The clock’s hands made their slow tedious trek around the circumference of its face, ticking soundlessly. It was nearly 3:00 pm and he knew they were going to be waiting on him. The class was coming to an end. The teacher was already winding down her pre-class-end-drivel. This is the time they struck normally, or so he had been told. He could feel their quadruple pair of eyes peering at him from beneath malevolent brows. He forced himself not to look back and meet their hungry gaze. They would expect him to run but he wasn’t going to. Not today. Not any day. They had passed a note to him earlier during class through one of their minions, which read in barely legible English,

“We r going to get u tadey. Tadey you r DEAD!!!!” 

If the situation wasn’t so serious he would have most likely laughed out loud at the audacity of it all. To think that people that had the IQ level of a gerbil were the ones attempting to bully him. He would have just found it amusing. But today was different. There was a deadly urgency to it. If he was of a poetic mind the phrase “the winds had changed” would have creased the forefront of his mind but he wasn’t. He was a simple fifteen year old boy who went to a simple secondary school with one, supposedly, simple problem.


Bullies were a problem he hadn’t had to deal with at his previous school and even if he did, not for very long. He had been transferred to this new school due to his parents moving - this school being more convenient to travel to due to the close vicinity to his new home. So it was now his problem.

The thing inside his gut felt like a living creature. It bobbed, stretched, writhed and pushed at its boundaries, exploring its new dimensions. It swelled and conspired, seemingly whispering to his inner self, in this questioning sing song voice “Is it time?” as if it had a mind of its very own.

 If Tom was pressed to give “voice” some kind of association in the real world, he would likely compare it to a winy child that kept nagging its parent for what it wants. He felt pregnant with new power, and there was anxiousness in his manner. He found his eyes moving furiously between the clock on the wall and his teacher’s lips. He could not hear a word that she was saying. Words spilled from her mouth but Tom found no real association with them as if the words were coming from far away.  She just looked like a living puppet with its strings cut. Actually, everyone looked like that to him. They were all a bunch of living, breathing marionettes that just occupied the same space as him. He was the only real person that existed in this veracity.

He was the only real boy.

Beads of sweat, etched paths down the side of his cheeks and his skin felt feverish and hot. Like there was a blast furnace beneath his skin, working over time between his pores. Where he believed the two pairs of eyes rested on him seemed to burn the hottest, as if they had equipped laser beams for eyes, burning their way into his core, drilling for his dignity. He dared to glimpse over his shoulders and he saw them there. They were two rows down and three across, sitting in the back of the room, doing what all bullies do – wait and prey.

Derek “Bad Man” Ellis and his partner in crime and willing side kick, Shawn “Turkey” Rudder. Both of them sat away from everyone else, in their own little space, staring back at him. Tom considered them real as well, strangely enough, but not like how he considered himself. They were more akin to great stalking beasts - backs hunched and hulking, preying on the slow and the weak. Feasting on whatever scraps were available to them that they had not worked to achieve. They were the parasites of his world and he hated them.

Maybe these turn of events had been partially his fault. Not because they saw him as a weak, sniveling victim but because, deep down maybe they sensed that he was just as much a predator as they were. Maybe because when they had accosted him in the school hall earlier today after morning prayers, he hadn’t cowered in fear from their challenge like the other sheep in the school. Or maybe it was because he had punched Derek in the face after he had warned him not to push him again, while Turkey just stood there gawking and completely amazed. At least half the school stood staring at this scene like it was out of a Hollywood blockbuster and they had front row seats. Derek had stared at him from off the floor with a smoldering fire in his eyes. The look of murderous intent was like a poisonous dagger aimed at Tom. Turkey, on the other hand, just kneeled next to his fallen comrade with his eyes large like saucers, his head moving from Derek to Tom like a car wind shield wiper, unsure if to help his friend up or to run behind Tom and seek revenge. Tom turned and walked away without a word. He had no classes with them until final period, a math’s class that he barely took any notice of. He just sat there and patiently comforted the pulsating, slithering thing inside him, promising that its time would come soon - very soon.

The bell rang and the children did the usual mad scramble to escape from the doldrums of school life. It was time for them to run away and enjoy whatever pleasures teenage life brought but not for Tom. He forced himself to remain still even though he wanted to turn and confront them. He spread his arms apart and held each end of his desk, holding on so tightly that his finger tips began to turn white. He waited. The thing inside him stirred but it waited. The bullies stared at him with dangerous glares but they waited.  The class was clear now. They finally made their move.

“You got some damn balls on you tho” Derek said from behind Tom. “You have been here only a week and you walking round like you own the place.”

Tom finally allowed himself to turn around and look at his would-be tormentors. Derek sat with his legs on top of his desk and his arms folded .Turkey sat at the desk next to him with a gleeful look on his face. Turkey anticipated much violence, vengeance for the earlier insult to his best friend. Derek got up from the desk slowly and menacingly moved towards Tom, pushing desks out of the way aggressively as he moved up the aisle – an adolescent natural disaster of untamed hormones. Turkey fell in line behind him, nearly bursting with a contemptuous look on his face. Tom got up slowly and began to back up towards the top of the classroom, not allowing his eyes to stray from the two bullies that moved towards him. Tom moved till he could feel the hard chalk board pressing against his back and thought that here was as good a point as any to make his stand.

Derek continued his path of destruction as Turkey dashed towards the door to insure that Tom didn’t try to make a run for it, closing and locking it from the mewling crowd that had begun to converge outside in the hall way.  As soon as Derek realized that there was no one to witness his actions his anger erupted. He rushed forward and pinned Tom against the board with strong muscular arms, holding him by the front of his white buttoned up shirt, nearly lifting him completely off the ground. Even though Derek was only fifteen, he was huge for his age and took pleasure in using his bulk to toss around the younger kids.

“You little piece of shit! You really thought you could just do what you did and you would get away with it?!?” Derek said.

Tom didn’t say a word. He just calmly looked Derek in the eyes and smiled - a sinister grin that unnerved Derek and infuriated him at the same time. Usually, at this point his other victims were practically pissing themselves with fear but for some reason not this one. Derek slammed Tom’s back into the board again with frustration and tightened his grip on his shirt.
The thing inside Tom bucked and tossed around inside of him, longing to extend its power; to reach out and snatch what it wanted

Tom finally believed the time was right and whispered to his inner self, allowing it to uncoil its coils and let loose its malice. Tom’s nose began to bleed a trickle of black crimson fluid and his usually dark brown eyes started to take on a black misty tone.

Derek was confused. He had not started to administer any punishment to the boy in his grip and he was already bleeding. This was not going according to plan; not at all. He let go of Tom’s white shirt and began to step away from him, unsure of what to do. The thing inside Tom unwound its coils and stretched from inside Tom’s mind; its dark power reaching towards Derek. It snagged on to Derek’s mind like a bear trap snapping shut on an unlucky victim’s limb.

To Tom it felt like he had fallen down into the rabbit’s hole in the Alice in Wonderland’s story and hooked onto the true essence of a person. He always saw colors, not images, when this happened. As if a person’s soul is defined by a rainbow and not by anything conceptual and real. Maybe these colors were what truly made up a person’s being but honestly he didn’t know. All he knew was that when he had a person in this grip, their minds usually went from bright colors like amber and orange, to a complete lack luster black as he took them over.

Turkey was completely shocked. He was not sure what he was seeing right now. One minute Derek was shaking the shit out of the boy and the next, Tom had started bleeding and looked at Derek strangely. Derek in turn had shook as if he was having a fit, and then gone completely still, staring listlessly into space. Derek was just standing there with a blank look in his eyes and was moving his lips but no words were coming out. He was “snagged”, well at least that was what Tom called it – “snagging”. This is what he called it when he used his new found “gift” and took over someone’s mind.

Turkey had no idea what kind of crazy shit was going on but he wanted no part of it. Turkey was only brave when Derek was in control and dealing with situations. From the time his pillar of strength had crumbled, then so had his courage. He turned to unlock the door but Tom turned his attention to him and “snagged” him also. It was even quicker with him. It usually was easier to “snag” people with a lower intellect, Tom had found. Stronger willed people put up more of a fight but with these two, it was easy. Both just stood in their tracks, caught like fish on the ends of hooks. Their once vibrant minds, full of colors and dreams were now nothing but black empty shells. Tom was here now. He was all that remained in this vacant space. He dug into Derek’s head and saw what he had had planned for him. He smirked. He would teach them a lesson that they would not soon forget. He tugged at them through the tether of his mind and herded them towards the two first desks and made each of them sit. Tom took two pencils from out of his pants pocket and placed one of them in each of their hands.

“Now we are going to have a lesson” he said to his blank-eyed audience.

“Yes, sir” both of them said in unison.

They were now his puppets; his dancing marionettes in this empty reality. He was real. He was the only thing that was real. Everything else was fake and barren.

Tom tugged at their minds, sending a suggestion to them and slowly, Derek and Turkey both stretched out their right palms and with their left hands, they simultaneously began to push the sharpened points of the pencils, down through the pink flesh. They showed no pain or emotion except for an occasional grimace from Derek but nothing more.

“Don’t stop till you have pushed them all the way through, boys” Tom said.

Class was now in session. 


Simon Dolcyis a proud son of Barbadian soil.  In 2011, he entered his first ever NIFCA (National Independence Festival of the Creative Arts) competition and won a silver medal for Adult Prose.  The same story, “The Windowsill”, was also published in the online magazine Bajan Sun Online


Robert Gibson: PWES Editor said...




TamBrann said...

Love the idea of having bullies made into puppets. I want more...

Anonymous said...

Simon, this is creepy, dark, concise and well written. Is there more?

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