I hit 4th period with as much vigor as it hit me. News of my little fit had spread fast, so it didn't surprise me when thirty pairs of eyes glanced at me as I walked into English. I quickly moved to the back of the room and plopped down in a desk, pulling my sketch book out to hide my face as the teacher called the class's attention.
I hear my name whispered every once in a while from the front.

Usually I liked English, enough that I would brave the middle row of desks to hear- but not today. "Definitely not today," I grumble to myself, flipping my book open to a clean page with every intention of drawing the strange giraffe man I had dreamt up earlier.
Hoping to get my mind off of my recent catastrophe, I attack the paper with my pencil. Starting with the slope of his forehead, I make long strokes with my pencil as I connected a jaw to the face.

I wait for the feeling to wash away as it always does when I draw, but a low buzz of annoyance continues through my system. Eventually I give in to the emotion, letting my hands fly across the page as I tune the world out.

My mind starts to wander, latching onto the teacher's voice as she explains the difference between active and passive voice. She calls on a kid named Marcus and suddenly my thoughts take a different direction.

What's with him?

My rapid scribbles become a comforting background noise.

He's just so... so...

I struggle for the right word for a few seconds.


I sigh, letting the anger wash out of my system. My hand stills, and I sit there for a while, staring off into space.

Eventually I glance down at my picture.

I inhale sharply, cautiously touching the paper.

It wasn't a giraffe man, it was a portrait of the very person that was consuming my thoughts.

I scoff out loud, a little put-out with myself for allowing this to subconsciously happen.

My finger continues skim around the page, the smooth paper cold to the touch.

I continue to look at the picture, my stomach churning uneasily.

I was Marco...but then again it wasn't.

I trace my finger around the page, trying to figure out what was wrong with the picture.

I let out a low hum, scrutinizing the picture.

My finger traces up his penciled jaw and lazily rests on his left eye.

That's it!

The eyes.

In the drawing his eyes are wild and fierce, desperate but haunted.

Suddenly my mind flashes to a picture in my social studies textbook of a man who had just come out of battle.

But there was something else, something about his eyes that was protective and unguarded. His expression was that of one who had just been relieved of a heavy burden, and would to anything to keep it from being put on again. They were openly desperate and devastating, absolutely nothing like his real expressions.

I stare at the strange product of my subconsciousness a little while longer, jumping when the shrill sound of the bell announces the end of 4th period. I snap back into action as people around me leave the class in a flurry of motion, conversations bubbling and crossing over each other.
I grab my worn yellow backpack from the floor, shoving my pencils into an open pocket.
I hesitate over the picture, my earlier sense of unease snaking up my spine.
"It's just a stupid picture," I mumble to myself, and flip the cover closed.

I walk out of fourth period without a second glance to my sketchbook.

"Hey blondie!" A male voice calls.

Brown and lifeless leaves crunch beneath my feet with every step I take. The October air was crisp and dry, blowing my hair behind me as I walked. I exhaled slowly, trying to ignore the irritating voice from behind.

School had passed uneventfully, for the most part. Marco, thankfully, had enough sense to leave me alone for the rest of the day. A shiver goes up my spine as the breeze picks up, limply stirring the leaves littering the sidewalk.

That's right, I had forgotten that the forecast for the weekend was to be chilly.

Silently, I take a little satisfaction in the thought of all the people in ridicules costumes shivering on their way to the dance tomorrow. Like a harvest moon was any reason to dress as idiots.

"Blondie! Come on, honey."

My purple rain boots scuff the sidewalk with every small step, making a high, winey sound.

Supposedly, there is to be a harvest moon at midnight tomorrow, the perfect atmosphere for a spooky Halloween party. But really, its stupid. Halloween isn't for another two weeks and they're already throwing the party.

Absentmindedly I pull on my sleeve, trying to cover more skin.

It really was cold out.


Someone yanks on my backpack, snapping me backwards. I gasp, my arms failing in front of me before I'm caught in a tight embrace from behind. The person is tall, with a freakishly tight grip on my waist. I can feel his breath hit my shoulder as my heart pounds and I struggle to swallow.

"Why didn't you wait for me baby?" He mumbles, grip tightening around me.

I'm still as stone, the lead in my veins rendering me immobile as the stranger plants a kiss on my shoulder, trailing up my neck. His breath is sickingly hot against my skin.

My hands clench as he sighs against my skin, snapping me out of my trance. I slam my boot down on his foot, twisting and pushing from his arms as they slacken with surprise. He let out a hiss as I spun away, putting me a safe distance from him.

The ice in my veins pulses through my body, my breath coming out shallow as my eyes wildly dart around the strangers body, finally recognizing him.

He was tall and wiry, wearing loose skinny jeans and a leather jacket. A bright green scarf was tied around his neck like a choker, matching the eyes that peered at her through a tangle of black hair. Oskar straightens up, smiling at me in a way that didn't match the look in his eyes.

"Hey come here, sorry I scared you."

His eyes looked too eager to be sincere.

"I promise I wont hurt you."

I tensed, preparing myself to run. Air thick, I finger the straps of my backpack as my heart marked the slow, tensed seconds pulsing between us. I wondered if my pack would slow me down as I ran.

Oskar took a step closer and I lurched in the other direction, preparing for my feet to fly across the concrete.

But before I took a step, I hesitated at the sight of four other men rounding the corner, coming close enough to see the situation I was in. People. I sagged with relief, trembling hands numbly removing themselves from my backpack straps. Oskar won't do anything when there's witnesses around. I jog away from Oskar and towards the group, breathlessly calling out as I ran.

"Someone call 911!" I stopped a few feet away from them on instinct, pulling out my own battered phone from my pocket. I wait for someone in the group to do the same, but they just stare at me blankly, unmoving. Finally, the tallest in the group noticed Oskar, and before I could ask what he was doing, he walked to Oskar's side.

My blood turned cold as he greeted Oskar like an old friend, looking towards me with comprehension dawning on his tanned face.

"Oskar, you rascal!" His voice was deeper than I expected as he ruffled Oskar's long hair, earning a glare from him. "Trying to one up me?"

Oskar growled, pushing the bigger one off. "No," he snapped, shaking the hair out of his eyes, "and I'm not sharing, not this time."

My breath came out uneven and loud, the wind stinging my skin. My fingers slid across the smooth surface of the phone as I watched the small exchange in horror.

The taller one gave an obviously fake laugh, his voice melting with the wind. "We've all shared ours, Oskar my boy. I don't think it would be very fair if you didn't pay your do's."

He nodded towards the three other guys still a few feet away, who immediately started nodding their heads in agreement. Oskar's eyes flashed with defiance as he looked at the taller, tan one, but he gave a tense laugh in response. "Yeah, I know the rules. But I was going to catch this one on my own, before you butted in."

I started slowly backing up, hands slick with sweat. Each step sounded loud to my ears, any second they could look back. If I could just get a good enough head-start, maybe I could out run them.

"Well we're here now, aren't we? And besides, you can't keep a scrumptious snack like this one all to yourself."

I take quicker, quiet steps backward. I keep my eye on the group of three for signs of them noticing, but they seemed to be engrossed in the almost-fight between Oskar and their obvious leader and do not glance my way.

Oskar snarls at the leader, earning an threatening eyebrow raise in response.

"Just because you're in charge and can fuck whoever you want doesn't mean I-"

The tall one cuts him off, eyeing Oskar menacingly.

"Watch your mouth." He barks before composing himself, glancing to me and freezing me in my tracks.

"That's no way to talk in front of a lady."

All five's attention is suddenly on me, and my heart crawls up my throat at the hunger in each man's eyes.

I bolted.

My feet slapped the hard pavement in nervous bursts as my breathing came out uneven and forced. The panic overwhelming my system made my hands clumsy and slick as I tried to unlock my phone, each jarring impact making me push the wrong buttons on the keypad.

Just as I had opened the dial screen and punched in the correct numbers, something hit me from behind, slamming me to the concreate. With a rush of wind my head hits the ground, stars flashing behind my eyes as the momentum carries me forward a few inches. The concrete was cold beneath my stinging cheek as I struggled to breathe. From my tilted ground view I watch my phone skid out of reach, the screen still glowing and waiting for me to press call.

Suddenly I was surrounded, hands ripping my pack from my back and pressing my arms into the ground. I screamed as they yanked my hair in one direction, feeling parts tear free from my scalp. I blindly kick at my attackers, throwing punches that were useless. I desperately heave against the ground, trying to find purchase so that I could stand. With a jerky, desperate push, I manage to get high enough that I could heave my face up to see the crazed expressions of my attackers before one slams their knee between my shoulder blades, effectively pinning me back to the ground. My body lets out guttural cries as survival mode kicks in, my struggles becoming more and more desperate.

The one on my back leans over me, close enough to whisper in my ear. I recognize Oskar's slimy voice, his rancid breath blowing in my ear. "You're mine, bitch."

A surge of rage warms my limbs and my hand breaks free, fist sailing towards his voice. My hand meets flesh and I hear a crunch, warm drops of liquid peppering my back. The weight on my back disappears with a hiss. The rage still in my limbs, I heave myself up against the pressing hands, managing to get my legs under me to stand. I throw punches freely now, catching a few in the face before I was once again seized.

"YOU WANT A PIECE OF ME?!" I was only vaguely aware of what I was saying, too drunk on rage and fear to be coherent.

"BASTARDS, I COULD TAKE YOU ALL!" I was screaming, fighting against the hands. My hair was a tangled veil around my face, falling into my open mouth and eyes.

"LET ME GO," I bellowed, kicking and squirming. Two now had my arms pinned, grinning as my kicks harmlessly sailed through the air. I struggled violently for a while longer before I realized all it was doing was wasting energy, and quieted. Oskar and two other men stood before me in a cluster, breathing lightly. I recognize the taller leader of the group standing next to Oskar, looking at me coolly, reassessing my character. I snarl, flashing my white teeth.

"You can have her."

The words were flat and ungenerous, as if he were dusting his hands of something potentially poisonous. My gaze shifts to Oskar, who had nodded in response. His face was smeared with blood. I realized with pride that Oskar's nose was crooked, obviously broken. The thin stream of blood trickling down his face fresh and oozing crimson streaks dripping into his open mouth. Oskar glared at me, hand cupping his nose and green eyes flashing with contempt. He lowered his bloody hand from his nose, stepping close enough that I could once again feel the hot plumes of his breath hitting my face. His green eyes looked evil in the shadow of his dark bangs as he gripped the shoulder of my sleeve, fist trembling with anger.

"By the time I'm done with you, you're going to wish you'd never been born." He spit, tearing the sleeve at it's seam and ripping it completely off. The wind stung my exposed shoulder, my angry breaths coming shallow and fast. His eyes asses my expression, very clearly pondering if he could still get any fun out of me. Abruptly, he presses his chapped and bloody lips against my mouth, roughly kissing me before I could do anything to stop him. My protests were muffled and unimpressive as my head tries to duck away. His hands roughly roam my body, pulling on my dress as tears pricked my open eyes. I bite his lip, feeling my teeth sink through flesh before he yanks away from me, snarling.

"You little bitch!" The words are thick and slurred.

His blow came fast and hard across my face, my neck cracking from the sudden movement.


I could barley breathe as I raised my head, seeing a figure run towards me. It was far, too far away to make out who it was. I started yelling again, struggling against the hands that had me pinned as Oskar quickly looked towards the sound.

"Hel-" I try to yell as Oskar turns, a thick hand firmly appearing and covering my mouth. I struggle against the arms, shoulder blades chafing painfully as they twisted my arms behind my back. Tears once again pricked my open eyes.

Oskar growled to himself, cussing before barking orders to the others.

"Grab the girl and go!"

The two who had me pinned roughly yank me to the left, where I could now see a dark ally created tunnel to another street. They start running, and I struggle against their arms, digging my feet into the street.

When they didn't make it very far, one of the two roughly scooped me into their arms and started sprinting.

The wind pushed my hair into my eyes, obscuring my vision as I struggled to break free. Finally, my arm broke free and shot at my captor's face, snapping his face backwards. He dropped me, knocking the wind out of my lungs as my bum jarringly landed on the concrete. Tingles shoot through my bones, pain stealing my breath. I stayed on the ground, dazed.

"You idiots!" I hear Oskar yell in the background, and suddenly I knew he was coming back for me.

I force my eyes to open, and I scrambled to get on my feet. I didn't get very far before the sound of shoes scuffing the pavement force me to glance to my right, where I saw to my horror that Oskar had already stopped a few feet from me.

I stopped trying to stand. It was over. So close to rescue and it was over.

I numbly wait for Oskar to yank me to my feet and drag me away.

When seconds had passed and Oskar hadn't moved, I was forced to look at him for detail.

He was standing motionless, expression unreadable and looking behind me. Numbly, I turned in the direction he was looking.

My heart jolted when I realized there was another male equally far away from me, tense and staring across me at Oskar. On instinct I started to edge away from the new boy, cringing before my brain started interpreting the details my eyes were providing. I stopped, the color red flaring before my eyes. I raise my gaze from the hoodie, to the face that I knew it must belong to. Chocolate hair, Latino complexion, and matching eyes gazed furiously at Oskar. Marco had saved me.

"Leave while you can." Marco hissed through clenched teeth. His brown eyes were livid, the barley contained rage moving dangerously beneath the surface. Oskar backs up, hesitating before darting toward me and latching onto my arm. Moving faster than I thought was possible, Marco slams his hand against Oskar's arm and Oskar's grip breaks, a surprised hiss coming from his mouth. He staggers backwards, clutching his arm and glaring at Marco.

Marco growls, nimbly slamming his foot in Oskar's face, and sending him staggering backwards. Fresh blood spurts from Oskar's nose, dripping down his chin. Oskar's green eyes flash towards mine a final time, possessive and angry. Something passes between us, the air thick as a chill goes up my spine. Whatever this was, it wasn't over.

Oskar turned and fled, raven hair bouncing with each step. He runs through the ally and takes a left, moving out of view.

I watch him disappear with a cold feeling in my chest.