Gordon Simmons slammed into his locker.
"Ow! What the hell?", he struggled to shout with his face pressed against the cold blue metal.
"Man, Gordo! Your locker stinks worse than you do!", chastised the bully.
Judging by the voice, Gordon could tell it was Jordan Merrick. Jordan was always a dick, but for some reason he seemed to target Gordon specifically this year. However, he did have a point about the smell emanating from the locker. The rancidness hung in the air and made him gag a little.
Jordon gave another shove before backing off. He crinkled his nose and looked Gordon up and down, then left while flicking him off on his way down the corridor.
Gordon composed himself, smoothed out his old oxford button-down shirt and tried, unsuccessfully, to flatten out his ratty brown curls. He tried to take a calming breath, but choked on the stench. After he finished sputtering, he covered his nose with the collar of his shirt while working the locker combination with his free hand. With a click the door swung open. He began examining the inside of his locker apprehensively. His math and history textbooks were on the top shelf where he left them. He looked in the larger bottom section, thinking that something from an old lunch had fallen out of his bag and gotten lost. He dug through old homework marked with average grades and gaming magazines, but nothing was to be found. The source of the smell had to be coming from the top shelf. Gordon pulled his history book down and immediately jumped back in alarm, almost bowling over Erica Burrows.
"Watch what you're doing, you ass!", Erica spat with venom. The normally bustling hallway became silent as students stopped and stared wide-eyed at Gordon in all of his awkwardness.
"S-sorry", he stuttered while rubbing his neck, head hung with shame.
Erica made a sound of contempt, rolled her eyes and stormed off. He stood in the middle of the hall which was once again filled with the noise of busy teens. With chagrin, he moved towards his locker again. I can't believe I almost knocked over Erica Burrows..., he thought. Gordon had a "thing" for Erica since middle school. It seemed like every year his popularity would regress and so would his chances at ever being with his dream girl. His dream girl with beautiful flowing blond hair, a stunning smile, great figure and great big perfect ti-
"Gordon!" He snapped out of his daydream. It was Ryan Turley, his best friend since second grade, and "World of Warcraft" companion since seventh. "Yo! Gordon! Come back to reality!"
Gordon shook his head, "Sorry. It's been an interesting day."
Ryan stepped between him and his locker, "What the hell was that?", he furrowed his unibrow and sniffed, "And what the hell is that smell?"
Gordon looked over his friend's head to the face staring out from the top shelf of the locker through empty eyes. Cringing, he motioned for Ryan to look.
"Woah! That's pretty creepy.", Ryan said stating the obvious, "Is that what smells?"
"Yeah. I think someone slipped that mask into my locker somehow and put something on it to make it stink."
"They did a pretty good job. It smells like a dumpster full of 3 month old meat. How did they get it in there?"
Shrugging, Gordon reached over Ryan and pinched the tip of the mask between his thumb and forefinger, accidentally brushing against Ryan's head.
"Hey, watch the hair!"
"Why? You got a date or something?", Gordon chuckled as his friend ran his fingers through his red-haired bowl cut. Ryan twisted his freckled face into a sneer, making his buck teeth protrude more than usual. Patting his pal on the back, Gordon walked to the nearest waste bin and tossed the face inside.
Later that night while at home, Gordon sat in the blue La-Z-Boy recliner facing the TV. Around 10:00 pm not much was ever on except the local news. He sighed and watched as the anchor woman droned on about Halloween coming up and how to be safe while trick-or-treating.
A minute later, the reporter had caught his full attention with a missing persons report. "A local boy from East Mayfield High has been reported missing. Cameron Jenkins is a junior at the school. He is approximately five feet, seven inches, has short brown hair and usually wears glasses. If you have any knowledge of Cameron's whereabouts, please contact the local police."
Gordon recognized the name. He took algebra with the guy. They never really talked to each other, but it was a little disturbing to hear the news. He shook his head, putting the missing classmate out of his mind. Disappointed with the late night entertainment selection, he turned off the picture and went to bed.
The next day, there was hallway chatter of not only the missing student, but also a teacher who had peculiarly stopped showing up for school without notice about a week ago. Rumors flooded the classrooms about how the teacher might have abducted Cameron, but Gordon figured that was probably made up nonsense. However, his head churned with his own concoction of possible scenarios while he spaced out in front of his locker before lunch.
"Whats up!", Gordon startled as Ryan greeted him cheerily.
"What's got you so chipper?", he asked Ryan only half curious.
"Nothing much. I had a good night last night."
"Ah. The date went well then?,"Gordon chuckled.
"It did actually", Ryan replied, "I think I'm going to go on another one."
Gordon placed his books in his locker before heading towards the cafeteria, walking beside his friend and arguing that the school's chicken salad was much worse than their lasagna.
Over the course of the week, the strange disappearances continued. Brad Tillman (a freshman member of the student government), Monica Gayle (one of the lunch-ladies), Robert Ortiz (backup quarterback for the varsity football team) - just some of the missing. By Friday, the entire school was in a state of quiet panic. Some parents were starting to keep their children home and talks began of shutting down the school. The campus was crawling with police looking for clues or anything suspicious.
During second period, Gordon and Ryan sat next to each other both looking equally jaded of their instructor's tiresome voice and chalk tapping on the blackboard. Out of the corner of his eye, Gordon noticed Ryan's red head perk up, peering outside. Intrigued, Gordon craned his neck to look through the window too. Ryan jumped up and leaned closer to the window.
"Mr. Turley, what do you think you're doing?", asked the obviously irritated history teacher.
"It's Brad Tillman!", Ryan exclaimed as he pointed outside.
Everyone rushed to the windows, pressing up against the glass to get a better view. Even "Mr. Monotone", the instructor, jockeyed for position to see the unfolding event. Sure enough, it was Brad looking disheveled, but seemingly unharmed, walking out of the nearby woods to the West. One of the cops roaming outside finally noticed the once missing student and sprinted to him. He put an arm around Brad and helped him towards the school building with haste. After a few minutes of being unable to see more of what was happening, the lesson resumed, but no one concentrated on it.