THE SOUL OF THE SCHOOL

BY KATIE MORAN BRENNAN

Jamie felt relieved as she tumbled from the windowsill onto the cold marble floor. Ryan had told her that she was small enough to fit through, but Jamie hadn’t been so sure.  Jamie straightened herself up and dusted off the cobwebs and fragments of glass.  She took a few quiet, hesitant steps forward.  It was hard to see with just the moonlight to guide her but she could just about make out the crumbling plaster on the old school walls.  The pattern on the plaster reminded her of jigsaws, like the ones she used to do with her mother when she was still alive.

With a sigh she hesitantly began to creep onward as silently as possible. She soon realised she was in one of the classrooms as she bumped into a table causing it to screech like nails against a chalkboard.

She flinched as if expecting to be told off for the sudden burst of noise and stood in the one spot for a couple of seconds waiting for something that never came.

He didn’t yell at her through the window or shake a fist.

She couldn’t see him at all. Shaking her head as panic threatened to swallow her up again she carefully traced the wall with her hands until she found the door.

Outside of the classroom there was a huge hallway.

Everything seemed different at night, spookier even.

The corridors she walked through so often were very different at night.

It was darker than the classroom because of the lack of windows.

Shadows stretched along the floor, cast from the moonlight coming through the classroom door.

It smelled so strongly of disinfectant trying to cover the musty smell of the old school that she could taste it in her mouth making her gag.

She had gone to this school for many years but she couldn’t recognise it in the dark.

She fought the urge to turn on a light and transform it into the corridor she knew so well but Ryan had warned her not to draw attention or they could get caught. Putting a clammy hand against the cool wall once again she continued walking.

Jamie tried to distract herself by thinking of the plan and what would happen after.

All she needed to do was simply get the money from the principal’s office and then leave.

Her boyfriend, Ryan, had promised once they got the money the could leave this rundown town and be together forever.

She smiled brightly into the dark.

He had his problems, that was true, but he loved her. There weren’t many people alive that did that. Her mother had died when she was a child and she’d never known the drunken wreck that many people had told her was her father.

She could think back to the moment when she and Ryan first talked.

It had been at Joanna’s party before life had turned upside down.

She had had a crush on him for years.

He was tall, dark and handsome with sparkling hazel eyes.

He had noticed her while she was with her friends and had asked if she would dance with him. They talked and danced the whole evening.

He had been kind to her that day, treated her fairly and listened to her.

Overtime his mood had changed, he had grown angry and upset often, disappearing for days at a time.

But he always came back, he always came back for her because he loved her.

Jamie was suddenly awoken from her daydream by a loud noise behind her, further back down the pitch black hallway where she had been minutes before.

Had she caused somethings to fall?

Was some one else in the school?

How far down this endless hallway had she gone?

She had lost track quickly.

Her brain began screaming at her to run but she didn’t move a muscle.

It took her a long time to have the courage to move.

Shakily she put her hand out again to find the wall so she could continue.

Quicker than before she kept going down the hallway.

Listening intently in case she heard another sound.

It only took a minute or so until she could see faded light ahead.

Light was a good thing.

Jamie suddenly felt an extreme feeling of hope and giddiness wash over her.

She sprinted until she got to the source of light, a huge room

Not used to so much everything seemed blurry, she could only see blobs.

She could tell that she was in a big room though, and there was empty space around her.

But there was something wrong about the room.

It was missing something that she couldn’t pinpoint, maybe it was too far away.

She went to take a step forward but quickly stopped and stifled a gasp.

As her eyes finally focused she quickly realised she was standing an inch away from a set of steep stairs that lead down to the cafeteria.

If she had kept going she definitely would have been injured and she’d have been caught.

How had she not noticed?

What on earth was the school doing to her?

Her mind was playing tricks on her now and if she wasn’t careful she’d get in a lot of trouble.

Her eyes adjusted more and she stepped away from the stairs.

Behind her on the opposite door was the room into the principals office.

Jamie had made it.

She rushed inside relieved and went to the painting of him behind the desk.

She had always hated her arrogant principle, showing off how much money he had around kids that grew up poor. She was doing him a favour really, bringing him back to down to earth. If he really was as rich as he bragged he was he’d barely notice the money’s disappearance. Taking the smug painting of the principal off the wall she found the safe in a square shaped hole in the wall and inserted the code Ryan had taught her and jackpot, inside was a bag of money.

Plucking the bag from the safe and hugging the money to her chest she shut the safe quickly. Just as she began to hang up the painting again and start daydreaming about the future she began to hear the crying from outside the room.

It was so out of place that she dropped the painting in shock and cursed under her breath.

She crept to the door and slowly peeked out the tiny window in the door, the one the principal would use to keep an eye on the teenagers outside the office. The window was smudged and fogged up as if someone had thrown their lunch at it earlier in the day and everything outside was blobs. She could just make out a figure sitting on the first step. She leaned in closer and her eyes focused properly. The sobs belonged to a little girl.

Her hair was matted and torn out in certain places on her head leaving crusted blood in its place. She was wearing a torn, muddy dress and no shoes. She was facing away from Jamie and from what she could see her knees were pulled up to her head. She was covered in scratches on all of the skin Jamie could see.

What was a little girl doing in the school at this time of night?

How did she get into the school without being noticed?

The little girls cries were filled with so much pain and anger it ripped emotionally at Jamie’s heart. She wanted to help the little girl and end her misery no matter what it took. She opened the door of the office as quietly as she could and walked over and crouched down to get at the same level of the girl.

“Hey there, what’s wrong?” Jamie asked soothingly.

Something about the little girl changed, her sobs…..

She began choking, hacking and coughing that caused her whole body to shake.

Jamie didn’t have time to think, she was so shocked and scared of what was happening.

The little girls cough changed once again into a cackle. Jamie didn’t even have time to think as the last thing she saw was the girl looking up.

Her eyes slits and her smile full of sharp pearly white teeth.

*****

Ryan tapped his fingers rhythmically against the wall outside the school. He checked his watch again for the twentieth time in a minute.

What was taking Jamie so long?

In about two hours dawn would come and he had planned on being out of town by now.

What on earth was she doing?

His head was filled with questions. Had she left and taken the money for herself? He knew it was ridiculous thought but it ate at his brain like a worm in an apple and greediness sunk in. Eventually he couldn’t take it anymore and went to look for another open window he himself could fit through.

He walked along the outside wall of the school and as he came closer to the window to where Jamie had told him the principal’s office was located as he heard a noise. An old creaky window being opened. Had Jamie seen him and decided to let him in? He crept over and looked inside. It was a window into an old janitors closet. The window was the perfect size for him.

“Jamie, are you there?” He whispered as he climbed into the room.

The closet was empty except for a sweeping brush and a mop and the door shut.

Jamie wasn’t in here, there was no where to hide in such a cramped space like that. He opened the door and left the closet.

It wasn’t as dark as he expected, there was light coming through windows down some stairs.

It must be the cafeteria. He couldn’t really remember, this was Jamie’s school, he’d dropped out a while ago.

He took everything in. It was an old school, it looked older at night.

Letting the silence settle over it like a thick fog. Shadows played tricks on his eyes, he shuddered and took a step away from the stairs.

There was a clink and a crunch under his feet.

He looked down and realised he was standing on a small bag

This must be the bag of money.

He had thought it was just another shadow.

He picked it up and punched the air, celebrating his victory.

He looked around and realised the principal’s office was right behind him.

But where was Jamie?

He stood still and flipped it from hand to hand, wondering wether to go look for Jamie…

Or leave and keep it to himself.

His conscience won and he left the pleasure of the light to go look in the darkness.

He wandered aimlessly for a long time. Bumping into things often and he caused a lot of noise. Every step he took caused the bag to make a ching sound that echoed in classrooms and down the hall.

He grew more and more concerned as he went through more and more of the school.

He thought that he would have run into her by now or at least thought she would have heard all the noise he was making, calling out for her every once in a while as softly as he could.

It was only when he finally reached the end of the school did he hear something.

It was a girl crying. Wailing pierced the air like a scream for help.

It must be Jamie, Ryan thought as he began sprinting down the hallway to the classroom he heard the crying from.

The door was locked from the inside and Ryan realised that she might not realise it was him.

“Jamie. it’s me, Ryan, I’ve got the money. We can go now.”

He heard the door unlock and he stepped back as it swung open slowly, dragging out the creaking noise that came from it. But no one leaves the room and it’s dark inside, somehow darker than the hall with no windows in sight.

He walked in slowly and put his hand to the wall. It was moist and uncomfortable and touching it sent shivers down his spine. He could sense someone was in the room with him.

Slowly he dragged his hands along the wall and found a light switch and rapidly flicked it on.

The light was blinding, and when he finally could see again he looked down at his hands and found that they were covered in blood after dragging his hands through….

What was that on the wall?

It couldn’t be…

He couldn’t help but let out a blood curling scream that shook the building.

When he was done, his chest heaving, he heard someone cackle.

He looked over into the corner and the last thing he saw was what looked like a little girl,

But was covered in blood from head to toe. With slits for pupils and a smile full of sharp teeth died blood red.

 

 

 

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