Bruce sat quietly inside the locker, hoping his pursuers had lost his trail. As he sat, he reflected on an article he had read somewhere, which claimed that the body did not remember pain. Reflecting on past encounters with these boys who were looking for him, Bruce was pretty sure that the writer of that article did not know what he was talking about.
He had done nothing to get his tormentors angry at him, Bruce was sure. It just seemed that just being there was enough to make him a target – that and the fact that everyone knew Bruce was a perfect victim, he never fought back, not very well at least, and he never told on his attackers. In return, they only bruised him and left him a bit bloody; they had never broken a bone – yet. Musing to himself as he waited, Bruce wondered why they never seemed to change their routine. Surely they would get bored of this?
At that moment, the locker down flew open and Bruce started with the shock of once again being found. The same three brutes who always made sport of his pain leered down at him, and Bruce silently cursed himself for choosing such a vulnerable place to hide. Without a word, but smiling grimly to each other, they set to punching and kicking Bruce, but seemed to tire after only a couple minutes, and they laughed at each other as they slammed the door on Bruce. Bruce could hardly believe his luck. He was hurting, but already the pain was receding a bit, though his mouth was bleeding and his ears rang from blows. Then Bruce heard, with dismay, a padlock being placed on the locker, and the brutes walked away, laughing and clapping at each other, Bruce realized that as this was Friday, he’d likely be locked for days before anyone knew where to find him. Bruce groaned as his attackers walked away, delighted with their cleverness.
As he sat alone in the dark, Bruce felt like he needed to cry, but the tears wouldn’t come. He couldn’t decide if this was because he was afraid the bullies would hear him, or that he was just too used to this treatment for it to have the same pull on his emotions. He was tired, hungry, hurting in various places and furious at himself, yet again, for not doing something to have stopped what happened, not that there was ever much hope of escape, let alone victory.
Then a sound caught his ear.
Long practice at evading his enemies had trained Bruce to keenly sense any sound out of place, and he realized that the three boys who had locked him in the locker had indeed hung around to see how he would deal with the situation. But something has changed. Bruce heard gasps of surprise, yells and a curse, as if they had been attacked by someone or something. There was a yell as in pain, and another curse shouted, and then the unmistakable sound of flight – the brutes had come across something they couldn’t scare or defeat. Bruce was intensely curious to know who or what that was.
Or was he? It suddenly occurred to Bruce, that whatever had chased away the brutes might, in fact, be worse than they were, and in that case it was very bad for Bruce to be locked where he could not get away, as he began to sense might indeed be very necessary.
Whatever it was began to approach the locker. Bruce heard it approach, almost a skittering kind of step, though the steps seemed strangely to grow softer as they came closer.
Then, just outside the locker, something chuckled quietly, as if at some private joke.