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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18. Seventeen

 

Over the next few days I had to deal with the inevitability that I was actually an A level student and I had AS exams soon. Whilst I was busy revising and trying to focus on my work, the new information from Sunday was swirling round my head. There wasn't a lot more I could do about it though. The farm with the missing sheep was on the outskirts of town which meant we'd probably need a car to get there, a car that neither Ric nor I had. The only person I knew who had a car and I knew well enough to ask for a lift was April, but that was complicated. Since Sunday Ric and I had spent every day that week after school together, hatching together plans and ideas. April knew nothing about it, only that she thought I was going to the vegetable store to help mum clean up and that's how I was getting home every day. If I mentioned I needed her to drive us to a farm to investigate missing sheep, I think she would have been suspicious.

It was Thursday afternoon when my curiosity got the best of me and I edged my way over to her in the canteen.

"How do you feel about spontaneous adventures?" I started with and April raised her head from her lunch.

"It depends." She frowned slightly at me.

I sat myself down opposite her and tried to look casual about the whole conversation. "Ric needs a lift to a farm, to investigate missing sheep."

She frowned further. "Missing sheep?"

"Yeah." It wasn't a lie. I just wasn't going to go in to a whole lot of detail.

"Why does he need to investigate missing sheep?" she questioned and I wracked my brains for an appropriate response.

I hoped I hadn't paused too long before I replied, "he's doing an article for the paper. He needs to get quotes from the farmer."

She sighed and shuffled her empty lunch box away. "Is there really no one else he can ask? Can he not drive?"

"He can drive," I replied and hastily got out of my seat to follow her out of the canteen. "He passed his test but the family has no car."

April nodded her head as we made our way outside. "Oh yeah, that's right... Dalton can never get lifts to my house."

I nudged her playfully as we sat down on a bench at the edge of the school field. "And why would he need lifts to your house?"

She blushed bright red and busied herself with pulling a book out of her bag. "Because we're friends and it's nice to spend time with friends."

I almost snorted with laughter. "Whatever you say, April."

She giggled as she opened the book to start reading but then focused her eyes on me with a little sigh. "Okay, I can give him a lift but only because his brother is my friend."

I did actually snort with laughter that time. Then I smiled back at her. "Thanks, April."

"I guess you're going to want the lift too?" she questioned and she cocked an eyebrow at me.

"Yeah, I said I would help with the article," I answered.

"I feel like I should be making comments about your new friend." She giggled again and whispered at me, "I know what you've actually been doing after school!"

I felt my muscles clench slightly but she didn't seem annoyed enough to know the real reason.

"You didn't think Dalton wouldn't mention how much time you two have been spending together?" she continued with an incredulous tone to her voice. "You didn't have to keep it from me you know!" She didn't seem annoyed at it, just in the sort of mood where she wanted to know everything. I smiled a little sheepishly.

"I'm just helping him with articles and stuff," I replied in what I hoped was a calm manner. I didn't like to lie to her but I knew she would definitely be annoyed if she knew the exact content of the investigating we were doing, why we were actually doing it.

"Whatever you say, Felicity," she copied my tone from earlier and I glared at her, miming pushing her off the bench. She just giggled again. "I'm just glad it's about missing sheep and not monsters!"

"Yeah." I tried to force out a natural laugh too, but my breathe hitched slightly in my throat. We were monster hunting, the whole missing sheep thing was part of it. However, April didn't seem to notice my uncomfortable change in tone as she went back to her book.

I was glad she didn't think going to a farm was too much of a big deal, but it was still a bit upsetting that she still had no capability in her to believe any of my theory. I was glad I had Ric on my side.

At half 4, when April had finished her last lesson of the day, we made our way to her car and to the town centre. We met at the car-park where Ric was waiting, Dalton hanging in the background.

"I didn't know you were coming too!" April exclaimed when she saw him and she grinned really wide.

"I thought I could keep you company whilst the journalists do their stuff," he replied with a half shrug and April grinned some more before she gestured for us to get into the car.

I got into the back with Ric beside me, Dalton and April chattering away in the front. I saw Ric roll his eyes at them and then he looked round at me and leaned slightly closer.

"I thought she could use a distraction whilst we investigate," Ric whispered to me in a low voice and I smiled back at him.

"Good thinking." I had been wondering how Ric and I would investigate what we really were going to the farm for if she was there. No doubt, Dalton and April would be as usual talking to each other at 90 miles an hour so it wouldn't matter to them what else was going on.

April slowly pulled out onto the road which led out of Rook Valley in the opposite direction to the way you would go to get to Picket. I'd briefly given her an address earlier and a short description of where the farm was. It was just past the sign and then it should be the first turn on the left.

April called out to the back, just as the sign went past the window, "so where is this farm then? I don't see any left turn!"

"Just wait!" I called back and leaned forward so I could see better out of the front window.

The sun was slowly setting and the sky was a bright blue, turning orange at the horizon, ahead. The roadside was filled with thick bushes and brambles, which created a barricade against the edge of the ditch, which you could just see on the other side of it. Soon enough, the foliage parted slightly, the start of a muddy track just visible.

"Just here," I informed April quickly so she didn't go past it.

The car lurched slightly as she broke too fast and I was snapped back in my seat. She changed gears and turned into the track mumbling, "sorry, I wasn't expecting it so soon," to make up for the almost strangulation from the belts.

I readjusted myself, pulling at the belt so it wasn't cutting into my neck anymore, and focused on what was around me. We were bumping our way towards a farm house, fenced off fields either side. The left one had a small collection of sheep, obviously showing that not all of them had been taken by the monster. The right was just a patch of grass with some stray water troughs.

The house itself was dark brick and wood, rickety in nature as the shutters rattled and you could hear beams creaking even though it was a windless day. In front of the house was a land-rover, with mud splattered all up it's sides and a trailer on the back for horses. April pulled up just beside it and fumbled to get out so Ric and I could climb out. She then got back into the front next to Dalton and they began talking again. It was almost relieving that she wasn't going to come with us to the door. 

"Right then," Ric started. He rolled up the sleeves of his white t-shirt to his elbows and pulled a notebook from his pocket. He started to step towards the front door.

I followed him, standing back as he hopped up the three steps and knocked on the old, wooden door. It seemed to echo into the house and then it was silent again. A sheep made a baa noise in the background, a bird squawked somewhere far away and then finally, there was rustling on the other side of the door. Bolts were pulled back and then an old man poked his white bearded face out.

"Hello, Sir," Ric said and the old man squinted slightly and focused on him. "I'm Cedric James, I work for the Rook Valley Times." He paused as the man nodded at him. "Simon James recently put a small article in last weeks paper about your missing sheep, I was just coming to see if we could get anymore information and have a look around maybe."

The old man grumbled a bit to himself before he nodded and pulled the door back further. "It was those damn foxes," he mumbled in a thick Southern accent as he let us both through his door. He hobbled his way further into the house and to a kitchen with old black stoves and wooden counter tops. He placed himself into a rocking chair in the corner.

Ric stood in front of him and tapped his pencil on the notepad. "Do you get foxes a lot around here sir?"

The old man swore and nodded his head. "For years." He sighed dramatically. "Blasted things take half my stock!"

"And how do you think these foxes get into your fields?" Ric questioned as he scribbled something down.

"God knows." The old man sighed dramatically again. "I have electric fences and everything but they just rip straight through it!"

Ric frowned and shared a look with me. "The foxes rip through your electric fences?"

"Mischievous little things they are." The old man cursed. "I moved the other sheep into the other field till the fence gets fixed."

"How many sheep are gone?" Ric asked.

"About 5 I would say," the old man grumbled. "Sometimes it's more, about 20 one year! There was none bloody left." He rubbed at his beard. "Must have been a whole bunch of greedy foxes. The devils."

Ric shared a look with me and I raised my eyebrows back. I think we were both thinking the same thing. A fox wouldn't rip through electronic fences and be able to take 20 sheep, possibly not even be able to take 5.

"Well, sir, that's very unfortunate this keeps happening," Ric continued in a polite voice and then he tried a smile. "Do you think we could take a look at the hole in the fence?"

The old man shrugged and flapped his hand towards the door. "Go on then. It's that empty field on the left."

"Thank you, sir," Ric thanked him and smiled again. "We'll just be a few minutes and then we'll probably be off again."

The old man just grunted and we turned away, walking back out of the house.

"I don't think it was just greedy foxes," Ric was first to speak and I nodded back.

"I could imagine a fox being able to attack maybe one sheep or a lamb or something, but not five!" I added as we ambled our way across the yard towards the two fields at the front.

"Even if it was a big fox, it wouldn't be able to take loads at a time," he agreed. We got to the gate of the field pushing our way through and looking around. Ric suddenly pointed to the left side of the field where the fence was ripped open.

We walked swiftly over, avoiding the small piles of sheep poo which littered the grass. When we got closer it was clear to say that something big had ploughed through the fence, ripping two wooden posts out and snapping the wires in-between so they pointed out at weird angles now.

"Definitely not a fox," I said as Ric pulled his phone out and was taking pictures.

He leaned down and gestured at me. "Look at this."

I quickly looked to where he was pointing, a muddy puddle leading from the edge of the field towards the hedgerow next to the field. It didn't look out of the ordinary so I frowned, but maybe that was the point.

"I expect there would be fox paw prints if it was a fox," he said, and stood up straight again. He glanced round at me. "If only there were claw marks through it or something." He took another picture.

"What if there are some somewhere," I suggested and turned to stare out across the field.

Ric put his notebook away and nodded. "Let's have a quick walk around, see if we can spot anything."

So we parted ways, taking half of the field each, staring at the ground and examining the fence around the rest of the perimeter. There were patches of dried out mud between tufts of grass and sheep poo, but nothing more than that. I was about to give up when I heard Ric call my name from across the field.

I hurried over and crouched down beside him as he was taking photos of the ground. There were three long scratches through a section of mud, sheep fur and blood matted in the grass next to it. I gulped. Sheep didn't have claws. Something had definitely attacked and taken its meal away with it. Through the mud they could be claw marks, they had to be.

I stared at them with wide eyes. I imagined the same claws dragging across the ground as the monster tried to grab its victim, just like it did with Robin.

I shivered as we both stood up again, and whispered quietly, "it was here."

Ric glanced round at me, meeting my eyes, the same sombre almost alarmed expression on his face. "It was here."

We looked back down at the ground. This was the second set of claw marks I had seen and this time so had Ric. It wasn't all in my head.

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