August is a troubled adolescent. At home, his drunken stepfather makes his life hell, and at college he suffers at the hands of bullies. But August has never been one to break the law...until now. With a new taste for violence and a desire for vengeance, he begins to stalk 3 young women in a complicated and twisted search for power. [Rated 'Y' due to potentially disturbing/graphic content and frequent swearing]


5. Chapter 5: Poplars and Populars

​I don't have to wait long for the receptionists to arrive. I watch as they type in the numerical security code on the electronic lock, and the gates swing open with an almighty groan. I watch as the two ladies stroll over to the extensive college building, gossiping about last night's soaps. Unexpectedly, I'm hit by a wave of jealousy; they'd been watching TV, no doubt with their loving families, while I had been suffering all kinds of torment at the hands of my's not fair.

​Stop it. Your emotions are your weaknesses, don't let them out, ​the voice snaps.

​I straighten up and head towards the gates. I pass a pedestrian who, at the sight of me, gasps and places a hand over her mouth in shock. I pause, confused, and follow her gaze - it's then that I realise I never changed out of my bloodied clothes, and my face must look a mess with the nasty cuts, bruises and swellings.

"It's ok, miss, I slipped a few minutes ago. I'll be alright." I reassure her, zipping up my hoodie to cover the blood. I move passed her without another word. My heart is pounding as I realise how crucial this moment is. If she goes in search of help or calls the police, I'll be unable go ahead with my plans.

Maybe I'm overthinking. Maybe I'm worrying too much. Why would she call the police? It's only a bit of blood...

​Will you shut up? Stop worrying for Christ's sake.

​"I can't help it." I mumble.

I hurry towards the bench just inside the gates, and gingerly remove my rucksack from my bruised shoulders. I sit with my back to the gate so that any teachers or students that come through won't see my facial injuries and start asking questions. I can't risk another reaction like that of the pedestrian. I open my bag and pull out a clean t-shirt. Looking furtively around me, I strip the clothes off my top half. I notice how bruised my ribs are, and gently touch my hip bones. I've lost too much weight recently as a result of stress. I grimace at the state of my body and pull the fresh t-shirt over my head, followed by the hoodie.

I hear footsteps behind me and turn to see the first few teachers heading through the gate. I pull up my hood, carefully adjusting it so that my face is hidden. I stuff my hands into my trouser pockets in an attempt to look casual, but flinch as I nick my thumb on the steak knife. I bite my lip but keep my hands concealed. The teachers pass, ignoring my existence, and I breathe a sigh of relief.

For the hundredth time, I glance down at my watch - 7.55am. Adrenaline is burning through me like acid, scorching my pounding heart. I get to my feet and prepare to move to the back gate. The first sounds of students approaching the gates spark a mixture of emotions - fury, anxiety, anticipation - and I shake my head to clear the thoughts of backing out.

We're in this together, August. You hear me? We've got this.

Upon hearing this, I suddenly realise something sad. The only person I can rely on, the only person that truly knows me inside and out, is a voice in my head. A voice that isn't a physical being. A voice that can't hurt people, or hug people, or speak to anyone but me. I don't know what it looks like, smells like, feels like - only what it sounds like. And yet it's all I have. I feel tears welling up behind my eyes but blink them away before they spill because, in this world, a man isn't allowed to cry.

In this world, a man can't be himself.

In this world, a man can be driven to do awful, awful things.

​I believe in you August, ​the voice says protectively, ​We can do this. You won't be pushed around any more. After this, you'll have everything - the freedom to be who you are, the freedom to do what you want and not what others force you to do. You can be the man you want after all these years! Isn't that just amazing?

​It's right. I'm strong. Nobody can push me around, not now.

I let out a grunt of commitment, setting off around the premises. Several small groups of students have already gathered in their usual places, and more were flooding in through the gates behind me. I listen to the soft thud of my boots on the pathway, and I feel invigorated by the array of morning scents. Elder blossom and freshly mown grass, rustic coffee and breaded goods. It shrouds me in a blanket of comfort.

I reach the back gates and lean against a poplar tree. I peer into it's branches and spot a perching sparrow calling to a far off friend. Unlike most teenagers, I appreciate nature and admire its peaceful resilience. To me, nature represents freedom and self-reliance, something I strive to achieve for myself.

Familiar voices ground me in an instant. Two of my victims strut through the gates. Lily and Jess. My eyes narrow as I feel all sense of peace drain from my body to be replaced by a hot fury. I ensure that my face is concealed by my hood.

Meg will be hear any moment now! Are you excited? I'm more than just excited, goddammit. I crave the sight of blood and the smell of fear. I need to release the anger from within, and I don't know how much longer I can hold back the pent up emotions before the dam bursts and it all comes flooding out.

As if on cue, Meg skips flamboyantly towards Lily and Jess, who embrace her in a hug. I grimace at the sight. They repulse me, they make me feel physically ill. It takes every last scrap of fight within me to refrain from pouncing on them with the knives right now. The three of them retreat through the gates, chatting excitedly about how wonderful their boyfriends are - yeah fucking right - and I leave it ten seconds or so before I begin to follow them.

And so it begins.

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