Martin Hooijmans | Lars de Ruyter
The kid’s eyes were downcast, fixed on the instrument of death that lay on the table in front of him. Stains of blood from its previous victims glimmered their stale red in the dim light of the kitchen. His mom stood behind him, cowering in fear, moaning, pushed back into a corner by one of the thugs who had entered the house. Across the table stood a selection of men. The frightened one, his face already a battlefield of cuts, bruises and smeared blood, was pushed down hard on the chair opposite the twelve-year old. When he began screaming he was briskly punched in the face again, the final blow that was needed to get him into a state of drifting in and out of consciousness.
The biggest and meanest looking man in the bunch then stepped forward and towered over the kid. His skin was so intensely black that he seemed like a shadow, a silhouette, the white of his eyes seemingly glowing. It was an enthralling sight, and the kid realized he would have a hard time disobeying this titan.
‘You know what to do.’ he spoke, the voice of a true leader. And he was the leader, the fearsome head of a gang named ‘Rage’. They were powerful, undefeated and the bane of each and every person of authority in the area. They stood far beyond the law, so to deny anyone of them anything was a fatal mistake.
The kid wanted nothing less than to disobey them. Purely based on his dark skin color and strong physique, he had been chosen by the gang’s leader to be initiated and brought into the heavy training program. Many boys saw this as a great honor, but not this one. He did not want the life of violence that lay before him. If they took him now, given enough years they would be able to convert him into the same soulless, ruthless human beings that filled his mother’s kitchen now. They had their methods for that, the first one being the task of shooting the helpless victim in front of him through the head. That alone would destabilize a young boy enough to freely mold him into whatever the gang desired him to be.
His mother uttered another cry, and the thug restraining her slapped her hard across the face, an action he would regret for the rest of his short life. The kid was quick as thunder, sweeping the gun off the table and jamming its barrel hard into the man’s crotch. He doubled over, his yell a high-pitched one, genuine fear surfacing in his eyes. A Rage was not allowed to show fear though, and he was quickly reprimanded by his leader, receiving a crushing sweep of the elbow between his eyes. On his way to the floor, he was grasped by the neck and flung hard through the window, onto the lawn where he would remain, unconscious and severely hurt.
The leader then addressed the boy again, who trembled in the wake of the recent events, the gun still clutched tightly in his hands.
‘No fear.’ the voice grunted once more. He got behind the boy and directed his hands so that the gun was aimed at the mutilated face of the man across the table, then leaned forward and whispered in his ear.
‘He deserves what’s coming to him. Shoot him. Shoot him and I will make you strong. I will make you great. Fearsome. You belong with us and deep down you know it. Listen to your heart. Pull the trigger. Do it.’
A sick feeling got hold of the boy’s stomach. He noticed that he was losing control of his own mind, already. An instinctive urge wanted to obey, wanted to pull the trigger, wanted to surrender himself to the force the man beside him radiated. The gun shook in his hands as he felt the cold steel of the trigger beneath his index finger. It felt good. He hardly noticed the pressure he was placing on it, hardly noticed the soft creak as the little handle was pulled backwards, bit by bit. It was like a trance. He felt mesmerized, driven on by the encouraging words of the titan. Then, at the moment of fiercest suspense, as everyone was silent, as all eyes were fixed on the kid, as the barrel was about to breathe out its fatal fire, a war cry resounded through the kitchen as mother jumped on the leader’s back. The sharp kitchen knife in her hand was plunged into his neck, and the ensuing scream he was supposed to voice turned into a desperate dying gurgle as he fell to the floor.
Mom screamed in rage and jumped on the table, shielding her son from the two remaining thugs, both of them utterly confused at the sight of their fallen master. She lunged towards one of them, the knife once more coming down with deadly intent, screaming at her son to get out.
Everything happened too fast for him to comprehend. The one moment he was about to shoot the helpless man in front of him, driven on by the sheer power of the Rage leader. The next this leader was bleeding dry on the kitchen floor, assaulted by his timid mother who was now leaping onto the remaining two visitors. She was bringing one of them down as the other pulled his gun and began aiming it at her head. The boy was once again quick as thunder at seeing his mom threatened and a split second later the gun roared, the second thug dropping his, grabbing his shoulder in agony. A second bullet clipped his leg and he sprawled on the ground, not fatally hurt but definitely defeated. He alone would survive to live another day as a Rage…behind bars.
It was over. Shortly after, the police arrived, quick to arrest the survivor, help the victim and identify the bodies, amazed that for once they could actually do their job. They took the mother and son with them, praising them for their courage, promising a life far away from violence and gangs.
What they did not realize was that both of them had been scarred that day, even though they had walked away unharmed. Both had drawn blood that would forever stain their minds, like the blood that stained the gun. They would move on to safety, but they would never forget.