CHAPTER ONE: FIRST BEATING

It was a very rare occasion for me to have a school day, without any form of harassment at all from Jeff Morgan. For, he was the cruellest, meanest and most sadistic bully St Champions had ever produced and to top it off, he was the Deputy Head Prefect of the school. Meaning that on the chain of power in terms of the school, Jeff was only under the Headmaster and Rose Carter, the Head Prefect, which allowed Jeff to reign supreme over 'lesser beings' and dish out punishments to troublemakers, such as me and my friends.

Not that we are troublemakers…. We're just outcasts, really.

Yet, ever since I could remember, Jeff had always gunned for me. And let me tell you, it is awful, the amount of crap that I have to deal with from that ginger haired prick. I utterly loathe him and fear him at the same time, so whenever I manage to make it throughout the majority of the day, with no hurt feelings or new ammunition fired at me, I feel elated. Like nothing can stop me, and that no matter what Jeff says in the upcoming months that remained in the school year, I would be able to defend myself and brush off the taunts and torments, like a duck does with water.

So, I walk out of my last lesson for the day, heading towards the main entrance, which would lead me out of this hell hole and a big smile is plastered onto my face. Jeff hadn't spoken to me today! In fact, he hadn't even glanced at me!

"I'm free!" The whisper escaped my lips before I could even realise that the statement had not confined itself to my mind, instead floating out into the silent corridor.

My smile rose as no one scolded me for 'breaking' a stupid rule and I continued on, a spring in my step as I approached the doors, right hand raising up.

"Wheezy!"

I stopped dead. Fear clenched my heart, ice cold fingers wrapping around the organ and squeezing it dry, like it was a soaking wet dish rag, and tremors raced up and down my body as Jeff Morgan strode towards me from behind.

Thinking of what a delicate position I was in, I whirled round, a squeak emerging as my tormentor suddenly loomed over me, a feral grin stretching his lips back to reveal those perfect teeth of his. All of the happiness and joy I had felt earlier had gone, wilted away at this terrifying sight.

'Why has he come for me NOW?!'

To my shame, I squeaked again, earning a snicker from Jeff and words that were hissed with malice.

"Pathetic weakling…. Cowering like a mouse. But I think you're more like a cockroach, something that I can STAMP ON. Well, Wheezy, what do you think? Are you a cockroach?"

He leant forwards, snarl sending spittle all over my face.

"Well? Answer me!"

"Y-Y-Yes!"

"Aww, the wittle cockroach is scared!"

Observing the mocking smirk on Jeff's face, my mouth fell open and a torrent of words flew out, resulting in Jeff's smirk falling clean off of his face and an expression of lividity to blossom across the freckles instead.

"I'm not a cockroach! You are! You're utterly p-pathetic, coming after me, just because I'm f-fragile and 'weak', whereas you're s-strong and can always beat me, hands down! That just shows that you're a-afraid to go after someone who could actually beat you! So you p-prey on p-people with no c-chances! You're just a b-bully! A rich toff, who got his P-Prefect status handed to him on a p-platter! A cruel, sadistic, idiotic…. You're a git!"

Within moments, a solid fist had connected with my stomach. A pained grunt was let loose and I collapsed to the floor, hands clutching my stomach. Strained pants was all the noise I could make as Jeff leered down at me, hands still balled, but thankfully, by his sides. He sneered:

"Think you can spout lies about me, Hunter?! It makes me laugh to see someone like you attempting to be brave for once. Well, now you see where that bravery got you."

Jeff chuckled mirthlessly. "I was actually going to not torment you today… But when I saw your fat arse scuttling towards the doors, I just couldn't resist."

Smiling sinisterly, Jeff turned on his heel and strode off, mouthing off a parting shot to me.

"Hope that doesn't bruise too much! I suggest you get going, Wheezy!"

Whimpering in pain, tears collecting in my eyes, I waited until his footsteps had silenced before attempting to climb to my feet.

Let's just say, it was easier said than done.

After finally getting to my feet, I staggered along the corridor, knowing that I would be by myself on the journey home, as the rest of SPLAT would have left, if not forced, out of the playground a while ago. Luckily, I didn't encounter anyone I knew on my way back and practically sagged against the front door as I shut it behind me.

Nibbling my bitten bottom lip with one of my front teeth, I stumbled up the stairs, pleased that Mum was elsewhere in the house, as if she had been in the kitchen, then she would have greeted me as soon as I had walked through the door, and after what I just experienced, I couldn't bear to answer any probing questions, for fear of blurting out everything or even losing my temper, which would be a bad idea, considering how Mum had a pretty fiery temper of her own.

Opening the door to my bedroom, planes in all forms greeted my watery eyes. I clicked the door shut behind me, the familiar trickle of tears rolling down my face once again as I started stripping off my school uniform down to my waist. Pain flared up and I muffled a scream as my shirt heaped on the carpet. Agony surrounded me because of two reasons. One was obvious. The sheer pain of the punch. Any worse and I was sure that I would simply keel over.

'Thank goodness, I didn't have an asthma attack! THAT would have meant more suffering from Jeff.'

I shivered, my sobs becoming more pronounced as the second reason stared at me right in the face. My personal bully's attack had caused a large, purple bruise to form on the pale expanse that was my stomach. And as my mind wondered to pessimistic thoughts, which was normal for me to do, another shiver caressed my spine.

What if Jeff kept attacking me?

'Like an artist…. If he sees the bruise, then he would just want to make it bigger and bigger….'

I hissed, knuckling my eyes desperately to wipe away the never-ending onslaught of tears. If someone came in now, then I had to hide all evidence that I was upset, in order to evade any questions. Unfortunately, at that moment, my bedroom door opened, a loud, brash voice reaching my ears.

"H! Where were you earlier? We were all waiting for you, but had to clear the playground before the Prefects pounced on us. You-"

Lloyd halted, voice fading away, hand gripping the door handle. The sight that was before him, shocked him to his core. His little brother, shirt askew and half buttoned, the top half revealing his collarbone and neck, was glaring at him, arms hugging his clothed stomach.

As Lloyd blinked, I snapped out, all feelings of suppressed rage at not being able to fight back against Jeff surfacing.

"Don't just gape at me! You come in here, into my bedroom, without even knocking! And expect me to listen to you. Well, I don't want to talk to you at the moment! You interrupted a private moment, so…. Please… get out!"

I whimpered again, managing to flap a hand at my concerned brother as Lloyd went to move toward me.

"I-I wouldn't do the same to y-you so please just go a-and next time, knock!"

Astonished, Lloyd nodded, his anxiety levels soaring as I folded a few inches. However, he knew how stubborn I could be, so he decided to respect my wishes.

Once a shocked Lloyd had left, remembering to close the door after him, I let loose a loud groan and toppled backwards onto my bed, whimpers of pain intermixing with my pants of breath.

One last thought plagued me before I slipped into slumber.

'I CAN'T LET MUM FIND OUT!'