It was his third visit to the inside of a locker in the month, Sinclair was getting rather accustomed to this.
For as long as he lived, Sin lived on borrowed time. Nothing he ever held was his. The day his mother left him, the debt started to chew away at him. The day his father died, it ate him whole.
You wouldn’t expect a person like that to be coming and going to school in brand cars and being escorted by bodyguards. To live in a house akin to a palace and eat food made by five-star chefs.
To further this, you wouldn’t expect that same person to be a shuttle.
He couldn’t read in the tiny space or do much of anything for the next two hours but it was by far the best torture method the thugs at Mora High School had lined up for him, it beat getting his head stuck in a trash bin or toilet. Every month they felt inspired to try something new on him.
They must have run out of inspiration because lockers?
‘Ha! That’s just quality time alone, you morons.’
The bag over his head had been a nice touch, though, he had to give them that, in the moment he thought he was going to end up someplace worse, certainly not the same locker he had been at two times before. They picked a bad day too, because it smelled generally nicer than usual. The janitor must have done some deep cleaning recently.
At least he was missing gym class, he’d miss lunch too but he never ate in the cafeteria anyway, that was just finding a way of having food ‘accidentally’ dumped on his head.
Sin really tried this time, to keep his head down. Attending a new school was a chance to find himself a new role that didn’t involve bruises or having insults hurled at him on a daily basis. By the end of his first week here, he genuinely thought he’d make it. Looking back, he couldn’t help laughing at himself.
He wasn’t a horrible person by any means but he also wasn’t a saint. He considered himself to be above decent, and any decent person would help a kid strapped to a pole, right? He was always good at climbing things so it wasn’t too hard. That damn kid began the reign of terror rained upon Sin known as Roan Keller. A decent person might have helped but a smart one would’ve looked away.
After all the hurdles, in fact, the decent thing for him to do was to be smart.
‘Sorry, buddy, better you than me!’
Sin sighed at himself for the thought, but there was no one around to hear it and if he was being honest, saving him simply wasn’t worth the trouble. The truth of the matter was only those with power had the agency to change something. While those without fumble at the bottom at their mercy.
Normally, helping the kid alone wouldn’t have been enough to land himself in the current predicament but Sin had this… uh problem, of not being good at diffusing situations.
The kid got selected as an Echo the next day and wasted no time moving to The Arena, a floating city where awakened people (or Echoes) lived and battled monsters. The city could be seen from anywhere in the world, it practically existed in a different realm and disobeyed any laws of sense. And so Sin was left to become the new shuttle. He fit the role after all, small, skinny, and a recent victim of Nyla’s tragic haircuts.
Except… he sucked at it.
Which gave him the side position of a punching bag, which he was moderately good at according to various reviews from his peers.
At the sound of fast-approaching voices, Sin perked up, it hadn’t even been a full hour, and he’d get out sooner than expected, and make it in time to eat the lunch in his bag. He was about to open his mouth to ask for help when he had a terrible realization.
‘Those voices… it couldn’t be. I mean they wouldn’t dare, would they?’
Confirming his suspicions, he leaned in, squinting his eyes to see through the slits in the locker, outside, there were half-naked girls in towels trickling in as they chatted amongst themselves.
Sin was in the girl’s locker room. That was why they bagged him! He silently applauded Roan for the rare stroke of genius he must have experienced. He was starting to think he wasn’t the smartest tool in the box but this proved that he had something reminiscent of a brain.
He looked just one more time to make sure. Smooth legs, wet long hair, breasts… yep, yep, it was the girl’s locker room, no shroud of doubt.
‘Okay, calm down, this isn’t your fault, I’ll just wait them out. They don’t have to know I am here.’
Sin managed to sufficiently talk himself out of a panic attack. But just as he got rid of the panic attack, a heart attack was coming for him next. He held his breath as two girls made their way to the locker he was in. They leaned by the side of it, talking in hushed voices. He pressed himself on the back and tried to tune the conversation out but a name jumped out at him.
“Have you heard from Tamara?” the blonde asked.
Sin listened closely.
“Not since last week,” the other one replied, her voice strained.
“I saved up some money, do you have your part?”
He couldn’t risk peeking when they were so close, but he assumed the other one nodded.
“Good. Give it to me tomorrow, only one of us should deliver it, we shouldn’t risk us both going.”
They walked off after that, Sin exhaled, that was as close to a near-death experience as he had ever gotten.
‘Let’s hope that’s the last of that.’
In a strange turn of events, though, after three months of no real headway, he stumbled upon a clue about Tamara’s whereabouts.
Tamara was a girl in his class who stopped attending all of a sudden, a week later the police interviewed all of her acquaintances and friends but no one knew anything. Sin wasn’t interviewed but he paid close attention to the investigation. Why hadn’t the girls talked to the police? If he remembered correctly, the three of them always hung out together. When the news of her disappearance hit, everyone assumed she was taken.
But what if she ran? He had to get home and tell—Sin didn’t get to finish his thought, there was a pitched scream startling him.
Sin inched closer to the slits, trying to figure out what was going on, but all he saw was black as if there was something pressed against it.
The next thing he knew, he was sprawled on the ground. The locker door had swung open suddenly. As Sin groaned and blinked his eyes open, he found himself surrounded by a dozen girls with a glint of murder in their eyes.
“I can explain…” he said lamely.