We had started calling “that place” something else. It was now “No-Man’s Land.” Kev made up the name. “We’re the No-men. This is our place, our power.” He said and it was undisputed. Today we cut class to go there; TK, Kev and I. Bart was not at school today, he was probably too scared of us to go back. Jeriko joined us today. He was my other friend in Special Ed. He had missed the fight yesterday because his family just got back from vacation. Jeriko was crestfallen when we told him. “Aw I wanted to maul him too.” Jeriko said, downcast. Not many people in our class liked Bart. There weren’t many people in our class to begin with.

In Ms. Raja’s class there was a good few of us. There was Kev Stanton-Maddox and I, Beckett Howell of course, as well as the biggest kid in the school, twelve year old TK Faleniko. There was also Jeriko Hahn-Benga, who was also eleven. He had short but wild and wiry black hair and brown eyes that were almost black themselves. He was an active kid with a tendency to be a cutup. He was the sort of joker that really made everyone in the room laugh, if they had a sense of humor or not. And there was my only other real friend, the small fair-haired Sterling, who was a shy nine year old with an amused look to his face. He had an elfin look to him that reminded me of a mischievous sprite. His eyes were always hidden by his hair; I was surprised by how he was able to see perfectly through it. There was also another boy in class named Kian Armadan. I didn’t know much about him. The other kids I paid nearly no attention to.

I tripped in the hallway. I looked behind me. A boy wearing a black shirt was snickering. “What was that for?” I mumbled. He straightened. “What did you say?!” He asked, as though he was offended. “I said what was that for?” I replied. “You think you’re tough huh?” he roared. “I didn’t say that.” I said, annoyed. He was acting pretty dumb. He grabbed me by the front of my shirt. So I slugged him. He looked at me for a moment, astonished by my nerve. He yelled something and two other boys appeared at his side. He pushed me at one of them who wore a white shirt, who pushed me back to him. Then I was pushed to one wearing a grey shirt. Black-shirt smiled at me and he punched me in the face. I recoiled from the force of the punch. He was probably a lot older than me. As I fell on the ground, White-shirt kicked me in the stomach. I waited for a moment but I saw an opening. I got up and got Grey-shirt right in the side and I shoved him into White-shirt and both of them fell. Black-shirt yelled and I saw him pull a knife out. I was alarmed but had no time to think it out. I immediately began trying to get at him while trying to keep that knife away from me. Someone grabbed me from behind. It was White-shirt. As I turned to quickly get him off me I saw Black-shirt’s fist come at me and I became aware of a sharp pain.

I turned and tried to hit him and I succeeded in taking out Black-Shirt but then Grey-shirt slugged me right in the stomach. I fell over and felt another intense pain. I pressed my hand against my right cheek and immediately withdrew my hand because of the sharpness of the pain and how much it stung. I saw an X of blood on my hand. There was blood all over my shirt now. Grey-shirt lifted me by the front of my shirt but I was in too much pain to resist this time. This was it. I was done for, over, dead.

I heard a shout and someone charged into Grey-shirt. Grey-shirt let go of me and I fell on the ground. Grey-shirt went over the stair railing and fell with a scream below. Black-shirt was bewildered and tried to take on my mystery savior but to no avail. I got up weakly as I saw White-shirt moving in and I tackled White-shirt, sending him crashing into the locker. White-shirt was out cold and was bleeding from a gash on his head. I was sure Grey-shirt had to have broken an arm or a leg going over the railing. And I saw my savior had taken the knife from Black-shirt. He threw punches at Black-shirt until he was unconscious. My savior, who wore a baseball cap, turned around and I recognized him at once. It was Kian. He walked over. “Are you okay?” he asked me. I nodded but almost fell over. Kian managed to get me back up standing, though he was quite slim for a 15 year old. There was a yell and the principal and vice principal arrived. We would never be going back to this school again. We had been expelled.

  • * * * * * *

They took me to the hospital. They tried to take Kian away but I said no and to my surprise, Ms. Raja stuck up for us. “Let him stay with Beckett…it will do no harm to anyone.” She said. Kian stayed by my side at the hospital, he had almost become like my guardian. I could now recall that I was the only one in class who bothered to talk to him and he seemed to recognize and appreciate my efforts. It was one night in the hospital. I was in my room of course. I was made to stay in the hospital because of how deep the X-shaped cut on my cheek was. The head doctor said I would have its scar for the rest of my life. I turned. “Kian?” I whispered. “Yeah?” He replied quietly. “Kian…you can run if you want.” I said. “Otherwise you’ll get in a lot of trouble.” I added. He looked out the window for a moment. “No…I’m staying with you Beckett.” He said. “You’ll get in bad trouble though.” I said. He looked at me. “I don’t care. At least we’ll both be in trouble.” He said.

As soon as I was out of the hospital we were in it deep alright. I was facing half a month of Juvenile Hall, even with Dad and his lawyer by my side. As for Kian, they discovered he had no parent or legal guardian and they were going to stuff him in Juvie for years and then in an orphanage or something until he reached adulthood. It turns out his mom died a while back and his dad just couldn’t take it anymore. His dad had just up and left. Now Kian was a ward of the state. I didn’t like the sound of that word.

It was a few days before our trial when Dad heard of Kian’s fate and he made a sudden decision. He legally adopted Kian. I He came home after a day’s work and was smiling at me. When he told me I fully expressed how grateful I was. Had Kian not stepped in, I could have died. But I hadn’t thanks to him. He was practically my brother now. And I had his back like how he had mine.

We did spend half a month in Juvenile Hall. It was horrible. You never can forget something like that. I never will forget but at least I had Kian by my side every step of the way. When we got back home, Dad announced that we would be homeschooled until he could find a good school. Kev had faked documents and gotten himself transferred to another school, Bullworth Academy. Enraged by the school’s lack of punishment to the boys who attacked me, both TK’s and Sterling’s parents switched them into Bullworth as well. My other friends were at Bullworth but Dad said that maybe in a few years we would be eligible. Dad used to be a teacher before he was a police officer so he was deemed a competent teacher. I wondered what other sorts of things could happen to me but I knew at least I had Kian by my side.

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