The riot starts over a juice box or some other stupid shit and then the nasty little dogfuckers are everywhere with their teeth and shitty little hands, so Mr Procter has to run to the art room to get something to defend himself with. The big blade is missing off the paper cutter, so he has to settle for an old metal T-square that he swings like an ax. From in here, he can hear grownups dying and little voices screaming that God is dead, a maniac anthem chorused with shrill, cruel laughter.
Tiny fingers pittapatta against the glass set in the door and when Procter looks, it’s like nothing’s changed at all. They leer in at him with too-big eyes and mouths full of gapped, uneven teeth hanging half open like hungry coyote pups. Procter leers back and gives the T-square a few practice swings—it slices through the air with a hushed swish. The little freaks watch him do it, their wonder-loaded eyes tracking the head with each swing. The girl stage-whispers “Wow…” to the boys, and one of them starts to smile. When he turns the knob and takes a few experimental steps inside, Procter buries the T-square in the little bastard’s brain. The others scream and turn and flee, shouting “Weapons! Tell Tyler we need weapons!” Then they’re gone down the hall and around the corner. What’s left of the brave one drops to the tiled floor.
Someone hits the fire alarm. Soaks the building in flashing lights and sound and black, stagnant water. Makes Procter’s head throb. Makes him smell things that aren’t there, same with noises. Somewhere in the building, he thinks he can hear someone shout-singing Elton John songs. Bennie and the Jets has never sounded worse.
He forces the window open in back and climbs out, bloody T-square pressed tightly to his chest. Outside the sky is big and gunshot blue and smells like burning metal. Procter creeps along the slim thatch of grass buffering the building from the parking lot, staying low and only gophering up to make sure none of the vicious mini-monsters are following him. He winds through the cars to his beat-up old Jeep only to find the tires slashed—just like every other car in the lot.
Oh my god.
They planned this.
When he closes his eyes to think, all he can see is the one he killed, strewn on the ground like a broken toy, mouth still pulled into a strange, artificial rictus smile like You and I both know you ain’t gonna do shit, weak boy.
Except he did, and standing there, swamped in the echoes of his first murder ever, he knows he’ll do it again if he has to.
But he doesn’t want to have to.
Please don’t make him do it again.
He wants to just run now, get away from this abattoir, go get help or maybe just get away, but then an explosion splits the day and he knows he has to go back in. He starts to cry as he’s running, warm salt licking down his face.
Procter rounds toward the front doors and sees:
Someone—or something—has blown a smoking hole in the side of the building. Procter takes a step forward to see closer, bereft of any other options, and that’s when it happens.
They spill out of the hole all tangled together like a rat king, clawing and screeching and biting, and underneath their awful mass, Procter can see Coach Walley, thrashing and fighting them off, hacking at them with the missing knife arm of the paper cutter. And he’s singing Crocodile Rock at the top of his lungs. He dashes them apart with the big heavy blade, spraying fingers and clumps of scalp and red-smeared scraps of Osh Kosh B’Gosh in every direction, hollering out falsetto la-la-la-la-la‘s as loud as he can.
On the sidewalk, Procter falls to his knees and weeps into his blood-streaked hands because teaching isn’t what it used to be. Maybe nothing ever is.
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