Tall Flame

“Not every crazy person’s story, is going to start with a sad and lonely kid, with parents who abuse and never cared about them, or about a kid who’s mentally ill and never had friends. Oh no, my dear friend. None of that sad shit. Sometimes, all it takes is a little push, to turn a perfect kid, into something horrible. It’s all it takes." Dustin was just a teenage boy. His friends gathered around him, sitting in his basement, listening to stories while the power was out.

Now believe me, it wasn't some creepy, cold, dark basement. It was a green carpeted basement with TVs and couches. It was more a place to hangout rather than a place to be scared of. Dustin was no creepy kid. He was actually one of the popular kids, if you want to call him that.

Everyone loved having him in class, he was funny, and nice to everyone, even the teachers. He had soft, dirty blonde hair, bright green emerald eyes, and a smile that could light up a room. Some people are just born lucky, right?

“Someone. Anyone. It could even be you!”

He smirked, poking his friend, Kyle, in the ribs. Kyle laughed and backed up a little. Kyle was a shy kid who nobody really talked to besides Dustin, but it didn't bother him. Kyle was perfectly fine with having one kid who understood him.

“But then again, we’d never know. We all lose it sometimes. It happens to the best of us, to anyone.” Dustin looked around at his group of four friends. Kyle, Brian, Nathan, and Jacob. Dustin smiled to himself, watching the horror spread across their faces. He snickering at them, holding his stomach while in a fit of laughter.

“The look on your faces! Why are y’all so scared?!” He said in between his laughs. They looked at each other and started laughing. Kyle smiled silently, happy to see everyone enjoying themselves. The high school boys all sat there laughing at themselves. They all stopped when they heard creaking on the stairs. All their gazes watched the door frame. ‘Yeah’ Dustin thought to himself.

"Here we go with the scary crap again."

He rolled his eyes, walked to the stairs and closed the door. He stepped away for a moment then froze, getting chills up his spine. Like cold fingers had grazed his back and clawed up his spine. He shook it off and sat next to them. They continued talking and chatting away until they needed to sleep. The rest of the night was fine. They laughed, watched movies, and things went on. ‘I mean, this house if pretty old anyway, it’d make sense if the wood creaked now and then.’ He reassured himself before he went to bed that night.

After most of the boys left, rather quickly actually, Dustin cleaned up the mess they made. He went downstairs and waited for the last boy to leave, who just happened to be, Brian. Brian was sitting there, staring at the wall, obviously deep in thought. Dustin walked over and sat beside him, shaking him.

“Yo. Brian, your mother is going to be here soon.” Brian looked up, then over at Dustin, his eyes slowly widening as if he had seen a ghost.

“R-right… Dustin…” His breathing began to speed up and he looked really scared. Dustin questioned him and asked if he was okay, curious as to whether or not he had felt those same chills that night.

“...Dustin… You talk in your sleep. And you said some really dark things…” Brian said, slowly getting up. He seemed hesitant to do so. “How you… hated everyone… And what you were going to do…” Brian glanced down at Dustin’s fingertips then back at his face.

“I think you should take it easy and get some pills to help you sleep…”

He got his bag, went upstairs, and left as soon as his mother came. "Me? Say things? Why would I?" He seemed puzzled. It made him very uneasy. The boys all talked to him in school though like nothing had happened. It really bothered him though, he never hated anyone. He couldn't. Everyone was so nice. He started to question Brian though. Brian started to stop talking to him. "Why? I didn't do anything." After a couple days of Brian avoiding him, Dustin confronted him. He met him after school at the library.

Before they ever started talking, Brian glanced at Dustin’s fingertips. Dustin caught him and balled his hands into fists.

“You keep avoiding me? Dude! You’re the one being weird! Stop giving me weird looks!”

“...Dustin, you burned your hands. Like you said.” Dustin looked at his hands again. “You said, ‘I’ll burn my hands… Just a little… To get rid of the prints…” He gestured with his fingers. He uncurled his hands and looked at them. He was right. The insides were smooth. Both hands were. No prints, just smooth burned red skin.

"When did I do this?" Again, another wave of chills rode up his spine.

“Brian, listen. It’s okay. I’d never hurt you. I swear.” He flashed a grin at Brian, which seemed to calm him down and ease his nerves. Like his memory had been wiped clean and Brian couldn't have had a care in the world. Brian invited Dustin over to try and retie the strings of their friendship. Of course, since they hadn't planned it and Brian’s mother would never allow it, they snuck in through Brian’s window and set up for the night. They talked and played video games until one in the morning. By that time, Brian went to the bathroom to brush his teeth and take a shower. It was a bit odd, but Dustin just rolled with it. Dustin sat and thought to himself, wondering if everything was okay. Brian didn't seem scared anymore. He couldn't help himself, but take Brian’s phone and look through it.

"He had to be saying something about me. I know it." The chills came again and he had an awful feeling in his stomach. All these texts about him. All these things. "Dustin is acting weird," "He has been for a while," "Maybe we should avoid him." He felt betrayed in a way. Nothing like this has ever happened before. Nobody really ever said anything bad. And it hurt. A strong feeling began to make his stomach toss and turn with every word he saw.

“Dustin?” Brian looked at him. Dustin slowly looked up.

“So you think this about me? I’m weird? Avoiding me? You wanted to just leave me instead of talk this out? You’re fifteen. Grow up, Brian.” Dustin said coldly, feeling a sudden hatred building up.

“I think you should leave.” Brian gestured to the door, starting to glare.

“Oh, but you invited me, so you’re stuck with me.” The two boys sat there for a while, glaring at one another and murmuring terrible things under their breath. "He has no right to be mad at me for a stupid dream. What the fuck’s his problem? He’s going to ruin my life. Look, he already said all these things… never… take back… It’s on the internet. It’ll be there forever. People can see… Everyone… I have to get rid of it. Or at least the source." Dustin got up slowly stretching then continued to shove Brian, pick him up, and slam him on the hardwood floor. Brian kicked and thrashed, clawing at anything, trying to get Dustin off. "Dustin’s lost his shit… This kid has some issues if he’s going to attack me for a couple stupid texts!" Brian thought to himself.

“Anyone…” Dustin said before he grabbed a pencil Brian had on his desk. He lost himself for a moment, he’d never had anything like this happen to him before, what was he supposed to do? Something good, but we all make mistakes, don’t we? He threw Brian down on the ground and pinned him still with his knees, keeping his arms from interfering. He took careful aim, making sure he wouldn't miss. If he missed, Brian would have screamed and Dustin would have been in really big trouble.

“I’m sorry. I don’t know how to deal with this, Brian… I don’t know what I’m doing… I-I don’t even feel like I’m in control. I wish I could stop, but if I did here, then you would have to turn me in for trying to hurt you. ” Dustin smiled as tears began to stream down his cheeks. He shoved articles of clothing into Brian’s mouth until not a sound could come out. He plunged the pencil through his chest and it skewed through his flesh, wiggling the pencil deeper and deeper into his chest. He continued to go at it. Pencil after pencil soon bore into Brian’s chest, his shirt stained a maroon color from blood gushing out of his stab wounds like mini fountains.

Brian didn't move, which made Dustin panic even more. He ripped open Brian’s shirt and placed his hand over the wounds, making it seem like a desperate attempt for suicide. He didn't know how much he could get away with, but it was worth a shot. He got rid of the source of his sadness and sudden pain that he was feeling, but it’s like he was still there. He wasn't done. He had to get rid of the rest of the people. Everyone who found that post, everyone who read it, anyone who shared it, anyone who ever thought that about him.

How would he know? He didn't. It was like a shot in the dark from now on.

“Brian was a bad person, wasn't he? He was. He never really liked me.” He was determined of this sudden accusation. He shouldn't have told that story, it made his self conscious turn him into this. What was he? He left through the window and went home. The next day, the school announced Brian’s death. Dustin acted as shocked as everyone else, nobody knew. How would they? "There were no fingerprints. No signs. And no trace."

Dustin acted miserable for the rest of the day, but in reality he wasn't sad or nervous at all. Not the slightest bit worried, too, for that matter. "After all… Anyone can be a killer."

“Hey Jake, you mind if I stay the night?”