I really want nothing to do with this origami hero business. So immature, the fact it’s been considered normal behavior in our school for just over 80 years is pretty astonishing to me. Either everyone here is an inbred idiot or–wait, that’s just New York.
Why would I, really? I think I’m fine the way I am now. Head editor for the Kirby King! Doing fine tbh. No need to join a dumb club surrounding folded paper that would get a reasonable amount of the school…well, I’m sure you know what they’d say.
Sorry, Tilly. I’m just not feeling it.
Karl Blonsky Jr.–a young man who needs the grandest, most well-deserved introduction of all time, probably.
His multimillionaire father’s already infamous among many. Entrepreneur, animator, world renowned chemist, astronomer. Torturer of middle schoolers, god among men. His son is barely any different. At age six, he read War and Peace in one sitting. At ten? He discovered an entirely new element, Tranbrainium. Fourteen? My guy had already written several bestselling novels about…well, talking frogs, I think. I don’t know much about that, apparently the main character of those is a “Frogetti Overlord.” I mean, bro, he’s a genius. Pretty arrogant, too, from what I’ve heard. I was tasked with interviewing him. It went interestingly.
He runs the L.I.F.E. Science Club at Kirby. “L.I.F.E.” standing for “Little Ingenious Forceful Eco-Studies”–most of them are underage, they’re all ingenious, but what’s the forceful all about? I probably shouldn’t have asked that question in retrospect.
The lab was drafty. The tables were freezing cold to the touch. Several students around me were tinkering around with odd chemicals of unnatural, almost otherworldly colors, ones I couldn’t imagine on my own…Eco-Studios, right?
Blonsky stood across the lab, holding what looked like a dead rat in a plastic bag. It was skinless–it had a strange reddish skin pigmentation, almost as if it was covered in dried…blood, maybe? Couldn’t be, right?
The interview itself went fine for the most part. I was just asking him bland questions Baker wanted me to ask. The problem arose when I asked him about the rumors he was developing a diabetes type 2 cure from the element he discovered all those years ago; illegally, mind you.
The lab fell silent. There was tension in the air. He told me the cure was well on its way, but the project could still take years. The rumors were true! I thought of the headlines at that moment.
He thought of something else. He told me I could volunteer to test the cure in its current form way early. Years or even decades early. That if all went well, I could save lives.
Grab your popcorn now, folks.
When I woke, I was in an empty room, laying down on a thin, bumpy white bed sheet. That was it. The room was almost blank. A thin layer of light blue paint, perhaps decades old, was already well on its way to peeling off completely. There was a thick one-way glass window that led to…well, I assumed the L.I.F.E. science lab.
Soon I realized I was stuck in place. I couldn’t move a single muscle, I could barely even breathe. I felt a heavy feeling on my chest, like someone pulling me down or sitting on me. Then I saw it.
It was slimy. Black. Covered in wrinkles and pulsating white veins that looked like they had been taken off a human’s inside. Large, wise white eyes made out of thousands, perhaps millions of these veins. They looked like they had seen all of time go by.
The thing had a nasty smile. It was a kind smile. I could tell it had good intentions by that smile. But the problem was situated deep in that smile. That deep, deep disgusting smile. With the tongue that looked like an appalling amalgamation of the thighs and arms of different animals. With the sharp, rotten yellow teeth that made the Grinch look like a Colgate posterboy. The gums were pitch black, like it’s skin that moved almost like a liquid fixed in the position of a bipedal humanoid being.
I heard the creature speak. I am not a boy with great memory, but its words are still bright as day in the back of my mind.
“Ezra Cronin–it appears you have made a grave mistake by trusting the son of a known conman. We’re stuck together, it seems. Two beasts of inherent evil locked together in one pathetic, fleshy vessel. You may flaunt your looks and brains still, but I am the shogun in this relationship. The power in charge lasts longer than the puppet. Always. Ezra, cooperate. And you just might survive. Think of all the backlash, the hate and laughter behind your back you’ll get it if they find out about me. About you and I, about Karl. Imagine Baker’s face. Imagine Samantha’s.
I know all your thoughts and feelings now, boy. I don’t even need to wait to access them. So be a good figurehead and stay put. Blonsky knows the experiment succeeded. Good job. Don’t expect the villain in this story to be so forgiving next time, though. Cooperation is the key. We are one now. So play nice, puppet. Don’t tug your strings so much.”
I’m being my most transparent here when I say Samantha Walters doesn’t deserve me one bit. If I could I’d break up with her. It’s not her, it’s me. Definitely me. I think I might have commitment issues, but the relationship just feels too one-sided. She’s the kindest, most compassionate, intelligent girl I’ve ever known. And we’ve known each other for our whole lives now! Since birth, I believe. Our parents go even farther back with one another. Story’s too long to tell here, though.
The time she takes out of her day to comfort me, call me, talk with me, pass me a note that says “I love you” in the middle of class, help me edit my article for the King, tell me everything’s okay when it’s not–I appreciate it so much. I love that kind of attention.
Everything she’s ever done for me since I confessed my feelings to her–what was it, almost a year ago now?–feels fake. I’ve done nothing for her. Yet she stays. The feeling was mutual when we started, but was it worth it? Most high school relationships are destined to fail anyways. I don’t love her any longer, I’m afraid, but something wriggling around inside of me is telling me to stay, telling me the flame’s not gone yet. I appreciate that, but I’m no charmer.
“Hey, can I have a name?”
“That was random. What do you mean, a name?”
“You don’t know what I am, I don’t even think I know what I am. Don’t call me Venom. People will think you’re crazy.”
“What about Buddy? Best I can do for now.”
“Why Buddy, though? Is it because…”
“No, not in a million years. I hate you and everything about you.”
After that, I felt I needed to make an important decision.
Cal Largent is a good dude. I respect him, even if he is one of the “origami heroes.” We haven’t known each other for a while. I think he used to work at the King. Baker doesn’t like him, though. That’s interesting. He’s the club’s Spider-Man guy, I think. It’s cool and all. I don’t like the concept. He’s shy. I know his older brother’s his role model. He doesn’t want to ever admit that, I think.
Cal Largent is a friend and I’d trust him with a lot. Probably not something dramatic like my life, but a lot.
Remember when I said I planned on making that a big headline–Blonsky Jr. developing a diabetes cure illegally, using dangerous chemicals?
Somewhere in those experiments, whilst I was taking that short rest before I met “Buddy,” Karl must have sntached my notes from me. The most important interview of my life, gone.
“You’re fired,” Baker said. “Your accomplice, too. Get out of my office.”
My accomplice, Samantha Walters. I was planning on telling her I wanted to break up later that day, but it seems Karl Blonsky Jr. had done the job for me. The argument was long. She was unforgiving. Did I deserve this? Yes, I think I did.
That doesn’t excuse the fact that this kid has wronged me. Does he think he’s so smart? Well, he is, but is he street-wise? Can he take a beating? Did he not want to be ratted out for doing something so risky?
The answer to all these questions was a solid no, I thought. The mistake had pulled me apart. The mistake that led to the possession of my body by a possible stranger, possible illusion. The mistake that led to me being alone, ultimately.
I looked at Squeaks. Squeaks was doing what a rat usually does. Jumping around his cage, eating like the glutton he is, and all around contributing nothing to society. Was I destined to be Squeaks? Am I going too hard on myself? Is this devil on my shoulder real?
The next morning, Squeaks was gone. “Delicious,” I heard the creature say.
I momentarily panicked, but then I saw Squeaks inside his cage. He was just stuck in a rut: the narrow corner between his little home made of plastic and his tiny wheel. His tail looked slightly shorter than how it was the prior night. Meant nothing, right?
There’s no better feeling than revenge. We humans are built to come back at anything opposing us, even if that means each other. We are naturally territorial. I think I deserve to get my territory back.
The walk to the lab was a whole different breed of silent. A silent beyond silent. Not a sound but the quiet chatter and gossip of students as I ran by–about me, I believed. I heard a few of them, actually. Saying the same things I thought they’d say if I joined the “origami heroes.”
Karl was happy to see me.
“Ezra!” he exclaimed happily. “Thank you for your service. You just put us years ahead of the position we were in before. It works, Ezra! The cure works!”
I had no interest in the cure. I had great interest in punching him in the face, though.
“Ah…Ezra, what the [REDACTED]?”
“Why did you take the notes, Karl?” I yelled. One of the members of the club tried to get my sweaty palms off his shoulders. I didn’t budge. “You ruined me.”
“You ruined yourself, Ezra. That was a grave mistake. It was your fault you asked a question that could have ruined me. You were planning to make articles about it, Ezra. It’s a
cure for diabetes type 2. It’ll save lives and you were going to put the project through God knows what. Do you know the shame and scorn that would’ve come from the revelation I tried doing something so risky like that with a handful of other minors?
“Do you realize that I would’ve gone to juvie for perhaps years? Are you planning on killing people, putting them through unimaginable amounts of pain and leaving a kid like me behind bars to rot? Was this a scheme, Ezra? What was going through your mind when you did that?”
I paused for a moment or two. Was this right? Was it really deserved? Was Blonsky really in the wrong? Was this all my fault?
This was all my fault, I decided. I took my hands off Karl and stepped away. I stormed out the lab and noticed several people watching me. They knew. But they didn’t snitch on Karl and his team because they’re respectable. They earned the position they’re in now. I earned mine, too.
“That was stupid. Your one chance to right Karl’s wrong, man.”
“But he didn’t do anything wrong? I did?”
“Wrong in itself. Laws are laws. Abide by them. What he’s doing is endangering the lives of him and his associates.”
I thought for a moment. This is where I came to another important decision. This time I got to that decision before my past misendeavours could, though.
In the end, I did the closest thing I could to winning that fight: ratting the L.I.F.E. team out for illegal activity. Not to redeem myself, I’m pretty sure almost the entire school hates me now over that and almost strangling Karl. I try my hardest not to be the villain in this story, but so far it isn’t working.
Villain…villain was a peculiar word. Reminded me of an idea I rejected completely a while ago.
“Hey,” I whispered to Cal at lunch. “Is there, like, a signup sheet for the origami hero stuff?”
“No,” he replied swiftly. It looked like he was holding back laughter, as if I was supposed to know this information. “You just start doing it, I guess.”
“Er, thanks. How are things going with your little puppet team?”
He shrugged. I could read his face–they had disbanded a bit, hadn’t they? Likely not fully, something I found out to be true later down the line, but this seemed to be the reason. He also really likes eyeing the chick with the Spider-Gwen puppet. Creepy.
“No cap, Ezra, you could prove to be a really valuable asset to us. You have a way with the pen, yes? Sometimes with your fist as well?”
He knew. But they all did, to be fair.
That night, I was talking with Buddy about what happened with L.I.F.E., Baker, Samantha and everything else that had gone wrong in the prior few days.
“L.I.F.E. was in the wrong. Karl was in the wrong. Baker was in the wrong and overreacted like the mustachioed freak he is. Samantha? You screwed up with Samantha, dude.”
“You’re right…what can I do, if there’s any saving us?”
“The way I see it, there is no saving you two. You’re simply done with each other. You had your fun. High school relationships are usually destined to fail anyways, unless you’re, I don’t know, seniors or something.”
“Haha, you stole my line, didn’t you?”
“I like how you write, Ezra. You’re a bright kid with a bright future. Ignore everyone else right now. Play your cards right and high school could be the best few years of your life. Have hope, because you’re not the villain in this story. You’re simply fine the way you are.”
❄︎♒︎♏︎ ❖︎♓︎●︎●︎♋︎♓︎■︎ ♓︎■︎ ⧫︎♒︎♓︎⬧︎ ⬧︎⧫︎□︎❒︎⍓︎📬︎ 💧︎◆︎♍︎♒︎ ♋︎ ♍︎□︎❍︎❍︎□︎■︎ ◻︎♒︎❒︎♋︎⬧︎♏︎📪︎ ♓︎⬧︎■︎🕯︎⧫︎ ♓︎⧫︎✍︎ ✋︎🕯︎❍︎ ♍︎□︎❍︎♓︎■︎♑︎ ⬧︎□︎□︎■︎ ⬥︎♓︎⧫︎♒︎ ♋︎ ◻︎●︎♋︎■︎📬︎ 👌︎●︎□︎■︎⬧︎🙵⍓︎ ■︎♏︎♏︎♎︎⬧︎ ❒︎♏︎❖︎♏︎■︎♑︎♏︎📪︎ ♋︎■︎♎︎ ✋︎ ♍︎♋︎■︎ ♎︎□︎ ⧫︎♒︎♋︎⧫︎ ♐︎□︎❒︎ ♒︎♓︎❍︎ ⬥︎♒︎♓︎●︎♏︎ ♒︎♏︎🕯︎⬧︎ ❒︎□︎⧫︎⧫︎♓︎■︎♑︎ ♌︎♏︎♒︎♓︎■︎♎︎ ⧫︎♒︎□︎⬧︎♏︎ ⬧︎♒︎♓︎■︎⍓︎ ⬧︎⧫︎♏︎♏︎●︎ ♌︎♋︎❒︎⬧︎📬︎ 🕈︎♒︎♏︎■︎ ♓︎⧫︎ ♒︎♓︎⧫︎⬧︎ ⧫︎♒︎♏︎❍︎📬︎📬︎📬︎⧫︎♒︎♏︎❒︎♏︎🕯︎●︎●︎ ♌︎♏︎ ♍︎♋︎❒︎■︎♋︎♑︎♏︎📬︎