Jeremiah graduated from middle school. It wasn’t a grand achievement other than that it meant he had seen no more monsters. Even so, they were never, at this point, far from his mind. Why had he seen them? Were they coming back? Where did they come from? Where did they come from!
His two best friends, when he tried to talk to them about seeing the monsters, thought he was making it all up. Everyone knew he’d been sent to Stepping Stones because he’d kicked a teacher in the face and sent her to the hospital, so his friends didn’t believe him when he told them he’d been trying to get away from a monster and hadn’t meant to kick the teacher. They thought it was some kind of cover story and were impressed that he wouldn’t tell them what really happened. They would say things about how great it would be that he would never break when questioned by cops, something that made him very uncomfortable.
Talking about it with them did make him wonder…
Had his teacher somehow been the monster? Had the mailman been the monster he’d seen in front of his house? But what about all the slug creatures in the classroom? Not everyone could be a monster. Could they?
All he had were questions.
The worst of which, despite the fact that he believed in the monsters or, maybe, because of that fact, was whether all of it was even real? Was something wrong with him?
Moving on to high school was difficult. He was being moved back to his district high school since he had been, what was considered at Stepping Stones, a model student, which meant he had not been in any fights that he had started or exacerbated. And he made good grades. Straight As, in fact, not that that had been difficult for him. It’s not like the work had been challenging.
His best friends, though, were staying at “the Stones.” He didn’t want to be separated from them and, occasionally, considered faking a monster episode so that he would have to stay. But he knew how important it was to his mother that he return to “normal” school, so that’s what he did.
It would mean he would finally get to take a computer class, and he was excited about that. He felt, achingly, the absence of computers in his life. He didn’t even have his own phone, and his mother’s laptop was ancient and generally off limits anyway. The lack of a phone was another thing that got him picked on a lot. Bullied. Because everyone knew he had no way to call for help. It was another thing that cemented him to his friends, something he’d learned almost right away. Don’t be without someone who had a phone.
And he wasn’t going to know anyone at this new school, Carver High.