by Ryan Perez


Yeah, the looks were expected, I deserve em. I pushed down a teenager, a man with a cane and either a regular at golden corral or a pregnant woman. “What’s his problem?”, “Watch where you’re going!”, “Douchebag!” I don’t care what they think. I’m not leaving last! It doesn’t matter how many are in front of me, only the ones behind. I’m on strike two and I know the third will be different. That will be the worst one. Even if I deserve it, I won’t succumb.

Those who know me think I’m the sort of guy who kisses dirt and hugs vultures. Always giving me fishing gear and those extra-durable socks you find at Walmart, ankle cut…only ankle cut. My friend group is small, which means it’s tight, which means I can’t just pawn the shit off. Here I am, years later, three drawers of durable Dickies and enough fishing gear to open an excursion company. Truth is, I fucking hate being outside. I used to like it, then I just bared it. I deserve it, this is what I get.

My only other safe haven on this fucking campus is the bigger buildings, the ones with multiple floors. Find the closest seat to the nearest exit on the bottom floor and…just rest. Sure, I get a lot of looks. A 45-year-old man at a college of mostly females, sitting by the door which always happens to be a few feet from the girls’ restroom. I get questioned often but always hide behind the excuse of anxiety. It isn’t wrong. It isn’t the reason I sit by the door but it’s a by-product of the reason. Because of things like this, by the end of my second semester, I was further ostracized from the other students and had a strange affinity to attract police officers wherever I went. Brooks was the worst. Did I really deserve this? No doubt.


I entered my final class of the day to see only one other person in the small square room. We glanced at each other. He was reading a piece of paper. I checked the time, five minutes till class. I walked to my seat and got on my phone.

“I know who you are.”

I peered up, his face obscured by the paper.

Of course he did, there were only eight of us in class, freshman dipshit.

“The way you act, your mannerisms, the stories I’ve heard. I can understand why you’re like this, but why me? What did I do to deserve this?”

My breathing staggers.


“It,” he flips the paper for me to see. It reads, “Class moved to room 258.”


He was ready.

He was younger.

He was faster.

He was going to beat me.

I already knew it. Before he even bolted for the door, I accepted it.

My eyes dilated.

My muscles tensed.

My mouth dried.

My heart skipped a beat.

This would be my third strike.


Ryan Perez is a Junior at Texas State University and hopes to one day be a published novelist. No genre is unwelcomed by him though he prefers to read and write in a fantasy setting where he can write about things that could never happen in real life. While he draws from many inspirations, none are as prevalent as anime and manga.

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