“We have a serious problem,” Emmett snarled as he threw the newspaper down on the dining table we were sat around.
“What’s wrong?” I asked, peering at Emmett. His enraged eyes and stiff posture left me feeling unsettled, and goosebumps rose on my skin.
Zach picked up the paper, and his teal eyes turned into eyes of shock, “Two found dead from an animal attack. Both residents of Willow Lake. A Peter and oh my god...Mr. Walton.”
Zach’s words caused me to almost choke on the coffee I’d been taking a sip of, “Our history teacher?”
“Yeah.” Zach nodded and directed the paper towards me.
Sure enough, there was a picture of Mr. Walton and his younger brother, Peter. Both with smiles on their faces under the large headline that told everyone, they’d been found dead.
“Wolves?” Masato inquired, looking over to Emmett.
“No, Vampires. Bite marks on their necks, drained of blood. They always pawn it off as animal attacks; it’s the only way people can think to explain it.” Emmett sighed, his large hands rubbing over his red stubble as he took a seat.
“Seems like they went out hiking and crossed onto the Vampire territory that got here recently.” Zach murmured as finished reading and put the article down.
“We’ll have to keep our ears to the ground, heads down and eyes up. And pray this was just a one-off.”
“What if it isn’t though Alicia?” Zach declared, “You three might not want to hurt humans, but I know all too well-”
“We know Zach.” Alicia sighed with a troublesome weight in her breath, “If this clan gives us trouble, we’ll have to handle it. If they come any closer to town or start praying on townsfolk, then we’ll have to stop them. Simple as that.”
“We won’t allow anyone to do things like this to your home. If that means we have to dust a few fuckers, then so be it. Anyway, you two better get to school.” Emmett looked over to Zach and me sympathetically.
“God school is going to miserable after this.” I sighed and turned my eyes to Masato, “Can you take us in, babe? I don’t feel like walking or taking the bus.”
I’d woken up this morning in high spirits, however, now I felt as if I was being annihilated under a mass pressure with the news.
“Of course, you ready to go?” Masato put down his coffee cup as he stood up.
“I just need to get my bag from our room.”
“I’ll go get it, baby. You need yours too, Zach?”
“Nah, mine’s by the door.”
“All right, I’ll be down in a moment.” He walked round to my side of the table, leaning down and pressing a kiss to my cheek. “I love you.”
“I love you, too.” I turned my head to touch my lips to his before he headed upstairs.
The school grounds were silent, barely a mutter or a whisper from anyone. Even the teachers were opting to give us easy work, reading, writing, or pop quizzes rather than teaching lessons.
Sadness rippled through the classrooms and halls like vast waves of a dangerous sea. Some students were crying, some merely leaning on each other for the smallest piece of comfort.
Zach’s arm barely left my shoulders as we walked between classes and during lunch. He knew out of the teachers here, Mr. Walton was my favorite.
He was fun and quirky; he wasn’t afraid to outwit his students or make jokes. He made history enjoyable, even for me who’d lived in the time of our current subject, the Great Depression.
After lunch, our class sat in the history room. We all looked at the door, expecting Mr. Walton to come striding in with his metal coffee flask any second. Except, we knew he wouldn’t be, but some of us hoped the news had been falsified.
When Mrs. Atkinson, the Geography teacher, strolled in, everyone fell in their seats. No, Mr. Walton, the news was right, he was gone.
“Afternoon class. Now, I know how you all feel. The news of Mr. Walton and his brother’s deaths have hit us all horribly. Sadly we do not know any more than what you do right now. I will be taking over his classes until a suitable replacement can be found.”
“There is no replacing him.” One of the girls spoke through choked back tears. “He helped me so much.”
“We know Ms. Rose, the loss is tragic. Today, instead of continuing from where he left off, I’d like to set you all with a task. Today will be about Mr. Walton and the impact he had on each of you. I shall give you all a piece of card where you can write a short piece on Mr. Walton. I will collect them at the end of class, and they will be placed in a scrapbook for us to give their family.”
Mrs. Atkinson usually had an overly annoying high, bubbly tone, but not today. Her tone was dull, saddened, and monotone, like everyone else.
“When will the funeral be?”
My head turned to look at Eric as he spoke. I’d never seen him look so saddened or defeated, for the first time I found myself wanting to hug him, rather than wind him up.
“We’re not sure yet, Mr. Wallis, but the family will inform us soon as a date is confirmed.” Mrs. Atkinson moved and began handing out the card as she continued. “The principle has also asked me to remind you all, Mrs. Heffernan has an open door policy should you need to speak to a counselor. She will be extending her times as well, one hour before school and an hour after.”
I stared at the blank, lined paper which had been mounted against a colored card with a delicately detailed border. I’d only been here two months, but it seemed so small to be able to say enough. I could only imagine how my classmates felt staring at their paper, the ones who’d been taught by him for four years.
I looked over at Zach, whose eyes were fixed on the paper, “What are you going to write?”
“Well, I only had one lesson with him. I’m going to thank him for being one thing my sister enjoyed about the school before I got here.”
I gave him a small, sad smile, “That’s sweet.”
“If I ever...all this sadness, after watching what I did.”
I shook my head lightly, “Not here, Zach. We’ll talk at home.”
He nodded his head, and I turned back to the paper.
My pen floated over the paper between my fingers, trying to form the words, and I began to write.