Mr James

A short Ghost Story in five nights

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1. Day One - Thursday

“So, how do you like our new teacher then?” asked Jason.

Daniel walked a bit further though the woods and thought for a while before he answered his friend.

“I don’t know really. We’ve only had him for one lesson at the end of today. He seems alright though.”

They walked together along the edge of the brook that flowed alongside the woodland path. They stopped by the bridge that crossed the brrok and took them towards their homes.

“Guess where he lives” continued Jason.

“ Australia.” replied Daniel.

“No, go on - guess.”

“How should I know? He’s only just started at the school, I don’t know where he comes from.” Daniel was beginning to get annoyed now. Jason picked up a stick and threw it into the stream that ran alongside the path.

“You should know; he lives across the road from you, next door to my house.” said Jason.

“What? He’s moved into Mr.Blake’s old house?”

“Yes, he moved in last weekend but I only saw him twice in the week and it wasn’t until I saw him at school today that I recognised him. Mum and Dad have spoken to him but I’ve only seen him going out a couple of times.”

“Oh no! That’s going to be a real pain, a teacher living right next to us.”

“I know.”

 

The boys stopped in the middle of the bridge over the stream as they did most days when walking home from school. The path through Ashton woods and the brook led directly from the school to the end of Acacia Road where they both lived, and had lived for all of their lives. They had been friends from being babies and hardly ever fell out. They had been in the same class since they started school and were now inseperable. Their last teacher, Mr. Hudson, had moved to another school and, after three temporary teachers, Mr.James had been introduced as their new class teacher. He was a tall, thin man, very pale with dark hair and small round spectacles. He didn’t seem to talk much in the first lesson Daniel had with him, but instead got the entire class to stand up in turn and introduce themselves. Then, they were asked to write a story about something that had happened to them. This was their homework that had to be finished by Monday.

“What are we going to do about this story then?” said Daniel.

“I don’t know - I haven’t finished the last homework yet. I thought we were going to get away with that when Mrs. Peters left.”

Mrs. Peters was the last supply teacher before Mr.James had arrived. She was not popular with the class and had set more homework than anyone before. Her last assignment had been to write a poem about nature, to be handed in on Friday. Daniel had written his poem about endangered tigers but, as usual, Jason was behind with his work. Now, Mr.James had asked for the homework to be handed in the next day and Jason hadn’t even started on it.

“Why don’t you write something about the brook?” said Daniel. “You know; where it flows to, or animals that live in it or something.”

Jason was silent for a second.

“I s’pose I could. Something about pike or voles.” he said finally.

“You don’t get pike in the brook!” laughed Daniel. He stopped and looked idly at the water flowing under them.  His eyes fell on the riverbank and he spoke.

“I know! You could do a poem about a dirty big, gross water rat!”

“Yeah!” replied Jason “That’s more like it! Do you think there are any water rats around here?”

“Dunno.” said Daniel “But there’s something big that’s tried to crawl out over there - look.”

Jason looked over to where Daniel was pointing. On the bank, there was a huge mass of piled up wet mud as if some creature had tried to crawl out of the river but had kept slipping back down into the water.

“Wow! Look at that mess!” said Jason “Could be a water rat, or something bigger, like a dog. Dogs are always swimming in the brook.”

The boys continued home. Jason deciding to write about a water rat and Daniel undecided on the new homework. They walked through the cutting in the tall hedge that marked the end of Acacia Road and said goodbye to each other as they headed for their houses at opposite sides of the road.

 

That evening, Jason asked his Mother and Father about their new neighbour.

“He’s your new class teacher?” said his Dad. Jason nodded. “He didn’t say anything to us when we spoke to him. He didn’t even say that he was a teacher.”

“What’s he like then Dad?” asked Jason.

“Well, he seems alright. A bit quiet. I didn’t get much out of him”

“Downright nervous if you ask me.” Jason’s Mum added. “We went over to welcome him to the street and he hardly said a word;  just that he was very busy just then. He’s pale as a sheet too - he looks ill to me.”

“I think he’s probably busy getting moved in.” said Mr. Wright “He’ll probably be fine once he’s settled in.”

With that, the conversation moved on to other things. Jason went upstairs and started on his poem.

 

Across the road, Daniel was in his bedroom playing on his computer. The light faded and night came. Daniel switched off the computer and closed his curtains. As he did so, he looked across the street at the houses opposite. In Jason’s house, the living room light was on and so too was Jason’s bedroom light. But, next door at Mr. James’ house every light in every room was turned on.

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