It's lips curled back into a cruel imposter of a smile, long twisted nails raking gently across Henry's skin, making goosebumps rise up in their path. The teenagers eyes were glued to his feet and his hands quaked, as much as he desperately tried to quiet them.. The nails finished their journey at his hair, toying with it, almost tenderly coaxing out knots. Humming, the creature was monotonous in its self assigned task, keeping Henry in place until every strand of hair moved individually from the other. Henry flinched every time his roots were tugged against his scalp. The minutes crawled over each other, feeling more and more like hours. His foot tapped and a cold bead of sweat dripped down his brow, but he didn't dare to move in that moment any more than when his father stood before him, belt in hand. Henry Bowers knew his place and what was required of him in these types of moments, when he was in the grasp of monsters that would just as soon break his bones than hear his voice. "Shut the fuck up and show your damn belly" as his father, Oscar Bowers would put it so poetically. These were learning moments that, if he played his cards right, would be taught with words rather than fists. Finally, Pennywise released him, seemingly content with his work, as Henry's dirty blonde hair returned to place. The clown leaned close and bloodied lips traced the shell of Henry's ear, sending icy shivers down his spine.
"Heeeenry," the voice mocked playfulness, as Henry recognized the tone of a spider trying to coax its fly into the web. Come into my parlour, said the spider to the fly... those words with a sing songy tune turned over in his head. Where did he hear that? It sounded poetic, so it must have been something he bothered to listen to in literature class. Henry wished for a second..that he could recollect the rest of it. The teenager sensed the slap just a few seconds too late as Pennywise's hand sent him spiralling and landing on his ass on the floor, having no choice but to stare up at the clown who held an expression undecided between annoyance and amusement.
That's what you get for thinking, Henry. He thought. Always gets you knocked on your fucking ass.
"Henry, Henry, Henry," the clown cackled, "You should know to listen when your elders speak." He lets himself fall to a crouch, bells that Henry never could seem to see jingling with his descent. Even hunched over, It towered over the seventeen year old, who tried to puff out his chest in an effort to combat how weak and trapped he felt. Henry wasn't afraid. Why should he be afraid of a clown... a clown that a stuttering little pansy had shot right in the head while a bunch of other losers made it cower and howl. A stuttering little pansy. A stuttering Bill- "H E N R Y." This time the clown did not hide the growl in its throat, snapping Henry out of his thoughts. Pennywise's mouth twisted back as long needle like teeth edged out of It's gums. It lunged forward making Henry yelp and fall back, many years of fists being thrown at him causing his arm to impulsively be thrown out in front of his face.
"I'M NOT AFRAID OF YOU!" He screamed making his throat ache.
The monster stopped, hunched over him, maw gaping wide enough to swallow Henry whole with a single gulp, and a gurgling chuckle came deep from within It's throat. "Perhaps, perhaps." The mouth began to sew itself back into its normal position, skin weaving into skin to mend the gaps. "But you are afraid. So terribly afraid. You're practically overflowing." It sat back grinning crookedly, it's mouth reformed. "Your fear is still so deliciously powerful even if it's not coming from me, little one."
Henry gritted his teeth. "Don't patronize me, fuck-face," lingered on his lips but what escaped was "What do you want. I've got better things to do than sit here talking to a nightmare."
It's eyes flashed a sharp yellow as it croaked. "We had a deeeeeal, Henry. A true deal between men, though I suppose I shouldn't expect a weak snivelling child to remember something like that."
Henry's teeth dug into his tongue. Don't let him get to you. Don't give him the satisfaction of knowing that stung. "Sorry, but I'm pretty sure death burns contracts. I don't have to do shit for a clown who got put in his grave by a bunch of fucking fairies."
The room seemed to darken and it was at that moment Henry became very aware of how small he was compared to the devil before him, who seemed to be gradually getting larger, filling up the room like an inflating balloon. It's spittle dripped from it's lip soaking Henry's entire face as the clown became almost too gigantic for the room around it.
"Heeeenry." It hissed in a low grating tone that boomed through the cavern and split Henry's ears. "As long as you're afraid, I will fester..." the f in fester sent another downpour of saliva onto Henry who was still coughing out the remainder of the last drop. "I will fester inside you, and like a parasite I will feed upon that fear until I make you become what you're afraid of most," It slowly lowered its head so its lips were as close to Henry's ear as possible, "and you will crumble." With that Pennywise's mouth ripped open and lights flashed in warped unnerving colours that absorbed Henry and made him feel as though his eyes were being burned into his skull. Bodies, bloodied carnage covered bodies, danced before him, their movements jagged and lurching as their heads swung from side to side on necks so twisted they resembled fishing hooks. It took everything Henry had to keep his stomach from exploding through his mouth. The most horrifying part about it all was that he recognized each body as it twisted and convulsed in ways only the mentally insane could call dancing. It seemed almost as though the entire town of Derry danced before him as he felt himself descending into the most basic animalistic impulses of his mind.
"Kill them all. Kill them all. Kill them all." The screams of the hundred corpses assaulted his ears.
No. No! He tried to cover his ears, to put his head between his knees, to do anything to drown out the orders. To escape his future. Suddenly a light sliced through the darkness, through the noise, through the bodies. Henry dared to look up as a brown haired boy with a flaming sword stood in front of him, his weapon outstretched in front of his chest as an unspoken challenge, making the deceased draw back into the inky darkness. The boy turned his head to him and smiled, sea foam eyes drawing Henry back to the world around him. He was safe as long as those eyes met his. Pink Cupid's bow lips parted as the boy spoke.
Henry Bowers jolted up in his seat, a thin line of drool still connecting him to his desk. Laughter erupted around him, making Henry's neck hairs stand on end as he settled into his surroundings. He was in Derry High, in Mrs. Lovett's algebra class, while all twenty of his classmates snickered at him. Eyebrows pinching together, Henry's eyes shot daggers at as many of them as he could before noticing the pair of legs standing next to him. They were nice legs. Damn nice legs. However he knew, as his eyes defeatedly drifted upwards that what was attached to them was not so nice. Mrs. Lovett stood over him, her arms so tightly crossed he was surprised one of her breasts hadn't popped. She stared down at him with a look of utter disdain that he was so used to, it would make him shift in his seat if her eyes regarded him any other way.
"Henry Bowers, unless you want to be held back another year I highly recommend you keep those eyes glued to the board. Am I clear?"
"As a whistle." He answered flatly.
She nodded though the purse in her lips told him she wouldn't hold her breath. The giggling utterly ceased the moment the teacher abandoned the desks to return to the board. There was no longer a buffer between the predator and the prey and they knew better than to risk Henrycatching any one of them laughing by themselves. That unfortunate kid would be eating through a straw for the next month. Bowers, after doing a quick scan of the class just to make absolutely sure there were no stragglers he could take his frustration out on, rolled his eyes and turned back to the board, trying for at least a moment to feign attentiveness. Lovett was the type of teacher who's words blur together after a few minutes, so that the children, some of whom were trying quite desperately to listen, heard babble that went in one ear and out the other. A special few could hear her clear as day and excelled under her guidance. Henry Bowers was not one of those few. It took only a few minutes of her rambling about something called the "distributive laws" for his interests to be anywhere else. Like that dream he kept having with the clown. That god awful clown. It was a dream that had been plaguing him for months now, along with a few others. He couldn't remember the last time he had a normal dream that wasn't seething with mutilated children, demonic clowns, annoying losers, and....other things. It made him anxious to dwell on the details of that dream too much. He wasn't one for psychoanalyzing himself and he wasn't going to start now. Just push it down Henry. Push it down deep with all your other troubles.
Although time went by at a snail's pace, class eventually ended as it always does and the final bell sang for the release of Derry High's inmates. Henry was quick to his feet like all the other newly released and put on his leather jacket before swinging his backpack onto his shoulder. That leather jacket was his pride and joy, although it had been the cause of many altercations in and out of school, as the jacket was a pastel pink and bore an eagle on the back. One too many kids had snorted under their breath at that jacket, a couple even having enough balls to whisper "fairy" to their friends. However Henry Bowers had ears like a fox, and could promise that every single one of those kids had come home with some excuse as to why they had a bloody nose or a black eye. Or maybe they didn't and just outright ratted him out. It didn't matter to Henry. He had worked long and hard for that reputation, and if they wanted to advertise it who was he to complain. He strode out of class with the confidence of a lion, kids parting like nervous caribou to get out of his path, to remain out of reach of his claws. He wasn't in the mood for hunting today though. One of the boys in his gang of friends, Victor Criss, had found a stash of beer out by some fishing cabin and had excitedly offered to share it with the group down at their usual spot. He could use a beer. Something to drown himself in.
Henry soon breached the threshold of the school with rest of the herd, his eyes searching for said gang. However they fell upon a different group. A group made up of the schools misfits and unwanted. The losers. Or at least, a few of them. Some would say this gang and his own were arch nemesis set to clash until they all graduated and went their separate ways. Up until five months ago Henry would have agreed. Henry used to detest all of them. He'd tell you all sorts of explanations as to why he picked on them, why the sight of them made his eyes see red and his fist itch for a connection with a nose. But in all honesty he didn't know. They just existed and were, by the looks of it, happy. And that had pissed him off. What did they have to be so happy about? However, he didn't feel that way now. After the nightmares started, he felt constantly drained, too tired to care about the things that usually pissed him off. Hollowness was now what clawed at his chest when he saw the Losers. It was so void and lacking in any sensation at all it hurt worse than the anger did. That was one of two reasons why he left them alone now. He wouldn't admit to the other one. While he stared, grey greenish eyes that were somewhat obscured by brown hair looked up and met his. Recognition crackled between them. For a moment Henry indulged in the fantasy of waving, maybe even walking over and making friendly small talk. The beautiful fiction that he could just say one hello to Bill Denbrough without his entire world changing. That maybe he could, for a second, be a loser, and be happy... and the earth would keep on spinning as it always had.
"Hey Henry, come on!" Vic's shout shook Henry from the illusion as his friend waved at him from his car with the rest of their pals.
Henry sighed and broke the gaze, popping his collar up almost as a shield against those seafoam eyes as he walked towards the Bowers Gang and away from the Losers of Derry. Those eyes knew him too well, and he couldn't risk others seeing that. Henry had worked too long and too hard for his reputation in this town, for his power over these kids, and that power was something he clung too, as he knew it would be ripped from him as soon as he got home.