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What is one of the greatest, yet seemingly trivial fears, of a young person? Failure. Or more specifically, failing an exam. Isn’t that the same as failing though? To a young person that certainly is the case. Today we live in a society where a large proportion of the young feel worthless, and no longer good enough to fit society’s needs. Education is where this is perhaps, most prominent. The defining moment in a young person’s life where they either pass or fail, not an exam no, but the test as to whether they are a worthy human. Or that is the perception anyway…

Stacy is a primary example of today’s seemingly doomed youth. Tomorrow was a big day for her, she was in the final year of school in which she would sit her final exams. Tomorrow she would face her first exam, in mathematics.

That Sunday night she sat in her room trying to cram in as much information as possible. She was by no means unintelligent, in fact she was quite opposite. But the stress and anxiety was getting to her. This was, after all, a life determining moment for her. Her future would be decided tomorrow and if she messed it up, that would be the end. She was only sixteen and yet so much rested on that date on which the most important exam would take place.

She was a pretty girl with long brown hair and dark brown eyes to match it. Relatively slim but at a healthy weight. She had a cute smile due to perfectly aligned teeth and was desperately hoping to get with an equally cute guy soon. She had a modest group of friends at school and was by no means one of those “popular” students whom she despised so much. Her parents were perfectly reasonable people, though they did have high expectations of her. Her upbringing was without fault, at least until it had come to this exam season.

With much pressure placed upon her and “need” to get good grades, she had fallen into deep and severe depression. As she stared down at her maths notes, she saw only meaningless and pointless numbers that made no sense at all. A tear fell which blotched the paper and she narrowed her eyes, frustrated at herself. As she turned page after page, none of this meant anything to her. She had gone through this countless amount of times and yet, it meant nothing. It was almost as if her brain had leaked all of the vital information needed for this exam.

Before Stacy knew it, she was sat at her first exam. She turned over the exam paper and glanced at the first question in terror. It was like walking down a white corridor that were the pages, and numbers covering the walls were the questions. She approached the wall and saw the numbers forming the question which she needed to answer. On the white floor lay a sword covered in black ink. She knew this was how she must write her answer, not even questioning the bizarre situation. She placed the inky sword against the wall and began to slice the answer into the wall itself. It was exhausting work for her and once she was done she fell to the floor dropping the sword besides her panting heavily.

She looked up at the ceiling only to see a massive clock. Already half an hour had passed, merely answering one question. She got to her feet instantly, grabbed the sword and ran down the corridor. She reached the next question and attempted to answer. She placed the sword against the wall to begin working. It was even more tiring this time, and as she began to scrape the answer into the wall, her body was already aching all over. Seemingly only a few minutes into this answer and without warning, a loud alarm sounded. The exam was already over! But how could this be?

The walls and floor suddenly began to shake and Stacy was terrified at what was happening. Before her very eyes the floor began to fall away, closer and closer it came to her. She fell into darkness but almost instantly her feet hit hard ground. Now she stood in a line among her fellow students. A tall teacher slowly walked passed them, not one which she recognised, but clearly a teacher none the less. His face was hidden in darkness and he wore a dark grey suit with a red tie. Like before, the floor and the walls were white although this time they stood in a room instead of a corridor.

The unknown teacher walked by and turned to one of Stacy’s friends. Stacy called out to her but received no response. She tried to ask what was going on to her classmates who stood either side of her but it was like she did not exist. The teacher walked right up to her friend who also had a great fear of failure, and unfortunately was quite unintelligent. He pulled out a large red marker pen, a fountain pen. Stacy gulped at just how many crosses that pen must have struck on her exam. But before she could comprehend this further that same pen struck her friend! He stabbed her right in the stomach and she screamed as he lifted her off her feet, high into the air.

The fountain pen may have been red to begin with, but Stacy could clearly see the blood dripping and sliding down the pen, a much darker red than the object used to stab her friend. He walked forwards slowly, quite calm as she continued to scream. He thrust his arm even higher and the pen worked its way through her, up to her chest leaving a huge gash in her torso. But he was not even finished yet. He swung his arm sideways and the pen cut its way through her chest. He did this with such force that she flew off the pen itself and crashed to the floor. Everyone stared but even then, he was still not finished. He stabbed her again, halfway up the original gash and again, sliced sideways. He then ripped at her clothes until the entire front half of her was naked revealing a huge great “F” cut deeply into her skin. She had failed her exam and this was her punishment.

The shadowy face then looked up at Stacy herself and he began to walk at an alarming pace towards her. She froze, terrified at the prospect that she was about to be slaughtered by the very marking pen that undoubtedly failed her. The other students seemed to fade out of existence save the other who lay dead on the floor. Stacy began to back away as this teacher slowly withdrew his pen and raised it, ready to strike her. As he continued walking, it continued to drip, staining the white floor red as he went.

Stacy ran, and the teacher pursued her. She burst through a white door and ran down a corridor. As she ran she saw numbers falling from the ceiling and as they hit the floor, ink flew everywhere staining her clothes. As she turned a corner she heard the voice of her father. “Pathetic girl! We knew you never amount to anything”. The words stung like bullets and Stacy began to cry and she continued to run from the teacher. “If only the Lord had blessed us with a son instead of this,” she heard her mother cry.

As the tears continued to flow she saw a door up ahead and burst through. “I’m sorry, but you failed all your exams. I don’t know what made you think you could ever apply for this in the first place”. It was an interview, and the interviewee had just been rejected. It was a woman and Stacy knew at once who it would be. Her older self walked towards the door and Stacy herself screamed at her to stop but it was too late. Her future self was already in the air, feet high off the ground, blood pouring all over the floor.

The interviewer grabbed Stacy from behind, locking her arms behind her back. Once the teacher had finished with her future self, he turned to Stacy. She was now completely helpless as the interviewer held her there, ready to be slashed. “You have no future,” said the teacher. He walked right up to her. “You’ll never get a job, you’ll never earn a living. You will die cold and alone. Even a virgin…” and both the teacher and interviewer laughed. He did not however, stab her with the pen. Instead he pressed the nib of the pen against the soft skin of her wrist. He then looked at her, right into her eyes and said “I’m doing everyone a favour, even you. Your parents have wanted this for a long time”.

He pressed the nib hard against her wrist and brought it across her soft skin cutting it open and the blood flowed. Stacy cried out with pain and felt her eyes burn and he did it again and again. He moved up from her wrist and began to cut her forearm. He continued and soon her whole arm was stained red and was leaking blood all over the floor. She began to feel faint and the interviewer let go of her and she fell backwards…

She landed in her own chair.

It was late at night after the first day of exams. She had completely messed up on hers. She knew she had failed, knew she had no future. She would face rejection from everyone from then on and she knew it. Friends, family, employers, everyone. She had done the world a favour tonight.

Tomorrow her parents discovered Stacy dead in her chair, her right arm cut so deeply that she had bled out within minutes of using her own fountain pen to slash herself. They also found a note which simply said “I’m doing everyone a favour, I know you wanted this”…

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