Friday 20 May 2016, Queens, New York
The boisterous students filed out of the various exits onto the American football field and the surrounding areas of Forest Hills High School, Isaac Mackie strolled briskly towards the collection of yellow school buses that stood behind the school, happy that his hellish class with Mrs Gomez was over. He still had to get used to the fact that he didn’t wear uniform anymore, but it was a welcome change. He now wore a simple tracksuit and trainers. Isaac was from London originally and had moved to Queens in January. He’d joined at the start of the spring semester and had quickly been made welcome in FHHS. Even with the warm welcome he’d received, Isaac mostly kept to himself and rarely interacted with those outside of his immediate friendship group.
Isaac was dark-skinned, had black, curly hair, and had a lean and athletic build. Although, it had never occurred to Isaac to play sports despite his potential. He had always found mechanical work much more interesting and was quite talented; his creations were scattered around his bedroom and the mini workshop he’d managed to make of the basement in his house.
Isaac got on the first bus to Astoria and instantly saw it was almost packed to the brim. He walked along the isle, looking for any of his good friends to sit with, when he laid his eyes on Jada, a fellow freshman. Jada was a pretty, dark-skinned girl who wore her hair in a bun and was, in Isaac’s opinion, the prettiest girl he had ever met.
“Hey Isaac, come sit with me.” Jada beamed at Isaac, a smile that made him feel euphoric. Jada was in the same Math class as Isaac and they had become friends soon after.
They had become close in the months that Isaac had been at the school and were almost always seen hanging out with each other. But as of recent Isaac had noticed things he never would’ve before. Like her body. He felt differently about Jada compared to any girl he’d ever met. He didn’t know exactly what to think of it at first, but soon the answer became all too clear. He liked her. But he wasn’t ready to tell her yet.
What if she didn’t feel the same way? Isaac thought. Its not worth the risk.
“Hey Jade. Today was so long. Mrs Gomez is just –she’s another type of annoying. She’s a bi- “
“Oy, language. She’s annoying but she didn’t need that much abuse. Hey, can you hold my bag a second I need to tie my shoes.” As Jada handed him her backpack and bent over, Isaac sat on the outside seat looked towards the front of the bus and saw Horatio enter the bus.
Horatio was a smallish guy who, like Isaac, kept to himself and was interested in computers and machines. Isaac had met him in the robotics club that held weekly, and he’d started hanging out with him since then. Normally they sat together and talked, but for some reason, Horatio completely ignored them and carried on.
“Hey Jadey, what’s up with the H-Man,” Isaac said as Jada finished tying her laces and took her bag back. “He just blew us off.”
“I couldn’t tell you Izzy, I really couldn’t. He’s just been really distant and weird with me as of late.” Jade shrugged her shoulders in an over the top fashion.
At that moment, Alpha walked into the bus. Isaac instantly shuffled closer to Jada.
“I can’t believe you dated that guy.” Isaac had a look of disbelief plastered across his face.
“We didn’t date for that long, jeez,” Jada retorted. “Besides, I didn’t know how much of a tool he was back then.”
Jada had told him about Alpha, and the illegal activities he was involved with out of school. He ran with the Posse, a west Indian gang in the Queens locale. Alpha was large and intimidating. He had dark hair and an even darker complexion and a ****** expression that could make a UFC fighter wary. He marched right through the isle, completely ignoring Jada and Isaac, and made a direct path to Horatio.
From where they were sitting, Isaac and Jada could clearly see Horatio with earphones in, listening to music on his iPod. Knowing him it was probably Chance the Rapper’s new album. That changed when Alpha stepped in front of him and picked him up by the collar. The height difference between them was painfully obvious and as Alpha started shouting at Horatio for seemingly no reason, Isaac observed as everybody turned away and ignored what happened.
How is nobody saying anything. Doing anything. Come on guys isn’t somebody going to help, Isaac thought. I can’t just stand back and watch him manhandle Horatio for no **** reason. What does a guy get off doing that anyway?
“Jadey, I’ll be back in a sec ok. I can’t stay back and let this happen.”
“I wanna help too! But what are you gonna do against Alpha; he’ll rip your head off your shoulders.” Jada sported a worried look, but still looked beautiful in Isaac’s opinion
“Don’t worry,” Isaac said. “I’ll talk around him or something. It can’t be that hard. Besides, who else do you know that can talk trash like I can.”
The bus driver started up the engine and soon the bus was rolling its way slowly through the residential area, forcing Isaac to use the seats either side of him to balance, as he made his way to where Alpha was.
“Come on, Alpha. How am I gonna get my parents to pay. I’m just a kid,” Horatio pleaded.
“Oh, come on H-Man,” Alpha said in a condescending tone, mocking his nickname. “I know your broke ass can’t pay. That’s why we’re here in the first place. And I wasn’t expecting you to; you don’t make money, do you? Of course, you don’t. Maybe when you come home, and your parents see their little boy all bruised up, they’ll realise its not smart to miss their payments.”
Alpha shook Horatio for emphasis and he was like a ragdoll in his hands, defenceless. At this point Isaac knew he couldn’t stand back any longer. He walked up behind the brute and called out to him.
***** off, kid.”
“We’re in the same grade actually,” Isaac said, sporting a sly grin on his face.
Alpha let go of Horatio. He dropped onto the floor of the bus, making the sound of a wet sandbag. Alpha turned to Isaac and stared him down. Despite the calm expression on his face, Isaac was secretly scared ********. If he didn’t play this right, it could end up with both him and Horatio eating out of straws for a while
“What. Do. You. Want, kid”
“Well, firstly I’d like you to leave my good ol’ bud Horatio alone. An’ I was hoping you’d maybe take a seat and, you know, chill out.”
“Now, why would I ever listen to you.”
“I’ll tell you why… Alfonso. Jada – “
Isaac never finished his sentence. Alpha had a large paw around Isaac’s throat and held him in a vice-like grip.
“See, I had no problem with you. This isn’t me just tormenting a random kid for nothing. I have a legitimate reason to be here.” As Alpha continued to talk, he gradually increased the pressure on Isaac, causing him to choke and gag. “And whilst I’m trying to conduct business, you come here and start getting all mouthy with me. Who even told you my real name?”
“Your… kaff kaff… Your mum.”
Isaac’s mind started racing. He could feel his air dwindling as Alpha continued choking. He needed to escape. He glanced around quickly, hoping someone would come to his aid. But nobody was willing to challenge Alpha, especially if it meant this. Isaac looked everywhere, trying to find a weakness he could exploit. And then an idea formed in his head.
Isaac swung his leg back, and then brought it up between Alpha’s legs. The effect was instant. Alpha released Isaac and cradled his manhood. Isaac wheezed and groaned, grateful for the air flowing into his lungs. But his worries weren’t over yet. Alpha was rising to his feet, quicker than he had anticipated.
He looked Isaac in the eye, striking fear into his heart. “You’re a dead man,” Alpha said. He clenched his meat-slab fist and drew it back.
Right before he was about to strike, a voice yelled out, “STOP!” Jada stepped in front of Isaac and Alpha instantly stopped the swing. “Stop it Al, just stop, there’s no need for this.”
“C’mon Jadeycakes, get out the way and let me handle my business.”
“NO ALPHA! Not everything is solved by violence. Jeez, why can’t your big black ass get that. Nothing gets solved by smashing someone’s ******* head in!” Isaac had never seen Jada like this. She was ablaze.
“C’mon babe…” Alpha pleaded.
“No, just stop. Sit down or get off,” Jada said, the finality in her voice was unmistakable.
Alpha took the cues instantly. He nudged past Isaac and walked to the front of the bus, spoke briefly to the driver. The driver instantly pulled over, even without the bus stop, and let Alpha off.
A small cheer went around the bus and people started talking about the spectacle had just unfolded in front of them. Alpha had been humiliated in front of everyone. Alpha!
Jada stomped back to her seat. She was upset and annoyed by the whole affair. Isaac stood in place for a second, his thoughts all wild and uncoordinated.
THAT just happened. I just challenged Alpha. And WON. Jada saved me. Saved by a girl. Who cares. I saved Horatio. Does that make me some sort of hero now? I actually won.
Isaac then looked down at Horatio. He was looking up at Isaac, awestruck. He jumped up before Isaac could offer him a hand, and embraced him in a hug.
“Thank you so much man. I don’t know what I would’ve done without you.” Horatio then turned towards the other people sitting on the bus. “ Y’know, your all special types of ********. Only he came to my aid, and you all sat there on your fat butts.”
Everyone instantly went quiet and soon turned their conversations to other matters. The atmosphere soon became awkward between the two, who stood in the middle of the isle.
“Thanks again man,” Horatio beamed. “ would be a cripple if it wasn’t for you.”
“It’s ok H-Man,” replied Isaac. “ My question is, why was he harassing you in the first place.”
Horatio’s smile soon dissolved and his ****** expression became more sombre. “You promise that this stays between us?”
“And Jada too?” Isaac pleaded.
“Fine then, her too, but promise me.”
“Cross my heart.”
“Ok, I’ll tell you tomorrow.”
“What? That makes no sense, just say now.”
“No. Everybody is secretly paying attention to this conversation. You go back to your seat and I’ll text it to you.”
Isaac looked around and saw people secretly looking in his direction and lowering their voices to hear what was being said. He left Horatio to sit down and went back to the front of the bus where Jada was obviously still not in a great mood.
“You let him call you Jadeycakes?” Isaac said, stifling a laugh.
“Oh shut it Izzy.” Jada feigned anger but a smile was creeping up her face. She tried to hide it by looking away from Isaac and out the window.
“Ok… Jadeycakes.” Isaac immediately broke down into a fit of giggles and soon after Jada joined him.
“It really is a bad name isn’t it,” Jada said, beaming from ear to ear.
“It’s cheesy but it’s cute. I think I’m gonna start using it for you. How about that Jadeycakes?” Isaac said with a sly grin.
“You know what Izzy, I think I like it.” Jada gave Isaac another one of her signature smiles and his insides melted. There was just something about her that drew him too her in ways he couldn’t describe.
He put his left arm around her and she leaned into his chest, closing her eyes and relaxing. They stayed that way until it was time for Jada to get off at Jackson Heights. As she said goodbye and got off, Horatio, who also lived in the area quickly told Isaac to check his messages. As Isaac turned on his iPhone and saw the message Horatio sent him, everything that Alpha said started to make sense and soon he realised that Horatio and his family were in much more danger than they realised.
Soon afterwards Isaac received a news alert that he found mildly interesting:
METEOR SIGHTINGS REPORTED IN NEW YORK STATE AREA, SCIENTISTS SAY THEY COULD POSSIBLY BE RADIOACTIVE.
Hmm, thought Isaac. Sounds like a sci-fi novel.