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The Reversal

Ryan Krabbe


 

            Jacob was out of breath, but knew he couldn’t stop for more than a couple of seconds. He found a large tree the next backyard over and sat down on the grass for a second. In the background he heard the seniors’ voices.  

            “Which way did he go?”

            “I think he went behind that white house down the street.” Those voices signaled that it was time for Jacob to get up and try to think of another plan on how to lose these kids.  

            “Why do they always pick on me?” he thought, “I never do or say anything to them.” Jacob was a freshman at Stinson High School and a straight A student. Jacob valued his education and actually enjoyed going to school, it was coming home from school that he hated. He only lived five blocks from the school so his parents insisted that he walk.  He was real skinny and was only about 5’4, which didn’t make him a very formidable opponent in a fight. Jacob took chemistry with some of the seniors from the football team and was always showing them up by raising his hand to present the right answer when the older kids didn’t know. These weren’t the type of kids that enjoyed being embarrassed, especially by a freshman, so they just settled for beating Jacob up nearly every other day after school. Jacob always tried to run, but he was always caught.  

            He put an arm on the tree to help straighten his balance and started running through the empty field adjacent to the backyard. He looked over his shoulder and almost stumbled as he saw that the group of seniors had gained significant ground on him. He debated about just stopping and pleading with them.  Maybe if they thought he was pathetic enough they would leave him alone.  

            “No” he thought “I’ve tried that before, it never works.” Looking down he realized that both of his shoes were untied. “Maybe if I just get through this field they’ll give up, there has to be a limit on how bad they want to beat me up.” As he finished that thought he heard something from behind him  

            “We’re gonna get you no matter how long it takes you little geek!” That was Kurt, the ca ptain of the football team and the leader of their little hit squad. The other members just followed Kurt around and did whatever he told them to do.  

            Jacob continued to scramble through the field, but when he was about 20 meters from the end of it he tripped over a rock hidden amongst the brush and fell to the ground. The laughter from the seniors sounded even more sinister at the sight of this than usual as they gathered around him.  

            “You do realize you’re going to have to pay for making us run this far don’t you? We have practice in a half hour and we’re gonna be worn out for it.” Although he said this Kurt didn’t seem to be too upset at the moment. Two strong hands pulled Jacob roughly off the ground, then threw him back to the ground hard, ripping his shirt. Not more than a few moments after he landed on the ground a fist caught him square in the stomach, and then he got kicked hard on his thigh. “Hey guys we’d better head back, you know how pissed coach is when we’re late.” As remained on the ground and thought about the scene from earlier today that was the cause of this week’s beatings. 

            They had been in class and Kurt had gotten the answer wrong like he always did.  “So the atomic mass of cobalt is 59 and it has 27 protons, how many neutrons does it have?, Kurt?” Jacob remembered the voice of his teacher in class. 

            “ummm 27?” 

            “No I’m sorry that is incorrect, Jacob?, the teacher tried again” 

            “32, since the atomic mass equals the total protons and neutrons in the atom.” Jacob responded.

            “Yes, good answer, Kurt you are going to have to learn this soon, it will play a heavy role on the test next week. Why don’t you study with Jacob he seems to be understanding the material quite well.” After this statement by the teacher Jacob remembered looking over at Kurt who’s face was bright red. He didn’t mean to piss them off, wasn’t the point of school to learn and give correct answers? 

            Jacob had considered just not answering the questions in class anymore, but it was only for a year and these kids would be graduating.  Besides he felt that his grades were worth whatever he had to go through to get them.  Jacob wondered at times if the teacher ever realized the hardship that he went through from her allowing Kurt to get wrong answers every single day, but it was unlikely that she put any thought to it. 

            When he woke up it was nearly nightfall. He still hurt pretty bad and was in no mood to get up or even to move. All of a sudden he heard a faint voice that sounded like it was coming from right beside him.  

            “You know it’s too bad those kids are so mean to you, you don’t seem to pose any threat to them at all” Not looking and assuming it was an adult that was standing over him, he responded.

            “Yeah well not physically anyway, so what if I make them look like idiots in the class, it’s they’re fault they don’t study and they  drink all the time.”  

            “I think maybe I can help you with this problem,” the voice said. The voice sounded like it was coming from the ground instead of above him. Curious, Jacob groaned and turned over onto his side. There next to him on the ground was a small golden object with a long chain connected to it. It was a medallion of some form and before he could make out exactly what was on it, it started to glow and it said “If you wear me around your neck, the next time you have an encounter with those individuals I will protect you and give you great strength.  You will be incapable of feeling pain or receiving injury and you can do to them what they do to you.   

            The only thing Jacob could manage to utter was “Ummm Okay.” He half wondered if he was hallucinating, but he had taken many of these beatings before so he was sort of used to it by now.  He picked up the medallion and forced himself to get up and walk the rest of the way to his house. He knew his parents were going to be wondering where he was. 

            Letting his parents know about what happened to him after school every afternoon had always been an option worth considering, but he knew if he told them they would call the school.  That was the last thing he needed was to get the seniors in trouble.  If he made them any more irritated he felt that he just might not wake up from the next bout with them.  When he got home he tried to hold himself in the best manner possible and told his parents he stayed late studying.   

            Later that night around 8:30, his friend Shawn called him and wanted to know if he could come hang out for a bit. Shawn lived just down the street so Jacob didn’t have to have his parents drive him anywhere. Jacob didn’t think he was going to go at first, but then he remembered that his friend was big into history and might be able to shed some light on what this medal is.  

            Jacob showed Shawn the medal immediately when he got to his house. Shawn looked it over and saw that it had a picture of some form of structure on the front of it with a blank backside. Around the perimeter of the medal was an inscription of some kind, but in a language unreadable to both of them.  

            “I don’t know man it doesn’t look very familiar to me” Shawn told Jacob, “but let me go to my room I have a lot of books on ancient objects like this. I doubt I’ll find anything, but it’s worth a shot.”  They retreated to Shawn’s room and Jacob was amazed as he always was at how many books were in there. Bookcases lined the entire room with only enough space for Shawn’s computer and his bed. “It seems ancient enough to be either Egyptian or from somewhere in central/south America. Judging from the inscription it doesn’t appear to be Egyptian though. The letters look vaguely familiar though, let me check my ancient civilization texts.”  

            After about 15-20 minutes of searching it seemed that Shawn had found something. “It says here that the Mayans had some form of a ritual where they placed a spell on an item to infuse it with powers of protection. It doesn’t say anything about communication between man and the object though, maybe that is just part of the spell. That’s about all I can give you, man, I hope it helps. I doubt you have a magic relic or anything there, but if this thing is acting the way you say it is than maybe it is actually significant.”  

            Later, on the walk back to his house Jacob thought about the medal. Jacob doubted it was even near as important as what Shawn had suggested. Why would it be in the middle of a field? When he got home he put the medal out of his mind so he could concentrate on his school work. He didn’t get to bed that night until about 12:30. 

            Immediately upon waking up he heard a faint voice "Do not forget about me before your lessons today."  He didn’t know if he was still slightly dreaming or if he had actually heard something.  The pain from the fight yesterday was still heavily with him and he figured there could be no reason to not wear the medal.  Jacob put the medal around his neck and immediately his aches and pains started to subside. By the end of breakfast, all evidence that he been in a fight yesterday had disappeared. He had always been a morning person, but today he felt even more awake and alert than normal.  

            He started to think that there might be something to the medal and made sure during class to show up the seniors even more than normal.  Their teacher asked them a question about compounds and Kurt again got the answer wrong.  Jacob answered the question right and then said "You know Kurt I would be more than willing to help you out if you wanted to study later."  He didn't even look back at Kurt, he could almost hear the blood vessels popping from the front of class.    

            The bell rang signaling the end of class and Jacob took a nice leisurely pace on his walk home. He pulled the medal from under his shirt and considered it for a moment.  This had better work, he thought or I’m dead.  Somehow he was fairly confident that it would.  He hadn’t walked far before he heard the goons behind him.  

            “Hey you little brat, we’re not done with you yet. I don’t care how much of a pathetic know-it-all you are, no one makes us look like fools in class or outside of it.” Kurt yelled, confident as always.  Jacob decided to have some fun today.  

            “Well Kurt, maybe if that horrible offensive line of yours could provide you with some protection once and awhile, you wouldn’t take all those hits and you could actually remember something more worthwhile than the name of the girl that said no to you at last week’s party.” The four of them stopped in their tracks looking thunderstruck. The three bigger guys looked at Kurt for directions on what to do. Kurt was simply staring menacingly at Jacob, undoubtedly looking for which part of his body to pulverize first.  

            Apparently, coming to a conclusion he charged at Jacob and threw a punch to the middle of his chest. Jacob was pushed back a step or two, but felt no pain and a smile began to spread over his face.  

            “You should have left me alone Kurt” he said. Kurt threw another punch at him, but Jacob easily blocked it.  

            “What the hell is going on?” Kurt stammered trying to regain his balance as well as his composure. One of Kurt’s lackey’s spoke up in the background, “Come on Kurt, just hit the kid a few times and lets get out of here” “I’m trying, something’s going on here” Kurt complained.  

            Jacob was just standing there smiling at all of them delighted to see their normally cool attitudes thrown through a loop. Kurt took one last lunge at Jacob, but Jacob redirected Kurt’s shoulders past him and Kurt fell to the ground in a heap. Coughing, Kurt got back to his feet and stumbled over to his friends.  

            “Forget it, let’s just get the hell out of here,” he said. As Jacob watched the retreating seniors he pulled the medal out of his shirt and took a look at it. The shining bronze seemed to stare back at him and he could hear faint words being spoken to him. “You did a good job today Jacob, I’m proud of you. Those bullies will not bother you anymore I’m sure. Why don’t you place the medal somewhere to give someone else a chance at the kind of freedom you have gained for yourself.”   This time he knew for sure that the words were real and a bit of a smile crept over his face.   

            Jacob thought long and hard about where a good place would be to drop the medal so that the right person would find it. He knew that the bullies would often chase him under the bleachers of the football stadium (no doubt so they would be closer to practice and could beat him up longer). He went back to school and placed the medal under the stand for the next unlucky individual whose fortune would change upon finding it. 

            He took one last look and then continued on his walk home.  It was great not having to listen closely or look over his shoulder every few seconds.  Jacob was happier than he had been in a long time and he couldn’t wait to get home and tell Shawn that the medal was real.  Shawn would probably be mad that he didn't save it but Jacob knew that he had to let it go.

           



Acknowledgments:  I would like to thank Terry Heller and Chad Horner for listening to my story and correcting it.  I would also like to thank the Spring '05 Creative Writing class for reviewing my story and giving me many helpful suggestions.


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