Jeremy, aka Chode-Lick, decided he’d had enough. It was time to act. No more graffiti on his locker. No more being tripped in the hall. No more girls laughing at fake Facebook profiles of him. No more Dennis taking away his Playstation or hitting him when he forgot to mow the yard. No more any of it. Those days were over.
Jeremy’s grandfather, aka World’s Greatest, was a hunter back before he broke his hip; before he was consigned to a cheap nursing home hundreds of miles away and forgotten by his three remaining children; before he died covered in bruises and bedsores. When Jeremy was a young boy, Grandpa Hank used to talk about the need to cull the herd.
“It’s the responsible thing to do,” he would say. “Animal populations can get out of control, and become destructive. It’s our job as humans to make sure that doesn’t happen, both for our sake and theirs.”
So Jeremy made a list.
1. Dennis 11. Christopher Cummings
2. Patrick Chandler 12. Jordan Mercier
3. Justin Foster 13. Brian Burgweger
4. Sam Brookens 14. Coach Johnsten
5. Mason Starns 15. Ms. Linares
6. Jennifer Kelley 16. Nathan DuMont
7. Emily Alves 17. Erik Perez
8. Carmen Jimenez 18. Rebecca Bieler
9. Mr. McCann 19. Zoe Rydell
10. Mrs. Bavery 20. Kristen Grayson
Though he hoped to cross every name off the list, Jeremy, aka Fuck-Tard, knew it was unlikely to achieve a 100% success rate. Even if he was able to get them all in one room together, say at lunchtime in the cafeteria, at least one would survive. The Law of Probabilities was clear. So he set a goal of 85%. Seventeen names. A solid “B”. Not his best grade, but good enough. He folded the list, stuck it in his book bag and got in bed, anxious for the coming day.
That night he dreamt he was a young boy hunting deer with his grandfather in a maze of reaped cornfields, the broken stalks sticking out of the furrowed ground like an endless pattern of forgotten bones. The biting wind nipped his ears and nose, watered his eyes. His grandfather pointed to the horizon. Two figures stood set against the steel gray sky. “The one on the left,” his grandfather said. “Leave the other one be, it’s just a nubbin buck.” Jeremy lifted his rifle, took aim and pulled the trigger. Both bodies dropped. The sound of the gunshot echoing off the bordering oak trees was quickly replaced by deep, shrill cries, like those of a colicky child. Jeremy and his grandfather approached and saw a doe, lying on her side, bloodied, a bullet through her chest. Next to her was a fawn, the tips of its velvety antlers having barely broken the skin. A bullet had shattered its leg. It laid there, looking to its fallen mother for help, crying in the cruel winter wind.
“I told you not to shoot that one,” his grandfather said. “It’s just a baby.”
“I didn’t mean to,” Jeremy said, frightened and confused. “It was an accident.” Tears welled in his eyes. Feelings of sorrow and regret.
“Now you have to put it out of its misery,” his grandfather said as he unsheathed a six inch blade from his belt.
The young boy turned and ran, tripping over large clods of dirt as he fled, hands covering his ears to stifle the injured fawn’s cries.
Jeremy, aka Gape Queen, woke safely in his bed, a film of sweat blanketing his entire body. Images of the deer played in his mind, lingering like a scenes from a movie. He went to the kitchen for a glass of water and discovered Dennis, aka King Asshole, watching porn in the living room.
“Get to bed, you little prick!”
Before falling back asleep, Jeremy found himself thinking of his father, aka Super Dad, killed in a motorcycle accident at the age of 35. He remembered his father telling him that a person needed something in life to fight for. Jeremy hadn’t found that something, so he decided to settle for something to fight against. It wasn’t fair that God had taken his father from him, while leaving people like Dennis, Patrick Chandler and Jennifer Kelley to live out their lives without a care in the world, stepping on whoever they chose along the way. It wasn’t fair, and he needed to do something about it.
Jeremy’s mother, aka Mrs. Vodka Tonic, was still at work the following morning when Jeremy, aka Little Shit, went into Dennis’ closet and grabbed a 9mm Beretta. He walked up to his stepfather sleeping soundly in his favorite chair, aimed and pulled the trigger.
The rush of adrenaline was both overwhelming and soothing. There was no going back now. Jeremy took one last look at the body, loaded his backpack with ammunition and drove to school in Dennis’ prized Camaro.
First period had already started, the hallways empty except for a couple of freshman stragglers. Jeremy, aka Captain Blumpkin, strolled past the office and walked straight to Mr. McCann’s classroom. The initial plan was to wait until lunchtime – until the herd was at its greatest number, thereby increasing his chances for an 85% kill rate. That was the initial plan, but anticipation had gotten the better of him.
“Oh, Mr. Malone, thank you for gracing us with your presence today. I expect that you have a hall pass.”
“Quiet down. I don’t want any talk like…” Before Mr. McCann could finish his sentence, a bullet ripped through his glasses and out the back of his head.
Blood and brain and shards of bone spattered the faces of those in the front row. Some students screamed. Others sat there like porcelain figurines; eyes wide, mouths ajar. Jeremy, aka Troubled Youth, scanned the room. There they were, sitting together as usual, all part of the same loathsome clique. He approached with a stoic stride, the protagonist of his very own interactive game. The three cowered before him, pleading for their lives. He fired seven more shots and exited the classroom.
Jeremy marched across the hallway without any delay. Mrs. Barth, the school’s AP History teacher, met him at the door.
“What’s going on?” she said. “What was that noise?”
She wasn’t on the list, so he ordered her back into the classroom. When she refused, he raised the weapon and pulled the trigger. Her body fell to the ground with a dull thud. Collateral damage. A girl screamed, then another. A boy yelled for everyone to get down. Jeremy, aka Lone Gunman, scanned the room for two names on the list. Every day, after bearing the brunt of Patrick, Sam and Emily’s first period jokes and taunts, he had to worry about seeing Justin and Christopher in the hallway; about having them harass him all the way to his locker; about hearing their harsh words. No more. He walked to where they were crouched under desks, aimed and fired two shots each.
Teachers and students were in the hallway now, some hiding behind doors, others running for the exits. Jeremy, aka Teenage Sociopath, looked around, his thoughts muddled, heart racing, undecided as to what steps to take next. He tried to think of the other names on the list, but for some reason his mind drew a blank. Then he remembered No. 10 Mrs. Bavery. She’d given him a “D” last semester after finding a cheat sheet under his desk the day of their final. The girl sitting behind him, No. 6 Jennifer Kelley, claimed to have seen it drop out his pocket, making him a scapegoat for her own misconduct. No more.
Jeremy, aka Cold Blooded Killer, made his way through the halls in haste, threatening anyone who dared try to impede his mission. He passed Mr. Hackbart’s sociology class, turned the corner and there she was, No. 6 Jennifer Kelley, as if fate had put her there so that she might suffer his retribution. She was with another girl, some ten yards away, running in the opposite direction towards the gymnasium. He aimed the 9mm Beretta and fired in rapid succession. Both bodies dropped.
The sound of the gunshot echoing off the concrete walls was quickly replaced by heavy, garbled breathing. He approached cautiously and saw his target, lying on her side, bloodied, a bullet through her chest. She was dead.
Next to her lay Victoria Schulman, aka, The Only Girl Who Had Ever Been Nice To Him. Blood was bubbling from her mouth, her eyes wide open, body shaking, two bullets having passed through her lungs and exited her chest. She struggled to breath. Jeremy, aka Deranged Psychopath, knelt down next to her. He touched her hand, remembering the time she told Patrick Chandler and Justin Foster they were insecure bullies; the time she asked him if he was okay after having been pelted with water balloons; the time she told him it would all be better someday. He thought of the fawn crying for help, suffering from his actions. Tears welled in his eyes. Feelings of sorrow and regret. Victoria stared up at him. He knew what had to be done.
“I’m sorry, Vicky. I’m so sorry. Please forgive me.”
Jeremy turned his head and pulled the trigger. Then, without any hesitation, he put the warm barrel of the gun under his chin.