Chapter 81 - The Haunted Hallway
Confusion contorted Kale’s face, but then he realized what they were saying made sense. The guard seemed upset when Oren commanded that Kale keep his cat. Why was that a rule though if they were allowed to purchase other animals?
“I don’t know why they let me keep Zair…” Kale said.
“That’s so lucky!” Vei leaned in close to Kale, staring starry eyed. “Can we meet him!?”
Kale looked around the room. “Are we allowed to visit each other’s rooms? I didn’t see anyone out in the hallways when I came here.”
“Only on weekends we can, but once it hits eight at night everyone has to return to their own rooms to sleep. You are going to love our days off here, Kale! You should definitely check out my room, I’ve collected a bunch of cool things from my Nelto Points!” Hage said.
“We are going to Kale’s room first this weekend, Hage!” Vei said.
“Yeah! I want to play with the cat!” Topaz nodded.
“Fine, fine. But, shouldn’t we ask Kale if it’s okay first? It is his room.”
The girls looked at Kale, pouting, and Kale stared blankly back. “Yeah, I guess that’s okay, but Zair is not good around other people. I don’t know if he will like you guys.”
“Everyone likes me!” Topaz said.
“Everyone?” Hage teased.
“Well, besides Forrest. But, you know, Forrest doesn’t like anybody!”
“That’s true. Maybe Kale will be lucky enough, though. I saw him eyeing him when his nails went crazy, not glaring either,” Vei said.
“Who’s Forrest?” Kale asked.
“We don’t know much about him, he came in a month ago. He never talks to anybody. Only stares at you funny. He doesn’t even answer the teacher if he is called on, but he still gets every Nelto Point from our physical challenges,” Hage said.
“I heard from Natalle that he gets really good test scores too!” Topaz said.
“Wait, how would Natalle know that?” Hage said.
“She sits next to him and always looks at his papers.”
’So she cheats off of his work?” Hage’s eyes widened. “She really shouldn’t do that, you know what happens when you cheat.”
“I’ve told her!” Topaz raised her voice, and the other children looked at their table.
“Quiet…” Vei said. “And we don’t even know that’s true.”
“What are you guys talking about?” Kale asked as he scraped the bottom of his ice cream bowl, finishing the last bite.
“Don’t listen to them,” Vei said. “They like to imagine the worst things. Besides, they treat us amazing here. There’s nothing to worry about, even if she did cheat. You know Ms. Kanole wouldn’t do something as bad as that.”
“Okay…” Kale set his spoon down. “Yeah, I think it’s great here. I’m not sure what you guys are talking about, but Oren has been treating me to anything I want. They would never involve me in something if it was bad.”
Vei nodded. “Yeah everyone is great here.”
Hage and Topaz exchanged glances with each other and said nothing.
A loud speaker sounded overhead. “Students, you have fifteen minutes until you need to be in your rooms. Please make your way there at once.”
“Aw, dinner went by too fast today,” Topaz said. “Probably because we have a new friend.” She smiled.
“Yeah, we’ll see you again tomorrow, Kale,” Vei said as she and Topaz left the dining room together.
“Maybe your room is by mine!” Hage said.
“My room is 523,” Kale said, as they walked out the door and threw away their garbage.
“What?! You have a room in the haunted hallway? Scary.”
“Haunted? But there are drawings on the walls, it doesn’t look scary at all.”
“Yeah, that’s because on the weekends we can post our art wherever we want to, a lot of people like daring each other to post them in that hallway. Lots of kids come running out screaming, saying they heard a noise.”
“If they heard a noise it was probably one of the other students in their rooms,” Kale said.
“Yeah, but you are the first person I have heard of living in that hallway.”
Kale felt a chill rush through his spine. But he shouldn’t be afraid, he had guards around for most of the night yesterday.
“Do you guys usually have guards watching your door?” Kale asked.
“Nope, our hallways are empty once it’s time for us to return to our rooms.” Hage stopped and made a slight turn in the hallway. “Well, this is my stop. I’ll see you tomorrow, try not to get hunted by ghosts!” He laughed and disappeared past the corner.
Kale’s footsteps rang out in echo as he made his way further down the hallway and pivoted, turning into the haunted hallway. He looked down, closely listening and watching everything. It looked the same as every other hallway. Even more so this time, as there wasn’t a guard around.
Maybe it was just a safety precaution for the first night, and Hage just didn’t remember the same thing happening to him his first night. A lot of things could go wrong with a child alone in a new place, it seemed normal to have an adult around.
Kale passed by the empty rooms, but heard nothing besides his footsteps. He shook his head and smirked. Hage was so gullible. There was no way anything was down here.
A whisper of air grazed over Kale’s ears, like a faint howl, and he tensed up. He didn’t turn to look, he sped all the way down towards room 523 and jangled the doorknob. Thankfully, he didn’t need a guard for a key today, there seemed to have been work done to the door. Kale locked the door behind him as soon as he stumbled in.