Theo picked up the sandwich, white bread denting where his fingers pressed, bits of sloppy-joe already tumbling out the back, falling onto the Styrofoam lunch tray with a plop. His milk lay off to the side a bit, a simple, white, unbendable plastic straw sticking out from it. To his left was a set of eating utensils given at each lunch. Why anyone would need a fork for a sloppy joe, he would never guess.
Mark, one of his friends, was chattering on aimlessly about something that he couldn’t possibly give less of a shit about. Perhaps football, or baseball, or just balls in general. Mark seemed to have a thing for balls.
Timmy was listening on the other side of the lunch table. He seemed to be more interested in his food than his friend. Theo couldn’t really blame him for that. It wasn’t like he was the epitome of focus.
In fact, his thoughts were drifting over to the other corner of the large room. Past the other tables packed with high schoolers, surrounded by a mental black cloud, sat a group of girls. They all had a similar look. Black shirt, black shorts, simple shoes or thick boots. Their hair was done simply, sometimes hidden under a hat, black of course, or simply hanging in long, flat lines. Nothing fancy, save the occasional stripe of color. He struggled for the right term. Goth? Emo? Punk? Something like that. Whatever it was, Theo liked it.
Maxi, the one leaning against the wall, her dark eyes half shut, her black skirt tantalizingly short, her boots deliciously thick, was Theo’s not-so-secret crush. He had liked her for a while, even managed the courage to talk to her once. It didn’t go well.
She was a junior this year, and he was only a freshman. Hell, she was even taller than he was. When he had tried to talk to her she had patted him on the head, grinned, then said “Aw, look, he thinks he’s people.” She had then asked, “Don’t you have some sandbox you could go piss in or something?” He hadn’t known how to respond to that, so he kindely fucked off, and never tried to talk to her again.
Now he had sunken to creepily staring at her from across the lunchroom. Typical.
“Hey,” Mark said excitedly, ramming his elbow into Theo’s ribs. “Are you listening? This is the best part!”
“Hmm… yeah.” His most convincing agreement.
“Good. Anyway…” Mark continued his story, Theo turned back to the girl, then to his sandwich, still dripping meat out the end. It almost looked like the sandwich was shitting reddish-brown, slimy turds. Appetizing, truly.
Theo took his first steps into the fresh air that awaited him outside the confines of school. It always tasked nice, clean, not filled with other people farts. He liked the smell of outside.
He also liked being done with school for the week. Friday, what a happy time. The people all around him, pushing and shoving lightly, seemed to be in a slightly less irritated mode then they usually were. Maybe it was because it was sunny out. Then again, this time of year, it was always fucking sunny.
The boy managed to squirm his way through the crowd, soon stumbling out into the open area to the side of the main entrance. That was one of the few benefits to being a small little freshman. You could squeeze through large groups without too much hassle.
He turned then, his backpack pulling heavily on his shoulders, one of his shoelaces hanging loose and untied. For a brief moment he wondered if he should tie it. He decided not to, knowing that it wouldn’t be the cool thing to do. So, he continued on his way, turning around the building, feeling like the most badass kid in the world. He had left his shoe untied for Christ sake. Perhaps he should go to the mall and buy some black clothes to match his new persona?
But, something more important presented itself. As he turned the corner he noticed a single person walking. Her boots crushed the grass underfoot without mercy, her black hair flowed in the slight breeze, accented by a single pink stripe. He immediately recognized Maxi.
For a moment he wondered what to do. This was the way he always went, but still it felt weird walking behind her. Would he stare at her ass? Shit, he knew he would. He was such a creep. Would she turn around at some point? Notice him? No doubt she would freak out and think he was stalking her. Then she would call for help, and he wouldn’t know what to do. He’d freak out. He’d panic. He’d do something stupid. Better just avoid the entire thing. He turned back, heading to the corner and the flow of students just around it.
Wait, what the hell was he thinking? People were allowed to walk behind people, why was he being such a pussy? It wasn’t like he was going to try and talk to her, or do anything creepy. He gulped, silently hating himself. Why was he always so damn awkward? Why couldn’t he just be fucking normal?
He turned around yet again, following a few paces behind Maxi, his eyes trained on the ground, his heart beating faster than it should have. He had to keep reminding himself that there was nothing wrong with what he was doing. Just going home. Just following the path he always took. Sure it was out of the way a bit, but it was the fastest. Nothing wrong with wanting to get home quick, right?
“Oh man,” he whispered as his eyes looked up, finding the girl’s form. She was so sexy. Her legs were so pale, so well formed. He just wanted to take a bite out of them. Not actually of course - that would be creepy as fuck - but they did look warm and soft. His heart was beating faster, blood pumping throughout his veins.
She still hadn’t noticed him, or if she had, didn’t care. That’s what he was hoping for at least. His eyes returned to his feet, and the tiny blades of grass that crumpled under his steps. Tiny black dots sometimes lept from the strands just as they started to bend. Theo couldn’t help to smile at the thought of all the bugs that didn’t escape his footfall. At least he was bigger than something at this school.
He almost jumped as he heard a loud, mechanical sound erupt from somewhere ahead. A quick glance up showed that the girl’s wrist was glowing a faint blue. The sound must have been coming from that, though he couldn’t imagine what it was.
Before him, the girl gave an audible sigh, bringing the device before her, pressing on the touchscreen. Suddenly the space directly in front of her lit up in a dazzling display of lights and colors, quickly forming into what appeared to be a holographic image. Theo could barely contain his shock at the sight. He quickly ducked down, hiding behind a nearby bush, his eyes unable to look away.
The lights were compacting, becoming uniform, taking on a shape that seemed to resemble a human. Still, it looked odd. The colors weren’t right, the shape was a bit too long and thin. The head was… disturbing, resembling something close to that of a squid. It wasn’t human. What the hell was happening? Theo could only watch.
“Zone Commander Q-89_D, requesting communications with Sector Ambassador E_A-12?4. Please respond.” The voice was shaky, like the image, as if it was a bad signal.
Maxi didn’t look happy when she answered. “Yeah, that’s me. What do you want?”
Now it was the… whatever-the-hell-it-was’s turn to look annoyed. “It is customary to refer to a-”
“I don’t really care. What do you want?”
The thing paused for a moment, the hologram staying relatively still, Maxi looking as annoyed as ever. Finally, it spoke. “Your mission has been called upon for review. The council has determined that your research entitled ‘Studies of Human Subculture, Female, HIgh school, Clique, Punk,” will no longer be receiving funding.”
“Fucking great,” Maxi answered. “Any particular reason?”
The being still looked disappointed. “I’m sure your attitude had nothing to do with it.”
“Research, you squid headed henti star.”
Theo blinked, still unable to come to terms with what he was seeing. It looked like Maxi was really talking to the hologram, but that couldn’t be possible. That shit was only in science fiction, right?
“In any event,” the squid monster continued. “A ship is scheduled to pick you up for reassignment in two days. Pack up any items you need, everything else will be taken care of by the SIB.”
“Cool. Thanks a bunch, squiddy.” Her tone reeked of sarcasm. “Really making my life easy.”
“Not my call,” it answered.
“That’s what everyone says.”
Wait, did that thing say a ship was going to be picking her up? What the hell was going on!? Theo was trying to wrap his head around things, but the only ideas he could imagine seemed like the opening to some crappy space flic. Maxi wasn’t one of them, was she? He cringed at the idea. If he had a crush on a squid headed octopus alien, his friends would never let him live it down.
“By the way,” the squid face said, nonchalantly. “You have a voyeur.” Theo’s heart froze.
Maxi turned, her eyes sweeping the area quickly, passing over him, then darting back after a brief moment. Theo could only cringe. She looked pissed. “Thanks for the warning, Squid.”
“Make sure you take care of it.”
“I will.” She clicked off the device, the hologram disappearing, her wrist device returning to its normal appearance. She then took a step in his direction, her heavy boots crunching on a leaf. Theo’s heart was pumping again, though he wished it wasn’t.
“Wait, I can…” he started to say, standing, his hands up. She wasn’t in a mood to hear his bullshit.
She grabbed the collar of his shirt roughly, shaking him. “What the fuck were you doing?” her tone was anything but inviting.
“I was… I mean…” His mouth was dry, his stomach burning, his cheeks red. Why did he always have to freak out like this?
“Shut up you little shit.” She shook him again, his body easily moving, already off balance due to his backpack. “What did you see?”
“Fucking talk!” She slapped him suddenly, his head jerking to the side. He had never been hit before. Not seriously.
“Sorry,” he muttered, turning back to her. His cheek was already burning, growing a bright red. “I just… I was trying to get home and when I saw the… thing… I just tried to hide.”
“So you saw everything?” He nodded weakly. “What was I talking too?”
“I don’t know,” he answered honestly. “It looked like an alien, or something.”
Her grip tightened on his collar, pulling him closer, almost to the point where their foreheads touched. Even now, Theo couldn’t help but feel attracted to the girl. She was still so sexy, so tough, so cool. Everything that he wasn’t.
Her lips were only an inch away from his. He wanted to lean forward that extra bit so they touched, he wanted to find out what they tasted like, but he didn’t dare. Not when she looked like she wanted to bite his head off already.
“Listen, shiteater,” she whispered, her voice so low he could barely hear over the humming of crickets. “If you breathe a word of this to anyone, I’ll kill you.” Her eyes were locked with him, unmoving. She was serious. “You don’t tell your friends, your family, your fucking pet fish. If anyone finds out, and I mean anyone I’m going to sink a knife into your gut, drag it until I see intestines, then start ripping. Got it?” He could only nod. “Good.” She released him, he immediately took a step back. His face was noticeably paler.
Her lips rose a bit, forming a mocking grin. Did she like seeing him this frightened? He couldn’t help his reaction, none of this made any sense. “What are you still doing here?” she asked, her tone ice.
He turned, eyes wide, heart about to burst. Slowly he took a step, trying to wrap his brain around things. He wasn't having much success.
Three strides was all it took before Maxi called out to him again. “Stop.” He cringed. What did she want with him now? Had she reconsidered her actions? Was she going to stab him? He knew that sounded stupid, something a dumb, scarred freshman would believe, but that look in her eyes… somehow he didn’t think she was joking.
“What is…” he said, turning. Her hands latched onto his face, pulling him forward until he felt something warm on his lips. It took a moment to realize it was Maxi’s mouth. The girl continued pressing into him, her lips playing with his lightly. They were warm, just like he imagined they would be. Soft too, and tasting like strawberries. Suddenly, he loved strawberries.
Then she pulled away, looking into his dumbfounded eyes. Her face didn’t show any of her opinions. Finally she let go, turned, and started walking away. “Get lost, dork,” she called from over her shoulder after a few steps.
Theo simply stood where he was, his face one of confusion, his legs rooted to the ground. “W...What?”