The first sign of trouble in Toby’s life came at the age of twelve. He was attending a very well respected middle school at the time. The school had all the extras needed to guide young minds. The school had a very successful athletics department, the football team not only possessed shiny new uniforms but almost every year won at least one playoff game. The school had an arts program that sent students traveling in buses all over the county and sometimes even to other parts of the state for special events. The school, and this was the part Toby enjoyed even though he did show some signs of trouble in his life, had a very adept chef and produced lunches that were as good as anywhere, at least anywhere that had to present one thousand two hundred lunches to crazy children in less than twenty minutes. But with every advantage Toby still felt out of place attending this fine school. He complained to his parents once, during a slightly heated discussion with primarily his father, he was heard to remark, “I didn’t ask to be born.” Toby tried to share his problems with his friends at school, of which he had several, but they each felt their problems should be attended to and did not spend as much of their time felling sorry for Toby as he felt would be right. As luck would have it a couple of years passed and at the age of fourteen Toby decided maybe life was not so bad after all and he found a comfortable place in a very respectable high school not a long walk from his very respectable home.
High school presented another chance for failure. High school introduced Toby to women. Toby had always had good eyesight and the opposite sex had always been around but in high school Toby discovered they held an attraction he had not delved into before. Toby discovered women: when bumped up against not only did they not smell like boys, they did not feel like boys, or smile like boys, and they certainly did not giggle like boys. Toby discovered that his reaction to women was totally different than the way he reacted to others of his own sex, and he discovered he especially enjoyed the difference. Toby did not go mad with this new information. He did not become some sort of sex crazed manic. He took it in stride and in most cases he kept this new knowledge very much to himself. But there was one exception. The exception was named Jill. From the first time Toby saw Jill in the hallway having trouble with the combination to her book locker he knew she needed his attention. She was just a silly, giggly, girl. She looked a lot like Toby’s mother had at his age but Toby did not take the time to realize this, he did not think about much other then how pretty she was and about how her blue eyes sparkled when she laughed and about how much he would like to be near her. And so he waited for an opportunity, not like a lion waits for its prey, not with confidence and a well laid out plan. Toby waited for an opportunity to meet Jill with fear and insecurity.
After what seemed much longer than a few days he found his chance, “before you pull down the handle you need to jiggle it like this,” Toby jiggled the sliding latch on Jill’s locker and pulled it down, just like he had been doing with his own locker since the school year had begun.
Jill smiled at him and said, “Thanks.” Toby felt his heart melt. “You’re Toby. Right?” Toby’s throat went dry and he produced an expression on his face that Jill could not discern. “You’re in my Spanish class.”
“Oh,” it wasn’t much of a sentence but it did prove Toby was capable of speech.
“Thank you for your help. I will try that jiggle trick next time I need in my locker,” Jill said with another melt your heart smile.
“I could just wait here and help you,” said Toby, finding his words and even sounding a little smooth.
“Silly,” she giggled. And then the bell rang giving Toby one of the best ideas he had ever had.
“Could I walk with you to Spanish class?” he asked. It was his next class and she had just told him she was in it. He carried her books and they found they could talk to each other easily. It was almost a full week before they held hands and a few days after that before they shared a simple, quick kiss. He had no reason to create a plot to bring about the end of this world, but the first bits of the plan started to form in his young mind.