Chapter 15:

Tale Zero: Screaming Scorpion (1)


“James! Wake up already, you’re gonna be late for school again!”Bookmark here

“Oh, sheesh, mom! I’m going, I’m going!”Bookmark here

And so, I was woken up to another brand new day – though it sucked needing to run like there was no tomorrow, having overslept yet again.Bookmark here

I quickly got dressed while mentally checking that I hadn’t forgotten to do any homework or study for some exam. Bookmark here

Devouring my breakfast and getting my school bag ready in a time only trained experts at going late like myself could achieve, I was out of my house and walking towards school barely ten minutes after I’d woken up.Bookmark here

… Though I soon noticed a lot of my inhuman efforts were wasted. I arrived at school with over five minutes of time left until the bell rang.Bookmark here

So I just did what anyone would in my situation. I grumpily plugged in my headphones to my phone, listening for the umpteenth time to that one song I’d been addicted to for almost a week now.Bookmark here

But even that didn’t last too long, as not even halfway through the three-minute song, I felt someone tapping rhythmically at my shoulder.Bookmark here

“… Yo Nick. Can you please leave me alone for three freaking seconds?”Bookmark here

“Nah, no chance. What would I gain by that? And why you even complaining in the first place, man, you already know that song by heart.”Bookmark here

“Yes I do, and I don’t plan to stop listening to it anytime soon. Anyway, what do you want.”Bookmark here

“Aw, man, I didn’t know you needed a REASON to talk to a friend!”Bookmark here

… Maybe I was being kind of an asshole to him after all.Bookmark here

Not that I would stress over it in the slightest. Nick himself wasn’t exactly a role model for people who wanted to be nice. It’s common sense that you don’t disturb a person wearing headphones unless you, at the very least, have something concrete to say to them.Bookmark here

Regardless, now even if I went back to my song I would have to leave it unfinished, so I idly chatted with Nick until class started.Bookmark here

… And until they finished. Bookmark here

Yeah, honestly, I’ve never been one to pay too much attention to classes – or rather, more accurately, I just get easily distracted. It’s hard for me to focus if I don’t care, you know?Bookmark here

I would still end up passing all my subjects, barely.Bookmark here

Hopefully.Bookmark here

***Bookmark here

Lunch break. Bookmark here

Finally, a time to not be bored and socialize a bit – as long as they didn’t catch me, that is. Technically you’re not supposed to use your phone for anything other than academic purposes, but I know for a fact that the number of people following that rule is zero out of over a thousand.Bookmark here

And yeah, I include the teachers there.Bookmark here

I’ve seen my fair share of middle-aged men and women playing Candy Crush while sitting at their desk, a smirk on their faces as they glanced at us between every level. We, however, were used to inhuman punishments while this happened – because how else would you call a paper filled to the brim with functions to derivate and integrate?Bookmark here

Tell me. How would you. Because I’d like to know if there’s anyone able to still like math after going through THAT in high school.Bookmark here

Regardless, and getting back on topic.Bookmark here

Since everyone used the phone equally and there were far too few teachers to punish every single student doing it, at some point they all just stopped caring.Bookmark here

And so, wanting a break from Nick and his usual antics, I had gotten into my usual hiding spot, prepared to read some books and play some games and-Bookmark here

*Brrr-brr*Bookmark here

… So much for that, I thought. Bookmark here

I went to see who was messaging just when I was about to enter my daily state of zen.Bookmark here

I was surprised when I saw the message wasn’t from Nick, but rather, from Claudia.Bookmark here

Which meant I would actually reply to this one without wasting any time.Bookmark here

“Hey, James, sorry to bother you. Can I ask you a small favor? You can say no if you’re busy, of course, I don’t want to inconvenience you…”Bookmark here

Damn, this girl really did apologize way too much. It was kinda cute, but sometimes I worried over her evident insecurity.Bookmark here

“Yah what’s up? Don’t worry, just ask whatever and I’ll see what I can do”Bookmark here

“Ah, thank you! So, I remembered I still had that game you lent me, and wanted to give it back to you at school today, but our teacher’s keeping us in class during lunch break to explain a field trip we’re having next week…”Bookmark here

“So uhhh do we meet after school in the front door, for example? That okay with you?”Bookmark here

“Yeah, that’s perfect! See you after school then!”Bookmark here

Welp. It really wasn’t anything to important, huh… guess I’d gotten my hopes up. Again. I should really stop doing that.Bookmark here

Regardless of my hopelessly hopeful hopes regarding Claudia, though, there was something else I needed to be doing at that very moment. Book’s not gonna read itself after all…Bookmark here

***Bookmark here

The rest of the school day passed with almost nothing remarkable.Bookmark here

Or so I’d like to say.Bookmark here

But passing an exam by barely a quarter of a point was the most stressful thing I’ve had to live through in a while.Bookmark here

Other than that, though, it really was as unremarkable a day as you could get.Bookmark here

Incidentally, the book I had been reading during lunch break and continued for a bit during class happened to be very good.Bookmark here

It was a surprisingly deep representation of different teens’ insecurities and trauma, all framed in a supernatural mystery setting, where the trauma presented itself as aberrations taking the form of animals.Bookmark here

It wasn’t a book I had ever heard of before. I also hadn’t watched the television series, nor knew of its existence until someone else mentioned it to me.Bookmark here

It had been just a random book Nick had sent me a digital copy of, which I had saved into my phone without much expectation, but now that I’d actually started reading it – there was no way I could put it down until I was done with it.Bookmark here

That book managed to deeply resonate with me in such a short time, I don’t think many other novels have done that for me in a long time.Bookmark here

I thought I should probably show it to Claudia. She seemed to have read some similar stuff before, if my memory worked correctly – and even if she hadn’t, I just felt I needed to recommend it to someone.Bookmark here

And just as I thought that-Bookmark here

The bell signaling the end of the school day rang loud, every student on sight rushing to get out of there as fast as their legs would carry them.Bookmark here

I, of course, immediately did the exact same as all of them.Bookmark here

You can resume reading from this paragraph.