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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25. Twenty-Four

 

The Micheals' house reminded me of April's. It was just the sort of building you looked up at and you knew the people who lived there had money, in large quantities. It was at the end of Finch Street, visible all the way as I walked slowly down the road towards it. It was definitely more modern than many around it, converted from the original it once was, and definitely didn't fit into the 'affordable housing' bracket either, that most of the houses nearer the school did.

I could spy the trees and bushes behind the house which surrounded part of the school fence. It made me uncomfortable knowing it was there, knowing Ric had seen something there, that that was where we would set up the camera first. People lived so close to where something might be lurking.

I rung the door bell and barking began behind it, a dog scratching at the door before someone opened it.

"Hannah, no! Stay here," I heard an American accented voice say, as the woman in the doorway, bent down to grip the collar of the sandy coloured pug which had tried to bundle itself out of the door. She lifted her eyes to me and smiled, bright white teeth showing. "Can I help you?"

"I'm here to see Abi-Rose, she asked me to come over today," I replied, eyeing the dog cautiously as it tried to struggle free, yapping incessantly. I'd never really been a fan of dogs, especially ones which barked as much as this dog did.

"Quiet!" the woman snapped at Hannah again before going back to me. "She's upstairs. I'll call her for you." She pulled the dog backwards with her and jerked her head to signal I could come inside. "Abi! Your friend is here," she then yelled up the stairs and backed away down the hall with the dog. She gave me another bright smile before disappearing behind a large white door.

I looked around me as I waited. The hall was painted white, with beech wood flooring that looked like it had been buffed only a few seconds ago. A few doors went off to the left and on the right the set of wooden stairs led up to the upper floor, a length of red carpet trailing up them. A coat stand was just next to the door with expensive looking coats and hats hung from it. I could never imagine my home looking as neat or tidy as this; for starters I always trailed mud across the hall carpet.

I heard feet and rotated my head back to the stairs as Abi-Rose was coming down them. She stopped briefly, half way up them and looked down at me. She still seemed to be in a bad state, her dark pink hair still straggly, her face still blotchy. It seemed in direct contrast to her beaming mother who had a full face of pristine make up. She wore a flowery dressing gown, which looked like it was made from silk, hanging loosely on her arms over some white pyjamas. She gestured at me and I quickly pushed off my shoes, thinking I would probably make the floors dirty if I didn't.

I followed her up the stairs to a wide landing where she entered her way into the door on the left. The room was large and painted a pastel pink, with wide windows on one side of the room letting in a lot of natural lighting, which caught on the shelf of achievement trophies and bounced rays of light around the room. She sat down on the end of the big double bed and sighed loudly.

I awkwardly stood by the door, surveying the wall of pictures to my right but trying to also look like I wasn't prying too much. There were a lot of her and Robin, from when they were younger, playing together or wearing fairy costumes and a couple of them in their Valley Rooks uniforms from what must have been a few years ago. Snaps in various exotic places too, with palm trees and sandy beaches which were nothing like the countryside landscape around here. 

"I keep thinking I should take them down," Abi-Rose started slowly and I tilted my head back to her and drew a bit closer. She continued with a sigh, "it reminds me of... of her being gone."

"I'm sorry," is all I could manage to force out. Abi-Rose just shrugged sadly at me, and gestured for me to sit down on one of the arm chairs, on the left side of the room.

"I know, I know I said I didn't want to think about what you were saying before," she commented and I still felt guilty about that day. It probably wasn't a nice thing to hear, when it was your best friend who had died. She pulled her legs up into a crossed position and continued again, "but then I couldn't stop thinking about it... and I-I guess I remembered. I remembered how her face looked." Her lip trembled. "I think maybe you're right."

I let the silence fall, not knowing what to say yet. I was slightly relieved that I wasn't the only one who had seen her and thought they looked like claw marks. After days and days of having it stuck in my head, the image swirling grotesquely in my mind, and my best friend not believing me, not understanding, someone else agreed with me besides from Ric. I knew he believed in what I had said but he never saw her. Abi-Rose did.

She walked slowly to the dresser below the picture wall, fumbling in a draw till she pulled out a piece of paper. She then crossed the room towards me, passed it over with a slightly trembling hand. I looked down at it, feeling the breathe restricting in my throat. It was Robin's face, drawn in a dark coloured pencil, with the deep claw marks dragged across her face. It was so realistic it was almost chilling.

"You saw that too?" she questioned slowly and I nodded back. Abi-Rose sank into the armchair beside me and took in a large breathe.

I wanted to drag my eyes away from the drawing but I couldn't. The paper had started shaking slightly in my hand, my eyes stinging, but I forced the feeling away. I didn't want to cry, now wasn't the time for that, not in front of Abi-Rose who had more reasons to cry than me but wasn't at this moment. If she could be strong right now, so could I.

"What do you think did this to her?" she asked quietly and her voice held a note of fear.

I raised my eyes to her face. "I'm not sure." I swallowed hard. "But something horrible. Some violent monster."

She took the drawing back and looked down at it slowly, her hands shaking like mine had. "We need to find it."

"I've been trying," I explained. "My friend and I, we've looked into it. There's a pattern of attacks in this town and surrounding areas. There's definitely something around here, something bad."

Her eyes turned sterner than I expected as she raised her head again. "I need to help." She continued to stare back at me in the same way. "Whatever did this to Robin, needs to pay."

I nodded back at her and tried to sound reassuring. "It will."

For a few more minutes we were silent but then Abi-Rose started to ask more questions. I explained the articles and the map of attacks, leaving out the mention of Ric seeing things, not sure how that would have been received. I told her about the camera, and how we were going to start filming at night, in the hopes to catch some footage of something.

"I could watch the footage after you and your friend," she suggested looking determined still. "If you capture the footage, copy it and then give it to me at school, I'll look through it too. More pairs of eyes is better. I could spot something that you might miss."

I nodded in agreement. I supposed to was a good idea. "Okay."

She almost smiled back at me, but it wasn't in the happy way her mother had. It had this hint of relief in it, like it was lessening her pain that she was going to do something to help. She then looked to the floor again, the sullen look coming back into her eyes. I sat up a little straighter in my seat.

"I just... I miss her so much," she whispered quietly and I watched her eyes fill with tears. "It's like I can almost kid myself she's away somewhere, but... but every time I wake up, all I remember is what I saw, how she's never coming back."

I swallowed hard again. I didn't know what to do, not sure how much comfort I could give her. I hardly knew her after all, I'd only seen her around school with Robin, smiling and laughing. Now she was so pain filled and sad.

"I can only imagine how horrible it is," I finally managed to reply. "But we'll-we can get justice for her."

She raised her eyes again to me. "Why... Why do you care so much?" She asked and I shifted my hands awkwardly in my lap. I knew I hadn't known Robin but seeing her in that bathroom had changed everything. It didn't matter how close I was to her, I was just filled with this desire to find out what had attacked her.

"I just want the truth," I replied, finding some words.

Abi-Rose leaned forward slightly and nodded back. "I'm glad you do. The cops, they're not doing anything. They haven't found anything yet." She sighed. "I keep ringing the detective, keep asking but he just doesn't say much."

I sighed too. "They're not looking for the right solution."

"So, we need to find one instead," Abi-Rose replied and she sounded stern again. "We have to!"

I looked back at her. "We can't tell them what we're doing though... They might not believe us." 

They would never believe you. I tried to cast the thought out of my head. They would believe us when we have more evidence.

Abi-Rose frowned. "They should be happy to get any leads." 

"I know." I sighed gently. "But we can't tell them, okay? Not yet." 

"Okay, I guess." She got up from her chair and went to put her drawing away.

I knew from experience how disbelieving people could be, April for example, and all the people who didn't believe Ric in the past. This had to be kept between Ric, Abi-Rose and I now, until we had proper proof.

For the rest of the afternoon Abi-Rose talked me through what most of the trophies were for, swimming competitions when she was younger, and a couple for some art competitions she'd won. She used to live in America with her mother, Miami specifically, that's where the pictures of beaches were from. It explained her mother's accent and the slight foreign twang in her own voice, which I hadn't really picked up on till today.

They moved to England when she was about 5, and I found myself wondering as she told me, why move to Rook Valley of all places, it wasn't the most popular attraction in England. It was a small town with a low population and yes it did have a school and a few high street shops, but it didn't really stand out to me as a fantastic place. It was fairly green and quiet too, very different to the kind of place Miami was. Surely there were more exciting places to live in England?

By two o'clock it was getting too awkward, casual conversation grinding to a stop. I chose this moment to say I better get going and Abi-Rose led me back to the door. Before I could walk fully through it she grabbed my arm.

"Thank you," she said sincerely and her eyes looked hopeful through the sadness.

I smiled gently back. "Thank you for believing me."

She smiled too and let go, giving me a small wave. I waved slowly back as I then turned around and started off down the road. I heard the door shut and the silence of the street engulfed me. For a Saturday it seemed quiet, no kids screaming in their back gardens, even if it was sunny today. The heat was beating down on me forcing me to take my jacket off so I didn't fry to death. I rounded the corner at the end of the street and jumped back as someone ploughed their way around the corner so fast I was almost knocked over. I grumbled at them, looking back over my shoulder as they continued down the street. I frowned curiously at them as they kept giving anxious looks behind them, getting a strange feeling in my chest about it.

I turned back around and continued on, looking out for anything that the person might be anxious about. The town library was coming up on my left and I could see a small group of people huddled at the front, looking at something. I sped up and pushed my way through to the front of the crowd, my eyes widening slightly. There was a cat, dead on the pavement, two bloody slashes through it's stomach. Blood was splattered out around it staining the grey tiles deep red.

People were whispering to each other, turning their kids away from it, muttering about the town not being safe anymore. Someone gripped my arm and I turned my eyes to them as they pulled me backwards away from the mess. It was Ric looking pale faced as ever and almost angry.

"I was in the library, how did I not see that happen, how did I not hear it," he was muttering more to himself as he continued to pull me along with him, back towards his house.

"Ric," I tried to say gently but he still seemed angry, banging his way through the front door. He plodded up the two flights of stairs to his bedroom, letting go of me finally and gripping the back of the desk chair. He looked at the floor and I drew back, nervous about his sudden angry mood. He'd not been like this before.

"It's just going to keep happening," he muttered darkly. "Again and again."

I sucked in a big breathe and edged closer. "We'll work it out."

Ric stood up straighter and spun around. "When?" he snapped. "When will we?"

"Soon," I replied and tried not to let my voice shake. He was almost glaring back at me.

He made an annoyed noise and took off around the room, pacing back and forth. I sank to sit on the end of his bed and watched him cautiously.

"You say soon, but how soon?" he spat at me and stopped. I could feel my hands trembling slightly.

"I-I don't know," I mumbled back. I couldn't quite keep the shake out of my voice. His eyes were so wild, his face in his stern expression, like he was about to lash out.

"I'm sick of waiting!" he yelled. His fists clenched as I cowered back slightly. "Don't you get that?"

I nodded quickly. "I-I know. I know."

He paced to the desk, grabbed a pencil pot and chucked it at the wall, the ceramic shattering with a crash and the pencils dropping onto the floor. I flinched, hugging myself slightly with my arms as I shook, willing his rage to stop.

He stared at the place where the broken shards and pencils had landed, breathing heavily. I waited with shaky breathes to see what he would do next, if he was going to shout again, but he didn't. He edged to the desk, sunk into the seat, leaning his elbows on his thighs as he covered his face with his hands. I stayed where I was, watching him.

"I think you should leave," he mumbled but I was stuck fast where I was, too anxious to move. He rubbed at his face some more. "Just go, Felicity."

Although my mind was telling me to move, I didn't. "No." I gulped slightly as he rose his head and looked around at me, but he didn't seem angry now, he had this sad look on his face. I looked back at him definitely. He wasn't going to push me away, I wasn't about to lose another friend. 

He sighed slightly. "I'm sorry... I..." he broke off suddenly, running a hand though his messy hair. "I didn't mean to shout at you... I just..."

I slowly released my arms from around myself, trying to calm my breathing.

He span the chair more towards me. "I'm really sorry."

I finally got my voice back. "It's okay."

He shook his head and ran his hand through his hair again. "It's not... I shouldn't have-I shouldn't have got like that." He sighed slightly. "You've only tried to help me. You don't deserve being shouted at."

I said nothing and looked back at him. He seemed genuinely sorry, sadness still on his face as he looked at me. Yet I was still stared, I could feel my heart beating faster in my chest than normal. It had surprised me that he could get so suddenly angry. Before he had seemed polite and kind, and then only desperate and determined to find out things as I had got to know him better. Now came the anger, but it was reasoned anger wasn't it? It seemed liked pent up emotion. I guessed after all this time it had just built up, the frustration that he couldn't prove what he saw. He was tired of waiting for something to happen.

And I understood that. I was tired too. Abi-Rose was tired too.

We all just wanted to work it all out so we didn't have to suffer inside any longer.

"It's okay," I found myself saying and I sighed slightly. "I guess you're-you're just frustrated." I paused slightly and he watched my face. "I get it. You just want to solve this so you can feel better."

He sighed and got up slowly, neared the bed, pointing to the space next to me. I nodded and he sat down.

"What if we don't find what we want?" he suddenly whispered and I turned my head to him.

"What do you mean?" I asked.

He met my eyes. "What if... what if there are no monsters?"

I swallowed hard.

"I mean, what if I never saw anything?" he continued and his voice wavered. "Maybe I was wrong."

I reached over quickly and gripped his hand. "No."

He looked down at our hands and then back up to my face. "Why do you care so much?" It was the reoccurring question of the day.

"I just want the truth," I repeated what I had earlier. I paused slightly but pressed on. "What I saw, when I saw Robin, it changed me. I just need... I just need to find whatever did that to her. I don't know... People keep asking me why I care so much and I guess I just feel like it will bring me peace then. Maybe if we stop whatever this thing is, I can feel better."

Ric smiled sadly and got up again. He went to the wall and started picking up the broken pieces of pot. He put them into the bin and stared across the room at me with a sigh.

"I feel that too," he replied. "But I don't know if I can ever feel better." He looked down into the contents of the bin. "I just know, you can't always fix everything, even if you try."

I watched him sadly as he walked back to pick up the pencils and slowly placed them on the desk. As much as he had momentarily scared me, I felt sorry for him. He'd had this pressing down on him for years and to feel like it couldn't get better, must be horrible. It wasn't fair.

It wasn't fair at all.

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