Few humans alive know the fear of a blind man standing in a den of wolves, surrounded by the incessant growling and the salivating of their glands at the prospect of writhing meat to feast upon. Only the few know of the stifling of breathing so too hear them all the more clearly, the squinting of the eyelids in the hope that vision may miraculously return to save them, the musty scent of their fur growing ever closer towards them. They say that in times of extreme stress, you see the happy aspects of your life flash before you, comforting you and allowing yourself peace, yet this sensation is not one that came to Henderson's mind. Visions of stuttering, of crumbling and stammering and dishonouring himself flooded the private viewing screen behind the eyes, but no flashback of happy childhood memories. No nostalgia flooded his system allowing him tranquillity when he needed it most. No, these emotions had happened prior to the actual event, writing a speech as important as this could not help but stir these emotions. As his vision from the first round of flashes began to return, Henderson stood up to the platform to look across the crowd's, before the wolves camera's flashed once more, filling his Iris's with black dots, blinding him from the crowds, allowing him only to see the void from which he had immerged.
The sound of the bell could only mean one thing; that it was again time for Joe's torturous lunch hour of hiding and masqueraded repulsion. Lunch was arduous for many reasons, the largest concern was that John Biggins would find him, the narcissistic would-be-if-he-had-the-balls sociopath that plagued Joe’s existence, the other was that his plastic coated girlfriend Christina would be with him to witness the embarrassment that was sure to follow. He thought about seeking asylum in the library, but this once-upon-a-time safe haven for him and his friends had become the place of those who valued Wi-Fi above food and people. The computer room was tempting, but the stick he would get for going on those 'restricted computers' that blocked all of the 'useful' sections of the internet was paramount to suicide. He externally laughed at his internal monologue for even suggesting the Astroturf as a sanctuary, so all that was left was to find a nice quiet section of the corridor and settle there for the 45 minutes of ‘banter’ and false niceties before he could return happily to his classes. Yet this presented an issue - if he wanted a quiet spot he would have to go to building A, which was across the lunch hall from where he currently was. Gathering his wits and his courage, Joe began his descent through the entrance hall of Orcus, and into the Elysium safety of the corridors beyond.
Halfway through his exponentially fast descent, Christina caught his eye. Something in her mannerisms was different today, they appeared more welcoming, more inviting - the kind of mannerisms one would exhibit at seeing a friend? That was impossible, they had always ridiculed Joe for his diffidence, for his secluded nature and inward personality. He had never possessed a phone from this century, let alone one with an internet connection and that was enough to make him 'that weirdo' let alone the reputation as a full blown societal reject that he had usurped from the Lithuanian kid with a lisp that held the throne for so long. He was not on social media, nor did he care to be, and he had no prospect of trying to build bridges with them, so this random appearance of acceptance sent alarm bells running through his mind. Trying to ignore her, he redirected his route to the fire doors, hoping to avoid whatever trick was coming his way, but she moved towards him at an increasing speed.
"Come with me." was breathed into his ear as she grabbed his wrist and led him towards the back corridors, the ones nobody was allowed in during lunch. The urge to break free, to run into the courtyard and hide, or better yet run home and avoid whatever was coming his way was strong, but the entire lunch hall was here, more than a few eyes were watching this reject get pulled away by one of the monarchy. To pull off and run would fill his days with even more remarks, even more laughing and abuse. Subordinate and asphyxiated with terror, Joe was pulled into the darkness of the off limits corridor.
Joe was thrust against the wall, secluded by lockers from the sight on onlookers. Being beaten by the notorious bully was bad enough, but being beaten by his girlfriend, unable to defend himself due to her dick brained boyfriend was the lowest of the low.
"You tell anybody about this and I'll scream you forced yourself on me,' Whispered Christina, letting the warmth of her breath linger in Joe’s eardrum, alighting his senses. A grim look of confusion flooded his face before his body became a mould for clay making hands. Kisses, warm and sumptuous rode up and down his neck whilst strong hands grappled his chest, he felt the moist heat of her tongue work its way up and into his mouth, filling his entire body with unknown and fantastical sensations. He had never found Christina particularly attractive, yet he was a 15 year old virgin who had never even felt a girls touch, the strength of his will buckled and fell under the weight of sexual curiosity. Never before had he felt the breast of a girl so close to his body, time and place and situation were lost in an explosion of heat and breath and grappling. He felt himself grab onto her breast as she slid her hand under both trouser and boxer finding his erect self beneath. The flash of the wolf, a sensation he would grow accustomed too, appeared for the first time in his life, tearing down his ephemeral firmament with the click of a button. Laughter surrounded him in his vulnerable state, most vehemently emitting from Christina as camera's caught his lowest moment, making sure it could never be forgotten. The stark juxtaposition of the moment he had been in and this one could not have dazzled him more, making everything happen as if in a blur. At some point someone yelled 'Hard-on Henderson!' which caused an even more violent roar of laughter than previously. The entire school must have been aware of the prank that was about to take place, as for the first time Joe was the centre of attention, and it scared him. At some point he was knocked to ground, the colour of his blood stark against the shine of the white floor. He later found out that was from the dick-brain for 'finding his girlfriend hot.' Plaster covered faces flooded Instagram and Snapchat and Facebook next to a clearly terrified boy, with an erection extremely visible through his trousers with the caption 'Hard-on Henderson' all of that evening. Those same selfies of the damned haunted Joe for the next 18 years.
When the sheep manages to survive a wolf attack, it leaves its scars. A resentment built within Joe that he never knew existed inside himself. The narcissistic, vanity centred culture of the 21st century left him feeling cold and isolated from everything other than his thoughts. The preying on his innocence left him with enough emotional issues and fears, but the internet truly honed the beating to make sure he was forever an outcast. For the next 18 years he endured the laughs and sniggers of peers, the decline of job opportunities for his 'explicit internet content,' and all the physical and cyber bullying that the world could throw at him. The whimsical nature of the web meant that the horror would resurface sporadically, giving him the brief illusion of peace before it resurfaced his demons and begun it anew. Joe experienced the trials of puberty and adolescence alone, with no friends to help him by yet with too much pride to allow anyone else to know what he suffered. The egomania that set across society like a plague never infected him. Casting the despondent face of depression away, he used the self-obsession of 'socialites' as fuel to propel him forward. The loathing he felt for the over-sharers, the fickle and the vain turned him into the rarity of an internal person, one whose thoughts remain a mystery to everyone except a select few. One who spent his time improving himself rather than looking at himself. One who to understand, you have to dig deeper than his live feed or his timeline. One who you have to take at far more than face value.
Joe Henderson stands before an immense crowd shrouded in darkness, the only illumination apart from his spotlight coming from tiny flashes from across the hall. The entirety wait for him to begin his Nobel speech, waiting and expecting something grand and fantastic, yet within him still remains that terrified 15 year old boy, constricted and scared. No longer does it pin him down though. His fears drip away like wax under fire, and he begins.
Do not fear the wolves. The wolves should fear the sheep that discard their disguises and stand before them, unmoving and unapologetic.