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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39. Thirty-Eight

 

A lot of argument followed the events of that day. We sat in the little summer house in Abi-Rose's garden with the key in the middle of the table. I was sat in the corner as Ric paced around and Abi-Rose kept standing up and then throwing herself down on a bean bag again.

"But it's crazy isn't it?" She said. "She must be mad... Maybe she doesn't actually remember. That's just what her brain has made up." She sighed dramatically and flopped on the bean bag for the fifth time. "Cursed rooks, really?"

"It's no crazier than believing in a monster," I added in but she seemed to ignore it.

Ric continued to pace in silence.

"I mean... how does that even work?" she asked aloud. "How did they even get into the school to attack her and Robin?" She got up again. "They can't open bloody doors! They don't have hands." She flopped down again. "Are they magical or something?"

"Don't be silly," Ric commented and she huffed at him.

"I'm not... I'm not the mad one," she snapped. She tugged at her hair. "It's a genuine point."

Ric didn't reply again.

"Maybe someone let them in," I mused but no one seemed to focus on what I was saying.

Abi-Rose was now scrolling through her phone. "Rook Valley was first named so when settlers in the town noted the amount of rooks, crows, ravens and other birds of the Corvidae family. Over the years, population has grown and depleted. In 2016 it was recorded that there were less than a hundred still local to the area." She looked up from her phone again. "That's what the town website says anyway." She shrugged. "That only proves they do exist, not that they're cursed. There's nothing about there being a curse."

For a few minutes it was silent again. Ric still paced, Abi-Rose scrolled and then I got up slowly. I stared at the key on the table, picked it up and turned it over in my hands a few times. Find it. Amanda's voice echoed in my head again; but find what? What was it that we needed to find?

I realised Abi-Rose had walked to stand next to me. She focused her eyes on the key too, and asked, "what do you think it opens?"

I shrugged. It could have been anything.

"Storage locker?" Abi-Rose suggested and she took it from me and studied it. "Maybe it has a number on it." She held it up to her eyes. "I swear in crime movies, well the ones I've watched anyway, storage lockers always hold all the answers... or dead bodies."

I tried not to stare at her too weirdly as she passed the key back. There were no marks or numbers on it at all. It was pretty non-descriptive.

"It's pretty rusted, it's got to open something old, from her past. Something she used to have before they sent her away," I mused and Ric suddenly stopped in his tracks.

"Say that again," he said quietly as he turned towards me.

"Um... which part?" I questioned.

"The first bit."

I paused slightly before trying to repeat what I had said, "it's rusted, it's got to open something old. Probably from her past... something like that."

Ric drew closer and took the key from me. "When I went to see Matilda, she was still in the old house they used to live in. Amanda would have lived there too." He paused, it was almost for dramatic effect. "This key could open something there."

Silence echoed for a few minutes as we stared between the key and each other.

"Well, that was easier than expected," Abi-Rose broke the silence. She almost smiled. "All mysteries need a key, don't they?"

Ric didn't seem to take on the same enthusatic attitude about it. "There's a lot of stuff in that house... Maybe Matilda even threw away some of her things. I don't know."

"Well, we won't find out sitting in here all day," Abi-Rose said firmly and started briskly for the door out into the garden. "Let's go and look in the house."

"Wait," Ric called her back. "We can't just turn up there... It's dark."

I think we'd all forgotten that we'd sat in the same place for hours, the time had disappeared quickly and it was easily around 7 now. I checked my phone to see my parents asking where I was. I swore under my breath as I wrote a quick reply.

"Yeah," I consolidated what Ric had said. "I need to get home. My parents are worrying."

Abi-Rose looked annoyed for a few seconds before she sighed. "Fine, tomorrow then."

She led us back through the house and out of the front door. I grabbed my bike from the drive-way where I had left it and walked along the streets with Ric. When we got to his house, he turned around at the front door and looked at me firmly.

"Do you believe her?" he asked. "Amanda, I mean."

I looked back at him and thought about it. No matter how many days I had believed in monsters, now Amanda had actually told us something about what attacked her, I felt more inclined to believe in her. Although it all still confused me.

"I don't know," I replied slowly. "I think so."

Ric was now staring at the floor. "I just... What if she is right?" His eyes slowly moved up to my face again. "What if the answer was in front of us all the time... We just didn't see it properly because we weren't looking for birds. They just blend in here, because they've always been here."

I sighed. "I really don't know." Because at that point I really didn't. "That still doesn't explain why they attacked me, why they attacked Amanda, and maybe Robin."

Ric shrugged. "They're cursed," he repeated what Amanda had said, then turned back to opening the door. "I don't know. Maybe I was wrong about what I saw."

"Ric," I tried to call him back but he'd already turned and shut the door behind him. The sad smile on his face didn't make me feel good.

I stood staring at the black door for a while. He'd been tormented by seeing monsters, and things that he couldn't explain, so clearly what we had found out wasn't what he thought we would. I didn't know what I believed anymore. I was just utterly confused.

I turned away and got on my bike to head home. As I peddled, I thought to myself, tried to make some sense of something.

What if the answer was right in front of us all the time? There were always rooks in the school field, always flying over the town, in the trees, in the bushes, in the fields. They were there all the time. We just didn't notice them because they never did anything wrong. They always seemed just like part of the calm scenery. 

That was until, one attacked me. Then I started thinking about them.

Why would they attack humans? Why were they doing it? Was it really them who killed Robin?

The same questions nagged at my brain all the way home and up the garden path. When I slammed the door shut, mum walked out of the kitchen and I expected some kind of lecture. It didn't come.

"There's left over dinner in the kitchen, if you want some," she commented and then crossed to the lounge. Then she turned back at the door and looked at me. "Oh and I need you to get up early tomorrow, help me get the vegetables from the farmer."

"Okay," I replied, trying not to sound like I wanted to protest. "Thanks mum."

I walked into the kitchen and grabbed the plate of food. I went upstairs and finished eating before I laid down on my bed for a few long minutes, staring at the ceiling. Then I couldn't resist any longer, I got my phone out of my bag and started searching. Then began hours of reading, typing in things which I thought would get me the answer I wanted. I read about rooks, all different types of birds. Bird attacks; the only ones I could find were from buzzards. Then about whether rooks were violent, whether they could or couldn't be. It was more common opinion that they weren't.

They ate small things, earth worms and insects, and they didn't seem to attack bigger animals. I even found an article about a tame rook that someone had kept in their house. They were considered as one of the smartest types of birds. Violence wasn't a common word used to describe them. There were a few sparse articles about people being chased away by them during nesting season (April and July), as people would get too close to their nests, but no reports of a rook ever seriously damaging someone.

It didn't add up. How could these birds be the ones attacking things and people? I knew one had attacked me though, I had seen it with my own eyes, felt it scratching at my skin. Amanda had said that was what attacked her too. Could they really be the answer? Even if a whole group of them had found Robin, could they have killed her?

What if they were cursed somehow? But that felt highly illogical. Then I reminded myself I believed in monsters, was a curse any more illogical than that? I honestly didn't know what to think.

I rolled over onto my stomach and continued searching.

Instead, I looked at pictures of keys, held the one Amanda had given me up to my screen. It was relatively small and appeared to look like a key for a padlock. I couldn't be sure but it was a start. If there was something padlocked in her house, I would try that first.

It was 1 o'clock before I knew it and then 2. I fell asleep on top of my bed, my phone still in my hand. When I woke up, mum was knocking heavily on the door and demanding me to get ready. I quickly did as I was told, hiding the key in my bag again. We then left the house shortly afterwards driving up towards April's house and then left at the T junction in the village. We made our way along the windy road for a few minutes before mum pulled into a track leading to the farm. Over the last week, mum and dad had got me to come here many times and collect the vegetables. The farmer had proved himself to be an extremely grumpy person and I had no fun speaking to him. Today was no different. He practically chucked the vegetables into the crates in the yard and mumbled about something to himself.

I hurried to load them up into the car so we could leave quickly. Mum paid the farmer and then we left swiftly, stopping at home to collect Kitty and my things for school. We then made our way to Rook Valley. As we drove I became more aware of the wildlife. I had rarely thought about the birds around here, it hadn't been something I really intentionally spotted, but now, every time I saw one I couldn't help this overwhelming fear inside me. What if they were really cursed like Amanda said? What if one of them tried to attack me again?

I focused back on the road ahead and the school which swarmed before my eyes. I said goodbye and got out, making my way inside when a horrible scream found it's way to my ears. I began to run towards the source of the noise, a few others in my wake as they had heard it too. Panic ran around my head.

I burst through the door out into the school field, where another scream had come from. I saw Abi-Rose running around the field, cricket bat in hand, making a swing at every bird that was there. For a few seconds I was frozen, watching her but when she screamed again, I broke from my daze. I cursed to myself and ran towards her, as I heard laughs erupting from the crowd, which had grown around the door out to the field. Her friend Parker had pushed himself through the crowd to, gripped the back of my shirt, pulling me backwards.

"I bet this is your fault," he snapped and pushed ahead of me. "Abs!"

I didn't care what he said, I started forward again towards her.

"Abs!" Parker called again. "Stop. Abi-Rose!"

She turned around, her pink hair flying back from her face, a determined look in her eye. 

"Abi-Rose!" I echoed as she ran and aimed her bat again, at a pigeon which was laying in the grass.

She looked almost mad as her eyes landed on Parker and then on me. She approached me and gripped my shoulders. Parker tried to pull her back away from me, with a concerned look on his face. He narrowed his eyes at me again. "What did you say to her the other day?"

"N-Nothing... I," I stammered out and Abi-Rose gripped my shoulders harder, shook me a little. I looked at her wild face.

"We need to kill them all," she whispered gruffly. "I don't know if Amanda is right but if she is, we need to kill them."

"What... what is she talking about?" Parker asked behind her and he was looking more and more worried.

I hadn't expected her to do this. I knew she was upset and I knew she'd been hectic in the field, even cut her own hand open. She seemed the same kind of manic now... This wasn't right.

"Felicity," she snapped and I looked back at her. "What if she was right? What if that's what hurt Robin?"

I couldn't speak as she continued to grip my shoulder with one hand, trying to stop Parker pull the bat out of her hand with the other. I didn't know whether she looked more upset or evil. I shrunk back away from her.

"I don't know," I replied. "I don't know."

She let go of me and let out a huge burst of air. "Get off me, Parker."

Parker refused, still trying to wrestle the bat out of her hand. Tears were coming out of her eyes as she struggled. "No! Let go."

I heard people shouting behind me, ordering people to go inside and then a few teachers emerged around us. The counsellor came forwards, tried to console Abi-Rose as she was now crying even harder. Parker managed to get the bat off her and she just fell into a crying heap. The teachers told Parker and I to go back inside and after a few minutes where Parker protested, he followed me towards the building. I couldn't stop my shaking legs.

When we got inside he suddenly turned, threw my back against the wall, his face angry. I could hardly breathe, winded by the force, my head smacking into the wall. Pain and dizziness shot through my skull. My ears rung.

"What have you done to her?" he yelled in my face. People had looked round at the commotion, were watching us.

"N-Nothing," I stammered out, my head throbbing. "She's just upset."

I felt spit fly in my face as Parker shouted again, "this is your fault!" I sensed his harsh glare again. My eyes were watering, making my vision of him blurry. He drew back slightly. "I don't know who the hell you are, but clearly there's something wrong with you. You got arrested, you were suspended. And every-time Abi-Rose has had some kind of meeting with you, she's always come back manic as hell." He was gripping the bat so hard, I feared he was about to smash it into something, maybe even me.

"Her best-friend died," I replied meekly.

"I know!" I saw tears erupt in his eyes. "She was my friend too!"

I took in a shaky breath. "I'm s-sorry."

He glared some more. "Maybe you didn't kill her but you sure as hell have something wrong with you." He turned away. "Stay the hell away from Abi-Rose. And from me!"

The bat clattered to the floor as he dropped it and rushed down the corridor in angry tears. I couldn't move, still pinned to the wall, my whole body shaking. My brain, my head, my back hurt. He was right. It was my fault she was like this. If I'd never let her in on my thoughts, on all the plans, this wouldn't have happened. I sank onto the floor and cried.

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