Bad teaching (s)kills

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blood-with-pen
Source: http://www.amnestyindia.org

There was nothing worse than that last class on Friday, especially if you had Thompson as your teacher. He wasn’t just boring as hell, but also the school’s tyrant. Humiliating and belittling others was one of his favourite things to do, which became especially apparent if your class was unusually small, as was the case with Roxanne, Michael, Charlotte and Thomas’s group. Roxanne suffered the most of them all. She couldn’t care less about chemistry to begin with and out of all teachers, it should be Thompson who taught her that course during her last year of secondary school. Roxanne never hid her dissatisfaction about this from her teacher: she always returned the many humiliations she got from Thompson with pleasure. She didn’t have to endure this torture for much longer, though: finals were about to start in a couple of weeks and after that she would finally be able to leave secondary school once and for all. She didn’t really have any specific plans for next year, but she did not think that was necessary, either. Roxanne was someone who lived in the present. That was why she hadn’t bothered to make any plans for tomorrow yet, but was rather looking forward to having a drink with some of her friends. That was a little more interesting than Thompson’s lecture about methanol and ethonal. Yeah, he was even able to make alcohol sound boring, which Roxanne had to admit was quite impressive.

‘Charlotte, repeat my last sentence, please,’ Thompson said annoyed.
Charlotte put her phone aside and answered with a serious look: “I’m pretty sure your last sentence was: ‘Charlotte, repeat my last sentence, please.’”
The reply was met with chuckling from the three other students while Thompson rolled his eyes.
‘I could give you detention for making fun of the teacher, but I know by now that you didn’t mean to sound funny at all and that that was actually a sincere answer. I’ve often wondered how you could have possibly made it to your final year, do you know that?’
‘And yet I’m sitting right here. I’ll tell you something else: This is even the third time I’ve been in year thirteen. What do you think about that?’ she responded genuinely proud. It was difficult not to feel sorry for Charlotte and her incredible simplicity. Roxanne had this theory that the blond hair dye had got into Charlotte’s head and was now slowly killing every remaining brain cell. She did not believe someone could be born that stupid and neither did Thompson.
He sighed deeply and complained: ‘Why am I even trying? Look at you, you’re all worthless! Out of all four students one seems to be lacking a brain, another one is a foul-mouthed punkrocker,’ he said when looking at Roxanne, who took the criticism as a compliment, ‘and then there’s the narcissist who’s in love with his own muscular body,’ he concluded his rant while pointing at Michael.
‘I can’t help it that there are more calories in your body than in the entire local supermarket,’ Michael snarled.
‘Hey, calm down,’ Thomas interfered, ‘Perhaps Mr Thomspon would like you all more if you didn’t always give him such a hard time!’
Thompson frowned. ‘You don’t actually think I tolerate you better that these other brats, do you?’ the teacher responed, ‘I didn’t say your name because I didn’t consider you worthy mentioning. You’re the worst of them all! No one likes a teacher’s pet, Thomas. You’re not going to make me like you by constantly sucking up to me. In fact, it just makes me want to tell you to kiss my arse!’ Thompson chuckled a litte before he continued: ‘You know what, I’d rather you didn’t do that last thing I said; you’d probably just enjoy it.’
The four-headed class looked at their teacher in disbelief. Roxanne thought it was time to react: ‘Wow, now you’re making homophobic jokes, too. And I thought I couldn’t think any lowlier of you!’
‘Come on, you’re not going to defend that snob, are you? I didn’t know you two got along that well?’ the teacher replied.
‘We don’t, but I’ll always stand up for those who are constantly being opressed by privileged arseholes like yourself!’
‘Do you miss detention already, Roxanne? Because if you do, I can arrange something!’
‘Do your worst,’ Roxanne said, shrugging her shoulders. Right when Thompson about to ask for his pupil’s school diary, his phone rang.
‘What the hell does she want?’ he sighed.
The teacher ordered his students to keep themselves busy as he left the classroom. He picked up the phone and after a simple ‘What?’ as a greeting, he closed the door behind him. Shortly afterwards Roxanne jumped up, walked over to the bottle of pure alcohol that Thompson had used during his lecture and asked Charlotte to keep watch.
‘What should I say when he comes back?’ Charlotte wanted to know.
“Just ‘he’s coming’ will do,” Roxanne replied.
‘Isn’t that a bit boring? Maybe we should agree on an animal noise, like they do in films?’
Roxanne sighed deeply: ‘Sure, why don’t you imitate an animal that perfectly matches your IQ? Like an ass, for instance.’
Michael interrupted their conversation: ‘That alcohol won’t taste any good if you just drink it like that.’
‘Good thing it’s not for me, then,’ Roxanne responded while she moved the alcohol closer to their teacher’s mug. Michael laughed shaking his head. If it turned out Thompson secretly mixed his coffee with alcohol during school hours, he would be fired immediately. This was the perfect opportunity to put that theory into practice.
Thomas had his doubts, however: ‘Should we really be doing this? If people find out we were behind this, we’ll be in big trouble.’
‘Don’t be such a coward,’ Michael sighed, ‘You’ve seen how he humiliated you a minute ago too, right? Thompson isn’t qualified to teach and the sooner he’s gone, the better. Nobody’s going to miss him. Literally everyone hates him here, so if there were ever any doubt about who poured that alcohol into his coffee, it’d be our word against his. No one will be on that arsehole’s side, trust me.’
Thomas looked questionably. He knew this wasn’t the right thing to do, but it felt like the only right decision at that moment.
‘Is that alcohol even drinkable?’ he asked.
Roxanne read the simple label the school had attached to the bottle out loud: ‘Methanol, CH3OH. You’re the clever one here, can you drink it or not?’
Thomas nodded affirmatively, after which Roxanne poured out half of the content of the mug into the flower pot behind her and diluted the remaining coffee with pure methanol. Shortly afterwards, Charlotte made Roxanne jump by shouting out of the blue: ‘HEE HAW! HEE HAW!’
The others looked at her with a confused look.
‘What the hell was that for?’ Michael asked astonished.
‘Well, Roxanne told me to imitate an ass, so I did. He’s coming!’
Roxanne rolled her eyes and returned to her seat as quickly as she could. Thompson entered the classroom when everyone had sat down. He was just finishing his conversation in a very friendly manner: ‘Don’t ever call me during school hours again. I’ve got other things to do besides having to listen to your constant whining! Bye mum.’
After he had hung up, he looked at the suspiciously quiet class. Before he asked what was going on, he wanted to quench his thirst with the coffee on his desk. The students tried really hard to keep a straight face while their teacher poured the alcoholic mixture into his mouth and immediately spat it out again. He glanced at the bottle of methanol and noticed a considerable amount was missing.
Furious, he turned to his students and screamed: ‘Are you out of your bloody minds? Do you even know how dangerous that is? I’ve never seen something like this before! Who do you think you are? You bunch of evil bra…’ Thompson suddenly became short of breath. He reached for his heart – apparently he did possess that – and tried to say something, but couldn’t. Thomas, Charlotte, Michael and Roxanne powerlessly watched as their teacher fell to the floor and lay there without moving a muscle.

It stayed quiet for a couple of seconds. The four students glimpsed at each other and turned their gaze back to their immobile teacher. Then Roxanne broke the silence with a soft ‘fuck’, followed by a sudden and desparate scream from Charlotte. Michael quickly covered her mouth with his hand and tried to calm her down: ‘Shhhht, Charlotte! If anyone hears us, we’ll be even more screwed!’
Roxanne ran up to Thompson to check his breathing and heartbeat. Neither were present. Thomas hadn’t said anything in the meantime. Roxanne saw him shivering and staring at the body with fright.
‘You said methanol was drinkable!’ she growled.
‘B-but it is!’ he defended himself anxiously.
Roxanne consulted the computer on Thompson’s desk with a worried look to find information about methanol.
‘Damn it, Thomas,’ she yelled in despair, ‘Ethanol is drinkable, methanol is poisonous!’
Thomas panicked: ‘I’m sorry! I must’ve mixed them up or Thompson must’ve explained it wrong.’ He took a deep breath in order to calm down and to think clearly before he continued: ‘Anyway, it takes a couple of hours before the first signs of intoxication appear, so he can’t have died because of it. He probably just had a weak heart and got himself too worked up. The alcohol can’t have caused it, I’m sure of it!’
Roxanne immediately interrupted him: ‘That doesn’t bloody matter! My fingerprints are on both the bottle of methanol and on the coffee mug. If the police start an investigation, they’ll find out I tried to poison him with all of you here and then we’ll all end up in prison!’
‘That’s not going to happen,’ Michael contradicted her, ‘Thomas and I are still underage, so the only ones going to prison will be you and Charlotte!’
‘Wow, thanks for the hopeful words, Michael!’ Roxanne yelled reproachfully.
Michael had always been quite tactless and egocentric. Besides that he was not a bad guy, but those two traits had caused him to only have a few people who liked him. Not that he cared much: people who didn’t appreciate him could kindly go swrew themselves. His egocentrism could make some situations pretty awkward, though. Charlotte’s suddenly increased panic was a great example of that.
‘Oh my God, I can’t go to prison,’ she sobbed, ‘Those photos they take of you at your arrival never look good! What if my mugshot gets spread somehow? I can’t imagine someone seeing me without make-up on and then I haven’t talked even about those ugly clothes yet! Orange really isn’t my colour!’
Thomas stared at her in disbelief. ‘Our teacher is lying on the floor dead and all you can think about is how you’ll look behind bars? Unbelievable!’
Right after those words the door opened. Thomas, Roxanne, Charlotte and Michael immediately jumped up and stood next to each other in a line in front of the body. They saw a handsome young man enter the room. It was Mr Carter.
‘I heard someone screaming and came as soon as I could. Is everything all right?’
The pupils just kept staring in front of them nervously for a bit. ‘Yeah, we’re fine,’ Roxanne eventually replied.
Mr Carter looked curiously at them. ‘Why are you acting so strange?’, he said, ‘Where is your teacher?’
‘In the bathroom,’ Charlotte answered.
‘Your eyes look red, Charlotte. Have you been crying?’ Mr Carter asked genuinely concerned.
‘Oh no, it’s nothing! I accidentally poked myself in the eyes while applying eyeliner.’
‘You poked both your eyes?’
‘Yeah, you know me! Clumsy as always!’ Charlotte laughed nervously. Mr Carter frowned intensely and crossed his arms.
‘Go back to your seats, I’ll wait here until your teacher has returned from the bathroom.’
‘That might take a while,’ Michael responded.
‘How would you know?’
‘Eh … Number two?’ he stammered.
‘We heard his stomach growling during class. It didn’t sound very healthy,’ Thomas explained.
Mr Carter stroked his stubble and kept looking questionably at the foursome.
‘I don’t have any classes right now, so I have time. Just return to your seats and I’ll wait here ’till your teacher’s back. Who is your teacher anyway?’
No one responded or moved a muscle. The pupils’ peculiar behaviour was starting to get on Mr Carter’s nerves.
‘Fine, if that’s how you want to play it, then I’ll just take you back to your seats myself.’
Irritated, he approached the group of pupils who just stood there scared and motionless. When the young teacher had come close enough to see his co-worker lying on the floor, he had his eyes wide open.
‘Mr Thompson?’ he asked worried. No reaction. He looked at the pupils one by one in disbelief. He didn’t know what to think or how to respond. They couldn’t have possibly killed their teacher, could they?
‘What have you d…’ His words were interrupted by the noise of shattering glass, after which he fell unconscious. When he reached the floor, it became clear that Charlotte had attacked him from behind with the bottle of methanol.
‘I panicked, okay?’ she said when she saw the others questionably looking at her.
‘It’s alright, it’s not like you had much of a choice,’ Roxanne comforted her.
‘So what should we do with him?’ Thomas asked, pointing at Mr Carter. The situation had suddenly become a lot more complicated. Now they had to get rid of the body without getting caught and they had to make sure the fifth eyewitness wouldn’t tell everything to the police.
Michael thought he had found the perfect plan: ‘We could make Mr Carter responsible for his co-worker’s death. We’ll say an argument between them had got out of hand, causing Thompson to completely lose his temper and smash the bottle of methanol on Mr Carter’s head. Eventually, his heart stopped beating because of all the commotion.’
‘But that wouldn’t explain why Charlotte’s fingerprints as well as mine are on the top of the bottle,’ Roxanne argued.
‘And we would all be accomplices to involuntary manslaughter because we didn’t alarm the emergency services in time,’ Thomas added.
‘Plus, Mr Carter is way too hot to end up in prison,’ Charlotte concluded. That last thing was confirmed by a nod from Thomas and Roxanne, as well as from Michael.
‘True! I mean, even I’d tap that,’ he said.
Realising they couldn’t waste any more time, Roxanne reminded the group to stay focused.
‘Okay, enough drooling over the hot teacher. We have to make sure he stays out of our way when he wakes up. The closet can serve as a temporary solution.’
‘I’ll take care of that,’ Thomas proposed, ‘I have the most experience with closets; I’ve spent sixteen years of my life in one.’
While Thomas dragged Mr Carter to the other side of the room and locked him up in the closet, Michael, Roxanne and Charlotte discussed what they would do with the body. Everyone had cancelled their plans for tonight, because they wouldn’t be able to leave the building unnoticed with a dead body during or even shortly after school hours. They had to stay at school for a couple of hours and only leave the building when it had turned dark. Before they would transport the corpse in Charlotte’s car, they would wrap it in a curtain first to leave no DNA behind, Michael had seen that on a TV show. Finally, they would burn the body in order to make all fingerprints disappear and to make it harder to identify it. They could worry about Mr Carter later.
‘Look at us,’ Michael cynically said, “When we have to write our CVs one day, should we put ‘covering up murders’ under skills or interests?”
‘Depends on whether you like doing this or not,’ Thomas replied, ‘This isn’t murder, by the way. It’s manslaughter. We never meant to kill our teacher.’
‘Covering up manslaughters, then. I’ll remember that. I’ll see if I consider it a skill or an interest when I actually have to write it.’
Charlotte wasn’t very fond of this rather gruesome banter and interfered: ‘Guys, please! Could you be a little more serious? You’re scaring me…’
‘I’m sorry if you don’t like our way of coping with this,’ Michael replied sarcastically, ‘It’s not everyday we commit murder … manslaughter.’

*****

By now, the schoolbell had rung fifteen minutes ago, so it shouldn’t be too long before everyone had left the building. That was the good thing about accidentally killing someone at school on a Friday afternoon: everyone was looking forward to the weekend and wanted to leave school as quickly as possible. Fortunately, the cleaning staff only worked before school hours, so the pupils did not have to worry about them either. Meanwhile, Charlotte had covered the corpse with a curtain. That sight was a little less unpleasant than her lifeless teacher’s penetrating glance. Roxanne had gone on a quest to find a dishcloth and a dustpan or something similar to clean up the methanol and the broken glass. When she opened one of the drawers in Thompson’s desk, she noticed a photo of her chemistry teacher embracing a woman of roughly the same age.
‘You’ve got to be kidding me,’ she said dejected, ‘That prick had a wife!’
‘No way!’ Charlotte exclaimed with tears in her eyes, ‘My God, and he had just been on the phone with his mother, too. It has never even occurred to us that there may have been people who did care about him. I’ll never be able to forgive myself!’
While Charlotte burst out in tears once more, Michael tried to put eveything into perspective; in his own unique way, of course: ‘You’ve got to be sick in the head to fall for someone like Thompson. She’s probably just as bad as he was. I bet they have a collection of dead puppies in their freezer.’
‘Damn it, Michael …’ Roxanne said while shaking her head in disdain.
‘What? It’s not like we can undo any of this. What’s done is done and if you two want to feel even worse about yourselves, then be my guest. But I’m not planning on making myself feel any worse than necessary. Thompson was a horrible man who took pleasure in belittling others. Maybe it’s not appropriate to say the world is better off without him, but it fucking helps. So let me process this my way, then I’ll leave you be as well.’
Roxanne and Charlotte had no time to react, as Thomas warned them all of a sudden: ‘Mr Carter is coming out of the closet!’
His three classmates looked behind them astonished to see their handsome teacher standing on the other side of the room holding a paperclip in his hand. The closet was full of papers held together by paperclips, but the pupils all thought that escape trick only worked in films. The teacher furiously walked over to the foursome and spoke with a threatening voice: ‘You are all in so much trouble!’
Roxanne knew she had to scare him if she wanted him not to snitch on them and took a step forward.
‘Are you sure about that? Because right now I’d say you’re in much more trouble than we are. In case you haven’t figured it out yet: we’ve just killed our teacher, beat you unconscious and locked you up afterwards. So I think you’re in a much less favourable position than we are, because who knows what else we’re capable of?’
‘Don’t think I didn’t overhear your conversation when I was in that closet. I know you didn’t mean to kill Mr Thompson. You’re not going to hurt me!’
‘I wouldn’t be too sure about that!’ Roxanne tried to hold on to her role as a merciless murderer for a little longer when Mr Carter’s mobile phone caugt her eye. Without  a warning, she groped into her teacher’s pocket, who was too startled to stop her, and took out the phone.
After she saw it was recording their conversation, she looked at Mr Carter disappointed.
‘Well, it’s pretty stupid to let your hostage keep his phone,’ he said.
Roxanne quickly checked all the calls made and replied: ‘It’s even more stupid to just record your hostage-taker if you could’ve called emergency services instead. Even Charlotte would’ve thought about that, right Charlotte?’
‘Eh … Yeah, sure. Of course I would’ve thought about that! That’s pretty obvious, isn’t it?’ she replied without too much confidence.
‘Who says I didn’t warn the police and deleted the call afterwards?’
‘In that case you wouldn’t have looked so concerned when I confronted you with your own mistake,’ Roxanne responded.
‘I was beaten unconscious and locked up after I had found out four pupils murdered a co-worker of mine. I’m sorry for having a hard time thinking straight in this situation.’
Roxanne smiled. She knew she was in a favourable position compared to Mr Carter. Realising that her teacher didn’t stand a chance, she decided to put his phone in her pocket. Mr Carter didn’t seem impressed, however.
‘Well, then I guess I’ll just report you to the police for murder, assault and theft. On that note, he confidently walked to the door, but was stopped by Thomas, who had picked up a piece of broken glass from the floor and held it to Mr Carter’s throat. Surprised by this unexpected move, the rest just stood there as Thomas threatened his hostage.
‘Thompson’s death might not have been our intention, but beating you unconscious when you became a threat to us was. We are willing to do anything if it keeps us from ending up in prison or an institution, even if it means taking care of an extra body.’
Mr Carter wanted to act like he felt no fear, but was too intimidated by the piece of glass that could slice his throat any second.
‘What do you want from me?’
‘Your cooperation,’ Thomas answered, ‘We want you to unlock the janitor’s office with your paperclip, help us clean up this mess and put the body in Charlotte’s boot with us.’
‘Then I’ll be an accessory.’
‘And we will be sure you won’t be a threat to us anymore.’
Mr Carter looked at the teenagers one by one. ‘Bunch of psychopaths,’ he snarled.
‘And don’t you forget it,’ Roxanne responded, ‘Do we have a deal?’
‘It’s not like I have a choice.’
Roxanne ordered Thomas to release his hostage. Mr Carter pushed Thomas aside and walked over to the corpse. ‘I assume you haven’t taken out the battery from his phone yet?’ he asked the young criminals, ‘You’ve just robbed a woman from her husband, remember? She’ll start to worry and worst case scenario, she’ll track his phone and come here. You can avoid that by removing the battery.’
Michael did what Mr Carter recommended, after which the teacher gave more advice.
‘I hope you don’t have any plans for tonight, because we won’t be going outside before 2am. There’s a lower chance of eyewitnesses then. Everyone is defintely gone at 5pm, so nobody leaves the room before then. No one leaves the building as long as Thompson’s body is here. I don’t want to take the risk of anyone running away. So we won’t be getting dinner, but we’ll have to survive on snacks from the school’s vending machine. Agreed?’
The others nodded simultaneously. They found it remarkable that Mr Carter should have the guts to take on a leading role after he had been threatened by them, but the same could be said about them. After all, they had the guts to use violence and death threats against a teacher to put him in his place. They could receive a lot more for that than just detetion for a couple of days.
‘Are there any questions?’ he asked as if he were simply finishing an everyday lecture.
‘Yes,’ Charlotte said, ‘Do you have any plans next weekend? There’s a new restaurant at the corner of the street and I’d like to try it out sometime.’
This question was met with an uncomprehending look from everyone present.
‘What?’ Charlotte subsequently asked , ‘I’m two years older than you, it’s really not that strange for me to ask him out.’
‘Yes, it is, Charlotte,’ Mr Carter replied, ‘It’s odd enough that you should ask your teacher out and the fact that you’re doing it in these circumstances makes it even stranger. My boyfriend wouldn’t appreciate it if I went on a date with you, anyway.’
Charlotte rolled her eyes and sighed: ‘Ugh, every time I meet an attractive man he turns out to be gay…’ She glanced at Thomas and finished her sentence: ‘Which doesn’t mean I find all gay men attractive.’

*****

Roxanne had always wanted to break in at school and spend the night there with a couple of friends. This night would have been great if her friends were actually with her … and if there weren’t a dead body lying next to her. She tried really hard not to think about the fact that she had just indirectly killed somebody, but she knew very well that that wasn’t going to work. This night was going to haunt her for the rest of her life and that was probably also the case for the four other people who were keeping her company. She knew it would not be easy to keep all of this to herself, so she had even more doubts about the others’ trustworthiness. She couldn’t think too much about the possibility of ending up in prison despite their solid plan, however.

It had got really late now and the five amateur manslaughterers had already prepared themselves for a fast disposal of the body: they had cleaned up the glass and methanol, taken bin bags with them to dump burnt body parts into, wrapped Thompson’s corpse into the curtain and unlocked all the doors and gates they had to go through. They were totally ready to get this over with as soon as possible. When Mr Carter let his students know that it was time to go, everyone simultaneously jumped up. With two students on each side of the corpse, they lifted it and followed their teacher outside. Before they had reached the parking lot opposite the school, Mr Carter ordered his pupils to wait behind the wall until he was certain there were no other people nearby. When the coast seemed to be clear, they all crossed the street headed for Charlotte’s car. Once the body had been put in the boot and everyone had taken a seat in the car, Mr Carter proposed a place where they could throw their gruesome bonfire party.
‘I thought we had already agreed on a location?’ Roxanne objected.
‘The place I have in mind is completely abandoned, no one will see us there. It’s safer than yours, trust me.’
Mr Carter could tell by his pupils’ faces that they didn’t really trust him, to which he responded with rolling eyes: ‘I’m officially an accessory because I helped you move the body and clean up your mess. I’m not going to report us to the police now.’
Realising that their teacher had a point, the classmates decided to follow the route Mr Carter proposed after all.

Eventually, they arrived at an abandoned open field in the middle of a forest. After they had gathered enough wood to start a decent fire, they took Thompson’s body out of the boot and placed it on top of the woodpile. After the fire had been ignited, Thomas walked away from the group while the others watched the flames devouer their dead teacher’s body.
‘Poetic, isn’t it?’ Michael said, ‘Right now the same is happening to his body on Earth as with his soul in hell.’
‘If hell exists,’ Mr Carter responded, ‘he will undoubtedly be waiting for us there.’
In any other circumstance this would be a nice get-together, but the gruesome touch added to the bonfire made the atmosphere somewhat less pleasant.
‘Is this even allowed?’ Charlotte asked to break the awkward silence, ‘Isn’t having a campfire without a license illegal?’
‘There are several reasons why this campfire is illegal, Charlotte,’ Roxanne sighed. She didn’t know what she would find worse if she did have to go to prison for this: prison life itself or the fact that she would probably be stuck there with Charlotte.
‘In case this wasn’t obvious yet,’ Mr Carter said, ‘I want to make clear that once this is all over, we will act as if this has never happened. Starting from tomorrow, we will treat ourselves, each other and other people like we normally would. Don’t avoid contact with each other, but don’t suddenly interact with each other more than usual. Every change in your behaviour might be considered suspicious and then this will all come out. Imagine how you would normally react if you found out Mr Thompson had gone missing. Just like every other student and teacher at school you didn’t think he was a good person, so don’t react too shocked or sad. But showing too little emotion or reacting too happy aren’t option,s either. Try some facial expressions in front of the mirror if you must and look which ones are the most believable. It’s important that you behave exactly like the masses do, understood?’
Michael, Roxanne and Charlotte nodded, after which Roxanne joined Thomas on a log a little farther.
‘Is everything alright?’ she asked him.
‘Yeah, that’s the problem. I’ve committed murder and I feel fine about it,’ Thomas replied without showing any emotion. Roxanne thought that was a little concerning to hear, but she appreciated that such a situation had a different impact on everyone. Not really knowing how she had to react she said: ‘Manslaughter, not murder. Remember?’
Thomas briefly looked at his classmate, swallowed and then looked away again.
‘In your case it was manslaughter, in my case it was murder.’
‘What do you mean?’ Roxanne asked worried.
‘I …’ he closed his eyes and let out a deep sigh without finishing his sentence.
‘What do you mean, Thomas?’ she asked again, this time with a raised voice.
‘I knew very well that methanol was poisonous,’ he eventually admitted, ‘I know it wasn’t the right thing to do, but it felt so right at the time. I really wanted Thompson to die because of it.’
‘Shit, Thomas …’ Roxanne could not believe what she was hearing. Disgusted and concerned, she looked at her fellow pupil. ‘But you looked genuinely shocked when you saw him collapse.’
‘I was surprised because I didn’t expect him to pass out so quickly, but everything else was fake. I reacted so shocked because that’s what normal people would do. I didn’t want to draw any attention by reacting indifferently.’
Roxanne felt both rage and fear running through her body. Was she really sitting next to a psychopath?
‘And when you were threatening Mr Carter, did you really want to slice his throat?’
‘I considered it.’
‘Why are you telling me this?’ she wanted to know.
‘Maybe I would feel something if I confessed to someone: guilt, shame, remorse …’
‘And do you feel any of those things right now?’
‘No,’ he replied breifly.
Roxanne did not dare to ask any more questions. She didn’t even dare to stay close to Thomas, but was also scared that he would take it personally if she left. It was meant to be personal, but an unstable person like Thomas couldn’t think that. He might see it as an insult and harm her! Roxanne decided to just silently sit there without moving, hoping that the fire behind her would soon be put out so she could return home.

 

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