With Drawn: Part 48 — Murals

Jacob's HouseContinued from: With Drawn: Part 47 — Out of the Maze

The television was on in the Walsh’s living room.

Actually, it wasn’t really the Walsh’s living room anymore, seeing as Dennis Walsh was dead and Joanne had changed her name back to the same last name as her son, which was Grist.

On the television in the living room, Lester Holt had already begun his news report. Lester Holt was a news reporter on Dateline NBC, which is a television show about current news events. Lester Holt was saying, “It’s been a year since the bizarre occurrences at the Mystic Island Middle School, and still, one year later, those occurrences remain unexplained.”

Joanne Walsh rushed down the stairs into the living room. She glanced at the television and said, “Damn.” She said this because she was running late. Joanne rushed into the kitchen, while on the television, Lester was continuing his report.

Lester Holt said, “And, although several possible explanations have been offered by countless experts, explanations that range from mass-hallucinations to paranormal acts, from black magic to divine intervention, none of these explanations conform to any logical human understanding.”

Joanne returned to the living room from the kitchen. She was carrying a plate of chocolate chip cookies and a two liter bottle of root beer.

Lester Holt was saying, “And to accept any of the explanations set forth by experts and novices alike, would drastically redefine our understanding of the human mind and even the physical world around us.”

Joanne said to the television, “Yeah, well, Lester, some things might just be too funky to understand.”

One might think it strange for Joanne to speak to Lester Holt, seeing as he was on the television set, and the real Lester Holt was thousands of miles away and could not hear her anyway. In fact, he wasn’t even saying these words at that moment, the show had been recorded at an earlier time. But Joanne was just being sarcastic, joking with herself, finding it funny that, even though it was her son at the center of all this mystery, even she couldn’t explain how it all happened.

And by the way, though one might find it strange that Joanne was talking to a television, even though she knew that the television would not respond back, just remember, she had spoken to a painting on a wall, and it did respond back.

Joanne turned off the television in the living room and she darted out the front door with the cookies and the root beer. She crossed the street to 42 Savage Street.

In the past, 42 Savage Street had been known to Joanne as both the “Hamptons’ home” and “the abandoned house,” but it could be called neither now. The house was now well maintained. There were lights on in the windows, even though the drapes were always drawn tight.

Joanne climbed the house’s front steps and onto the porch. With her hands occupied with the cookies and the root beer, Joanne had to kick at the front door instead of knocking on it.

John Berkley opened the door. He took the cookies and the root beer from Joanne’s hands, and he said, “You’re late.”

Joanne stepped into the house, saying, “I know. Sorry.”

A television was on in the living room. It had Lester Holt talking on it as well. Lester was saying, “And perhaps the biggest mystery of all is what happened to Jacob Grist, the boy said to be behind the mysterious paintings. The boy that is said to have vanished before the eyes of several eye-witnesses, including a police officer.”

Joanne turned to look at the wall running along the back of the living room, the wall still adorned with the stretching mural of a grassy field and tranquil sea. In the mural’s distance, Jacob and David Grist—David’s face since cleaned of the paint smears—were running along the field, father and son towing a kite behind them.

Joanne nodded toward the mural and said, “Jacob didn’t want to watch the report?”

John smiled, saying, “He said he knows what happened on that day, so why would he want to watch something featuring people that have no idea about what did happen?”

Inside the mural, Jacob paused from his kite-flying, spotting his mother standing in the living room.

Joanne waved to her son.

Jacob handed the kite string to his father, and Jacob ran toward the living room, popping out of the mural and saying to his mother, “Hi, mom.” He was smiling.

Joanne said to Jacob, “Hey, there, kiddo.”

Jacob took a cookie off the plate in John’s hand, Jacob holding up the cookie and saying to his mother, “Thanks.”

Joanne said, “I brought you your favorite, root beer.” She held up the two liter bottle.

Jacob looked at his mother for a moment, trying to work something out in his mind. He glanced at the mural and then back at his mother. He said, “Can I go back with dad?”

The word, dad, bit at Joanne for a moment, but she quickly covered this with a smile. She said, “Of course you can. Have fun.”

“Okay, thanks,” Jacob said as he popped back into the mural and ran off to rejoin the painting of David Grist.

The grassy field and tranquil sea was not the only mural in 42 Savage Street. In fact, elaborate murals stretched across all of the walls in the house, every inch of space covered.

And what’s more, miles away, in the Mystic Island Middle School, when the bell rings in the morning and the hallways fill with students, the students walk upon the paintings of several strange creatures. No one has yet found a way to clean the painted figures from the floor’s tiles, Jacob Grist’s mural forever spread throughout the school.

Go figure.

The End

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With Drawn: Part 47 — Out of the Maze

Mystic Island Middle SchoolContinued from: With Drawn: Part 46 — A Little Help

In the hallway outside of room 102, Jacob Grist was tattooing Tommy Rogers’s skin with a black magic marker, drawing snakes and insects and other creepy crawly creatures across Tommy Rogers’s torso and arms.

Jacob stepped back from Tommy, and Jacob stared at the snakes and insects and creepy crawly creatures in his focused-unfocused way. The figures drawn onto Tommy’s skin began to move, the figures scurrying about on Tommy’s body, the snakes and creatures gnashing at Tommy’s skin.

John Berkley, still running the halls and searching for Jacob, and still with Officer Raymond on his tail, turned a corner into the hallway of room 102. John stopped running and he stared at the sight that was before him. He saw a writhing, screaming Tommy Rogers in the grip of a giant gorilla, he saw a wolf-like creature, and he saw Jacob.

Officer Raymond turned the corner into the hallway, stopping beside John Berkley, the police officer staring at the sights before him with the same disbelieving expression on his face that the art teacher had.

The wolf-like creature standing at Jacob’s side turned on John and Officer Raymond, and it began to growl as it bared its teeth.

At first, Officer Raymond was too shocked to move. The officer was shocked to see some kid in the grip of a gorilla, this kid screaming with moving tattoos seeming to bite at his skin, a vicious, giant wolf-cougar baring its teeth. It all proved to be a little too much for the police officer to process, even with all his training for being able to react to unbelievable situations.

John Berkley’s shock seemed to have subsided, and he, in a surprisingly calm way, said, “Jacob, you’ve got to stop this.”

Jacob turned from the screaming Tommy Rogers to find his art teacher behind him.

John said, “All of this isn’t right, Jacob.”

Jacob said, “But they should know what it is like to be tormented.”

John said, “But not like this, Jacob.”

“Then how?”

John said, “Jacob, you can’t punish people for being mean. You can’t lash out at things that don’t go your way. There’s other ways to change the world around you.”

“But I don’t know those other ways.”

John said, “Maybe it’s time you left the maze for the grassy field.”

Jacob seemed for a moment to stare off into space. He stared off in a focused-unfocused way, as if recalling a distant memory.

It was at this point that Officer Raymond’s shock subsided, and the police officer raised his gun, the police officer not quite sure at whom he should point the gun. The police officer shouted, “Nobody move.”

The wolf-cougar growled again, bearing its teeth, and both John and Officer Raymond thought the wolf-cougar was about to pounce, but then John and Officer Raymond could have sworn they saw a flicker of a man standing beside Jacob—the man seeming to have paint smeared on his face—and with a loud pop, Jacob and the creatures vanished.

Tommy Rogers fell to the floor, the tattoos no longer writhing on his body.

John and Officer Raymond looked down at the floor. The wolf-cougar and the gorilla football player were now two-dimensional paintings on the linoleum.

Across town, in the mural of a grassy field that had been painted on the wall of an abandoned house, Jacob appeared at the side of his father.

Jacob and his father regarded one another through the smear of paint over David Grist’s face. And standing in the house’s living room, Joanne Walsh, with tears in her eyes, covered her mouth as she regarded her son and his father together again.

Continued in: With Drawn: Part 48 — Murals

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With Drawn: Part 46 — A Little Help

Mystic Island Middle SchoolContinued from: With Drawn: Part 45 — Emphatic Declarations

John Berkley ran through the hallways of the Mystic Island Middle School with two police officers on his tale. John couldn’t believe what he was seeing around him. What he was seeing were students and staff being tormented by the figures of Jacob’s mural.

John was not the only one who could not believe what he was seeing. Both Officer Raymond and Officer Mann could not believe what they were seeing either. In fact, both officers stopped dead in their tracks for a moment when they saw what was happening around them. But only Officer Raymond was able to regain enough of his faculties to continue his pursuit of John Berkley.

Officer Mann just stood where he was, gaping at the scene around him—skeletons darting about, a mad dog, zombies…

One of the zombie baseball players walked up to Officer Mann. The zombie and police officer regarded one another with the same expression of staring eyes and slack jaw.

Officer Mann slowly and shakily took hold of the radio on his shoulder. Officer Mann pressed the talk button and said, “Um, Officer Raymond? Um… Jordan, a little help, please?”

But Officer Raymond didn’t hear his partner’s radio transmission. Officer Raymond was too busy fighting through the screams and mayhem, trying to catch John Berkley, whom Officer Raymond was now convinced had something to do with what was happening around him.

When two skeletons dressed in basketball uniforms ran past Officer Raymond, the skeletons holding a screaming Peter Maynard over their heads, Officer Raymond said to himself, “What the hell is going on in this place?”

Meanwhile, across town in the living room of the abandoned house at 42 Savage Street, Joanne Walsh stood before a painting of her dead husband. Joanne had been trying to talk with the painting.

Most people, including Joanne herself, might think it was foolish, or downright crazy, to talk to a painting, but this painting had moved. In fact, it seemed to have come alive.

Joanne said to the painting, “Please, David, can you help our son?”

John Berkley had called to inform Joanne that Jacob’s paintings had come to life, and from the sounds of John Berkley’s phone call, it sounded like those paintings were tearing up the Mystic Island Middle School. But John Berkley had been disconnected, so now Joanne didn’t know what was happening with her son. Joanne figured that maybe, seeing as this painting of David Grist seemed to have come to life as well, perhaps he would have some kind of insight as to what was going on at the school. And as unbelievable as it was that Joanne was trying to talk to a painting, it seemed even more unbelievable when the painting seemed to be trying to talk back to her.

Joanne could not hear the painting’s words, and she said to the painting, “I can’t hear you, David, what are you trying to tell me?”

The painting continued to speak, but still, Joanne could not hear what it was saying.

Joanne said to the painting, “David, Jacob is in trouble. Please, you need to help him if you can. David, please, can you help him?”

The painting of David Grist regarded Joanne, his eyes gazing down at her through the paint smeared on his face. And then the figure of David Grist turned and walked away from the wall, walking deeper into the grass field of the mural.

Joanne called to the mural, “Wait. Where are you going? You’ve got to help him.”

The painted figure of David turned to face Joanne. It closed its eyes and lowered its head, looking for a moment as if it was praying.

Continued in: With Drawn: Part 47 — Out of the Maze

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With Drawn: Part 45 — Emphatic Declarations

Mystic Island Middle SchoolContinued from: With Drawn: Part 44 — The Something in the Hallway

In the Mystic Island Middle School gymnasium, John Berkley helped Mr. Barney to his feet. People in the distance could still be heard screaming in horror. John held Mr. Barney up, steadying the woozy gym teacher on his feet.

John said to Mr. Barney, “Where’s Jacob now? I’ve got to find Jacob.”

Mr. Barney said, “Grist? Do you think that weird little kid could really be behind all of this? I mean, how is this even…”

Suddenly, the doors beneath where Jacob’s mural had been, the ones that led to the outside of the school, burst open. Officer Jordan Raymond and Officer Andrew Mann entered the gymnasium with their guns drawn.

For the record, they both had Glocks, which is the same kind of handgun that killed Dennis Walsh recently in his den.

Officer Raymond was athletic looking with cropped sandy colored hair. Officer Mann was as round as the donuts he liked to eat, and he had a nest of curly red locks.

Officer Raymond shouted for John Berkley and Harvey Barney to, “Get your hands up and lie down on your stomachs, now.” His now sounding very emphatic.

When John raised his hands, he let go of Mr. Barney, and the gym teacher crumbled to the floor. Mr. Barney sprawled himself out on the floor, trying to keep his hands held as high as possible in compliance with the man with the gun’s orders. Mr. Barney, at that moment, looked somewhat like a skydiver in freefall.

John Berkley wasn’t quite as willing to comply with the police officer’s orders.

Officer Raymond shouted at John, “I said to get down on the floor, now.” This now was even more emphatic than before.

John Berkley then did something that Officer Raymond did not expect. Even though John Berkley had a gun pointed at him, he did not get down on his stomach. Instead, he turned and ran out of the gymnasium.

He did this because he felt he needed to try and find Jacob and convince him to stop these now-living paintings before someone, including Jacob, got hurt.

And, as unexpected as John Berkley turning and running from the gym was for Officer Raymond, that would turn out to be one of the least unexpected things he would witness that day.

“Hey, stop,” Officer Raymond called after John Berkley, and then the two police officers ran after the art teacher.

Meanwhile, Mr. Abbott managed to get the classroom door open as Billy and Jeremy thrust Tommy Rogers out of room 102. The classroom door slammed shut behind Tommy, and now Tommy was out in the hallway with Jacob Grist, as well as a canine-type animal, and what looked to be a giant gorilla dressed in a football uniform.

Tommy tried to run, but the gorilla grabbed hold of him. Tommy screeched for help as the gorilla tore off Tommy’s shirt—Tommy was remembering the drawing Jacob had done of him getting his head ripped off by a gorilla, a gorilla similar to the one that now had him in its grip. But decapitation was not what Jacob intended for Tommy Rogers.

Jacob Grist stepped up to Tommy, Jacob producing a black Sharpie magic marker from his pocket, and he uncapped the marker with his teeth. Jacob then began to tattoo Tommy Rogers’s skin with the Sharpie in the same manner Tommy had tattooed Jacob with a Sharpie in the gym’s locker room. Only, Jacob did not draw crude renditions of sex organs and foul words.

Continued in: With Drawn: Part 46 — A Little Help

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With Drawn: Part 44 — The Something in the Hallway

Mystic Island Middle SchoolContinued from: With Drawn: Part 43 — Pleas for Help

John Berkley rushed through the Mystic Island Middle School hallways. He was talking on his cell phone to Joanne Walsh, telling Mrs. Walsh that he thought Jacob’s paintings had somehow come alive, when he rushed into the school’s gymnasium.

Mr. Barney was sitting on the gymnasium’s floor, the gym teacher holding his head and looking rather groggy. What’s more, John noticed that all that remained of Jacob’s mural were the words: MYSTIC MIDDLE SCHOOL. HOME OF THE ASSHOLES! All the figures had disappeared.

Without thinking, John hung up his cell phone, even though Joanne Walsh was saying something on the other end. John ran over to Mr. Barney.

The gym teacher appeared to be okay, but he had been knocked out and seemed to have cobwebs in his head.

Cobwebs in one’s head is only an expression meaning that Mr. Barney had been concussed and he was feeling very confused and woozy.

John said to Mr. Barney, “What happened?”

Mr. Barney said, “I don’t really know.” He looked up at the place on the wall where the mural once was, and he said, “I think that Grist kid’s mural came to life.”

While Mr. Barney was saying that he thought Jacob’s mural came to life, across the school, in room 102, Mr. Abbott and his students, including Tommy Rogers, were still huddled, as per lockdown protocol, in the back corner of their dark classroom. Jacob Grist was standing out in the hallway with something large and unpleasant.

Jacob called in through the room’s locked door, “C’mon, Tommy, you really don’t want me to have to come in there.”

The unpleasant thing in the hallway growled again.

Billy Warren said to Tommy Rogers, “Go on, Tommy, get out of here. We don’t want whatever’s out there coming in here.” Billy turned to the other students and said, “Right?”

The other students voiced their agreement with Billy.

Tommy looked at the others and said, “I’m not going out there.” Tommy then called toward the locked door, “I’m not going out there.”

Jacob called in through the door, “Very well, then.”

From out in the hallway came the sound of very heavy, trudging footsteps as a larger shadow seemed to completely block out the band of light peeking under the classroom door.

The students began pleading with Tommy, saying things like:

“C’mon Tommy, get out of here.”

“Go out and see him, Tommy.”

“He only wants you, Tommy.”

Billy and another student, Jeremy Williams, stood from the floor and they began pulling Tommy toward the door.

Tommy flailed his arms and kicked his feet as he screamed for the boys to stop.

Billy said, grunting with the effort of pulling a fighting Tommy, “C’mon, we don’t want those things in here.”

Tommy continued to struggle against the two boys. Tommy almost got free from their grip, but when the something out in the hallway began banging hard enough on the classroom door to shake the door in its frame, Mr. Abbott joined Billy and Jeremy in dragging Tommy to the door.

Continued in: With Drawn: Part 45 — Emphatic Declarations

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With Drawn: Part 43 — Pleas for Help

Mystic Island Middle SchoolContinued from: With Drawn: Part 42 — Take Charge

Mr. Abbott and his class waited in the corner of room 102. They were all watching the thin band of light sneaking under the classroom door from the hallway. And the large shadow that kept breaking that band of light.

Jacob Grist called in through the locked door, “C’mon, Tommy, you need to come out of there.”

Billy Warner was sitting on the floor with the other students, and he said to Tommy, “C’mon, Tommy, just go out there and see what he wants.”

Tommy said, “No way.”

Billy said, “But he said he only wants you, Tommy.”

Tommy said, “I don’t care. I’m not going out there.”

Billy said, “But you’re the one that’s always bullying him. You need to go out there.”

Tommy said to Billy, “You were just as mean to that kid as anyone else.”

Billy turned to Mr. Abbott, Billy saying to the teacher, “Shouldn’t Tommy go out there, Mr. Abbott?”

Mr. Abbott looked like he needed to vomit.

Whatever was outside in the hallway with Jacob Grist growled again and scratched on the classroom door.

Mr. Abbott said to Tommy, “Maybe you should just go out and see what he wants.”

Tommy stared at Mr. Abbott.

Billy said, “Yeah, see? Even Mr. Abbott thinks you should go.”

Meanwhile, John Berkley rushed through the Mystic Island Middle School’s hallways. He could hear the screams and mayhem throughout the school, but luckily, he had yet to run into any wild dogs or ball-playing zombies. John could also hear the sounds of sirens in the distance. While John rushed through the hallways, he flipped through his address book, and when he found the phone number he was looking for, he dialed it on his cell phone.

As John was dialing the number on his cell phone, across town, in the living room of the abandoned house at 42 Savage Street, Joanne Walsh was regarding the mural her son had painted on the wall.

Joanne’s cell phone rang. Joanne answered the phone, saying, “What?”

This is not the standard way to answer a phone. Most people say, hello, when answering a phone, but Joanne was very distracted at the moment.

John Berkley’s voice came across the phone. John was shouting this into the phone: “Mrs. Walsh? Mrs. Walsh?”

This is not the standard way to start a phone conversation either.

Joanne didn’t respond right away. First off, she couldn’t quite place whose voice it was shouting at her over the phone. And secondly, Joanne heard very strange sounds in the background, sounds like screaming.

Then something clicked in Joanne, and for some reason, Joanne suddenly realized exactly to whom she was speaking.

Joanne said into the phone, “Mr. Berkley? Is that you?”

Mr. Berkley’s shouting voice came over the phone, “Mrs. Walsh, there seems to be a problem with Jacob.”

Joanne’s stomach dropped as she heard more of the sounds of distant screaming coming over the phone.

As you may have guessed, her stomach did not physically drop from her abdomen. She was having a fight or flight reaction to the thought that her son was in danger, and the blood vessels around her stomach constricted very suddenly, sending blood to her extremities.

Joanne groaned, “Oh, god.”

Often, when a person, or someone that person cares for, is thought to be in danger, the person will plead with a deity for one’s safety. At that moment, Joanne was pleading with a deity for Jacob’s safety.

John’s shouting voice came over the phone, John saying, “Mrs. Walsh… Jacob’s paintings seem to have… they seem to have come alive.”

The use of ellipsis here are due to John’s having a hard time formulating how to tell Mrs. Walsh just what was happening at the school.

While John was saying this completely unbelievable statement, Joanne happened to be looking at a portion of Jacob’s mural where there was a blank spot. It almost looked like something had been painted on the mural and then ripped off. And the something looked like it could have been in the shape of some kind of large dog-like creature, and as unbelievable as Mr. Berkley’s statement was, Joanne made a connection in her brain. She knew that Mr. Berkley could very well be right. Joanne looked at the painted figure of David Grist in the mural, the portrait looking as if it could step right off of the wall.

Joanne said into the phone, “Mr. Berkley…”

But the phone suddenly went dead.

Joanne called into the phone, “Mr. Berkley? Mr. Berkley?” But there was no response from the other end.

Joanne turned off the phone and she plead to the deity again, repeating the phrase, “Oh god.” Then she looked at David Grist’s smeared face, making out his eyes beneath the streaked rainbow mask. Joanne said to the portrait, “David, what do I do?”

For a moment, as foolish as it may have seemed, Joanne actually expected the portrait to answer her. But it didn’t answer her. It was not really David Grist she was pleading with. It was a painting.

Joanne turned to leave the abandoned house, but something, intuition maybe, caused her to stop and look back over her shoulder at David Grist.

David Grist seemed to move.

Joanne’s eyes narrowed and she returned to the wall, standing again before the painted figure of David Grist.

Joanne said to the painting, “David, can you help him?”

The painting seemed to move again, the figure of David Grist shifting, the eyes beneath the streaked mask of paint seeming to focus onto Joanne. Joanne placed her hand on the mural, and she looked deep into the two eyes beneath the paint streaks.

The eyes blinked.

Continued in: With Drawn: Part 44 — The Something in the Hallway

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With Drawn: Part 42 — Take Charge

Mystic Island Middle SchoolContinued from: With Drawn: Part 41 — Unpleasant Things

John Berkley regarded the students that were sitting on the floor in the corner of the art room. Several of the students sitting on the floor were weeping quietly. Screams and crashes could still be heard in the distance.

There came a sudden pounding on the art room door.

The children gasped, some cried harder. Mr. Berkley’s heart dropped, remembering the zombies that were at the door earlier.

Then there came a child’s voice calling from the other side of the door. The voice calling, “Oh god, let me in. Please let me in.”

For a moment, John Berkley was unsure how to react to the child’s pleading. He remembered the principal’s warning to not open the door for anyone, but he also couldn’t leave a screaming child out there with giant dogs and zombies dressed in baseball uniforms, and so, John strode over to the door, unlocked it, and pulled the pleading student into the room.

The student’s name was Drew Broderick, and Drew was now screaming, “There’s monsters everywhere. They’re everywhere.”

Several of the students in the art room began weeping louder. John said to the students, “It’s okay. You’re safe.” John then said to Drew, “Go have a seat on the floor with the others.”

Drew screamed, “But they’re everywhere.”

John said to Drew, “But they’re not in here. So you’re safe now. You need to go and sit with the other students.”

Drew did what he was told, sitting on the floor, looking wide-eyed at the students seated around him.

John walked to his desk. He opened the desk drawer, taking out an address book and his cell phone, and then he returned to the group of students sitting on the floor. He pointed at Jamie Bent, and he said, “Jamie, take the key and lock the door behind me.”

Mr. Berkley held the key toward Jamie.

Jamie was a petite girl with glasses and bobbed blond hair. And, although she was very intelligent, she looked at Mr. Berkley as if she did not understand a word he’d said.

When Mr. Berkley waved the key in the air and said, “Jamie, the key,” Jamie stood up and took the key. John said to Jamie, “You’re in charge while I’m gone.”

He turned to the group of students and said, “Did you hear that? I’ve put Jamie in charge. I trust her to make the right decisions and you’re to follow her directions.”

This wasn’t a problem because the rest of the students knew that Jamie Bent was the smartest student among them, as well.

John said to the students, “You are all to stay exactly where you are. And do not open the door for anyone. Not even me. Do you understand?”

The students and Jamie nodded.

John told Jamie, “The signal for an all clear is three rings of the school bell. Only open the door, even to the police, after you hear that signal. Do you understand?”

Jamie nodded, and then John Berkley headed out the classroom door.

Jamie locked the door behind him.

Continued in: With Drawn: Part 43 — Pleas for Help

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With Drawn: Part 41 — Unpleasant Things

Mystic Island Middle SchoolContinued from: With Drawn: Part 40 — Lockdown

In room 102 of the Mystic Island Middle School, the teacher and students had followed the lockdown procedures. The teacher had locked the door and turned off the classroom’s lights, and he and the students were hunkered down on the floor in the far corner of the room. The teacher was Phil Abbott. Mr. Abbott was an English teacher. He was tall and thin and bald. He was an impotent looking man, which is to say that he looked both ineffective and like a flaccid penis.

Mr. Abbott stood in the corner of the room with his students seated at his feet. Mr. Abbott tried standing up straight and puffing out his chest to somehow make it look like he was in control of the situation, but he had no more control over the situation than he had control over the Earth’s rotation.

Teacher and students sat in the darkened room, and they could hear the distant crashes and screams of the terror outside their room’s locked door. And because the room was darkened, and the lights were on in the hallway, the teacher and students could see the band of light fringing the bottom of the classroom door. They were also able to see something now outside the door breaking that band of light with its shadow.

There was definitely something outside the classroom. Something large. And something, from the sound of it, sniffing at the crack where the bottom of the door almost met the floor. A low growl came from outside the room.

The students and Mr. Abbott drew in a collective breath.

The something scratched on the outside of the door.

The students and Mr. Abbott would have drawn in another collective breath had they ever exhaled the first breath. But their breaths remained locked in their chests.

There was another scratching on the door, and then a rapid, firm knock on the door.

The students and teacher looked at one another. They let out their collective breath. They had a brief sense of relief, thinking that the knock signaled help. Maybe the sniffing was a police dog and the knocking was a police officer.

But it was Jacob Grist’s voice that called through the door. Jacob calling, “Hello? Mr. Abbott? I know you’re in there.”

The students looked at Mr. Abbott.

Mr. Abbott stared at the door. His chest had since deflated and he looked more flaccid than ever.

Jacob called through the door again, “Mr. Abbott, I’m out here with some very unsavory things. Things that could be unpleasant to meet. You were always pretty nice to me, Mr. Abbott, I don’t want to have to send these things in there.”

Mr. Abbott swallowed hard.

Jacob called from the other side of the door, “All I want is Tommy Rogers. I know he’s in there.”

The students and Mr. Abbott turned their heads toward Tommy Rogers, who was sitting on the floor among the other students. They all stared at Tommy. Tommy stared back at Mr. Abbott and the other students.

Continued in: With Drawn: Part 42 — Take Charge

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With Drawn: Part 40 — Lockdown

Mystic Island Middle SchoolContinued from: With Drawn: Part 39 — Never Cry Wolf

In the Mystic Island Middle School art room, John Berkley was moving about the tables, helping students with their art projects.

A scream came from the hallway.

John Berkley looked up at the open classroom door. He saw three students running down the hallway past the classroom. “Hey…” John called as he started toward the door to scold the students for running.

Running was against the rules in the school. Unless, of course, the students were running from something that meant them harm, which is what these students were doing.

John saw what looked like a very large dog streak past the open door. “What in the…” John said, but his statement was interrupted when the principal’s voice came over the loud speakers.

The principal’s voice said: “Attention, students and staff. We are now in lockdown. Please follow lockdown procedures…” it then sounded as if the principal was talking to someone else in the office, the principal saying away from the microphone, “There’s a what?” The principal then spoke into the microphone again, his voice booming over the loudspeakers, “You are to lock your classroom doors and, no matter what, you are not to open your doors. I repeat, do not…” The principal’s voice was away from the microphone again as he spoke to someone in the office, “It’s here? Now?” Then the principal was back on the microphone, screaming, “Oh my god. Run for your lives…” Then silence.

The students in John’s classroom looked at John. They were silent and frozen. Their brains could not quite work out if what they heard was real or not, or if it was a joke, or an act, or some strange drill. John was silent and frozen for a moment, too. He also was trying to make sense of the announcement.

But then John snapped from his daze and said, “Okay, you all need to calmly move to the far end of the room and sit quietly on the floor.”

This was the lockdown procedure, and the students did it silently. Usually, during a lockdown drill, the students would smirk and snicker and roll their eyes and not take it very seriously. But this time, aside from a few students beginning to cry, they did it silently. In that silence, distant screaming and sounds of general mayhem could be heard.

John Berkley darted to his desk. He grabbed the key to the classroom and then he darted for the door. Locking the classroom door was also part of the lockdown procedures. And as John went to perform this act, he looked over his shoulder and told the students, “Just sit quietly, everything will be…”

John was going to say that everything was going to be fine. But he saw a sudden change in expression come over all the students’ faces that told him that all was not fine. All the students’ eyes got really wide and their mouths looked like they were saying the word, oh. This was happening because the students saw something that John, not facing the door, could not see. John realized before he even turned back toward the hallway, that there was something in the doorway waiting for him.

John slowly turned toward the doorway to see what looked like a zombie dressed in a baseball uniform. The thing held a baseball bat, and the thing’s droopy, undead eyes fell onto John. The zombie groaned, drool falling from its lips, and it raised the baseball bat as if to strike down John Berkley.

But another zombie dressed in a baseball uniform reached out and stayed the bat. This second zombie waived its finger at the first zombie in a no-no gesture. Then the two zombies walked off down the hallway.

John watched the zombies go. His jaw was slack. His whole body felt slack. In fact, the way he looked off dumbly down the hall, John Berkley almost had the same vacant expression on his face as the zombies had on their faces. But then the comprehension returned to his eyes as the shock wore off, and John slammed the classroom door shut, locking it with the key.

Continued in: With Drawn: Part 41 — Unpleasant Things

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With Drawn: Part 39 — Never Cry Wolf

Mystic Island Middle SchoolContinued from: With Drawn: Part 38 — Home of the Assholes

Bobby McGinn was a student in Jacob’s grade at the Mystic Island Middle School. Bobby was tall and spindly, looking like he could be easily broken. This frailty made him prone to injuries, although many said that he was a hypochondriac. This means that people thought he was making up the injuries, or that his brain was tricking his body into thinking that he had injuries. This is why, when Ms. Dell was passing out the math test they were going to take that day, she was not surprised when Bobby raised his hand.

Ms. Dell said, in a tone that was very much like a groan, “What is it, Bobby?”

Bobby said, “Um, Ms. Dell, I can’t take the test today. I didn’t get the chance to study last night. My grandmother was sick. I had to spend most of the night in the hospital waiting room.”

Many people suspected that Bobby’s hypochondria extended to invented injuries and sickness for his family as well.

Ms. Dell’s response to Bobby was in a tone that sounded like she was being sympathetic to his plight, but she was, in fact, being sarcastic. She said to Bobby, “Gee, it sounds like your family is having a lot of bad luck lately, Bobby. Wasn’t it your brother breaking his leg the night before the last test?”

Ms. Dell used this sarcastic tone because she did not believe Bobby was being truthful, and she wanted him, and all the other students, to know that she knew he was a liar.

But it turns out that Bobby’s grandmother really was sick with pneumonia, and his brother really did have a broken leg.

Bobby said, “But I really was at the hospital last night.”

Ms. Dell said, “Now, Bobby, have you ever heard the story of ‘The Boy Who Cried Wolf?’”

“The Boy Who Cried Wolf’ is a children’s story about a boy that keeps telling people that there is a wolf coming to their village. This causes all the people living in the village to panic and run about. But it turns out that there is no wolf, the boy made the whole thing up. The boy found this prank he played on the villagers to be hilarious because he loved watching the people run around all crazed and frightened. Anyway, the boy pulls the prank so many times that when a real wolf does show up to the village, and the boy cries for help, no one believes him, and the wolf eats him up, yum, yum. The story is to illustrate that liars get what is coming to them. Yum, yum.

Asking someone if they know the story of “The Boy Who Cried Wolf” is a polite way of calling a person a liar.

So when Ms. Dell asked Bobby McGinn if he knew the story of “The Boy Who Cried Wolf,” she considered the conversation about Bobby’s sick grandmother to be over, and Ms. Dell continued to pass out the math test.

While Ms. Dell was placing Bobby’s test on his desk, Bobby glanced out the classroom door. He was the only student in the back row, and he had the only vantage point to see the hallway outside the room. What Bobby saw out in the hallway was what looked like a very large wolf staring at Ms. Dell. Ms. Dell did not see this because her back was to the wolf. The wolf’s snout curled from its long fangs, saliva dripping from its lips, and Bobby shakily raised his hand, calling, “Um… Ms. Dell?”

Ms. Dell groaned again, saying in her sarcastic tone, “What is it now, Bobby? Did your grandfather break a hip?”

Actually, Bobby’s grandfather had recently broken a hip, but that wasn’t what Bobby was raising his hand about. He was actually raising his hand because there was a large wolf eyeing Ms. Dell like a juicy T-bone steak.

Bobby said to his teacher, “Never mind.”

Continued in: With Drawn: Part 40 — Lockdown

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