I'm not a failure by being who I am rather than a clone copy like my brothers are. It's a battle that's gone cold since he gave me a speech freshman year. But I continue to wait for the opportune moment to prove him wrong, along with all the other people in this world who think the same way as he does.

Anyway, the bell rings and unfortunately, my time of isolation was over.

Pre-calculus, first period: whoever thought it was a great idea should think twice. For today it's the only morning class were an anomaly occurred in my daily grind. I entered the empty room, notebook in hand, pen, iPod, and hand in the pocket of my sweatshirt. I walked to my seat in the back where my teacher, who had been around since my oldest brother was going here, had alphabetically placed me. My last name merely gave me a slight edge on the teacher. It wasn't a political thing; my brothers were just generally good kids. We had that reputation throughout the years, even though I was different than them.

Soon enough my zombie-peers came in and filled the rest of the seats. When the second bell rings, signaling that first period was to begin, our teacher came in and started unpacking. The zombies around me continued their conversations from the hallway until Mrs. Benson was ready. I ended up cutting a song short, so as she started checking homework I had it stuck in my head.

She came around, putting checkmarks on our papers like we were four or something. I rolled my eyes as she moved onto the girl who always sat in front of me when it came to alphabetical order. It was always "Mallory Wade" and then "Ryan Walker, …you must be the final one, right?" I hate that.

We started going into something "new" so I started taking notes briefly before my pen committed suicide, exploding all over the top of the page. Great. I watched the black ink bled into through the paper through my light golden brown hair that hangs over my hazel eyes. I sighed. Just my luck.

Meanwhile, Mrs. Benson goes on and I'm stuck without a pen. So I did what I hate, asking someone for help. I tapped on Wade's shoulder. "Hey." She hesitated before sitting back, finishing her sentence before turning to look at me. I asked in whisper, "You got an extra pen I can borrow?"

She blushed a bit, which was normal whenever I occasionally talked to her. I knew she had a crush on me since middle school, when everyone became obsessed with "I have to have a girlfriend/boyfriend" idea; I never understood that. She never told me though, and I wouldn't call her out on it unless she wanted me too. I don't consider her my friend or anything. I don't have any friends, just by choice and a low tolerance for most of the characteristics my peers have. "Um, yeah, let me check."

"Thanks," I chuckled as she goes into her bag. I watched our teacher as more notes filled the blackboard and I fell behind. Wade was a nice girl who was picked on a lot. She wasn't weird or even obnoxious like the jerks that made fun of kids like her and me. She was a good girl, an artist, and her friends where all Asian, a minority around these parts of Cambria. Apparently she was weird for that. I was weird for other reasons.

"Here you go," she said handing me a pen.

"Thanks," I smiled. "You mind if I used it all day?"

She shook her head, "No that's fine." I nodded in thanks, thinking the conversation was over. She added then, "You can keep it if you want."

I chuckled, "All right, thanks again."

She smiled, blushing deeper before turning around. "No problem."

"Ms. Wade, is there a problem?" our teacher asked from the front of the room.

I raised my hand as Wade probably felt a heart attack for being reprimanded, "My fault, Mrs. Benson."

She turned around from the blackboard and looked at me, along with my zombie peers. "So then what's the problem, Mr. Walker?"

"My pen died, that's all."

She gave me an impatient look. "So you were unprepared for class?"

I shook my head, "No. I was prepared. It was working."

"But it isn't anymore, am I correct, Ryan?"

I sighed. Mrs. Benson was the type to rank her teaching skills with how many times she could reprimand a kid. "Yes, but I was prepared. It was working. It just decided to give up the war. It couldn't endure another day of these notes, I suppose. But I was prepared. The pen just wasn't." I chuckled.

Everyone tried disguising their annoyance at my existence and interruption with rolling their eyes, but I knew some were trying hard not to smirk. Mrs. Benson would have rolled her eyes if it was polite, but she knew better. "You're still admitting that you're unprepared, Mr. Walker."

I chuckled, "What? Am I supposed to check the ink of my pen every morning before your class?" She opened her mouth but I was done with this interruption anyway. "Anyway, whatever. I'm unprepared and disrupting your class and lecture, so I'll just shut up and you can mark me down as you see fit, all right?"

She continued to give me that look while I sighed and looked out the window to avoid lengthening this dumb argument. She finally said about fifteen seconds later, "All right, Mr. Walker." I sighed again, impatient to just move onwards.

I know I could have just shut my mouth, but I have a few bad habits. When I get through with dealing with a place, I get sarcastic. Also when someone accuses me of something I'm not, I stand up for the truth. It makes me live on the edge sometimes, but I don't mind. It's who I am: take it or leave it. That's how I live: independent and a leader of my own path.

The rest of the morning classes went as usual: boring lectures, stupid remarks or answers from my peers, and the occasional piece of useful or new information.

I used to be more interested in school when I was younger. But I was more intelligent, mature, deep, and curious than my peers. Therefore, in order to keep everyone at the same level, I didn't get as many answers as I wanted to hold my interest. I became discouraged. Now I act like I how did in math with all my teachers. Some of them being more tolerant, since I defend outcasts like myself. Plus, I've got good grades – some better than my brothers' entire academic career – and the Walker name helps too.

Lunch is my second time of isolation during the day. In the beginning of the year, that was threatened by Wade and her two friends. The period was packed and there weren't enough tables for me to have my own. A few weeks passed and tables opened up, so I got to be isolated like I wanted.

I'm not emo or skater, even if listen to that type of music or been accused of dressing the part: hair hanging in my eyes, hoodies, v-neck t-shirts, skinny jeans, Vans sneakers, ears and upper cartilage pierced on my right ear. I'm not a bully or much of a badass either despite my history and the reputation that's come from it. I'm not a nerd despite the grades; I hate stereotypes so don't bother.

I just hate personal relationships. It's an odd thing to hate, since everyone else is so social and dependent on each other. But I've never liked them since I was six. I preferred keeping to myself, having no interest in investing my emotions or letting people know me. It's not like I'm shy or unconfident; I don't care what others think. Relationships make me feel vulnerable – as my mother clarified for me at the age of eight –, and one thing I really hate in this world is feeling weak. I've always been glad for my high tolerance for pain. But both of those things may be linked to my surroundings where most of time people try tearing me down rather than something physically or psychologically wrong with me. Whatever the cause may be, I don't care. I like being away from the assholes and stupid people. The more of the "badass" enigma I am the farther they'll stay away; at least most of the time.

Opposites attract, I suppose. I'm nothing like my brothers were, so I seem to attract the assholes' attention: being the person that I am rather than the person who condones isolating and ridiculing "outcasts." I defend them, even if I don't know them or care to. It's another odd personality trait I've had since I was young. But recently, I've added the reputation and history to shut them up.

Speaking of shutting up assholes and their victims, after I dropped off my notebook at my corner table – a strategic position where I could observe the entire cafeteria to see what the jerks were up to – I started walking to the lunch line and spotted the three assholes who were familiar with my way of "peacemaking" were trash-talking Wade and her friends. Why? I don't know but I smirked and headed over to interrupt the leader's rant.

"You girls are just weird. You act like you're five with all your giggling and—"

I chuckled with my hands in my pockets, standing besides the table without them noticing, "I don't know about that, Corey. You're the one resorting to name-calling. That seems pretty five-year-old to me." The jerks turned to me along with the girls, Wade smiling.

"Stay out of this, Walker," Corey tried threatening me with half a heart. The jerks were all on my baseball team, so they knew me. The reason they didn't like me for most of our school years was their jealousy: I was the star pitcher and shortstop ever since we were young. None of them really compared to my skill and I'm not saying that to be a jerk: the stats proved it.

I shook my head. "Nah, don't think I can, Corey: especially when you're resorting to insulting a group of girls who haven't done anything to you. Didn't your mother teach you any manners?"

"Shut up, Walker, you freaking weirdo."

"Yeah, Ryan." They chuckled as if that was the best comeback after years of calling me that.

I said, heavy on sarcasm, "That's so original and gutsy, guys. Really. It's just as gutsy as picking on a bunch of girls, but I guess that just proves how much balls you got."

They turned to face me in a defensive stance. Meanwhile around the lunchroom people were starting to watch. "Watch your mouth, Ryan. We got more balls than you."

I chuckled briefly looking away from them to the faces of people watching. In a split second, I looked back to them with my fists raised, faking them out. The three stepped back, flinching like the cowards they were. It was my chance to laugh. I chuckled, "That's why you flinched, right?" My mouth twisted into a smirk.

Corey pointed his finger at me. Oh so threatening. "Shut up, Ryan. You know what you are." His idiots seconded him.

I chuckled, glancing at the group of teachers patrolling this period approaching from the back of the room. "Really? What's that?"

He stuttered, feeling the pressure to nail me good. Too bad he lacked the vocabulary to ever shut me up, and none of my brothers were there to provide the right knife-twisting word. "You're-you're a freak."

I smiled. "Oh that's so original, Corey. After almost a complete high school education, that's the best you can come up with? If I care to remember, I'll buy you a dictionary for Christmas."

"What is going on here?" Mr. Werner said with a smile coming between Corey and I. He was an English teacher that everyone liked, and the track and baseball coach, therefore almost one of my biggest fans.

Corey started to talk but I got my words out faster. "Corey was making fun of these innocent girls."

Mr. Werner asked, "Is that true, Corey?"

Corey glared at me as he said in protest, "No!"

I gestured to the girls at the table, "Why don't you ask them, Coach?"

He looked to them and they nodded; Wade glancing at me with a shy smile. Not interested, girl, really. He looked back to Corey and said with a reprimanding tone, "Corey…"

Corey sighed heavily and said to the girls, rolling his eyes. "Sorry."

The girls hesitated before nodding and said quietly accepting his insincere apology, "It's okay." He glanced at me like a guilty, remorseless villain in a movie who was going to jail now as he walked away to the lunch line.

I kind of chuckled at him as coach patted me on the shoulder, saying, "Good job, Ryan. I'm sure these ladies appreciate it."

I chuckled again, nodding my head, "All in a day's work."

He chuckled as the girls smiled, "All right, Ryan Eastwood."

I chuckled a little and then headed to the lunch line again for my mediocre meal. I plugged into my iPod to block out any lame comments from my peers. The girls followed me on line but I didn't acknowledge them.

One of the lunch ladies interrupted my blocking out the world with screaming vocals and hard guitars, "Ryan! How are you doing, hon? Not getting into any trouble I hope."

I smirked, faking to be "polite" as I pulled out an earplug. She was only nice to me because one of her sons was close to my three years older brother, and another was on track with me. He was a jerk too, but she didn't know. "No, not recently anyway."

She smiled, "That's good. How's Neil? Is he doing well in college?"

I shrugged, "Yeah, I guess." I'm thankful when the line moves and I can slide my tray.

"Well tell him and your folks, I say "hi" when you see them." She smiled.

"Will do." I turned to the cashier and paid, glad the conversation was over more than I probably should be. Soon after, I was back to screamo and heading to my table with my thoughts.

Anyway, so my reputation was based solely on who I am, which is different from my siblings'. Theirs was based on my father's fame once he was elected. All seven of us were always talented in sports and acknowledged for our handsome faces, therefore we already had the variables to equal being popular and that's what happened, for my older brothers. They took advantage of it and made the standards of the school's social hierarchy: dressing in some high-end, label clothing brand; spiking their hair in trying to imitate shark fins or porcupine spikes; and listening to rap or whatever was claimed "popular" on the radio. They managed to make a lot of friends from the flock of superficial people who came to excessively obsess over any kind of accomplishment in their sports or academic career, along with stealing a few girls' hearts. With those "friends" who were mostly jerks, they took habit of partying, acting immature, and being intolerant to any outcast.

When I came to high school, I already had the start of my current reputation. I played practically all-star on the baseball, basketball, soccer, and track teams, but I wasn't like them. Ever since fourth grade, I've been picked on. I was a loner – too mature and smart – with that odd disinterest in personal relationships. As they grew older and cliquey, they didn't understand my way of minimal communication or interaction, especially when I'd stand up to them for other outcasts. It didn't make sense how I was a jock and alone, yet a leader but unpopular.

By eighth grade they were harsher and I was still an unsung hero of the school and numerous victims. In their jealousy and lack of tolerance for an anomaly like me, I got into a verbal and brief physical fight with jerks that my brothers had been friends with. I won, even though there were four of them. I got detention for a week and a bad reputation, which was only seconded when I entered high school.

The same group combined with my brothers' pack, tried to insult me again. I was fed up with the name-calling, which was pretty harsh that time since my brothers were helping them. So I stood up and beat the seven jerks up without any help from my three by standing brothers. They were the ones to pull me away from the fight to the principal's office. All of us directly in the fight were suspended for three days. When mom heard my side of the story, she was more pissed at my brothers than me. Dad, however, never listened to my side, no matter how many times I tried interrupting the speech that's caused most of my good behavior and motivation to win him over henceforth.

But my peers only see me as a badass loner with the Walker name. In that way I'm famous and liked among a minority of people: like the ones I defend or like that kind of a persona, when I'm not as "hardcore" as they think.

That reputation has landed me two girlfriends though. Both lasted less than sixty days. The first lasted two months, the second two weeks. It was a cheap, shallow romance, solely based on their interest in me (usually physical) or the reputation that came with going out with me. "I want to be the girl that tames Ryan Walker, the Walker family's badass," end quote of my first "girlfriend" Lola.

But those relationships were handcuffs to someone who had no friends to begin with. Each girl depended on me to revolve my life around them doing cliché boyfriend crap: meeting them between classes, calling or texting them a hundred times a day immediately after they had, hang out with their lame friends at bogus parties, telling them I loved them, etc. I hate doing those dumb things and being nagged if I didn't. Neither of them understood how independent I meant I was or cared about who I was. They thought they could change me or that I'd compromise, when I never have no matter what people have said about or to me. Our combined lack of understanding, mutual interest or compromising led to the end of those relationships, only because I was disconnected and blunt without feeling any heartbreak.

I sighed and sat back in my chair, putting my feet up on the table. I notice the occasional glancing people and get through lunch listening to my favorite subject for music: battle. I'm such a fighter at heart. If only Dad would accept that. When the bell rang, I stood with my fellow peers and headed to next period.

The afternoon continued in boredom until I decided to switch things up in gym. After getting changed quickly before the bell rang to signal the beginning of class, I went into the gym and over to the unsupervised stereo system. I turned it on and then plugged in a FM transmitter for my iPod into the bottom and picked a song. After hitting play, the gym soon echoed with a song called "Condemned" by Inhale Exhale. I smiled at my mischievous success. I walked over to the folded up bleachers against the wall and climbed to take my usual perch above my peers before class would begin.

I stood up there and sang along with the chorus, loud and clear. I felt like being a rock star and I didn't care if I would be yelled at. I didn't have a bad voice anyway. I could hit the notes and hold them; I had rhythm, that's all that really mattered. "You were wrong. All this time I believed in you. It doesn't make it right. I'm holding onto you, to you tonight."

In between, I rocked out to the guitar, nodding my head with it, mouthing the lyrics being screamed. As the chorus repeated and I sang, Wade and her friends came in. I didn't stop singing, still not caring, and only glanced at them before looking to the rest of the room again. They didn't say anything or complain, merely walking across the room to where our class usually lined up.

For the next couple of minutes, I picked random songs by different artists and sang along as more people came in, complaining or talking about my tastes in a positive manner – such as the tattooed smokers/musicians of our grade. When the "popular" kids came they were the loudest in complaining. "What the hell is this shit?"

I called out in the convenient break between the verse and chorus to the über-tanned, fake girl. "Real music." She turned to me along with all the other jerks. "Not like you'd actually know what that actually is."

She came over, "I know what music is, Ryan."

I smirked, "Then why did you bother to ask?"

She was about to respond but I put my hand up and sang the next part in the song before a pretty epic instrumental. "Cause I've never heard it before."

I put my arms out, "Cause you don't know what real music is."

She rolled her eyes. Ben, a friend of Corey, also tanned like his girlfriend said, "Neither do you, Ryan. This is shit."

"Really?" I chuckled, looking away from them. "I'm sorry, but you have to be lying or demented to think that."

"No, Ryan. You're the one who's weird," the girl said and then chuckled looking for her significant others' approval. He smiled like the ass he was.

I rolled my eyes and said tiredly, "Really you guys need to find a dictionary and actually use it."

"Who would read a dictionary, Ryan?"

"An intellect that aspires to articulate a postulation without ambiguity."

She blankly stared at me, which was expected saying that she asked how "chaos" is spelled this year. Ben had the same expression: yet again expected. His spelling of "chaos" was "kayase." Seriously? I laughed, glad to educate them. "Shut up, Ryan," was his witty response.

For the next couple of minutes, everyone endured listening to my music as I looked down upon them from my high seat until the teachers showed. When they did, they allowed me to keep my control on it, not really caring what I played as long as it wasn't foul or too loud for them to talk over. As they took attendance, some smoker kid tried talking to me about my musical tastes. I politely acted uninterested when I could have probably had a decent conversation if I cared to bother.

We did stretches and then were given options: either we could stay inside and play some lame version of dodge ball or walk the track. I opted for walking, which meant my domination of the stereo was over to everyone's joy. After detaching the transmitter, I plugged in again with my earphones. I joined the herd of lazy kids walking to the track, coincidentally by Wade and her two friends.

When we arrived at the track, we heard that we were required to run a quarter of the track every lap we did. Those on the track team, such as myself, had to run half of each lap. I didn't care so much, but my peers did. I asked as they groaned, "So how many laps is that?"

Coach Edwards said in his gruff voice, "Five, Ryan." The rest of the group groaned again.

I chuckled at their enthusiasm and mumbled to myself as I looked to the road that was beyond the bleachers on the one side of the football field where the track surrounded, "Please, its only a quarter of a lap."

As Coach Edwards started the countdown and everyone else continued to groan in annoyance, I spotted a van parked across the street. Around it, stood three guys in black suits with white shirts and sunglasses. "Go!" The rest of the herd slowly started to take off. I glanced at them before looking back to those men. But when I did they were gone. The van was there but the men were gone. "Walker?"

I shook my head, frowning and then took off sprinting, just to catch up with those mocking me for spacing out. Running was one of my favorite sensations. I can't explain why, but I liked moving fast and I loved striving for more speed. But I loved even more dodging slowpokes like the herd in front of me. That chance of losing my balance or footing really made my heart beat fast. I loved the risk of it and even falling if it happened, since I didn't care about pain or getting scraped up. I guess that's why I always imitated or tried the dumb things my brothers would always tell me not to. I didn't care about the consequences. I loved being challenged and taking risks. I suppose I was a rebel because I was an adrenaline junkie: a reason why the military wasn't a bad choice for me.

I passed all these cows that did what was necessary to get a good grade and ran my half a lap. When I achieved that distance, I slowed down to a walk. Soon after Ben called out my name. When I didn't acknowledge him the first five times, his buddies and him started getting obnoxious so I gave up. I turned around and started walking backwards. "What?" I asked annoyed.

"Let's have a race, Walker. You and me: first to complete two laps. What do you say?" His friends giggled like girls.


"Fun. Unless you think you'll lose." He smiled.

"Never to a piece of chunky, football lard like you. When we get to the end of the bleachers, we'll start."

He frowned and then smiled, probably not catching what I had called him. "Fine."

I reached them first and spent my time waiting for him to catch up five meters looking at the fields. This time, again, I spotted one of those suited guys. He was just standing there on one of the other fields looking right at me. What the hell? I stared at him, trying to figure out who he might be, until Ben came over and slapped me on the back. "Let's go, Walker. Ramirez, give me a count of three when we're ready."

I stood next to Ben and then in stance to sprint. I asked, "So what's the point of this?"

Ben said as he nodded to his friend, "To see who's faster."

I laughed outright and he glanced at me as I waited for the countdown. "…two, three, go!" I took off quicker than he did. I always had a faster reaction time than my peers. I dodged people that I came upon quickly and easily passed them, no matter how fast or big the obstacle was. I had a good sense of my opponents in any sport I played. I usually could figure someone out with a few pitches, strides, or fakes. I would have taken up some more fighter-like sports, but my father was always against that especially after I got into a few. My mother didn't like them either, so I had no support. I had no clue what they were going to say when I told them I wanted to join the military instead of college.

The first lap was easy. Ben was slower, only being the quarterback on the football team rather than a track star. When I finished my two laps successfully I didn't bother bragging to his friends or make a big deal. I walked at a normal pace and slowed my breathing. Just as I did, I spotted one of those guys in the suit again. He was standing by the entrance to the field with his arms folded, just staring in my direction. I stopped dead and stared back at him. I knew I had passed Wade and her friends again and weren't too far behind me. I motioned to them as I asked, "Can one of you come over here for a moment?"

It took a couple of seconds, but Wade joined my side. I kept staring at the guy afraid he might disappear if I didn't. I asked pointing to him, "Do you see that man over there in the suit?" She tried to figure where I was pointing at first before glancing at me. I said as I stepped a little to the side, "I don't want to take my eyes off him, but come closer and look."

She did, probably blushing, and then said, "Oh. Oh yeah. I see him."

I chuckled, "So I'm not hallucinating. Great." I glanced down at her as she chuckled too; in that split second he was gone again. I chuckled again, this time a little nervous without sounding it, "Now he's gone, right?"

She looked again and nodded, "Yeah. He's gone."

I dropped my arm, looking at her again. "All right. Thanks for helping me keep my sanity." I chuckled.

She smiled shy, "No problem."

With that I continued walking the rest of the lap. For the rest of the period I only spotted one of them again. This time they were on the farthest part of the fields, yet again staring at me or so I could figure. I was the only one who seemed to notice them in the split seconds they appeared and disappeared. The last time I felt an odd intuition as to which direction he had disappeared, but it seemed completely irrelevant because there was no proof of them even being there at all. I knew I wasn't hallucinating; there was someone watching from afar. I could feel there was when we were herded back into the school. I shook the feeling by listening to my iPod one more time before class.

By the end of the day, I still felt I was being watched. I stared out the windows of my classrooms throughout the afternoon, looking for someone staring back like in a dumb horror or thriller movie. But there was never anyone: not a janitor or those suited men.

After I had gone to my locker and put away my stuff, I headed to the main door. I hesitated as I stood outside in the main crowd of obnoxious people, having that gut feeling still. I was walking home today, even though I could have gotten a ride: mom is still overprotective of her "baby boy." I contemplated briefly calling for a ride as I stared at my phone but hated the idea of succumbing to this dumb paranoia. I pocketed my phone and headed onwards with my iPod back in my ears playing songs that would make me forget about the feeling in my chest.

I had twelve blocks until I reached home. My mind concentrated on the lyrics in order to feel lost as my eyes searched the surroundings for suspicious looking men. I felt paranoid but my gut instinct didn't change, no matter how much I called myself a coward.

I passed houses, apartment buildings, and small local stores as I walked the streets of Combs, my hometown. We were generally upper middle class to rich people. Our family mostly qualified in the upper middle class but famous category. We had a big enough house to hold seven boys with a huge yard. Six of them had to share a room; I never had to since I had the "baby" room. It was smaller than the others, but I didn't care. My brothers sometimes called me "Cinderyan" but it didn't bother me. I just called them girls for knowing what that was. That got the popular "Shut up, Ryan" response.

I had turned off the main road and was about four streets away from home when I finally told myself I had nothing to worry about. See? You're such a coward. No one's following you or anything, you stupid, paranoid kid. I was halfway down that road, before my mind changed.

I starting feeling there was someone following me. I turned down my music as I kept walking. When I did, I managed to hear footsteps behind me. I kept walking, somewhat afraid to look. Shut up. There's no one there. There's no one to be afraid of. Look.

I turned around, but no one was there. The road was completely empty and the wind blew. It was like a movie without the cliché cinematography or music to cue where or when whoever would attack. But my heart started beating faster in my ears. I kept walking and then heard footsteps again. I turned around again: nothing.

I shook my head and forced myself to keep calm. All right, so what if there's someone following? They're too much of a coward to let me- I turned around again, stopping. I scanned the cars parked in the street, other pedestrians walking, and the stoops of the apartments. None of them looked like they were watching or following me or were the guys in the suits. See them. I waited a few more seconds before turning and walking again.

This time after a few seconds, the footsteps started getting louder as if they were practically on top of me. I didn't stop walking this time as I glanced behind me and saw absolutely no one. The road was completely empty of anyone innocent or malevolent. I quickened my pace and kept walking, concentrating on staying calm even if my mind was questioning frantically: what the hell is going on?

There was another brief pause before I felt someone behind me again and the footsteps grew louder and closer, keeping with my faster pace. Screw this. I gave up pretending being calm. I broke into a sprint. I was one of the best runners on track. If they caught up, someone was targeting me and maybe then they'd show their face.

I kept moving, my feet pounding the sidewalk. I sprinted past the apartment buildings, parked and moving cars. I did what I had done on the track; I concentrated on gaining speed and distance. Behind me no one seemed to take up in the chase, but I wasn't going to give them a chance. The farther and the faster I ran, the more distance they'd have to catch up.

I was almost at the end of the street, running past and an alleyway when someone appeared, but not behind me. I barely could tell what he looked like, but it was a man in a suit like those I had seen earlier. He appeared next to me out of thin air in a blink of an eye. He grabbed me by my sweatshirt and changed my forward momentum sideways as he threw me about twenty-five feet back to the back of the alleyway. I collided with the wall and slid down, limp. The air had been knocked out of me as my head smacked solidly into the brick wall.

My vision went blurry and into shades of black, gray, and red. My head pounded like my heart. I tried figuring out what would happen next or at least who had attacked. I was seventeen; how hard could I be to take out? But I couldn't concentrate or comprehend with my senses all out of whack. All I could hear was the blood pounding in my veins. I tried sitting upright to defend myself, but my body felt so heavy compared to running before.

I sat there, slumping: my strength and mind fading. I could tell I would blackout as my eyes and head were coordinated enough to look upwards as three gray figures approached. That bad feeling in my gut came back as my mind formulated the thought; this isn't going to end well.

They started talking, but I couldn't comprehend a word no matter how hard I tried. Then one of them squatted beside me and pulled back my eyelids. He blinded me with a white light. I couldn't flinch or shut my eyes; they wouldn't let me as I weakly tried fighting.

The next thing I knew, the light was gone and my eyes were even more screwed up. There were a few more words as my mind came up with it's next thought. What the hell did I do to deserve this? But I didn't see or think much after that, since one of the figures attempted to put my head through the brick wall and I blacked out.

Edited: 3.14.11 (For the fact he's a brunette, not a blonde. :P Can't believe I didn't see that earlier. T-T) This is probably the 5th or 6th version of the first chapter. I've gone from very long & horrible to being very short & bland. Now there's this: long and more deeper into the character. Comments are very much appreciated (especially if you have seen earlier versions). Is this better "showing" than "telling"? Is there enough information/background on Ryan? The ending of the chapter more intense or suspenseful? Thanks for reading. ^^ - Kayla