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Coming of Age

*Beep* *Beep* *Beep*

An apple watch laying upon a bedside table rings insistently. Its owner, young Zack Mackelroy, wakes up to the familiar sound. Peering through weary eyelids, he reaches out to the watch. Still half asleep.

April 1st, 2020. 7:30

The worst day of the year, during the worst year in history.

Beside his watch was a pair of oval glasses. He reached out to them as the world around him was just a mish mash of muddled mirages at the moment. Or that's how he felt anyway.

Getting up, he moved over to his dresser and faced the rectangular mirror hanging upon the door.

"It's time to make history, Zack... You can do this. You're smarter than them. You're faster. You can outplan, outthink, outrun, outdodge, output more effort than they can. It's simple math. You're the one. The prime number. And doesn't matter how many of them there are... You can do this."

Slapping himself in the face, and running in the spot he tried to hype himself up. But deep down, he knew. He knew that it'd take a miracle for him to make it out unscathed today.

"Hey butthead, are you going to take a shower or what? Your going to be late for school." His younger sister scolded at the door looking at him pitifully.

"Shuddup, Maize. As if I've ever been late before." He retorted.

"Oh, right. I forgot. You're a complete dork. You'd never be late for class." She stuck her tongue out at him. And before he could respond, she ran down the hall.

Disgusted by her claim, he grabbed his neatly prepared clothes he made the other night, along with his toiletries and took a shower.

"Ok, their going to expect me coming down the main entrance as I've always done from the parking lot."

The streaming water pattering his face, he used his hands to draw out an imaginary map in the air in front of him.

"Which means, I have to use the back entrance service door on west side of the school. Near my class room. No lockers or washrooms nearby. Eliminating any threatening areas they can push me into."

Hmmm, but the year before last they just egged him thoroughly and hung him upside down from the atrium against a wall. Shaking him out as they knew he carried a lot in his pockets.

Embarrassment and sadness washed over him at the memory. He didn't know why he always loved to be prepared. That something would feel wrong with him if he didn't prepare his shower towel and clothes neatly folded on his computer chair.

That it had to be on the chair because he always had to check his email in the morning. Clear out the junk mail. Organize the inbox into folders where they belong. This persistent need to have things in the right place.

"I just wish I could do the same in real life." He stepped out of the shower and dried himself off. Wiping away the fog off the mirror.

He had short hair, neatly kept as he combed it back. He had pale skin and dark brown hair. Almond coloured eyes and buck teeth. He smiled at the mirror, trying to see if he could see himself in any other way than what he was.

A loser.

"Hey put yourself together man." He looked at himself and tried to flex his abs and biceps. "You're more than a nerd. You're the nerdiest of nerds."

It brought a small smile to his lips. Self deprecating jokes. The only shield left to hold to, he thought. He took a deep breathe and looked up at the ceiling.

"God, if you're there please give me the strength to make it through today."

His main bullies were Sarah Connor, George Greene and Sly Steve. Sarah Connor, like the Terminator movies, was a tough lanky girl who was the tallest in their class. George Greene was her boyfriend and Steve was their best friend. The Trio were known as the Terribles. Like the Incredibles but the complete opposite.

Every April Fool's day for the past 3 years he's been in the school they have ridiculed, tortured and battered his ass.

"But today, they will find themselves to be the Foolibles... or Fools. Foolish ones?" He would have to come up with a name for them just as degrading as Zmacky Boy. You know the boy you can smack around.

For now, it was on to armaments.

He walked back into his room. And upon a mannequin was his goalie gear. His mom got him enrolled into hockey when he was young. And he always fancied the look of the goalies. To him they were great knights protecting the net from harmful catapulted shots of rubber.

On Ice, Zack felt like a tower, but off ice he felt like a stick. No one at school knew he played. Since the public school didn't offer hockey as a extracurricular sport. Gear was too expensive to provide for kids. He instead played for a little league.

Today though, he needed his pads and helmet. With mask underneath and a Zelda Skyward Shield replica at his back. He went downstairs.

"And where do you think you are going dressed up in all that?"

His mom asked as she handed him his lunch, which he stuffed into his satchel. Zack hated backpacks because it gave bullies to much leverage over his entire body. Satchels he can let slip off if they grabbed them.

"I have practice today, Mom. And ummm Sally said she could get me a ride to the rink."

"Righhhht... And the shield?"

"Um, it's for her brother Damien. He just got a Nintendo Switch and I don't really like this shield anymore. Takes up too much space."

For a moment, his mother met his gaze as if to see if she can peer through to the truth. But she gave up. She never really understood him. Neither did either of his parents.

"Just be careful, sweetie."

"I got my mask," He replied. "Love you, Mom."

"Love you too, darling"

He turned and went outside. The school was only two blocks away so he could walk the distance.

"Am I going to really fight off the Terribles..." He asked himself as he stopped at a familiar house half way to his school. It was Sally's home. She was always really early so they never walked together to school, but she was his only friend. Outside his team, the Glenmore Ravens.

As the school came into sight, he veered of from the main way to go to the side of the building. A metal door against concrete served as a service entry for janitors and the like. He pulled open the door and walked inside.

The clamoring of students and people walking about washed over him as stuck to the shadows of a nearby staircase.

"Psst. What are you doing?"

He jumped up in surprise nearly dropping to the floor. He turned to see it was just Sally. She was looking at him curiously.

"I'm going to do it." He said voice cracking slightly.

"Do what?"

"I'm going to fight them."

"Your insane Zack. There are three of 'em you know."

"I don't care. I had enough. Today I won't be the Fool, They will be the Three Stooges. You wait and see."

"Who are the Three Stooges?"

"Really, Sally, Really...?"

She looked at him helplessly.

He sighed.

"I'll link you a youtube video. It'll make more sense."

"So what? Are you going to wait for them to come to class and just brawl with them. That doesn't seem very smart."

"No, I'm going to bait them. They'll see me in this get up and think punching bag. And then that's when I'll unleash my secret weapon."

She looked him up and down.

"Your shield? I know you love Captain America, but you aren't a super hero Zack."

"No! Not my shield..." He rummaged through his satchel and pulled out a small can. Across the front it read "Pepper Spray."

"Zack that's going to get you into more trouble."

"Look Sally I'm tired of it. Every April Fools they've made my life a miserable hell. Today they'll feel my emotional pain through their eyes."

He then made a spraying motion aimed high as if to hit an imaginary Sarah.

"Plus this is like the Spartan Pass in the 300, I'll hold my ground here. They can't shove me anywhere."

As he was talking he didn't notice in the distance, the three Terribles spotting him. A smirk crept onto Sarah's face as she tapped George on the shoulder pointing him out.

Sally spotted them though.

"Just run Zack."

"I will after I spray them."

"No just do it now please. I don't want to see you get hurt."

"Hah, today they'll be writhing on the ground, just wait. Now take cover Sally this is my fight."

She stepped back hesitantly before running up the flight of stairs. Figures, can't even trust your own best friends it seems. No matter, Zack slipped the pepper spray into his palm concealing his trump card.

"Well, well what do we have here boys. Zmacky all dressed up and ready for class I see."

Sarah had long hair and a snaggle tooth on either side of her mouth, making her look like a vampire as she hovered over him.

"So you going to a cosplay or something Zmacky?" She asked as she tipped him with her finger pushing against his chest. He took it and stared defiantly.

"No..." His hand was shaking, he knew that he should draw his weapon now. But through his periphery he could see the other two boys just waiting to pounce.

"So what do you think we should do today Steve?"

Sly Steve smiled menacingly.

"We haven't done a good pummeling in awhile."

"That's a bit boring though," George intervened. "Let's make this kid know where he belongs. I say we bring him outside and literally make him eat dirt like the worm he is."

"That's why I love you, babe. Always with the bright ideas."

Suddenly before Zack could react Sarah and Steve grabbed him by the arms while George ran past opening the metal door. There was some woods right outside the school and they tossed him onto the ground among the pine cones.

"Now for every handful you refuse to eat, Zmacky. I'm going to have Steve here.. Zmack you around."

Zack looked up at them. For three years he had to endure this treatment three years. But oddly enough this wasn't so much a prank as usual. Last spring they had left scorpions in his gym shoes. Before that was the egging. And the very first year he met the Terribles on April Fool's Day they skunk bombed his locker.

Today was just like any other day.

"Wait what day is it today?"

"Monday the 2nd, you dork. Any last requests." Steve joked.

Suddenly he was reminded of his watch, he looked down. Now with his glasses he clearly saw.

April 2nd, 2020. 8:12

Realizing for the first time, that the fear he had was for a day that no longer existed.

"Now eat dirt wormling." George taunted. Sarah with her elbow over his shoulder watched expectantly.

But neither of them were prepared. He brought the spray can to bear. Spraying them both. The look of shock and pain as they held to their face in horror was so so so satisfying. Zack couldn't even put it into words how it felt to stand up to them.

Steve went to punch him. But Zack drew out his shield and held it firm in front of him just in time to parry his fist. The knuckle cracked against steel.

It was a good thing he got a real Hylian replica shield. Steve yelled out in pain. And just as Zack was about to run. He spotted Sally coming barreling down from the school with the Vice Principal in toe.

"Are you okay, Zack." She asked with worry on her face. She looked completely out of breadth. She must've booked it hard to the office.

"Yah," He looked over to Steve holding to his hand and the pair of blind turtledoves coughing and writhing on the ground. "I'm okay."

The last year of highschool. The Terribles were transferred out never to be heard from again.

And Zack Mackelroy, well he became the talk of the classroom. But he knew that without Sally, the Terribles retribution would have been swift and harsh. He never doubted her again after that.

As for April Fools.

Well... Zack can finally enjoy knowing that it's just another day in the year.

There was always the day afterwards.

March 30, 2021 22:21

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1 comment

Karen Mc Dermott
21:14 Apr 03, 2021

Hah, perfect finishing line. Good work!


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