Every Class Has a Bully
Kathy slammed her locker shut with such force, it startled the students beside her, and they inadvertently moved away. She was livid. The first detention in her life, and it was all Carl Fink’s fault. He was such an asshole.
The class bully since grade school, he wore this designation proudly. Tormenting smaller kids, demeaning everyone, no one was exempt from Carl’s taunts or physical assault. Barrel chested and bull-like, he stomped around menacingly. Red-faced with small, mean, deep-set eyes, a smirk was perpetually etched on his meaty face. Only the first week back to school from summer break, and he had harassed half the eighth grade.
At lunch on Friday, Carl had tossed his gum in Tarek’s hair, and snatched a slice of pizza off Michelle’s plate and ate it in front of her. The final straw was when Carl spit on Duncan Heinz’s cake, then snarled in his face that a tub of lard like Duncan didn’t need cake.
Kathy jumped up, pushing her way in front of Carl, her hands balled in fists.
“You’re such an asshole, Carl. A big, stupid asshole.”
Unfortunately, she was not aware of Mrs. Beals, the lunch monitor, creeping behind her. Mrs. Beals shrieked as the offensive epithet echoed in her lunchroom. Kathy tried in vain to plead her case, but Mrs. Beals had none of it. Her mind was made up, and Kathy wound up in the principal’s office with Carl grinning at her. She gave him the middle finger.
The clock inched along until the hour of detention finally came to an end. Kathy ran to catch the Activities bus. She took a seat in the back and opened the window, which proved useless in the September heat. The bus roared to life and bumped and swayed out of the parking lot and off school grounds. The diesel fumes of the bumper-to-bumper traffic gave her a headache. When the bus stopped at a traffic light, she perched her face in the half open window when something caught her eye.
A shadowy figure darted behind a gas station before emerging from the other end of the building. It stopped running about twenty feet from the road, half hidden by a dumpster, but directly in Kathy’s line of vision. It looked directly at her.
At first, she didn’t comprehend what exactly she was seeing. Was it a monster or an alien? Whatever it was, it was straight out of a nightmare. The body was human-like in shape, dressed in a plaid flannel shirt, corduroy pants and work boots. The face was horrifying and not at all human. Folds of rubbery flesh overlapping to create a hideous, oversized, misshapen mound.
The monstrosity resembled a moldy, tan pumpkin but with black char marks as if it were in a fire. A watch cap was stretched over its massive head. A bulbous reddish nose quivered like an animal. Black holes for eyes, like the eyeballs were missing, but the black holes were the worst. They were focused on her. Pulling her in.
A shiver went through Kathy, and it grinned. Terrified, she turned away. The traffic light finally changed to green, and the bus began to move, leaving that thing, whatever it was, in the distance.
Kathy looked back to see it still stood there, watching the bus drive away. Just moments ago, she had been hot and sweaty, her tee shirt plastered to her skin in the stifling bus, but now she trembled, chilled to the bone. She glanced at the other kids. Two were in deep conversation, a couple were giggling, and one kid slept.
She was the only one who’d seen the thing. A few minutes later, the bus stopped at her street. Reluctantly, she left the safety of the bus and started to walk the block and a half to her house. All the while, Kathy glanced behind her, half expecting the thing to be following her.
Arriving at her house, she paused at the gate to the back yard. Would it be crouching behind the wood gate to spring out at her? She took a deep breath and unlatched the gate, quickly pushing it open so it hit the fence behind it.
Just her overactive imagination.
She let herself in the back door and called out to her mom that she was home.
After dinner and some television, her mom asked her to call for their cat. Sighing, Kathy went to the sunroom and opened the sliding glass door and stepped out onto the patio, barefoot. It was a dark, moonless night.
She called for Gordon as her eyes scanned the backyard, stopping at Mr. Stuart’s garage. Something had jumped off the roof and landed on the grass beyond the fence, out of her view. The thud was too big to be a cat.
Something fluttered against her leg, and she jumped back, whacking her elbow on the handle of the sliding glass door. She looked down to see Gordon nuzzle her leg then trot inside. She took one more look around the yard, then went inside, locking the door behind her.
Later that night, Kathy fidgeted on her bed. The roof of Mr. Stuart’s garage had a direct view of her backyard. Had the monster followed her home? Was it watching her from the top of the garage? She couldn’t shake the feeling that whatever jumped off of the garage was bigger than a cat or squirrel. She jumped up to check her windows, making sure they were locked, then she pulled the curtains closed and got into bed. She tossed and turned all night, dreaming that someone was in her bedroom, sitting on her rocking chair, creaking it ever so slowly as a rotting smell filled the room.
The bedroom door swung open, and Kathy’s mother pulled back the curtains, revealing a brilliant sunny day. Kathy groaned as the bedside alarm chimed. Time for another fun filled day of school.
Her mom rattled off a list of chores to be completed after school and other morning chatter that she only half listened to. On her way out of the room, she stopped and told Kathy to get the dirt swept up by her bed and rocking chair.
Kathy swung her legs over the bed and looked down. Muddy footprints trailed from the rocking chair to her bed. She stifled a scream. Boot prints in her bedroom. The thing had been wearing boots! It wasn’t a nightmare. The thing had been in her room. She ran down the hall to her parents’ room where her mom readied herself for work.
“Someone was in my room last night,” Kathy shrieked. “Those are not my footprints,” she insisted.
Her mom brushed her off. “Don’t be silly. I saw your dad lock up, and the alarm would have gone off had anyone even tried to enter the house. Have you seen my pearl earrings? You didn’t borrow them, did you?”
“Mom! Those are not my footprints! Please, come see.”
Her mom rolled her eyes but followed Kathy back to her room. But the dirt no longer resembled footprints. The clumps of dirt had no distinct shape.
“Silly girl,” her mom laughed. “Now, sweep it up and get ready for school. I don’t have time to drive you if you miss the bus.”
Michelle had saved Kathy a seat on the bus, and she chatted happily about how great eighth grade was going to be. Her favorite teachers, the cute boys. Kathy remained quiet until Michelle finally noticed and asked her what was wrong.
“I woke up to footprints on my floor, but they weren’t mine,” Kathy said.
“You probably didn’t realize you’d tracked in the dirt because you were mad about getting detention.”
Kathy gave up trying to convince her friend what she had seen. No one would believe her anyways.
In the first class of the day, Carl tripped the new boy, and at lunch, he took a bite out of Luke’s sandwich and threw it at Duncan. Kathy wanted to punch him. He got away with it because his father owned half the town and was on the school board.
After lunch, the students had fifteen minutes to get some fresh air in the courtyard. Kathy and Michelle chatted with Tarek and Luke as Carl taunted the new boy, only stopping when the principal stepped out and surveyed the courtyard.
Kathy ground her sneaker on the blacktop, wishing it was Carl’s face. A flutter of movement across the parking lot caught her attention. The monster. It popped its head out from behind a delivery truck.
Kathy grabbed Michelle’s arm and whispered, “Look! Across the street by that brown truck, do you see it?”
Michelle looked quizzically at Kathy and whispered, “What?” Michelle couldn’t see it.
The monster slapped its knees and laughed at her.
Kathy broke away from the small group of kids and ran into the building. Michelle called after her but soon returned to chatting with their friends. In the restroom, Kathy splashed cold water on her face. Either she was going crazy, or a monster was stalking her.
After school, Kathy met Michelle at the Dollar Store where they filled a basket with junk food and walked to the creek. Spreading out the bounty on the mossy carpet, the girls gorged themselves on grape soda, an assortment of candy and various bags of salty snacks.
Kathy’s sugar high came to a full stop when she noticed red flannel in a tree. Her heart hammered in her chest as the monster perched in a tree, legs dangling while it grinned at her. Those horrible black hole eyes bore into her. She was about to scream or pass out, but then a calmness came over her. It was a stupid idea, but the only idea she had. She called out to it. “Join us and share our snacks.”
Instantaneously, it sat beside her. It had materialized before her eyes. She glanced at Michelle to see her reaction, but Michelle was frozen, her hand filled with M&Ms, ready to put in her open mouth.
“Is she dead?” Kathy asked in a squeak.
“No, she is only suspended, sort of like a nap. I will wake her later.”
Kathy handed her bag of Goldfish to the monster. It took the bag, sniffed it with its huge red nose, the nostrils quivering. Then, it dumped the contents into its horrible mouth.
Its leathery hands ended in sharp, black claws. Its hideous face softened, and it closed its eyes in pleasure as it chewed the crackers. Kathy offered the thing a bag of candy. It poured M&M’s, jellybeans, and caramels into its mouth and made a weird sound in its throat, almost like a cat’s purr. It finished off the bag of candy, then spoke.
“I am Azzor, Archangel from the Infernal Region of the Abyss. This is my first visit to the Land Above. It is unpleasantly cold here”. It tugged on the flannel shirt as if that would make it warmer.
“Cold’? Its early September,” Kathy replied, looking down at her bare legs. “Are you from Hell?”
“We do not refer to it as ‘Hell,’ that is so gauche. I prefer ‘The Land Down Under.’” It laughed hysterically at its own joke.
Kathy just stared at it, then meekly asked, ”Why are you here?” A part of her really didn’t want the answer.
It stopped laughing and looked at her. “I am participating in Soul Fest. It takes place every ten years. Eight of us are chosen, it’s quite an honor. It’s somewhat like a contest. Souls are to be devoured and presented to Asmodeus, The Prince of Wickedness. He chooses who gets promoted to a Duke.”
Azzor looked at Kathy with those horrible blackhole eyes, and she felt herself being transported to a dark, barren land, void of color. She wasn’t really there. Azzor had gotten into her head and showed her an image of where he came from. Hell. The power of this thing, this demon, both terrified and excited her. “You have shown me kindness,” he motioned to the empty snack and candy wrappers. “I have never known kindness or tasted such delectable treats. Therefore, I do not wish to devour your soul,” he stated matter-of-factly. “However, I do enjoy your company and require your assistance in obtaining souls. That is, if you desire to remain in the realm of the living.” He smiled wickedly and was back in her head, speaking in an ancient tongue that somehow, she understood. The only souls that were off limits were children under the age of seven. Help a demon or lose her soul.
“What do I have to do?” she whispered.
“Bring me whomever you wish to be removed from your land of the living. You must bring them to me here in the woods. Your methods of getting them here do not interest me. Only the vessel containing the soul. Six souls for six days at the sixth hour. Then you are free to go. On the seventh day, I shall bid you adieu and return to the Netherworld. You, my dear, can continue to eat your snacks.” He giggled.
Well, supplying a demon with six souls was the better alternative than losing her own. Kathy agreed, and they shook on it. The first soul was to be delivered tomorrow, and Kathy knew exactly who she wanted removed from the land of the living. The choice was easy.
Now, all she had to do was figure out how to get him to the woods.
Keeping her cool proved difficult. Carl had made the new boy cry before school even started. Kathy controlled her rage by helping pick up Roger’s new backpack, dusting off the footprint, and helping him gather his books and supplies. Other kids stopped to help, and Roger cheered up, happily walking to class with new friends.
Lunch was the usual “Carl Show.” Stealing food, tripping kids, name calling. Duncan wiped a large booger on his apple crisp. Sure enough, Carl swooped down, snatched it off Duncan’s tray, and ate it whole. The entire table burst out laughing. Carl shook his head and moved on to torment another table. Michelle was the only one not laughing. Kathy dismissed it and continued talking with Tarek and Roger.
After school, Kathy went to Carl’s locker. “Hey, my cousin, Steve, visited over the weekend and gave me a box of bottle rockets. You want to buy some? Meet me in the woods, by the flat rock.”
She saw the gleam in Carl’s mean eyes and knew he’d take the bait. She hurried to catch her bus.
Camouflaged in a nondescript neighborhood was a dense, wooded trail that opened to a clearing, showcasing a wide creek with small waterfalls. Most of the townspeople knew about the hidden gem. It was a bit of a hike to the sandstone ledges that created a flat rock cantilevered over the largest of the falls.
Carl emerged from the footpath and saw Kathy standing at the edge of creek, watching the whirling water as it approached the falls. Within three feet of her he noticed a foul smell.
“Hey Kathy, you shit your pants?” he mocked.
She turned to look at him, but her gaze went over his head. The smell intensified as he realized that it was behind him. He spun around and came face to face with an abomination. It was not human. The liquid black eyes bore into his head, searing his mind with a white-hot pain. Carl froze in place. He could not move or scream. The thing was in his mind, showing him death and never-ending pain. This was a portal to Hell, and he knew he was going to die by this fiend. It opened its jack o’ lantern mouth in an impossible stretch, revealing its massive, razor-sharp teeth. The cavernous mouth closed over his head, sinking its teeth through skin, muscle, nerves, and skull. Enclosed in darkness as putrid water engulfed him, something pulled Carl under. His lungs exploded as he was left in the Eternal Sea of Torment.
Walking through the woods and heading for home, Kathy was unusually calm for a girl who just witnessed a demon devour her classmate. Without Carl, the entire eighth grade mostly got along. The school year would be so much better without his bullying. What was troubling her was who would she bring to Azzor next? She got along with most of her classmates and liked all of her teachers. The streetlights came on as she left the trail and the sun set in a pink horizon. It was beautiful. Passing Michelle’s house, she thought about stopping but wasn’t in the mood for Michelle’s endless chatter. She had to figure out who would be the next soul.
Entering her house, Kathy heard her parents’ voices coming from the kitchen. Her father’s upset tone piqued her interest, and she stood in the dark dining room, out of sight, and listened.
A land agent for an oil and gas company, Kathy’s father secured the rights for his company to drill on a landowner’s property. A verbal agreement had been made with a handshake, papers to come by courier tomorrow, but Mr. Fink had weaseled in and coerced the landowner to back out of the deal and sign with his friend, a competitor. Her dad had lost the deal.
Kathy peeked around the tall China cupboard as her dad was paced the kitchen. He slammed his fist on the counter, and Kathy’s mom jumped back.
“Damn that Fink! Rich. crooked bastard sticks his nose into everything! He has screwed over too many hard-working men and women in this town, and no one does a damn thing to stand up to him. Everyone is afraid to cross him, even the police. This is going to cost us thousands.” He raked his hand through his thinning hair and sighed.
“We will get through this, and that horrible man will get what he deserves,” her mom stated, placing her hand on his shoulder. Her dad turned into his wife’s embrace.
Kathy quietly backtracked to the door, opened it, and shut it, announcing, “I’m home.” She ran up the steps to her bedroom and Googled Carl Fink Senior. He owned many businesses in town and was a very wealthy man, but no one had anything good to say about him. He was a shrewd businessman who bullied then bought out competition. He was on the school board and the planning commission. He had been married three times. Carl Junior’s mother had died under mysterious circumstances, but Sr. had her cremated quickly. The next wife divorced him within two years, and the last wife ran off with the pool boy to Mexico, claimed Senior. His only son, Carl Junior, was spoiled but was mostly ignored. Carl Sr. could join Carl Jr. Kathy’s had solved her problem.
Later that evening, Kathy sat with her mom in the family room. A movie was on, but both only half watched it. Something about an actor’s baby being kidnapped. When the kidnapper made the ransom call from a public library, Kathy snapped to attention.
That was it.
The next morning, Kathy asked her mom if she could drive her to school early to get some extra help from her math teacher. Her mom was thrilled that Kathy wanted to improve her math grade and agreed to take her early all week. Kathy would use the phone in the school library to call Carl Sr.
Arriving at school a half hour before the buses, it was a different vibe than when the halls were full of boisterous seventh and eighth graders. Teachers arrived or were in their classrooms preparing for the day. Kathy slipped unnoticed into the darkened library. She resisted the urge to turn on the lights and cautiously made her way past the tall bookshelves and study tables in the middle.
The light from the hall grew dimmer with each step until she finally arrived in the back of the library where the office and checkout were. She flipped the light switch in the office and went to the phone, gripping her brother’s voice scrambler. He was at college and would not miss it. She took a deep breath and dialed the Fink household. On the fifth ring, a man answered.
A thrill went through Kathy as she said her lines. “We have your son. Meet me at the flat rock. Bring $600,000 in a duffle bag. Don’t be late, and no cops.” She hung up the phone and hurried out of the library.
The shrill ring of the bedside phone startled Carl Sr. out of his drunken stupor. The voice was muffled and mechanical. It was being disguised. They said that they had Carl Jr. Bleary eyed and still intoxicated from an all-nighter with Jolene Horton, he hoisted his considerable bulk out of bed. Wearing only saggy white briefs, his head throbbing, he stumbled down the long hallway to his son’s room. He entered the room without knocking and sobered immediately as his bloodshot eyes focused on the neatly made bed that his son had not slept in. He briefly contemplated calling the police but with his many enemies, the kidnapper could be anyone, even a cop. He would get the ransom, a pittance compared to his vast fortune, and Carl Jr. would be home for a late dinner. Maybe he would even eat with his son and stay in tonight.
Carl Sr. double parked his Range Rover and hurried along the foot path to the flat rock. He dodged errant tree branches and gnarled tree roots snaking across the ground. As he side-stepped a large root, a branch smacked him in the forehead, almost knocking off his Aviators.
“Son of a bitch,” he bellowed as he continued his track deeper into the forest.
He wheezed and sweat profusely as he reached the clearing that opened to the creek and waterfalls. Large sweat stains soaked his white silk shirt. He extracted a monogramed handkerchief from his pocket and wiped his brow.
Scanning the area, his eyes stopped at the flat rock. Someone stood with their back facing him, looking into the falls. Carl Sr. walked closer, stepping onto the cantilevered rock as he recognized his son and relief filled him.
“Hey, Sport,” Carl Sr. Said, reaching out to touch his shoulder. A noxious odor assaulted him. It was a putrid stench of rot. Carl Sr. retched, then vomited into the fast-moving creek.
Carl Jr. turned around with a maniacal grin on his face. What was wrong with his eyes? They were not Carl Jr.’s eyes, but blackholes. Demonic eyes. The body changed into its true form. A monster with an impossibly large mouth began to laugh. The laughter seared Carl Sr.’s brain as a white-hot pain tore across his temple. He grabbed at his head with both hands.
“Your son was delicious. Such a wicked, horrid little spawn. Time to join him in eternal torment, Pops.” The hideous mouth opened even wider and snapped Carl Sr.’s body in half.
Carl felt it all. Every bone splintered, tearing muscles and nerves as he descended to the abode of the Damned. That was part of the journey to Hell. The “snack” was fully conscious.
Azzor licked his black lips and looked to the forest where Kathy peeked out from behind a large evergreen. “The wicked ones are most scrumptious. If you would be so kind to serve me the rottenest of your kind. Please and thank you,” he requested.
Azzor opened his mouth and spat out a duffel bag. “This is for you, my dear. I have no use for this currency.
Kathy reluctantly grabbed the strap of the duffle bag, which was wet with demon spit.
“Two down, four to go. What foul human will you bring me tomorrow?” Azzor questioned, rubbing his clawed hands together gleefully.
“I’m not sure,”, Kathy answered, frowning. “I will have to ask around for suggestions. I don’t know any more horrible people.”
“Well, get to it, girl. I HUNGER.”
Leaving the woods, Kathy decided to stop at Michelle’s house. Maybe she did know a terrible person. Kathy and Michelle had met in kindergarten. They’d remained friends but were not as close as they once had been.
Michelle answered the door. The girls went to Michelle’s room and chatted about school, friends, new kids and cute boys. Kathy enjoyed the break from hunting souls for a hungry demon.
“Let’s play a game. If you could wish someone to disappear, who would it be?” Kathy questioned.
Michelle pondered the question, but then answered. “Alyssa Watts.”
“Why? What has Alyssa ever done to you?” asked Kathy.
Michelle scrunched up her chubby face into a scowl and replied, “She’s pretty and Carl likes her.”
“Yeah, I guess she is kinda pretty, but she’s not mean, and who cares who Carl likes? Alyssa wouldn’t like him. He’s gross.” Then it hit her. She understood. Michelle liked Carl.
“EEEEWWW! Why do you like HIM? He’s a bully,” Kathy exclaimed.
Michelle’s pout turned to embarrassment as her face turned purplish red, then fury.
“I should have kept my mouth shut. Of course, you would make fun of me. That’s just the kind of person you are. Well, at least I don’t have a crush on a black guy whose mother is a hooker,” spewed Michelle.
Kathy was repulsed. She did have a crush on Tarek, but Michelle’s blatant racism was sickening. She stood up and walked to the door, turned around and addressed Michelle in a controlled voice, “I don’t judge a person on their skin color. Tarek is kind and funny. He doesn’t make fun of people or steal. He is my friend.” Kathy left Michelle’s room without looking back.
Walking home, Kathy was shocked at Michelle’s behavior. She was not the person she thought she was. She decided to stop at Dollar General for some candy. It wouldn’t fix the situation with Michelle, but it would help. Reaching for the door, someone in a hoodie came barreling out, almost knocking Kathy to the ground. “Hey, watch where you are going,” she hollered.
“Sorry,” they mumbled without looking up.
“Tarek?” Kathy questioned.
He briefly looked up, exposing his bruised face and black eye.
“Who did this?” Kathy demanded.
He paused for a second, then ran off.
Kathy’s appetite for candy was gone. She walked home pondering her run-in with Tarek. Carl was the only person she could think of. That, of course, was not possible because he was ’down under.’
“Who are the worst people in town?” Kathy asked her parents at dinner that evening.
Her mother answered first without hesitation. “Claude and Beulah Lummox.”
“What did they do?” Kathy asked.
“They’re foster parents, but they’re in it only for the money, and they use the kids as free household help. They are greedy, trashy people,” her mother replied.
“How do you know them?”
“They live near Aunt Sue and Uncle Don. They’ve been reported many times over the years, but Childrens’ Services is too lazy or stupid to care.”
Her father looked up from his meatloaf, finished chewing and said, “Larry SanDouchey. Assistant high school football coach. The guy is a creep. He’s been accused of inappropriate behavior at least twice. A janitor saw him in the showers with a student and reported it to the principal. The school board fired the janitor! SanDouchey and Fink are buddies. Two criminals and perverts.”
Kathy’s mother gave her dad ’The Look.’ It meant that he was discussing adult topics that Kathy’s delicate ears should not be hearing.
He ignored his wife and continued, “Next year, Kathy will be in high school. She needs to warn her friends who play football to stay away from SanDouchey”.
Kathy finished her dinner, excused herself from the table and went to her room.
Three souls to present to Azzor, but how? She didn’t know these people. The coach she could look up in her brother’s old school directory, but the foster parents would be harder to locate. She Googled “Larry SanDouchey.” An image appeared of a white-haired guy with a toothy smirk.
Kathy thought he looked creepy. He was an accused pedophile a few times over. She read a blog from two women who claimed that he molested their sons at football camp. Kathy knew Azzor would find him delicious.
Continue to Part 2 on July 19, 2023.
About the Author
Making up stories to scare her elementary school classmates is where Sheila began her love of horror and the macabre. Also, Scooby Doo gets some credit .
After homeschooling her three children,she had more time to create chilling tales. Originally from Erie Pennsylvania,Pittsburgh has been home for the last 30 years.