The empty tutoring center mocked me as I sat down at my usual desk and pulled out my book. The rain seemed to scare everybody away, even the tutors. Only three tutors showed, including me. The rain picked up from this morning, going to a downpour around lunchtime. It has gone down quite a bit, but none of the students showed. Including Ryan, who was actually at a Student Council meeting. Apparently everybody hated rain.
Ryan came yesterday too, staying for another tutoring session. I’m guessing it will start to become a regular thing. He’s really smart, but this material is just hard for him to grasp. The more time I spend with Ryan, the more I wonder why this other pack wants us to leave him alone. I can now tell when I see a Shape Shifter, and I know he isn’t one. I guess it must be because of his friends, who I have not met, but I don’t know for sure.
I shook my thoughts free and checked on the three other tutors before sticking my nose back in my book and let my mind get lost in the character’s lives.
I glanced at the clock and noticed it was an hour later than it usually was. For the second time since I’ve been here, I looked up at any others in the room; the chairs were as empty as the hallways. I shoved my book into my backpack and marked the ‘out’ box by my name from the sign-in sheet. Turning out the lights, I reached into my pocket and pulled out the room keys, securing the lock before going to the math office and sliding the keys under the door. I spun on my heel and headed down the hallway.
The usual janitor that was always working at this hour was gone. Must have been a long day for him and he went home early too, I thought. I decided to swing by my assigned locker and grab my sweatshirt. I took the wrong turn again and ended up at a different staircase I wasn’t used to using, but I still somehow managed to find the main hallway and follow the route I knew would lead to my locker. I quickly snagged my hoodie and pulled it over my head before searching for the front double doors.
“Help! It’s here!” I heard a shout. But not from the usual teenager you would see around here. It came from a kid. I looked harder out the thick glass doors, peering through the rain. There was a faint silhouette of a little boy around eight running frantically around glancing up at the sky and into the shadows everywhere.
I sprinted out the doors, the fat drops coming down on my uncovered head. “What’s wrong?” I stopped dead in my tracks. Sprinting around high in furious circles was a huge black shadow. Its deep red evil eyes shot through my soul and made me stagger back into the hard doors. It looked like a black ghost, but it had a ragged gray exterior that looked like pasty, dead skin covered in deep cuts. “Get in here!” I screamed at the kid.
He didn’t hesitate to come racing towards the doors. He didn’t stop when he reached them either; just pushed the thick doors open and staggered into the building. I gave the creature one last look and followed in the doors after the boy. He was shaking in the hallway, clutching his knees so hard his knuckles were white and I could hear his panting.
“Hey, hey, it’s okay. Look at me,” I grabbed his face and locked my eyes with his. “It’s okay.”
His eyes broke from mine and darted behind me again. This time, he didn’t look back at me. I followed his gaze and saw the creature trying to get in. The light seemed to block him out because he couldn’t get past the door due to the lights on the ceiling.
I looked back as the boy. “See? It’s okay. He can’t get past.” As if on cue, the lights flickered for a few seconds before they became stable again. I improvised, “but maybe if we, uh, move somewhere else, it will be better.”
I just let his scared little head nod before I grabbed his hand and walked around the school I barely knew. I tried to find the janitor’s closet so, just in case the lights did go out, we would be safe. However, that was a lot easier said than done. I don’t know how the students remembered where things were in this huge place.
After zig-zagging through random halls, the flickering lights finally stayed off, the boy’s hand started to sweat in mine own. I looked down and saw his scared face. All I wanted to do was tell him it was going to be okay, but I knew those words would never be able to leave my throat because I didn’t know if they were true. I settled with a reassuring squeeze and headed down another hallway.
A sharp pain came crashing through my head and I squeezed the boy’s hand, hoping I could somehow transfer the excruciating pain. Realizing what I was trying to do, I let go just as fast as the pain came into my head. I felt my knees buckle from under me and squeezed my head between my palms. I heard screaming. Like one of those screams that could break eardrums. Then I realized it was me. I couldn’t stop it, though. It hurt too much to stop.
I tried to look up to see what it was that was causing me the pain, but I couldn’t keep my head up long enough. I took a deep breath and tried to look up again, and this time, I did see it. It was the black ghost from outside. I turned and saw the kid glancing from me to the beast, trying to figure out what was happening.
“Go!” I screamed at him through gritted teeth as the pain intensified even more. He hesitated for just a second before turning and darting down the hall, away from me and the beast. Another wave of unbearable pain seared through my skull and I let out another ear-splitting scream.
Oh, please, make it stop!
And then it stopped. The pain just vanished. I glanced up to see another dark figure attacking the first one. Only this time, the shadow looked human. I looked back behind me to see the boy grab my hand and start pulling me, “Come on. I told him I’d take you.”
“Wait—What? Who did you tell that to?” I asked, confused.
“The man. He said in order to keep you safe, I have to take you away.”
“Who is this man?”
He shrugged, “He said he was a friend here to help.”
I shoved the kid behind a wall, “stay here”, I pleaded, and for once, someone listened to me. I took off down the hall to the hustle of the two shadows. Then I felt it. The same feeling I get around the only person I have been able to locate so far.
Nathan was fighting the dark shadow.
I only dared touch the one that was human and tugged at his jacket hanging loosely around his body from the open zipper. Nathan only shrugged off my hand and launched himself at the beast again. He somehow was able to find a fire ax, and he launched himself at the beast, trying to take a swing at his demented form. This time I grabbed his hand and felt the same tingly sensation I’ve felt before.
“Go!” He sneered in my face as he tugged his hand from mine and went back to hacking at the creature.
“Not without you! Come on!” I yelled at him, grabbing his arm this time.
He looked at me and I locked my eyes with him. “Stupid kid,” I thought he grumbled, but then just shoved me back and kept fighting.
Stop being so stubborn! Fighting back the gag rising in my throat from the look of the other shadow, I punched him hard in the temple where I knocked Liam out just last month. He fell abruptly and I jerked my hand back as soon as I could to wipe on my hoodie. Nathan didn’t waste any time with lodging the ax in the creature’s chest, allowing black liquid to pour out from the wound. I tore my eyes from the sight.
Nathan stood there panting before he turned to me for an explanation. “Hit a, uh, pressure point. It should keep him down for about ten minutes,” instantly, the beast moaned, “or maybe not…”
We turned abruptly as I grabbed the boy’s hand, hearing the beast stirring.
I led the way to the girls’ locker room, or at least what I thought was the girls’ locker room. I held open the door for the boys while they tumbled in. I slowly closed the door, making sure the latch re-engaged without any noise.
In the dark, the silent rows of lockers seemed almost haunting. The stench of heavy bleach and disinfectant stung my nose, making the janitor’s recent visit obvious. The mirrors were scrubbed clean, making sure to alert us of any possible company. I looked at the lockers hanging open and the benches. Everything was utterly still. I took the boys by hand and led them down one of the rows. We passed an office.
A voice called out from the darkness.
I felt the little boy’s pulse speed up from where I had his hand, so I gave him another reassuring squeeze and looked at Nathan for direction. He jumped out to shield us from the darkness.
My eyes zeroed in on what was the source of the voices. It was the gym coach’s radio, no doubt left on by a custodian after cleaning up the locker room. The boy relaxed his hand slightly and started breathing again and I saw Nathan’s shoulders relax a bit.
Then, through the opposite side of the room, we heard a click of the door latch. This time, someone—something was trying to get into the locker room.