The Red Thread
The space was narrow and dim and smelled of dead rat. Grit from the floor bit his forehead. Sticky warmth worked down his cheek.
He had a moment of panic when he realized he couldn't open his right eye. It was his own blood that sealed it. He ran his sleeve across his face. No good. He pried the lid open with his fingers. Was it night? Why was everything so dark?
He found himself panting as if he'd been running up a staircase. Then he realized it wasn't lack of air but fear that winded him.
Slow down. Breathe.
Still panting, he glanced around. Hemming him in were walls of unfinished wood, not the gleaming paneling of the great rooms and hallways. But light, faint as it was, reached him from somwhere. Then he saw it, a wedgelike opening four feet above the ground, where wood abruptly changed to stone rising in the gloom. If he could reach it!
Every School has them. The invisibles. Not liked, not disliked. How can you dislike what isn't there? It's a clue when you're standing in the lunch line trying to decide about a tuna sandwich and a girl runs right into you, spilling a glob of chocolate pudding on your shirt. This actually happened.
"What were you doing there?" she yelled, like he'd jumped out at her from behind a bush.
The place bustled up laughing. You'd think they'd be laughing at her, but he was such an easy target. From the jocks' table came whistles and applause. Sky's face reddened, and you could see the beads of sweat at the base of his dirty blond crew cut.
You wouldn't think life could get worse than that. Except Alec Schuyler had another problem, as bad as being invisible. He was inaudible.
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