Three Varieties of Madness

Alex Royce was the worst behaved kid at our high school. She was ruthless. She egged teachers’ houses. She stole. She cheated on tests and never got caught. She wasn’t a bully though. She mostly didn’t interact with others. Alex was usually alone. There were so many rumors about her. Some were almost impossible to believe. Kids at my school believed that she stole a car or she robbed a bank, but there was no way that she was that bad. That was a little too far-fetched, but the way she acted, the way she looked at you, it was like she wanted you to believe that the rumors were true. She only got revenge on other kids if it was necessary, like if the kid deserved it. It was amazing that we were only juniors in high school and she was already like that. She was so mysterious. The one thing I did know about her was that she was untrustworthy. So, when I opened the door that night and saw a girl with black wild hair, slightly pale skin, dark blue eyes, a hoodie, and dark clothes, my first thoughts were, oh crap, it’s Alex Royce!

 I immediately shut the door and started to run for my room. I hated to run up my stairs because they were steep and made of wood. No time to turn the lights on so I just ran. It was dark and I think I stubbed my toe but that did not matter. As soon as I got to my room I noticed that she beat me to it. Alex was literally in my room. It must be a dream, no one can teleport. Then I looked at my opened window which was perfectly aligned with a tree branch that looked like it could support a 16 year old girl. Next to that branch was a metal ladder. (I wonder how that got there). Alex was calm. She had her hands in her pockets like she had been waiting for me to come up since 7:30pm. By the way it was 7:40pm. I did nothing to Alex, so why would she come to me, or come for me. I didn’t do anything to her so she should not do anything to me. I wish my parents stayed up later. They go to bed at 7:00pm. It is unnatural, literally it is. My parents use sleeping pills to go to sleep so I can make as much noise as I want. They use sleeping pills so they can get up at 4:00am.

My room always calmed me down. The wall was the perfect shade of blue. The light bounced off the blue wall and made my room look like Pandora from Avatar. It was nice and small. It was perfect. I did not want to get blood on it so I thought maybe I could bribe her or something. “First I will ask her what I did wrong,” I thought to myself.

“What do you want with me Alex?” I asked without confidence. She sat in my work chair crossing her legs on my desk like it was hers and calmly responded with “Payback.”

My heart was racing, was she about to pull out a gun and shoot me? It felt like she was.

“What do you mean?” my voice was drifting away. She had a relaxed expression on her face. I looked at myself in the mirror. I looked afraid and confused. I had brown hair, and a little bit of freckles.

“Don’t worry Rowles, it is not on you,” she said like she was reading my mind. I relaxed.

“Oh thank God,” I said gasping.

The next thing I knew was running away from Ryan Subner and his BB gun. I agreed to help Alex with her revenge plan. Taking Subner’s copy of GTA 5. I had to do it. What other option was there? We took Alex’s Go-Kart. The plan was that I would distract him by selling him empty boxes of cookies. Ryan was a bit overweight but he was strong. He had brown eyes and brownish, blondish hair. As I distracted him, Alex took the game and jumped out the open window. We regrouped in the front yard.

“Did you get it?” I asked excitedly. I felt a rush. She shows me the game. Boom the door opens.

“These are empty!” Ryan yells. (Of course Ryan wanted to eat them right away.) It appeared that Ryan had a gun with a faded orange tip. He noticed Alex with his game because he had put his name on it. He aimed.That rush I felt turned to fear. We ran back to Alex’s house. I was freezing. It was night so I was wearing black. The darkness of the lawn just made it more confusing. I gasped as a BB flew past my face.

When we got away, Alex and I started to go to her house, we went through the back so I could not see where we were. Ryan would not chase after us. Her yard looked untouched, like Alex is supposed to cut it, but she never did. The inside looked like Alex had not done a lot of chores lately. I wonder why it was like this. There wasn’t garbage on the ground but there were dust, air-soft guns, and rubber band shooters. I decided to not ask why.

“We got GTA 5 from that bully Ryan and now do ya want to play it?” Alex asked. I didn’t respond. “Oh, first time,” Alex said. “That is okay but do you want to play it or not?” she asked.

GTA 5, which means Grand Theft Auto 5 is one of the most violent games I have ever heard of. I did not even waste time asking my parents for it. Alex said that Ryan was a bully. I guess she was right. I never thought about it but the guy was a jerk. Ryan was rich, he always cheated in games, and he lied. He never directly did anything bad to me though, except maybe once.

“Yes,” I answered.

Alex and I had a fun night. Her room seemed to be the cleanest place in the house. The walls were a light shade of orange. Her X-Box Elite was right next to her cable box. I was more of a PlayStation guy but then I realized that the X-Box was better in ways I did not even think about. She told me the cable didn’t work though. Her bed took up a lot of space. There was a computer next to what looks like a workshop. She had a carpet with a zigzag pattern of black and white. She said her parents were not home but I didn’t care anyway. It is so weird how in one night I am friends with this girl. Life likes to give you a few surprises though. To tell the truth I kind of liked her.

At the end of the night I went home and I was thinking to myself, that I could not believe my house had been right next to Alex’s all of this time. I went to bed and got ready to end the day with a new tomorrow.

It was Saturday so I did not need to go to Dillwood High School for more 11th grade work. A lot of kids made fun of our schools name. At breakfast I sat down and told my parents about my new friend. Well, I did not tell them everything about her. Our dining room was used for breakfast and lunch as well as dinner. My dad was bald and had a wide face, he had a light complexion, and blue eyes. My mother had black curly hair, green eyes, and a young light skin tone. They both had circles under their eyes.  The walls of the kitchen were white and the appliances were stainless steel. I always felt that the color of the walls set the mood of a room. Our kitchen was always white and pristine.

“Ding dong!” the door rang.

“I’ll get it,” I announced. I opened the door and speak of the devil (literally) – it was Alex.

“Adam, I don’t know what to do,” Alex said. As it turns out, Child Services found out about Alex. Apparently she had no parents. She did not tell me why but apparently she didn’t. They figured out all the things that Alex did and they were sending her to a boarding school. She told me that they were talking about blaming her for stealing a diamond necklace. She said she was set up.  The conversation ended so fast because these two guys came in and took her away. I saw the van drive off and in the window I saw Alex with her hands on the window. She did not have that calm look on her face. She was afraid.

I couldn’t believe what just happened. My new friend just was sent away to boarding school because of something she didn’t do. To think of all the fun we had. It all happened in literally 15 hours.

I had to figure out what happened and how she was set up. Later in the afternoon, the phone rang. I answered it.

“So, how is Alex doing?” I heard in a familiar voice. It was Ryan Subner!

“You did this?” I yelled.

“Yup and don’t worry about my game. I already got a replacement,” he answered.

“You set her up?” I asked.

“Yea, I just told you, idiot. I stole that thing from my mom – no biggie, and I put it in her house. When my mom looked for it, I suggested for her to look there,” he laughed. I felt a deep rage that I never felt before. I hung up and started to walk to Ryan’s house.

When his mom answered the door, I walked in. I hid my angry face for a little.

“I would like to see Ryan please,” I said.

“He is in his room,” she said. I walked up. His room was white and modern, it looked like a huge iPad except with furry white floors and wood patterns on the walls. I went straight up to him and punched him in the face. I wasn’t thinking. I was just so mad. I tried to throw another one but he punched me right in the nose. It started to bleed, but I didn’t care. Then he pushed me on the floor next to his bed. I saw what was under his bed. I could not believe it. I found a bottle of rum. I took it out and held it in my hand.

“You are so done now Subner,” I laughed.

“Give that back!” he yelled, but not too loud to have his parents hear. I ran for the door, but he tackled me. I dropped the bottle and I heard a glass breaking sound, a splashing sound, and then a sizzling sound. I looked up and saw a flame. The bottle landed on his heater, sparks went everywhere but the sparks turned into flames.

“Look what you did!” Ryan yelled in anger.

“I did not do anything!” I blurted out. The fire made the room red, and I felt the heat on my face.

“Mom! Dad! Adam set my room on fire!” Ryan yelled at the top of his lungs. We both ran downstairs.

“He what!” his dad yelled. His dad was buff and basically the whole hallway was on fire by now. He ran after me, but I ran for the door.

When I shut the door, I heard his mom yell, “Hello, police, this boy set our house on fire!” I didn’t even get a chance to explain. I ran to the back of his house and into the woods. Looking back at the flames I was confused, not knowing what to do. For now I knew I had to hide. Ryan will lie, like he always does and of course no one will believe me. Everyone always believes the one who gives the first explanation, even if it is a lie.

I decided to walk towards home and ask my parents what I should do. I went through the woods to my house. When I got to my yard, I went through the back door and into the living room. My mother and father were sitting down on the couch.

“Adam, why did you burn down that family’s house?” my mother sadly asked. She had tears in her eyes.

I responded with, “I didn’t, Ryan had a bottle of…”

“That is a lie!” my dad yelled. He wouldn’t even let me finish.

“You have to believe me,” I pleaded.

“Son, I need you to get some water and swallow this,” my dad held out one of his sleeping pills. It hurt so much to know that my parents probably didn’t love me.

“If you don’t, I will make you,” my dad continued. My mother started crying and went into the other room. I ran upstairs with my dad chasing after me. I ran into my room and locked the door.

“Open this door right now!” my dad yelled. I grabbed what I could, my wallet, my pocket knife, my coat, some clean clothes and some snacks. I put all of it into a grey and yellow drawstring bag. I went out of my window and onto the tree, the same tree Alex came up here on. I almost forgot about her. I could still hear my dad yelling. I ran with tears in my eyes to the bus stop near our school. What was I going to do now? I just needed to focus on one thing now, getting away, but I kept on thinking about two things – getting away and Alex. The bus came and I set out to start my new life.

Four years had passed and it was wintertime. I should have been in my third year of college. Instead, I was living in an abandoned building in Denver, Colorado. I did odd jobs and sometimes begged in order to feed myself. The police had stopped looking for me. There were too many other crazy crimes being committed. There were many times when I felt I had nothing to live for. I found myself thinking, “I can’t take this life anymore,” but right when I was about to end it, right when the knife was at my neck, I would think about Alex, and I would stop. She was the only reason that I wanted to be on this Earth. I decided that I had to find her.

I went to a library and used one of those computers that you are supposed to use for searching for a book. I went on Google and looked up Alex Royce. I scrolled down until I saw a picture of her. It was an arrest record website. It said that she had vandalized the headmaster’s car on the last day of school and that she had been sent to jail for three years. She was serving time in the prison in Laramie, WY. It took a second to remember what “WY” meant. The prison was in Wyoming! “That is close by,” I thought, “if I had a car.” I looked up Laramie, WY on MapQuest and printed out the directions, including a map.

While I was at it I looked up Adam Rowles. A YouTube video showed up with the name “News at 6:30pm Rowles house bu…” It did not have an ending, I hated it when it wouldn’t show the full title unless you clicked on it. It was recent so I wanted to know what they were saying about me. I also wanted to see my parents again, even if it was in a video. I clicked “play” on the video. I did not see my parents, all I saw was a burning house. The title below the video was, “News at 6:30pm Rowles house burns down, no survivors.”

I just sat there in silence. I couldn’t believe my parents were dead.

“Excuse me sir,” I heard.

“What!” I yelled in anger. The old woman backed off. “I’m sorry, it’s just.. sorry.” I could be so impulsive sometimes.  I walked out of the library and headed for the closest bus stop, holding back tears and kicking rocks. I don’t even remember the last thing I said to them. I got on a bus, paid the driver the fare and started my journey to Laramie.

I fell asleep on the bus. The driver woke me up. I got out off the bus and started to ask strangers where the prison was. The first five people I asked just kept on walking. Then someone finally gave an answer. It was three blocks away from where I was. I walked in the direction of the prison. I hid my face under my hood, just in case. I asked to see Alex Royce. Then she came. She walked into the visiting room, gasped, then ran and threw her arms around me.

“Alex,” I stammered.

“Adam, I can’t believe it is you,” she said with tears in her eyes.

“What did you do in boarding school to get here?” I asked.

“The headmaster said he was not going to graduate me if I didn’t take the blame for something his daughter did,” she responded. “So, I got so angry that I grabbed a baseball bat from the gym and beat the crap out of his car. I couldn’t pay the fine, so they put me in here for three years. What about you? I heard that you set fire to Subner’s house. Did you?”

“No,” I said. I told her the whole story about me winding up on the streets and living in Denver in an abandoned building with some other squatters and how my life had been destroyed.

“Adam, I have been wanting to see you again ever since that day,” she exclaimed.

“You said you need to pay a fine, how much?” I asked.

“$500,” she responded.

“Oh,” I said.

“Adam, I know where you could get the money,” she said hesitantly.

“How?” I asked.

“There is a place near here, with a lunch box that has $600 in it,” she explained.

“How is there $600 in a lunchbox?” I asked confused.

“I will explain later. There should be a house with a huge hole on the side of it,” she continued.

“Where?” I asked cautiously..

“Go north from the big fountain in the parking lot until you find the house. The lunchbox should be right next to the front door,” she told me.

“Okay. I will remember,” I promised.

“Times up!” one of the guards yelled..

“I will be back.” I said walking away.

I went to the fountain Alex was talking about. I asked a stranger to show me which way was north. He pulled out a compass.

“Here, I don’t need it,” and he handed it to me.

“Thanks,” I said. I headed north according to the compass.

As I started to walk, it began to snow. There was so much snow that I could not see more than seven feet in front of me. It was definitely a blizzard. It was so cold, but I needed to do this for her. I was wondering if I past the house already and just couldn’t see it. Then I saw something in the distance. As I got closer, I started to realize it wasn’t a house. It was smaller and it was moving. I noticed that there were many of them and they were moving closer.

“Um… hello?” I called. I heard a growl. I hoped they weren’t what I thought they were, but they were. Wolves, they were slowly prowling towards me. They did not look like the beautiful wolves you see on TV. They did not have shimmering coats or clean fur. They were dirty. Their fur was messed up and uneven, and they looked hungry. I couldn’t die now. Alex was counting on me.

I slowly pulled out my pocket knife that I brought just in case. I never thought I would have to use it, but it was the only thing that I had in my bag. I tried to stay confident. I thought that if dogs could smell fear somehow, then so could wolves. I counted them and there were about four. I remembered reading about how to survive a wolf attack in one of my magazines. You are supposed to try to look as big and intimidating as possible. One ran at me. I kicked it right in the nose. It fell to the ground, quickly got up and ran away. The others hesitated a bit but were still there. I faced the other three. I put my back to a tree so they couldn’t surround me. I started to yell.

“Ah! Go, get out!” I yelled. I put my hands up waving them around. I did not make eye contact or show my teeth. I dropped the knife and picked up a three foot blunt stick instead. I thought that it would be easier to fight them with something longer than a pocket knife. Two of them ran at me. I swung and hit one and it fell on the other one. I quickly put the stick over my head and whacked the second one right on the head. I heard a crack, but it wasn’t the stick. The one that came at me first, jumped at me. I rolled out of the way and it hit the tree. It did not get up. The last one took me by surprise because it bit on the stick and pulled it out of my hand. It jumped on me, I put my left arm in front of my neck to protect myself. It bit my arm.

“Ah!” I screamed in pain. I saw the knife on the ground in front of me. I reached for it and stabbed the wolf in its throat. It stopped biting my arm and slowly stopped moving. I pushed the wolf carcass off me. I got up and searched the area for more just in case. I did not see any.

I did see something behind the tree. It was a house with a huge hole in it. The hole was so huge, it looked like an elephant could fit in it. The house was small and it did not have an upstairs. It was hard to see the color of the house because it had snow and frost on it. There was debris everywhere. I wondered what had happened to this place.

I started to focus on the main task. I looked at the front of the house and there it was. The solution to my problem – the lunch box. I opened it and counted the money. There were six $100 bills. I closed it and was going to head back, but then I heard something. I stopped. Then I heard it again. It was high pitched and was coming from the inside of the house.

I opened the door which was hard to do because it was frozen shut. As soon as I opened it, the door fell off its hinges. I continued into the house. It was dark but the light from the huge hole let me see. I could not even tell what kind of room I was in. There was snow and wood framing everywhere. Glass shards and broken mirror reflected the light from the hole. Then I heard the noise much better and it sounded like a puppy. I turned to the noise and saw a wolf pup. The wolves were just trying to defend their young. This must have been their territory. I couldn’t just leave it there. So I took it and headed back where I came from. At least the blizzard was weakening.

When I got to civilization, I wondered what I was going to do. I couldn’t raise a wolf, but I felt responsible for it. I got back to the prison and paid the fine. Soon Alex would be free. I waited in front of the prison. She ran out of the front door. I put the pup down and she ran into my arms.

“Adam,” she cried with tears of joy in her eyes.

“Alex, I came here because well I kind of…” I was interrupted by a kiss. We kissed and it was great to know that she loved me too.

“You got a dog?” she asked.

“Um well a wolf,” I told her. The little wolf gave out a cute bark.

“Aw, it is so cute,” she said as she pet it.

“Come on, we have got to go,” I said. We walked to the bus stop, got on a bus and headed back to Denver.

When we got near a gas station the driver stopped.

“I have to fill up the tank so…” Boom! A bullet went through his head. The driver fell on the wheel and his weight shifted on the gas pedal. The bus went full speed in the direction of the gas station. I opened the back door of the bus, grabbed the bag that I had put the wolf pup in and Alex and I jumped out. The bus rammed into a gas pump and the next thing I knew I was deaf for a few seconds. The blast pushed me and Alex back a bit. When I started to focus again Alex was screaming and I came over to comfort her.

“Its okay. It is all over.” I hugged her. The pup came out of the bag it was in.

“No it isn’t,” someone said. It was Ryan Subner and this time he was pointing a real gun at me.

“You!” Alex yelled.

“I will finally have my real revenge,” Ryan stated.

“Real revenge?” I asked.

“I burned down your house, Rowels!” he screamed.

“Why would you do that?” I asked.

“To make you pay. They figured out that it wasn’t really your fault for my house burning down and I got in a huge amount of trouble for all of the alcohol bottles that they found in my room. You ruined my life and now I am going to take yours,” he explained.

“What is wrong with you?” I whispered.

“The voices were right about you. I should have killed you right when you found out my secret,” he said. Ryan was crazy, he had lost it. People with his condition shouldn’t play games like GTA.

“Those voices aren’t real Ryan,” I said.

“Yes, they are real. All I hear right now is kill, kill, kill…” he said as he stomped his feet.

“Woof!” the wolf barked.

“Oh, is this your pet?” he asked as he grabbed it by his neck.

The pup whimpered. “I think I will eat it later, but for now…” he said evilly, “it’s time to take care of you.” I heard the gun click and he pointed it at me.

“Adam no!” Alex cried. Right when he pulled the trigger, the biggest surprise happened.

A wolf tackled Ryan and started to bite his neck. The pup fell into the snow.

“Ahhh!” Ryan yelled. The bullet missed me by an inch. I turned to look and it was the wolf that I hit in the nose. It must have come for the pup. It was its mother. After the wolf got off of Ryan, it grabbed it’s pup by the neck and started to walk away. It stopped and gave one look back at us and continued walking away.

Alex and I started to walk down the street until we found another bus stop. We figured we would leave Ryan there. He got what he deserved. We got on a bus and headed home. I decided that this would be a good time to get Alex’s mind off of what had just happened..

“So, why was there $600 in that lunch box?” I asked her.

“Years ago when I was in the 3rd grade, my mom gave me $600 for lunch money. She wanted the money to last the whole year so she gave it to me up front to take into the school. I was waiting in front of my house for the bus to come. I was the first stop on the way to school, thank God.,” she said.

“Why?” I asked.

“Because when the bus came down the hill, it slipped on some black ice and went right through my house. I ran in and found my parents, but they were dead,” she told me. She had tears in her eyes.

“I am so sorry.” I said.

“I dropped the lunch box in the front of my door and ran away.” she finished. I hugged her and comforted her until we got to Denver. When we got out of the bus I saw a public telephone. I used it to call James Hallings, our family lawyer. The phone rang.

“Hello,” he said.

“Um hi Mr. Hallings. It’s Adam Rowles,” I told him.

“Adam, oh my God, is it really you? Listen, you don’t need to hide anymore. They figured out who really started the fire,” he said excitedly.

“I know, I just found out and was wanting to clear things up. I cannot believe my parent’s are both dead,” I said.

“I am so sorry for your loss Adam,” he said.

“I have been living in an abandoned building in Denver the whole time,” I said.

“You know, your parents had life insurance,” he said.

“They did?” I asked.

“Yes,” he responded.

“How much?” I blurted.

“They each had a $200,000 policy,” he answered.

“I can’t believe it.” I told him.

“Believe it. You are going to be OK. If you’re still in Denver I could come and pick you up. I am not busy,” he offered,

“Yea, come to 20th street,” I said.

“On my way now. Bye,” he said as he hung up.

“Come on. 20th street is three blocks from here! Let’s go,” I told Alex. We raced up the street. Finally, things were looking like they were going to be better from now on. Alex smiled at me and took my hand.


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1 thought on “Three Varieties of Madness

  1. Well, I figured since I had referred to your protagonist as a villain I should reacquaint myself with the story and actually read the whole piece. The length of this was always daunting, Nico, but . . . Anyway, this is really well-written. You write like a writer; the way you write dialogue and provide interesting details about characters and places and they way you describe them, usually using neat, declarative sentences. That’s a real gift, Nico. I know you have a desire to write so all I will say about that is keep doing it. When I reinstate the Author’s Seat, you should share some of this.

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