Without a word, he stoically turned away from his assailer. There was nothing to be done, and nothing more to be said. He charged down the hallway with whatever leftover energy he could muster.
His life was absolutely over, he thought. The life of Brendan Gregory had been smashed to pieces, reduced into a pulp of nothingness. This was the last time he could stand his bully. To Brendan's knowledge, he had no name, no friends, and no heart. Everything about him was icy- his cold glare, his frozen words. Brendan had dealt with bullies many a time before, but his allotted amount for hurt was filled, and could no longer stand the thought of being bullied.
Brendan didn't know why so many had felt the need to interfere with his life. He was a happy kid for the most part, and his looks reflected his persona. His curly blond hair emanated rays of sunshine. His eyes mirrored his hair, a light spring green sprinkled with droplets of liquid gold. When he was truly happy, the liquid gold would spread. When he was feeling the opposite, the green would dominate, making his gaunt face and square jaw look formidable. However, his peculiar and beautiful eyes were hidden from the world. Black-framed hipster glasses bordered them; with a prescription so strong the lenses were as thick as the bottom of a glass bottle. These glasses, combined with his tall and lanky body were the offenses the school bullies looked for. Other than his physical appearance, there was no reason for him to be bullied. Sure, he read quite a large amount of comics and science fiction, was part of the high school band, and was blessed with wit; but other than that he was a nice guy, popular within his close-knit circle of friends. He was quiet yet funny, sensitive, and sweet- especially on his longtime friend, Lana.
While thinking of her smiling blue eyes and lovely dimples, Brendan suddenly came to a halt. His wandering combined with daydreams of Lana and the leftover self-pity had brought him to a dead end. Brendan had dealt with the complexities of the high school for two years now, yet he couldn’t recognize his current location. This hallway seemed different from the rest of the school. Instead of being dark and musty from years of constant rain and lack of ventilation, it was dry and arid. Just then, a breeze came from the end of the hallway. The smell of lavender filled Brendan’s nose, and he felt as if tendrils of serenity were grasping him and vanquishing all negative thoughts and feelings. Curious about the magical sensation, he decided to pursue the breeze. He feebly walked to the end of the hallway, pausing at the mahogany door. His hand reached out, and immediately shirked away from the door’s cool touch. He pushed again, yet with no avail. He tried once more, twice more, but the door still wouldn’t budge. He was weak, and his run through the school corridors only further worsened his condition. Defeated, he slid into a sitting position, his back resting upon the door. Almost immediately, the door clicked open, causing Brendan to fall onto his back. He winced with pain. Upon opening his eyes, the sight that greeted him astounded him.
The ceiling was tall, with a maze of oxidizing pipes exposed. Cobwebs blanketed the pipes, sheltering them from the rest of the room. The lights, now useless, hung in straight, rigid rows over long narrow tables in the same formation. These tables were covered in a layer of filth- the lack of disturbance apparent. Around each line of tables were dusty chairs. Brendan brushed the seat of a chair, and immediately after his stonewashed jeans, cleaning his hand of the dust. The streak of cleanliness revealed a worn and smooth surface, once regularly used, now empty. A few flies buzzed around, cleverly evading the gossamer-like cobwebs, which threatened to be their demise.
There had always been rumors about this place, thought Brendan. Somehow, Brendan had stumbled across his school’s infamous abandoned cafeteria. The story was that this cafeteria was infested with flies. His school wasn’t so snobbish to build a new cafeteria for this reason alone, but they tried exterminating the flies on multiple occasions, and the flies kept returning. It started to cause disturbances during lunch times, and so it was deserted. The school could not demolish it, as it was part of the school’s historical background. However, it was not highly advertised. Brendan was sure the many freshmen didn’t know it even existed.
As desolate and grimy as the abandoned place was, Brendan felt at peace. He had always believed that people needed their alone time, and felt as if the ancient cafeteria came to his salvation at the perfect moment. The lavender breeze was still present, wafting around the aged room with a gentle ease. As he steadily drifted closer and closer to sleep, he grew nostalgic for his mother who had loved lavender, meant everything to him, and was killed ten years ago.
“Huuh...” His eyes fluttered open, and then suddenly snapped shut. He was expecting it to be bright and sunny, yet the ever-cloudy skies masked the sun. He dreamt about his mother again, back when times were happier and sunnier. She was one of Brendan’s constant thoughts, always on his mind. He sometimes even heard her voice, like he did now.
“You should go home to your father now, it’s getting a bit late. Send him my love, will you? If you ever feel upset, just come visit okay? I’m sure you’ll be able to find me. Don’t forget that I love you sweetheart.”
Brendan nodded, still drowsy from his nap. The words were a jumble of sounds and hisses. He made his way out of the cafeteria, looking down at his sneakers. After five yards of shuffling down the corridor, he suddenly realized the oddity of his past incident. He whipped around, searching for the door to his sanctuary. Nothing was there, other than a wall plastered with tacky motivational posters. Although a bit blurry, he replayed the event over and over again in his head on his walk home. He couldn’t wait to tell his father about the encounter with his mother.
When Brendan returned home, his dad was fuming. The school had notified him of Brendan’s absence in his last four classes. Brendan didn’t mind his father’s thunderous words. He knew his father would be ecstatic once he relayed his story. Instead, after Brendan was done, his father paled, and after giving him a strange look, walked out the room. Brendan overheard his father mumbling something about him, most likely on the phone with his therapist. “He must think I’m crazy. “ With a smirk on his face, Brendan fell into a deep sleep.
Brendan silently wandered the halls at lunch for days, looking for any sign of the old cafeteria. No traces of it could be found, and he grew so desperate to find it that he asked the janitor. The janitor dismissed him, telling him to go back to his friends. However, his friends were all spooked by his erratic behavior, and none of them would even make eye contact. Except for Lana. She would still smile and wave, and ask him to join them. She was just being polite, as she grew to accept the repetitive answer that he was busy.
On the fifth day of deprivation from his refuge and mother, Brendan walked around the passage ways of the school once more. He made a promise to himself that if he couldn’t find it today, he would stop, as his health was failing. He was exhausted all the time from over exerting himself at lunch, never being able to sleep because of his thoughts of the secret place keeping him up all night. His eyes were clouding now, the once bright green fading to a murky swamp color. The bags under his eyes were atrocious, and combined with his extreme weight loss made him so intimidating that his old bullies were now afraid of him. Even Lana would give him an odd look, her bubbly self no longer present around him. On this particular walk, he grew so exhausted that in an odd corner of the school, he fell to the floor.
When Brendan woke up, he found himself in the ancient cafeteria and breathed a sigh of relief. Once he was back, he never wanted to leave. However, his mother often called for him to help her with things in the outside world. These tasks started out as little things, such as stealing some small object for her. He was raised with good morals, and knew what he was doing was wrong, but each time he completed a little task, he felt as if his misery was sucked out of him. He would feel fulfilled, until he would feel the guilt, and he would soon mysteriously end up in the cafeteria again. His father gave up on him, as well as his teachers, friends, acquaintances, and other family members. He would only answer to his mother, even if she did start telling him to murder people that had no connection to her. He would come back feeling as light as a feather. He began to depend on her even more, until she began to tire of him.
One day, Brendan was given the assignment to kill Lana. He was reluctant, but made up his mind to follow through with his mother’s plan when she announced that he could only have one woman in his life. On the same day, Brendan told Lana to meet him afterschool. He must have looked handsome that day, for instead of blowing him off, Lana agreed.
He waited for her in a grove behind the school. There she came, bouncing along, excited to see him. Brendan leaned forward as if to give her a kiss, and instead, slit her throat. Her eyes widened with fear, as she saw her own blood oozing out the deep cut on her neck. She went limp, and all was quiet. As soon as the first droplet of blood hit the ground, it vanished. The Earth swallowed the puddle of blood, and then out came a swarm of flies. They encircled Brendan, and carried him to the cafeteria.
Something was not right. There was no scent of lavender, no cooing from his mother, the lights were flickering, and all about the room were swarms of flies. He ran to the door, trying to make his escape before something bad happened, his eyes wide as saucers. Unfortunately, it was too late. A distorted voice called out.
“You trusted me. You were a fool to believe me, Brendan Gregory. Your mother is dead and gone, and I merely pretended to be her. I used her to get to you, for you were so miserable. I fed off your misery until I became strong enough. And now, since you have killed Lana, you have become more miserable than ever, and will be for the rest of your life. I am now powerful enough to complete domination. Thank you.”
The flies started forming a human silhouette.