Red-Eyed FredMy name is Arthur, and I will tell you about a friend of mine who had an unexpected change happen to him about 10 years ago... I remember it so vividly, every detail. I don't want to remember it, but for some strange reason, I wouldn't have it any other way.
Ah, high school. The place where everything changes, for much, much better or for much, much worse. You grow, you laugh, you cry, your emotions take over, you become pretty much insufferable. You have to be prepared for someone hating you, no matter how popular you were in primary school, or how nice and wonderful you are. Everyone is going to seem like a complete loser to someone, but there's always that one kid that everyone hates, and when I was growing up, that one kid that everyone hated was Frederick Lee. He never was like the other kids - they wore denim short shorts, chinos and brightly-coloured trainers, he wore basic blue jeans, a light grey hoodie and black Doc Marten boots. They listened to pop music, he listened to rock and metal. They liked to mix ketchup and mayonnaise to create seafood sauce, but he liked to do the craziest things imaginable with his food - he would practically experiment on it, pouring coffee into his cereal bowl and making horrible words like "DIE", "DEATH", "MURDER", "STAB", "KILL" and "FATALITY" with his Alphabetti Spaghetti. He was an odd one, especially for someone only 12 years old. He was distinctively creepy, to say the least - he was born on Halloween, he had neck-long, paper-white hair that looked slicked back and slightly choppy, his skin was paler than pale and he had peach-pink eyes with cherry-red pupils, but his physical appearance wasn't really something he could help - he had albinism, which was why a lot of the other kids picked on him. They viewed him as an outcast for his opinions, and his albinism was the reason they all saw to intimidate him mercilessly and without sympathy. People don't just find someone to hurt - they're looking for someone to hurt, and Frederick was the perfect victim - small, slouchy, strange and an albino.
Every time I arrived at school in the morning, I'd see Frederick sitting outside on one of the old, wooden benches, staring off into space. When the rain would pour from the sky, he'd just sit there letting it drip into his hair and onto his basic clothes, making them look darker than they actually were, but he only really liked to go out in the rain - when it was sunny, he had to have his hood up so that he didn't get sunburn, and he liked to have it down. He was oblivious to everyone and everything around him... apart from me.
"Hey, Frederick... what're you doing?" I'd ask pretty much every morning.
"Nothing." he'd reply every time. He had an odd tendency to only say one word in his sentences, and as strange and - let's be honest - disturbing as he was, he interested me. He was an unusual kid, but he was a good kid. Quiet and shy, intelligent and somewhat friendly. He was cold and callous, but he was alright. He was kind of an enigma.
"Y' know, it's raining... don't you wanna go inside?" I'd ask, concerned.
"No." he'd answer, monotonous in tone and in his posh, calm, madman's voice. He hardly said a word, but he was my friend. It's not like he'd done anything wrong.
"Hey, look! Who's that dork over there with Ghosty?" yelled Jake, one of the school bullies, calling Frederick by one of his many nicknames, which included Casper, Snow White, Midget, Sloucho and Freak, but the last one didn't really offend him as much as the others - he embraced being on the strange side.
"Hey, I think it's Arthur!" shouted another bully, named Steve.
"Who the f*ck'd hang around with that pale-faced loner!?" yelled Pete, the third member of the group of thugs.
"Arthur, obviously. Let's get 'em both!" shouted Jake. The three bullies charged at us both, so Frederick grabbed me by the arm, simply told me to run and sprinted away from Jake, Steve and Pete.
"You can't get away from us, losers!" shouted Steve, and the three bullies unfortunately managed to catch up to us. Jake grabbed Frederick by the shoulders and slammed his normally-slouched back hard up against a brick wall.
"Ow..." he complained, seething in pain.
"We're gonna beat you up bad, Ghosty."
"Arthur?" he said quietly, looking over at my scared face.
"Don't worry, Frederick, I'll help you!" I offered.
"No." he declined.
"Wha - bu -" I stuttered, confused as to why he'd refuse my help when he obviously needed it.
And that was the last I heard from him until lunchtime break. I felt absolutely awful for running away from poor Frederick like that - he was my friend - but he was an independent young boy who didn't like help from anyone, and besides, I probably wouldn't have been able to help him anyway.
He sat next to me in the canteen, taking a seat on one of the blue stools and pulling his skull-shaped lunchbox out of his black messenger bag. The lunchbox was covered in red paint splats that looked like blood, and in dark sentences like "NO WAY OUT" and "NO REASON TO LIVE" scribbled crudely in black pen. I feared for him more and more each day, and I was beginning to grow concerned that he was suicidal, but his maliciously decorated lunchbox wasn't what I was giving all my attention to - I was more concerned about his black right eye, the dried, crimson blood under both of his nostrils and his several missing teeth.
"Frederick! Oh, shit, man, are you alright!?" I asked in one breath.
"No." answered Frederick bluntly, his white eyebrows slanting downwards above his pink eyes, making them look angry and vengeful.
"I-I'm sorry, I shoulda helped you..." I apologised sorrowfully.
"No." he replied, and I began to think that "no" was the only word he was the least bit familiar with.
"Wha - why not, I mean..." I spat out, but I was too shocked, scared, worried and concerned to form a full sentence.
"Revenge." he said coldly, the "g" coming out like a "sh" because of the lisp caused by his missing teeth.
"What... you can't, you'll be killed!" I yelled, growing even more concerned about Frederick.
"Mandatory." he replied, this time a little louder and more serious-sounding. Frederick was a stubborn boy, and there was nothing I could do to change his strong mind. I begged him to stop for the rest of the day, but all he said was "No." As he ate his lunch, he experimented on it as usual, this time in a more violent way - before eating his sandwiches, he ripped them up into messy chunks as if he was delimbing someone. He squeezed his juice carton as he drank it, most probably pretending it was someone's neck. He snapped his chocolate into blocks like a serial killer snapping a spine. This 12-year-old boy, this young outcast I was sitting right next to, was acting homicidal. I thought I knew what anxiety was, but it was that moment that I truly found out. I couldn't tell which feeling was more overpowering - determination to help him, or fear that he was going to do something impulsive.
The next day, when I walked through the rusty school gates, I looked over at the wooden benches, but I couldn't see Frederick sitting on any one of them. He'd usually sit on the middle one, staring off into space with his head in the clouds... knowing him, they were probably dull, grey rainclouds. Before I could walk over to the benches and wait for Frederick to arrive, a pale hand grabbed me by the collar of my white shirt and pulled me to the side. It was Frederick.
"Come." he whispered, sounding calm yet somewhat evil. He led me over to a small, dark corner, enveloped by the shadows of the buildings we were standing under. Although it was dark, Frederick's eyes could clearly be seen, and they were so bright that they seemed somewhat luminous. He picked up something large-looking that was resting on the floor right in the corner. As he picked it up, I heard a metallic scraping against the concrete floor.
"What's that?" I questioned, a little worried.
"Shovel." he replied.
"Wh-why do you have a shovel?" I asked, stammering a little because of my increasing anxiety.
"Revenge." he answered, his lisp not quite as evident anymore.
"Wha - Frederick, no! You'll be killed!" I shouted in a probably useless bid to stop him.
"Mandatory." he responded sternly, drilling holes into my sapphire-blue eyes with his peach-pink eyes like lasers. "And... don't call me Frederick."
"But... I don't... what - why?" I stuttered, only able to spit out fragments of questions, but the fact that he asked me not to call him Frederick wasn't what surprised me the most - the fact that he said more than one word in his sentence surprised me.
"They'll find me. I kill Jake, Steve and Pete, police track Frederick Lee down and find me. I don't want them to track down Frederick Lee - I want them to track down Red-Eyed Fred. Safer that way." he answered, and to be honest, I couldn't really blame him for coming up with an alias name. He was right - they'd easily find Frederick Lee, but it'd be much harder to find Red-Eyed Fred. He pulled his hood up, covering up his hair that was as white as snow.
"OK... Red-Eyed Fred... what have you got your hood up for?" I asked.
"You ask too many questions. I have hood up so it's harder for people to know what I look like." he replied. "Wait, don't move and don't say a word."
I did as he instructed and stood as still as a statue and as quiet as a mouse. My legs shook a lot, but apart from that, I didn't really move. I had to resist trying to convince Fred to stop what he was doing, but, as I had known from the start, there was no convincing a stubborn, intelligent yet reckless boy like him otherwise in any situation.
"They're here..." whispered Fred in a maniacal sing-song voice, turning around to face me with the most horrifying, evil, twisted grin I had ever seen. I could clearly see his scary, angry eyes under the shadow of his hood.
"Who?" I asked, trembling in fear.
"Who do you think, Arthur?" he asked back, not taking that nightmarish grin off of his pale face.
"Jake, Steve and Pete... Fred, I don't want you to do this." I told him, determined to make him stop.
"Tough. They die now." he answered, his light grey hood casting a shadow over his pale face, which wasn't displaying that horrifying grin anymore. Instead, it was replaced with a blank, serious expression - his face was now that of someone who had some mandatory work to do. The trio of bullies were standing with their backs towards the corner Fred and I were standing in, and the young albino boy walked towards them without a shadow of doubt or hesitation, shovel in hand. Before I could even accept the fact that there was no stopping Fred, he swung the shovel with both hands, making it hit Jake in the head.
"AAARGH!" he screamed, falling to the ground and clutching his aching, throbbing head.
"Dude, what the fu... you..." stammered Pete, looking at what he could see of Fred's shadowed face.
"Are you... are you Frederick Lee?" asked Steve, trembling all over. Fred's pale lips curved up into a small, devilish smirk.
"No. That's not who I am anymore, sunshine." he answered, before ramming the thin, sharp front of the metal shovel directly into Steve's nose, making him fall to the floor next to Jake. "My name..." he began, interrupting himself to stomp on Jake's face, breaking his skull and killing him instantly. "...is Red-Eyed Fred." he continued, before stabbing Steve in the spine with the same part of the shovel that broke his nose. Pete whined scaredly at the snapping, crunching noise that was made when the shovel dug into Steve's back.
"Wha... FREDERICK!" yelled a teacher, running towards Fred, Pete and the bloody corpses of Jake and Steve. As the teacher charged at Fred, he raised the shovel up so that she ran directly into the flat face of it. She stumbled backwards, clutching her bleeding nose.
"That's not my name anymore." said Fred sternly, stabbing the teacher directly in the stomach, impaling her. When he pulled the shovel out, her innards tumbled out of her body and flopped onto the concrete floor with a grotesque "splat" noise that I hope I never hear again. She fell on her back, lifeless, and her eyes remained wide open.
"Aww, is ickle-wickle Petey-Wetey crying?" questioned Fred like a mother talking to her baby, observing the tears flooding like waterfalls made entirely out of fear from Pete's brown eyes. "How... blind of me to ignore." continued Fred, ramming the tip of the shovel straight into Pete's right eye. It split open with a horrifying popping noise, and blood spurted out onto Fred's smiling, pale face. Thank f*ck nobody noticed me vomiting in the corner. Fred whacked Pete's head with the shovel, and he fell to the ground, joining Jake, Steve and the teacher. Fred looked down at what he had done, admiring it like a work of art. He then chuckled quietly to himself before walking over to me in the corner.
"What did you see?" he asked me, a serious look adorning his ghostly-white face that was covered in Pete's eye blood... lovely.
"I didn't see anything!" I replied, more scared than I had ever been in my entire, 12-year life. That boy was my friend, and he'd become a serial killer.
"Good, that's exactly what I wanted to hear, Arthur. Now, if you'll excuse me, I have some more work to do... I'll be back to collect the bodies at midnight."
I never heard from him again, but to be fair, I'm thankful for that. He ran out the school gates, as did I shortly after... as did everyone. The bodies were found by other pupils and teachers, and everyone was told to evacuate the school as they all feared a murderer or terrorist still roaming the school.
Now, 10 years have passed since that gruesome quadruple-murder. Nobody else knows it was Fred, but I do. All they know is that the murderer is still at large, as reports of dead bodies being buried under a specific forest - a specific forest that no-one but detectives and the police would ever dare enter - have been coming in again and again. He's 22 years old now, but I hardly think he's changed.
Hell, I don't think he'll ever change.