He sat in class, unable to pay attention simply because he was solely focused on keeping himself together around all the strange faces. “Roy, try and get some work done before the bell rings.” The teacher shouted to him. A few moments passed. “Why are you looking at me?” one kid said to another from across the room, dressed in a muscle shirt and snap-back; a key lanyard dangling from the pocket of his basketball shorts. “I don’t know, is it a problem?” replied the other, dressed similarly. “Yeah it’s a problem.” “Oh will you two just quit it?” the teacher started in. “Yeah if he stops.” “Yeah, right.” One got up to go to the bathroom and bumped into the other, making it obviously intentional, so the teacher got rose, ticked, and took them to the office. The bell rang and Roy got up promptly to head to his final class: orchestra. The last teacher wasn’t very good; the new one’s first day was that day. She was young, pretty, looked just as nervous as a new student, and began as soon as the bell rang: “Hello,” she began with a sweet smile, “I’m very sorry that the school decided to switch teachers in the middle of the year like this, I know it’s always tough, and so I’m going to try and make things exactly as they would have been with the old one, okay? I know it probably won’t be exactly the same, but this is weird for me too, I mean its good, but it’s a little tough. But just bear with me, okay?” there was silence. “Okay well, I know tomorrow would normally be your concert at the Fair, right? And do you think you’re all prepared for it?” “Yeah.” A few kids mumbled. “Well, awesome! Because I’ve managed to get that together if you guys are up to it. Does that sound good?” “Yeah.” They replied again. “Very cool. I guess we should run the pieces through once more?” The pieces all went smoothly, and the kids packed up and went home. Roy took the same bus to the same stop he got off at every day, and walked home. “How’s math?” his mother asked as soon as he got in, “have you brought it up?” “Yeah, I only have a few assignments left to make up and everything should be okay.” “You’re at a D.” “Well they’re worth a lot of points.” “You always say this.” “It’s true.” He went in his room, shut the door and laid down, gazing up at the set of black small, medium and large samurai swords he got for his birthday years ago. Time passed timelessly, he fell asleep, got up and went to school. He sat in class, tired but aware and uncomfortable of his surroundings, like every day. “I knew you would pu**y out.” said the same boy to that same kid across from him. “What did you say to me?” “Pu**y a** b***h.” “After school.” He kid shouted just before the teacher rose, even more ticked: “That’s it, office again, both of you!” he grabbed the two and they left for they office. They didn’t do much in orchestra. Went over some tough spots in the music, tuned, went over dress attire, sat around and did homework for other classes. Roy came back to school at 5:30 pm, half an hour early and the sky was already darkening. He went in the orchestra room; the new teacher was the only one there so far. “You’re here a bit early.” She said, sitting down at her desk. “Oh, I’m sorry. Should I come back?” “Oh no no, it’s fine! You can sit down if you’d like.” Tensely and awkwardly, he sat across from her: “could I help with anything?” “No, thank you so much though, I think everything is good to go.” “Yeah, thank you.” his reply didn’t make any sense, it just came out. He analyzed that for a second and continued: “I think you’re doing a really good job so far.” “Well, thanks so much, but it’s only my first day.” “Well, in this one day you’ve shown more care than our other teacher ever did. No one really liked her so don’t worry about trying to be just like her, it should be a comfortable seat to fill.” “Awesome, thank you. That’s really good to know, truly.” She smiled and started typing something she was in the middle of on her laptop. Roy adjusted in his seat, looked off to the side, fiddled with his phone, then got up and wandered; he was already set to go. Ten minutes of that passed and kids started flooding in. Soon they were on the bus, and headed to the fair. It was a cold night for November in Arizona, and the Fair was already a miserable venue. The fair was set up along an old road that was rarely used, connected to a highway where most of the people came in from. Roy left his cellphone and wallet in the back of the bus; all he had on him were his keys and his satchel, which held the music for the performance. His violin was set next to his seat for the performance. They tuned, played, no one really watched, and started to pack up. They were set up on the side of the road that acted as a base for the carnival, and their bus parked in the middle of one of the lanes. There was a major drug bust involving a chief drug lord going on just a few miles away in a shack somewhere under the highway overpass, and all police officers in the area were reported in, a few of which were stationed on the other side of the fair. They heard the sirens in the distance, looked and saw the red and blue flashes in the dark distance. The employees and proprietors of the shops started dragging and rolling their sets clear off the road; the cars were going full-speed. Their teacher was in the main building which the fair was built around, in the bathroom, unaware of the commotion. “Roy,” a kid yelled to him, “you’re a senior, get the bus off the road!” “I don’t have my license yet.” “Just do it.” “You do it; I don’t know what to do.” “It’s coming!” “God dammit.” He, reluctantly and terrified, stepped up to the driver’s seat and started it up. The kids backed way up, he pressed on the gas and it shot in reverse, scratching multiple parked cars behind it. The cop cars were nearly there, and one student got in front of the bus to try and direct Roy, not realizing he was too short to be seen over the buses tall front. If Roy didn’t move immediately, he’d be seriously injured or killed. So he put it in gear and took off, hitting the kid at full speed. In his fear and panic, he didn’t even acknowledge it. The cars were directly behind him now, trying desperately to get safely around the sporadic driving. But they had reached the highway overpass and there was no way he could move. One cop had enough and slammed into the side of the bus, sending it spinning off the side of the pass and down into the creek that ran under it. Roy was terrified. He grabbed his satchel and sprinted nearly in pitch black, alongside the highway, in the direction of his home. He had severe asthma, but this fear-born adrenaline and hysteria kept him going all the way. His whole life had changed in a sudden, random instance. The vast desert connecting the fair and the city passed, and he entered that old, run down city, filled with dimmed lights, smog and car noises. He continued inwards, nearing his house. Trees finally added to the dull scenery. He ran down a street that ran along a shady neighborhood and heard a young woman crying out for help. His first instinct was to turn and help her, but with what sanity he still held in the moment, realized he couldn’t probably do anything of use, and even in this life-defining moment, not being able to help, killed him. It always had. He ran across the bridge over the canal, across a busy intersection, getting honked and screamed at, made it to his neighborhood, ran down an alleyway, jumped over the wall to his backyard and unlocked the back door. Dazed still, he sprinted to his room, grabbed an old backpack and stuffed a bunch of warm clothes into it. He took off the suit jacket he wore for the concert, and put on a black sweater and rain jacket instead. He added his black beanie and scarf, assuming he’d be homeless for a while. Glancing at the samurai swords set atop his dusty old book shelf, he grabbed the dagger-sized, smallest one at the top of the line and the short sword below it, and stuffed them in his back pack. Their handles poked out the top. Just when he thought he was ready to go, he heard his mom come in, in a hurry as well. She was on the phone with someone; he hid in his closet. Immediately she checked his room and the rest of the house and went back out to the kitchen. “Yes? Well, when did this happen, just now?” she said. “Is he okay…? Well, where did he go? Call me back instantly if you know where he is.” She said in a slur, then hung up and started weeping. Roy had to listen to it and refrain from walking out to her to comfort her, showing her he was actually okay. He wanted to, but another side told him he couldn’t possibly show himself now. She pulled herself together, started dialing a number again and left in a hurry. He waited for the car to start up and fade away, and then he left the house; headed to his brother’s apartment, not too far away. His brother hunted, so Roy thought he could find something better to defend himself. Also, he should have been out at work so it’d be easy to get something quickly and leave, but he wasn’t. Roy walked up the steps to the second floor, opened the door and saw him on the couch with a girl; they had been drinking. “Roy, what are you doing here?” “Has mom talked to you?” “Today?” “In the last few hours?” “Yeah a little.” “What did she tell you?” “Nothing important, calm down. What’s up?” Roy sighed and set the backpack and the satchel down “nothing sorry.” “Want to come with us to the store real quick?” “Well, actually I should go. I was looking for mom.” “She’s not home?” “No.” “I’m sure she’ll be back soon. Come on, we never hang out.” “I really should…” “Come on.” They went to a supermarket right by their complex. The girl grabbed an apple and whispered to them: “hold it in your hand, then drop something like, your cell phone, pick it up and put both of them in your bag, or whatever personal thing you can fit it in.” she demonstrated and put her cellphone and the apple in her purse, no one saw. “What are we doing?” Roy asked. “Shh, come on, it’s cool.” His brother quickly responded with a smirk. “For retail stores,” she continued quietly, “that ask how many items you bring in when you go to the dressing rooms, hide a bunch of clothes in your pile but make it look believable. Most won't bother checking your pile anyways. And once you’re in the room you can get a magnet to get off the hard tags and hide them in your purse or whatever. And then dump what you said you had on the counter and just leave. It’s so easy.” “Why are we doing this?” Roy asked again. “It saves money.” His brother responded, matter-of-factly. “You guys are drunk.” “Shut up.” “It’s so easy, it’s their fault for not tightening security.” The girl said. “Also, if you want to swap clothes, switch them in the dressing room, and put your old clothes on the hanger and leave quickly, it usually takes them a second to realize what happened. Also a strong magnet will deactivate the sensors in the front, usually. But that’s like, last resort because it doesn’t always work.” “Can we go?” Roy asked. “Yeah, just a sec.” They stole a few more pointless things, giggling, and then took off quickly. Roy didn’t like it, but undoubtedly the knowledge would be helpful, for the life he was planning on having. They got back, “dad’s coming over.” Roy’s brother said, reading a text. He and the girl sat down to watch TV and Roy went into his brother’s room, grabbed an old 12 gauge from the corner, a hunting knife, ballistic glasses and poured a box of 00s into his satchel. He flushed the toilet to hopefully halt their suspicion for a bit longer, and then quietly opened the sliding glass door to the balcony, climbed down and kept running. He ran until he didn’t know where he was. Seemed like a safe distance. He found a bunch of overgrown bushes behind the parking lot of a gas station, hid among them, propped his backpack and himself up against one, pulled the beanie down over his head, and wrapped the scarf around his face so only his eyes shown, and finally his adrenaline died down. Then he realized he was having an asthma attack, and he forgot to grab his inhaler. He pushed through it, every breath a battle, it calmed down a bit after half an hour, then he wept for another 30 minutes and passed out.