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We saw the headlights veer sharply into the lot, when he spotted us in the cave of a room. Red and blue waves blinded us instantaneously. RUN.
I had arrived at school around 8:30 AM some Monday morning prior. My best friends were all gathered under our tree, and I could tell from a distance the esoteric scheme boiling among them. I sauntered cautiously forward, taking in all that surrounded me. Fall was beginning, for the leaves were worn and had bronzed below the pink sky. Alyssa’s hair was plaited, blond and shimmering. We called her Miss Goody for a reason. She was the runt of our litter, the strange one. Her mother didn't allow her out past eight o’clock each evening and she took piano lessons. Never once was she caught in a devious act, but as our friendship grew, I saw her mischievous side. All the anger and desire pent up deep within her bones; finally, she had let us witness her true colors.
As the small blond girl rambled on of her fantasy and desire, the rest of us listened with tilted heads, tuned ears and open minds. I was the first to realize her dream; Rachel and JoAnna didn't catch on as quickly. They were ones that adults would joke about—they both were the type to just “sit still and look pretty”. Didn’t have much of a brain, either one of them. Alyssa opened her bedazzled peach-colored backpack and revealed to us her collection of neon spray paint, Swiss Army knives and makeshift gas masks, as she didn’t have money for authenticity. Her eyes flared as a wildfire while she delivered each detail of our duty. Without hesitation, we stood at once and grabbed our book bags, paying no mind to where we were or where we were supposed to be.
“I can’t believe we are actually doing this,” JoAnna stumbled on her words. “What has gotten into you?!” We all stared at her. Don’t ruin this for us, brat! I screamed internally, hoping my mouth hadn't truly formed the words. As much as I disliked her in that moment, I feared my attitude would force me out of our tightly knit group. Hence, I kept my mouth shut, never to let on what I really thought.
“Well, fine then, you don’t have to come with us. But if you leave now, I don’t want to speak to you ever again!!” I had never before imagined Alyssa would snap like that. JoAnna protested no longer, and solemnly, the group trekked on in cadence.
After what seemed like ages in the orange morning, we arrived. The structure was a skeleton; open to the air, vulnerable, and we entered without invitation. I chuckled under my breath, frankly sinister and all too giddy for this heinous act we were to commit.
“Fuck yeah!!” The echo of my voice rang through the stagnant air, lifting our spirits with it. I repeated the phrase that had once seemed so full of sin. Over and over again, I cried out, the freedom of those words sprouting wings in my soul and allowing me to fly. The atmosphere had shifted; our heartbeats synced in ecstatic rhythm. Fear that was once everpresent settled like dust after a storm. We were ready.
I snatched the spray paint and masks into my glistening palms, gearing each of my fellow cohorts with haste. The rattling of the bottles reverberated off the walls of the cement chamber. My newfound energy was magma in the throat of a volcano, prepared to detonate. Pink, green, and lightning blue streaks began to form on the walls, and I was suddenly aware of my crime. Though my conscious mind told me continuously, Stop, this is dangerous, put it down, I couldn't stop, I couldn’t put it down, and I couldn’t care less if it was dangerous to my health or my future. My fingers pressed downward, creating a storm of color that eventually spelled my name.
I was enthralled; reborn. Looking upon my masterpiece, I gleamed with pride. A splash of neon past my shoulder drew my gaze. It was as if my peers had vanished and a crowd of careless vandals took their place. We were causing a ruckus, howling like wolves at a full moon.
It was at that moment that I started to panic. Knowing the consequences which lie ahead spread chills down my spine. Beads of sweat formed on my forehead; a reminder of impending doom dangling over my head like the sword of Damocles.
“JoAnna, Rachel, Alyssa…” I began the roll call of felons, well, soon-to-be, but little did I know, I was all too correct in my assumption. My extrasensory perception was strong in that moment, and I knew we would be discovered.
We started to hear sirens in the distance, sounding through the hollow air. My heart dropped to my toes. Tears began to form in the corners of both eyes and I could hold in my anxiety no longer. I wailed, a child in protest. As our fate rounded the corner, we hailed to the glare of the headlights belonging to that dreaded prison hearse. The office flicked on his emergency lights, screeched to a halt, exited the vehicle and approached us with a stern look. At that moment, I knew this much was true: the eyes are the windows to the soul. I could see disappointment, anger and resentment displayed as shadows in his constricted pupils. He introduced himself.
“Officer Connor. I received a noise complaint from the neighborhood here and had to check it out… I’m disgusted. You should be in school right now, but what do we have? Several children disobeying the law and disturbing the peace of this community. I’m afraid I will have to detain you all for an evening and contact your parents individually. You three are under arrest. We can determine your punishment at the station.”
There was no place to run, no safe house in which we could take refuge. We were forced to surrender. As our wrists were caged, the four of us were shoved into the back of a hellbus, I accepted the fact that I would be incarcerated for my crime. I really think a higher power was looking out for me that night, because the results of that morning didn’t leave anything more on my record than a warning. It was disastrous fun, but that's how it always is. From that point on, I didn't let my friends’ motto of “Live a little” get in the way of what I knew was right. I obeyed the law and respected the peace of our community; I remembered when Officer Connor once told me I hadn't. I lost many of those friends who lived life on the edge, and I think I’m okay with that now. Thanks to that decision, I am now a successful adult and a decent contribution to society. I am so proud of myself for the path I've chosen. My actions had consequences, and I had to learn that the hard way.