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Fragments of Shattered Glass
The shrill bell rung loudly, and suddenly the hall was filled to the brim with students, all discussing the upcoming weekend with their friends. The beautiful fall sun streamed through the hall’s huge windows, glittering brilliantly on the polished tiles. The cheerleaders were dressed in their purple and black uniforms in honor of the game that night. They were standing in front of the trophy case, creating a show of their exclusive clique talking and laughing amongst each other. The jocks, smiling their heart-stopping million-dollar smiles, talked excitedly and fist-pounded their friends. The nerds, carrying their signature overstuffed backpacks, were bustling towards their classes and chatting about an upcoming math competition at the local college. The school’s local rock band, which everyone agreed was destined to be famous, was currently lounging around their lockers; the lead guitarist was absentmindedly strumming her guitar while the others talked about their next gig. And scattered amongst the huge student body were various couples, all giggling and talking excitedly about various topics.
Leaning against the fading red lockers, Cherrie was reading a book. It wasn’t really surprising, because Cherrie was known around the school for her knowledge. Since she was not a recluse and attended school dances, games, and fundraisers, she was able to bypass the automatic “nerd” label. Marcus rested on the locker next to Cherrie, putting his hand on her small, delicate shoulder. Cherrie put down her book and smiled, greeting her handsome boyfriend with a kiss. They had been dating for around two months now, and both Cherrie and Marcus alike couldn’t recall a happier period of time in their lives.
“Hey you,” Cherrie said, flashing him a brilliant smile, which Marcus returned immediately. He couldn’t help but thank the fate that had brought such an extraordinary girl into his life, but he also knew that their peaceful romance wouldn’t last long. She was too delicate, too fragile to endure the strain he encountered daily.
“Hey yourself. You look beautiful today,” Marcus complimented her, and Cherrie blushed. She too wondered why fate had allowed her to meet such a remarkable guy. Every girl agreed that he was easily the hottest and most muscular guy at school, even though he claimed that he didn’t work out. Unlike most girls in the school, Cherrie adored him for more than just his looks. She found him to also be a sweet, caring, and an intelligent guy.
The couple continued to talk about the homework assigned the last night, and groaned together about the upcoming tests. They laughed at the latest mishaps of the airhead cheerleaders, and the idiotic pranks the football team had pulled. Marcus smiled happily with his girlfriend, momentarily dazzled by the sound of her charming laughter. The two teens moved onto weekend plans. Much to Cherrie’s disappointment, Marcus told her he would be out of town for the weekend.
“Oh, that’s too bad! You’ll miss the football game tonight! But, I am a bit curious. Where are you heading?” Cherrie asked.
Marcus had anticipated this question. “I’m heading to Boston, to check out some of the possible colleges,” he lied smoothly. In truth, Marcus had no idea where he was going, and he probably wouldn’t know until he received the call the next day. Cherrie accepted this answer, not very surprised at Marcus’s early interest in college. He had been scouting locations for the past few months continuously. It was unfortunately rare for them to meet up for a date during the weekend. It led Cherrie to wonder if he was lying about where he traveled and what he did. She briefly worried if he had another girlfriend. But as rapidly as her worries came, she quickly shook off her suspicions, planting a carefree smile on her face. However, Marcus noticed the tightening around her eyes, and he instantly knew that she was becoming skeptical. A feeling of guilt fleetingly arose, but he knew his secrecy was for her own protection.
At that moment, Cherrie was temporarily distracted by three huge men walking through the front doors. Their large muscular stature caused the students to wonder if they were bodybuilders. But unlike most bodybuilders, these men were wearing black suits, leading thoughts to momentarily stray to the movies and believe they were FBI agents. These men, Cherrie noted, were wearing the required visitor badges, so she dismissed their odd looks and turned back to her amazing boyfriend. Marcus, however, was frozen. His deep grey eyes widened slightly in fear, but unlike most people, he was not afraid for himself. Instead, his concern was for the imminent danger imposed by their presence to the student body. In the next second, he took action. Marcus wasn’t sure if the men had spotted him yet, but he was going to assume that they had not. He automatically searched the hall for any exit in the opposite direction from the men. He muttered angrily under his breath when he realized that there were none. The nearest exit was the second story staircase, and that was hardly very useful. But much to Marcus’s annoyance, it was the only option and would have to do. He needed to get Cherrie to safety more than anyone else.
Cherrie was shocked by the fierce expression that crossed Marcus’s face. His gray eyes turned hawk-like, and he gripped her arm slightly tighter than she felt comfortable.
“Marcus, are you alright?” she murmured nervously.
“We need to go now Cherrie. Follow me,” Marcus ordered, his voice sounding as though it could cut steel. Cherrie shook her head.
“What is it? Why should we leave?” she asked. Marcus pursed his lips, eyeing the three suited men.
“Please, I beg you, just trust me,” Marcus pleaded, his sharp eyes melting and his voice shaking. Cherrie could see his worry, and nodded.
They flew up the staircase, and Marcus continuously looked behind them. Marcus didn’t worry anymore for the other students, all he cared for was the girl he liked, the one who always put a smile on his face. He would go to the ends of the Earth to protect her, beat up a million men to stay with her. At that moment, all his emotions caught up with him, and he realized something glorious...he loved her. Why else would he be running to protect this girl, when it was more imperative that he got out of the building alive? Why would he be running away from the men instead of killing them on the spot? Because--he loved her. He didn’t want to hurt her or scare her. His first priority was her safety.
Marcus pushed the other students out of his way, not even bothering to apologize. Cherrie was taken aback by the change in his behavior, but she didn’t dare question him now. She knew that he was avoiding the men in the suits, and at that second she really wanted to know why. They were just visitors to the school, so why were the two of them running?
Marcus was really anxious now. He knew that the men were following them, and that they had spotted him. In hindsight, maybe by dashing away from the hall he had brought their attention on himself, but Marcus wasn’t thinking straight anymore. Marcus continued to push forward, trying to keep as much distance between Cherrie and the men. He knew that Cherrie was becoming exceedingly curious, and it was only a matter of minutes before she asked the inevitable question. But for now, he was glad that she was sensible enough to stay quiet.
Marcus groaned when they reached the end of the hallway. There were no exits from this side of the hall. The staircase they had taken was the last one. There was just one door, which was the emergency exit and would set off the alarm if opened. Marcus didn’t want the school to panic. He knew the men were here solely for him, and wouldn’t bother hurting the other teens. The only upside to the dead end was that it had three huge glass windows. They overlooked a huge metal awning which shaded a concrete slab and parking lot. Cherrie noticed Marcus’s attention diverting between the windows and the hallway. She looked outside, her eyes widening at the extensive drop. Cherrie immediately understood Marcus’s internal debate, and she was fuming.
“Marcus, you can’t jump down that! It must be at least 30 feet until the awning! And another 20 feet from there! You’ll be killed!” she cried. Marcus smiled grimly, and shook his head.
“If I chose to jump, I would be fine,” he assured her. “But I’m not leaving you.”
“Marcus, are those men after you?” Cherrie asked. Marcus nodded in confirmation, grimacing slightly. He still was extremely worried about what he would do when they arrived. “Then leave! They don’t care about me.”
“They do!” Marcus yelled angrily. “You are everything to me, Cherrie, and I’m sure they already know that. They won’t stop until they get me. You’ll get hurt in the crossfire!” Cherrie shook her head, her eyes pained. But she tried in vain to mask it, for Marcus’s sake.
“I promise I’ll be fine. I’ll hide, alright? You just need to go!” she assured him. Marcus closed his eyes briefly, wincing at the thought. When he opened his eyes, he saw the three men advancing towards them. Marcus knew that Cherrie would not survive the drop, so there was no point in taking her with him. It was their best chance if he jumped. Maybe he would lead the men away from the school.
He immediately took her into his arms and kissed her. He murmured, “I love you. And don’t worry, I’ll protect you.”
Cherrie’s eyes widened at the sudden declaration. She had always wanted to hear that, but she never thought it would be declared when they said goodbye. She quickly recovered from her shock and murmured, “I know. I love you too. Be safe!” Marcus nodded, and placed her in the corner, hoping that she wouldn’t be seen. His attention immediately shifted to the threat. Glaring at the three men advancing, he quickly kicked out the panes of glass, and they shattered into a million pieces. He dropped down, and Cherrie heard a quiet thump on the metal. The men muttered angrily when they saw him jump, and they immediately headed for the emergency staircase exit on the side, hoping to catch him. Cherrie went to the windows, and prayed that she wouldn’t see him sprawled and broken against the roof. But to her disbelief, all she saw was a pristine metal roof, with no trace of a boy.
Marcus was running out into the streets, as far away from the school as possible. He knew instinctively that the men would be following him. He could only hope that they would stay away from Cherrie. He heard the school alarms start to blare, and realized that the men were now in full pursuit of him. Marcus continued to run out of the parking lot, and ducked behind a tree. His face changed as his eyes glanced around the area, scanning for any security threats. When he was satisfied, he pulled out his small, sleek, metallic blue cell phone out of his back pocket and hit speed dial 1. When the line was picked up, he didn’t hesitate. “Agent 285 reporting--they have just attacked the school, and I need reinforcements,” the young man barked, shutting his cell phone and leaving no room for argument. When he looked up, the face held no resemblance to the man Cherrie had fallen in love with that one fateful summer day.