He was walking down the street, alone, but that didn't bother him. He had traveled this way a million times before on his own. But what did bother him was the fact that it was 8:00 pm and pitch dark. He always heard people telling horrible stories about kids his age being abducted and never found again because they had gone out on their own...but what was he thinking, he was being paranoid.
"Don't think about it," he told himself. "It could never happen to me."
But something felt different. It was a weird feeling, like someone or something was watching him. Every alley way he passed made him feel apprehensive and he sped past each one. He started walking faster and faster, until he was almost running, hurrying to get home. He gradually slowed down and stopped, feeling stupid. "I'm just gonna end up like my mom," he thought. "I'm gonna freak out at every little thing and 911's gonna be on my speed dial."
Shaking his head, he relaxed some and walked at an even pace. His apartment complex was in sight and he didn't have to hurry to get home; his curfew was, after all, nine.
That's when he saw it. A hulking figure slouching in front of the last alley that he had to pass. He kept and eye on it but he just kept walking. He passed the figure. and kept going for a few more steps, then let out a sigh of relief.
Then, a few steps later, just as he felt completely safe again, he was grabbed from behind. He felt hot breath down his neck and shivered, and panic was threatening to take over. "Where do you think you're goin', kid?" a gruff and non-too-friendly voice growled in his ear.
"Home," he answered, in the bravest voice possible.
"Is that so?" The man laughed smugly and drug him back to the alley way. No one could see them now. The man had him under his control.
He was pushed against the wall, hard. Breathing was close to impossible with the heavy weight crushing his chest. The man's breath smelled revolting, a sickening combination of alcohol and tobacco. He felt like he was about to puke. "This can't be happening, this can't be happening..." he screamed in his head.
Suddenly he felt cold, rough hands being pushed down his pants. "Oh god no please don't let this happen this isn't real..."
"Oh yeah, you like that, don't ya?" the man snarled, his voice lusty. The hands pushed under the last layer of clothing and the boy whimpered in fear. He had never been this scared in his entire life. The man was touching and groping and his nails were scratching and it was horrible and he was hurting so much...there was fog closing in around him...and the man laughed...and...and....
Freddie Benson shot straight up and bed and buried his face in his hands to keep himself from screaming with frustration. Nightmares of the Incident had plagued him every night for months. He got, at the most, two or three hours asleep every night. Most nights he forced himself to stay awake for fear of going to sleep.
The combination of lack of sleep and the horrible memories resulted in changes in his personality. He was more irritable, and the slightest things could piss him off to no end. His grades were slipping, and he sometimes refused to go to iCarly rehearsal or even speak to his friends. Carly and Sam had hired a new tech producer to come in on days when Freddie didn't. show up. It was as if he didn't care about anything or anyone. He only remembered one time when he had changed so much in a short amount of time, and that had been when his dad had died in the truck accident.
But Freddie did care, a lot. He cared that iCarly had gone down the drain. He cared that he was being so harsh to his friends. They noticed, he knew they did. But whenever they tried to talk to him he would just turn on his heel and walk away.
He wasn't mad at them, he was mad at...Him.
He did want to talk to someone, he really did, he just was afraid that he would break down and be a complete mess in front of Carly, or even worse, Sam. He knew it would give her a legitimate reason to call him a baby, moron, dork, or something of that nature.
But the truth was, Sam was the one that he wanted to tell most.
No matter how much she insulted, demeaned, or humiliated him, he had never found it in him to hate her. They had been best friends, once.
Before Carly had moved there.
And because she had family problems herself. She had told Freddie about her dad abusing her before he moved away, when they had been friends. She had cried about it in front of him and he had never once made fun of her for it. She had said that the weight of it all had been killing her, and that was exactly how he felt now. But he just...didn't know.
Ugh. Life was so confusing.
But he did know one thing: he had to tell someone.
Carly and Sam were standing in front of their lockers on Monday morning, talking about, of all people, Freddie. They were both worried (as much as Sam hated to admit it).
"I've never seen him like this," stated Sam. "And I've known him longer than you have." She didn't sound too concerned. "I'll bet he JUST realized that he has no chance with you whatsoever and is depressed about it. Huh? Am I right?"
"Sam," sighed Carly. "That may very well be a possibility, and I have no doubt in your intuitive sense of the male creature, but this is serious. I mean come on. Freddie has Fs in almost every class. Does that sound Freddie-ish?"
"And he's been missing iCarly, AND he's barely talking to us, AND he looks like he hasn't slept in months."
"And your point is...?" Sam replied.
"My point is, THERE'S SOMETHING WRONG WITH HIM!"
"Do ya want me to talk to him?" Sam asked boredly.
"Will you promise not to insult, laugh at, punch, or hurt him in any way shape or form? It could be something really serious. You never know." Carly said cautiously. She knew that Sam was good at worming things out of people, but it was also a well know fact that she was pushy and aggressive.
"No promises, but I'll try my hardest to make you proud," Sam replied in an overly-cheery, little kid kind way.
"Good Sam," Carly said, and they both made their way to first period.