Why not? This is the story I submitted to Cafe Doom's 7th Annual Short Story Contest.
"Penny Farmer and the Bad Day" Copyright 2011 by Carey Burns
Penny stared at the centipede scuttling up the boy’s back to his shoulder. He reached up to brush it aside and exploded into a collapsing mass of the writhing insects. As she stomped her shoe onto one of the quicker bugs, she grunted. “He’s doing it again!”
“Well, just don’t sit there,” Mr. Byron chirped, “get them.”
For the next half hour the classroom was a riot of shoes clomping down on the centipedes that once were Christopher Leeds. Once a month, Christopher would have a ‘Bad Day’ such as today then return the next day looking fresh and pink and act as if nothing had happened. He’d pretend that his schoolmates hadn’t spent their afternoon smashing the life out of him.
When the last bug was dead, Mr. Byron pulled a small broom and dustpan out of his cabinet and held them out to Penny. “You know the rules; first one to squish is the one who sweeps.”
Her dark eyes grew darker as she snatched them from his bony hands. She wanted to tell him it wasn’t fair and that he was cruel for making the students do his dirty work but she didn’t. Instead, she mumbled, “Christopher Leeds shouldn’t even be allowed in school. He’s disgusting.”
Mr. Byron’s cheeks flushed crimson and the veins in his forehead throbbed. “You all have a right to a decent education, Miss Farmer. Christopher cannot help his disability. Now, mind you sweep them all up and put them in the bag. Mrs. Leeds will collect him after school.”
“Yes, sir.” She flicked the limp insects into the dustpan and wished Christopher would just stay dead. Penny dumped the bugs into the paper bag next to the door and wondered what would happen if one centipede went missing. She handed Mr. Byron’s broom and dustpan to him before taking her seat.
“Thank you, Miss Farmer.” He strolled to the cabinet and tucked them back inside. “Alright, your assignment for tomorrow is to read chapter six in your texts. There will be a quiz.”
The bell rang and the students gathered their things and filed through the door, none of them brave enough to sneak a peek inside the bag.
Penny watched Mr. Byron talk with one of the boys at his desk and crept toward the door. In one quick motion she reached in and snatched up a dead centipede and hurried through the door into the crowded hallway. She ran all the way home, locked her bedroom door and opened her sweaty hand.
“You’re disgusting, Christopher Leeds. I hope you die!” She opened her jewelry box and tucked the bug into one of the empty pink velour compartments. Penny closed the lid and shoved the box under her bed. Mr. Byron never said what would happen if they didn’t collect all of Christopher and Penny imagined him unable to reform into a human.
After a good night’s sleep she woke and checked on the centipede. She scooted under the bed, reaching blindly ahead of her until her fingertips grazed the wooden box. She clutched it to her chest and squirmed backward into the early morning light. After a quick prayer she opened the lid and saw the dried-up bug: it hadn't disappeared. Maybe her theory was right. Giddy, she dressed and hurried to school, anxious to see Christopher’s empty desk in front of her own for the first time in years.
As she settled in without any sign of Christopher, she smiled. No more buggy Christopher Leeds. It had worked.
Mr. Byron cleared his throat and rose to his feet. “Welcome back, Christopher.”
Penny’s smile evaporated as Christopher Leeds slipped into his chair. She stared at the back of his head, angry tears welling up in her eyes until she noticed his left ear was missing.
Penny thought back to the shriveled-up centipede in her jewelry box and her smile returned. The next time Christopher Leeds had another 'Bad Day' she'd make sure she was the first to squish, and the next time, and every time after that. Little by little she'd hide away his bugs until there was nothing left of him. Christopher Leeds would finally stay dead.