I had always wondered if I was crazy, and if I was so angry because I was crazy, or if I was so crazy because I was angry.

I was different. Things happened around me that were not normal. My aunt and uncle knew, and I think that's why they treated me like shit. Whatever it was, they thought they could stamp it out of me by keeping me down. And I mean that literally. I didn't even have a real room, but lived in a cupboard underneath the stairs. I thought bitterly how it was my seventeenth birthday, and my only present was knowing that in two months I would be sent to military reform school for my "problems."

I live with my aunt and uncle because my parents died in a car crash when I was just a baby. I survived. What I was left with, besides being an orphan, was a lightning shaped scar on my forehead. The scar more than anything bothers my aunt. Whenever she sees it she makes this face at me, a kind of dissatisfied disgust that lingers on my forehead. It makes me want to punch her in the face.

But back to being different. What I did this time—I don't even know how it happened—was let a snake loose at the reptile center. My science class was there on an end-of-year trip. I had no friends. Anyone who got close to me would be beat up by my cousin Dudley and his gang. Dudley used to be fat, like a small whale, but then around two years ago he started boxing. I didn't think Dudley learning to punch harder and faster was cause for celebration, but the Dursleys (my aunt and uncle) loved it. Awards he'd won were all over the house. I hated them because they were a reminder that I'd served as Dudley's first punching bag.

I thought about this at the reptile house, as I was alone, as usual. I could see Dudley and his gang out of the corner of my eye. I moved out of their range of vision in case they got bored. I wasn't afraid of getting beat up. I was afraid of what might happen, something not normal, if they tried.

I was looking at a snake display when it happened. I knew I was crazy, because the snake started talking to me.

"Hello," it hissed. It was a large boa constrictor. "Where are you from?" it asked.

I didn't care. I talked back at it. I had no one else to talk to, anyways.

"Here," I said. "You?"

It tapped the glass with its tail. The sign read that it was from Brazil.

"Do you like it here?" I asked the snake.

"Hell no," it hissed.

I chuckled darkly. "Yeah," I said. "I feel the same way."

In my left line of vision I saw Dudley watching me. There was a mean gleam in his pig-like eyes. It was the look he had before someone else was about to suffer for his amusement.

Then two things happened at the same time. Dudley and his friends started walking towards me, and the glass in the snake's cage vanished.

I'm not sure who was more surprised. Me, Dudley, or the snake.

"Thankss, amigo," the snake hissed, as it uncoiled itself onto the cold stone floor of the center. The snake was massive. Dudley, coward that he was, backed way up, flattening himself against the wall as the snake slithered past him. Then, people started screaming.

The reptile house was chaos. Then I saw something really bad.

The giant snake was coiled around a little kid, who was slowly turning blue.

Without thinking, I ran up to it and said, "Let her go."

"Amigo," it said. "I haven't had fresh food in yearss."

"If you stay here and eat the kid, they'll catch you," I told it. The little girl's mother was kicking the snake and screaming.

With a sharp hiss, the snake nodded his assent and uncoiled around the girl, slithering rapidly towards the exit. The little girl fell to the floor, unconscious.

I watched it go, almost envying it. The mother next to me was still screaming, and as the snake headed to freedom, I saw Dudley talking to the security guard, pointing at me.

The guard walked up towards me. "Let's go kid," he said. "You're under arrest." Two other cop cars had shown up. I was put in the back of one and taken to jail, then juvenile hall, then court. After that I was being sent to military reform school, but I was technically under house arrest at my aunt and uncle's in the meantime. A metal bracelet encircled my left ankle.

I was thinking about this, lying in bed and staring at the ceiling, angry as ever, when a large, booming knock came from the front door of the Dursley's boring suburban house.