Lucky ignored the growls and torments of his fellow students as he strode down the hall, his bag swung lazily over his shoulder.
The word ‘students’ wasn’t right. It was like trying to jam a puzzle piece into the wrong space. Lucky thought of them as inmates. Or maybe animals locked up in a zoo, growing wilder and wilder as they thrashed around in their confines, trying to break free. Now, Lucky was one of those animals.
He wouldn’t exactly define himself as a grizzly bear or a vicious lion, lurking behind its prey, ready to leap forward and sink its claws deep into the unsuspecting victim’s throat. He was gentler, kinder and more relaxed. But if he was the prey, then he would fight back.
His sharp silver orbs trailed across the animals’ faces curiously. They were all stony eyed, smirking beasts, licking their lips as they watched a brand new victim wander straight into their trap. Shaven heads, rolled up sleeves, tattoos and DIY piercings defined the boys. If you looked close enough, the details would tell you exactly who they were. If their face was bruised, they were weak. If their knuckles were bruised, they were dangerous.
The contrast between Lucky and the other boys was striking. Lucky was sporting tousled blue hair, sticking up in all directions as if he’d never left his bed. His features were soft and delicate, his button nose speckled with small freckles, his grey eyes cold but welcoming. He was fairly short with a small frame and narrow shoulders. The perfect, vulnerable target.
Though most boys entering Oakleaf marched through the halls with an unbreakable mask of emotionless nonchalance, that wasn’t Lucky’s style. They did it to look tough in an attempt to ward off any unwanted attention. But those masks were transparent and flimsy and it was crystal clear every time that they were shitting themselves. But Lucky walked through those halls like he owned them and the reason he could pull off the perfect act of confidence? He wasn’t acting.
When he reached room 112 he banged on the door was a clenched fist. Mr Welding had directed him here and after offering some guidance, Lucky insisted he’d find the room himself. He wasn’t an idiot. He wasn’t going to go strolling around the halls with the headteacher hot on his tail. That was suicide. He might as well pin a target to his back.
After a short couple of seconds, Lucky lost his thin patience and grabbed the doorknob, twisting roughly as he stormed into the room unannounced.
“Hey, what the fuck, dude!”
Sebastian Steel had been warned about receiving a new roommate. His last one had gotten into a savage fight in the middle of the canteen after being accused of selling someone baking powder, under the illusion that it was coke. Of course, he wasn’t expelled. No one ever got expelled for merely fighting; that was just a daily routine around here. In fact, kids rarely got expelled at all. Because if Oakleaf Academy wouldn’t take them, no one would.
His roommate had been dragged out by his Mum the following day, claiming she no longer wanted her son in this ‘environment’. It was pathetic, what did she think this was? Summer camp? No one comes here out of choice, they come out of consequences. Consequences for shitty actions and a lack of remorse.
Sebastian was told his roommate would arrive this afternoon, not in the middle of his workout. He was currently shirtless, his rippling abs glistening with sweat and rolling in small droplets down his thick, muscly biceps. He’d been alternating between push ups and pull ups with the aid of the bunkbed frame.
Lucky rose his brows, his eyes rolling over the tall boy’s body before a smirk edged its way onto his lips, “Am I interrupting something?”
“You don’t just barge into people’s rooms like that, you wanker.” Sebastian hissed, his chocolate eyes darkening angrily as he yanked a black wife-beater shirt over his toned torso. The material clung to his built chest, sculpting his six pack perfectly.
Lucky rose his hands in surrender, trying to suppress an amused smile, “I’m your roommate.”
“I don’t care if you’re fucking Obama, you knock, understand?”
“I did knock.” Lucky contradicted, tossing his bag onto the ground. “You were obviously too busy getting off to a photo of yourself to hear—”
Lucky was cut off abruptly when Sebastian grabbed a handful of his collar and slammed him against the wall forcefully. He towered over the blue haired newbie, his eyes burning with rage as curls of chestnut locks fell over his olive skin. “You better keep that mouth shut if you want any chance of surviving this place.” He hissed menacingly.
Lucky refused to break eye contact, looking entirely unfazed by the interaction. Physically, he was weak and defenceless but mentally, he’d never back down. “You don’t scare me.” He whispered sweetly.
Sebastian growled, pushing him further up against the wall, Lucky’s back starting to ache from the pressure. “Well, I should.” He whispered back. “You don’t think I see dozens of kids like you every fucking day, thinking they’re somehow immune to everything? You know what happens to those arrogant little bastards?”
Lucky clenched his jaw tightly, trying to squirm his way out of Sebastian’s grip, but he wouldn’t budge. “Let me go.” He demanded through gritted teeth.
“You gonna be a good little newbie?” He ordered patronisingly.
“Hey, fuck you.” Lucky spat, shoving Sebastian’s chest as he finally loosened his grip. Sebastian just rolled his eyes, pulling back in disinterest. Lucky gathered himself up quickly, fishing the crumpled sheet he’d been given out of his pocket and smoothing it out, “So, you’re Sebastian—?”
“It’s Steel.” He snapped. “I swear to god, if I ever hear you call me Sebastian, I will slit your fucking throat.”
Lucky didn’t even flinch, merely shrugged in acknowledgement as he glanced around, trying to grab a proper view of the dorm. It was small, like a box. It reminded Lucky of a room in a doll house, so simple and bland, yet perfectly set out. There was a small frosted window with bars caging them in, leaving a gap just big enough to open and close it. A set of bunk beds were pressed up against one dirty, beige wall, a chest of drawers pressed up against the other. Aside from that, the only other feature was a little bathroom trailing off in the corner, hosting nothing but a sink and toilet. Showers were communal down the hall.
“I’m Lucky.” He mumbled, glancing between the bunkbeds curiously. He noted that Steel was perched on the bottom one, his covers messy and slept in, clothes strewn across the sheets. He deduced that the top one was his and threw his bag up clumsily.
Steel scoffed, “First of all, I don’t care. Second of all, what type of bullshit name is that?”
“It’s a nickname.” Lucky corrected bitterly.
“What, Lucky? What’d you do, find an extra Twix bar in the wrapper?”
“Ran from the cops six times and was only caught once.” He shot back smoothly as he started stuffing his clothes into his side of the dresser.
“So, that’s why you’re so confident? You plan to just run away whenever someone smells fear and decides to play with their food?” He snorted, “Not gonna work, Blue.”
The two didn’t talk much after that. Sebastian had a shower and rolled over, falling straight asleep. Lucky was exhausted, but stayed awake a while longer, trying to work out the dynamics of his and his new roommate’s relationship. He concluded that the pair would never exactly be best mates, but wondered whether Steel would ever warm up to him.
Maybe he was scared. A little.
But across the hall, down the stairs and out onto the football pitch, two boys were far from sleep. They were perched on the bleachers, cigarettes resting between their frozen lips, fingers trembling from the harsh bite of the British weather. A thin layer of mist rolled about at their feet, the flood lights spilling inky orange rays onto the deserted pitch, cutting through the thick darkness.
“You’re all talk, no action, Diesel.”
He waved him off, “Have a little positivity, Starr.”
“You’re being an idiot.” He snorted, blowing out a large puff of smoke, watching with glossy, eyes as it rolled around, fogging the crisp night’s air.
Quinn and Diesel had been friends ever since they entered the school. The teachers didn’t like it. Building up alliances at Oakleaf was natural - it was the only way to survive in here. But when people were actually friends, it was dangerous. And rare.
The boys’ appearances contrasted greatly, from bruised fists to long lashes. While Quinn was lean and thin, Diesel was tall and muscly.
Quinn Starr’s big eyes were coloured a murky shade somewhere between bright blue and sharp green, his iris’ swimming with golden specks and twirls of colour. His dark, heavy lashes were long and thick, highlighting his wide eyes and childlike appearance. Quinn’s face was almost feminine with high cheekbones and naturally light pink lips, his short, dirty bond hair looking effortlessly styled and tamed. Like everyone else, his uniform was always scruffy, his tie loose and shirt untucked on a daily basis.
His best friend’s demeanour was shifted more towards the typical ‘bad boy’ style. Diesel sported tight abs, bulging biceps and heavy muscles up and down his body and an array of piercings. His right ear was lined with rings along his cartilage, while his left ear had two studs glinting in his lobe. His uniform was the messiest anyone had ever seen. Ripped cuffs, untucked shirt, rolled up trousers and a missing tie. Over the two years Diesel had been here, he hadn’t worn a tie once. What really pissed the teacher off though, was his shoes. He refused to oblige with the strict rule about school shoes and wore dr martens boots every day of the week.
But by far the most striking thing about Diesel’s appearance were his eyes. The left one was a deep shade of forest green, while the right one shone bright blue in contrast. His tousled jet black hair always lay as a dishevelled mess, the dark, raven locks providing a stark distinction between his glowing eyes. His fists were always stained purple with bruises, his knuckles wearing an assortment of rings. Some thought it was just a fashion statement. But the smart ones knew he wore them because it won him fights. The jagged rings were perfect for bloodying up his victims and ripping into their flesh as he clocked them.
“The prick’s always looking at me funny! If I could just get him alone so I can wrap my fingers around his neck and—”
“Pretty sure that’s murder.”
“Not if it was an accident.” Diesel snickered at the mere thought of squeezing the air out of the kid’s throat.
“How can you accidentally strangle someone?”
“I dunno.” He shrugged, pressing the end of his cigarette onto the metal bench and twisting it. It left behind a dark ashy mark before Diesel tossed it aside mindlessly. “Guess we’ll find out.”
And almost a hundred miles away, snuggled up in his bed with his eyes wide open and terrified, laid Benji. His mind was spinning, his stomach doing catapults from nerves. Tomorrow, his life would change forever. Because tomorrow, he’ll be thrown into a pit full of beasts and left to fend for himself. All he could do was close his eyes and beg not to be ripped into a million pieces.