"Murder is always a mistake. One should never do anything that one cannot talk about after dinner" ~Oscar Wilde
"Ready for the test Ivy?"
I flinched at Kate's question, as she jumped from behind my locker door.
"Wow, I didn't know you were so jumpy." She chuckled as I regained my composure.
"Sorry, I couldn't sleep last night. I'm a little on edge, and this bad weather isn't doing anything for my mood." I murmured stuffing everything into my backpack.
"Obviously." Kate snickered. She walked beside me as we headed towards homeroom. She knew walking beside me was her way of cheering me up, and it always worked.
She stopped in front of room 16 and opened the door but didn't walk in. I ran into her and looked up, confused. Her brows were wrinkled, her breath rapid and shallow, eyes unblinking and intently fixed towards the classroom. My eyes grew wide and I slowly turned my head, afraid of what made joyful Kate so dreadful. In the dark classroom, the brightest classroom in the whole school, was gloomy and frightening. Through the blinds the little bit of light left showed a tall figure. A flash of lightning flooded the jet-black room with light for a couple seconds, showing a figure in an old, silky vest. His piercing eyes gleamed, staring directly at Kate and me.
I Gasped loudly and jumped back out of his view. My heart pounding hard as I backed against the wall. Mrs. Simmons noticed me and squinted down the hallway, tapping two other teachers and motioning them to follow.
"What's going on?" She asked loudly, shooing students out of the way as she made a line of teachers towards me. I stared wide-eyed at the classroom door, as pointed my finger, shuttering. "I don't...know...something...I don't know." I kept repeating over and over.
Mrs. Simmons tore the door open without hesitating and flicked the switch. The other teachers filed in with her, blocking my view.
"What-" I heard her ask loudly before being cut of by a low, quiet voice, most definitely not any of the teacher's voices, but by the only man in the room. Mrs. James appeared suddenly at the door, "Call an ambulance," She ordered. It finally registered that she was speaking to me as she raised she eyebrows and shouted, "Now!"
I jumped and threw my bag to the ground, rifling through the pockets, groping for my cell phone. I dialed 9-1-1 and immediately heard the stern operator "9-1-1 what's your emergency?"
"Um..." I wasn't sure.
"What's your location?" She asked calmly.
"I...I need an ambulance," I finally mustered. "Hawkenburg High. There's somebody and-" The line dropped, all I was left with was a buzzing sound.
On the other side of the line the persistent lady's voice kept repeating, "Hello? Are you still there?"
"What's wrong with him?" I whimpered as my eyes welled, my throat was getting tight, my chest burning. He was still.
My guardian Sammantha rushed to me as I walked through the front door, pulling me into a tight bear hug. "Oh, honey, are you all right?" She asked softly. "They called me from the school, dear, after you had to call the ambulance." She said, her face filled with sympathy.
"I'm fine," I offered quickly, "Have you heard anything from Mrs. James?"
Sammantha wasn't someone who cried. She was as tough as nails. But her face fell and her lower lip quivered. The man was dead, she didn't have to tell me. Only the pain of losing a child could make someone like her break down. I collapsed onto the couch, mind racing. The man kept running through my mind. His face, so stern and menacing, glaring at me from the dark room. I'd wake up with a start the next few nights, sweating and gasping for air, those glinting eyes haunting me. He had something against me. I just knew it.
My friends were silent as I placed my tray of food at my usual spot. The typical preppy girls with explosively loud voices barely managed to crack a smile as I started into my french fries.
"They don't know how he died," Whispered my friend Destiny to me across the table, barely noticeable. Her eyes were big and sad, very out of place next to her high ponytail, bright ribbons, garnish makeup, and glittery outfit. She wasn't your typical prep. She's pretty much the nicest person in the entire school. An A+ student with a squeaky clean complexion and rich, intelligent family. "They took him in," She said louder. "And he didn't even make it to the operating room."
"He died on the stretcher." My friend Rose interrupted before I could ask. Rose was terribly shy but has an amazing sense of humor once you get to know her. She wasn't making any jokes this time, though.
The bell rang, startling me. The hallways were packed with students, slowly trudging towards the gymnasium. I looked up from the floor, and my stomach dropped. The man stood at the entrance, holding one of the doors open. I could tell he had be staring at me before I looked up, and he didn't break eye contact once I caught him. I quickly inspected my shoes again, the ceiling, other people's shoes, anything so I didn't have to look in his eyes. I shoved my way past a lot of people, determined not to get stuck anywhere close to him. I felt his piercing gaze again, I ducked through the doors and sprinted towards the bleachers.
The band played, we sang the pledge of allegiance, and the dancers showed off their routines. I was starting to doze off as the cheerleaders lined up. I lazily scanned them, looking for Destiny. I was bored, but I'd certainly cheer my friend on. Where was she? The co-captain seemed to wonder this too as I saw her eyes darting around the gym. I stretched my spine, my eyes searching every corner trying to find her, no luck. This was certainly not like Destiny. She was never late, plus I'd just seem her. The co-captain shrugged her shoulders and signaled for the music to start. They completed their routine and the assembly was over with no sign of Destiny.
"She must be at the Nurse or something." I wondered as my friends also exchanged worried glances. I headed to the bathroom to see if she needed anything, or was even in there. Sure enough, I saw her cheerleading backpack poking out from underneath the last stall.
"Hey, Destiny, too much lunch food?" I called out, giggling. "Don't worry, it happens to everyone!" No answer. "Aw, don't worry, their's always net time! The girls did a great job anyway. Do you need anything?"
I jumped as her backpack slid and fell down from the stall. "Destiny?" I called out. "De-e-e-e-stiny." I sang. Everything was still. I slowly approached the stall. "Destiny?" I said softly as I reached out to push the door in. It was locked. I tilted my head to peer through the crack. Destiny stared back at me, her eyes wide open, her head tilted back, mouth open. I screamed before I could catch myself, and I didn't stop until I crashed through the doors of the main office.
"When was the last time you saw her?" The detective asked me as the ambulance drove away. No sirens. Never a good sign. THis was the third time I was being asked the same question; where had I seen her last, did she say anything about being upset, did she have any enemies, how did you know she was in the bathroom, what is her mother's phone number...nothing had sunk in yet.
I slammed my bedroom door when I got home, not wanting hugs or kind words from Sammantha. I couldn't sleep that night, or the night after that, or the night after that. I skipped a week of school, watching the news all day, hearing the reports of Destiny having ingested giant amounts of bathroom cleaners. Then the reports of Hope, the debate team's president going missing, then Keisha, the newspaper editor dying from water intoxication. Sammantha took this as being kids, trying o use chemicals in ways they were not intended. I didn't tell her about seeing the man.
I ran down the hallway, late to English, and darted around a puddle of what looked like Mountain Dew. I tumbled into class, tripping over myself, and flopped into the first empty desk I saw. Mr. Lee, an ex-military man, opened is mouth to give me what I knew would be an irritated, verbal lashing but was interrupted by a rapid knock at the door. Mr. Lee opened the door, and I saw half the man's face. I heard him say something about David, and about the Mountain Dew. Mr. Lee turned his heel and barked at David to help him clean the mess in the hallway, as it was his drink. David rolled his eyes and marched dramatically into the hall, enticing giggles from the class.
The bell rang 30 minutes later, and David's books and book bag remained at his seat. Mr. Lee bolted from the room before the students as he always did, desperate to get to lunch before the rush. The students followed quickly, leaving me, to collect David's belongings. I stepped into the deserted hallway, struggling with the weight of my own books and David's. Something wasn't right. It doesn't take 30 minutes to clean a spill. I headed to the janitor's closet where they would get the stuff to clean it up. I was truly terrified, but I was more determined to find David then I was scared. The door was closed. I knocked softly, then harder, then banged with my fist.
"Hey you! I-"
Someone grabbed my shoulders and spun me around. The man, frowning and sweating, stared down at me. "Can I help you?" He said in a monotone, drawling accent.
"I...I...where's David?" I asked abruptly and with as much confidence as I could muster. He stared at me for an eternity, his, mouth pinched shut, until his lips finally turned up slowly into a sickly grin. Eyes gleaming, he whispered, "No idea, sweetie." I abandoned any confidence I had left and booked it out of there, not looking back until I reached the end of the hall. He was gone. Everyone was gone, for that matter. I suddenly felt very alone as my steps echoed from one side of the hallway to the other. I pushed the heavy swinging door to the stairwell open and I froze. As the hinges creaked, I swore I heard a muffled voice saying, "Ivy." I moved to take another step, the hair on the back of my neck was standing. I heard it again. I spun around to find David staring at me from the back of room 16 through the glass pane of the door, wide-eyed gagged, and struggling.
Suddenly, Mrs. Simmons, the science teacher, appeared in the doorway grinning. The knob turned slowly, and she leaped from the room, her grin turned into a menacing, screwed-up frown. I dropped everything and slid down the banister, instinct taking over. I didn't have time to think. Mrs. Simmons was gaining on me. She was only 29 and tall. Second floor, almost there, then first floor. If I could just get to the ground floor. Then finally, I leaped don the last six steps and stampeded my way into the cafeteria. I did the best thing I could think of: I clambered on top of a table and screamed the loudest my lungs could manage.
Turns out our science teacher wasn't Mrs. Simmons from Harvard. She was really "The man" from earlier. And when "she" found the man dying it was actually his ally, a man named Owen.
Things were getting a whole lot more interesting around here.
Got my inspiration from this chapter on "WikiAnswers."