But then things started happening. Weird things. Bad things.Like this kid, John, that I went to school with; his Dad shot the principal because they wouldn’t letJohn have free lunch anymore. See, awhile back, John’s mom died from the flu. They didn’t haveinsurance because they couldn’t afford it. Then his dad lost his job and the bank took their house.They’d been living on the street for the last seven months. There wasn’t a soup kitchen in town anymore, it closed down because it couldn’t get the funds to operate. So the only food John got was fromschool. I heard he used to bring leftovers home for his dad.But then the school’s policy on free lunches changed because of some law the government passed. Itsaid that every child had to “earn the privilege of education.” Fees had to be paid for classes, books,and even lunches, or you couldn’t go. The school hired as many kids they could, but there weren’tenough jobs for everyone. Parents had to pay the rest. John’s dad couldn’t afford to pay, so I guess hekind of went crazy.The whole thing happened right in front of me. I was standing at my locker joking around with some of the other cheerleaders about our game later that night, when suddenly we heard someone arguing andyelling. I turned around to see what was going on.John’s dad was all up in Principal Johnson’s face, pointing and shaking his fists in the air. The principalkept trying to calm him down but the guy kept getting louder. Then John’s dad pulled this gun from his jacket. The shot echoed down the hall and the principal fell to the floor. Kids started screaming andrunning all around. Blood went everywhere. It was all over my clothes, in my hair.I just stood there, staring at Principal Johnson’s body on the floor. It was horrible. It wasn’t even the principal’s fault John couldn’t eat lunch, but he was killed because of it. I still get nightmaressometimes.After that Mom and Dad agreed that my brother, Donovan, and I should be pulled out and home-schooled. It’s the only thing my parents have agreed on since they got divorced. Figures.Of course, they argued for weeks about who we would live with and who would actually be teachingus. Eventually my Dad won out. He always does.Apparently, both my parents only went to high school. (I so wish I’d known that when they werefussing about grades and getting into college!) Since my step-mom, Michelle, had the highest level of education, that won her the grand prize of being our teacher. Yay for her. So that meant we had to livewith Dad and Michelle. Mom was pissed, but she went along with it. Not long after that robberies started happening around town. Dad said that there weren’t many jobs anymore and that’s what caused the “home invasions”, as he called them. Thieves just barged into people’shomes and took what they wanted. Sometimes it was jewelry or money, sometimes it was just food.People started boarding up their houses and buying dogs, fences, guns, whatever they could use to protect themselves.Then gangs started coming in from the city. They’d paint graffiti signs on the sides of buildings and inthe streets so you could tell whose territory you were in. Michelle wouldn’t let me or Donovan out of the house alone because the next door neighbor’s kid got recruited into one of the gangs. She said shesaw his tattoos and that the number of marks on his face represented the amount of people he’d killed.That kid was younger than I am, and he had four marks.Dad said stuff like this had been happening in a lot of major cities, all over the country, and that it musthave finally filtered down to our small town. The police called in the national guard to help out. Butinstead of helping patrol, they took control. Dad called it Martial Law.