As halftime began and the fans gravitated toward the concession stands and restrooms, Lexi took a much needed break from cheering and decided to catch up with Tash, who looked lonely sitting in the stands all by herself.

“Hey Tash,” Lexi said, sitting down next to her as the crowds dispersed and the Collins band began to perform on the field.

“Great game so far,” Tash replied with a smile, concentrating on her newest portrait of Quinton.

“I think we’re actually gonna win this one,” Lexi gleamed.

“I hope the scouts like what they see. This is so big for Quinton,” Tash said, reaching down for a different colored pencil.

“This could be Mike’s last chance, too,” Lexi added. “If he doesn’t get a scholarship soon, he might not get one at all.”

“He will,” Tash assured her. “I’ll keep my fingers crossed.”

At that moment, Lexi glanced over and saw Mike’s parents sitting together nearby. Mike’s mother, Mary, waved at her, so Lexi waved back and decided to go say hello before the second half.

“Hey, I’m gonna go say hi to Mike’s parents, I’ll be back later,” Lexi stated.

“Alright, girl,” Tash responded. “I’m gonna get back to my portrait. I’ll see you after the game then?”

“Definitely,” Lexi said with a smile. “We’ll have to celebrate our big win, right?”

“You know it,” Tash said, hugging her. “And tell your Mom I asked about Apryl.”

“I will, thanks,” Lexi said, heading off toward where the Clark’s sat. “See ya later.”

Tash then looked around and changed the page of her sketchpad, revealing her prior work of Freddy Krueger. It looked even more sinister in the night sky than it did in the daylight. The only difference this time was that Tash had modified it. During her last dream, she saw from afar what appeared to be some sort of boiler and managed to work it into the background behind Krueger using the same combination of red, orange and yellow.

With a sigh, she held the sketchpad out in front of her face and saw that the boiler blended in perfectly. It seemed to be the perfect complement to the dream demon, whose evil red eyes glared back at her off the page.

Then Krueger winked at her.


Coach Reynolds’ halftime speech was brief but effective. The players had full adrenaline rushes at this point, and needed little encouragement to get ready to go back out there.

“Gentlemen,” Reynolds stated. “Our offense is clicking on all cylinders. Clark, aside from that bullshit you pulled on the first play, you’re running the offense perfectly. You keep scoring points like I know you can, and this game is ours. Defense, our pass coverage is good, but we’re shaky on the rushing plays. Coach Harris and I will make some adjustments. We’ve played a solid 24 minutes of football, but we still got 24 more to go. Keep that in mind. This team isn’t ranked number two in the state for nothing. Just play your game and that title is ours!”

The team roared approval and then dispersed to towel off, slug water, or simply relax. Mike dug into his locker looking for something, when Quinton came up next to him and sat down, disgusted, mumbling “Shit.”

“What’s wrong?” Mike asked.

“Motherfucker didn’t even mention me!” Quinton piped, just as the coaching staff disappeared into their office. “154 yards in the first half, and I don’t even get a thank you?! What’s up with that?”

“Fuck Coach Reynolds, alright?” Mike stated quietly, surprising Quinton. “Stick with the plan, and we’ll have plenty of glory to share at the end of the game.”

Quinton just smiled. “Aight,” he reluctantly agreed, smacking a high-five into a handshake. Quinton then sat down to cool off, while Mike pulled out a familiar bottle of pills and swallowed two really fast.

“What’s that shit?” Quinton questioned. “Caffeine or something?”

“No,” Mike said, showing him the bottle of Sta-Awake pills.

“What the hell you taking that shit for?” Quinton asked.

“Their offense is so boring, it’s gonna be hard to stay awake on the sidelines,” Mike joked, lying badly.

“Don’t give me that bullshit, Mike,” Quinton fired back as several teammates took notice. Quinton immediately caught himself, calmed down, and whispered, “I know you’re taking that to stay away from Him.”

“I just don’t want to fall asleep, that’s all,” Mike said.

“Yeah, 'cause you know if you fall asleep, you ain’t wakin’ up,” Quinton stated.

Mike didn’t reply. He just looked back at Quinton, and it was that look that told Quinton all he needed to know.

“So you want some or not?” Mike asked, trying to change the subject.

“No way man, I don’t need that,” Quinton replied. “We got scouts in the stands tonight, and I wanna show them my pure, natural athletic ability.”

“If you say so,” Mike responded, turning away from him to towel off his head.

Quinton just sat down and took a mouthful of water and wiped the sweat from his brow, trying to collect himself for the second half. A few minutes later, the coaching staff came back out of the office. Each one was carrying a brown clipboard.

“Guys, let’s get ready, we’ve got five minutes,” Coach Reynolds informed them, adjusting his green Springwood cap with a big S embroidered on the front.

Mike finished cleaning himself up the best he could, then he put his helmet on and turned back to Quinton.

“You ready, Q-dub?” he asked, extending his hand.

“Fuckin’ right I am,” Quinton yelled back, tightening his receiver’s gloves and using Mike to pull himself back up. By that time, the rest of the team had gathered around them and started to get their adrenaline rushing once again. After their usual “1, 2, 3, Win!” chant, the team hurried out to the field entrance to get ready for the second half.

As they made their way there, a man stood nearby watching their every move. Quinton immediately recognized the dark blue trucker’s cap and said, “What’s up, Steve” as he passed by, his voice echoing in the desolate undercarriage of the bleachers. Steve, the janitor, didn’t reply. He just kept whistling the same song over and over as he swept up the dirty floor outside. It was a song that both Mike and Quinton knew all too well, but neither one caught as they went by. Steve was whistling to the tune of “1, 2, Freddy’s coming for you,” and not even the coaching staff, who came out of the locker room last, took notice.

The coaches soon caught up to the players, who were jumping up and down in a frenzy at the entrance to the field. Then, Coach Reynolds yelled out a couple of encouraging curse words as the team prepared for the biggest second half of their lives.

It would be a second half they would never forget.


Proceed To Chapter 17
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