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*


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.

9. Eight


Lights flickered, on and off, causing distorted images. Blood. Dark. Blood. Dark. BLOOD. The creature loomed over the figure on the floor, the sound of claws dragging into flesh with an unappealing squelching noise. I expected screaming but there was none. The creatures breathing filled my ears instead, loud rattling breathes like it was empty, but it must have been full. It had consumed half of the body.

It tore and tore at the skin, till it was all a teeming mess of guts and blood and death. No life. No life. But then there was a voice.


It was Robin.

I tried to reach forwards, tried to call out as the voice got louder. Felicity! Felicity, help me!

My foot moved forwards but the contact of it against the bathroom floor was too loud and the monster raised its head from its meal. Two green eyes pierced through the flickering blackness, surrounded by its fur, matted with blood. The almost human mouth smiled evilly, long sharp teeth sticking out. I felt fear grip at me and I wanted to move some more but I was stuck. The monster just stared. Why wasn't it eating me?

This is your fault.

Robin's voice distorted into something deeper. There was an echoing laugh around the room and then in a blink the monster was gone. I heard screaming, it was my own screaming as I ran to the body but all that was left was blood. My hands run through it, scraped against the floor but there was nothing. It painted my hands red. Tears fell as Robin's echoing voice came back. You were too late.

I woke with a start, fresh steamy tears gushing from my eyes, like I really had been crying in that bathroom. My breathes were shaky and inconsistent as I pushed myself up into a sitting position, and clutched a pillow to my chest. Tonight, the nightmare had been different. The monster was clearer, more than just a black mass. It had actually felt like it was living and breathing. I had felt it's eyes on me. It's deep green eyes, so menacing and evil. I squished the pillow tighter.

I was being stupid. I couldn't have felt it's eyes on me. I was asleep and it was in my head.

I pushed myself shakily out of bed. I knew there was a monster but I had to remind myself, nightmares weren't real. They were only the minds internal way of exploring fears which you encountered during the day. I was scared of the monster, I was guilty because there had been nothing I could do for poor Robin, and that's why I was having nightmares. Hearing her voice was all part of it.

No matter how many times it happened, it didn't make it any easier each time.

As I made myself breakfast, I cast my mind onto the prospect of being able to see new articles soon. It felt better when I was trying to puzzle things out, I felt more useful. Although I couldn't help Robin in that bathroom, I felt like I was helping her now, in some way. If I found out what was behind her death, then maybe I could stop feeling so guilty.

Mum came shuffling into the kitchen in her flowery dressing gown. She jumped a little when she saw me sitting at the kitchen table. "Oh, I didn't expect you to be awake yet!"

"I need to go to Sixth Form early," I told her as I sloshed cornflakes around my bowl.

"Why's that?" she asked as she was rustling around in the cupboard.

"Um, I'm helping the librarian with something," I quickly lied, hoping it sounded half realistic.

Apparently, it sufficed, as mum nodded her head as she started to cut up an apple and I went back to my cereal.

"I guess I'll have to drive you," she mused out loud, sounding a little annoyed but trying to cover it up.

I swallowed my mouthful. "Yes please."

She sighed. "Sure, that's fine. I just don't think Kitty will like getting up early again."

"You could come back for her?" I suggested with a half shrug but mum shook her head.

"Then I'd have to make two trips." She pulled out a bowl and dropped the sliced apples into it. She fixed me with a look. "Diesel doesn't grow on trees, Felicity."

I put my hands up in surrender. "It was only a suggestion."

Mum moved to sit opposite me and we fell silent again. We didn't usually have very long conversations, and they often only happened if I needed something, which sounded bad but it just happened to be the way it was. When Kitty was born she stole most of the attention away. I knew it would be that way.

I was 17 and Kitty was 3; it was obvious who got mothered the most round here. April had often asked why there was such a big age gap but I always shrugged about it. I didn't know why my parents had waited so long to have another child. It wasn't like they wanted me to have a second sibling to play with, I was past that age, and it wasn't like we had increased income suddenly, which meant we could afford another mouth to feed. As far as I could remember, we'd always been a low-income family. That's why I decided it was probably an accident. Although I wouldn't tell her that, she could work it out for herself, when she was old enough.

I heard Kitty scream and mum instantly got to her feet, looking worried as she rushed off. It wasn't uncommon for her to be noisy, in fact I think that's all she was capable of. She never spent time with me so I'd only heard her speak blubbering words at dinner times. Aside from that it was always just wailing, screaming and crying from the direction of her bedroom.

In around an hour Kitty went from that one scream to lung wrenching screaming when mum was trying to force her into the car. I sighed largely as I found my headphones, getting into the front of the car. There was no way I was sitting that close to her when she was screaming that loud.

"See, I told you she wouldn't like it," mum snapped at me loudly so I could hear over the noise.

I tried to look guilty but failed as I called back, "sorry!"

Mum pulled out of the drive and turned on some child-like music to try and calm Kitty down. Instead, I blasted my own music into my ears to drown it all out. I watched the flashing green fields as mum drove steadily down the road. I wound the window down and let the cool air seep in, a frosty kind of feel to the morning. It was only 8 but the grass at the side of the road was still layered with dew and the sky slowly lightening.

I was almost peaceful. That's when my eyes latched onto something ahead. Something red in the green. I clutched my phone harder, pulling my headphones from my ears as we approached it.

"Mum, stop!" I suddenly exclaimed and she made a noise of contempt. The red went flashing past in seconds and I moved my eyes to the wing-mirror, breathing quickly. I saw it fade into the distance.

"What is it, Felicity?" mum asked indignantly. She hated being yelled at when driving.

I leaned back into my seat again, my heart still racing. "Nothing," I mumbled but it hadn't been nothing. There was something on the side of the road. Something red. And red, recently for me, usually meant blood.

Mum turned the music down slightly and looked at me sideways. "You're forever seeming jumpy at the moment," she commented as she tapped her fingers against the steering wheel. "The situation with Robin has really upset you, hasn't it?"

I tried not to show emotion on my face but it was hard not to.

"You know you can talk about it," Mum told me, taking on a softer tone, "you don't have to bottle it all up inside."

I remained silent. I didn't usually speak to her about emotions and what was going on inside my head, I didn't feel like I needed to start now. But maybe it would help? My head was very full and I was scared and upset. I was jumpy too. Maybe the red thing in the grass hadn't been anything at all? My mind could be playing tricks on me. I didn't know what to think about it.

I put both headphones back in and turned the music up slightly, trying to block everything out again. If I focused on it for the time being, I could remain calm for the last part of the journey.

Soon enough we turned off onto the wider road which led towards Rook Valley. The ones before that were winding and small, all the way back to my village. The one we were on followed along past a few housing estates to the school and then if you kept on following it, you would reach the centre of town where the road turned into a small high street lined with little old-fashioned looking shops.

Mum pulled into the car-park which was pretty devoid of cars at this time, cursing that she'd hadn't seen me make any lunch. She routed around in her purse for some spare change so I could buy something from the canteen later. I thanked her and hopped out, walking slowly towards the school building, listening to the car as it reversed. As soon as I was sure they were gone, I turned around again and walked back up the car park, exiting through the gates. I took a right and began my way towards the centre of town.

I got my phone out and typed in the Rook Valley Times office address, into the maps app, just to make sure I didn't get lost on the way. It was situated at number 5 Cresent Street which, as far as the map showed me, was down a little road off from the High street between the bank and hardware store. I quickened my pace as I passed house after house. They all looked the same here. Big terraced houses with a Victorian kind of look. They were all expensive, that's why my parents chose to live in the little village, Picket, close by. It was a lot cheaper there.

Finally, I reached the high street where the houses thinned out and instead, shops appeared. Most of them were businesses which had moved themselves into what was originally an old house but put bigger glass shop windows in the front. All of the upstairs were flats either lived in by the shop owner or a family.

I passed the little vegetable store my parents owned, not yet opened. Mum would be back at around 9 and I made a mental note not to be around when she was, I might get in trouble for lying then. It looked more like a shed next to the other buildings, a one floored wooden cabin with crates outside for produce. They didn't grow it themselves, a local farmer did, and supplied my parents with a small amount of it for a percentage of what the shop brought in. It was probably why we were so poor. Most of my parent's earnings went to the greedy farmer from Picket.

Soon I approached the bank, a more modernised building, painted a deep shade of blue. It was already open and people were bustling inside. I went right past the entrance instead, hesitating slightly before I turned down the side of the building into a very narrow street. It was cobbled here and darker, three story houses lining both sides. I wrapped my cardigan a little closer around me as I slowly walked on, looking out for number 5.

It was a short walk to it as the road didn't have many houses and ended in a high red brick wall. Number 5 was the end building on the right. It looked like a house, not the office for a newspaper company, and I would have thought I had the wrong place if there wasn't Rook Valley Times printed on the misted windows at the front of the building. I stepped up the three steps, hesitant again as I reached the door. The sign on it said visitors were allowed in from 8am-5pm but the big black door still made me feel like I shouldn't be walking into it without knocking.

I in took breathe and pulled the handle down, pushing the door open. I was met with a small hallway, with three doors. The left door said 'reception', the door ahead said 'no unauthorised access' and the right-hand door 'archive', all on little shiny silver plaques. I decided to choose the reception as there would most likely be someone there to help me.

I took in a large breath again, pushing my way through the door. The hinges made a slightly creaky sound in the otherwise quiet building and I instantly felt like I had made too much noise. I ambled slowly into the room where there was a desk lining the width of the room, filing cabinets against the wall behind it. The bit I stood in was more open and a few chairs were pushed up next to the window.

As I walked in the young guy at the desk had jumped, pulling his feet from their position on top of the desk.

"Jesus Christ," he muttered as he plonked the mug in his hand down.

I looked a little sheepish as I approached the desk. I must have surprised him.

He stood up slowly, brushing some of his dark messy hair out of his face. He couldn't have been more than a few years older than me. His skin was immaculately smooth but unhealthy looking as it was so pale. It made his dark eyebrows and almost black eyes stand out stark in contrast. He would have looked scary if he didn't have a smile on his face.

"Dad keeps telling me to start at 8, but no one ever comes in then. You've just proved my father's point correctly," he told me and he sighed rather over-dramatically.

"Um, sorry," I mumbled feeling a little sheepish still. It didn't feel like the sort of place where they got lots of visitors, it was so quiet.

"Ah well," the guy continued and smiled a bit wider. "What can I help you with?"

I pulled my bag off my shoulder before I replied, "your website said your older articles are in the archive."

"That's correct," he confirmed.

I fumbled around in my bag, pulling out the newsletters. I swapped the 1960 one to the front and put it down on the desk. The guy looked down at them with a small frown on his face.

"I'm looking for any articles about Amanda Carrington which may have come out in 1960," I told him and he picked them up, shuffling the newer edition to the front.

The smile dropped off his face. "My brother told me about what happened the other week," he commented. "Couldn't believe something would happen like that here."

He lowered the Newsletters back to the desk and then swapped them back around. His face suddenly contorted again into a frown, but a curious one. "Are these two incidents connected?"

I was happy he could see that at only a quick glance, it wasn't just me.

"Amanda was attacked on the same date as Robin, but in 1960," I explained and he shifted his eyes to me, his eye brows raising slightly.

"Are you investigating?" he asked me, and his smile came back. He looked faintly excited.

I nodded my head because I guess I was, no matter what April had said to me. "That's why I need more articles," I told him, "I need to gather more information."

The guy nodded at me. "That's a good idea." He then frowned again. "But my dad's in charge of the archives, I don't really know if I'm allowed to just hand out copies to people."

"Oh," I replied, sounding a bit disappointed.

"He's not here right now but I can ask tonight, and get back to you," he suggested, looking like he was a bit annoyed that he couldn't help. "Is that alright?"

"Yeah." I smiled.

He smiled back and looked down at the articles again. "Did you know Robin well?" he asked me but looked a little wary about the possibility of it being a sensitive question.

"She's been in the year above me since I joined Valley Rooks," I replied and shrugged slightly. "I think everyone knew of her, as she was head girl, but no, I didn't know her excessively well."

There were a few seconds looming silence before he spoke again. "I think it's sad, how such horrible things happen," he commented and sighed largely.

I nodded in agreement. I decided against telling him I thought it was a monster; I didn't want him to think I was strange.

"Anyway," he started again and pulled out his phone from his pocket. He tapped a few seconds before he held it out to me. "If you add your phone number, I'll give you a ring after I speak to dad."

"Oh, okay," I replied and took the phone. "Thanks."

He'd opened up a new contact on his phone. I felt weird putting my name into it as he was a complete stranger but I reminded myself that he worked for the Times, and he was getting my number for a reason, it wasn't like I was just handing it over to a random stranger.

I passed the phone back and he glanced down at it. "Felicity Flemming," he repeated and the corners of his mouth twitched into an almost amused smile.

I shifted my bag on to my shoulder again and frowned. "Yeah?"

"Nothing," he replied and shrugged casually. "Just a bit of a mouthful to say."

"I guess." I slowly started to turn away but something made me turn back. "What's your name?"

"Cedric James, but you can call me Ric," he answered with another big smile. "Although don't let my dad hear you saying that, he hates it."

I laughed slightly and nodded back at him. "Okay." I grinned in the same amused way he had about my name. "James is a pretty bad last name. It's much more suitable for a first name."

Ric laughed. "Well thanks, Fe Flem."

"Fe Flem?" I questioned with a frown.

He chuckled again and fixed me with a look. "What? If you can insult my last name, I can call you Fe Flem."

I laughed slightly. "Okay, James."

I started to turn away again, a smile still on my face.

"See you around!" he called after me.

"See you."

As I left the building and started on my way back towards the school, I wondered if Ric had been a student at Valley Rooks once. I didn't remember seeing him anywhere but there was something familiar about him that I couldn't quite put my finger on. If he had been a student, I should know, I'd been at Valley Rooks since I was very young. I'd always lived in Picket my entire life.

I passed the vegetable store again, sighing as I looked up at the wonky sign. I always wondered if my parents wanted a different life. They lived in a desolate village and run an almost dead business. They'd had me when mum was 22, had she even had a proper adult life before me?

I know I'd found myself wishing things were different many times before. First of all because Picket wasn't interesting, and second of all I had never been able to afford all the new toys that came out, throughout the years, when I was younger. My school uniform during High School had been second hand and shabby, and I had to work many hours in the vegetable store to afford my own makeup because mum wouldn't pay for it directly.

Growing up, it had been alright, despite the money situation. I'd learnt to deal with it, and I always deduced in the end I was better off here, with people I knew, including April. If my life was different, I might not have met April.

With this thought in mind I got my phone out to text her and tell her I didn't need picking up on the way this morning. I don't think I would have survived my young teenage life without her. She helped me when I first started wearing makeup and couldn't put it on right. She had always shared her Maths homework answers with me and whenever I had a small lunch because the food at home was running low, she'd pass me snacks during the day to stop my stomach rumbling. She meant a lot to me.

It upset me that I was going against what she said. She didn't want me to investigate into Robin and Amanda's cases but I was too affected by what I had seen not to. I hoped she wouldn't find out that I was going further with my searching. I was already feeling guilty enough for not being able to help Robin, I didn't want to feel guilty for not listening to April. I didn't want to lose her too.

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