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The Room

 

“Leave the door open.”

Mary half smiled as she slid further into the middle of the bed, her exhausted body relishing the comfort of the pink cotton duvet; her tired eyes slowly looking around the bedroom.

A soft glow from the candles in the landing leaked through the open doorway providing her with just enough light to see faint outlines from the familiar objects which surrounded her.

Content, she closed her eyes.

She was safe.

Why wouldn’t she be? I was here.

I used to whisper her name, always when she was alone.

Seems she was always surprised to see me, which made me smile. We were creatures of solitude her and me.

I’d often leave notes, send flowers, and even call when I could, never needing to speak, just so she’d know I was there, thinking, always about her.

This is the room she grew up in as a child, untouched by time and carefully maintained by her mother, as a kind of shrine I suppose.

I’ve waited so patiently for her to return to this place, watching as her mother cleaned, dusted, vacuumed; she washed the bedclothes almost on a daily basis, rather curious as the bed hadn’t been slept in since she was here last with me and yet, well how clean can bedclothes get?

I’ve missed seeing her, not just in the bedroom – a gentleman shouldn’t kiss and tell – but at work too.

She always wore that same perfume, smelled of spring time, brightened up the place whenever she walked by.

Her smile was so radiant, so hypnotic. That smile was to die for.

Of course, some people took the smile and perfume combination as a personal invitation. John Matthews; he thought just because he was her boss he could monopolize her time, inviting her into his office every afternoon, doing who knows what behind that closed door.

Once she was in there for sixty-eight minutes!

I followed him to his car that night.

I tried to tell him, to explain, you see I didn’t want to hurt him. I said ‘sexual harassment is a crime.’ I tried to explain but he just didn’t listen, then he shouted at me, told me to leave him alone.

I didn’t want to hurt him.

I had to…for Mary.

Look at her sleeping, so tranquil, a silent symphony in motion. Her lace nightgown effortlessly moving in harmony with her heartbeat, following the perfect rhythm as her chest moves gently up and down, the gentle breeze from the open window blowing across her hair and face.

It will almost be a shame to wake her.

The door slammed shut, jolting Mary wide awake. She sat up and looked nervously around the room, her eyes finally resting on the open window.

Logic told her that a gust of wind from the open window probably forced the door to close. She paused a moment to consider, thinking back.

That window, that open window was closed when she went to bed, she was sure of it.

She carefully scanned the room again.

Apart from the light in the corridor which passed through the space at the foot of the door, the room was pitch black. It was hard enough to distinguish between the different objects that surrounded her let alone recognize a potential intruder that may be lurking in the shadows.

She hid beneath the duvet, pulse rate increased, and closed her eyes trying to convince herself that all was well.

A faint whisper.

‘Mary.’

She poked her head out and looked around, her eyes gradually accustoming themselves to the limited light.

‘Mary.’

‘Hello?’ she cried, nervously looking around.

Her arms wrapped around her legs assuming a foetal position on the bed.

‘Is anyone there?’

There was a slight pause before she heard the final whisper. It was louder and more menacing than the previous two times and so close it seemed that the voice was right above her head.

 

‘Mary, I’m right here.’

 

The light in the landing was blown out, but the breathing above her head continued, slowly and steadily.

Mary clamped her eyes shut, not daring to look or move. She could feel the cold breath on her neck. Goose bumps began to form on her skin as she forced her arms tighter around her knees and buried her head inward.

A river of tears fought to escape the deadlock that her eyelids had created.

She began to shiver.

The duvet was gently removed from the bed and placed on the floor.

She felt an icy cold finger gently caress the back of her neck and slowly make its way down her spine, stopping at every vertebra as if each of her bones were a Braille question, and a brief pause was needed to contemplate the gravity of the answer.

With her eyes closed she could still feel the burning intensity of his stare.

The icy hand was no longer touching her skin, it was now stroking her hair from root to tip, gently massaging her scalp as it did.

Mary slowly opened her eyes and turned her head to see her captor.

The nervous, inquisitive look quickly transformed to a petrified stare when she saw his face.

He smiled; the gaping hole where his front two teeth should be, the cut below his left eye, the indentation on his upper lip.

It was him, but how?

Her heart rate rapidly increased and her tears were now free flowing.

His hand, instead of caressing her scalp now firmly clenched her hair, his grasp gradually becoming tighter and tighter, till he had positioned his body so he was straddling her mid-section.

She tried to pull free but her body wouldn’t move, it was literally frozen.

Her paralysis seemed to be only from the neck down. Turning her head, she looked toward the closed door and tried to shout for her father to help. The first two times, rather pathetic weedy sounds were all that would leave her lips.

An increased yank of her hair from her aggressor seemed to give her improved vigour and she let out a piercing cry, which shocked even her captor and he released his grip.

Pleadingly her eyes searched the door handle for some sign of movement, for the hope her father would hear and come crashing into the room to rescue his daughter from this evil.

Nothing, silence.

‘Father’ she shouted.

‘Faaather’ she repeated, still louder.

The door did not budge, the handle did not flicker, there was no rescue. This made her tormentor laugh.

‘Your father won’t be coming Mary’.

She stared at him disbelievingly.

‘Your father is… sleeping downstairs’.

‘Daddy’ she cried softly, now not caring what happened to her.

‘Is he…?’

‘Yes,’ he replied. ‘He is. He didn’t understand about our love.’

He smiled again.

And now you’re mine.

The tears continued, but something began to change, an anger, like an eager volcano, stirred from within. Fear very quickly turned to hate and her breathing resembled a bull, readying itself for the charge.

Her captor, the red flag.

With increased vigor, she lunged forward with all her might digging the nails of one hand into his eye whilst the other grasped at his throat.

He squealed in pain and jumped back from the bed and onto the floor, blood pouring from his eye socket, one hand covering his wound.

She saw her opportunity, jumped from the bed and dove at the door reaching for the handle. She had barely touched it when a sudden blow to the head sent her crashing violently to the ground.

Determined, she struggled to her hands and feet, but that was as far as she got. The two massive bloody hands of her captor were now round her throat, squeezing from behind, unrelenting, constant, harder, tighter…

Mary felt the life slowly leave her body.

Her heart rate once so strong and innocent, now gradually slowing, her body limp, her eyes closing. Now accepting the finality of her fate.

Her mouth opened; one last whimper for help.

‘Daddy.’

Her final word, her final breath, she was dead.

He released his grip and lay next to her on the floor, blood still pouring from his eye socket, he lovingly stroked her hair.

The door opened.

Two elderly ladies walked into the room. Bright light from the afternoon sun shone through the closed window.

The room was perfectly kept, clean and tidy, nothing out of place. Mary and her captor were nowhere to be seen.

‘And this is the third bedroom’ said the lady with the black dress and a tear in her eye.

She sat on the bed and pinched in between her eyes a futile effort to stop the tear escaping and falling to her lap.

‘Are you alright?’ the other enquired with one helping hand on her shoulder.

‘Yes’ she replied, feigning a smile.

‘This was my daughters’ room. She died twenty years ago today, my husband too. I can sometimes feel her here, always so sad, so helpless. I swear I can still hear her calling sometimes.’ She paused and sighed.

‘You must think I’m crazy?’ She sighed and turned her head away.

The other lady, momentarily speechless, sat beside her on the bed.

‘I’m sorry’ she eventually offered. ‘I didn’t realize. Are you sure you want to sell the place, so many memories?’

she nodded.

‘Oh yes, enough memories, time this house belonged to a family again.’

She rose to her feet and walked through the door, followed by the other lady.

The door closed, the room was quiet once again. The lights dimmed as the window opened. On the bed, Mary yawned, her tired eyes struggling to stay awake.

‘Good night daddy’ she called, ‘leave the door open’.

 

 

Supply Teacher

By P.J. Greystoke

 

Extract from the Highfield School prospectus January 2016 and used in evidence in November of the same year:

 

 

“… Celebrating its third successive ‘Good’ from Ofsted and a 48% GCSE average A – C grade increase; Highfield High is so much more than a school. Our dedicated staff stimulate and encourage personal development as well as academic growth. Every child matters, and as the assistant head I see to it that their every need is catered for.”   

Prof John Gorman – Assistant Head Teacher.

Dave

 

“You gonna help me put up the displays in the back office then?”

Carolyn sat in the open dining area, playfully spinning on her little round seat, till she was facing the new supply teacher.

Dave shrugged. “Yea if you want me to; but aren’t I supposed to be teaching year 11 science now?”

Carolyn laughed. “You are new aren’t you?”

To Dave’s utter astonishment she reached out and touched his knee, caressing it slowly in small concentric circles. For a moment, he was transfixed by her hand, almost as though it had some sort of hypnotic power over him.

“Guess I’m kinda new myself.” She giggled.

He didn’t remove the hand, instead slowly looked up till their eyes met. A wry smile had already formed on her face; her bright red lipstick reflected perfectly the dumbfounded expression on his own face.

“We help each other out here, y’ know?” She whispered, then raised an eyebrow, stood up and sauntered slowly and seductively into the back office, leaving the door open behind her.

A queue of ill-tempered teenagers had already begun to line up outside his science room. His gaze darted back and forth frantically, from the office door to the classroom.

How much do I need this job? He thought, and what of his wife?

He was a married man, had been for fourteen years, but for all the sex he got, he may as well have taken a vow of celibacy alongside his wedding vows. He stood up, briefly checked to make sure his apparent arousal was not evident then marched directly to the office entrance, confidently taking a deep breath and walking inside.

Sheila Lonsdale a 65-year-old battle axe of a secretary stopped typing and glared at him. Her stare was unnerving, almost like she was looking right through him. Shocked, he took a sudden step back, knocking a pile of unopened exam papers to the floor.

“I’m sorry” he stammered “I was looking for…”

He glanced around the small room. Carolyn was not there. Aside from the entrance he’d just used there was only one other door and that was directly behind the ogre he had unintentionally disturbed. Her chair was practically pressed up against it.

“Did you see anyone…? I’m sorry, I have a class. I’ll just go.”

The secretary said nothing; instead, she turned her attention to the fallen papers. Dave apologized once more then slowly backed out of the room, leaving the door open behind him.

 

Period 1

 

Year eleven science, though only timetabled to last an hour seemed to go on forever. His meandering thoughts of his encounter with the teaching assistant seemed to block out the usual Neanderthalic comments from his budding students:

“Do we have to work?”

“Can’t we just watch a movie instead?”

And

“Don’t see the point in science I’m gonna be a drug dealer when I leave school.”

“Have you never seen Breaking Bad, stupid!?”

The bell sounded and the students didn’t wait for his permission to leave before walking out of the classroom.

Dave simply shrugged it off. He was only there until the end of the week and certainly wasn’t going to burst a blood vessel trying to keep kids in line that he was unlikely to ever see again.

He sat down and read the notes that had been left sellotaped to the desk for his next lesson, year 10 GSCE revision group. Should be quiet at least he thought.

“I missed you in the office. Thought you were going to come.”

His head shot up almost as fast as his heart rate.

The sweet voice came from the open entrance to his classroom. Carolyn propped herself up on the frame.

“I did come,” he said, resisting the temptation to make a pun on the double meaning of the word; he didn’t know her that well just yet. “But you weren’t Instead,I was greeted by the wicked witch of the west.”

She smiled, then walked away and down the hall.

Almost as soon as she was out of sight Dave dove out of his seat, banged his knee on the desk and ran to the entrance, looking up and down the corridor for Carolyn, whilst rubbing his sore knee. Gonna be a bruise there later, he thought.

Yet again she was nowhere to be seen. He felt sure that even if she were running at top speed he would surely have noticed her dart off and down the corridor. It is conceivable, he thought that she could have walked into one of the nearby rooms, but he wasn’t about to walk in and announce that he was looking for a sexy teaching assistant, and had anyone seen her.

There wasn’t time anyway, a pimple faced year 10 boy pushed past him and into the classroom, picking his nose and wiping the contents onto his blazer, which looked more like an open cloth casket for disregarded nasal mucus than the smart jacket that students were expended to proudly brandish.

 

Period 2

 

Dave took his seat and the class quietly got on with their work. Ten minutes into the lesson John Gorman, the assistant head popped his head around the corner.

Michelle Henderson, an attractive year ten student noticed him at once and stood up, brushing her hair seductively to one side of her face. There were plenty of boys her own age, who would have dated her given the chance -which may not be saying much, a few of them would also go out with the aging secretary if they thought she’d go for it- but Michelle’s desires were firmly fixed on John Gorman.

“Hello sir” she whispered in a mock Marylyn Monroe voice, “Are you looking for me?”

John smiled, and his obvious show of embarrassment was met with taunting cheers from the rest of the class.

“No Michelle I’m not. Do Sit down, and don’t forget your detention tonight.”

“Yes sir.”

He tried not to, but did glance at Michelle’s legs as she slowly returned to her seat.

Dave caught the direction of Johns gaze and shook his head.

The assistant head’s a perv!

“I’m actually looking for Carolyn, the new teaching assistant, anyone seen her?”

You and me both, Dave thought. Though judging by your apparent interest in that year 10 student, probably not for the same reason.

Dave did a quick circle of the room – may as well make it look like I’m working, and impress the pervy boss –  John didn’t even notice him, just took a quick glance around at the students chatting, made some comment about it being cold and walked off.

Michelle watched, starry eyed, as the teacher disappeared from sight.

“Detention again?” scolded Carly, one of Michelle’s closest friends, who was a little deflated at the prospect of walking home alone.

“What for this time?”

Michelle smiled. “Not wearing uniform.” She answered.

“Or much of anything else” laughed one of her classmates.

“Immature”, she said and tugged at the hem of her skirt till it was level with her knee.

 

Lunch

 

“Guessing you’re not hungry?”

Dave looked up from his book. He’d had a copy of Stephen Kings Gunslingers tucked in his jacket pocket for the past few days; there’s a time in everybody’s life when they have to do the dark tower series, and this was his. Besides it was a good way of remaining solitary.

Carolyn was perched on his desk. He didn’t see her jump up there, but he did see the way she sat was making her skirt slowly ride up her smooth legs.  It was near impossible to hide his feelings of arousal and furthermore, his desire to have the skirt removed altogether.

“Where did you go before?” He half choked trying to retain a little composure.  “I chased after you, knocked my knee on the desk. Gonna be a bruise there later.”

“It’s all in the mind you know, physical pain, internal desires… me.”

She pushed her skirt up an inch further with her index finger.

“Can be hard to distinguish between what is real, and what you really want.”

Her signals to him were as clear as though they had been etched in big neon letters across her body.

Come and get it baby!

Putting the book down on the desk, he chanced a bold move with his hand toward her bare thigh. She took his hand in hers before it could make contact and slid down from the desk.

“Come with me.”

She led him to the dimly lit walk in book closet which was attached to the classroom and pulled the door so that it was nearly closed, leaving a tiny crack where the door met the frame so they could keep watch for unwelcome intruders.

This is it, he thought, all my birthdays and Christmas’s coming at once, soon to be quite literally.

Carolyn wasted no time; pushing him up against the wall and moving in so close so that their lips were barely touching. He reached down and grasped at her top, wanting to rip the thin blouse from her body, wanting to tear every scrap of clothes from…

“Hello.”

They froze.

Carolyn smiled and signaled for Dave to peer in through the crack, which he dutifully did and recognized the girl at once.

“Yes I’m alone. Ok hang on.”

Michelle Henderson, the scantily dressed student from period one closed the classroom door, then pushed a chair up against it, preventing unwelcome entry. She paused and carefully scanned the empty classroom. Satisfied she was alone she sat, virtually facing the closet.

Dave was afraid to move a muscle, though he found the role reversal rather exciting; two teachers hiding from the discovery of a student.

Carolyn simply sat on a pile of books, unhooked a button from her blouse and started pretending to read the first book her searching hands could find. Dave smiled and shook his head.

“Ok I’m back. Are we still meeting later baby, and maybe a little extra ‘detention’ on Saturday too?”

Detention? Dave thought.

Michelle laughed.

“Ooh John. Sorry Mr. Gorman.” She repeated in the same Marilyn Monroe mock voice that he liked so much.

Dave glared, dumfounded at Carolyn, who simply nodded as though it was old news. He returned his spying eye to Michelle.

“What did you tell your wife this time?

Carolyn? But I haven’t seen her.

The police?

How does she know?

Big deal. She’s just jealous. Besides all the kids know she’s got a thing with that supply teacher who was here yesterday; she probably ran off with him.”

Dave shot another look at Carolyn, who placed the book down on the floor, fixed the top button of her blouse and moved closer to the door. He didn’t know what to react to first; the fact that A student was having an intimate relationship with a senior member of staff, or that Carolyn seemingly knew all about it already.

He made to run out from the closet and confront her but was stopped by Carolyn, who grasped his arm and reverently shook her head. Michelle continued:

“I love you. Do you love me?

Well say it then.”

She laughed, hung up the phone and walked out of the class.

Barely a second later Dave burst out from the closet, silent rage building within.

“Ok” he shouted. “What the hell’s going on?”

“You still don’t remember?” Came the sorrowful voice from within the closet.

“Remember what?”

“You will. Meet me 6 o clock tonight in Mr. Gorman’s office.” she answered, then started to cry. “And I’m sorry.”

“Sorry for what?”

There was no response.

“Come on Carolyn, you can’t hide in there forever!”

He stormed over to the closet, swung the door open and…

Carolyn was gone.

What the hell??

The classroom door was open. Michelle had left it that way, but Carolyn hadn’t used it, he would have seen. Surely?

He sat at the desk and buried his head in his hands, convinced that he must be going mad.

That is the only explanation. He thought.

He was a scientist after all –  He needed an explanation; to logically work out what the…

He was going mad.

The only logical explanation.

 

Period 5?

 

The bell sounded and more students poured into the room, followed by Miss Pervis the biology teacher who settled the class rather quickly. She stood at the front and glanced down to the notes sellotaped to Dave’s desk.

“Right you lot. Open your books to page forty-three, plant and animal cells. Read the chapter, answer the questions and don’t talk. These walls are paper thin, my class is next door, so if you make any noise I will know. I have a nice bunch of detention slips which I’m dying to use, that includes you Sonia. Your parents have already asked me to call at the end of the day to give them an update on your behavior!”

“Yes miss”

Dave shrugged. Was his presence even more superfluous than normal?

“Thank you Miss Pervis.” He added “But I think I can handle this.”

“Any questions?” Miss Pervis asked, looking around the bored faces staring blankly back at her.

Sonia raised her hand.

“What happened to that supply teacher miss? If our normal teacher isn’t here and when the hired help doesn’t turn up… well that’s not good for our education is it?”

The rest of the class laughed.

“And we all want a good education” another student added before joining in with the laughter of the room.

“Quiet!” Miss Pervis yelled “Shall I just hand out those detentions now?”

That seemed to kill any feelings of levity that the students might be experiencing.

“Mr Jenkins…”

“He said we could call him Dave.”

“Well you can’t. Mr. Jenkins called in sick this morning, left a message with Mr. Gorman, so if any of you want to go discuss it with him, please be my guest.”

She extended her arm toward the open door as an invitation.

No one moved.

“I thought not. Right on with your work.”

Miss Purvis walked from the room, closing the door behind her.

The ignorance of some teachers, Dave thought. And I never called in sick. I’m right here!

“Miss Purvis.”  He called after her.

She didn’t respond and none of the kids so much as glanced in his direction.

Disgruntled, he walked to the door and made to turn the handle, but his hand just floated right through. He stepped back in astonishment before slowly reaching his hand out and trying again. The result was the same. He clasped his hands together. They both felt solid to him. But the door…

Nervously, he turned to face the class.

“This door, has anyone been tampering with it?”

No one answered.

The ridiculousness of the question was apparent to him. What could they have possibly done?

Maybe he was going mad.

First Carolyn, he thought, then Miss Purvis; maybe she wasn’t ignoring, maybe she couldn’t hear, or see me?

Can anyone?

Am I… dead?

I can’t be!

“Right everyone in the class.” He shouted at the top of his voice. “I need you to listen to me. I am a monkey.”

No laughter. Nothing.

“Free money for the first person to put their hand up.”

The students continued with their quiet chatter whilst being blissfully unaware of both his presence, and of course, the chapter they were meant to be reading.

“Please, somebody talk to me!”

Suddenly and without warning, a very slow heartbeat sounded in his ears. Quiet at first but gradually getting louder with every strike. The eventual noise was so deafening that he had to press his hands against his ears, a futile effort to keep the noise out, as the sound seemed to be coming from within.

He clamped his eyes shut, his head still pounding and stumbled forward wincing in pain, gasping helplessly for breath.

With great effort he opened his eyes. Five or six students were sitting around him having a conversation, but none were paying him any attention.

He looked down to see that he was standing in the middle of a perfectly solid table. Students either side, with him as the petrified centerpiece. Sonia flung a text book at another student across the table and it passed right through him.

This is impossible. He thought.

His mind, as well as enduring the most dreadful pain, was lost, swimming, drowning in a sea of unanswered questions. He tried to focus, to swim. Praying for a brief moment of clarity:

“Carolyn!” he said aloud.

“She can see me, hear me She can even touch me. I must find her!”

Almost as if it had a mind of its own, and was waiting for the science teacher to reach this realization, the door opened on its own.

A couple of students looked toward it.

“Oooh we have ghosts.”

“Just the wind stupid.”

“The ghost of a penguin, it’s freezing in here.”

Dave walked through the table, right through a couple of students, and straight through the open door, which slammed shut behind him, nearly shattering the glass and making the students in the classroom jump.

“I can’t be dead.” he tried to convince himself. “I mean I live the most boring life, never take any risks. But that doesn’t mean I don’t… I still have dreams, ambitions.”

He thought of his wife, strangely without remorse. He always assumed that he must love her, I mean they shared a house, a mortgage. Went on one holiday a year and slept in separate beds. He’d even forgiven her infidelity on more than two occasions. If that wasn’t love, then…

“Hello!” He called out, half afraid and half hoping to attract the attention of whatever entity caused the door to open.

There was no answer.

 

Period 6

 

The end of period bell sounded for lesson changeover. Students left the classes and filled the corridors, almost doddering, in no apparent hurry to continue with their valued education. Pensioners, Zombies and secondary school students all share a common walk, Dave thought.

He glanced up at the clock on the wall.

Ten past two and fifteen seconds, sixteen seconds, seventeen. Back to fifteen and repeat.

Wait, what?

The clock is broken?

No. He looked around.

Everyone in the hall was doing the same, caught in a perpetual loop – walking a few steps, asking half a question, taking half a bite of a sandwich, tripping over and falling halfway to the ground, surrounding student’s half preparing for the explosion of laughter that was to follow. – then rewind and back again, over and over.

Dave walked and passed freely through objects and people alike, and if it weren’t for the ever present heartbeat pounding like a persistent drum in his head, or for the fact that he was inexplicably ethereal, he could have almost enjoyed this.

He found that the closer he moved toward the school office the more painful and intense the drumming was. Something told him that the answer to this mystery lay behind that door, but every fibre of his being, or whatever was left of it, wanted to move as far away from that place as possible.

He quickly resolved that knowledge was power and that the unbearable head pain was but a necessary evil, so took several strides closer till he stood outside the office door.

If I am a ghost, he thought, then it will be pointless trying the handle. I should just walk through the door the same way I have been with everyone and everything else.

He walked, full force, with absolute certainty, slap bang into, but sadly for him not through the door. He hit his nose so hard that he thought it may be pushed into the other side of his face. It put him in mind of a previous student remarking a few years ago, how Lord Voldemort from the Harry Potter series probably walked into the wrong train platform and lost his nose.

Dazed and confused, he turned around to hear a mechanical whirring. The clock on the wall was moving forward again, this time faster. The minutes were moving as fast as seconds and with it, the movement in the hall continued too, only at super speed.

In next to no time, all the children and teachers raced by and left. The cleaners came in too; did the briefest day’s work they had ever done then departed leaving him finally alone and in complete darkness, save for that one clock which shone brightly.

 

6 pm.

 

Carolyn was in the assistant heads office. In a land of uncertainty, this was one thing he was sure of; perhaps the only thing he was sure of.

He ascended the stairs that led to the carpeted area leading to the offices of the senior management team, never once doubting that he was doing the right thing. A flickering light at the end of the corridor told him that this was probably Mr. Gorman’s office.

If he had been in any doubt however, then that was soon to be alleviated when the spirit of Carolyn floated through the open door and turned to face him.

“Come with me”, she said and extended her hand for him to hold, which he did.

They both walked through the locked door and into John Gorman’s plush, executive office.

John was sitting at his desk, fists clenched, a face like stone; the stereotypical image of complete power and dominance. He was staring at the year 10 student who was drowning in floods of tears on the couch opposite.

“Are you with me or not?”

She shook her head.

“I can’t.”

“Ok. Have you told anyone else? Well, aside from Carolyn, but she won’t be saying anything now.”

She shook her head again.

Carolyn squeezed Dave’s hand.

“In fifteen minutes John Gorman is going to come to the inescapable conclusion that it’s far too risky to have Michelle’s mouth roaming free. He’s going to sit over there on the couch, pretend to comfort her, tell her everything is going to be alright, then fix his murderous hands round her throat and squeeze every last breath from her body.”

“What? But she didn’t… She’s just a kid.”

“Yes, being done for rape is a pretty big incentive.”

Dave nodded.

“And since he already has one murder to his name.”

“Murder? But he hasn’t killed her yet. Surely we could…”

“Come with me to the closet.”

Dave was confused but followed.

Once through yet another locked door, Carolyn pointed at the bloody corpse sprawled on the floor. Dave tried not to look; the battered body of the former teaching assistant was barely recognizable as the lady he’d been lusting after, been fantasizing about ever since they first met. He almost cried.

“Oh Carolyn, I’m so sorry.”

A single teardrop dripped from her ethereal eye.

“He can’t get away with this. You have to stop him.”

“How did he? I mean why you?”

“Take both my hands and close your eyes.” She said softly, closing her own eyes.

He moved in close, interlocked his fingers with hers and closed his eyes, breathing slow and steady.

He could hear a clock ticking, shortly followed by the morning school bell and the rush of bodies as teachers and staff milled around the front entrance to the school. Through the darkness, he saw himself walking up to the front entrance.

An image, a memory from the past.

“This is when I first arrived at the school earlier this week”, he said.

He watched as his former self rang the bell on the desk and straightened his name badge

Dave Jenkins, Education Network UK.

“Hi I’m Dave from the agency. Filling in for science this week.”

“Well, hello Dave from the agency.” The smiling and, he couldn’t help but notice, attractive receptionist answered.

“I’m Carolyn. I’m a TA, not normally on reception. But I’d be happy to show you around and get you your timetable. Do you have your DBS forms?”

The image froze and was quickly displaced by another.

Dave and Carolyn were standing in the staffroom alone, laughing and joking as he poured her a coffee.

“…A boyfriend?” she said “No, why? Are you asking?”

He slipped off his wedding band and placed it deep in his pocket.

“Yes, well a drink at least. Tonight after work?”

“Well I have to put some notices up in the back room.” She signaled over to the adjoining room.

“It’s been closed and locked up because of the water damage a few weeks ago. But now that it’s all sorted, the head is going to open it up as a sixth form common area. They even get their own phone. Posh eh? Here take this key, wait for me there after school. If you help me with the posters and stuff, we can go out after if you like?”

The image froze again as another memory took its place, this time not his, but Carolyn’s.

She was yelling at John Gorman, in his office.

“The poor girl came to me. She is so confused, claiming that you and she have been having a sexual relationship for the past few months. Please John tell me this isn’t true!”

John was the picture of calm and tranquility.

“I didn’t realize we were on first name terms Miss Stephenson. That’s a serious allegation.”

He sat on the corner or the desk and started fiddling with a paper weight that had been lying there.

“Tell me, why did she come to you?”

“I’m a friend of the family, that and she said she’s missed a period. She hasn’t done a pregnancy test. She’s too afraid of what it might say, of what you might say!”

He grasped the paperweight in his right hand

“Please tell me it’s not true John.”

First names again, he thought, tut tut.

“Of course it’s not true. Have you mentioned this to anybody?”

“No, hell no. I wanted to talk to you first. But there are channels. We have to tell someone. And if she is pregnant…”

“Yes that does complicate things rather.” He calmly replied as he crashed the paperweight down on Carolyn’s head the moment she turned away from him.

She slumped down to the floor and after a moment of silent shock, screamed repeatedly, trying desperately to crawl over to the exit and down the corridor. Johns massive body weight prevented her escape, and the constant blows to her head that followed rendered her unconscious.

The school was quite empty, John made sure it would be when Carolyn telephoned him after lunch following her conversation with Michelle and requesting a meeting.

Just to be on the safe side though, he decided to take a look around. He stepped outside his office and saw Dave running up the corridor toward him, obviously alerted by Carolyn’s screams for help.

“What’s going on? I heard yelling!”

“It’s Carolyn.” John replied defensively “Some sort of attack or fit or something. She’s in my office.”

Dave pushed past the assistant head and into the office.

He stood, stunned and looking at the lifeless body at his feet. He knelt down to feel for a pulse.

There was none.

Before he had time to react, or challenge John Gorman, he felt a sharp pain at the back of his head and was sent crashing to the floor next to her. The last image he saw before he blacked out was the shocked and helpless eyes of Carolyn, wide open and forever locked in a perpetual cry for help.

The image froze again then slowly faded away. John was once again standing in the closet with Carolyn’s spirit.

“That’s when I came to you”, Carolyn said.

“I have the only key for that sixth form room, the one I gave to you. You weren’t dead, merely unconscious. I caused a distraction, made a noise elsewhere in the school, far enough for John to hear yet close enough for him to go and investigate. I then helped you to the common room and had you lock the door; from there you were supposed to call for the police, but you blacked out. And that’s where you are still, unconscious in the common room.

All the images you’ve seen today; most have been real and others, the ones with me, the sexual ones have been mixed up, made up from your thoughts and feelings of me; confused and dizzy, mixing for the most part, fact and desire.  I tried to lead you to the common room this morning, to make you discover your body and wake up, but you didn’t make it.

Michelle’s life is in danger Dave. You have to wake up now, please before it’s too late.”

 

6.10pm

 

The repeating heartbeat sounded once again in his mind, stronger than ever and that familiar pain caused him to once again close his eyes.

The drumbeat instantly stopped when he opened his eyes. He stumbled across the floor, onto a chair and picked up the telephone.

 

From the Highfield Gazette June 21st 2016:

John Gorman, the former assistant head of Highfield High school was today charged with the statutory rape and attempted murder of Michelle Henderson, the brutal murder of Carolyn Stephenson and attempted murder of science teacher Dave Jenkins. He has been ordered to serve three consecutive life sentences.

Judge George Wiseman commented: “John is a selfish, evil and vicious, man without conscience or a single shred of regret for his victims. It is disturbing that he was ever placed in a position of trust among the vulnerable in our society.”

Dave smiled, folded the paper and placed it on the last of his packing boxes. He picked it up and put it in the passenger seat of his car.

Before driving off he took one last look at the house he had shared with his wife these past seventeen years.

Today was a new day.

A new life.

Well…  Poetry has always been something I have read and admired from afar, but not something I often turn my hand to.

Todays Free Form exercise however, inspired I think from a news story I read where a young lady was repeatedly beaten and made to suffer numerous indecent acts upon her person; an assault which lasted years before he (the assailant) was eventually jailed.

… Anyway I just started to write, please excuse any glaring errors, the words are exactly as they appeared in my mind, as for me that is what free form is all about.

As usual any comments or suggestions are always welcome. x

Don’t Turn Out The Light

Don’t turn out the light
I promise not to look

As the night blankets the sun
And the rain weeps into the vast baron oceans of my mind.
I’ll stand here
Waiting.

As the soft gentle beat of my heart
Signals that there’s someone, something innocent left behind
I’ll stand here
Waiting.

As the drum of distant footsteps
Marches with renewed anger till there’s nothing left to find
I’ll stand here
Waiting.

As a ticking clock with no concept of the day or time
I’ll stand here, waiting, waiting.
Just don’t turn out the light.

Hello all…

My book (The Trouble With Time Travel) is still going well and ever closer to the finish line.

Whilst writing, as a wee warm-up exercise i tend to do a little free form to drum up ideas for future projects and I think I’ve hit on something here.

Its not complete (Just an idea at this stage) and i am interested to see if this turns into a novel or a short story.

See what you you think, hope you like it ….

As always all comments and thoughts welcome x

 

Little Ruthy

“Drink, but slowly. It’ll feel a little strange as it goes down but…”

He stopped to consider his choice of words before continuing.

“That’s what you paid for.”

He finally muttered something under his breath before turning away from his pleading image in the mirror and downed the blue liquid contents in the blue cup.

He finally chanted something under his breath.

It only took a few seconds for the paralysis to kick in; one hand grasping to the sink, the other clawing at his chest, instinctively trying to stop his blood from freezing over.

The time had long since passed for second thoughts.

The last image his eyes were to capture, as his lay on the bathroom floor gasping out his last, was the little girl in the red dress.

Stepping forward out of the shadows, she smiled sweetly before blowing him a kiss and walking out of the room.

Daddy was her first.

Father Mcdaniel mopped his brow with a handkerchief that looked as though it had serviced his nose several times before tending to his sweaty head. He refilled his tumbler and drained the contents in one smooth movement. He may have lost his faith many years ago but as an alcoholic, he had a real future.

The dreams had not stopped, and this one troubled him more than most. He looked at the telephone on his desk waiting patiently for it to ring.

‘Riiiinnngggg’

To his ears, the sound was piercing, like several broken finger nails skating circles on a blackboard. He slowly picked the receiver and placed it to his ear, knowing with absolute certainty that Mrs Jennifer Collins would be hanging on the other end still trying to comprehend the apparent suicide of her loving husband.

“Hello Jennifer dear, are you alright? Slow down dear… Have you called for an ambulance?”

Heloooo  and Happy 2015 to you…

I had an idea for a short story today which I thought I’d share with you.

The story isn’t yet complete, there are a few directions it could go  in but i would welcome any comments and suggestions you may have.

Till next time x

Outside

“Let me in!!!”

Ten minutes of banging on the door, the fifteen or twenty times he’d yelled at the upstairs bathroom window that was slightly ajar and the countless missed calls to her mobile had prevailed nothing but an ear piercing silence.

Jack Grundy was too tired even to cry. He turned and slid down to the front step, exhausted. Looking across the street he could see that he wasn’t completely invisible, only to those he wanted to reach it seemed, neighbors curtains twitched, the odd face popped out to see what all the commotion was about before retreating into the comfortable camouflage that their darkened rooms provided.

Dorothy Evans, the street busybody made the excuse of coming out to check her car was locked. Maybe she was hoping Jack would spill his guts and tell her everything complete with spell check and grammar correction so she could relate it to the rest of the neighborhood the following day; this hot off the press Jack says “Fuck off Dot; it’s none of your goddam business!”

She simply smiled sympathetically, paused for a second as though she was trying to find the right words then walked back into her home.

It was 2am and the welcome doormat he’d purchased two years ago, the one upon which he now rested had become somewhat of an ironic note to self.

A patrol car slowly approached, lighting up the houses and the previously hidden neighbors gaping faces as it drew near.

John Hobbs the local PC got out spoke into his radio before clipping it to his belt and taking out a flashlight. He shone it on the house first surveying the area, probably checking for signs of physical disturbance before shining it in Jacks face, forcing him to raise his elbow in front of his eyes to stop him from going blind.

“Can I ask what you are doing here sir?”

Jacks mind processed a multitude of possible responses everything from “Yes I appear to have lost my key” to “Sod off PC Plodd it’s none of your goddam business either.”

In the end he felt honesty was the best answer.

“I live here officer. My wife and I had a kinda disagreement and I guess she’s not feeling like the forgiving type tonight.” He shrugged his shoulders.

“Have you been drinking tonight sir?”

Jack looked almost offended “No, why?”

“This house hasn’t been lived in for over two years” he shone the torch on the house “look.”

Jack turned slowly to follow the direction the beam was facing. The door he’d been banging on only moments ago was covered by a huge wooden board, as were most of the windows in the house too. He stepped back not believing the evidence his own eyes presented. “It can’t be… I was just…”

He looked pleadingly at the officer who gently ushered him into the back of his patrol car. Jack offered no resistance.

A pair of sad eyes watched from the upstairs window as the car pulled away.

 

Ok

I was teaching a creative writing class today and was asked where I get my ideas and inspirations.

I was also asked if i stick to one project and see it through to its conclusion forsaking all else.

The answer is…..

I have one method which I stick to and it works for me, that is not to say it will work for everyone.  We can but try…

I have a main project which is my Novel, to this I write 2,000 words every day without fail.

Just like an athlete in training i don’t just jump right in there i warm up first… I do some free form, that is to say I sit down and write the first thing that comes into my mind for 10 – 15 mins.

Often my free form warbling makes no logical sense, but I have called upon it time and again for inspiration when creating a character, an idea for a story or development. Its like having hundreds of seeds each with the potential to grow independently into something amazing.

Just to demonstrate how random these thoughts can be my ten to fifteen minutes of free form follow.

Hope you enjoy, as always all comments welcome x

Very Random Free Form Thoughts

1. Been exercising my body today. Now it’s the turn of the mind, the creativity. To turn the all knowing cogs and prove that there is always an undiscovered treasure, some little gem than can be found by randomly unearthing the rocks in my mind.

2. You know if you don’t take the steering wheel, if you don’t make the decisions you’d rather avoid they get made for you. That’s something I will not let happen.

You know the feeling, a bill arrives. There it is on your doorstep, staring at you, the contents practically burning through the unassuming white or brown envelope into the part of your mind that has its own front door; the one that is locked, the one with the letterbox boarded up.

Welcome to the house of avoidance and acceptance unto the will of others.

3. Time travel cannot be but the sanction of the weak and helpless.

The ultimate escape is also the infinite prison, the one with invisible walls and with a slight colour correction one cannot help but to be mesmerized by the worst time of your life.

4. Helpless hands make infinite work thank you very much.

5. Why don’t you try picking up something that is in more keeping with your sexuality?

6. Want some abs?

You can borrow mine, if you can find them.

I must really value my abdominal muscles. I have hidden them behind layers and layers of fat.
No one will think about looking there.

People should try that with all valuable possessions: jewelery, DVDs, homes and children.
Cover them all with fat and no one will want to touch them.

7. Ahhh that explains obese children.

The parents of these legged beached whales are, far from the current conception, actually very caring people, they are merely ensuring no one will kidnap them… and if they did, well lets face it they would be easy to spot in a park, just look for the eclipse.

I have nothing against fat kids, like any writer that writes about murder death and the mayhem that ensues when one’s mind is moved a little to the left and twisted slowly till all that is decent and holy leaves on a number seven bus I like to swim in the pool of the forbidden expressing the very thoughts others don’t like to admit to.

8. Hahahahaha ohhh I love this life. Don’t you???

9. I gotta say doing this is the best release. Well so is playing guitar. I like that too. And I’m pretty sure I can still rock it with the best of them.

10. When did I become such a believer?

I’ve been perceived as captain cynic but that’s not me. I’ve turned my back on my true self for so long, for fear in part that I wouldn’t be accepted, mainly by myself.

I cry more at the words I love you than anything else but always had a problem when someone said those words to me.

Well that’s not true.

My mom, dad, sisters and especially my children, saying I love you is a daily pre requisite… but from a significant other?

I never thought it possible.

Maybe all people are not the same.

Maybe…

….. and breathe.

Its possible I just get Weirder…. Or maybe not, there was a time when the greatest minds on the planet thought the world was round…. oh it is round??

Right well few bits from today’s free form ramblings:

Tripping through the lost moments of the morning I stumbled across the only rain drop left from months and tears of bad weather in this country.
As a nation we like to complain.
I think that attitude is both amplified and watered down in my family.
It made me think, can we fix the worlds ailments by simply helping ourselves and our own immediate family.
The only situation where the dry run can be more satisfying than the final show.

My next post will be one of my short horror stories, hope you enjoy x