Coach Raphael kicked my ass even more than usual. She threw balls at me during rebounding drills, made me run endless gassers and never once let me take a water break during my two hour workout.
I stood at the free throw line in the complete dark trying to make the shots that would allow me to go home with legs so fatigued they wobbled and worn out arms. Even just lifting the ball felt was tough.
Still, I stayed poised in the pitch black in my shooting stance, waiting for Coach Raphael to bark at me to shoot, but her voice never came. I initially wasn’t going to say anything because everything I had said had seemed to enrage Coach Raphael and turn her into a BDSM nightmare this afternoon, but I eventually had to speak up.
“Coach,” I said between ragged breaths.
My only answer came in the form of something heavy clumsily rolling into the back of my feet. It sounded and its weight felt like a bowling ball when it bumped up against my shoes.
I quickly discovered that it was not a bowling ball when I reached down to pick up the object. A blind scan with my hands felt a wet clump of long hair and the unmistakable features of a face.
I felt a presence behind me and I was pretty sure it didn’t belong to the rest of the body of whose face I had just held in my hands. I could feel whoever was there stomping on the hardwood of the court right behind me.
I didn’t wait to find out what that presence wanted to do to me. I sprinted with my sore legs towards where I thought the doors to the gym were but it was a complete guess as I couldn’t see even an inch in front of my face.
I could feel the hot breath of the presence tickling the hairs on the back of my neck even though I was running at full speed. That full speed to come to a grinding halt when I tumbled over a heavy lump lying on the edge of the court.
The squeaking of my sneakers skidding on the court filled the air and my palms burned against the slick wood as I tried to lighten my fall. I fell hard on my back and rolled up like a turtle in a quick attempt to protect myself from whoever was bearing down on me.
“What the fuck are you doing?” I screamed.
My plea was answered by a ray of light shooting in through an opening door. The warmth of the light bathed my face and I screamed at the dark figure that stood in the open doorway.
“Help!” I screamed. “Help me!”
My screams were soothed when I saw who had opened the door step into the light – Gabby.
“What’s happening in here? I was waiting for you outside and I heard screaming,” Gabby said before her face locked into utter horror.
“I don’t know,” I started in and worked my way to my feet as fast as I could before I turned around to have my eyes look upon what had thrown Gabby’s face into terror.
Coach Raphael’s headless torso laid in a hideous twist just behind me and a pool of syrupy, dark red blood that collected right where her head should be.
“Oh my God,” Gabby screamed before she covered her mouth with her hand and I stumbled over to her.
“Let’s get the fuck out of here,” I yelled at Gabby and grabbed her hand to lead her out of the gym.
Gabby and I tore out of the gym and sprinted across the school’s playfield in the direction of our usual make out spot in the woods. We sprinted silently until we reached the shelter of the trees.
We embraced each other when we reached the potentially safe cover.