Hampton slowly raised his gentle arm and struggled through a loud, wheezing cough. He had no intention of getting the entire class' attention, but nonetheless the sweaty horde twisted their necks backward in an impatient manner, anticipating a significant change in scenery. Hampton attempted to retract his arm, but before he could do so the teacher called toward him in a rusty voice asking, "What is it this time?"
It was then that Hampton realized that he had absolutely no idea why he raised his hand in the first place. He simply had nothing to say.
Naturally, he was nervous. The sweat pooled on the back of his neck and his eyes were as wide as tiny alien heads, the same tiny aliens he used to imagine taking him away from this pitiful world. Hampton could not imagine anything more joyful than leaving everything behind, seeing as he never knew a moment of comfort in his entire life. Every basketball game he attempted to survive ended in an embarrassing defeat that spread across every social platform available at his gray elementary school. His loneliness was maddening, and his insanity grew even at the age of eleven. Because of the crushing emptiness inside his soul, he found it near impossible to speak out loud in class.
It was unbearably tense, and Hampton was racing to figure out something to say. A chubby classmate lost his life in those few fragile moments, for the intensity of the situation was simply too much for his greasy heart to take. Even as he whispered a faint "help me", every glowing eye in the room was fixated in the other direction on the small, nervous boy stumbling through some insignificant sentence.
Hampton began to succumb to the density of the situation, but then he noticed something odd in the corner of the room. A black mass rested, unmoving, out of view from the other children. It was definitely human, or something frighteningly similar. Examining further, he discovered that it was something he knew. Someone he knew.
"He's back," Hampton said with surprising clarity.
"Who is back, Hampton?" his teacher said in an exasperated sigh.
Hampton tried to respond but the dark figure in the corner broke in with an impossibly evil voice that seemed to surround the room and choke the words from the boy's mouth.
"You know what to do," said the figure, the earth trembling with every word, "for if you do not, I cannot fulfill my promises."
"What's wrong? Who are you talking about?" the teacher cried at Hampton, her voice nearing an obnoxious yell. Hampton's eyes darted over toward her, but his vision was becoming so distorted that she resembled a Picasso painting more than a middle-aged woman.
"Do you see him?" he finally blurted out, "Save me from him, can't you hear him? He won't let me escape!"
"Do not disappoint me Hampton. Remember what we planned?"
The room was getting louder and louder but his classmates remained unfazed by the hellish voice. They didn't seem to notice the hooded figure slowly looming toward him. To his horror, no one else saw or heard the unparalleled evil that was taking over the room.
More faculty poured into the room, trailed by the principal who came in to see what the commotion was. Hampton was shaking in his seat and clutching the chair with all of his might. He thought for sure that he would grind his teeth to a fine powder if he didn't die first.
"Hampton? Are you okay?" the principal said in a worrisome tone.
"They are watching you Hampton, you have to do it. You have to do it for them. Do not disappoint me."
Hampton moaned and started shouting to the growing congregation of students and teachers. "Help! He's gonna make me do it! He's gonna make me do it! He won't stop talking about it and I can't do it! Don't let him make me do it! Help me please!" His shouting evolved into unintelligible grunts and screams. The principal knew it was time to leap into action before the situation got any more horrifying. He jumped behind Hampton and grabbed both of his flailing arms to keep him from hurting anyone. Another two men joined in by grabbing his kicking legs. They were stunned by Hampton's surprising amount of strength and failed to properly retain him. He fell on the floor, flat on his back writhing in impossible directions. No one could bare to touch him again, as they thought he was surely dying.
"Do it now, Hampton. I have lost my patience."
The dark figure was standing directly above him now, rattling his brain with every haunting word.
"You have angered me Hampton, do it NOW!"
"N-n-no" he whimpered.
Hampton slowly rose to his feet. The room watched in absolute silence as he pulled a deck of cards from his denim jacket. He removed the cards from the plastic container and quickly shuffled them. After he was finished with the cumbersome preparation he held the cards out toward the principal, expecting him to take the lead. Hampton broke the silence with an eerily deadpan statement.
"Pick a card."
Reluctantly, the principal reached toward the most dog-eared card in the deck and pulled it from Hampton's tight grip. It was a four of diamonds. He found it surprisingly difficult to memorize the simple card's easily recognizable features under such bizarre circumstances. The principal could feel the eyes of every person in the room glaring at the back of his neck. He placed the card back in the deck and watched as Hampton shuffled the cards once again. This time he kept his eyes forward, as if he was watching some invisible force guide him through the process. In one swift motion, Hampton raised the stack of cards and threw them in every possible direction. Cards rained down all throughout the room, littering the floor as they fell. As each card gracefully flowed through the air, one stubborn card drew everyone's attention. It was a four of diamonds, stabbed into a desk by a pencil.
Immediately after the full shock of the incredible trick set in, Hampton's limp body slammed against the floor, dead. Everyone stared at the young boy's motionless corpse in disbelief. The principal turned to a student and said with a cockeyed smile "It was a pretty good magic trick though."