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Bullies

I recently had a discussion about bullying in schools. I hate bullies. I realize that dealing with things like this today is getting a lot of attention, but I don’t know if what the schools are doing is right. I have no idea if what I have told my own children is right or not either.

Do what you think is right and hope for the best.

L. E. White

Names

Franklin sat in his room, his mouth twisted into a snarl, writing in an old composition book.

‘Jeremy.’

‘Tommy.’

‘Chris.’

He put the pencil down, reached for the crayons and then changed his mind. He didn’t need to decorate the list. This would be good enough. He wiped his eyes and let out a deep sigh.

“We’ll see who’s a sissy.”

***

His parents were in bed, his mother snoring a little and his dad snoring a lot, when Franklin headed past their door. The back room was already set up, last weekend had been the solstice, and all he had to do was light the candles. The rug with the circles and triangles was still out, lying in the middle of the room with a larger, permanent circle set into the floor around it.

Franklin sat to one side, where his mother sat when she worked in here. He took after her, so it made sense to him to work like she did. His father would have been in a different spot if he were doing this.

The name was hard to say. It didn’t make any sense and there was no way he could have spelled it. He wouldn’t have been able to say it if he hadn’t heard his mother do it last year when their garage had been robbed. He said it again, and shivered when he felt the air get cold.

It was working. He was like them. He could do it.

They would pay.

“Bkik-lo-tekellek”

The cabinet doors rattled and the curtains rustled. The candle light wavered and then everything was back to normal.

Franklin looked around the room, wondering where the monster was. He didn’t see it.

He had failed.

He lowered his head into his hands and rested his elbows on his knees. “Why didn’t you come when I called?”

“I did.”

The voice was so soft and smooth that Franklin didn’t jump when he heard it. He took in a big, shuddering breath, and then looked up into the circle.

A big, mean looking dog sat in the middle of the triangle. Its fur was a mix of red and black that spiked up all over its back like someone had rubbed it backward and then glued it into place. It didn’t pant or wag, but stared at him.

“You came.”

“I did,” it said without moving its mouth. “Why do you call me?”

“These boys,” he tapped the list, “have been picking on me.”

The dog nodded its head once.

“I want you to scare them.”

“What will you give me to do this?”

Franklin shrugged. “What do you want?”

The creature didn’t answer, but its tail shifted to one side and there was a scratching sound as one paw twitched. They sat for a minute or two before the dog nodded again. “I cannot tell you what I want until I know your name.”

“My name?”

“To tell you what I want is to make an offer to you. You cannot make an offer to me without my full name. I am bound by the same rule.”

“Okay,” Franklin said. “My name is Franklin Tho..”

“NO!”

Franklin’s mother slapped her hand over his mouth, bringing tears to his eyes from the sudden sting in his lips. When she entered his part of the circle, the candles rippled again.

The dog lunged forward, changing as it jumped through the air. The spikey fur turned into actual spikes and its neck stretched forward. When its mouth opened, the teeth lengthened twisted, changing from white to black as they twisted into spiraling corkscrews. It snapped down onto her arm and Franklin heard a loud crack just before his mother screamed.

When the creature opened its mouth again, it tore holes out of his mother’s arm. The head drew back, and Franklin imagined it was going to strike like a snake.

With blood dripping from its mouth, the thing snapped forward again.

There was a loud crack and a flash of bright purple light. The monster’s head flew up and back, hitting the ceiling. Its neck relaxed and collapsed, folding like the bouncy house did when it was being deflated until the twisted, dragon dog face hit the floor.

As it lifted up, there was a second, softer crack as Franklin’s father slammed the base of his staff down onto one of the smaller circles on the carpet. The creature snarled as it lifted up, but it didn’t lunge forward again.

His father pointed the staff at it, and the creature dissolved into a fine mist. The cloud faded away and after a moment, Franklin heard a pop that sounded like a balloon had just been stabbed with a pin.

Franklin felt his mother’s arms slip off of him as she slumped backward. His father dropped his staff to the clatter on the floor as he scooped her up. He headed towards the door without looking back.

The boy sat on the floor, numb and crying, waiting for his father to come back for him.

The candles burnt out, one by one, until he was sitting, alone, in the dark.

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