Panic clawed at my heart and made it difficult to breathe. It felt like every time I breathed in, my chest tightened and wouldn’t let me breathe out, similar to the common asthma attack. This room had no windows, no other sources of light… the entire class was consumed by complete darkness.
I tried to get Elle’s attention, opening my mouth and waiting for words to come out on my brain’s command, but my tongue refused to move. My throat was raw from the leftover screams that had exploded out of my chest in the past few days, so much so that not even a whisper left my lips.
The room erupted with alarm. I could hear girls sobbing and calling their parents, and boys were stumbling and rummaging around the room trying to find a torch or lighter. What scared me the most wasn’t the panic around me; it was the panic within me. I knew my eyes were open, and yet I couldn’t see a thing.
I felt as though I was being observed beneath a microscope, like some kind of newly discovered dangerous disease. I was growing hot, as if there was a bright light burning into my skin, even though the room was pitch-black. I squinted and squirmed further into my seat, biting my lip to keep from crying out but the tears that rolled across my scorching cheeks I could not stop.
Beside me I could hear Elle whimper and lay a hand on my arm, squeezing tightly. I lay a hand on her head and started stroking her hair.
“Ivy?” She whispered into my shoulder.
There was a slight pause before she said, “What if we die?”
I took a deep breath and said, “We are not going to die, I’m going to get us out of here, you and me.”
“What about me?” David’s voice rough and close to my ear, it’s breath warm on my cheek.
My tone was drizzled with mockery, “I thought there was nothing to be afraid of.”
“You can take care of yourself. There’s nothing to be scared of.” I spat into the darkness.
He sounded on the verge of tears when he said, “Please?”
I bit down a growl and snapped, “Tag along.” Feeling guilty about leaving him alone but angry about feeling such things. He shouldn’t use my female traits such as the presence of vulnerable emotions to take advantage of me, or my kind nature.
I grabbed hold of Elle’s hand and squeezed it tightly just as I heard the classroom door open and a light shine into the room.
Elle sobbed next to me, “We’re dead. I can see the light! Oh my God Ivy! We’re dead!”
“Oh, will you be quiet Elle?!” I hissed, although inside I was panicking and shaking with fear, “It’s a-”
“Can all students make their way outside to the fire assembly point, where you can phone a parent to come and pick you up?”
“A torch…” I finished a bit too late.
Elle laughed awkwardly, “Oh, right.”
We left the room in single file. Some students were already on the phone to their parents, some were laughing now but some were still scared. The school felt like a haunted mansion with evil spirits and phantoms lurking around every corner, the thought made my heart race like an Olympic athlete in my chest. I banished the pictures of being dragged down a dark corridor away from everyone, the thoughts that these might be my last moments, the smell of death and fear from my mind.
“Ivy!” Someone shouted, “Ivy!”
I stayed silent, ignoring Elle squeezing my hand and David telling me there was somebody looking for me, trying to concentrate on putting one foot in front of the other, a quick way out of this damned place.
“Ivy Taylor! You stop right where you are!” The voice didn’t belong to a member of staff or the Devil; it belonged to Phoenix, Phoenix my friend.
“Phoenix, I’m over here!” I yelled with a smile on my face.
Someone touched my arm, “Ivy?”
“Yes. Ivy, what’s going on? There’s something, here. Your aura is so bright I could almost see you. It’s like you know what’s going on, like it’s happened before.” Phoenix linked arms with me.
I didn’t really understand what was going on myself, but I knew what she was talking about. She didn’t know about that dreadful Friday night, but she knew something was wrong.
“I don’t know, but take Elle,” I placed Elle’s hand in Phoenix’s, “I need the toilet.”
I knew Phoenix knew where I was going, what I was going to do, but she didn’t say, she just squeezed my shoulder for luck.
I marched against the flow of students, people bumping into me and muttering, ‘watch out’ or ‘where are you going?’ or ‘you’re bloody crazy’. I ignored them. I had to find out what was going on, face my fear on my own. The students were thinning out, which meant the line was ending. As the students left, my confidence followed, along with my bravery.
“And where exactly do you think you’re going?” A voice as sweet as honey asked me.
“David!” I hissed, “Get out of here, you’re being stupid.”
“As stupid as the one who left all her friend’s behind to go strolling around a school hunting a loose murderer alone?” I could hear the sarcasm, but there was something else, something that I would never have guessed David to feel.
“Go away, I know what I’m doing,” I said boldly.
David laughed, “You’re being stupid, and I’m not leaving until either you tell me what’s going on or you and I are outside with the rest of the student’s, safe. Or both.”
“I’m not telling you anything, you won’t believe me, you’ll make fun of me in front of your friends, and you won’t help me.” I mumbled.
“Is that was this is all about?” David whispered softly.
“What if it is? It’s not like you care about my feelings anymore. You think I’m crazy, the same as everyone else.” I could feel the tears rolling over my cheeks, “You’re meant to be my best friend.”
“So what’s really going on? Did you kill Mrs. Anderson?” David pressed, “She has children, and a husband. Did you kill her?”
“David, no!” I cried, “Do you see what I mean? When I tell you that you don’t care, that you don’t trust me?” I turned and I ran. I ran away from his accusations and his distrust. Tears poured from my eyes and sobs squirmed their way out of my chest. My heart ached, I didn’t know why and I didn’t care. I just had to get away from David.
I heard no footsteps pursuing me and so I came to a stop. I curled up into a ball and I wailed. What had gotten into him lately? He was mean, David had never ever been mean, and he had always cared, always trusted. He was my oldest friend; he spoke to me at school despite his reputation. He would always put me first; we had known each other all our lives. I didn’t know what had happened to him.
A clatter of pots came from my left. I stopped crying, I must’ve been near the kitchens. Goose bumps ran along my skin, and I got to my feet.
I stepped forwards in curiosity, wondering who was there. Was it a student?
“Hello?” I called out, “Are you all right?”
I took another few steps forward in the dingy passageway, “David?” I breathed, “David? Are you there?” I called out, my voice sounding hollow and weak in the emptiness.
The corridor’s reply was complete silence, only the sound of my footsteps and quivering gasps echoed off the rusty lockers and hanging chandeliers, like ghosts in the air. That was when I realized I was completely alone.
I began to run my hand along the wall, to keep myself upright and to ensure I wouldn’t wander the wrong way and be lost in this maze of jet-black. Gloom spilled out from a classroom doorway to my left as I shuffled on for what seemed like forever until the corridor turned right.
I froze, I had no idea where I was, where anyone else was; I was like a man who was lost with no map and refused to ask for directions. I could die, and nobody would notice me missing. The hairs on the back of my neck stood on their ends as a gust of hot wind rushed through my hair from behind me.
Without thinking about it, I shot forwards. My legs moved one after the other as fast as they could. My heart raced as I rushed to escape, no destination in mind, just one thought in my head, Get out of there. They’re here, and they’ve found you Ivy.
Even though my surroundings were as dark as a raven’s wing I still had a horrifyingly uncontrollable urge to look back over my shoulder, to try and catch a glimpse of my pursuer.
That’s when I tripped over something lying on the corridor floor. I scrambled to find out what it was, praying it wasn’t a human head or Mrs. Anderson’s hand cut away from her body. My fingers brushed the smooth, metal surface of a battery-powered torch.
I sighed in relief, picked it up, prayed the batteries were still working and flicked the switch. It turned on, flooding the passageway with light and I carried on running. I was near the Science block at the rear of the building; it would take me at least twenty minutes to run to the only unlocked entrance out of the school and into the sunshine. They would have found me by then and possibly had time to kill me.
The lockers in school were wide, and stretched back far once opened, easily big enough to fit a crouched person of my size inside. I hated them, especially mine because I had to go down onto my hands and knees to use it, and there were no shelves for organised storage, the only thing you could do was stick stickers on the metal and pile up paper un-neatly and things went missing, so eventually I just stopped using it.
Though I still carried the key to it on a flexible, spring-like chain attached to the zip on my backpack. My locker was close to the gym, and that wasn’t far from here, a few corridors at most. With the torch in my hand guiding the way, my lungs burning with a need for more oxygen and my legs so tired they felt like jelly, I ran on.
I darted left and I swerved right and soon my locker was in sight. I pushed my legs to run faster and, ignoring my rushing heart, I pulled the key on my backpack forward. My fingers were clumsily fumbling about with the key and trying to put it in the lock, there wasn’t time for this. I was sweating which made my fingers slippery, I could hear the jingling of the loose metal and I shined the torch light onto the key-hole. The key slid in, I turned it left and crept inside.
I fell back and slumped against the back far wall and snapped my locker shut behind me but it echoed loudly through the empty halls, making me jump. It was creepy when there was no candle light from the chandeliers; this place was more like a funeral home than a school.
I clutched at my knees and bit my lip, I knew that soon I would run out of air to breathe and I would have to come out at some point. I tried to calm my breathing, to prolong my stay inside the tiny space.
In the distance I could hear footsteps, someone or maybe two people shouting. They were close, but not close enough for me to start screaming. I felt somewhat calm trapped inside my locker, I felt safer in here than I did out there, in the open. My muscles un-tensed and my breaths were slow and easy.
I closed my eyes and tipped my head back. I thought that suffocating in here would be so much nicer than being ripped to shreds by monsters out there.
That’s when I noticed the footsteps and the voices were closer than they last were. The things the voices belonged to were twisting and turning through the maze that was the school closer to me. I fought the urge to start rocking backwards and forwards within my locker.
They are going to find me.
As I thought those sinister words, I realized that the steady footsteps were getting louder, louder and louder. I began to tremble, clutching the torch to my chest in one hand and holding my grandmother’s locket in the other, praying that my hiding place was sufficient enough to save my life.
The handle to my locker rattled. The door swung open.
I was going to die, they were going to kill me.