The final bell rang as the students hurried out of the school, anxious to get home. Most of the students filed onto the buses that had been awaiting outside, but I decided to walk home as usual since I did not live too far away.
I was rather anxious to get home myself, hoping to avoid any more incidents with Michael, and hoping to see Maggie waiting at the window. She was always able to calm me down after a hard day. The thought of seeing the neatly kept Magpie made me smile. The smile soon fell from my face as the horrible feeling in my gut returned with a renewed strength.
Something told me to check if anyone was behind me. I did so, taking a quick glance back, only to feel a wave of fear wash over my body. Michael and his Goons were walking in same direction I was heading. I tried to calm myself with logic, telling myself that he was simply walking home and the twins were just going over to his house to hang out. Even as I thought this, the sick feeling intensified, telling me over and over that I was wrong.
At this I started to walk faster. Fear struck through me once more as I heard their footsteps grow faster as well. Seeing Michael's house, I silently hoped that he would stop and turn into his driveway.
'Maybe he's trying to scare me?' I thought to myself, biting my bottom lip with worry.
I passed his house and my home came into view, a wave of relief crashing over me at the thought of getting somewhere secure. That feeling instantly vanished as I heard the three right behind me. They did not stop at his home. They were following me.
In that moment I took off in a sprint, heading for my backyard. I always left the sliding doors unlocked, mostly since I lost the key to it, but I knew that I could get inside without struggling with a lock. I ran around the corner and into the backyard, my feet seeming to vanish beneath the thick layer of snow below.
Just as I reached out for the handle of the door, I was yanked back by the hood of my jacket and tossed to the ground. I quickly sat up and glared up at the one who had thrown me. Michael stood before me with a sinister smirk.
"Hey there Jessica. Sorry to drop in on such short notice, but I simply wanted to talk to you about today's events."
The two Goons stood to my left and right with matching smiles.
"T-There's nothing to talk about." I cursed at myself for stuttering. I quickly stood to my feet, trying to dust of the caked on snow.
"Oh, but there is." His smile intensified as he approached me. "You see, you got us in trouble with the teacher and now he will be calling our parents. That wasn't very nice."
"We just want to return the favor." Joseph chimed in.
Suddenly Jared swung his fist as it collided with my cheek, causing me to stumble to the left. I tried to retaliate by swinging back, only for Michael to cut in with a blow to the gut, knocking the air out of my lungs. I gasped for breath trying to stay on my feet as my knees wobbled with the impact. A quick dodge from a blow helped for a second before I was knocked to the ground by a rough kick to the ribs.
The three gathered around, hitting me with multiple kicks and punches. I tried with great difficulty to dodge as many blows as I could, but it was three against one and they easily overpowered me. Tears stung my eyes as the overwhelming pain continued without rest. That was when I heard Joseph scream out,
"HELP! GET IT OFF OF ME!!"
Joseph suddenly broke from the group as he swung his arms wildly in the air at something. Jared and Michael stopped as well, giving me time to open my eyes long enough to see what was going on. My eyes widened in shock at what I saw. Joseph swung his arms frantically as a familiar Magpie flew about, pecking at the teen and clawing at his arms with her feet. Bright red scratches welled up on his face, hands, and arms.
"I'm coming bro!" Jared shouted as he ran over to assist his brother, but he simply ended up getting attacked as well.
Michael rolled his eyes with a sigh as he reached over to his school bag. I watched in fear as he pulled out a baseball bat.
"NO!!!" I screamed helplessly as he, in one effortless swing of his steel bat, swatted the Magpie to the snowy ground, her body skidding to the edge of the woods.
Michael smiled, seeming pleased with himself before swinging the bat over his shoulder.
"Put that bird out of its misery, Joseph." He ordered.
"With pleasure." The Goon smiled as he started to walk towards the motionless bird.
I do not quite understand what happened next. One second I was lying on the ground, my body aching and horror surging through me as the twin approached Maggie. Just as he rose his foot up to stomp down harshly on the bird, a strange strength burned inside of me and next thing I knew I had scurried over with incredible speed and jumped in front of her, the kick being delivered into my gut. The kick winded me, but I knew I had to do something to distract him. Without a second thought I grabbed his leg and bit him as hard as I could. It may sound weird, but it was the only thing I could do at the time.
Joseph yelped in pain before falling back on his rear. I knew I did not have much time, so I turned around and scooped the magpie into my arms. I pushed through the pain as I hurried towards the woods, my breaths coming in painful gasps. I made it just past a line of trees before I felt a powerful tug on my hood. In that instant I tossed the Magpie into the air, hoping against hope that she could fly off. Relief washed over me as she fluttered her wings mid fall as she flew into the air.
She looked as if she was going to come back so I called out into the woods.
"Fly Away Maggie! Please!" I shouted urgently.
I could not bare losing her. Some would say that she was just a bird, but to me, she was my only family and I was not about to lose another.
I only had time to see Maggie fly deeper into the woods before I was suddenly jerked back and pulled into the snow. Joseph and Jared quickly ran over and pinned my arms down as Michael sat on my stomach. The teen smirked at me as he reached into his pocket. The twins eyes widened simultaneously as they watched Michael pull out a pocket knife.
"Whoa, dude, you never said anything about a knife!" Jared spoke in a hushed tone.
"Don't be such a baby!" Michael growled. "It's not like I'm going to kill her! Look, if the two of you are going to be cowards then you can simply look away. You don't have to watch."
The twins glanced at each other worriedly before nodding in submission. It was strange, but I could see that their choosing to simply look away was out of pure fear of Michael. They were not doing any of this because they were his friends. They were doing this because they feared him.
"Good." The taller teen smirked. "Now, Joseph, cover her mouth. I don't want to draw any unwanted attention."
The twin did as he was told, rather timidly I noted. The duo then quickly turned their heads away as Michael brought his blade closer to my already bruised face. As soon as he saw the two looking away a sinister smile formed across his face before he lowered the blade. My eyes widened as I felt the cold blade touch the bare skin of my neck.
I attempted to free myself from their grasps, but it was quickly proven futile for my body barely contained any energy. Just then, I felt a terrible pain surge through me as Michael made his first incision. He had only cut past the skin as he made a circular motion over my neck. He did not hesitate as he made his second incision, carving two lines into my skin. My body writhed and shook with pain as he dragged his blade over the fresh incisions several times.
All the while, he continued to smile, his eyes glowing with a malicious light that he had hid all too well, and most likely, for far too long.
I could feel the laughter bubbling in my chest once more. Why? Why did I feel the need to laugh? Why could I not just scream in fear like others would? I was never able to find the answers, and I am not able to, even now.
I was unable to control the bubbling feeling as my chest began to shake with suppressed laughter. His murderous glare only intensified as he saw this, which made me laugh even more. I could see his hands shake with a burning rage. He opened his mouth to say something, but he was quickly interrupted by the twins.
"Are you done yet?" Joseph spoke up, a hint of worry in his voice.
"Yeah," Jared interjected. "can't we just go home?"
"Oh, stop complaining you little wimps!" Michael snapped. "I'm almost done anyways."
"Fine, just hurry it up."
"Don't worry. I only have one more thing to do."
With that said, the taller male smiled down at me as he placed the cold blade to the center of the open incisions. Tears now streamed down my face as my smothered laughter intensified. Michael leaned down as he whispered into my ear.
"I can't forget the final touch."
My eyes widened in fear at his words. Suddenly, I felt the knife being jabbed into my neck with a great amount of force. Pain and fear overwhelmed my senses. My body started to shake, not with fear, but with laughter. I could not stop. The laughter was much more intense than it had ever been in my whole life. Michael growled as he jabbed the knife deeper into my neck.
It was then that my laughter started to sound garbled, as if I was laughing with a throat full of water. My eyelids felt like led and my throat hurt terribly. I could no longer move my arms, much less the rest of my body and I found it difficult to breathe. It felt as if there was water in my lungs, but it was much thicker. My mouth tasted of copper as my laughter slowly faded along with my surroundings. For some reason I started to feel sleepy.
I swore that I could hear some sort of argument, but I could care less at the moment. I simply felt like sleeping.