“New School Order/ Škola novog poretka” was originally published in Croatian at http://knjizevnostuzivo.org/2018/mislav-pasini-skola-novog-poretka/
A Peugeot 206 stopped at the edge of a thick pine forest. The driver's door opened first. A foot in a Nike sneaker stomped onto the muddy ground.
“Hey, think here’ll do?” The voice echoing through the night belonged to a youth of some sixteen years of age.
There was no answer, so he repeated it more loudly.
“Jesus Christ, stop shouting! Are you stupid?” The second youth was just now coming out of the car. “Have you forgotten how long we planned this for? And you, retard”—he spoke to someone in the back seat—“get out of the car! We’ve been driving you around for long enough.”
“Let’s go, fucktard, didn’t you hear what he said? Get out!”
The shadow in the back seat moved a little. The second youth dove inside and reached for it. He pulled out a younger boy, whose teary face glistened in the moonlight. The ground where they stood was cold and soggy with autumn rain.
“Guys . . . you don’t have to do this,” the kid repeated while they dragged him toward the line of trees.
“Shut up!” the second youth said.
The kid barely dared to look at him. He was keenly aware of the youth’s T-shirt, black with white letters “Kill Fuck Die!” Both he and his friend were familiar to him, though only in passing. They were older students at his school—quite famous, especially for their “streaming ops.” He suspected he knew their plan, but nothing had prepared him for the darkness in their eyes. What they had in mind for him couldn’t be some “light fun” like they had with the girls. It had to be something much worse.
“On your knees!” said the first youth, whose T-shirt was red and said “Speed.”
The kid couldn’t help himself—he began to cry.
“Please don’t, please don’t . . .”
No sympathy came to him from any corner. Only laughter. He reached for his schoolmates with his hand, but they merely gave him a swift kick in the belly. Before he knew it, he was lying on the ground, biting the dampness and bitter mud.
“Where’s the phone?” Speed said to his companion.
Kill Fuck Die! chortled, handing him a small Nokia.
“Whose is it?” Speed asked.
“You know whose! We stole it together from the PE cow. Oh man, it’s going to be so awesome when they realize a torture video was streamed from her number!”
“Ha, ha, ha, I know! You go ahead and give him a little screen test, and I’ll get the tools from the trunk.” Speed returned with a thick length of rope and a long cane.
“Let’s tie him to that tree and give him a little warm up with the cane. Not too much—just till he turns blue—and we’ll stream the thing in the morning.”
“Right,” his accomplice—the believer in daring fashion statements—agreed.
They caned the kid viciously, hitting him like a piñata, not forgetting to record every move with their phone. His crying was interrupted only when they’d tighten the noose around his neck to lift him off the ground.
Done with him, they left him on the ground. Just before they turned to leave, he raised his eyes to theirs, reached up with his hand, and grabbed the phone. It stayed with him for what seemed like mere seconds. A kick in the ribs made him release it, but instead of bending in half and sobbing in pain, he began to laugh. His eyes turned darker than theirs, his laughter echoing eerily in the dead of night.
“What the hell was that?” Speed asked.
“How the hell do I know? Leave the little freak. Let’s get out of here!” They dashed off into the night. The car roared by the kid’s head before turning the corner.
“A touch,” Speed repeated to himself, “the little creep did it with a single touch!”
The school was in an uproar the entire morning. The video was broadcast, and the content was nothing short of horrific. Rudolf (“Speed”) and Antonio (“Kill Fuck Die!”) were seen beating up Mario, a twelve-year-old model student. The recording spread quickly through the classrooms and soon reached the Teachers’ Room. To Rudolf’s nasty surprise, the phone number it had come from wasn’t the PE teacher’s but his own.
The police didn’t take long to show up and apprehend the pair of delinquents so bold and so stupid. Mario, still black and blue, had only to confirm he’d spent a night from hell at their hands.
“A touch . . . I swear it only took him a touch,” Rudolf was still repeating to himself, at a loss for words when the police took him in custody. Antonio sat next to him in the back of the police car, glancing at him sideways. The question in his eyes was clear: “Are we sure we stole the PE cow’s phone?”
“Positive,” Rudolf thought mutely, wondering how he’d explain to his father that he’d stolen his car.
Mario sat in an armchair at the principal’s office. The man looked at him with an approving smile.
“I had no idea you could”—he interrupted himself with laughter. “In any case, I’m so proud of you. Can you tell me what it is you did?”
“I changed the access codes and entered Rudy’s number in the phone. Easy-peasy, really. People are dumb. Once you see through them, you can turn their dumbness and their weapons on them.” Mario spoke very seriously.
The principal laughed again. “If only they’d realized who they were dealing with!” He shook his head and let his gaze wander out the window.
Mario strolled through the school corridors. The day was sunny and pleasant. Phone in hand, he approached a group of classmates. He turned on his camera and decided to apply his “touch” to a new purpose.
“Let grownups take care of grownups,” he thought. He himself would cause a stir among his peers. It’d be mayhem of unseen proportions, such that the entire society would have to focus exclusively on the school system—until, that is, the time came for something else. “The long march through the institutions, indeed!
“Yes,” he thought, “people are dumb. But this is the end of their world and the beginning of something new—something beautiful.” He gazed in anticipation at the bright blue sky.