Chapter 36

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Talent. Everybody is born with a little, some are born with a lot. What that talent is and will become usually depends on the person, a combination of natural ability honed by interests or circumstance. More often than not talent takes years of dedicated practice and labor, an investment of time and resources spent in the hopes of turning a chosen skill into something as easy and thoughtless as breathing.

But sometimes, when circumstances combine with bitter desperation, talent can burst forth from its thick shell like an enraged dragon, untamable in its ferocity. It is as if in those rare moments a switch is thrown in the brain, bringing to life a power that can never be contained. The events that cause those moments are often times intense, dangerous. Deadly.

The seconds before it happened seemed to stretch on for days, each movement becoming painfully slow and yet still unavoidable. Evelyn felt Derek's intentions before even Derek himself. He was scared, shocked, and angry. The emotions Evelyn felt coming from Derek were instinctive, animal. As if the parts of his mind capable of rational thought had been stripped away, leaving only those most primal in control.

"Derek!" Brandon yelled, jumping up and stepping in front of Evelyn.

"How did you bring me here?" Derek half screamed. His eyes went wide as ho took in his surroundings. Evelyn could feel pulses of fear emanating from Derek like a racing heartbeat.

Brandon held his hands up. "Derek, man. We didn't bring you here, you just kind of showed up." He took a step back, forcing Evelyn out of arm's reach of the bigger boy.

Derek screamed and tore at his hair with both hands, swinging the blade of the knife around wildly as his movements became more and more erratic. "Don't lie to me! I wasn't here, then I was here and not where I was! And it's always you! Every time I close my eyes it's you and it's you now!"

"Whoa, you're not making any sense! What the hell are you going on about?" Brandon yelled back, his own eyes never leaving the knife.

Derek wheeled around and stared Brandon down. For the first time Evelyn saw just how bloodshot the boy's eyes were, how dark the circles that surrounded them. Whatever Puck had done had not only broke him, it had made him dangerous. A fact even more apparent now than in the school when he attacked Brandon the first time. "Derek, please listen to me," Evelyn said from behind Brandon.

Derek screamed again and pointed the knife at Evelyn. "Don't say a word, bitch! This is between me and him! He's the one who started this!"

"How? What did I ever do to you?" Brandon yelled back, stepping in front of the knife.

"You did it to both of us!" he screamed back, swinging out with his fist.

Brandon ducked under the swing and lunged at Derek with all his strength. Derek grunted as Brandon's shoulder struck just under his ribcage and forced the air out of his lungs. Taking the moments advantage Brandon jumped on top of Derek and tried to peel the knife out of his hand, but the bigger boy punched Brandon in the jaw with his free hand, using the momentum to roll himself on top of Brandon. Derek dropped the knife to the ground and began punching Brandon in the face over and over again, screaming out in rage with every blow. "You'll never touch us again! Never again! You laughed! You laughed!" he screamed over and over again.

"Brandon!" Evelyn screamed. She rushed over and grabbed hold of one of Derek's arms as it swung back, but even using all her strength Derek was able to easily push her to the ground. "Please, stop it! Derek, stop it!" she pleaded, pulling herself to her feet.

Brandon did what he could to defend himself against Derek's attacks, but the blows were too furious. Soon Brandon's arms fell limply to his side while Derek continued to strike his defenseless face and head repeatedly, his screaming becoming more incoherent. Evelyn jumped on top of Derek in desperation, but her vision was blurred from tears and she was unable to dodge his elbow as Derek twisted his body and struck her in the jaw.

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