This story was written for the NYC Midnight Flash Fiction Challenge round 2; I was set the genre horror, the setting of a private school, and had to work in a mouse somewhere.
By Lauren McMenemy
Written October 2011; 1000 words
Rain. Always rain. Always grey, gloomy. Staring out the window. Watching the girls play, out in the field. The muddy field. Short skirts, long socks. Lacrosse sticks at the ready. Running, checking, scoring, defending. Drenched with rain, sliding in the mud. Watching the ball. Watching them watching the ball. Wishing it wasn’t raining. Wanting to be out there with them.
But you’re not.
You’re inside. Top floor, attic room. Blanket pulled tight around you. Watching the rain. Watching through the window. The old Tudor window in the middle of the high sloping roof with the lead piping and the paint that’s kept it shut for centuries. Unopened for generations.
Watching the girls play. Watching their schoolmates cheer them on. Watching the opposition, the girls from that other school, that rival school, that horrid school. Your old school.
You wonder if they remember you. But of course they do. How could they forget you? After what you did. No one could forget that.
A noise behind you. You whip around, your vision leaving the lacrosse game out on the field, that boldly marked patch of the ever-rolling hills which form the grounds of this ancient school. This school that has stood here for centuries. Though you’re the first of your family to go here. The others, they all went to the other one. The rival school. Your old school, until…
A noise again, in front of you. Your breath catches. You spy the mouse scuttering across the floor, darting behind the wardrobe. Disappearing into one of the many secret hidden tunnels of this big old manor house that they told you about. Hiding spots are always handy to know. Especially for someone like you. They knew that.
Back to the window. Watching. Wishing. Wishing those girls were nicer to you. All of them. Wishing you fit in more. Wishing you weren’t you. It’s hard being you. It’s tough. It’s tough to fit in with the girls, with the crowd, with the normal people. You’re not normal, are you? You’ve always sensed it. Deep down, it’s always been there. You knew it. That’s why you weren’t surprised when it happened. Before, the last time. You know it won’t be the final time it happens, either. That’s why you’re up here, in the attic room, hiding from them, blanket wrapped around you to protect you from the cold and the wind. That wind, inside. That’s odd, isn’t it? The wind doesn’t come inside, especially when there’s no holes in the roof and the window is painted shut.
The wind. Whistling, cold, damp wind. Whispering wind.
You’ve felt that wind before, haven’t you? You felt it last time. Last time you were wishing you could fit in. Last time you were singled out. Last time, when they laughed and they pointed and you couldn’t do anything about it. Just like you couldn’t do anything about what happened.
It just happened, didn’t it?
Besides, they asked for it, didn’t they.
That wind, swirling around you. Whispering to you. Talking in your mind, silently yet loudly. You cannot ignore it. It’s calling to you.
It says: look at them, smug and smiling and smutty. Dirty girls. They need to be cleansed.
It says: you need to cleanse them.
It says: do it. You know you want to. Remember how good it felt last time?
You’re scared now. It’s all flooding back to you, the way it happened before. The way it seemed to take you over and control you. The way that wind filled you up, into every pore and every vein and every part of your consciousness. How you suddenly felt so warm, despite the cold. How you suddenly realised the warmth was not good; the warmth around you was driven by evil. And then you did it…
And here you are. It’s why you’ve kept yourself trapped up here, in the attic, in the cold, watching. Watching them all live their lives. Watching them be oblivious to the weapon that lurks among them. Wondering when it will come again. There was no question of if; you knew it would.
And now it has.
The warmth takes you over again. You are no longer in control of yourself. Your arms tingle, sting. Your arms are alight. The fire rages within you and on you. A little ball of rage and evil within your belly, ready to explode.
You don’t want this, not really. You try to reason with it.
You say: Please, don’t. Not again.
You say: I didn’t mean it. I don’t really wish them harm.
You say: I can’t take this again.
But it says: No.
And the windows – those windows painted shut for generations, lead piping and tiny in the high-peaked roof – burst open. And you feel the wind pick you up, lift you, toss you through the windows. And you see where it’s taking you. You scream, but it’s caught in your throat. You are no more; it is all that matters.
Your body is now on the field, on the centre circle of the lacrosse pitch, and the girls are staring, unsure. Some of these girls sense what’s coming; they’ve heard about the last time. Those tales they always thought were urban myth: the girl on fire, burning down the school, killing her schoolmates in their sleep.
But it was no urban myth. It was you. And here you are again, not in control, the spirit of the dispossessed here to take back what is rightfully yours.
It growls through you: you will pay.
It growls through you: never again will you bitch and bully and bait. On behalf of all the dispossessed, you are rendered obsolete.
And it explodes. Just like last time.
And then you’re back in the attic, blanket around you, cold, shivering, staring out at the charred remains of a lacrosse pitch, no sign of the crowd that was there just moments ago.
And the mouse scutters across your feet. And you cry.