Killer of Giants, p.1Oliver Lockhart / Thrillers & Crime
At a prison-like Detroit high school, senior student Chris Maddox has two problems: how to ask out honors student Allie Brookes, and whether to stand up for the new kid who landed himself in a world of shit after an accidental dodgeball nut shot. In front of the entire cafeteria, ball-hurt teenage-giant Jeremiah Bundy takes down the new kid in what could be a world record for mismatched fight. Chris steps in and accidentally breaks Bundy's nose, and also breaks the number one rule of high school: before you hit someone, make sure nobody cares.
Chris and his friends are hunted and terrorized by Bundy and his two creepy associates – one a punk who forked his own tongue with a rusty knife at age fifteen, and the other a kickboxing psychopath who finishes his beatings by breaking his victim’s index finger.
Afraid Chris will get seriously hurt, Allie helps him fight back guerilla style. When the psychotic trio tries to kill them, Chris learns that teachers can’t help and police don't protect or serve. With their lives about to be wiped out by the wannabe killers, Allie, Chris, and their friends dream up a long-shot idea.
Killer of Giants
For Erin, Ella, and Jake
Table of Contents
1 - Snap Your Fingers
2 - Decafeteriainated
3 – Lay Your World on Me
4 – Extinguishing the Fire
5 – Equations of Gravity
6 – A Dream and a Fear
7 – Bruised and Confused
8 – Strawberry Leia Cake
9 – Disintegration
10 – Be Quick or Be Dead
11 – Stage Fright
12 – A Shot in the Dark
13 – The Edge of Darkness
14 – Spiders in the Night
15 – An Unsettling Negotiation
16 – Fear of the Dark
17 – A Disturbing De-Negotiation
18 – The Friend of My Enemy is My Enemy
19 – Crossing the Thin Blue Line
20 – Last Chance Goodbye
21 – No Easy Way Out
22 – Spinning the Web
23 – Courage is Knowing What Not to Fear
24 – The Worst That Could Happen
25 – Waiting for Darkness
26 – In My Darkest Hour
27 – Recafeteriainated
28 – Cutting off A Loose End
29 – Set the Dark Afire
30 – From Here to Eternity
“There is no such thing as paranoia. Your worst fears can come true at any moment.”
- Hunter S. Thompson
1. Snap Your Fingers
It all went down three months into my high school senior year, a day that triggered a youth uprising like nothing America had seen before.
The trouble started when the new kid, Gordie Radford, scanned the Cannondale High cafeteria and turned to me. “Chris, it’s about to happen.”
Eminem chanted from the loudspeaker of a nearby phone, and the faint smell of weed filled the air. “If it makes you feel better,” I said, “they won’t do it here. When they did it to Osterhout, they dragged him into the hall and bent his finger back – snapped it like a pretzel. Had to wear a finger splint for a month.”
Gordie grimaced like he was trying to swallow a bug.
The mechanics of finger breaking probably wasn’t what he needed with the mess he was in. “Don’t worry,” I said. “I’m sure they won’t do it to you.”
They were going to do it to him, and soon.
“Did the teachers help Osterhout?”
“Teachers? Osterhout was a teacher.”
After Osterhout’s finger breaking, the faculty was too gutless to deal with the beatings. Even Mad Max wouldn’t survive this asylum for the homicidal. Truth was, fingers were only broken when things got bad, but Gordie landed himself in a world of shit after an accidental dodgeball nut shot last week. Chances were one of his fingers was about to have a bad day.
Gordie glanced over his shoulder at the exit. “I just want to get through senior year without ending up like Mr. Osterhout.”
Not ending up like Osterhout was all any of us wanted, but I couldn’t help feel for Gordie. Notre Dame Prep hadn’t prepared him for the unexpected move to a tough school in Detroit’s West Side where beatings were part of the curriculum. He was clueless, like a child walking up to a creeper in a candy van, and only a month after transferring to Cannondale he had guys twice his size lining up to destroy him. I wasn’t about to stand in their way, but I tried to look out for him because no one else did. Besides, I could count my other friends on my little finger, so it’s not like I was too cool to hang with the new kid.
That other friend, Raj Akhtar, walked down the aisle toward us with a tray of meatballs and a can of Crush. He pulled out the chair next to mine and raised an eyebrow at me, no doubt sore at having to sit with Detroit’s biggest trouble magnet again. “Sup?”
Gordie glanced over his shoulder at the exit. “They’re coming. I can feel it.”
“Cool it, will you?” Raj put his tray on the table and dropped into his chair. “You wouldn’t be such a victim if you didn’t act like one.”
Gordie’s brow wrinkled and his lips moved without speaking.
“Listen,” Raj said. “You need to understand how it works here at Cannondale. Look around, you ain’t at prep school no more.” He pointed at the cafeteria wall covered in black graffiti, chewing gum, and lumps of hardened food. Near the ceiling, yellow light filtered through a row of dirty windows. They say the guy who designed Cannondale also designed prisons: minimal windows, intense overcrowding, high tension, and wild inmates. I’d believe it.
Raj speared a meatball with his fork and pointed at Gordie’s cardigan. “That Ralph Lauren number ain’t doin’ you any favors. You’re seventeen – you gotta dress like it.”
Gordie picked the fluff off his cardigan, like tidying it would help him blend in with Cannondale’s gangsters and hoods.
“My parents left Delhi twenty years ago and they’re still trying to get me to wear a kurta.” Raj laid his fork on his plate and grabbed the edges of his t-shirt with the words ‘Fake Karate is Better than no Karate.’ “Can you imagine what those maniacs would do to me if I wore a kurta?”
Gordie clasped his hands together and pulled them apart, like he didn’t know what to do with them. “Did they get in trouble with the cops for what they did to Mr. Osterhout?”
“They fessed up, but the cops still did nothing.”
“That’s what happens when your old man’s a cop,” I said.
Raj shook his head. “It’s what happens when your old man’s a dirty cop.”
Another lump made its way down Gordie’s throat. He reached into his bag and pulled out a Rocky and Bullwinkle lunchbox.
Raj’s eyes widened. “What are you doing?”
Gordie blinked slowly, like he was confused by his surroundings. “What?”
“Are you trying to get beat up? Put Rocky and Bullwinkle away before someone sees them.”
The confusion on Gordie’s face turned to blushing. It’d be a long time before he was in his element here. He slipped his lunchbox back into his bag. “It doesn’t matter. They’re going to find me anyway.” He pressed his hand to his stomach and winced. “They hit me twice last week. They said it was to soften me up before…” He looked down at his fingers.
“Show us,” Raj said.
He unbuttoned his cardigan and lifted his shirt to reveal a dark purple-green bruise covering most of his stomach.
“Shit, Gordo.” Raj shot me a glance. “Don’t worry, we’ve all had our run-ins. I’ve gotten to know all kinds of pavements: brick, concrete, asphalt – you name it, I’ve been beaten on it. It’s just how it works here.”
Gordie pulled his cardigan down. “I’m eating outside from now on, even if it’s a thousand degrees below. I’d rather waterboard myself than let them–”
“Too late.” Raj tipped his head toward the door.
Swaggering down the aisle, Fink Fuller stood taller than an NBA player on stilts and was twice as lanky. His six-inch red mohawk and metal-spiked leather jacket gave him a look that’d make a punk rooster envious. He didn’t just look demented though; he’d clocked up more beatings than any other senior. And he did it all for the love of hurting people.
The clamor of voices and clanking of cutlery softened as two hundred students turned his way. According to Mr. Walter’s senior biology class, this is called the anti-predator response. Nature knows when something dangerous is near. You can experience it if you’re sleeping in the outdoors and wake up to silence. No gentle hiss of wind through grass, no crickets, no frogs, and no buzzing insects. Silence. Humans aren’t used to silence. True silence is terrifying, and there’s a reason.
Fink paused at our table, balancing his tray of what smelled like five-day-old lunchmeat in one hand.
Gordie sank lower in his chair, his skin pale and sweaty like a malaria victim. He radiated the kind of raw fear that attracted trouble, and he’d brought a ton of it our way since he started hanging with us.
A whisper came from under Gordie’s breath. Praying was all he had, but so far it hadn’t saved anyone else.
Fink’s gaze shifted down to Gordie, and he narrowed his eyes. Like a bulldog readying for attack, his face hardened and his eyebrow piercings bristled. Parting his lips, he flicked his forked, snake tongue out of his mouth and over his lips. Rumor was he’d gone into his old man’s garage on his fifteenth