Warning: This work has been rated 18+ for violence.
Elijah sat completely still in his chair in the main office of his school. The slow audible ticking coming from the analog clock above the reception desk made him feel like time was moving slower than usual. Beyond the Principal's door were the loud sounds of a vicious exchange between Elijah’s father and the head of the school. Staring at his hands, Elijah began to trace his left hand with his right, examining it for imperfections. His knuckles felt cold and hard with noticeable dry stains of blood. Some from another guy, some from him. Pressing his fingers against knuckles he began to feel a significant increase in pain. On several occasions, there would be the passersby either a member of the staff or a student. The majority of times when someone passed by each one of them had a unique expression that could all be described in the following ways: pity, shame, or just genuine anger. It annoyed him to no end. What right did they have to judge him but, what else could he expect from them after what he did? How could he expect any praise for his actions? Elijah felt like the news of his incident had spread like wildfire.: For what started as a peaceful Friday at school would end as one of the worst days of his life.
Elijah’s alarm blared across the room as he slowly rose from his slumber. Walking out of his room in an upbeat tone, he walked down the hallway to the kitchen to find his mother cooking breakfast. The smell of frying bacon felled the room as she hummed a tune to herself. Noticing Elijah enter the room, his mother began to prepare a plate. “Morning Mom,” said Elijah “Morning Dear, How did you sleep?” His mother responded. “Fine, I was so tired yesterday that I straight up crashed when I got to bed,” said Elijah “You did look really tired when you came home yesterday, what were you up to?” Elijah’s Mother asked. “ Me, Andrew, and the guys decided to stay late at school. '' said Elijah “Really again! You have been staying at school more often these days, what are you guys doing there?” “Yeah…um we,ve… been mostly playing sports…um… stuff to… competitive with one…another” “ Really, well I am glad you're getting used to your new school, especially with entering secondary. I remember how hard I found it to get along with our seniors.” Elijah's mother said “ Yeah they are quite intimidating but ours are different. They are even the ones who usually organize the events. They are also supportive when it comes to our..activities which are dope.” said Elijah “ Whoa that does sound quite fun. So what exactly do you do” asked Elijah’s mother “ Oh…It changes from time to time.” answered Elijah ``But what exactly do you do” his mother re-proposed the question with a bit more sense of authority in her voice. “So will Dad be able to pick me up today?” Elijah asked, Elijah already knew the answer to this question. His father never really came home, often always an excuse with either work or friends one or the other. It was always his get-out jail card with his mother to ask where his father was, perhaps it was because of guilt but, his mother always let him get away with anything when he brought the topic up. “Your..your father won’t be able to pick you up today.” Elijah’s mother said. Already Elijah could feel the strain in her voice, his mother continued “He…has a meeting with his shareholder, which is very important” Elijah never liked to do this to his mother. It always made him feel guilty for doing it but, he knew he had to keep his secret.
After packing his backpack with his personal belongings, dressing himself into his school uniform, and finally packing himself into the backseat of his mother's car before he eventually arrived at his school. Elijah began to walk to class like everyone else, Elijah also pondered the words his mother told him. She was too occupied with her own life to bother spending time at home with her loser of a son or at least that's how Elijah heard it. It was always the same with the two of them, the always work to be done, always friends to see, and relatives to visit. The son who they brought into the world was nothing but an inconvenience to them! Elijah continued to get more agitated as more thoughts began to surface in his head when suddenly an arm came around his shoulder. He was so angry that he almost yelled out at them until he knew who it was.
It was his friend Andrew “What's up man you look like you're about to throw a fit” said Andrew “No man just…somethings are annoying me at home” responded Elijah “Really…well try to save that energy that from this afternoon bro” said Andrew “wait…what?” exclaimed Elijah “Don’t you remember it’s your turn after you joined David’s rooster” “What..no..I just bet on the matches..man..shot..I can’t .. I don't think I can do this” said Elijah “look man I don’t know how you forgot about last week but, let me remind you John don’t look like he gonna come back any time soon” “ of course I remember, John looked like he wouldn't be able to move for a weeks” said Elijah “ Yeah and he keep fighting until the end, David thinks your ready” said Andrew “ But, I am still new to this man ..I..I can’t do this..” responded Elijah “look man your remember one the first rules of the club?” asked Andrew `` Don't be a coward” said Elijah “ Exactly! You will be fine man” said Andrew “ I don’t know man,” said Elijah “Come on man show me your shadow-style boxing technique,” said Andrew. Giggling to himself Elijah got into a position in which he propped both fists up and started quickly moving his fists back and forth as quickly as possible. Andrew began cheering him on. “See you do so fine that the other won’t know what hit him,” said Andrew “ Thank man ...Thanks,” said Elijah thorough panted breaths. Elijah felt confident in his abilities but, deep down a fear. A fear of what was to come.
The rest of the day went by like a blur as Elijah moved the position from sitting to standing to walking to sitting down again. From learning to eating to reading to learning again until finally, the final bell rang signaling students to leave the premises. However, a certain number of students choose to stay behind with no intention of studying. Organized in a secluded area not far from the school past the wall fence, past the tall grass surrounding the school lay an abandoned factory. Everything about the factory screamed the words disowned, fatigued, or cursed. The metal roof would occasionally groan under its weight and the dirty factory floor was covered with old machine parts and devices. A loud audible chant could be heard coming from one of the production floors. At one of the hearts of the factory was a large group of boys gathered around a shallow pit. Elijah made his way through the crowd fighting back the current it produced until he finally reached his destination. David was a student who was in his final year of secondary school. He was the one who first introduced Elijah to this new world and was one of the first people Elijah met at school. It was the fifth day at his new school and he chose to skip four periods, which was a physics class. Hiding in one of the school bathrooms( while not a popular choice) was his only option at the time. Suddenly, a group of older boys entered the room. Elijah sat still in the stall as he began to wait for them to leave. It was after no more than 20 minutes and most of the boys were still there. The smell already in the room was becoming abominable now Elijah developed a cram in his leg. The last straw had to be when I heard someone get into the toilet and begin to unleash their bowels. Quickly stumbling out of the stall, Elijah thought if simply moved quickly enough some of the boys would not notice. It was as he was rushing out that he bumped into David and the rest was history.
David was not what most people expected when they thought of someone in their final year of high school. While many people seemed stressed with exams coming close, David seemed calm and collected. While many people seemed to be gouging onto any exam paper they could find, David still kept with whatever television show was popular at the time. While many people seemed to spend what little time they had for lunch talking about exams, David still had the confidence to talk about what he found interesting, which is always the farthest thing from his studies. David was free. Something about David’s lifestyle was always something that amazed Elijah. He heard stories of how David was always one to joke within classes, he was always one to find something to annoy the teacher of the class and he was always the one to find an excuse to help himself either escape an assignment, homework, or even a test paper! The freedom David showed was something Elijah admired and wished to emulate. David quickly became something of a mentor to Elijah and eventually introduced him to the club he created, a club for real men.
The club had no name and was only ever referred to as “after-school activities” by the participants. There were only three rules of the club which each participant had to follow, each with their penalties. Rule number one “ Don’t be a coward” Once you step into the ring the fight only ends when only one of the guys is still capable of standing. Do not think you are safe when you hit the ground for the crowd (especially the one gambling money) had an obligation to pull you to your feet. You only stopped when you could not move. The second deals more with group formation. Each person in upper secondary could form a rooster of not more than 12 people and there was often a switch between people for different matches. The third most important rule was “ Do not tell anyone about the club” Anyone caught breaking this rule would be served a personal beating from the rest of the roosters and while no one has broken this rule, a handful of boys had been caught. Usually from being caught with their wounds to coming home late. The school had tightened its grip on the rules and regulations and finding time to participate in their club activities was becoming more risky. Each person knew the rules and tried their best to respect them. Elijah began to talk to David. “ So I hear I will be put in the ring this time,” said Elijah a slight fear in his voice “ Yep! Try to avoid getting your ass handed to you” responded David Elijah responded with his best fake attempt at a laugh something David took notice to. He grabbed Elijah by the shoulder “Walk with me” said David “Listen I can already tell you thinking yourself out of this, that feel that you can’t do this. But, remember what I told you at when I first showed you this stuff”. Elijah nodded and responded, “Yeah I remember”.
Elijah remembered the speech David gave him“This school is filled with what many people consider to be the future of our society. They tell us that we are scientists, engineers, lawyers, and presidents. Complete and utter Lies! Lies feed us from birth to try to assure us that we have some chance at a respectable position in society. No! When they talk about the future they talk about the smart brainiacs, the visionary artists, and talented athletes who always win the game. No my friend when they talk about the future for us: The lost, the slow, and the stupid we are other students who simply were not worth their time for we are not special. But here we have something, Here we the stupid have a chance to be called smart, Here the weak have a chance to be strong, Here we all have something, here we all special.” Elijah remembered David’s words well and it made him brave in some way, brave enough to step into the ring. Striping to just his long-sleeved button shirt and his trousers, Elijah prepared for the fight. The crowd of boys chatting was quickly silenced by the loud booming voice of the announcer “ Gentlemen today we all gather here for one reason and one reason only. For the challenge was between men, an epic fight of grand scale!” The crowd cheered “ This match we have a couple of newbies fighting so let's show them our support. In this corner from the Dark Angels' rooster, we have the edge lord himself. The Razor! A boy almost the same size as Elijah landed in the depression swinging his fists relentlessly into the air until his senior stopped him with an embarrassed look on his face. Elijah looked at both Andrew and David before he got into the depression. Andrew stood above him, motioning his fists quickly in the air as a signal of what moves he had at his disposal while David was talking with some of the others putting money on the match. Elijah looked straight at David for a short moment and waited for his friend to notice him. When Elijah was finally caught in David's gaze, David simply smiled at him and yelled “Knock him dead! You're twice the man that guy dreams he was!” That was all Elijah needed to hear as he dropped into the ring.
The announcer began to walk closer to Elijah close enough to whisper “ Hey man so what’s your stage name” Elijah didn’t think that much about it that much, responded Elijah “ Oh...It’s shadow!” “ Really what’s with you juniors and your anime fancying? Okay listen I gotta change your name a bit” said the announcer “ And in this corner we have Kid douche bag!” yelled the announcer. Elijah winced and wanted to complain that was not his stage name but the crowd was eating it up. Something about the atmosphere felt like something unique, like something straight out of a Hollywood film. The air tasted bitter and sterile and yet somehow it felt like that how it was supposed to taste and Elijah liked it. The crowd sounded distant and far, yet was close and near and them cheering his name on only made him feel the excitement in the air. This was a fight, this was a real fight, a real fight between real men and this is how it was supposed to feel. Elijah felt at home, he felt that he was invincible and no one could touch him, all that changed when the match began. Even far after this day, Elijah could still remember the pain he felt after the first punch. A sharp piercing feeling that he felt deep in his abdomen. The second punch came after making contact with the face, producing an audible crunch that made him believe he had broken something. The third was brought down to his knees as the punch landed in the same area as the second. Elijah could taste a bitter salty liquid accumulating in his mouth. The taste of his blood was not something new to him but, this was in the middle of a fight and something about this made him feel scared. Before he could get up his opponent gave him a knee to the face forcing him to fall on his back. Looking up from his position he could see David looking down at him. He wanted to beg him to stop, to stop this nonsense, to stop the pain. But, David looked at him and only looked disappointed, David began to pull Elijah to his feet. While pulling him up David whispered into Elijah’s ear “ Don’t even think this is over man. I have a lot of money depending on you” Elijah was at his feet. David pushed him back in the fight. Elijah realized that had no friends here with him.
The fight had gone on for more than 30 minutes now. The roar of the crowd had grown as had Elijah's hate for his opponent. Everything he did found a way to agitate Elijah more. From the way, he looked cheerful when the crowd cheered his name as he hit Elijah. To the way he chose to grandstand every time he got Elijah on the ground. It boiled a hatred that Elijah could not describe, a rage so great he could no longer contain. Before he knew it his hand formed into a fist and while his opponent was busy eating up the praise of the crowd, Elijah stood up and ran towards him. Before Elijah's opponent could even react, Elijah's fist made first contact with the opponent's face. As Elijah's opponents fell to the ground with a heavy thump. Elijah quickly got on top of him and began to hit him in the face. Each time Elijah’s fist made contact with his opponent it produced a sharp pain throughout his hand from his knuckles. But, this pain felt different, this pain was satisfying, this pain was addictive and Elijah enjoyed it each time his fist hit. At some point Elijah no longer cared who his opponent was or what he was doing to him, Elijah simply wanted to relish in pain to embrace this suffering. It was only when Elijah was able to catch a glimpse of his opponent’s face that made him stop. His opponent did not look angry, he did not show any sign of hatred towards Elijah or any grin depicting a trick up his sleeve he only looked scared. Elijah hesitated just long enough for his opponent to get the upper hand.
The counterattack was worse than the initial beating he received at the beginning of the match. His opponent's moves seemed to move faster and each hit felt harder. Blow after blow the pain that felt had now become unbearable. Blood spilling from his nose found itself on his shirt and the fists of his opponent. He tried to speak but his mouth was filled with blood from biting his tongue. With a blow taken to the stomach, Elijah could only mutter “ P..p.please s..t.op”. His opponent did not hesitate and continued his onslaught. Elijah yelled louder “ p…p.please stop!” The words seemed to echo throughout the building as the crowd went silent. The announcer got out of the crowd got closer to Elijah and said “ What did you say?” “ Please.. stop, he wins okay… just please stop” said Elijah. The announcer turned back to the crowd and said “ Looks like one of my junior friends is thinking of quitting!”. Loud muttering came from the crowd. Some voices stood out “Who this coward thinks he is!” came one voice, “ Coward!” came another “Loser!” came one more. “Someone get him back into the fight. I have money on the guy about to kick his butt” shouted a voice “ Yeah, kick his butt!" Soon in unison the crowd yelled “Kick his butt!” “Kick his butt!”. The announcer began pushing Elijah back towards his opponent “ No!..no!..please he wins okay, he wins just let me go! I promise I won’t tell anyone about this” yelled Elijah “ That’s not the problem kid, remember rule number one” replied the announcer. Very soon Elijah was close to the opponent and the match started again. It's hard to tell how long it took for the fight or how many times he had to be picked up from a beating and forced into combat or when the teacher had found him. The locals around the area had made complaints to the local police department about the noise coming from the old sugar packing plant. The school started to suspect it involved their students when police came to ask questions and reports which correlated with reports made by students who were revealed to be a part of the fights, matched what the reports the police had. The fight location would always change when they knew one of their own was caught. This time they had the location before they even thought of changing location. Elijah was half-conscious when heard someone yell that the teachers were coming in tow with police officers, for the first time in Elijah's life, he was glad he was in trouble.
This brings us back to the current situation with Elijah sitting in the main office of the school wondering what was going to happen next. The yelling coming from the principal's office seemed to die down at one point and soon his father and mother walked out of the office. His father looked like he was about to explode and his mother just looked sad and tired and some of that was the worst part of it to him. While his father had been absent several times his mother always tried to make it to the football games, the talent shows, and the birthdays and here he was making her cry. His father told him it was time to go, Elijah had already told the police and the school faculty everything he knew about the fights and David. As he got into the backseat of the car, he expected his parents to begin lecturing him on the importance of responsibility but, strangely they remained silent and so did he. As he looked out the window Elijah wondered about what school was going to be like and if was going to have to change schools. He reached an impasse on this decision and chose to talk to his parents about it. When he heard his question his father let out an audible click with his tongue as his mother looked at him with guilt. Elijah wondered what the problem could be, as far as he was concerned he was the victim in this situation. “Listen Elijah '' already alarms were ringing in his head. His mother only called him by his full name in serious situations. Elijah’s mother continued “They decided that due to your direct involvement, you will have to be expelled”. The sentence hit Elijah like a brick wall, something like this was new to him. While he got punishment before for either skipping class or eating in the exams, this was different. Elijah’s father began to say “ What's wrong with you?” he asked “ Does it seem like the time dear, he just..” said Elijah’s mother before she was cut off “ I think it is. Elijah, do you know what I had to drop just to come by your school today? I was in the middle of an important phone call with a client just to get a call that my son had been involved in a fight. Do you know how hard it will be to find a new school willing to accept you? Do you know how embarrassing this is going to our family?” said his father. Elijah stayed silent “ Do you?” Elijah’s father asked again. Elijah did not answer and soon the car became silent. When they returned home the sun was already down and nighttime had fallen, Elijah’s mother reassured him that they would talk about things in the morning. Elijah went to his bedroom and sat on his bed. His white shirt was stained red with blood and his knuckles felt coarse and tough. It was only until he was sure that his parents were asleep, that Elijah wept.