- Author: Jakob Tanner
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To my mom and dad, who have encouraged and supported me in everything that I’ve done.
Special Thanks to:
Angela Marshall for assistance in so many things.
Markus Liik for legal advice.
Rein Naylor for medical insights.
Andrew Smith for sage wisdom.
Thanks to my beta readers and their amazing feedback:
This book wouldn’t be what it is today without you guys!
Max watched the clock as the hour hand struck three. The school bell rang and students pushed their seats out from their desks. Idle chatter surrounded him, but he ignored it all. It was time to leave and he didn’t have a second to waste.
He lifted his wrists off the armrests of his wheelchair and slowly moved himself out from his desk. Even the simple gesture of rolling his wheels to move backwards was enough to make him wince with pain.
The other students in the classroom paid no attention to him. Some were gossiping in the corner, while others were enquiring about extra credit assignments with the teacher.
Max was grateful for their lack of concern. As a person with a disability, people generally only interacted with him in one of two ways: he was either willfully ignored or pitied. He’d take being invisible over pitied any day of the week.
Max exited into the hall. He looked cautiously up and down the corridor. It was flooded with students, gathering their stuff and hanging out by the lockers. He saw no sign of Seth and his pals.
Maybe today’s my lucky day, he thought.
Max’s own locker was only around the corner, but he knew to take the long way round.
He pushed himself forward, rolling the wheels of his chair. He winced with every push. The bruises on his arm ached every time he moved them.
He turned the corner into a near empty hall, when a voice snarled behind him.
“Where do you think you’re going?”
It was Seth.
“Where you going Maxie-pad? Your locker is the other way.”
The other students in the hall quickly gathered their stuff. They knew just as much as Max did: Seth was trouble.
He had been suspended more times than anyone else in the history of the school and the only reason he wasn’t expelled was because his dad worked for the mayor’s office.
Even still, some of the nearby students hesitated. They didn’t want to pick a fight with Seth, but it was clear on their faces that they thought bullying a kid in a wheelchair was perhaps a step too far.
“Don’t worry about me,” said Max, mustering a smile for the nearby students. “You can leave. It’s all fine here.”
They weren’t going to be able to help him, Max figured, so he’d rather them walk away scot-free than let them get a target on their back like he had.
The students nodded and hurried away.
Max still hadn’t even turned around to face Seth.
Maybe if I ignore him, he’ll leave me alone, Max thought.
He pushed himself forward down the hall.
Two shadows emerged. Two of Seth’s goons stepped into the hall at the other end.
“What? You thought you could just ignore me, Max? Run away? Oh that’s right—you can’t, can you?”
Seth’s goons snickered at the dumb joke.
Max looked around the hall. There wasn’t a teacher in sight. Even if there was—they’d be no help to him. They’d ignore them, not wanting to get in trouble with a powerful man like Seth’s father.
Max took a second to assess the situation. He knew the best form of self-defense for a wheelchair user was to get the heck out of there. To not fight at all.
Escape was no longer an option though.
He’d try negotiation.
Max spun around on his wheelchair to face Seth.
The tall boy stood with his arms crossed and a patronizing smirk stretched across his face.
“What do you want?” said Max, keeping his voice calm.
“What do I want?” snickered Seth, taking a step towards him. “What—are you some kind of hostage negotiator now, Max?”
The boy took another step towards him, the clap of his shoes echoing across the hall.
“You know exactly what I want,” snarled the boy. “I want to see you cry and whimper on the ground like the little bitch that you are.”
“Tell him, Seth,” said the goons behind Max.
He could tell by their voices that they were coming towards him now as well.
Negotiation was out the window then.
With all his strength, he angled and swerved his wheelchair to maneuver around Seth, but the boy just jumped in front of him.
“There’s no getting away from your daily treatment,” snickered Seth. “Maybe it will help you walk again.”
The boy grabbed Max by his shaggy red hair and yanked him off of his wheelchair and threw his body to the ground.
They kicked him and stomped on him as he lay there helplessly on the ground.
“Take your treatment,” they laughed.
Max closed his tear-strewn eyes and let the beating take over.
They wouldn’t stop until they thought he couldn’t take any more. The best thing he could do now was let them have their sick sadistic fun and