#Chapter 116: Rotten Tomatoes
Somehow, I managed to sleep that night, if only for a few hours before I had to be up for class. The news of werewolves had thoroughly spread its way through campus by now like a wildfire, and everywhere I went, people were whispering about Enzo.
“He’s a monster,” I heard one girl say from behind me while we were waiting for class to start. “I don’t know why anyone would want to compete with him. We should just boycott the games from now on until they replace him with someone normal.”
I felt myself fume at this comment, and turned around to glare at her.
“I think we should all be more accepting,” I said, narrowing my eyes.
She laughed abrasively. “Oh, that’s rich coming from you,” she said. “You two have been thick as thieves all semester. How do we know that you’re not a werewolf, too?”
“And what if I am?”
Suddenly, the girl’s eyes widened. She opened her mouth to say something else, but stopped herself as the professor came in and began the lesson.
After class, I walked to the dining hall
with Lori and Jessica. Along the way, we started to notice people walking toward the hockey arena with picket signs in their hands. One sign in particular caught my eye: it was the picture of a dog lifting its leg like it was going to urinate with a big red X through it, and below that, it said, “Don’t let dogs piss all over our campus!”
I felt a growl escape my lips, and I went to shout something at the guy carrying the sign, but Lori grabbed my arm and stopped me before I could.
“It’s not worth it,” she said, pulling me away. “There’s no convincing these people. They’re a bunch of jerks with no empathy for anyone who’s even the tiniest bit different.”
“Yeah,” Jessica chimed in. “Besides, there are plenty of people who are supportive of werewolves. I just joined a whole Twitter group of people who think that werewolves should be allowed to attend our school and play in our sports.”
My friends’ words were reassuring, but I still had my doubts. Suddenly, I had an idea.
“They’re protesting before the game tonight, right?” I asked, to which Lori and Jessica nodded. “Let’s protest against them. Show them that they can’t just bully werewolves out of existence.”
Jessica scrunched up her nose. “I don’t know…” she said nervously. “I don’t like getting involved in these sorts of things. Remember that one time when people were protesting against the new professor that was super racist? It turned into a huge brawl and tons of people got arrested.”
“Yeah,” Lori said, “but that professor got fired, too. So the protests did work.”
I nodded. “Lori’s right. Besides, we can leave if anything bad starts to happen. We don’t need to engage in any fighting.”
Jessica paused, biting her lip nervously, before she finally relented. “Alright,” she said. “Let’s have lunch, then we can go and make our signs. I’ll notify my Twitter group.”
A few hours later, we had our signs and headed over to the hockey arena to meet up with the rest of Jessica’s group.
When we arrived, I was stunned to see the massive protest that had already begun. There were countless people who were protesting against werewolves meanwhile, there were only ten of us, with myself, Lori, and Jessica included. As we met up with Jessica’s group, we quickly realized that our voices were immediately drowned out by the crowd of anti- werewolf protesters, many of whom were shouting at us angrily for being traitors’.
“Uh, I dunno about this,” Jessica said with a shaky voice, holding her sign to shield her face. “There are so many them.” of
“Don’t worry, babe,” Lori said, stepping in front of Jessica and shielding her with her body. “I’ll make sure no one messes with you.”
Just then, a girl from the other side cupped her hands over her mouth and screamed at Lori and Jessica from across the line, “Hey, traitors! You’re just a bunch of sheep getting bossed around by the werewolf-fucker, Nina, aren’t you?!”
“Hey!” Jessica suddenly shouted, revealing her angry face from behind her sign. “Don’t talk about my friend like that!”
“Aw, what, are you gonna come over here and fight me?” the girl said, stepping into the middle of the line and cocking her head.
“No,” Lori interrupted, pushing Jessica back and standing in front of her, throwing down her sign, “but I will!” She pushed up her sleeves and began to rush at the other girl, but before she could, I grabbed her by the arm and yanked her back. My action resulted in a chorus of boos coming from the other side, and the other girl stuck her tongue out before disappearing into the crowd again.
“Lori,” I said, squeezing her arm, “it’s nice that you wanna stand up for your girlfriend, but try to tone it down a notch. It doesn’t help our image if we let them get under our skin and start a fight within the first five minutes of coming here.”
Lori nodded angrily, picking back up her sign. I watched as she grabbed Jessica by the hand and rejoined the rest of the group.
When I went to join them, however, I saw an oddly familiar head of blonde hair in the anti-werewolf crowd…
It was only a glimpse, but I recognized that hair and that sweater vest anywhere.
“James?” I called, furrowing my brow, then cupped my hands over my mouth and shouted louder. “James!”
Unfortunately, he was already gone. The pit of dread in my stomach remained, however. Why was James in the anti-werewolf crowd? Surely there was some sort of explanation; I trusted him when he said that he was our friend, and that he would never do something like that. As I walked back to meet up with Jessica and Lori, however, I couldn’t shake that feeling of unease. What if it really was James who leaked Enzo’s secret?
No, I thought to myself. James wouldn’t do that.
“What’s wrong?” Jessica asked as I approached.
I shook my head, taking up my sign to join the protest. “Nothing,” I said, chalking it up to a simple mistake.
Maybe someone else was just wearing a
similar sweater vest to James. In fact, I was sure of it.
We spent the next forty-five minutes protesting until our throats and our bodies were sore. Surprisingly, a few people from the other side actually listened to our speeches, and came over to join our side. It was only a few, but it was better than nothing. Who knew; maybe if we worked hard enough at it, we could get more and more people to understand that not all werewolves were monsters, and eventually we could even have the majority over them. Needless to say, I was optimistic.
That optimism was quickly snuffed out when the hockey team started pushing through to get to the arena.
“Monsters!” people screamed.
The hockey team just pushed through quietly, keeping their heads down as they clutched their duffle bags close to their chests. I could see Enzo at the back of the group, shouting to them to just keep going and get inside. His eyes scanned the crowd and landed on my group, then stopped on me. He shot me a confused, as well as concerned, look and furrowed his brows. I smiled at him over the crowd reassuringly, holding up my sign that read, “The Big, Bad Wolf is just a fairytale!”
Even from where I stood, I could see a bit of a smile twitch at the corners of Enzo’s lips as he read my sign. Seeing him smile during a time like this, after not seeing him smile at all since before Edward took us, made my heart skip and made my body feel light.
As he approached, I kept the sign held high and kept my eyes focused on him as I projected my thoughts outwards, just as I had that night in the woods when we found out that Justin had been turned into a rogue.
“I’m always on your side.”
His eyes widened, indicating that he had gotten my message.
But then, as if everything was moving in slow motion, I saw the same girl from before the girl that tried to instigate a fight with Lori — step out from the crowd. She had something red and round in her hand, and an evil smirk on her face. I watched as she pulled her arm back, and threw the object directly at Enzo.
Without thinking, I lunged forward and jumped in front of Enzo. The object hit my shirt with a splat, leaving my white shirt streaked with a watery red color, clumps of gooey seeds, and a horrific smell.
It was a rotten tomato.
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