Short Stories

Metal Detectors

Blank clouds chased the sun over the horizon and barbed wire loomed above me like a judge delivering a death sentence. My fingers hooked into the rusty chain linked fence until they burned and my forehead pressed so hard it left lines. Carlos and Alex stood behind me. I was too scared to look at them, but I felt their eyes bore right into the back of my neck.

I meant it as a joke. Derek and I prank each other, always have. Innocently, of course. He started it, if I remember correctly. But at the end of the day, the game took a dark turn.

One of the guards gripped Derek by the armpit, his mangled legs needing all the support they could get. His jaw was a rasping pit, sucking for air. A yellow-orange welt jutted from his forearm, the same arm I told them about in the call.

His mom shook while she signed his release and his dad gripped the edge of the counter, veins bulging, and I swear I could hear his teeth grinding in my head. The warden behind the window stood with his arms crossed, his beady eyes black like a barn owl’s, waiting for any sudden movement. I thought they just used a scanner to find augments. But his bones…

His mom and dad ran up to take him from the guards. One of them stiffened, a hand at his baton. Mel’s face was beet red from crying a river of tears, her knuckles bone white and squeezed her knees. I saw the bruise in Derek’s neck and my heart went from pounding to choking.

This all started with a surprise pizza guy stripping at my front door. I knew it was Derek and I had to one-up him. So I prank called the police and told them he had a radio transceiver in his arm. I thought they’d just show up, give him a scare and leave. He’d been in the camp for three days.

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