The Wishing Map is a full-length fantasy that is being posted episodically at this site. To read the previous episode, click here. To read the entire novel, begin here.
Zack and Gina had accidentally scattered the mysterious objects all over the world they came from, and then blamed each other. But now the isolation was eating them up.
Back to School Night at redundantly named Middleton Middle School and “Go, Settlers! Orientation Night” at Minzer High were the same night. So Dad and Gina drove to Minzer, while Mom insisted on riding bikes to “Mid-Mid” with Zack because it would be “fun!”
Zack rode ahead. His best friend Arman had returned from Armenia and slept over Saturday night. Zack had exploded with accounts of the giant bird Aviar, a lethal pixie princess, and being kissed by a Cloud Shepherd. And Arman, assuming it was a Zachary Zinn story, said, “I get to play Aviar, OK?”
Only Gina knew it had all really happened. And she was now his mortal enemy.
Zack brought his bike to a halt at the Mid-Mid racks and sprinted to the entrance gate. Suddenly, his ex-friends Michael Wassen and Casey Egger came out from between the 200 and 300 buildings. And then Pierce (“Fierce”) Fischer, the meanest cool kid at Middleton Middle, stepped out as well, took a final drag on his cigarette, his “Fierce!” tattoo glowing in the ashlight, and tossed it.
At that moment, Mom arrived, calling, “Zacky, you shouldn’t leave your helmet with your bike. It could get stolen!”
Fierce laughed, loudly and viciously. And taking a cue from their new role model, Michael and Casey let out a string of fiendish guffaws. His ears burning, Zack walked away as Mom hurried after him, calling, “What’s wrong, honey?”
A grueling hour and a half later, while Mom was finishing her chat with math teacher Mr. Ito, Zack pulled on his bike helmet.
“Oh, no!” Fierce shouted. “Little Zacky’s lost his mommy!”
“Oh, no!” Michael and Casey echoed.
“Wait!” said Fierce. “We’re wrong about him, you guys. I mean, just look at that long pretty hair. Zacky ain’t a dude, she’s a little girl!”
“Yeah!” Casey snorted. Michael followed with one of his weird high-pitched laughs, but suddenly realizing he sounded like a girl, choked it off.
Zack ripped off his helmet and hurled it to the ground. “I know a guy who’s only four inches tall who’s more of a man than you’ll ever be!”
“Where?” Michael reacted. “In one of your fairy stories?”
“And you’re, what,” Pierce snorted, “like three inches tall?”
Michael and Casey guffarted.
“Ohhhh, I know,” said Fierce, “he means his dolls. You play dress-up with your dolls, right, Zackarina?”
“Yeah!” Casey giggled.
“Hey, what’s that under your feet, Casey?” asked Zack. Casey looked down. “Oh, no, it’s a puddle of brain!” Then Zack turned to Pierce and said, “My friend Aviar is twenty-three feet tall, and with one sweep of his wing he could—”
“Oh, goody!” Michael interrupted. “Tell us a story, Zacky! We’ll put on our jammies and have a sleep-over and pretend we’re riding on your flying horsey. What’s his name again, El Dorkioso?”
Fierce grinned. His disciples were learning fast. His formula was simple: Separate someone from the herd and make them the brunt of public scorn. That meant everyone else was off the hook. Which made them grateful they hadn’t been selected. Which made you cool. For someone to win, someone had to lose.
Zack suddenly realized with chilling clarity that this was a preview of the year ahead. Fierce would not stop until he had destroyed him, or worse, turned him into a cyborg like Michael and Casey.
Fierce tossed his cigarette at Zack’s face and, as Zack batted it away, sniggered, “Oooo! The hot puffy almost burned my pretty blonde hair!” Then he issued a stentorian, “C’mon, men”…
And walked away.
Thoughts: Like wolves, bullies cut people off from the herd, and then search for a weakness, an insecurity, to attack.
To read the next episode, click here.
bullies have a pattern and feel powerless, and always act out against the weakest
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Excellent depiction of the tactics!!
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Thank you, Muri.
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