Just wanted to wave hello and welcome you back to the "Class" series with open arms! I certainly hope that you guys enjoy this new chapter, and the next ones to follow it! Please feel free to let me know what you think at Comicality@webtv.net or stop by my website at http://comicality.gayauthors.org (And don't forget to sign the guestbook!)

"A Class By Himself 17"

I honestly don't remember falling asleep last night. If anything, I couldn't stop shaking in terror long enough to close my eyes for even the briefest of moments. My stomach bubbled and boiled for hours after I went to bed. I rolled from side to side, just trying to contain the bats in my gut from ripping me apart from the inside. Thoughts of Chris telling my mother that I was gay in the most horrible way possible haunted my mind. And the only thing that scared me even WORSE was the idea of me beating him to the punch and having to do it myself. Having to look that woman in the eyes...after all the sacrifices she had made for me...and being forced to tell her how utterly 'abnormal' I am. That just...it HURT like you wouldn't believe.

I'm guessing that Joel is still pissed at me about the other day. He didn't even come sneaking in my bedroom window last night. I would have noticed, believe me. I was 'up', after all. I wondered...would it be any easier to tell him that I was gay? Is he gonna put me in that shameful category with the 'butt pirates' and 'homos' and 'cocksuckers' that he talks about with such disgust? Will he totally turn his back on me and stop talking to me? Or will he take a few extra moments of contact to kick my ass first for deceiving him? I mean, it's not really clear how somebody is really going to react to something like this. But...if Chris uses his pain and his anger to out me in front of the whole school...and I'm sure he will...how long will it be until Joel finds out? A few days? A week if I'm lucky. And once HE finds out, everybody at my old school will find out too. I won't be able to go back to my old neighborhood any more. And I won't be able to walk the streets in this neighborhood too comfortably either. And school? Well it's not like they gave a shit about me to begin with. This is sure to make things worse. For all I know, Chris got to school early today and has already started spreading the news. By the time I get there today...they'll know. And the end of my life can begin.

I feel like I'm standing in the middle of a mile long bridge that's crumbling at both ends. Where the terrifying anticipation of the inevitable fall is more agonizing than the fall itself.

Even though I'm scared to the point of almost being sick again...a big part of me is looking forward to it all just being over. Just so I can see how bad the damage is...and deal with it.

My hands were shaking as I took my shower. My knees were trembling as I got dressed. And my stomach quivered as I went down to breakfast. My mom smiled sleepily and greeted me with a plate of microwave waffles and some scrambled eggs. "You feeling better this morning, hon?" She said, feeling my forehead with her palm.

"Yeah. I'm...I'm ok." I said, keeping my eyes down so I wouldn't have to look at her.

"Well, sit down and get some breakfast in you. I'll pour you some orange juice." She said, and when I sat down at the table, she gave me some chewable tablets. "These should help to settle your stomach." She had no idea how little good those tablets were going to do me. 'Settling my stomach' was going to take a divine miracle. And I just didn't think I had any coming to me.

My mom sat across the table from me and listened to the morning radio as she drank a glass of water and ate half a bagel. I looked at my plate full of food, and her eating over a single napkin. "Do you want some of my waffles?" I asked.

"No. Eat. You gotta stay fed. That's probably why your sick."

"Mom...I'm not sick. Ok?" It sounded like a beginning to the truth. But my whole body temperature dropped about 30 degrees just thinking about it. So I just looked back down at my plate, and tried to maintain enough of an appetite to not let any food go to waste. Then I put my plate in the sink and ran some water in it to rinse out the syrup.

"Go. Catch your bus. I'll clean up." My mom waved me off, and I timidly stepped closer to give her a very light kiss on the cheek.

"Bye, mom." It almost felt like an actual 'goodbye'. Because if Chris makes good on his promise...the little boy she once knew, that she was so proud of, is about to disappear forever.

"Derrick?" She asked, and I looked back at her momentarily from the kitchen door. "No ditching today. You hear me? Stay in class, learn your lessons, do your homework. There's something better out there for you, baby. But you gotta work for it. Ok? No more cutting classes."

I nodded sadly. "No more...'cutting classes'. I promise." I said, and with that, I put my shoes on and took a long meditative walk to the bus stop My head down the whole way.

I can't remember a time when the wait for my bus seemed so eternal. I leaned against a tree for support, and had to physically put an arm across my stomach to keep it from being so jittery. My mind was racing, and when I finally saw the bus coming in the distance...it became hard for me to even breathe.

I got on, and heard some giggles from the other kids. I made eye contact with some of them on my way to my usual seat near the back, and they were all looking back at me with grins on their faces. It only made me shake even harder inside, as I couldn't tell if they were looking at me and smiling because they knew I was gay...or if they were just smiling with their own friends, and just happened to look me in the eye because I looked at them first. Either way, I didn't have the guts to know the answer for sure. So I took my seat, crossed my arms over my stomach again, and hoped that I'd be able to hold myself together for the rest of the trip to school.

But...after a long agonizing silence, where I was left alone to have my thoughts brutally bash and batter me from all sides...I felt the bus slowing down at a familiar stop. I looked up from my hunched over position, and what I saw out of that bus window seemed to warm and comfort me from the inside out. I saw Tanner waiting there, and the bus actually stopped for him this time to let him on! I swear, there was no greater gift on God's green Earth than seeing his pretty face rise up those steps and start walking back to join me in our chosen spot on the bus.

Tanner was grinning from ear to ear, his hair even more perfect than usual, his bright hazel eyes shining like gold as the sunlight bounced off of their radiant surface. I didn't even realize how big my smile was until my cheeks started to hurt from it, and Tanner plopped down in the seat next to me. It's times like this when holding back a spontaneous kiss was almost impossible.

"Is this even REAL?" I asked him.

"Hehehe, yep! I got my dad to work out the bus schedule hijinx and get me back on their list. It took a few days, but...here I am."

"You have NO idea how good it is to see you right now. I was going CRAZY, sitting here by myself!"

"SPEAKING of going crazy..." He grinned, reaching into his backpack, "...Guess what *I* managed to get a hold of this past weekend?" He took out a piece of paper that he had in a thin plastic sheet.

"What is it?" I asked, looking at the ink pen scribblings on it.

"Look closer!" He said with a giant grin.

And when I focused on the writing, it said, 'To Tanner...love always! From the other side of daylight!'...and then there were two signatures at the bottom.

"Dude! What the fuck? Is this what I THINK it is???" I said in a loud whisper, and Tanner nodded his head with a sparkle in his eye. "No WAY! This isn't REAL, is it??? I mean it CAN'T be real!!!"

"I SWEAR! It's one hundred percent real! Adam Turner and Julian Clarke from the "Gone From Daylight" movie actually signed it! Look how they wrote my name! Isn't it cute?" He beamed. We kept our voices down, ducking a bit to keep our conversation from traveling any further than out seat. But just looking at the paper in disbelief was just blowing my mind!

"Get the fuck outta here? How the hell did you GET this???" I asked.

"Believe it or not, my cousin Jackie is, like...driving them around town and stuff! BOTH of them! Can you believe that?" He said, but was quick to add, "But you CAN'T tell anybody, though. K? She made me promise to keep it a secret. They're getting popular now!"

"Are...I mean, can we MEET 'em or something? Like in person???"

"Hehehe, I dunno! I doubt it. They're busy! But...I mean, isn't that cute though? They like...ride around together and hang out and stuff." Tanner said with a dreamy gaze. "Do you think they, like...kiss and stuff off screen? Imagine those two being...sighhhh, sweethearts in real life."

I giggled a bit at the idea. "It sounds hot, sure. But they're probably just doing the gay thing for the movie and the publicity and stuff. I mean, I'm pretty sure that Landon Delani isn't gay, but he's in it." Tanner was so excited that it warmed my heart. Just seeing him smile seemed to make me feel a little bit better. And I needed that right now. "So what are you gonna do with it?"

"I'm gonna see if I can get it laminated at school or something. I wanna keep it forever." He said. "You should really read the books, Derrick, seriously. You're so lazy, hehehe!"

"I read some of it."

"Not a lot."

"Well....you know...it's all talk talk talk, kiss, talk talk talk, fight, talk talk talk, philosophy...it's too much like homework." I told him. "But I'll go see the movie though. Should be kick ass when they cut about thirty hours of 'blah blah' out of it. Hehehe!" I felt Tanner swat me on the arm.

"Whatever. It's gonna be awesome whether you read it or not, so there." He stuck out his tongue at me for a second, and put the autograph back in his bag. "I can't believe that Jackie didn't tell me. I had to find out by 'accident' the other day."

"By accident, how?"

"She was sleeping over, and her company called her phone at some ungodly hour of the morning. I overheard her talking on the phone, and she was supposed to take them to some 'Vanity Fair' photo shoot that morning. I was SERIOUSLY gonna hurt her if she didn't at LEAST get me an autograph!!! Hehehe! So...she did."

"Why was Jackie sleeping over? In your room, no less?" I giggled.

"Well, she kinda....she uhh..." Tanner started, and I saw his smile fade a little bit. As if he didn't want to answer at first. "I kinda called her over." He looked at me for a second...then looked away. Then looked back at me. "I just needed somebody to talk to. You know...about...that 'thing' we talked about."

It didn't really take much of a hint to know what he was referring to. "Oh..." I said solemnly. And in an instant, our joyful moment of comfort and sweet smiles was gone.

"But it WASN'T anything bad, Derrick. Really. I just...I was starting to get kinda worried about...you know, today. I just wanted to know if I was doing the right thing. That's all." He saw the look on my face as I stared at the back of the seat in front of me, and he gently took a hold of my hand. "And I am. I'm doing the right thing."

I couldn't even come up with a decent imitation smile for his sake. I tried, but expression came off looking more like I had just stepped on a rusty nail instead. This was MY fault. MY mistake. And now Tanner was going to have to pay for it. That wasn't fair to him. Not at all. It seemed to bring me down even lower than before. Funny, I didn't think that was possible up until that moment. "Tanner...I..."

"Don't. Ok? Just...don't do it. There's nothing to be scared of. So what if he tells? So what? Maybe I'll get to take you to Prom." He tried to inspire a grin, but he didn't get one. Not from me. Not today.

"Tanner, this isn't funny."

"We could kiss each other at lunch, with our mouths all full of food and stuff..."


"You know what? For Halloween, you and me could totally go as 'Justin' and 'Taryn' from the 'Gone From Daylight' movie! We'd be perfect for it!" He smirked.

I lowered my head, feeling bad that I couldn't humor him at that moment. Not even if I wanted to. "Chris was right about one thing, you know? This isn't going to go away. Once it's out there...it's just gonna keep going and going and going...for the rest of high school. Maybe even the rest of our lives. Everything's gonna change, Tanner. Everything."

Tanner gripped my hand even tighter as he felt me trying to slowly pull away from him. "Derrick, whatever happens today...we'll get through it just fine. I told you, I'm right here by your side. No matter what." He then told me, "I got...scared for a while. And when I told Jackie what happened...well...at first she LAUGHED! To be honest."

I wrinkled up my forehead. "She LAUGHED???"

"Well...I don't think she had any idea that Chris jumped on you and was kissing you in the back of her limo that first night. Hehehe, she thought it was hilarious." He smiled. "But...after we talked for a little bit, she told me something that made a whole lot of sense."

"What's that?"

"That nothing's gonna change. Not for you and me. We are who are, and we're in love. And despite a few pointed fingers and whispers...that's not gonna go anywhere. The only thing that's going to change is the way other people deal with knowing something about us that they didn't know before. And frankly...how 'they' deal with it doesn't count for shit. Let that be their problem, you know? No need for us to stress ourselves out over it." Then he looked into my eyes, and said, "Nothing else matters...as long as I have you."

Did it help me to feel better? No. "I'm sorry, Tanner. I'm gonna try to be brave about this, but..."

"You don't have to be brave, Derrick. Just be mine." He said. "Jackie made me realize that I was fighting for an identity that didn't fit me anyway. If it comes down to choosing between just 'me'...and 'us'...then I choose 'us'. Because I can't go back to standing alone, Derrick. I can't. I've experienced too much love to let it go now."

With that, I looked up at him again, almost teary eyed...and even though it scared the living shit out of me, I gave him an honest reply. "I choose 'us' too."

I felt another squeeze of my hand as the bus came to a stop outside of our school, and everybody got up to file their way out, one by one. Tanner and I stood up together, still holding hands for a second or two...and we started walking forward. Every boy and girl that hoped down out of that bus...was another tick on the clock. A countdown to what may very well be the end of my life as I knew it. But I felt the warmth of Tanner's hand against my palm, and somehow...it helped keep a few of those jitters at bay. Then...we got off the bus ourselves, and our hands disconnected. A cold wind rushing in to signal our detachment. Sighhhh...ok, Derrick. Let's do this.

I remember feeling almost sick again as I walked into the building. But I remained steady for Tanner's sake. I saw Tanner kinda looking back and forth also, but he remained steady for my sake too. I didn't know what to expect. Maybe the word 'faggots' painted on our lockers? Or laughter from both sides of the hallway? Or maybe just a sucker punch from around the next corner? Who knew. But the wait was killing me as we walked down that hallway.

I managed to catch sight of Mitch near the main office. Chris' special little henchman. That fucking merchant of misery, working to help him ruin us for good. It angered me to have him cross my vision. And when he saw us, he just kinda turned his back and walked away. Arrogant son of a bitch He's a PART of all of this. For all I know, he was helping Chris put the final touches on the whole scandal right now. Asshole!

And then...came the moment where Tanner and I had to part ways for our morning classes. I didn't want to leave his side. I CERTAINLY didn't want him to leave mine. But we took one long final look at each other before leaving each other's sight. And just before he turned towards the stairs, he gave me a tender smile...as if to wish me luck.

I think I felt dizzy for the first three periods of the day. It was two hours of pure torture, having to go from class to class, wondering who was going to say something first. Or thinking about what the first hint of my 'outing' was gonna be. I sat in those classes, slowly going mad like the guy in the 'Tell Tale Heart'...hearing my own heart pounding in my ears as I tried to keep from trembling visibly in front of the other students But still...nothing.

My fourth period was equally quiet. And believe it or not, I think I got less teasing than normal. Something was wrong. Maybe this was another one of Chris' little mental manipulations. But when I went to my fifth period class, I realized that I hadn't even crossed paths with Chris today. Which was odd. Because he was kinda hard to avoid, even when I was trying to. Hmmm....tricky. Tricky, tricky, tricky. What is he up to now?

I was staring off into space when my teacher called my name, evidently for the third time. "Huh?" I must have been zoning out.

"Your homework, Derrick. Would you mind taking it out now like the rest of the class?" She said.

"Oh...right." I looked in my folders and checked between the pages of my textbook, but I didn't have it with me. "Um...actually, you know what? It's in my locker. I'm sorry, my mind just...isn't with me today."

"Such a shame, because this is certainly a place where you'll need it." Sighhh...did she have to be a bitch about it? Geez. That kind of remark isn't always necessary. "Go get it. And hurry back. You're holding us up."

"Yes, ma'am..." I said, getting up and leaving the classroom. My locker was a floor up and nearly on the other side of the school, but I appreciated the breathing room. I was almost scared to let the feeling of 'safety' creep in, because as far as I knew...I was still on the verge of total exposure. But for now, I was a bit relieved to not have had the hammer drop on me right from the beginning.

The halls were empty. Silent except for my footsteps. And once I got to my locker, I just grabbed my whole backpack and decided to take it with me I knew my homework was in there somewhere. I just had to dig it out.

Then...on the way back, I heard another set of footsteps ahead of me. And I looked up to see Mitch coming around the corner. And my eyes narrowed almost instantly.

Now, to look at Mitch, you would never think of him as being much of a big 'threat' to anybody. He was a skinny, pale kid with thin rimmed glasses, and a stylishly chaotic crop of dark blond curls on his head. And he kept an inhaler close at hand at all times for his asthma, just in case it ever caught him by surprise. He would occasionally get a zit or two, like he did today, but they never lasted long. Just a mild case of the typical teenage curse. Like I said, he was hardly what anyone would refer to as 'intimidating'. Not by a long shot. But the utter disaster that boy could cause with a simple keyboard and a couple of well placed back doors for password clearance...was about as frightening as anything any average high school bully could come up with. Even MORE so, if you ask me!

And just seeing him in that hallway after all the pain he had caused me, it nearly caused my blood to boil. Especially when he caught a glimpse of me and sorta guided his eyes towards the floor as he sped up his pace and tried to hurry past me. As though he could honestly just 'slide' by without me noticing. You've gotta be fucking kidding me.

The last thing I needed was more trouble, but when he got close enough to me, I couldn't help but mumble, "Fuck you, Mitch..."

"What?" He asked, turning around with a frown.

"You heard me."

"You know what? Fuck you TOO, Slug!" He said with a sneer. Funny, as timid as he was a moment ago, he almost did a full 180* on me. As if he had ANY reason at all to be mad at ME for what HE did!

I turned to face the son of a bitch and looked him in the eye. "What did I ever do to you? Huh? What did Tanner ever do to you?"

"Maybe you didn't do anything. Maybe I just did it for kicks." He replied...

"Why, Mitch? You don't even KNOW me! Why would you go out of your way to make my life so miserable?"

"Awww, poor baby...are you miserable? Join the club." He told me. "I did it because Chris ASKED me to do it. And I'd do it again. Just so you know..."

I couldn't believe the fucking AUDACITY of this kid! "You know what? Karma's a bitch, Mitch!"

"Yeah, it IS a bitch! And this time it's YOUR face that got slapped. So fuck you, you got what you deserved."

"Deserved???" I said.

"You shouldn't have been messing around with Chris' heart! You should have just left him alone!" He said angrily. And at that moment, something seemed a bit...out of place.

"Wait..." I said, a bit confused. "...Chris...I mean, he told you what...happened?"

Mitch's facial expression changed from anger to a look of almost...despair. "He didn't HAVE to, Derrick. I'm not an idiot. How hard could it be to figure out that he has feelings for you?"

"I don't understand..."

"Chris and I have been going to school together for a long time. I know him well enough to know when he's having his emotions toyed with. And I know him well enough to know that he wouldn't have asked me to do what I did if it wasn't something that REALLY mattered. Unless he was REALLY hurt by what went down." Mitch's snarled expression returned to his face as he stepped closer to me.... "Chris doesn't deserve to be hurt like that. Not by you. Not by Tanner. Not by anybody. He's better than BOTH of you. So I'll say it again...you got what you deserved.."

"Look...what happened with Chris and me was just...it was a mistake, ok? It was just something that happened..."

"Oh SAVE it! Alright? I don't wanna hear that shit, and neither does he. You think that 'you being sorry' has anything to do with how fucked up he feels right now? Is your weak apology gonna put his heart back together again? Huh? No. So why even bother?" The more I heard Mitch speak, the more I detected an extra 'protective' tone in his voice. His whole posture had changed, and it just seemed...weird to me. "What I did was a small price to pay for what you two did to him. And if Chris, himself, hadn't come to me this morning and told me to turn down the heat, you'd still be sitting your sorry ass in detention right now."

"Wait...Chris told you to do what?"

"That's right, Slug. You got away with it. Hooray for you. You get to go back to your happy little life while the rest of us get to suffer in the wake of your little romantic 'decision'." He said. "If it were up to me, I'd keep pounding with you demerits and detentions until you went back to your little hole in the wall back home and never showed your face in this place again. EVERYTHING was better before you started walking your pretty blond ass through the halls. I just want things to go back to the way they were so Chris can come to his senses and start forgetting all about you." There it was again. That feeling that Mitch wasn't just mad at me for being different. Something else was hiding there under the surface.

"That's not fair, Mitch." I said.

"What the hell do YOU know about 'fair'? Sweet little pretty boy with all the trimmings...and you wanna talk to me about fair?" He shook his head, as if in disgust. "I don't know why he even bothered with garbage like you in the first place."

"Whatever. Just stay out of my life from now on, and you and me will be fine. And stay out of Tanner's while you're at it." I said, ready to walk away.

But he said, "I will...as long as Chris doesn't tell me to go back to working on you again." And I walked right back to get in Mitch's face.

"I MEAN it, Mitch! Leave us the fuck alone!" I said louder. "This doesn't even have anything to DO with you!"

"This has EVERYTHING to do with me!!!" He shouted it loud enough to echo down the hall, and for a moment I thought we were gonna get caught being out here during class. I think Mitch realized how loud it was too, and made sure to look to both ends of the hall to make sure we were ok. Then he gritted his teeth, and lowered his voice. "I'm not gonna lie to you, Slug...I, personally, want you gone. And if Chris wants me to help him get rid of you, I'd be more than happy to do it. I'd do ANYTHING for him. You understand me? Anything. Whether he appreciates the effort or not isn't even the issue any more." And that's when his face changed again. I think he might have said more than he wanted to at that moment. Almost wishing that he could take it back. But he just hoisted his backpack up on his shoulder and concluded with, "But what does it matter, right? All Chris ever talks about...is you." And with that, he turned his back and walked away from me. His pace even faster than before, and his head down. When he got to the door to the stairs, he slammed his hand against it and swung it open angrily until it hit the wall. He was EXTREMELY heated over the whole thing. But even more than that...I couldn't help but recognize that...that 'feeling'. That particular 'vibe'. People fight to defend themselves, people fight to defend their friends and family......but nobody fights that hard for some school acquainted kid that's basically just using him for his talents at computer terrorism. I mean, Mitch has done a lot of dirty work for Chris since I've been here, but I hardly thought they were that close enough for him to be so 'protective' of him like that. It made me wonder if...maybe I was stealing away a bit of an infatuated spotlight that he wanted for himself.

The idea hadn't even really solidified itself fully before I heard voice at the other end of the hall. I looked up, and saw that asshole, Johnson, and three of his bruiser buddies walking towards me. I REALLY did not want to be alone in a hallway around them. So I came to a screeching halt, turned around, and started walking in the other direction. The halls were so damn LONG in this place! I just wanted to 'turn' somewhere and make myself scarce before they saw me. But...the end of the hall came too late. Their conversation stopped abruptly, and after a few whispers between them, Johnson called out to me. "Hey there, sweetie pie!"

I didn't say anything. I didn't even look back at them. I just kept walking. Briskly picking up the pace so that I could get somewhere a little more public. But I heard them starting to walk faster behind me, and soon they were jogging to catch up to me. "Hey! Where's your hall pass, bitch! Hehehe!"

I could have started running. I could have just taken off and bolted for the nearest classroom. But for some reason, my mind gave way to a mild panic, and my feet refused to work with me. My heart began to race, and trying to outrun them would have been like running from a rabid dog. With pretty much the same results.

They caught up to me in an instant, and Johnson made sure to stand right in front of me to keep me from walking away while the others surrounded me on all sides. They were all smiling wickedly at me, but I just kept my head down, silently hoping that they would just get bored after a few nasty comments and let me go. I felt somebody pull my backpack off of my shoulder, and somebody else messed up my hair, giving my head a push. And then a smack on the cheek. Johnson grinned at me as he gave me a shove in the chest. "What's the matter, Slug? Didn't you hear me talking to ya? Huh?" He pushed me again. "You remember what I told you before, bitch? About watching your back?"

"Look, just...leave me alone, alright? I'm supposed to be back in class, like, any minute." I said, hoping it would get them to back off.

"You're not HEARING me, Slug! THIS is your class now!" He pushed me again, and somebody from behind slapped me hard in the back of the head I pushed him back and my arms went out to defend myself a bit, but it was more out of a fearful rush of adrenaline than any kind of conscious thought. My panic began to grow even more intense as two of them held my hands at the wrists and I found myself actually being 'lifted' off of the floor. I screamed for them to get off of me and to let me go, but Johnson told his buddies, "Shut him the fuck up! Take him in the bathroom! Go! Go!" I was dragged kicking and struggling into the boy's bathroom at the end of the hall, and I heard Johnson tell one of his friends, "Watch the door! If anybody comes by, give us a knock."

I couldn't believe that this was actually happening to me! They slammed me down on the floor hard, and my arms and legs flailed out in every direction in attempt to hit anybody within striking distance! But as soon as I got to my feet, I was jumped on by two boys at once and pinned against the wall. They rammed their shoulders into my sides like a football tackle, and while I managed to land a punch or two, it only succeeded in making them mad. And when Johnson came forward, he sucker punched me in the gut hard enough to where I couldn't breathe. I buckled over and fell to my knees. I couldn't even get enough wind in me to scream for help.

Johnson grabbed a handful of my hair in his fist, nearly ripping it out at the roots! And he said, "Chris may have laid off of you, Slug...but I haven't! I say...you don't get off that easy!" I felt them picking me up, even though I was still doubled up from the punch to the stomach, coughing and gasping for air. And they all started to beat me from all sides. They hit me until I didn't even know where the punches were coming from. I couldn't even disconnect my folded arms from my aching abdomen. Instead, I curled up into a ball and tried to take the punishment until I could catch my breath again and hopefully find a break in the beating to at least make a run for it. Then...I felt someone grab the front of my shirt, and pull me up a bit. Then a hard knuckled punch brutally slammed into my right eye, and my vision suddenly went white as my face was dropped back to the cold tile of the floor. I was lifted again, and another punch busted my lip wide open, and a knee was thrust into my kidneys from behind. By the time they let me fall to the ground again, my whole BODY was wracked with unbelievable pain. I was so helpless. So very helpless.

Then...as if they hadn't already done enough...they giggled to themselves and devised a nice little 'bonus' to their violation of me. I felt myself being dragged over to one of the stalls, and I tried my best to fight back! I tried so HARD to fight back! But they outnumbered me three to one, and they were BIGGER than me, and just...just too fucking STRONG for me to resist!

I was pulled up to the toilet, and Johnson started angrily 'forcing' my head into it. I put my hands on either side of the bowl, squealing in a high pitched whimper as I pushed as hard as I possibly could to keep them from dunking me! I could see droplets of blood fall into the cold toilet water beneath me from my bloody nose, and I screamed as two sets of hands pushed down even harder! I struggled and I squirmed...but they just kept snickering and pushing and soon my head went further into the toilet! The side of my face touched the water, and I pushed back again, but soon my arms were too weak to hold on any more, and they gave up on me. I suddenly had my whole face submerged in water, and all I could do was hold my breath! They held my head down in the water like they were trying to fucking DROWN me! And as I started to run out of air, I screamed out loud, the bubbles rising to the top as I continued my pointless attempt to pull my head out of such a disgusting place! Then suddenly, they all just...let go!

I popped out of the toilet and fell backwards on the floor, almost gagging with the sickness of it, and crawling back on my elbows to get as far away from them as I COULD! That's when I heard it. A loud knock at the door. The 'signal'.

"C'mon, man! Let's jet!" One of them said, and Johnson walked over to me and put his foot on my chest, pushing me back down to the floor.

"Why don't you do yourself a favor, and take the day off tomorrow, Slug? You've had a hard day." He kicked me in the ribs and then wiped his hands off on his shirt. "Oh yeah...and if you tell anybody about this? Not only are you gonna get it TWICE as bad next time...but we're gonna make sure that sweet little Tanner gets invited to the party too! So remember, silence is golden, faggot!" Johnson then straightened up his clothes and fixed his hair in the bathroom mirror before walking out with his friends. I could hear echoes of their laughter all the way down the hall. They got so much 'joy' out of torturing me.

I laid there in a heap, barely propped up against the wall. My clothes had been ripped and stretched. My lip and nose were bleeding profusely. My eye was undoubtedly black, almost to the point where I couldn't even see out of it all the way. And once I sat there in silence for a few moments, recovering from the shock of being 'attacked' like that...I felt a single tear slide down my cheek. And that caused the dam to burst. I started to sniffle and sob, and soon I was biting down on my own knuckle to keep from bawling out loud. But the tears weren't because of the pain. It was the humiliation of being treated like an animal by people that I hated......SOOOOO **FUCKING** MUCH!!!!!!! I wanted them to DIE!!! ALL OF THEM!!! Why couldn't I stop them from beating me up? Why couldn't I fight harder! Now they're gonna go off somewhere and LAUGH at me for being such a wimp!

Now they're gonna come find me and beat me up any time they feel like it. They're just gonna keep pounding me, and pounding me, and POUNDING me...and I can't do anything but TAKE it! Because if I tell........

If I tell.....

They're gonna hurt me even worse. And then they'll hurt Tanner. And I can't live with that. I'd do ANYTHING to spare him this shame. This stupid STUPID feeling of shame!

I got angry, and pounded my fist on the floor, and then the wall. But what could I really do? Nothing. There's NOTHING that I could do! At ALL! EVER! And that thought kept me right there on that bathroom floor, crying and sniffling, until the next bell rang. And that's when I went into a stall to hide.

I heard a few voices come in and go again. But I didn't make a sound. I just stayed there...and waited out the passing period so that I could find a way out of that place until it was time to come home. I cleaned myself up as best as I could in the bathroom sink...but looking at myself in the mirror was hard. My eye was swollen and purple, my lips puffed up on one side, and a dark bruise on my cheek, another on my arm. And smeared spatters of blood everywhere on my face. I turned away from my own reflection, and felt more tears of anger come to my eyes as I tried to remain quiet. Even when my throat was BURNING to scream out loud and put my fist through a wall!

Instead, I suffered in silence. I always do. And once I get home...I'll just keep suffering until it's gone.

If ever.

Just wanted to wave hello and welcome you back to the "Class" series with open arms! I certainly hope that you guys enjoy this new chapter, and the next ones to follow it! Please feel free to let me know what you think at Comicality@webtv.net or stop by my website at http://comicality.gayauthors.org (And don't forget to sign the guestbook!)

They say beauty is only skin deep....
That's exactly why Marzien wants to see what your 'insides' look like....

"The Boys Of Widow Lake"

~~~ COMING FALL OF 2009 ~~~

(ONLY available in print!)