A mid-summer nightmare
Updated: Nov 24, 2021
I shouldn’t have been at the school. But today was the only day that I was able to get things ready for “Meet the Teacher Day” on Monday. When I pulled up to the school, what I saw was exactly what I expected; there were two other cars in the lot and a few workers outside working on some last-minute paint job for the front office. I waved to the workers as I walked to the office, swiping my card to open the door. It was weird being here while it was so quiet. As I looked around, I noticed that a few things looked out of place.
The sand on the playground wasn’t raked as it usually was during school breaks. There were a few balls and toys littered around the field and the playground as well. There was a jacket abandoned at the bottom of the slide and half eaten lunch on the picnic table. I figured that maybe some of the staff who had been coming in to prepare for Monday had brought their kids with them, which explained the toys, and maybe the lunch belonged to the cleaning crew who hadn’t gotten around to fixing up this area of the school.
I shrugged it off and made my way to the fourth and fifth-grade building, making my way down the hall to my classroom. As I made my way down the hallway, I noticed that a few of the classrooms had the lights on and the doors wide open. I peered into Mrs. Jenkin’s classroom, looking around at the mess on the tables. Crayons, markers, glue, and scraps of paper covered the tables and the floor, and all the chairs were pushed out as if everyone had gotten up and left in a hurry. I had never known the cleaning crew to be this disorganized, but I kept walking down the hall, looking into some of the other classrooms, which were all just as messy. One room caught my eye; Mr. Blake’s classroom. This one had sleeping bags and cots all over the room, and all of the tables, chairs, and shelves had been taken out of the room to make space for them.
As I finally reached my classroom, I stopped to look at the new decorations on the wall across the hall. There was a square portion of it that had been covered in blue paper, with a banner that read “WHAT WE DID THIS SUMMER...” over it. Bellow that, there were dozens of pictures of the children. There were dates beside each row of pictures, going as far back as the last week of school, and including every week of summer break as well. I scanned each of the photographs, noticing how as time progressed, the children looked more sad, dishevelled, and sick. The most recent row contained pictures from last week, with only about fifteen kids in the photographs, as opposed to the thirty or so kids that were pictured at the start of the summer.
There were only two teachers that I recognized in the pictures, and they seemed to be the only staff who was anywhere near the campus throughout this time; Mrs. Jenken and Mr. Blake.
That explained why their classrooms seemed to be the messiest, but why were these kids here the entire summer? I hadn’t heard anything about the school providing summer school classes that lasted this long. “Miss Cole!” I jumped as I turned in the direction of the sudden voice to see Ryan Edwards running down the hall towards me. “Ryan?” I asked. He had been one of my best students last year, and he was moving onto fifth grade, which meant he would still be in the same building for another year. He glanced behind him, looking nervous. He stopped in front of me and doubled over. “What’s going on?” I asked, looking behind him as well. There was no one there. “You shouldn’t be here.” He said, panting.
“What do you mean?” I asked. I looked at him, noticing that his face was covered in dirt, and he had bruises and scrapes on his arms and legs. The sole of one of his sneakers was loose, making the front of his shoe gape open. He smelled like he hadn’t showered the entire summer and looked like he had lost about ten pounds. “They didn’t...I don’t know what...all the kids...” He gasped. “Okay, alright. Ryan, I need you to slow down. Just take a few deep breaths and then tell me what’s going on.” I watched as he closed his eyes and took a few deep breaths. “Okay?” I asked. He nodded. “They wouldn’t let us leave. Mr. Blake and Mrs. J kept us locked up in the assembly room for a lot of days. They just left us alone, and we couldn’t get out. When they came back, they told us we couldn’t leave. They said it was summer camp or something, but they didn’t let us call our parents or anything. Some of the kids disappear every few days, and no one knows what happens to them.”
“Well, we need to call the police!” I said. “No!” He shouted.
“You can’t. They won’t help. It isn’t the real Mr. Blake or Mrs. J. I don’t know what they are, but it isn’t them. They have some kind of powers. We tried to ask the cleaning people for help- well, Jessie did- she speaks Spanish, but they did something, and the cleaning people just ignored us. Even when Mr. Blake hit her.” I stood there, horrified, staring at Ryan. “Alright, well then we need to get out of here,” I said. I started walking back down the hall, but Ryan grabbed my arm. “No, not that way. They were chasing me from that way. We need to go out a window.” “What?” I asked. “Ryan? Are you in here?” I hear a distorted voice call. “Hurry!” Ryan hissed. I pulled him into my classroom with me, and we made our way to one of the back windows. I opened it and helped him climb out first. I could hear footsteps down the hallway. “Ryan! You won’t be able to get away!” The voice said. It didn’t sound at all familiar; it was in a weird pitch and almost robotic. I climbed out of the window and grabbed Ryan, running around the building. “Where do we go?” I asked. “I don’t know!” Ryan cried, looking around. “Well, what about the library?” I asked. “No, that’s where the parents are. I don’t think you wanna go in there.” ‘What?” “The parents. They’re all in there,” Ryan repeated. “Well, shouldn’t we let them out?” I asked. “They’re all dead.” He said. “Wh-how?” “They did it. Mr. Blake and Mrs. J. Except not them because that isn’t them back there.” I glanced at the library.
“Alright, so where are we going then?” I asked. Ryan looked around. “The cafeteria!” He shouted, pointing.
I grabbed his hand and we ran across the grass. I reached for the door, praying that it would open and sighing in relief when it swung open. We stepped in, and I closed the door behind us, moving two chairs underneath the door handles to jam it shut. I looked around at the empty cafeteria. This appeared to be one of the only places that they hadn’t messed up somehow, which made sense, considering Ryan looked like he hadn’t eaten the entire time that he was here. “Where are the rest of the kids?” I asked. “I don’t know. They split us up. That’s how I got away; they were moving us to the junior high buildings.” He said. “I’m going to go block the other doors. Stay here.” I said to him. He nodded, and I walked to the other side of the room, checking to see if those doors were open as well. They were locked, but I moved a table in front of it just to be safe and then made my way into the kitchen. I checked the doors back there, and they too were locked. Next, I made my way to the restrooms. I walked into the women’s restroom first, into the far-right stall to close the window at the top of that wall.
I walked into the men’s room next and opened the same stall to check that window. As I stepped inside, the smell hit me. I gagged as I used my shirt to cover my nose. I stepped back a bit before walking into the stall and coming face to face with the source of the smell. It was a dead body. More specifically, Ryan’s dead body. He appeared to have been dead for a few days at least. I froze as I stared at it; confused and scared. If Ryan was in here, dead, then who... “Miss Cole?” I heard a voice calling. I stepped out of the stall and slowly opened the door, stepping out into the small hallway. As I slowly shut the door behind me, the lights went out.
“Miss Cole?” I walked over to the kitchen again, ducking behind one of the counters. “I’m gonna get you, Miss Cole.” I hid in a storage closet and called the police, but they seem to think this is some kind of prank, and warned me not to call again. My phone’s battery is about to die, even though I’m fairly certain that it was fully charged when I left the house this morning. Ryan (or whatever it is pretending to be Ryan) is still out there, but he doesn’t seem to be coming after me, and instead is waiting for me to go to him.
I don’t know if he knows that I’ve figured it out, but I don’t want to take any chances. I think I might die here. Or, I’ll become one of them. Whatever they are.