Second in a series.
¿De qué tienes miedo?
Ye Olde Table of Contents
1. Drysdale, Kira and Company, Repetition, the Great Outdoors
2. Kira alone, History, Crying, the West Hall, the Honorable Locker War
3. Repetitions, Mural, Somba
4. Christiana, Nadia, Kira Kuriah, Dead cold failure
5. Rigor, Songs, Flicker, Roam
She cried onto the desk, soaking her sleeves, spotting the fake wood. The nightmare world outside couldn’t be real, but this thought didn’t lift her spirits. A full on out of body madness might mean a coma, she could be slumped in front of her locker right now and people could be standing around her staring and waiting for a doctor to arrive. They would have to wait awhile, the nearest doctor was in the city unless the dentist was counted and he was retired, anyway.
Wiping her eyes, she looked up at the chalkboard. It had a lesson written on it as if the teacher had vanished while writing it. The sentence made little sense:
History due shows for that tomorrow the are Civil War the had emancipated three class distinct syllabuses theaters for A the theater next day of war is is and the can report be on a Copperfield battle and field Company occupying upon different the generals day and after locations please and turn many in tactics and—
She stared at it for a minute and was unable to make anything of it. The suspicion that rose to her mind was that the board was just meant to be background. It didn’t matter what was on it as long as something was. Words like “Civil War” and “emancipation” were needed to stand out so it could be said, “Oh, this is a history class and the current lesson is on the Civil War.”
It looked like a history class. She saw posters of Washington and a copy of the Declaration of Independence. She had never been in this classroom before but it was much like the others: windowless, with desks orientated toward the board and illuminated by cheap lights, or rather usually illuminated. These lights were off and even though she should have been blind every poster and every word on the board was clear.
This particular property was a bit unnerving but as she stared she became more unnerved if only by degrees as she became aware of a sound somewhere else in the school; a distant far off corner of the building maybe, the sound was muffled and indistinct. Somebody was crying somewhere in the building.
Kira sucked in her breath and began muttering to herself, anything that came to her, to drown out the sound.
“I don’t hear anything. It isn’t there. I’m Kira, seventeen years old, going to Drysdale High, I’m missing my His—,” she stopped.
Sound came in at the edges of the words. The words were useless.
The sobs could be male or female, it was impossible to tell and it wavered in pitch as if coming from a bad radio speaker. Kira thought that it must be female. This was based on an irrational prejudice that boys didn’t cry so loudly. She knew it was irrational but she choose to operate under this delusion because if the noise was coming from a boy he must surely be insane. She also knew that she never wanted to meet whoever was crying.
Kira wiped her eyes again to make sure they were dry and slowly rose.
“Why is it so dark?” she asked the room. There was no answer but the sobbing.
She wanted to go back to the South Hall and Karen, Clara and Jessica, but now the sobbing made her afraid of the hall. And she wasn’t feeling very comfortable in the classroom either. With no noise but that of the distant sobbing, she was beginning to feel hemmed in and was probably going to have to vomit again. The positive side of that was vomiting would occupy her mind and prevent her from imagining what the poor crying dead girl looked like.
“Dead!” Kira said. “I don’t know she’s dead.”
But of this she was certain. Boy or girl, it was dead. No living thing could sound like that. The creature would be wasted, ribs sticking out, and it would have whitewashed eyes and rotting teeth.
“Stop it,” she told herself and forced herself to the door. Glancing through the little hatched window in it before committing to a full exodus, she again stood in the hall.
The sobs weren’t any more distinct in the hall. If anything they were less distinct. Her stomach was nauseous and she ventured a bit down the West Hall away the direction she thought the sound was coming from.
The West Hall, like the East Hall, had lockers on one side (her right side) and classrooms on the other. Her history class was this way as well as her English class. She would go to both classes. Maybe familiar settings would clear her head. It would give her something to do, anyway, and Kira was big on the theory of keeping occupied.
She progressed down the hall in a truly odd manner. If her friends saw her scooting along with her back nearly to the lockers and her face and eyes darting about as if she were about to be attacked from the classrooms they would probably raise issues of sanity with her. She, herself, was raising those issues as she watched her own behavior with concern.
If you live your life in fear, she told herself, then you aren’t in charge of it.
If I was in control of my life, she retorted, I wouldn’t be here.
There was no response but a wail from the eastern most part of the building. She thought of yelling, she would tell the thing to shut up. But she didn’t want to make too much noise. It might not be friendly; it was probably a Kira eating demon trying to lure her to it with lamentations. Somebody needs help! Let’s help! Holy crap! It’s eating me!
“That’s funny,” Kira said in a tone that suggested otherwise. It seemed to be trying to convince itself of its sincerity.
What would Karen do it this situation? Karen or Brook or Jamie or Nadia or Chelsea? Clara or Jessica? Both Karen and Chelsea would find the crying girl and make her shut up. Karen seemed to be made of nothing but anger, this wouldn’t scare her, it would make her angrier. Or maybe she would break like Kira had done. Kira simply didn’t know the girl that well.
Chelsea, who she did know, would not break. Her eyes were the only eyes that Kira had ever been afraid of. Hidden behind the glasses, they were super-real, hard despite the girl’s dry attitude, they looked infinitely bored. They were the first thing Kira noticed about the girl when she had first met her in middle school.
Chelsea’s parents were scientists of some sort who had moved to the town six or so years ago. Chelsea had made friends with the Nadia girl at once, Kira had been introduced to her through Nadia.
“This is Chelsea,” Nadia had said. “Chelsea, Kira. You’ll probably like each other.”
“We’ll see,” Chelsea said smiling. Kira noted that the smile did not touch the other girl’s eyes. The eyes seemed distracted by interior vistas.
Kira and Chelsea did get along and they enjoyed each others’ sense of humor, but they never became good friends. They found many of the same things funny, but Chelsea never was willing to hangout and rejected all of Kira’s attempts to do so.
Kira continued down the hall. At a point further down was a mural. It was an optical illusion piece that looked like another hall. If it had been a real hall it would have made a cross with the West Hall and South Hall B. As it were, the halls only made a T. She was dreading this point because she would be open and more exposed. The crying did not seem any farther away here and it now was all around. She could not tell what direction it was coming from. What if she entered the junction and found that the sobbing girl was sitting in the next hall?
Courage, she thought. If I get through this I’ll be the bravest girl in the school.
But there’s no point to this, another voice said. Look, go back to your locker. Talk to Clara and Jessica. They might be able to help. People and company will keep you sane.
She stopped her advance and considered. She would check out the two classrooms and then go back to her locker. She would search her backpack for something useful. Maybe she had Excedrin in there, it would stave off the headache that she thought she could feel building.
She continued on. As slow as she was going, her nerve threatened to abandon her at every step. Her mind knew it and so did her body; it began to shake and her breath came in quick gasps.
I’m going to panic, she thought. A cynical part of hear said, I’ve never had a nervous breakdown before. I wonder what that’s going to be like?
The shaking wouldn’t stop and her confidence broke completely. She found herself shaking back in the classroom, leaning against the door as tears ran down her cheeks and soaked into her shirt. The battle of West Hall had failed miserably, a fiasco, total defeat. She would stay in this room listening to the crying girl until the end of time. This was a far worse thought than any she could have about the darkness or the dead girl. That was the ultimate defeat and it would spell her doom. The sobbing would eventually crawl into her brain, exploiting weaknesses and driving her mad.
The great fear was that she was already insane, that her brain had broken and left her here. She had to ignore that last fear, she couldn’t continue on if she didn’t.
You failed, the cynical part of her mind said. You failed and you will keep on failing. South Hall B will be forever beyond you.
“No,” she said to the empty room. “I’ll go back. I can’t stay here.”
Kira went back and began to stride down the hall with a show of bravado she did not feel. Fairly certain that the crying was now coming from in front of her, these quick strides broke into a nervous trot before she was again creeping along with her back to the lockers. She wouldn’t go back to the classroom. She would get to her history class.
She stopped and squinted ahead at a group of lockers about thirty feet away. They stood open and Kira knew, empirically knew, that they had not been open when she had first come down a few minutes ago.
Lockers could not move under their own power. A breeze, however stiff, could not have opened them. They each had their colorful combination locks popped open and askew at the same odd angle and each locker was open the same width.
She fidgeted with her hands and almost retreated back to the classroom, but she held her ground by saying, “They’re just lockers,” and continued forward repeating the phrase ever three feet.
She got to the first open locker and shut it, clicking the lock closed. Fear kept her from looking inside. There might be body parts in there. One glance at a severed hand propping up text books would probably send her back a few hundred feet down the hall and she might end up cowering in a corner somewhere. She shut the next locker and the next without a glance inside, but at the forth locker her curiosity won out.
It was all quite normal; a couple of books, binders, and a Mountain Dew can shoved together with no regard to order.
She sighed, shut the locker and locked it. She did this to all the lockers and soon the hall looked as just as it did when she first went down it.
Wiping her brow she said, “A place for everything and everything in its place.”
The farthest locker away from her clicked at its lock popped open.
Face and eyes frozen, Kira walked the distance and clicked the lock closed. The she rotated the lock’s dial and yanked on it to make sure it was locked.
Arms akimbo, she finally let her face relax and frowned. The bottom lip trembled and she hated it.
Another click came to her and she slammed that lock closed as fast as she could. Another click and she saw a locker in the middle of the row swing open.
“No,” she said rushing to shut it even as two more locks popped open.
“Hey,” she said in a shaky voice, “That’s not fair.”
In response three lockers swung open.
She backed away hands raised as the hall filled with clicks and the twenty lockers that she had shut all swung open.
“Ha, ha, ha, ha,” she said grinning. “It’s a nice joke and all but, but, but,” and she stopped there and retreated down the hall. She would go to her own locker and she would cry. It was a good plan, she thought, and though the grin didn’t leave her far, she cried until she reached South Hall A.
I have three favorite ghost stories of all time and they are: “the Red Room” by H.G. Wells, “Where Angels Fear” by Manley Wade Wellman, and “The Phantom Coach” by Amelia B. Edwards. These are not necessarily relevant to the story above, but I’ve always found it interesting to see what books authors were thinking of when they wrote something and these three titles were the ones foremost in my mind.
All characters are fictional as is the story.
To be continued…