The boys in the cafeteria weren't even trying to hide the fake vampire fangs they were all wearing. They leered and laughed at Toby as he went by with his tray and tried to find a place to sit down where, just maybe, he wouldn't have to see any of them. Of course, none of the staff members were around. Not that they would do anything about it. It was hard enough for Toby to keep himself contained during lunch without this salt in his wound. He sat down at a spot facing away from most of the boys. It was toward the back of the cafeteria which was mostly decorated in cool colors. The concrete block walls were a light blue and the tiled floor was a gentle teal.
Toby stared at the floor helplessly, wondering what kind of god could make such a world and let it persist in such misery. His stomach growled, reminding him he should probably eat something or else give his hosts more reason to lock him away in the "Safe Room" again. He wanted to do his best to get into his normal room again. It would be hard to manage with the way the rest of the day seemed it would be. But it would allow him to carry out the plan forming in his head. Logically, he knew it would never work, but he was planning to run away, nonetheless. He decided it would be better to run away and maybe have some sort of hope of getting a death sentence like his old man. Then he wouldn't have to deal with the Empire he knew to be full of evil.
After he ate what he expected was enough food to pass as normal, Toby got up and walked toward the front of the cafeteria to send his tray away. He noticed most of the boys had cleared out at that point. He was relieved to see that Craig seemed to be gone as well. He could only hope not to cross Craig’s path for the rest of the day, but he knew better. Craig made it obvious he would do his best to relish Toby's horror today. Toby put his tray on the conveyor belt and watched as it gracefully floated away. Then, he turned to leave the room and was overwhelmed to find himself standing well in the shadow of Mr. Thompson himself. Craig looked down at him with his typical sneer, which was enhanced by the fake fangs sticking out.
A switch seemed to flip in Toby's head and, with strength and power he didn't know he had, he charged into Craig, throwing punches with all of his might. The move, coming out of nowhere, had thrown Craig off guard and Toby knocked three punches into his temple in what seemed like a microsecond, knocking him to the ground. Once on the ground, holding his head with his now bloody hands, Craig was helpless to defend himself as Toby fell onto him, continuing to swing at his face and chest. A tall, burly staff member with thinning, dirty blond hair and a beard grabbed hold of Toby and pulled him off the other boy, who now lay battered and seemed to be twitching. Toby was surprised to feel no remorse for him, but was instead filled with anger that Craig had caused Toby to lose any hope of getting back into his normal room soon.
The burly man pulled Toby away from the scene, still holding him by the arms. He muttered something to himself about seeing something like this coming from Toby all along. Toby was completely unsurprised to see another staff member waiting outside of the safe room as the man pulled him around the hall. The other staff member, a short, stocky, younger man opened the door while the burly man pushed Toby inside. The door clicked shut as Toby caught himself from falling face first on the floor.
After what had probably been only twenty minutes, but felt like forever to Toby, a knock came from outside the door. Toby had been lying on the bed doing the only thing there was to really do in this room: think. He looked up at the door to see who would enter. He knew it was too early in the day for any of The Enforcers to pay him a visit so he wasn't worried too much about who it might be. A moment later the door opened to reveal Mr. Sandburn, one of the senior staff members. Toby met him the night he was "admitted" as they called it. He wasn't completely sure, but he thought it had been Mr. Sandburn whose face he spit in that night. The middle-aged man looked down at him severely, the lines of stress showing on his face. His blue eyes attempted to bore into Toby, but failed miserably as Toby had more horrendous things to deal with at the moment.
"Toby, we need to talk. I'm sure you know what about," he said with deep authority. Toby merely looked through him as he wondered how long it would be until the news came on and if he would even get to eat dinner in the cafeteria after what had happened. Sandburn sat down at the foot of the bed and cleared his throat.
"I know you are under a lot of stress. I can only imagine how you must be feeling. But you could have killed that boy, Toby. Do you understand that?" he demanded. Toby couldn't help but feel a spark of defensiveness.
"He was wearing vampire teeth and last night he broke in here and beat the shit out of me!" Toby realized his eyes were exposing the extent of his pain by shedding massive blinding tears in quick gushes. Mr. Sandburn's face tightened with disbelief.
"How dare you make up such nonsense. No one but staff members have keys to this room and they are all of exemplary reputation!" he shouted, standing up midway through. "I suggest you sit in here and think about the consequences of hurting people and telling lies. You are this close," he held his thumb and pointer finger a centimeter apart, "to ending up in Necropolis like your father! Lucky for you Craig Thompson only suffered a mild flesh injury and had no concussion. However, he will have to spend the night in the hospital because of you," he said and then looked at the door. "Someone will be here to escort you to the cafeteria when it is time for dinner. Until further notice, you will spend all of your time either in this room or with a chaperone." Then, he turned and walked out the door, slamming it behind him. Toby lay back down, setting his head gently onto his pillow. Then, he released more of the emotional burden from within his chest and sobbed fiercely as he curled his body into a ball. His weeping worsened as his mind filled with a primal simplification of what he was feeling. Over and over the words I want my Daddy repeated in his mind and eventually he cried himself to sleep.
Toby woke to the sound of the door of his room closing. He flung into a sitting position to assess his situation. The room was empty of anyone other than himself. But one thing caught his attention after a moment's scrutiny. A piece of paper lay crumpled at the foot of the bed. He reached forward and unraveled the paper ball. In crude scribbles much like the artwork left on his door the other day, a message for him had been written. It said, "You're going to pay for Thompson!" and underneath in much bigger letters was scribbled, "Tonight!" Both exclamation points were almost ripped into the paper by its author. Toby was torn between his fear and the anger he felt at that moment toward Mr. Sandburn for refusing to listen to him. After a few minutes, the fear won over and Toby lay watching the door, his stomach twisted in knots.
YOU ARE READING
Shining in Crimson: Empire of Blood Book OneHorror
Set in a dystopian, religiously-demented American Empire, the city of Las Vegas is no longer a city of sin. Now called Necropolis, it is a city that eats sin. The vampires of Necropolis wait patiently for the Empire's weekly drop off of guilty Penit...