Claw Marks and Corridors

Felicity saw something she shouldn't have. A dead girl in the bathroom at school. Not just any girl, Robin Cross, the head girl. Since that night all she's had in her head is images of a creature ravaging her body. But Robin was just stabbed excessively, right?

Felicity's life is shattering as she struggles to find the truth and anyone who will believe her. Even the corridors start to not feel safe anymore.

*First Draft*

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Author's note

This is a first draft, meaning that a couple of the chapters are going to be changed/need serious editing at some point! Please bare this in mind.
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10. Nine

 

I tried to keep my mind off monsters and articles as I walked back to school. I met with April in the common room, reminding myself to act normally and not start blurting theories at her. Instead, I helped her with posters as she was frantic about getting them up on time. We walked around school finding spare pieces of walls or gaps on noticeboards, stapling posters to them. 'New Head Girl needed' was written in big purple letters across them, with a list of requirements below:

You must be...

1) In either Lower or Upper Sixth

2) Dedicated to helping the school and its community

3) Confident enough to speak in front of others

4) Interested in the welfare and happiness of others

It sounded exactly like Robin.

I still felt like it was too soon to be finding someone to take her position, but maybe the staff thought a new head girl might be able to restore some hope and happiness in the school after her death. I doubted it would do so, not for me anyway. I was just worried whoever put themselves forwards would be a target, just like Dalton had said to April.

After we had put up all the posters April and I walked our way towards the library as we shared a free period on a Friday morning. We took seats at our usual table at the back of the room, pulling out books and paper to get to work. I tried to ignore the monster books in my bag as I pulled my English textbook out instead.

We were silent for a few minutes, flicking pages back and forth, scribbling notes, before April suddenly looked up.

"Felicity," she whispered to attract my attention.

I lifted my head and stared back at her; she was looking worried. "What's wrong?" I asked quickly.

She pushed her chair a little closer and lowered her voice. "Do you think the murderer's still around here?"

I took in breath quickly. I had been trying to avoid thinking about the attacks as I had upset or unsettled her every time I spoke about it, but now April was the one to bring it up. I tapped my pen against the table for a few seconds.

"I don't know," I decided to reply. I didn't want to tell her the truth this time. I didn't want to say that I thought the monster was still lurking close by.

She bit at her lip and pushed her chair back around the table again. I didn't like the fearful look on her face, it was unnerving me.

"How long do you think her body was there?" she suddenly asked and I raised my eyes again.

"What?"

I gripped my pen tight, swallowing. I didn't want to think about Robin's body lying on the bathroom floor.

"I mean," she started again and looked wary about what she was saying, "when you saw her there, do you think she was just attacked or did it happen before?"

I felt my hands shaking. I didn't want to think about it. I didn't want to know... but she was asking something that I hadn't questioned. When exactly was Robin attacked? If it was close to when I had walked into that bathroom, why hadn't anyone heard her scream?

"It must have been earlier, she must have been alone," I replied and tried to steady my hands. "Someone would have heard her otherwise."

April nodded and looked sadly down at her hands. "I saw her, earlier that day, when we were setting up the decorations. She was fine then."

I swallowed hard again. "We all saw her before."

"I know." April sighed sadly. "I just don't understand how it happened."

"No one does," I answered quietly. Except I wasn't being truthful because I had speculations about it.

"Dalton said she didn't turn up at the start of the dance," April told me. I focused my eyes back on her. She didn't want me to investigate further, yet she was telling me things which might help. I didn't understand why.

"So... she was attacked somewhere in between when you were setting up the hall after school, and when everyone came back for the party?" I mused aloud, setting the information into my brain.

"Yeah." April nodded.

In that time, Robin found herself alone at school. Maybe everyone else had left and then the monster decided to strike, when no one could help her. It could have just been a matter of wrong place and wrong time, couldn't it? Amanda had also been alone at school, cleaning the changing rooms, when she was attacked. Could it just be the fact that they were both alone that made them targets? Them both being head girls was just an additional factor which the monster wouldn't have considered. He just attacked them both because they were alone and no one could help them.

I felt shivers go through my body as I thought about this.

It made more sense, if the attacks were carried out by a monster, that it didn't care about the head girl factor. That might just be a coincidence like April suggested. The real reason was because they had been easy prey.

I gulped, gripping my pen tighter. April hadn't noticed my discomfort, she was focused back on her work. There was no way I was going to disturb her again and tell her my new theory. Even if it made even the slightest bit more sense now, I didn't think she would want to hear it. She believed it was a 'murderer' like everyone else. A human murderer. Not a monster murderer. I wasn't going to spoil her day again with my ideas.

For the rest of the day I was fairly quiet. As I walked down the corridors, I felt strange, thinking about Robin being alone here. She must have been so scared. She must have screamed so loud. I could almost hear it echoing round my head. You couldn't have saved me, Felicity. I heard her voice in my head again. She was right, I couldn't have. Robin was dead hours before I arrived. I was just the unlucky first person to enter that bathroom.

"Do you want to get pizza?" April's voice found its way to my ear as we were walking to the car-park.

I took a few seconds to find my voice. "Um, yeah. I guess."

"I asked Dalton earlier, that's alright if he comes too isn't it?" she asked looking a little pink around the face.

I nodded slowly, not wanting to offend her. I didn't much want to feel like a third wheel but April was my ride home. If she was going to get pizza with Dalton, I had to wait for her anyway so I might as well get some food too.

We sat on the bonnet of her car and waited for him to walk outside. He grinned widely when he saw April and there was this shared kind of look in both their eyes. It made me want to be sick but I tried to ignore them as best I could. April was happy when Dalton was around, which wasn't something I had been making her lately. I'd worried her so much and she probably thought I was crazy. As I got into the back of her car, letting Dalton sit in the front, I wondered whether I actually was.

I'd immediately jumped to monster. I'd been frantic to find answers. I'd gone as far to search through monster books and print possible candidates off. Was that really a normal reaction to a situation? Probably not. But there was just something about this whole thing, it felt strange, I felt like there was something out there and I wanted answers.

I tried not to think about it as we parked in a small car-park in town and I followed April and Dalton to a little take away. We ordered two pizza's and Dalton suggested going back to his house to eat it, so I just nodded and followed, keeping quiet. The two of them were a little bit ahead, chatting away like they didn't have a care in the world. It looked so easy for them to be happy even though it was a sad and scary time. They obviously didn't have Robin in their head like I did.

I frowned as we passed the bank and Dalton turned off right. I had been here only this morning. I frowned even more as he approached number 5 and then it all made sense why Ric had seemed familiar. They had the same dark coloured hair and sharp cheek bones. They were clearly brothers.

​Dalton led us through the front door and through the 'no unauthorised access' door. Behind it the hall extended, two doors off from the left and a wide set of stairs ahead. We climbed up them, reaching the second floor which opened out into a large kitchen and lounge. They'd had the walls knocked down between the rooms so that it was all open plan.

Ric had been sitting at the kitchen counter staring at his phone when we entered. His head raised and his eyes moved to mine as he recognised me. He smiled slightly and passed his eyes back to his brother.

"This is my older brother Cedric," Dalton introduced as he put the pizza boxes down on the counter. He pointed to April. "This is April, and Felicity." He pointed to me.

"Yeah, me and Fe Flem here already met," Ric informed him as he looked back at me again, then to April. "And I prefer Ric, not Cedric."

I watched confusion cross both Dalton and April's faces, and she looked almost questioning. Maybe she was wondering how I knew Dalton's brother and had not known Dalton. I had first properly seen and spoken to him at that dance. Her eye brows raised but I just kept my mouth shut. I didn't want her to know I had been asking for more articles earlier. She didn't want me investigating further so I wasn't going to let on that I was. I hoped Ric wouldn't mention it either.

"Am I allowed some pizza?" Ric asked and he opened one of the boxes, letting out some of the steam. 

Dalton shrugged. "I guess so." He went to the cupboard to get plates and April moved closer to me. She was still questioning me with her eyes.

Dalton passed me a plate and Ric pointed to the seat next to him, a piece of pizza hanging from his mouth. He ripped a mouthful off and chewed slowly, saying, "come sit here."

I slowly stepped closer, awkwardly positioning myself as April and Dalton climbed into the seats opposite us. I took a piece of pizza and busied myself with eating, trying not to look at April again.

However, she advanced from questioning looks to words. "How do you two know each other?"

I glanced towards Ric and back, not wanting to answer. Ric however didn't know that the answer might be a problem. "She came into the reception this morning," he explained. "She's looking for articles from 1960." He paused slightly. "Has she told you guys about that attack years ago? It's scarily similar to what happened to Robin."

I watched April's disappointed face but she tried to conceal it. "Yeah, she showed me the Newsletter about it."

"What's this about?" Dalton asked, clearly a bit out of the loop.

Ric looked round at me. "Do you have the newsletters on you?"

I nodded, reaching for my bag and passing them across the table to Dalton. His eye brows raised. "Wow. This is so mysterious."

"You know," Ric started to speak again and he smiled at me. "If you work anything interesting out, you could write an article for the paper. Dad prints stuff from other people too. I know he's doing an article about Robin for the next paper, but I'm sure if you wrote something he could put it in another edition."

I tried to smile back as I was still very aware of April's eyes. "I'll think about it."

It did sound exciting being able to do something like that. If II really could find out what attacked Robin, I could warn people in the paper about it.

"When dad gets home I'll ask him about getting you more stuff from the archive," Ric said. "You can help me look for the right articles if you're still here."

"Okay." I smiled back at him.

We all fell to silence again and helped ourselves to more pizza. April was eating slowly, not looking at me. I hoped she wasn't too upset with me but I could already tell she was. She'd warned me not to investigate but now she knew I was still going to.

Once most of the pizzas were eaten Dalton showed April upstairs to his room so she could see the gecko he had. That left Ric and I to sit awkwardly still at the kitchen counter.

"Are those two together?" Ric suddenly asked and I looked round at him. He had a knowing expression on his face.

"I don't think so," I replied but I could see why he might think so. "They do seem to have gotten quite close recently though."

"Dalton never brings people home," Ric commented as he got up and stretched his back. "You two must be special."

"I'm only a tag along," I replied as I got off my seat too.

Ric frowned at me. "You're an interesting tag along, shh."

I almost laughed. "You hardly know me."

I followed him across the room to the lounge part, taking a seat on the sofa beside him.

He shrugged. "So?"

"So how do you know I'm interesting?" I continued my point.

He reached forwards for the remote and flicked the TV on for some background noise instead of awkward silence. He then looked round at me again.

"Well, you seem interesting," he replied with a smile. "I mean you found that 1960 Newsletter and you're researching more into this whole thing... I don't know, it's just exciting isn't it?"

I nodded my head. I guess it was.

"So, I think that makes you interesting," he commented. "I love all that detective, mystery kind of stuff."

I paused as I stared at the TV instead of him. I'd always seen TV programmes where kids worked mysterious things out, I'd read books like that too, I just never thought about what I was doing coming across like that. I just wanted answered, wanted to find the monster in my head, but when I thought about it in the way Ric had, it did seem exciting. 

I looked round at him with a slight smile. "You could help me, you know."

Ric seemed taken a back but then shifted more upright in his seat. "Really?"

I nodded. "Yeah." Maybe it would be better with more than one pair of eyes and an additional brain.

"All detectives need a side-kick, hey!" he exclaimed and nudged me on the arm with a laugh.

I laughed slightly too. "I'm not a detective." It was true that I wasn't. I just wanted to help find Robin's killer, so I could in some way be of help. She deserved justice.

Ric and I fell into silence again and we continued to watch TV. I wasn't very focused on the programme, my thoughts were too loud. If he was going to help me I needed to decide whether I was going to tell him about my monster theory or not. That was part of what I was trying to work out so surely, he needed to know, but I couldn't bring myself to mention it. For the time being maybe he could just help with the article side, reading through things.

We'd only just met today, I didn't want to scare him off already with my theories. If we became more solid friends, not that I was assuming yet we would, maybe I would be brave enough to tell him my theory. I hadn't made any new friends in ages so it was weird sitting next to him. April had been my only friend for most of my life. 

I didn't know exactly what to say or do now but it oddly didn't feel as awkward. Ric seemed nice enough and his eagerness to help was also appealing. Maybe we could become friends, I just didn't want to think about it too much, in case I jinxed it.

Dalton and April returned to the room soon enough and watched TV with us. I kept shooting April looks but she was now trying her best not to look at me. I sighed as I leaned back into the sofa. I may have made a new friend but April was my best friend, I didn't like that she was annoyed with me. I also felt like her annoyance may have been too exaggerated. I hadn't promised her to stop investigating but I'd decided not to tell her my theories anymore so I wouldn't upset her. I'd not told her I went to the Rook Valley Times reception this morning because I didn't want her to know I was investigating, to stop her from being more worried about me. Now she was just annoyed with me instead.

After a few hours, and the film we had been watching was over, it was decided through unspoken words that it was time for April and I to leave. We said goodbye and Ric promised to call me about the articles as soon as he spoke to his dad. He'd given me his number in case I needed to contact him.

April and I started to walk back towards the car-park. She was a little bit ahead of me and had made no effort to say anything. I continued in silence too, holding my bag tighter in my hand.

When we got to the car, April suddenly turned around.

"Why are you doing this?" she asked and she sounded slightly snappy.

I stepped back slightly and replied, "what?"

"Investigating," she answered with a sigh.

"I just want to help," I told her the truth and tried to give her a small smile.

She just sighed again. "Did you not listen to my concerns?"

"I did, April." I looked at the ground as she suddenly glared at me.

"I know I can't tell you what to do, Fe," she muttered slowly but then raised her voice. "But at least, if you're going ahead with this, you could include me, right?"

I looked up at her and her face was so sad, I wanted to cry. "April..." I started but she cut across me.

"I could have driven you to town earlier. I could have come with you to ask about the newspapers from the archive," she said and I tried to speak again but she shook her head. "If you're going to insist on researching and going into something you shouldn't, at least you could ask me to help. We could do it together."

I still looked at the floor. She was silent for a few seconds so I rose my head again. She looked so disappointed and angry. I had no idea she would take this kind of attitude, especially since to start with she had seemed adamant that I shouldn't investigate, she'd seemed scared about it all. Why did she now want to be involved?

"April," I started slowly and she leaned back against her car, arms crossed. "I told you my theories and you seemed scared. I didn't want to involve you because you didn't seem to want to be involved."

April sighed largely. "I didn't, Fe, I still don't really like the idea of investigating... but as you clearly can't drop it, I want to help you."

"I don't understand," I mumbled.

"You're my best friend," she commented and she reached forwards, gripping my shoulders. "I should support you no matter what stupid thing you're doing."

She sighed and I sighed back.

"Just one thing," she whispered, "no monsters, okay?"

I stared back at her. That was my biggest theory.

She gripped my shoulders tighter and shook me a little bit. "Monsters are not real," she told me in a matter of fact way. "If I'm going to help you, I want to do it properly, not researching into make belief."

I still stared back at her. Make belief? Was that really all she thought of my theory? I couldn't help the slight bit of anger that started to rise up in me. I moved back so her hands dropped away and she stared at me.

"Fe," she said but I didn't reply. I started to walk around the car. "Fe."

She gripped my bag but I kept trying to walk to the car door. I pulled harder and suddenly, there was a rip. I cursed as I felt the weight of my bag lessen and turned my eyes to see the content of it expel onto the floor. I watched April's eyes move to the pile, pass over all the titles and pictures of monsters, her eye brows rising.

"I believe in my monster theory, so if you want to help, you have to believe in the same thing I do." I felt tears come up slightly in my eyes.

April still looked shocked as she pushed hair out of her face and bit her lip anxiously. She didn't seem to know what to do or say now.

I began to lean down but April found her voice again.

"Fe, look at me," she said sternly and she gripped my shoulders again, so I couldn't move to pick the books up. She took in a deep breathe. "This is going to go too far. Articles is one thing but books like these..." She paused slightly and sighed. "I get it, you know. You're scared, and so am I. You want some kind of solution to what happened. But this..." she gestured at the books, "isn't going to help anything."

I tried to interrupt but she shook her head.

"Felicity, I know you're hurt. I don't blame you but your imagination is taking this way too far," she continued and her expression was sad. "You saw something horrific, seeing a dead body must be awful, and this is your brains reaction to it... But there is no monster."

She sighed as she let go of my shoulders and I bent down to start to pick up my books. "You don't understand," I muttered quietly.

April sighed again. "Maybe I don't, I didn't see what you saw, but I understand enough to know that this is not the way to deal with it. You'll only scare yourself more," she said to me and when I looked up at her she was biting her lip again, anxiety all over her expression.

"I'm sorry," I replied quietly, standing up straight again, holding all the books in my arms.

"Just please, Fe, don't torment yourself like this," April said gently, and she reached forward again, held a hand to the side of my face. "I just want you to be okay."

I couldn't speak, my words had got stuck. I didn't feel like I could be okay. I wanted to know more. I wanted to understand what happened. What happened to Robin? And Amanda Carrington too? I just needed to work it out, whether she helped me or not.

"I feel like I'm repeating myself but, the police are doing their job, they'll find out the truth," April added and I stopped myself from protesting, I didn't want to cause the argument to lengthen anymore. "You don't need to play detective, okay?"

I didn't like the look on her face so I slowly turned back to the car. "Let's just go home."

She seeded worried and angry at the same time. She spoke again sounding tired of me, "fine, but this conversation is not over." She opened the car door and clambered in.  

I looked away from her as I got into the car. I did feel bad that I had worried her like this. I did feel bad that she was disappointed that I didn't include her, but I had done that because of my theories. Theories that she wouldn't believe, that she didn't want to help me with. I knew that it was upsetting her but I needed to investigate further, for my own sake. Internally, it was driving me up the wall. I needed to work this all out. I wasn't going to stop.

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