David Collins sat at an old, beat up, metal desk. The desk was very similar to the one at which his old boss sat. David always thought that the desk Mr. Finney sat at was like a teacher’s desk. Now, sitting in a middle school classroom as a substitute teacher, David knew that he had been correct in this assessment. In the Mystic Island Middle School, David was not known as Mr. Collins, by the way. He was known as Mr. Grimes. Although he was not quite sure why. This day, David was filling in for Phil Abbott, an English teacher. David liked subbing for English teachers. English teachers usually left some kind of silent reading for their sub plans. So David didn’t really have to teach anything. He could just sit at the old, metal, Mr. Finney-type desk and draw. He would find classroom markers and a sheet of computer paper, and he would turn the blank sheet into a swirling array of colorful flowing images. Then, at the end of the day, he would find some random place—a classroom, a bulletin board, a kid’s locker—and fasten the picture to it. No one, other than David, knew who was leaving these drawings. Most people thought the mysterious pictures were done by Jacob Grist, but the pictures were not remotely as realistic or detailed as Jacob’s work. Just so you know, David would be at the middle school when Jacob pulled his little stunt, but David was the only person that didn’t think anything was out of place that day. He noticed a lot of fearful red auras running around him, but the stuff he saw wasn’t any more fantastical than other things he’d seen.
David Collins had not intended to be a substitute teacher. He came upon the job by accident. He was supposed to be a patient of Ward 6, the mental health division of Mystic Mercy Hospital, but somewhere along his transfer, the attendants lost track of him. David wandered into the island’s middle school hoping maybe to find a job with the custodial staff. But fate had other ideas for him. You see, when David walked into the school’s office and asked the secretary about a job, the secretary thought he was a man named Bart Grimes, who was scheduled for a job interview at that exact moment. Bart Grimes, meanwhile, had just been killed in a car accident off island. You may have seen it on Nick Bishop’s television show, but more on that later. Anyway, David sat in front of Principal Cooper, and Principal Cooper sat with Bart Grimes’s very impressive resume in his hand, thinking that it was David that had taught all those other students at all those other middle schools. David was hired on the spot. Never really asking why they kept calling him Mr. Grimes.
So when the final bell rang, and all the students flowed from the room—looking to David like a sea of multi-colored lava—David stood from his seat, setting aside his drawing. He wrote a quick note to Mr. Abbott about how he thought one of the students was possessed by evil spirits. When Mr. Abbott read the note, he would think David was making a hyperbolic joke. David wasn’t making a joke, he was quite serious. The student he was talking about was Tommy Rogers. Tommy Rogers wasn’t possessed, by the way. He was just an asshole. It would be coincidence that, as David was leaving the building, he affixed his new artwork to Tommy Rogers’s locker. David had titled the drawing, “Mother Night.” It was a picture of two figures, a mother and child. In the drawing, night was falling, and scary things were descending upon them, but the child was comforted by his mother. In David’s own life, when the scary things really did descend upon him, David had no one to comfort him, he just learned to accept it. I’ll let David tell you more about that, and what happened with his former boss, Mr. Finney.
Continued in: Auras: Part 2 — The Mission