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Pamé sits against the fence that guard around San Juan Military Academy. It’s the day of receiving exam scores and three days before the last day of school. The principle gave everyone a day off as long as they stay on campus. She lays her head against the metal fence and lets her mind wander from thought to thought without staying on one subject for too long. Mexico’s heat and the strong sunshine make her eyes weary, forcing her to close them. Pamé smiles to herself as she pictures herself staring at her passing scores. All her hard work will have paid off, and she’ll get to graduate and live on her own. She won’t have to do a hundred and fifty push-ups for daydreaming or suicides for falling asleep during sessions. She’ll be out in the world, making something of her. Her drunken mother and her over-demanding, abusive father won’t ever be fighting over custody. She would be free from jail. She would show the law her diploma and flip them off and prove to them that they can’t arrest her. Slowly Pamé dozed off in her thoughts.
After a long period of time, the girl with the long, raven, black hair, woke with a quick pain from her side. She slowly opens her eyes and notices her six foot tall cousin, Maraco standing over her. He stares down at her with his stone and dark brown eyes. Maraco has a strong bold face and his uniform wraps tightly around his upper body, showing off his muscle. The camo pants fit loosely on his legs, and his black boots wrap over his pants. His tan bald head shines brightly from the sun.
They both were forced to attend the military academy by law. It was either that or many years of jail time. Two years ago they had both committed assault and battery along with robbery. They were supposed to be sentenced, but their fellow Native American parole officer talked them into the Justice Circle. It’s like a trial, but without the juries giving their punishment. “It’s about healing, not punishment,” the mid-thirties aged man told them. People, who are willing to come, as well as the victim gather around in a huge circle, and an eagle feather is passed around. Whoever has the feather gets to share about their thoughts and opinions about what to do with the criminals. In case of the cousins, the Justice Circle ended up deciding that they should be sent to a military school in Mexico to graduate from there. If they didn’t graduate and prove that they had changed, they were to be sent to ten years in jail or more.
Pamé stands up and brushes off the sand from her uniform. The five-foot-four-inches tall Native America girl glares at her older cousin, “What?!” she scolds angrily. Apparently, she’s mad at him for kicking her awake.
Showing no signs of guilt, her cousin slightly turns away, “You shouldn’t sleep so long in the sun. The sun can poison you.”
Pamé blinks at him, “You were worried about me?”
He glares at her, “Grow up. Anyway they’re giving out the scores in the gym.” He turns around completely and walks toward the school. Pamé quickly puts her long hair in a bun and tucks it under her hat. They both reach the gym after saluting a few officers on the way. They search the gym, trying to find anyone they know.
Suddenly a beautiful Mexican girl stands up, waving her hand in the air, “Oye! Over here!!” Pamé smiles at her and walks toward her. A dirty, shaved head, blond haired boy stands up next to the Mexican girl, so that Maraco can see him. When they finally all sit together they start to talk about the scores they hope to receive, as they wait until the principle announces the teacher to pass out the exam scores.
Pamé looks at the new friend she had made since she arrived at the academy, “Hey, Sapphire, how is it going?”
The pretty girl looks at her, “Not much.”
Sapphire is a military brat, whose father wants her to be a great military commander. Her mother died of cancer when she was really little and every time Pamé asked her about how she feels, Sapphire just shrugged her shoulders and said she doesn’t remember her much. She always had her father around, teaching her how to be a soldier.
The white-skinned boy asks Pamé how she thinks she did on the exams. Pamé shrugs her shoulders, “I don’t know. I hope I pass though. I’m sick of being here.”
The boy smiles, “It’s not bad once you get to it.”
“I’m going to make things right with Simon,” Maraco blurts out.
Pamé looks at her cousin and his buddy, “Me too.” Simon is the smart aleck geek who ratted out both Pamé and Maraco about robbing the small party store in their hometown in Minnetonka, Minnesota. Of course the two denied it and got away with it at first until they ganged up on Simon, which had cause them to be sent to jail, and the pigs, their word for cops, eventually found evidence of Pamé and Maraco’s robbery. At the time, they didn’t care much of what they did to him, but now, realizing what they had done and learning from their mistakes all they want to do is to make up for all the wrongs that they had done in the past, even though there is not much they can do. Some wounds will never be healed.
The blue-eyed companion nods his head as if he was there and wants to do the same, “I’m going to join the army after I get out.”
“You want to continuously be yelled at twenty-four seven, Joey?”
Joey smiles at Pamé, “It’s not that bad.” Pamé smirks.
Maraco sits up, “I’ll join too. You know, after talking to Simon and make sure everything is all right.”
Pamé gives him a serious look, “You think he’ll forgive us?”
Maraco shrugs his shoulders. The principle orders the teachers to pass the scores to the students. When everyone receives their scores, they dismiss them from the gym and go outside. The four friends huddle together and look at their scores.
Pamé stares at her score. 100/300: Failed. Her heart sinks, and she starts to panic. She can see her whole world crashing down on her. Everything she’s dreamed of fades away from her reach. She soon realizes that she isn’t the only one. Her cousin and their friends failed too. They all stare at each other for a long time. Pamé grabs a hold of Maraco’s arm. The whole world seems to spin.
“What are we going to do? I don’t want to go to jail, Maraco!” she shrieks. She tries to calm down, but fails miserably.
Maraco puts his hand on her shoulder, trying to steady her, “Well, there is one thing we could do.”
The cousins stare at each other for a moment. Pamé knows exactly what he’s thinking of. She shakes her head and pulls him away, “No! Hell no! That’ll get us into more trouble. Besides the scores are computerized! We can’t hack into the computer. We don’t know how to!!!”
Joey gives a confused look, “What? What’re you guys talking about?”
Pamé spins toward him, “He thinks we should break into the school at night and change our grades.”
Joey shoots a look at Maraco, “You’re crazy,” he says.
Maraco looks at Pamé, “It’s either that or jail. Pamé, you know we worked too hard to avoid jail. We have to do this.”
Pamé heart begins to pound, giving her a headache, “No way! It’s too risky! We’ll go to jail if we get caught!”
“Then I guess we don’t get caught.” He smiles slyly at her.
Sapphire laugh uncontrollably at them, “And you’d think you have learned your lesson by now. Even if we do we don’t know how to hack in the computer room.”
Suddenly, a short, 220 pound kid with thick, black glasses appears out of nowhere. He’s a senior, like them and he’s smart, has asthma and his uncle is the principle. If it wasn’t for his uncle, he’d be kicked out in no time.
He looks down and lightly kicks the dirt on the ground, “I…um…I can hack into computers,” he mumbles quietly, almost unheard.
“Speak up, Porky,” insults Joey. He hates it when people mumble, and most of all, when they stick their nose into other people’s business, especially his. Sapphire kicks Joey and calls him a jerk for insulting the poor kid. The boy looks at them and says clearly, “I can hack into the computers.”
Pamé raises her eyebrows, “So,” she responds strongly, “what about it? It’s not like you need to or anything. I mean, you’re smart and you have—“
“I want too!” he blurts out rapidly.
Maraco stares at him as the others jump back as if the boy was ready to attack them. “Why,” Maraco asks patiently.
The boy’s smile slowly reaches ear to ear, and his eyes become demented, “It sounds like fun and you guys need my help, you have to admit.” After a little persuading, the group decides to let him joins and together make up a plan. They set the action at midnight when all the guards start to fall asleep.
They all stare at the mother computer in the principle’s office. They broke in so fast that Pamé couldn’t figure out how they got there. Not like it matters now, she thought to herself. The boy jumps on the computer and starts hack the computer. Joey’s outside of the office keeping a look out. Sapphire takes control of the cameras after the boy shows her how. Both Maraco and Pamé look over the boy’s shoulders.
“Um, not trying to be mean or anything, but uh, what’s your name kid?” Pamé asks.
Without looking at her, he answers, “Stein.”
“Oh,” she nods her head, “I’m…”
“I know who you are. You’re Pamé Leddern, 18 years old, and your exams scores were 100 over 300. You committed robbery, were involved in assault and battery, and were forced to attend this school. If you don’t graduate, you’ll be sent to jail for about ten years for purposely beating the crap out of a kid named, Simon Ward. The guy behind you is Maraco Leddern, your cousin who is a year and two months older than you and also committed robbery, assault, and battery. His score was 98 over 300.”
Pamé’s jaws drops open, and then she smiles at her cousin, “At least your grade made me feel a little smarter.”
Maraco pushes her away, “How did you know all that?”
Stein continues to work on the computer, “Come on, it’s not the first time I hack my uncle computer.”
The two looks at each other. Pamé smiles at Stein’s attitude towards them. Before Pamé could say anything, they hear a loud thump outside the office. They pause. Stein stops typing and looks out the door window.
“What was that?” Stein whispers.
Suddenly Sapphire speaks through the transfer radio, they found lying around the campus, “That’s weird.”
Pamé grabs the radio, “What?”
“The camera, that was pointing at the door of the office, turned black for a second,” she pauses, “I’m going to turn the camera around to see if Joey…” they hear her gasps, “Oh. My. God. Joey, he’s he’s...”
Sapphire didn’t finish her sentence. Maraco snatches the radio from Pamé, “What? Sapphire, what happen?!”
Pamé’s heart begins to pound hard against her chest, but she will not panic. She has to stay strong. If she panics now, she’ll screw up and cause them all deep trouble.
“Look outside,” is all that Sapphire could get out.
The three race out the front door and there lies Joey, on the ground, with his eyes wide open and his lips apart. Pamé looks closer to see that his eyes aren’t blue anymore. They are light gray, and his pupils are so tiny that it’s almost hard to see. Pamé tightens her fist to keep control of her shaking. Maraco murmurs something about a soul. Pamé looks at him, “What was that?”
Showing no signs of concern or panic, Maraco calmly repeats, “It’s like his soul has been sucked out.”
Pamé must have looked at him stupidly because he starts to explain, “Look at him.” He watches his terrified cousin turn back to Joey’s body, “His eyes are in shock, and you can tell he’s still breathing, but not exactly living. His lips are blue and his skin is pale. He’s body is alive, but not him literally. Just like his soul has been taken, not his heart.”
Stein bends down next to Joey’s body. Pamé realizes that he too is shaking with fear. “I wonder,” the boy whispers.
“What?” Pamé asks, not knowing if she really wants to know.
Stein takes a deep breath. “There’s a story that a long time ago a boy committed suicide here in this academy because the students and teachers gave him a hard time. He had neither friends nor family, so he was left to fend for himself. They say that he turned into an evil spirit that would suck the souls of wrongdoers that are in this academy.”
The cousins stare at him with their mouths open. Stein tries to steady his breath as he speaks, “It was suppose be a scary story to scare the hell out of the freshmen.”
Pamé says jokingly, “Well, I guess it worked because it’s freaking me out and I’m a senior. I hope it isn’t true. Ha, ha.”
“But Joey isn’t a wrongdoer, Stein,” Maraco says.
Stein shakes his head, “Wrong, he is. He used to steal money and valuables from people. He’s considered a wrongdoer.”
Everything becomes silent. No one wants to speak. They know that soon, the spirit will come after them because they to are outlaws.
“Hey guys, what’s going on…” a loud scream comes from the other end of the radio.
“Sapphire!” Pamé dashes to the control room where Sapphire’s at. Maraco quickly follows, along with Stein galloping behind. Pamé stops by the door and screams her head off. Sapphire is lying on the floor with her eyes wide open like Joey’s and her skin as pale as his. However, she is different. She has cuts on her throat and her wrists. Her blood pools onto the floor. Pamé puts her hands on her and lightly rocks herself back and forth. She cries uncontrollably and starts to hiccup through her sobs.
Unable to keep cool anymore, Maraco grabs Stein by the throat and yells so loud that is echo the whole school that Pamé is sure that he is heard.
“What did she do?! What’s the wrong that she had done?!”
Stein mumbles as he cries, “I don’t know! I don’t know!”
“C’mon Stein, You know everything. Think! Think!”
Stein shakes his head and his tears runs down his face like waterfalls down his cheeks, “I don’t know! I don’t know! I don’t know!” his voice slowly turns to sobs.
Pamé calms down her hiccupping sobs, but her body continues to shake, “We need to leave. Maraco! Please let’s leave!!”
Maraco punches the wall. His fist is a few centimeters next to Stein’s face so that if he moves a little to the left, Maraco would hit him. Maraco turns his head toward Stein, “What did you do?”
Stein stares dumbfounded at him, “I don’t know what you’re talking about?”
Maraco smiles, “He’d be after you too, now that you hacked into your uncle’s computer.”
Stein chokes down a lump in his throat. Pamé grabs the back of Maraco’s shirt and tugs, “Please, let’s go, please, Maraco!”
Maraco punches the wall, making a huge hole. His fist is a few centimeters away from Stein’s face so that if he moves a little more to the left, Maraco would hit him. Maraco looks at Stein for a moment. “It’ll be coming after you too, Stein. It’ll be coming after all of us.
Stein chokes a lump down his throat. Pamé grabs the back of Maraco’s shirt, “Let’s go!!!” Her eyes are blood shot from crying and her teeth chatter between the pause in her words, “We should go!!!”
Maraco sighs irately, “Calm down, Pamé. We’re leaving as soon as we change our grade.”
Pamé shoots him a terrified look, “Maraco! We don’t have time! He’ll kill us before we even make it there!!!” She bites her lips trying to keep herself from screaming. Suddenly the room turns cold and their breaths starts to show like a cold night in a middle of winter.
“He’s here,” Stein shudders. They rush out the door and look the right side of the hallway. A shadowy-like figure with red eyes floats above ground. It almost has a face of a boy their age. Pamé feels her blood dropping and her breathing increase. Maraco starts to run the other way until he realizes that his cousin isn’t moving, neither is Stein. He yells at her to run, but Pamé’s legs refuge to run. He quickly grabs her and drags her with him. Suddenly, he feels something missing. Stein! He thought. He looks back and sees Stein standing still and the ghost getting closer. Before he can yell out to Stein, the apparition pulls out a hand from its body and snatches Stein in. in a split second, it spits out Stein’s body limbs. His head rolls toward them and stops at Pamé’s feet. Unable to scream, Pamé turns to her side and pukes. Her cousin pulls her up and tugs at her to run. He leads her down the hallway and takes and few turns. He has no idea where he’s going, but he knows he’s trying to lose the creature. Finally he burst into a room and slams the door shut behind them.
He grabs whatever he can reach- tables, desks, chairs- and piles them up against the door and closes all the blinds of the windows. As he does this, Pamé crawls to a corner away from the door and hugs her knees close to her chest. Too scared to cry, she watches her cousin search the area. “Do you think it’s still there?” she mumbles.
“I don’t know, Pamé”
She watches him take a look around. She wonders if he has any ideas of how to escape. She wants to help but refuge to move from her place. She feels hopeless sitting in the corner, “Think it’ll find us?” she whispers almost too quiet to be heard.
“If it’s still hungry,” Maraco turns to face her. He wants to say something to comfort her, but nothing cam to mind. So, he says nothing.
Pamé bears her face in her arms. She wishes she’d never greed to break in. she’d rather go to jail than this. Tears wells up in her eyes, “Hey, Coz,” no answer. She looks up and there’s no one around. She shivers to the sudden chillness in the room. He’s here, she warns herself.
Just then, the creature appears above her and quickly grabs her before she can react. All she sees is the pitch blackness around her. Visions of her terrible pass flashes around her. She sees her cousin and herself breaking into the party store to steal alcohol and cigarettes. Then a vision of Simon lying on the ground with his eyes close and his face fills with blood that you can hardly see his face. Her parole officer staring straight in her eyes with disappointment and pity, he’s telling her the crucial condition Simon is in. he explains how Simon will never walk again and has to learn how to speak all over again. Then another vision appears in front of her, it’s her father yelling at her and calling her a piece of shit and her mother drinking her life away, just laughing like it’s all a joke. Blackness demolishes the visions. Pamé is alone in the darkness once again. She then suddenly feels a familiar pain from her side that quickly takes her breath away. A light slowly appears.
She looks up at a blurry figure standing above her. It kicks her again, causing her to groan in pain. Her visions clear and she realizes that the figure is her cousin. The sun shines brightly above them. She feels sweat rolling down her face and her heart returning to a normal beat. Her cousin stares down at her and gives her a hand, “You shouldn’t sleep in the sun too long, especially in this heat. It can poison you.”
Pamé takes her cousin’s hands and let herself be pulls up. Maraco, then hands her a folded up paper, “What’s this??’ she asks.
“The exams scores.”
Pamé shoots him a look.
“What?’ he asks.
“I had this dream that we failed and you had this weird idea of breaking in and change our grade. Then this soul eating thing came after us and---“
Maraco laughs at her, “I see, the sun has poisoned you.”
“You worry too much, coz,” he turns around and starts to head his way back to the building. She opens up the papers and gazes at her scores; Maraco looks over his shoulder and yells out to her, “Looks like we won’t be breaking into any school for a long time.”