For three months now, the word 'Wheezy' had not passed Jeff Morgan's lips, and Harvey himself had been very relieved. No more mockery of his asthma!
Instead, Jeff had taken to calling him 'It.'
Utterly mortified at hearing himself described 'It', had shattered Harvey's self-confidence and he had fled home in tears. Even the crushing nick-names of 'Wheezy' and 'Piggy' were better than 'It.' Being labelled an 'It' meant that he had no personality, was not a being, and had no life.
And it showed him how much Jeff wanted him to not exist.
Peter looked up from his work, only to see Jeff staring fixedly out of the window, eyes gleaming.
"It has PE first, doesn't it?"
"I can't hear you, Peter. You have to fucking speak!"
The younger boy flinched, before piping up: "Y-Yeah, J. Wheezy has PE… What you thinking of doing?" The malice returned to his voice as he conjured up ideas in his mind of what to do to Hunter to humiliate him.
"Oh, you'll see. Now, keep your mouth shut." Jeff stormed out of the room, leaving Peter bemused.
His friend had been getting more and more volatile lately, and it was expressed in the physical beatings he poured upon Harvey Hunter. Peter didn't like the boy, but Jeff loathed the youngest Hunter and it was getting to the point where Peter felt that Hunter didn't deserve any more abuse, particularly the beatings.
One day, he had seen Hunter run out of the toilets, vomit splattered all over the front of his uniform. The boy had been sobbing desperately, clutching his stomach, and Peter had been unable to hold back his shock when he saw pictures later, on Jeff's phone, of the injuries that Hunter had sustained.
He understood that the abuse was becoming worse and worse, but Jeff seemed to be rapidly spiralling out of control. Any words exchanged between the two of them led to a heated argument, which left Peter afraid of his friend.
Reflecting on this, soured Peter's mood even more and he sloped over to the window, grimacing as he spotted Jeff antagonising Hunter in front of the rest of the crowd.
Although a small part of him still relished the sight of a hurt Hunter, even he thought that addressing the boy as 'It' was a step too far.
"Look at It. It's so fat, it's causing an earthquake. Boom, boom! Oi, It! You best run home! Need to lose a bit of weight for Smithy! She won't touch you if you're all blubbery!"
Harvey banged out of the school doors, tears streaking down his face. The cruel dismissal of his very existence wrenched at his heart, and he screamed his anguish as he started to sprint home.
The rest of SPLAT followed after Harvey, Lloyd shooting Jeff an icy glare. Jeff responded with a sneer. Lloyd Hunter wouldn't dare go up against him.
'In fact, no one would.' His eyes glinted in glee. 'Poor old It has no one to defend itself.'
And that was the way Jeff liked for It to be treated.