The Normal

Kate went to find her brother before he turned into a silent one. Accidentally winding up in the boarding school, Kate has to prove to the inspectors and to herself that she is not a silent one. On the run and fighting away the silence will she ever get back to normal?

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1. Inside the boarding school

As I climb down the cold, damp, stone steps, I reach a barely red door as age has chipped away most of the colour. The handle is rusty and creaks when I turn it around. Stepping into the room I can hear the echo of my footstep bounce around the beige walls. Little light comes in as the windows have been boarded up since the building closed down. There’s a hint of paint from when the council tried to re make the room but the scent is soon over taking by dust, enough to make me gag before covering my mouth and rummaging in my bag for deodorant. I pull a lonely string as a dim light glows part of the room up. Now I can see chairs, that we have yet to clean, that are accessorised in cobwebs, the others we have already dealt with. The broken couch slumps lazily by the wall still pungent and damp from its previous owner. I tiptoe over to the window to avoid filling the whole building up with footsteps and reach over to a boarded up window to peel away the wood. Light breaks through. The scent of fresh air has now broken through and the room has become a lot clearer. The paintbrushes lie on the ground waiting for us to remodel but there are other parts of the building we still haven’t seen. WHOOSH! The sound of the river is flowing slowly past the window. Fortunately the walls are strong enough to prevent water from flooding through. I slowly blow dry the couch while at the same suffocating it with deodorant.

Wearily, I head over to the wall and brush my fingertips along the chipped surface. There’s a slight crumble but I can feel the sturdiness behind it. “We’ll be safe here.” I whisper to myself before walking over to the table. I heave my bag onto the table and scavenge through all I could grab that wasn't there already; A small but sharp knife, a flask with a broken handle, match box with eight matches, two tin’s of beans, one tin of canned fruit, rope, bandages, some sort of medicines and pills and a sheet of plastic. I've never been a medical person so all the pills and medicines mean nothing to me. They said we’d be safe. They said we wouldn't have to face this. They said we were still us.

A few years ago children started going missing. The police were going berserk. There were no traces left behind. Until one day, suddenly, they all returned, acted as if nothing had happened. That they never went missing. Parents, family members and police were all relieved but others had their suspicions. Then all of a sudden, all the kids who went missing just stopped. They were still alive but they wouldn't talk or respond unless it was to themselves or someone they claimed to be there. It happened again the disappearances. But this time more children disappeared and with the silent ones.

It was November- I think, I can’t remember much- and the frost had started to gather around the bushes and grass. The old boarding school down manor field had been closed off from the students after the silent ones disappeared into it. The cherry red gloss, that they’d used to make the building a more cheerful place, had begun to fade on the gothic arches. Most of the girls in my year had used this spare day to stock up on the new winter collection while I ended up slumping on the couch, guarding my little brother Sammy and watching reruns of CSI. Luckily Sam’s friend, Joe, had come round and asked Sam if he wanted to play out. Gladly, I let him follow Joe outside and they were gone.

Minutes later there was a pounding at the door accompanied with screams. Usually in this scenario, I would have legged it upstairs and cowered behind my bedroom door until it stopped but I could recognize the high pitch squeal from a mile away. I flung the door open to find a flustered and startled Jocelyn, with loose blonde curls dangling down on her now red face. “S-Sammy! Where the hell is Sammy?” she screamed savagely as her hands gripped around my shoulders, shaking me violently. Despite her savageness I could hear a tone of despair, urgency and uncertainty underneath. I wanted to tell myself that she must have taken the wrong medication or an overdose but somehow I refused to believe it. “He’s out,” I spoke cautiously “With your brother.” Freeze that’s all she could do before bawling out onto my jumper, her fingers sinking deeper into my shoulders. I quickly yelped before raking her off me. Steadily, I looked her in the eyes and asked her what’s wrong. “We have no time for that!” she yelled “Come on!” yanking me by the arm and grabbing my black military styled boots before half tossing and half passing them to me. Jocelyn hurtled down Speckled Road as I limped, attempting to put on my shoes, behind her. I began to wrap my hair into a loose and lazy attempt of a bun when we spotted a trail of kids walking into the boarding school- despite the police. When I observed the line more closely, I saw him. Sammy.

Without realising it, I was sprinting myself towards him, arms stretched, screaming so loud my throat began to burn. Two preteens, whose faces were completely hollow, rushed towards me. At first, the taller one was pinning me to the ground with such  a force, the impact had sent a searing pain up my spine before I forced him against the ground and slammed his head on the concrete floor. I stumbled on to my feet, blood flowing from somewhere as I dodged the other children.  “SAMMY!” I shrieked, grabbing him by the arm as we entered the building. “Sammy,” I murmured “We need to leave!” He carried on walking. The rays of light shone onto his coal black, ruffled, hair and I yanked him by the arm but he kept pacing through. Jocelyn! Where was she? I peered around but there was no sight of her. She’s probably with Joe. “KATE!” Someone behind me was screeching out my name. I twisted around frantically searching through the crowds of children looking dazed and empty to find Jocelyn crouched down cowering over a body that lied helplessly on the ground with an emotionless, pale, blood stained face- the blood had turned his hair an auburn colour. Joe.

She wailed and whimpered over her brothers’ corpse as tears stained her face turning it into a blotchy pink state. I couldn’t help shedding tears too, he was Sam’s greatest friend but a thought began to make my stomach twist. I did that. I killed Joe, that boy who pinned me to the floor, it was him. Glancing at my hands I could see the blood of Joe mixing with the blood from my head. The shock that had hit me made me feel nauseous until reality came allowing me to hear the commotion down the hall. I swiftly turned my head to make out two silent ones heading our way escorted by a tall, dark, anonymous shadow. Lockers were flying off their hinges; doors collapsing to the floor, children were disappearing through the shadow as it floated closer. The beige walls began to crack as I lurched up. “I can’t leave him!” Jocelyn blubbered. Hastily, I lifted the body away from Jocelyn and closed his eyes. Before she could run to him, I pressed my arm against her, blocking her path. I then stared into her eyes making it clear that I was serious “It’s useless, we can’t save him, now run!” I bellowed. We scampered down the corridor, shoving anything we could behind us. “Look! Down there!” Jocelyn pointed over to the medical supply room as we lunged ourselves towards it. I grasped the brass door handle and flung the colourless door open.

Inside the dim room there were stocked bottles of medicines, bandages, equipment and other items you’d expect to find. I seized someone’s pink fluorescent p.e. kit, wanting to cover it, I hid it under my hoodie, resting on my back, placing the strings around my neck- I knew it was dangerous but I couldn’t risk people seeing me steal the supplies. I didn’t know much about medicine except that we were running low at home so I raked the shelves of anything I could grip my hand around. As soon as the bag began to strangle me slightly I pulled out the second pack of syringes that I had and placed it carefully back on the shelf accessorised in dust. THUD! The door was about to fly off its hinges as I grasped hold of Jocelyn and dived to the ground. The pain from earlier had re-appeared since my adrenalin died down. Most of the glass items in my bag had smashed between the floor and my slightly tanned back- the sharper items had broke out of the bag and began to seep deeper into my skin. Screams and roars bounced around the room piercing my ears with their deadly pitch.  Some screams belonged to me, some to Jocelyn but there were others that I didn’t recognize. Keeping my eyes shut, I assumed there were other people in the room who must have been running too, I curled over too my side and manoeuvred my hand around the icy stone floor.

I placed my hand over something soft and warm. Tracing it over, I was able to make out that it was someone’s face. “Sorry!” I yelled then realized they probably couldn’t have heard me. I retrieved my hand then slowly fell unconscious, the sound dying out.

In my dream I was inside the shadow, hands reaching for me- stained in blood and dirt. I pushed them away but with each I pushed, three more grew. There was a standing figure that I could just about make out through the shadow, just standing there. I started to scream for help whilst one smaller hand tugged on my dark brown ponytail bun but the figure kept still. Suddenly all the hands turned a shade of red, the colour of blood, as they slowly liquefied drowning me in a pool of blood which soon turned into smoke. Through the smoke I could see the figure more clearly; his jet black hair flattened and dampened by blood. In his hand was a rope that was attached to a large duffel bag. I whisper out his name but all he did was hand me the rope. Ignoring the gesture, I carefully unzipped the duffel bag. At first there was nothing there but as the smoke slowly fills the bag, it forms into Joe, arms stretched out dragging me in. I try to push myself up and keep to my feet but I’m too weak. The darkness of the duffel bag is solid and starts to suffocate me before it- “KATE!” My eyes fluttered open to see Jocelyn’s worried eyes hovering above me, a deep and rich blue.

Wearily, I propped myself into a sitting position using my elbows before flopping my head backwards, closing my eyes as I take a deep breath in. When I sat back up, pain flooded through causing me to wince. “What happened?” my voice barely audible from pain and tiredness. Jocelyn explained how when we were in the boarding school, the council had created a system called ‘The Normal’ where if you were taken by the silent ones, on return, if you would have the choice of running or ending your life straight away. Running still wasn’t safer; you had to run away from catchers until they killed you. If your physical and mental state were more like normal then you would have a head start from catchers but if you were less like yourself then you wouldn’t have a longer head start.  A long awkward silence followed shortly. “I’m Axel!-“ blurted out the boy sitting cross legged against a poster for a new alien movie. I suddenly noticed that we weren’t in a cell but what looked like a retro styled staff room. Axel had been wacked in the abdomen. The hand that hit him came back with blood, the hand belonged to a tall broad boy who looked about two years older than me. Both of them had the same ash coloured hair and sky blue eyes. “And I’m Darren, it may be hard to notice but we’re twins!” Darren’s voice, as expected, was low but with an astute tone. Axel’s green lantern shirt had blood smears covered all around the centre and torso with cuts in the fabric of his right shoulder. I couldn’t peel my mind from the question of what happened to him, everyone else didn’t look like that. Did I? Axel must’ve seen me staring bewildered at his shirt. “What hap-“ I began but a girl about half my age answered my question for me. “You.” I stared blankly at her, unable to think how I could do that. “Shut the hell up Eva!” Darren’s sharp tone had transformed into an angry burst. “I’m only tell her how crazy she is!” She seemed almost offended by his accusation. “Eva!” She flipped her head to face us, letting her glossy black hair float swiftly onto her shoulder.

“All you did was wake up from unconsciousness, attack us savagely, good hits by the way, stand still silently as people cleaned the blood from your head then you screamed out ‘Sam! Sam please! This can’t be happening!’ For about fifteen minutes.” The whole time she spoke she was in complete monotone. “Oh yeah and then you tried to kill-“ I’d had enough. Was I really turning into a silent one. I couldn’t be, it just couldn’t be. “Eva,” This time a boy who must have been my age had moved swiftly from the table to where Eva was sitting “You can’t just tell Kate about this stuff, it’s not encouraging. How would you like it?” I’d seen him around school, known as ‘the perfect guy: kind, generous, romantic, sporty...’ I found him insufferable. I never liked people who were described as perfect, it would remind all of us average people  how average we were, how there was something special about us. I knew this wasn’t true but you here about a perfect person and your idea about individuality and all that changes. “Thanks.” I bet you’re really bad at dancing! “It’s okay, kids can forget about how others may feel sometimes,” Nope, you won that dance competition last year, and to top that, you gave your prize to the ‘girls deserve equality club’ “So are you okay? When you arrived you looked kind of broken.” Maybe you’re not as pure hearted as they say, is that it? “I’m not broken!-“ Too angry calm down a bit I looked up to see his eyes piercing my soul in a way that must have been attempt of romantic. I could feel my cheeks burning up and darted my eyes quickly to the floor, rubbing my arms together. “I’m just a bit shell shocked, I mean it’s not every day this happens!”

“We heard about Sammy...” That was the most sincerest he’d ever been. My eyes began to blur with tears while I tried to swallow some down. “Y-you told them, Jocelyn?” This is no time to cry now. Jocelyn straightened up her shoulders and back then held her head up high. “Look it’s not as if he’s dead.” As she spoke so did Mr. Perfect, Elijah “She’s reacting exactly the same as you did when your brother turned! Remember?” accusingly stated Elijah. She glared at him for seconds then released a river of tears. “JOE! Please NO! God no... JOOEEE!!” I couldn't stop her from crying no matter how much I tried. “Please don’t be dead Joe! Stop kidding around! PLEASE JOE!” Her voice had started to break as she sobbed repetitively staining the carpet of the staff room, her hands gripping into fists and banging the floor until there was blood. “Jocelyn stop,” Eva had come out of her grudge and was up close to Jocelyn. “If you cry, he’s not magically going to reappear. Do you know why? Because he’s gone!” Rather than retaliating, Jocelyn stared up at her, jaw dropped. “I’m sorry, okay, but remember it’s not your fault.” She pushed herself from the ground, tucking her wet hair behind her unusually small ears and used her sleeve to wipe away her tears. “Yeah, I’m sorry too! I should have been there for him, so I could see that ruthless killer’s face!” It felt like someone had took a blow to my stomach and started to twist my insides. She’d hate my guts if I told her “Kate! Did you hear what I said?” I looked up to find Elijah so close to me, each single breath he took sent a shiver down my spine as I awkwardly shuffled to the corner. "I said, maybe you saw the person who killed Joe."Staring blankly at him, well aware my throat dru as sandpaper and cheeks burning up so much, my palms were sweating.

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