Chapter One: POP

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"Don't even think about it."

The boy looked at me as if he was doing just that. He had that sly smile the little rats always get when they think they've found an easy target.

"Don't do it."

He circled me, every bit like prey circling its predator.

I reached into my pocket, just to be ready.

I turned with him as he tried to circle behind me. He was testing me. He sniffled, and wiped his nose with his filthy sleeve,  Now he had a mustache of clean skin above his lip on his otherwise filth-encrusted face. 

He didn't look like a typical Feeder, but I wasn't sure if that was a good or bad thing.  He looked to be about nine, already of feeding age, but his face and clothes were absent any sign of dried blood.  That was odd for a Feeder.

Still, he circled me one. I had the crazy thought that maybe he was some sort of tidy Feeder,  but that made no sense, considering that he was entirely caked with what had to be sewage, judging by the smell. 

You can't use Feeders as an excuse for being late to school. You're supposed to fry and go on. I kept my hand wrapped around the device- just in case. I still didn't know for sure if he was a Feeder , but what else could he be? He was going to make me late, anyway.

I tried to step past him again, but he moved with me, holding up his dirty hands to stop me. I didn't want to get his dirty little handprints on my uniform, so I didn't push against him. 

"Get out of my way !" Sometimes, talking forcefully to Feeders is enough to scare them away.

Not this time.

He didn't move.

"What do you want?"

He didn't answer. I don't know that he even understood me.

I was going to be late. I looked around. The street was deserted this early in the morning. There were no witnesses. I decided that even though he wasn't blood-soaked, he was a Feeder in every other way.

Better safe than sorry.

I took out the device, pressed down on the button and gave him a good prod in the stomach. He went "POP" just like a Feeder, and collapsed to the ground in a charred, smoked heap.

I felt better.

I continued on to school, assuming he'd be scooped up and dumped by a sanitation truck, and that would be the end of it. 

Just like a million other Feeders.

I didn't think I had anything to worry about, and it's not like Feeders ran in packs, looking for revenge.

It didn't turn out that way.

He wasn't a Feeder.

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