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The quiet one, the shy kid, or the seemingly voiceless.
At some point in our lives we either knew this person or, ourselves, were this person. You know, that kid who avoided people like the plague, except for maybe their small group of friends; that kid who would essentially not talk to anybody, or, if they did, it was always in a soft, flat whisper that you could barely make out the words from. Yeah, them.
What has always struck me is how these types of people almost always grow up to be in one of two positions. A good deal of them grow out of their shy, quiet demeanor's and, in their adulthood, look back and joke about the quiet outcasts they once were. On the other hand, others continue to be the stoic shells they were in childhood, keeping to themselves and growing to live alone and isolated from other people. And growing up in a public school environment, and going to school with the same kids for years, I’ve come to know a couple of each. However, there was one guy I knew who seemed like a different case. And for my own safety, I’d rather not give his name or the name of our city. For this account, I’ll simply refer to him as Conway.
He seemed like your regular case at first; he was quiet and only had about two or three friends, never spoke unless a teacher called on him, in which case we learned that he was a fucking genius, and seemed to whisper a lot to himself. Of course, his dad passed away when he was six so that likely had a hand in making him act like he did. Not a big deal really, but… well… here’s the thing; I knew this kid and went to school with him from first grade all the way to high school graduation, so I was able to learn a lot about him over the years. Most quiet ones who grow out of their shyness do it in a rather steady, gradual manner. As for Conway? Well, I can safely say there was something… unique about him and the way he changed.
From first grade to eighth his actions were relatively consistent, though there were some exceptions, particularly with certain people. As with most quiet ones or nerds or the like, there were always those jerks who wanted to fuck around with them, call them names, judge their personalities, etc. Most took the torment quietly while others went to the teachers or staff for help. Conway was different. He tended to show a… darker side when these jokers were around.
Okay, let me back up a little bit; the one thing people seemed to remember about Conway was this “look” he gave people. Film buffs call it the “Kubrick stare;” we just called it “the glare.” For those who don’t know, it is a look where one tilts their head downward and looks up beneath their eyebrows; it tends to cast a bit of a shadow over their eyes. The result is unnerving to say the least.
Nerd outcast or not, that look just seemed to shout, “Don’t fuck with me, or else.” Thus, most took it as a warning to leave before they pissed him off too much. I never really understood its power. I mean, it was unnerving, sure, but that stare seemed to have a strange effect on people that I couldn’t understand.
It was as if in that brief moment when Conway gave “the glare,” the person who he glared at could see all their worst fears, horrors, and nightmares flash before their eyes, as they stood frozen in place. As for the bullies, their smug smirks faded almost instantly and were replaced by looks of pure fear when faced with Conway’s glare. Just as quickly as they tried to toy with him, they refused to even go near him again. Nobody ever wanted to talk about what they saw in his eyes, for they were too afraid. If you ever brought it up to anyone who’d faced it, they quickly changed the subject or just walked away.
Then near the end of eighth grade, something extraordinarily odd happened. According to those who were there, Conway showed a different side of himself and he sung to his English class. And he had a beautiful voice. Soon, he was no longer that outcasted nerd he had been since first grade. Suddenly, Conway was cool. And many who had grown up knowing Conway, including myself, couldn’t believe our eyes or our ears. This seemed like a different person. The glares faded away and his voice picked up. Hell, when it came to talking politics or current events, he was a pro debater. Then high school hit and things got even stranger.
When asked about his past, he seemed to brush it off. He had become a bright staple of the school, much different from the introverted kid he used to be. When asked about the glares, he joked and said that he just did those to get people he didn’t like off his back. And sure, that explained why he did them… but it still didn’t explain why people had such a negative reaction to them, and cringed whenever they were brought up, even all these years later. So even as K-12 schooling neared its end, I couldn’t help but continue to try and seek out an answer to that glare’s effects.
It took a while, but I finally found an ex-classmate who would talk about the glare and what he described, I couldn’t believe. He spoke of several effects that came from that glare; he spoke of an icy chill down his spine, a feeling of incredible dread, and a sense of darkness. No, a presence of darkness.
He claimed that he saw all the evil in the world in those eyes and no matter how hard he tried, he could not look away. Every nightmarish image he had even thought of or seen were clear as day, a cacophony of everything dark and violent and sinful radiated from that glare. I relayed these claims to others I knew that had faced the glare in the past, and they all confirmed the same feelings and sights.
It was too deep for me to dig into further and these accounts were too consistent to be mere coincidence or illusion. How could a simple look have such a strong effect on people to affect them physically, emotionally, and mentally in such a negative way? And how did Conway change so dramatically after eighth grade? It seems some things just can’t be answered. But I still question how such apparent evil could exist in the eyes of someone and suddenly vanish to reveal what is essentially a different person. Best to beware the quiet ones.