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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41. Forty

 

We rushed back to Ric's house, thundering up the stairs and bursting into his bedroom. Dalton poked his head round the door in confusion at the noise but soon went scowling away when he saw it was me. Ric pulled a map out of the draw of his desk, folding it so it was laid flat on the floorboards of his room. I dropped down to sit on the floor staring out at it. Rook Valley was in the centre and spiralling out from there were various roads to villages and fields.

I laid out the notebook flicking to the roughly drawn image.

"I think that's Rook Valley," I commented pointing to the green separated by grey lines. "Then east..." I followed the arrow across.

I looked down at the map. To the right of the valley was fields; any one of them could have been the green splotch which the red arrow led to.

"It has to be close by," Ric suggested and he was running his finger along the map, following the roads out from the town.

I kneeled closer, spotted my village, the winding roads between it and the valley, the field where I had been attacked. That couldn't be where the arrow lead to, could it? The field had no barn. I passed my eyes on, when something caught my eye. I in took breathe sharply.

"The farm."

Ric looked at me and then to where I was pointing. The farm which was just outside my village, where I had only been this morning. My heart thudded along in my rib-cage.

"I've been there," I explained quickly. "There's a barn there." I swallowed hard. "Behind the farmers house, there's a field with a barn in it." I had thought nothing of it till now; I could visualise it in my head.

"Picket is directly East of the town," Ric replied and he sounded excited. "It has to be that barn, doesn't it?"

"It could be."

"Could be," Ric repeated and he looked excessively excited, running a hand quickly through his hair, "of course it could be. I think this is it. We're going to find the answer there."

He got up and rushed towards the corner of the room. He began pulling up a floorboard and I stared at him weirdly. "What are you doing?

He pulled a box out and opened it. I gulped as he revealed the knife, the one that had caused me so much trouble. He stood up with it in his hand and grinned at me, it was almost frightening. "We don't know what we're going to find, we might need it," he said. He drew closer and offered me his hand to pull me up. "Are you coming or not?"

I swallowed hard as I rose to my feet and he met my eyes. What if the barn really did cause curses? What if we found something terrible inside? What if the farmer was really a murderer? Fear ran around my head.

"Fe," Ric brought my attention back, "you're not backing out now, are you?" He looked expectant.

I slowly shook my head. "No, I'm not." I tried to put a brave face on.

He smiled at me and rushed to get a bag, put the knife inside, along with a camera and torch. "It's getting dark," he commented going to the window for a few seconds. "Hopefully the farmer will be inside the house."

I nodded my head, still feeling anxious about it all as I waited for Ric. Finally, he turned around, grabbed the map and notebook from the floor and stuffed it in his bag. "Ready?"

"Ready," I repeated and I followed him out of the door, down the stairs and into the early evening light.

We biked our way out of the town and down the familiar road towards my house. It didn't feel right, knowing I wasn't just going home to eat dinner with my family and go to bed. I was about to go and investigate one of my neighbours barns on the basis that we thought the answers would be inside it. I didn't know what to expect and I couldn't help but feel it wasn't going to be good.

Once we approached the track which led into the farm, I called out and we stopped. We left the bikes at the side of the road as I explained the best way to get round to the barn without coming into view of the house too much. We made our way into the field next to it, down by the bush so that we were hidden. When we got to the edge of the field I bent down, pulled back some of the branches so I could see out into the field behind the farmers house. There sat the barn, in all its old, rotting looking wooden glory.

Ric kneeled down beside me and stared out at it. "I can't hear anything," he whispered. I couldn't either. It was pretty silent, only the rare bug buzzing nearby.

I looked towards the farm house, with its glowing windows. "It looks like the curtains are shut," I commented. "We might be able to get across and to the barn door without being seen."

Ric nodded and focused back on the barn again, squinting his eyes in the steadily darkening light. "I think it might be locked, it looks like there's a chain and a padlock. How do we get in?"

"I don't know," I replied and I again, felt like this was a terrible idea. We hadn't really thought about it being locked up, but of course it would be, especially if it had something incriminating inside it.

"We might be able to break it open," Ric suggested but I was sceptical. We didn't have anything remotely like bolt cutters. Before I could say anything he had crouch down and was making his way through the undergrowth.

"Ric," I whispered warningly after him but he didn't stop and think twice about what he was doing. He got to his feet on the other side and I hesitated before I crawled through too on shaking legs. I brushed some twigs out of my hair, staring at the barn.

Ric began towards it and I stuck close behind, not wanting to be left in the almost completely dark yard. I passed my eyes over the house quickly to check no one was looking out but everything seemed calm, the curtains were blocking the windows. When we got to the door of the barn he reached to his bag to get the torch, clicked it on and pointed it at the padlock.

"It's a combination lock," he said as he looked at it. I wanted to swear but didn't, keeping my mouth firmly shut. Ric stepped back slightly and passed the torch from side to side, looking for something. Then he paused and before I could ask him anything he'd stepped away from me and bent down. I stumbled after him as he was pulling aside a plank of wood.

"I... Is this a good idea?" I said worriedly as I heard splintering of wood and quickly cast my eyes back at the house. It wasn't a loud enough noise to cause any disturbance but the hair on the back of my neck was standing on end.

"If we can get through here, we don't have to crack the lock," Ric muttered back, tongue between his teeth. "Hold this." He passed me the torch and began trying to pull another plank away.

I felt my hand shake on the torch handle but I had to calm down. It's okay, it's going to be okay.

"I think that's enough," Ric said after he'd broke off about thee parts of plank. He took the torch from me again and dropped down to crawl into the barn. I hesitated again before I did the same, trying not to scratch myself on the splintered wood. I heard him say, "oh my god," before I had fully stood up.

When I did, my immediate reaction was to jump back but my back hit the wooden wall behind me. My breath got stuck in my throat. There was a stack of larges cages in front of us and in them were rooks, ten, maybe even twenty. Some large, some smaller, chained up by their ankles, immediately leaping up when they saw us, clanging the metal around. When they opened their beaks no sound came out. Instead, it was just silence and the clanging of chains and the louder beat of my heart.

I couldn't speak as I edged behind Ric as he walked further into the barn. There were crates and boxes stacked up on one side and a table with books and notebooks. When I read the titles things like 'bird breeding' came back at me, 'natural selection' and diagrams, something about the anatomy of rooks.

Ric shuffled his hands over some notes, and shock went through his eyes. I kept glancing back at the rooks, terrified they were going to burst out of the cages or the farmer would come running because of the noise. Their many wings were flapping, they're beaks snapping open and closed, beady eyes glaring back at me like they wanted to kill me.

"Look at this." Ric was passing me some pages. I moved my eyes away slowly. "It's... He's tracking their actions... What prey some of them bring back."

I thought I was going to be sick.

Sheep. Cats. Dog. Traces of human blood on claws.

I wanted to cry as I picked up more paper. Traces of female blood. Blue eye. Then in pencil below it. Victim was Robin Cross. I felt the paper drop from my hands and I wanted to scream. No, no, no, no.

I backed away, my eyes wide as I stared at the rooks still rattling in their cages. It was them. It was them. They killed her. The farmer set them loose on her. It was his fault. Every day I had come to this farm in the past week, they had been in here. The farmer had been the one who did this. No, no, no. But how were they so violent? How was this true?

"Fe!" Ric's voice found it's why into my head again and I reluctantly looked at him. He'd opened a box on the table, full of syringes. He pulled a notebook closer and pointed to an anatomy drawing, with notes scribbled round it. "He injects them with something. It silences them.... Makes them stealthier because people can't hear them coming." He swallowed hard and flicked through a few pages. "He feeds them human blood from birth... Trains them to attack and bring back their prey. Breeds the ones who bring back the best results." He gulped some more as he showed me the next page. "It's a time table, when he lets them out. They're all numbered. He lets them out at different times and sometimes together. Oh my god." He pointed to an entry: May 4th - all birds. Ordered to Location - Rook Valley high school

I wanted to be sick again as I gripped at my hair. This was horrible. This wasn't right. I scrambled backwards. I wanted to leave, I really wanted to leave. My foot hit a box and I tripped, screaming as it tipped and out of it rolled something horrific. Blood pooled onto the ground and guts and then an eye, Robin's blue eye. It rolled towards me. I screamed again. The stench of death was clogging up my nose. I could hardly breathe. 

Ric ran towards me, tried to pull me up, panicking as the rattling and clanging became louder and there was a commotion outside the barn. Running feet were suddenly in the yard, someone was banging the lock around at the door. I scrambled backwards even more, my back hitting the other side of the barn's wall. This couldn't be happening. This wasn't true. It was all too much. My eyes rammed shut, Ric kept trying to pull me up, begging me that we had to go but I couldn't move. I wouldn't. They killed her. They killed her. They killed her.

The barn door flew open and my eyes fixed on the farmer in the door way, a large shadowy figure against the light which was emitted from the flood lights in the yard. He stepped inside the barn and stared at us, this grim looking smile appearing on his face.

"Now what do we have here then."

Ric sank down next to me as I began to cry harder. This wasn't good. We were going to die. We were going to end up just like Robin. We'd walked right in to danger.

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