Third in a series.

Friday, January 24, 2059

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
6. Final

Chapter Three

“What a dick,” Jessica said.

“I know,” Clara said.

“So, I pushed him away and told him to— Oh my God. Kira are you all right?”

“Ha ha,” Kira said. “I’m fine.”

“You look awful,” Clara said.

Both girls stepped back nervously as Kira approached and both let out unconscious breathes when Kira stopped at her own locker and didn’t come any closer.

“I’m fine,” Kira repeated. She had the feeling that she wasn’t talking to real people at all, as if until she interrupted they were playing characters speaking rehearsed lines. “I’m just getting my backpack.”

She grabbed the backpack and retreated up the hall to where the girls faded and the sobbing returned.

The loss of her breakfast had left her hungry and once she ate, she was sure she could get passed the lockers. Food would give strength and strength was tantamount to bravery. Bravery…

Bravery. The backpack comforted her. It was something that she could fixate on besides her surroundings and it proved that she could take things from her locker into this place. The doubt that this didn’t prove anything was quashed and she happily rooted around in the pack trying to get her lunch out. This was delayed when she realized that in the back pouch was her cellphone. A cellphone! She could call for help.

She pulled it out and nearly dropped it in her excitement. But that faded, all the space in the display was taken up with ROAMING… ROAMING…

“No you bastard!” she screamed at it.

She realized that with that out burst the crying stopped. It was both a relief and a terror: a relief because the sound was like an annoying song that couldn’t be turned off and a terror because whatever was crying was now aware that it was not alone.

You see, said a patronizing cruel part of herself, your cellphone didn’t work and now it’s going to get you killed, good job.

“Shut up,” Kira said. Her voice was savage.

Grabbing her backpack she fled the room before the crying thing could come and find her.

The lockers were still open but she passed them with out indecent. She didn’t go all the way to South Hall B and instead entered another classroom. This was also a history class from the look. Kira sat down at the desk farthest from the door and the one most out of view of the door’s little window.

The sobbing resumed. It wasn’t a corporeal sound, rather it seemed to be played on the half; when she strained to hear it, it wasn’t there. She vaguely wondered if it was possible to go insane in a delusion. Perhaps she could enter into another delusion; maybe there were different levels of insanity. There could be multiple delusions each worst than the last.

No, that wasn’t a happy thought. The sobbing now comforted her because now she new the thing wasn’t prowling the halls looking for her. Kira breathed and stood up. Her stance wasn’t wobbly; she stood straight and got to the door without any hesitation.

Onward and upward,” she said to herself, muscling open the door with her shoulder.

Her backpack helped her courage. She supposed it could be used as a weapon if it came to that. Swing it hard, it had enough books to knock down a good sized man if it connected… she hoped.

The hall was still empty and as she turned her steps to South Hall B she tried to fix her courage by humming under her breath. It wasn’t much of a tune, nameless and made up on the spot, but it got her past the lockers and it got her to the junction with the optical illusion and here she stopped and stared at it.

It was a mural and it looked like a hall in every way, somebody, back in the day, had done a good job painting it. Looking at it now, Kira realized that she had never really paid it much attention even though she passed it every day. That was a pity because as she looked and looked now she could not remember if the door at the very end of the painting usually stood open. She turned and looked down South Hall B just to make sure it wasn’t a mirror image of the actual hall. It wasn’t.

If she had taken interest in the painting instead of just noting its existence and passing on, she might not have been so captivated by it then. In the strange non-light of the hall, the mural almost looked transparent, as if it could be walked into. She touched it actually expecting her hand to pass through, but the wall was solid. She giggled, relieved.

Her History Class was at the end of the hall. She noticed with some irritation that this hall had sections of open lockers as well. She wondered what would happen if she propped something heavy, like a desk, against a locker. Would the locker still be forced open? Would the desk be thrown off or would it slide sideways? What would happen if she held one shut?

“There’s no point in trying that,” she said.

The process of dragging a desk out of a classroom would be too noisy anyway and victory would still go to the lockers in the end.

What opened the lockers? A ghost maybe. The hall did feel haunted, but if there was a ghost in the school it was probably the sobbing girl.

Kira had read somewhere that over time objects absorbed their owner’s personalities. She had thought it New Age nonsense at the time, but now she wondered if there was some truth to it. Maybe this world was a psychic imprint of the physical one and the lockers were trying to imitate what happened to them every day. If that were true, then the rest of the school wasn’t exactly real and that meant the sobbing girl couldn’t hurt her. That might even explain why the outside was so distorted. It was the school that mattered after all.

This sudden dawning of pseudo-understanding put bounce in her step and pity in her heart for the poor lockers doomed to imitate and aspire but never to reach their goals.

She didn’t trust this rationalization completely. The crying still unnerved her. She wasn’t exactly going to rush off to find it and she was still stuck in this place, but now she felt more confident. If she could contain her fear she could at least not run from every new horror she saw. The only thing to fear was fear itself. She chanted this mantra down to hall and into her English classroom where she nearly choked on it for there in one of the chairs was a girl.

I find myself reusing characters for practically every piece of fiction I write. Kira first appeared in a failed attempt at a novel I was writing in ninth grade as a side character. That delightful piece of trash was told from Chelsea’s little friend Nadia’s point of view and had something (best I can recall) to do with a murder. I still have the pages she appears in actually and her one line of dialogue is “Cool deal,” which is probably the first time I’d ever used that particular phrase, which now comes out of my mouth very often. The things we learn about ourselves in retrospect, huh?

Retreat Begin Advance

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