I was one of those lucky kids, back when having a cell phone meant you were cool, the TV guide told you everything you need to know, and saying talk to the hand meant fuck you. Don’t be mistaken. Nineties kids are pre-1995. If you were born after 1995, talk to the hand.

As a 12-year-old in 1997 I fit into a lot of cliques, but like most kids, no matter the group you belong to, we really didn’t understand the growing popularity of the whole EmoGoth thing. Of course, it started in the ’80s, but the ’90s is when it really started to catch on in the middle schools. One thing is certain, children are evil.

Helen Akerteen was our very first goth girl. Finding a place to fit in at a new school is hard for anyone, but for Helen, it was a living hell. She was the black mass that had everyone’s attention as she made her way through the corridors of a school that treated her like a stigma. A glimpse of her paper cut wrist before pulling her sleeve down. Her black diary she constantly wrote in that was decorated with what could only be described as demonic hieroglyphs.

All it takes is one kid, one asshole to lead the student body in an all-out assault against one person. Unfortunately, that one random lunch period that Tommy Richards built his army against Helen was a day our school would never forget.

Just before our three months of sunny freedom, we got a break from our usual bitch of a teacher Ms. Bailey and had a sub named Mrs. T. Her name wasn’t actually Mrs. T, I just don’t speak Japanese. She thought it would be a good idea to teach us the art of origami. In particular, the paper fortune tellers that give you an answer to a question after making a series of choices. Choose the color blue, then number eight, and unfold the corresponding corner to reveal your answer. Usually, the answers would vary like that of a magic 8-ball. Yes, no, most likely, definitely not, but it was Tommy who got really creative with it.

I was sitting two lunch tables down from Helen when Tommy started walking around with his special fortune teller. Apparently, he had written down the names of the girls from class and whoever you got you would date. Tommy went from boy to boy, each time leaving the participant in disgust while laughter roars from the growing group of boys that now followed Tommy. After he had the attention of at least 40 other students, he revealed that every choice had been Helen. This caused the room to fill with booming laughter and the faint cries of Helen as she ran to the bathrooms.

I didn’t see Helen after lunch. I wasn’t surprised. She had been humiliated in front of the entire lunchroom, including our teacher Ms. Bailey, who did nothing but laugh. Imagine everyone’s surprise when Helen walked into class at the end of the day and sat down placing a very peculiar paper fortune teller on her desk. Black with strange markings. Obviously, everyone was intrigued. Helen had never participated in the weekly fads so this did raise a lot of interest. Of course, Tommy was the first to confront her.

“I see you made a paper fortune teller,” he mocked. Helen gave Tommy a dead smile.

“Would you like to try it?” she asked. “Pick a symbol.”

A smug grin slid across Tommy’s face. “Why, so you can get me back for earlier?” Tommy snapped. “Ok, I’ll play.”

Tommy pointed to one of the four symbols. After an unknown number of shuffles from the fortune teller, it was time to choose a number, but there were no numbers. Instead, each choice was a simple word. Hate, evil, fear, and pain. The word fear left Tommy’s mouth before Helen revealed his answer: one week.

“Take your seat, Mr. Richards!” Mrs. Bailey barked as she approached Helen. “I’m glad you decided to join us, what’s this?”

Helen held up her fortune teller. “This is my paper fortune teller. Would you like to try?" Helen asked. "Pick a symbol."

Mrs. Bailey pointed to a symbol, next to it said the word pain; before the words, 1 day was shown. “I don’t get it," Mrs. Bailey snapped. “Sit down, class is starting."

The next day at lunch would be very different. Instead of Helen sitting alone at the corner table, kids lined up to see what her fortune teller was about, all leaving confused and dissatisfied. Soon after, all attention would shift from Helen to the police cars and ambulances pulling up outside the school. The whole lunchroom stood at the windows as the paramedics loaded the body into the ambulance. All except Helen, who just sat with a smile on her face. I had never seen her smile before. This wasn’t a regular smile. It didn’t waver. Her eyes didn't blink… She just sat there, satisfied.

We spent the rest of the day in the gym watching documentaries. My parents met me as I stepped off the bus. That's when I learned Mrs. Bailey had died. She was the body that was rolled out on the gurney. I didn’t understand; she seemed fine in class.

Two days later, Amber, the girl that was first in line to see her fortune, died in a car accident. They hit a pothole causing her to accidentally inhale a plastic straw and choke, like a goddamn sea turtle.

The next day, the twins and Jimmy Davis all died by their fortunes’ time.

Over the course of a week, the class had dwindled down to just Me, Helen, and a handful of other kids including Tommy who had changed. He wasn’t the big popular bully he usually was. He was quiet, reserved… Scared. Before we knew it Tommy was on his knees in front of Helen's desk, begging her to not let him die today. His tears dropped to the floor as he attempted to force words through his sobs. But he was too late. Tommy’s body hit the floor, just as multiple heads fell to their desks. All that was left was me and Helen… Who was sitting there, smiling.

I never saw Helen after that day. I wondered if the reason for her coming to our school was similar to the reason she left. Fourteen kids had died, all within a week of Helen's fortune teller. No foul play was suspected since they had all died from natural causes, or accidents outside of school. In Tommy's case, a heart attack. It was the fear of death that actually killed him. One thing is for sure, I'm glad I didn't get my fortune that day.

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