Posted in Short Stories

Back to School (short story)

My favourite time of year has always been the summer holidays. Not because of the weather, because of the time off school. Just under 2 months off with no work, no deadlines, no waking up at 6:30 in the morning to catch the bus – it’s heaven. But now it’s September 1st, and time to go back.

It’s with a heavy heart that I step off the bus and begin to plod towards the ugly grey building where I will be held prisoner for the next 7 hours. My eyes feel heavy too, but I think that’s more to do with the fact that I got 4 hours less sleep last night than I’m accustomed to. The steady stream of students flowing off the bus around me all look as though they feel the same way – dark bags under eyes, stifling yawns, shoulders hunched under the weight of books stuffed into tattered rucksacks.

After what seems like an 8-mile hike from the bus stop to the school gates, I finally enter the dreaded building. I have to take a moment to adjust to the harsh lighting, a stark contrast from the last rays of summer sun trickling through the clouds outside, but once I can see clearly again I, well, I hate what I see. The green lino floors that would have been so beautifully polished over the summer are already covered in hundreds of muddy footprints. Gaggles of students group together by lockers sharing stories of summer and no doubt gossiping already. A herd of raucous boys hurtles down the corridor kicking a football between themselves. Everyone lets them get on with it, knowing the ball will have probably been taken off them by the end of lesson three.

I begin to navigate my way through the swarms of students. The noise levels are overwhelming, as are the smells that hit me like a brick wall. You can almost taste the deodorant and aftershave on the air. I avoid going near the toilets, where there  will be girls fighting over mirror space so they can reapply the layers of makeup that their parents made them take off this morning before they were allowed to leave the house.

I reach my locker just in time, the sharp and sudden shrills screech of the bell ringing out as I pick up my book for the first lessons. I click my padlock shut then allow myself to be carried along by the river of students streaming towards the classrooms, books in hands. Oh, let the fun begin.

– –  –

7 hours later and I’m out of the classroom like a bullet as soon as the bell rings to signal the end of the day. I throw my books haphazardously into my locker, swing my rucksack onto my back and practically run for the doors. All around me, herds of students do the same, eager to get out in the sunshine we’ve been locked away from all day. I push my way past the gossiping girls huddled by their lockers, the band of boys waiting outside the head-teachers office to get their football back and burst out into the fresh air, the weather reflecting my joyous mood at leaving school. I hurry down the street and manage to catch the first bus just before it pulls away, saving me from the mind-numbingly boring wait for the second one. However, as I sit down on the worn-out fabric of the seat and watch the squat concrete building slowly decrease in size and retreat behind me, a horrible realisation dawns upon me. I may have survived today – but I’ll have to do it all again tomorrow.

Posted in Short Stories

The End.

The weak moonlight filtered through the turbulent clouds, casting elongated shadows across the street. Tall buildings leered up on either side, looking like they were about to topple at any moment and collapse inwards on the road. Not a car was in sight, it was silent, the only sign of life the teenage girl wandering down the pavement.

Phoebe Wilkins was slowly making her way home after storming out of the house a few hours earlier, the results of yet another explosive argument with her mother and her new boyfriend. She’d never got on well with any of her mum’s boyfriends, but this one was the worst of them all so far.

The stubborn girl hadn’t been planning on returning home at all tonight. She’d had images in her head of waltzing back the next morning, her mum pulling her into a tearful embrace and promising she’d never get another boyfriend ever again. But after 3 hours of mooching around town without a jacket or anything to do she’d grown cold and bored, and had given in.

Suddenly, a loud footstep echoed off the walls of the tall buildings towering above. Startled by the loud noise, which seemed like a gunshot in the silence, Phoebe whipped round to see who was behind her. But there was no-one there.

Dismissing it as nothing, the girl decided it was probably just a cat digging through the bins, and turned back around, stuffing her hands into her jeans pockets in an attempt to keep them warm. She put the niggling feeling in the back of her mind down to hunger, as she’d left without dinner, and continued to wander along, trying to act as though she wasn’t in a rush to get home when really she couldn’t wait to be back in the warm.

There was a sudden gust of wind and Phoebe thought she saw something move up ahead, hidden in the shadow of an old clothes store that had closed down many years ago and had been left abandoned ever since. This time, she couldn’t ignore the feeling in the back of her mind that something was wrong. But she wasn’t going to let it stop her getting home, so kept walking, choosing to not acknowledge the fact that her heart was filling with trepidation.

A shadow passed over her and her head snapped backwards, looking up at the starless sky. Surely it was just a bird, right?

A small wind began to pick up, slowly dragging a discarded crisp packed down the street towards her. Although it was just a piece of rubbish, it’s movement seemed menacing, and Phoebe stopped for a moment to build up the confidence she needed to keep going.

Her final mistake.

The wind began to pick up, swirling around her feet, encircling her, as though it was holding her in place. Fear gripped her heart as the shadow passed over her again, and the moon passed behind a cloud, plunging the street into darkness. Squinting her eyes, Phoebe could see something moving by the abandoned shop, slowly beginning to advance towards her. She opened her mouth and screamed, but the wind stole the noise she made and hid it away, rendering her silent. Beneath the howling of the wind as it ricocheted off the buildings on either side, she could hear a hoarse breathing sound, getting louder, and louder, and louder. It was in that moment that she realised that she knew what was coming.

The End.

Posted in Short Stories

The Window

(based off a writing prompt on @awriterslifeforme on Instagram!)

The first thing that caught their attention was the window at the end of the room. It had broken blinds and a plastic seal, but that wasn’t what made it interesting. It was the light that shined through and lit up the whole room. Everyone knew it was dark outside.

“That’s…. weird.” Joe said hesitantly, and Dylan rolled her eyes dramatically.

“Well done Sherlock, I hadn’t figured that out yet.” Her voice was dripping with sarcasm, and Joe instantly retreated back into his shell. Emily sighed. Joe had just been beginning to come out of his shell of introvert-ness but every time Dylan spoke it was like a step backwards, him retreating behind his shield to block himself for her wrath being forced upon him.

“He was just stating a fact, Dylan. It’s not like there’s much else to say, is there?” Emily came to the taller boy’s defense, knowing that if she didn’t then Dylan would start getting cocky again and think that she was the best.

“It wasn’t necessary for anything to be said at all” Dylan snapped back, but she didn’t say any more, and Emily gave a slightly smug smile, knowing that she’d taken the older girl down a peg or two.

“So what do we do now?” Gabe asked the rest of the group, having stayed silent the rest of the time. “The wisewoman told us to come here and “travel beyond”, so it has to have something to do with the window, right?” That was the kind of person Gabe was: he didn’t speak much, but when he did speak, he actually said something productive, unlike everyone else.

“I reckon we look to see what’s on the other side of the window for starters.” Dylan said, rolling her eyes again to show how stupid she thought all the others were. It was a good idea, but it was quite obvious that no-one wanted to go anywhere near the strange glowing window from the fact that they were all standing at the other end of the room, as far away as possible.

“Go on then Dylan, you do it.” Emily said, knowing full well that the older girl didn’t want to as much as the rest of them didn’t. Everyone looked at her expectantly.

“No, I’m not doing it. Why doesn’t Joe do it – he’s the one who doesn’t matter so much if something does happen.” She snapped, pushing the lanky boy forwards. Joe stumbled slightly and began to shuffle forwards obediently, but Emily grabbed his arm and pulled him back, sighing loudly. She hated it when Dylan pushed Joe around like she was the queen of the world – it really just wound her up the wrong way.

I’ll do it.” She took a bold step forward, trying not to notice the fact that the other three took a simultaneous step back. Taking a deep breath, the mousy-haired girl strode towards the window and reached it in a few long steps, squinting through the glass with her eyes half closed because of the golden light that was pouring onto her face.

“It’s-” she began, but as her mouth opened she suddenly tumbled forwards and disappeared, almost as though she’d travelled through the glass to the other side.

Dylan, Joe and Gabe stared open mouthed at the window.

“Where did she go?” Joe asked, his voice quiet and trembling slightly. Dylan’s head whipped round to look at him, a menacing expression on her face.

“If you have nothing useful to say, then just keep your mouth shut, got it?” Joe looked down at his feet, silent. Gabe stepped forwards slightly and stood on his tiptoes to try and see out from where he was, but not daring to venture any closer to the glass.

“It’s obviously dangerous, whatever it is. I reckon we don’t get any closer until we know what it is.” He concluded, stepping back again. Joe looked up again, his expression pained.

“But we need to find out what happened to Emily!”

“Well why don’t you go have a little looksie, hey?” Dylan’s tone was fake cheery, as though she was talking to a three year old, but the boys could almost taste the venom behind her words. It was at this moment that Emily would normally step in and stick up for Joe, but Emily was gone, and so Joe realised he had to stand up for himself.

“I will do.” He announced, his chin set determinedly as he strode towards the window.

“Joe, stop-” Gabe started but before he could finish his sentence Joe too was sucked into whatever was beyond the glass. Gabe and Dylan stood in dumbfounded silence, both unsure of what to say or do. After what seemed like years to both of them but in reality was only a few moments, Dylan turned to Gabe.

“So what do we do?” She demanded, as though she expected him to know the answer.

“I dunno… I guess we follow them, we can’t go back on our own, we have to rescue them.” The boy replied, eyeing up the window that had swallowed two of his friends.

“Okay… do you want to go first?” Dylan asked.

“Nah, I think you should go first.” Clearly neither of them wanted to be the first one.

“Please Gabe…” Dylan said, her eyes pleading and her voice quiet. “I’m scared.” She admitted in a small voice, allowing him one insight into who she really was beneath the snarky outer shell. He sighed, knowing that her showing him her real vulnerability was a very special thing and he couldn’t say no now.

“Okay then – but promise you’ll come through the straight after?” Dylan nodded and Gabe took a step forwards. He was still a metre away when the window sucked him in and he disappeared from sight, leaving Dylan alone in the room.

A malicious smile crept across her face as she turned away from the light streaming through and strode back out of the door they had entered through.

“Not likely.” Came the snarl as the door clicked closed behind her.