The Devil Made Me
By: Shawn Klimek
Jayden stood up and began striding for the exit. "I need to go to the restroom," he informed her, not pausing for permission. This impudence was such a contrast to his usual demeanor that she was stunned into silence. Her mouth fell open and she watched him leave. "You're going to need a hall pass!" she shouted as an afterthought.
"I'll go give it to him, ma'am," volunteered Scott Wyatt.
"Hurry back," she allowed.
Morton tried to watch the encounter but discovered Jayden's thoughts strangely opaque and encountered difficulty tracking where he had gone. He reasoned that Jayden was probably on his way to the gymnasium locker room where he was hiding. He would be coming to get the gun. But then, through whose eyes had Morton watched events in the math class after Jayden's exit? How had he seen Scott Wyatt take the hall pass and follow?
Through those mysterious eyes, Morton surveyed the classroom and then looked down at his hands, at his fingernails, painted glossy pink. He glanced at the desk and realized the answer before spotting the name written in florid cursive at the top-left of the notebook paper sheet face up on her desk: Sonya Wyatt.
The pretty girl's thoughts, nearly matching her sweet voice, spoke aloud in his head.
"Are you inside me now, Morton? Looking out?"
Morton's heart thumped like a bass speaker.
"I've been thinking your thoughts for the longest time," she said. "Dreaming your dreams. We share something special, I think, so I hope you'll listen. I know what you plan to do with the gun."
"What? What do you mean?" Morton glanced nervously up at the locker room door. At any moment, Jayden might arrive. He couldn't be sure how fast his classmate was walking. And had Scott caught up to him? He looked back at the locker in desperation and shook the lock in his fist.
"I need to get this gun out of here!" he said, unsure whether he had spoken the words aloud. He looked again through Sonya's eyes. "To do that, I need to be in Jayden's head. I need you out, Sonya."
Sonya's internal voice, calm and reasonable, answered, "What you're planning to do is wrong, Morton. I can't let you go through with it."
"What I'm planning? You must be confused, Sonya!" Morton was perplexed, frantic. Was it like this in every girl's head?
"Fortunately, there is something I can do," she said. "I don't know how I learned to do it, but I can make boys do things. In fact, I'm making my brother do something to Jayden right now."
"What? What are you making Scott do? Jayden is dangerous when he's pushed too far, Sonya!"
"Is there such a thing as pushing Jayden too far? If that were true, we would have found out by now. Anyway, I'm controlling Jayden, toojust enough. My powers are getting stronger, every day, Morton."
"Jayden wants to shoot up the school, Sonya! Leave him alone!"
"But of course, he does, Morton! Second to you, Jayden took longer than any other boy for me to manipulate, and now, of all things, you're trying to interfere! Like I told you, I can't let you go through with it."
"What! Please stop it, Sonya!"
"Run and hide now, Morton. Jayden's almost there and once he has the gun, you don't want to be anywhere near."
Morton did as Sonya suggested, hiding behind a laundry hamper. Had he come here of his own volition or because Sonya had made him, do it? From his hiding spot, he watched Jayden enter the locker room with Scott dogging his heels.
"Follow me and I'll show you," said Jayden.
"Show me what? Show me your pinky tongue?" said Scott, shoving.
"Just wait. It's in my gym locker," said Jayden, reaching for the combination lock.
As the mechanism clicked, Morton closed his eyes and concentrated as hard as he could. Sonya was the real danger. If she could interfere with his thoughts, maybe he could interfere with hers.
"Stop it, Morton." The sweetness had suddenly vanished from Sonya's inner voice. "I meant to spare you. But, if you don't quit interfering, once Jayden has the gun I'll have him shoot you."
Morton concentrated even harder. Math class was ending. Mrs. Vermont was asking Sonya about her brother. Had Scott been feeling okay? Could she think of any reason why he hadn't yet returned from giving Jayden the hall pass?
"Jayden looked strange, this morning" Sonya offered. "Like he wanted to hurt somebody. I hope they didn't get into a fight."
"Oh really?" asked Mrs. Vermont, concerned.
Morton saw clearly that Sonya was wickednot only the real cause of Jayden's torment but also his deranged manipulator. Morton thought of making Sonya say something shockingly insolent to provoke Mrs. Vermont. Sonya had said she could manipulate boys, not women. Her math teacher's ire would wipe that smile off her face.
Sonya sneered at her teacher. "Oh really?" she thought. The tone was a mocking, sarcastic falsetto. "Oh really, you old hag?"
Only Sonya never said those words aloud. Though tempted, she managed to overpower the urge and restore her facial expression to its usual obsequious mask.
"Oh, now you've messed up and made an enemy," Sonya snarled telepathically to Morton. "Now the first bullet is for you."
Morton heard footsteps entering the locker room.
"If you can stay focused on both of us," Morton taunted. The pens and pencils on Mrs. Vermont's desk rattled. Morton stared intently at them through Sonya's eyes. If she weren't attending, she'd pay a price. The sharpest pencils levitated and then raced like arrows across the room, directly towards those eyes.
"Gunshots!" shouted Mrs. Vermont, staring fearfully at the door "Everyone be quiet and listen! I think I heard gunshots!"
But then a blood-curdling scream of outrage and agony diverted all attention to the back of the room, where witnesses beheld bloody tears and vitreous ooze trickling in vertical crimson stripes beneath the murderous puppeteer's punctured eyeballs. Pink-painted fingers, curled like claws, hovered, vibrating around the twitching pencil shafts and blood-spattered face.
Mrs. Vermont raced in horror to the girl's side and squatted down beside her. "What happened?" she pleaded in horror, her head jerking toward any student who might have witnessed the maiming. "Who did this? Who did this?"
Met with shrugs and upturned palms, she commanded the student nearest to her desk to bring her smart phone and the box of tissues. After first dialing 9-1-1 for an ambulance, she then forced wads of tissues into Sonya's hands, before urging her to tilt her head back. She frankly had no idea what first aid was appropriate for this situation but remembered that tilting one's head back worked for bloody noses.
"Who did this to you, darling?" When Sonya said nothing, she reached for the child's trembling hands, hoping in vain at least to soothe the girl, before suddenly wondering, had she done this to herself? She gripped the hands more firmly, just in case.
Drawn by Sonya's screams, Mrs. Poole arrived from her classroom across the hall, jabbering to someone on the phone held to her ear. "I'm headed over to investigate now," she said.
"Make way!" she said. "Everyone back to your seats! Who screamed, Virginia?" Her jaw dropped as she confronted the scene.
Mrs. Vermont could only shake her head.
"Who did this?" she demanded.
"Maybe she did it to herself!" someone offered.
"A girl's been stabbed," Mrs. Poole said into the phone. Covering the speaker with her palm, she tapped the side of the phone with a finger. "Coach Dixon," she whispered. "In the gymnasium. So, you know that gunshot we heard a moment ago?"
"Yes, I heard it! What"
Poole held up a finger and pressed the phone to her ear again. "You did what? Oh well, that's something. Yeah, me too. Bye."
Ending the call, she was about to resume her comment when a series of sharp electronic squawks from the PA speaker heralded an emergency announcement from the school principal. "Attention please! Live shooter on campus! I repeat. Live shooter on campus! This is not a drill. Teachers and students are ordered to return to their classrooms and shelter in place until police arrive."
Letting go of Sonya's hands, Mrs. Vermont stood up and faced her students, who mirroring her expression of alarm, seemed to await her signal.
"Go and lock me in. I have a free period," said Mrs. Pool.
"You all know what to do," Mrs. Vermont. The students quickly sprang into action, closing windows and blinds, and shoving their desks in front of the door.
"I was just about to tell you," said Mrs. Poole, aiming a thumb toward the PA speaker. "Two students have been shot."
She hesitated, glancing uncomfortably at Sonya, who had stopped sobbing and seemed to be listening intently. The impaling pencils, like two antennae, seemed to be aiming at her.
Lowering her voice, she said, "I'd better not say right now. But the shooter was Jayden."
Mrs. Vermont gasped, also hushed. "Someone warned me about this."
One side of Sonya's mouth tilted ever so slightly.
"Don't worry. Coach Dixon says they've got him trapped in the boy's locker room.
Student murmurs became a cacophony, making it apparent that she had been overheard, had now stirred up a hornet's nest of curiosity. "Got who trapped?" one of the students wanted to know.
"Quiet down! There's no talking during shelter-in place!" Mrs. Poole commanded them.
"Was anyone killed?" Mrs. Vermont queried.
Locking eyes with her, the English teacher communicated all there was to say with a silent, somber look, before cupping a hand to the side of her face and adding. "They've called two ambulances, but " Her voice trailed off.
Suddenly, Mrs. Vermont felt Sonya's other hand being withdrawn from her own. The psychic dominatrix gripped the sides of her desk and erupted in an unexpected cackle of joy, causing everyone to stare. Despite the pencil shafts still jutting gruesomely from her eyes, the injured girl managed to grin through her blindness and pain. "I won!" she crowed cryptically.
And then, her breath caught, and she groaned, as one of the pencils in her eye began twisting. Slowly.